Wednesday, May 22, 2013

5/19/13 Capital City Marathon

I first ran here in 2000.  Then a few years of doing the half marathon and the five miler.  Since 2005, I have run the full, making today my 9th in a row (longest marathon streak) and 10th time running the full marathon.  This is my third year as a pacer.  It works out well to run a little slower than usual and treat it as a training run. It comes soon after Tacoma and prior to a June race. This is a tough course for me to race well at, so I am happy to take my time and help others achieve their goals.  Since this was my original favorite marathon and my home town race that they do so well with, I am honored and proud to serve as a pacer.  Coming off my injury in the Winter I was unsure of what time I could run, so I ended up with 4:45 duties compared to 4:15 last year. 

Pacer meeting at 6:30 to get our balloons tied on. Some last minute shuffling of duties has me running the whole distance alone, but it should not be a problem.  The weather is cloudy and cool but not cold at the start.  It will warm up a little but really be ideal.

Start -  Under 300 in the full marathon so lining up is not a problem.  Smooth start and I am careful to not go out too fast.  It has been difficult to run 10:50 per mile in practice, it is just slower than comfortable for me.  But I will work hard and keep checking the watch to stay on pace.  Walk breaks at the aid stations are planned to get me back on track if needed.

Mile 1 - Hanna H sighting

Mile 2- Haley H sighting

Mile 3 - Runners fairly spread out now.  Two guys are chatting and are staying right behind me.  They comment on the green balloon tugging at my shoulder, like a fish on the line.  I tell them that they will have PTSD the next time they see a green balloon, if they follow me the whole way.

Mile 4- Meet Julie, just hoping to break 5 hours.  We will go a little back and forth the whole way and she will make her goal and thank me after the race.  It is so rewarding to have people thank you afterwards.

Mile 5 - The two guys (Will and Mike) have really latched on to me.  They are both running their first marathon.  They are not concerned with finish time, just getting it done and having fun.  We while away the miles talking about guy stuff.  No one else joins our group.

Mile 20 - 15 uneventful miles.  Up and down.  Feeling very comfortable at this pace.  Still with Mike and Will.  Mike is falling behind a little.  No one has passed us.  With the even pace we have picked off runner after runner, many of whom are taking walk breaks.  Closer to town we start to see more spectators and the excitement for the finish starts to build.

Mile 23 - The last long uphill.  Will has not run farther than 13 miles, but he feels great and decides to finish strong.  He goes on ahead and will beat me by nine minutes.  Mike is hanging on not far behind me.  Every once in a while I get a mysterious pain deep in my left foot.  With a few careful steps it goes away.

Mile 23.5 - Catching up to a Maniac.  Ah, Mama Lisa.  I have seen her at each of my last three marathons.  Nice to see her here, then she rallies and goes on ahead.  Meanwhile the free beer at the last unofficial aid station has energized Mike and he is back with me.

Mile 24 - Pass a couple of people who seem to think that I am ahead of pace.  I think that I am at most 2 minutes ahead and I should slow down some.  The GPS is reading long, so the math is not quite as easy. Plus, I do not have a seconds reading after one hour, so I am not exactly sure of the time.

Mile 25 - Downhill all the way now.  I suggest to Mike that he finish strong, but he is happy to just stay with me.  The Pacer's job is really done at mile 25 in this race.  Anyone who can stay with a pacer all that way will have no trouble picking up the pace for the final downhill mile.  Other that Mike, no one is near me.  I slow some more in hopes of coming in just under 4:45

Mile 25.8 - Just like last year, I underestimated my time ahead of schedule.  Now the finish looks far away and it is 4:43.  I start running faster.  I hate to do this to Mike, but I am supposed to come in under my goal time.  Last year I ran much harder and just barely made it.  This year it is out of reach.  I started the sprint too late, plus it really does not matter.  Mike and I run fast to the finish and are pleased with our times.

26.2 - 26.49 miles on the GPS watch.  Most of the crowd has left, but there are some friends here to celebrate with.  Jared ran the half marathon, his first, and crushed his predicted time.  Lots of people got their BQs, age group awards and PRs.  Another Capital City Marathon is done and it continues to be a terrific event.

220th of 293
Race #293, Marathon or Ultra # 96

Monday, May 6, 2013

5/5/13 Tacoma City Marathon

Squak Mountain trail marathon was three weeks ago.  I have not raced since then, but have had some running experiences.  Shortly after Squak I was trail running and turned my right ankle and fell hard.  Except it was all a dream.  It seemed so real, I wondered if I had actually hurt my ankle.  All is fine though.  Then we had the events at the Boston Marathon.  Many friends said that they were thinking of me.  Luckily I ran Boston last year, I would not have finished this year.  I had one friend who finished just a few minutes after the bombs and one friend who was very close to the end, but not able to finish.  I feel so bad for what they experienced and for everyone who was affected.  Only one friend suggested that I not run Tacoma in case something happens here.  I went to a community run that week and it was great to connect with fellow runners.  I am also so looking forward to seeing my Maniac family at Tacoma.  Two weeks ago Jared ran the open one mile race at the Kings Invite.  He wore a dress shirt and tie.  At the last lap he picked up a bunch of flowers and delivered them to a friend at the finish, asking her to the prom.  The crowd in the stands, including his parents thought that was terrific.

What goal time for Tacoma as I am still improving after my injury time off?  That is the hard question.  My last three long runs/marathons...Squak 6:50!!, Redmond Watershed in March = 5:12 (about 35 minutes slower than I have raced it previously, Presidents Day = 5:15 with a brutal painful last 10 miles.  I have been building mileage, increasing each month since November.  111 miles in March and 120 in April.  Other than the marathons I have done a couple of fairly fast ten milers.  If I can get in quality workouts I run best at about 120-140 per month.  Since my last two marathons were on trails I have done all other running on pavement and I think that I will not have the leg pains that came on Presidents Day due to lack of mileage.  But how is my endurance?  I have gone sub 4 (barely) each year at Tacoma but I really think that to set off at that pace would be foolish.  I decide that I will stay with the 4:20 pacer until at least the halfway point and see how I feel after that.  I am pacing the 4:45 group at Capital City in two weeks and I need to gain some confidence.  I will be happy today with a comfortable sub 4:30, under 4:20 would be good.  Hopefully by July I can get back under 4 hours.

7th annual event and my 6th time here.  Each year I regret not running the first year.  Especially because at the time I wanted to run it, but did not think that it was possible to run marathons on back to back weekends, and Capital City was only seven days after Tacoma.  This year is also the 10 year celebration of the Marathon Maniacs.  Due to family considerations I will skip most of the festivities.  I did get some great swag at the expo.  In addition to the race shirt, all Maniacs got a very nice hat and poster, and a "press pass" that is neat but I am not sure what to do with it.  Short time at the expo but I get to see a bunch of friends and that is what this race is really all about for me this year.

In addition to my anticipated pace, I spend most of my thoughts agonizing over whether to park at the finish and take the shuttle to the start or park at the start and get a ride back after the race.  There are supposed to be shuttles back to the start, but the expectation is that most runners will park at the finish.  Since Jody and I are staying at Hood Canal for the weekend, it makes sense to park at the start line.  I get an extra hour's sleep before the 7AM start and save the toll on the bridge.  I leave my press pass on my dashboard so they will know who's car it is, if I have trouble getting back there. 

Hot on Saturday and supposed to be even hotter today.  Brilliant sunshine.  Maybe 7AM is a good time to start.  It feels cool here at the start, at the Narrows Airport.  The new course covers mostly familiar territory.  It will be interesting to run through Defiance Park in the opposite direction. Since I have my car, I can stay warm in there, have breakfast and organize my stuff before heading out to greet friends and go to the start line.

Start - Looking for the pacers.  I see Betsy (5 hours) not the others.  Then I hear that the pacers signs were not delivered to the start but would hopefully be picked up at about mile 4.  I start behind Betsy, it is so crowded, but I know that I will have plenty of time to get moving and I would rather start slow than fast.  No nerves, just ready to enjoy the morning, and we are off.

Mile 1 - Short out and back.  Rogue Wave sighting.  I get ahead of Betsy.  Catch up to Maniac Tracy.  She is the one who finished just ahead of the bombs in Boston.  She was having a blister attended to in the medical tent when the bombs went off and they started bringing injured in to that area.  I was hoping to see her and run with her some today.  She says that Pacer Brian is right behind us, but that he is pacing 4:25, there is no 4:20 pacer.  I guess that I will stay just ahead of him.  Maniac Kurt is pacing 4:10.  I will not let myself pass him and now I do not have to look at my watch to think about pace.

Mile 3 - Over the Narrows.  What a beautiful day.  Nice gentle breeze.  Feeling good.  Running with Tracy.

Mile 4.5 - Up the hill.  Pacer Kurt not far ahead.  KP sighting.  Crowd thinning out, there will be plenty of running room now.

Mile 5 - Tracy says that she needs to walk and will try to catch up to me.  Did I mention that she ran a marathon yesterday?  The "Ghost of Tacoma" was a low key event that attracted quite a few Maniacs for the double.  I will be slower than most of my normal rivals, but hopefully faster than those who are running the double.

Mile 6-9 - Now I run a few miles with non Maniac Ron Fowler.  I have not run with him in a long time, so it is fun to reconnect.  He will be at Capital City in two weeks, for the 30th consecutive year.  I also run about a mile with Maniac Ken.

Mile 10 - Pacer Kurt goes running off the the bushes.  I am now ahead of him.  I expect him to catch me but he does not do so.  Am I going faster than 4:10 pace or is he having a bad day?  I should be doing the pacing math in my head, but the 9:20/mile according to the watch seems very comfortable.  Proctor Street bridge.  Tacoma Neighborhoods that I have not been to before.  Lots of great spectators.  Some have hoses set out, others have unofficial aid stations.

Mile 13.1 - Uh oh, I am going too fast.  Make myself walk a little before the chip mat.  Cross the mat in 2:03, about seven minutes faster than I had planned.  Now it is just a matter of how much endurance do I have?  I hope that I can make it to 20, 21 or maybe 22 before hitting the wall and walking.  In the mean time there is the reverse of the Sound to Narrows course. 

Mile 14 - Mildred Street hill is not nearly as bad in reverse and at the slower pace.  Yet all of us are walking up it.  The course is plenty hilly.  Nothing super steep but continual up and down so far.  Into the park and thankful for shade.  Another  up hill.  I am running but most others are walking.  Nice to be passing people.  Feeling good, just wondering how long it will last.

Mile 15 - Run a little with Maniac Hope a doubler.  Then I catch up to Maniac Melissa and we run a mile together.  This is her 100th marathon.  It would have been my 100th had I not been injured all winter.  I am happy for her.  I go ahead of her and she says that she will kick my but if I let her catch back up.  Looking at the results afterword it is interesting to see how some people that I passed ended up finishing long after me,but others stayed right behind me and probably had me in their sights the whole way.

Mile 17 - A mile long downhill in the shade.  Wonderful.

Mile 18 - Back to the sun and getting warmer.  Uphill and flat with a short out and back.  Steepish hill down to Ruston Way.

Mile 19 -Now the long mostly flat but hot trek to the finish.  The wind is at our back but we do not really feel it.  My legs and feet are doing great.  I feel like at any point I could speed up, but I am worried about my head and the heat and the remaining distance.  I start having trouble holding my head up.  I know that if I can just keep from walking, other than through aid stations, I will have a good finish time.  The farther that I can go without taking a walk break the better.  My pace has slowed but I am running and I do not feel so bad.  I can not hold my head up for long though.  So mostly what I remember is trudging along in the heat looking at the concrete road. 

Mile 21 - Pacer Kurt  (4:10) passes me.  He encourages me to stay with him.  But in my mental state I think, no, I am supposed to stay between him and Pacer Brian.  I keep along at my own pace.  I am definitaley passing more people that are passing me.  A few are running strong and pass me, but more are reduced to walking.  Now the one uphill/overpass on Ruston Way.  At the top there is a guy in a blue shirt bent over.  I am afraid that if he passes out he could fall off the bridge.  I stop to see if he is OK.  He says that his back hurts.  I ask how his head is and he says OK.  I go on down to the aid station.  After getting my water, mostly dumping on my head, I remember that guy.  I look back and he is way back there but moving down the hill.  I ask two volunteers to check on him and hope he is OK.

Mile 23 - Still running.  OK a few walk breaks in there but I have had much worse finishes.  Longing for shade, and a little walk when I do get some.

Mile 24 - Last uphill to get us off Ruston Way.  Happy to see Maniac Lisa and Deb here.  Run with them just a bit.  I would be happy to finish with them.  Deb is the first one to walk on the uphill and I say that I will stay with them, but as we near the top and I know that mile 25 is close, I take off on a jog.  A non Manic that I do not know, who I have been leapfrogging with, grinds to a walk so close to the top.  I encourage her to get running again.

Mile 25 - Over a bridge and then turn on to Pacific Ave.  My new running friend and I go back and forth and run together.  We are ready for this to be over.

Mile 26 - Where is the finish?  I thought that I would be able to see it from here.  From the course map I thought that it was the same finish as last year, but no we have to turn, go downhill and turn again.  We give it a good final effort and come in together.

Mile 26.2 - 26.19 on the GPS.  Mix and mingle and watch finishers come in.  There is a bus back to the airport and when I get on, the driver says that this is his last trip.  It is only about the five hour mark with many runners still on the course.  I had been talking shuttle return with Ginger and she is not here, but then I see her crossing the street.  Close call but we make it back, hopefully no one was really stranded.  Recovery is good.  I am really happy with how the legs felt and how I was able to keep moving late in the race.  No real wall.  2:03/2:09 split means that I slowed some but I have had much worse split times.  I probably should have tried to stay with 4:10 to give myself a challenging goal late in the race.  Without any hard goal I just cruised on in, tough but no agony.  I do now have the confidence that I needed for my pacing duties at Capital City and I believe that I can get back under 4 hours soon.

So great to be running with the Maniacs.

286th place of 885
Race#292, Marathon or ultra #95, Tacoma City Marathon #6