Monday, September 30, 2013

9/29/13 Bellingham Bay Marathon

Rain and wind, yet somehow we feel fortunate, because we are in the lull between two more serious storms.  Happy to be back at what continues to be the best overall marathon experience that I have run.  The rain will not dampen the spirits of the enthusiastic kid volunteers.  Other than our bus taking a couple of wrong turns on the way to the start, everything goes smoothly today.  But how will my running go?

Start - I have had very bad second halves here the past two years.  I decide to set out even slower than last year and hope for a good split time.  Rain, but the wind is at our backs for now.  Bald eagle sighting, then its all seagulls along the water.

Mile 3 - Dan and Tom are running together and are ahead of me.  I gradually catch up, then see that I am going faster than I would like and I ease off.  Catch up again.  This time we run together for a little while, before I slow back to my pace.

Mile 4 - Mel Preedy sighting 

Mile 8 - Off the water, out of the woods and onto the flat farmland.  Heavier rain and I consider putting the trash bag on over my jacket.  Strong wind blowing sideways.  Up ahead we will turn into the wind.  Here it is.  Strong wind right in the face.  I am with Robert Jacobsen.  We run side by side and close together to tackle the wind.  It is not so hard, but I know that it is sucking my energy.

Mile 12 - Back with Tom and Dan for a while.  I see the halfway marker ahead and know that I am a little ahead of pace.  I let them go ahead, hoping that I will catch up later.

Mile 13.1 - 2:07

Mile 13.5 - Over the Nooksak River.  High and brown with big branches and whole trees floating by.

Mile 14 - I have seen two runners with matching "Lost Dutchman" shirts off an on for the whole race.  Now I am with them.  One of my favorite parts of the course is coming up, when the large half marathon joins us and the race gets crowded and full of energy.  I wonder if these two know what will happen soon?  I ask the woman, "Have you run this before?"  "Yes, every year", she replies.  "Oh you must be Celina Coombs!  I have been wanting to meet you!"  She is surprised that I would know her name.  And her running partner is Eric Stacy!  These are the other two "legacy" runners.  The three of us are the only remaining people to have run the full marathon here each year.  We talk about the various year's T-shirts (the red one was the worst), how good this race is, racing goals, Boston, Lost Dutchman....and the miles and two large hills go by easily and then we hit the merge.

Mile 17 - The merge.  At my slower pace this year I am now running with hundreds who are going 10 to 10:30 per mile.  I stay relaxed and very gradually pass people as I get the chance.  I lose Celina and Eric.  Tom and Dan are so far ahead that I have lost sight of them.

Mile 21 - In to town.  They have us mostly on the sidewalk, though I think it is OK to run on the side of the road.  Feeling pretty good and holding back, hoping that I can make it last.  Right leg is tightening up some.  Quads are starting to feel it too. Uphill and a Nancy Szoke sighting (halfing).  So fun to see a friendly face at this point.  I keep chugging along.  Now the section right by the finish line.  My watch says 3:38 so I know that the runners zooming toward me are trying to beat 3:40.  I yell to encourage them and it helps me forget about the fact that I still have 4.5 miles to go.

Mile 22 - On the crushed gravel with a little clay mud trail.  All halfers around me.  Still passing them gradually and hoping that I will not need a walk break.  Quads getting worse.  Rain has stopped.  Hat comes off.

Mile 24 - Down to the water and onto the boardwalk over the water with a very strong headwind.  I am in good spirits, especially since I have not had to walk yet.  I have slowed but I am plugging along.  The wind is so strong that we have to laugh.  Now the sharp turn and steep uphill.  One goal that I had was to run all of the hills today.  I declare my goal and charge up the hill.  Woman next to me says that she had planned pre race to walk up this hill and that is exactly what she was going to do.  I don't think that I was much faster than her, but I am able to keep running and reach the top without much difficulty.

Mile 25 - A few more small hills here but we are close now.  I am not going to break 4:20, but that is OK.  New goal is to not take any walk breaks.  Jacket comes off and goes around the waist.  I can run, just not very fast. Still passing clumps of half marathoners and that makes me feel like I am doing well.

Mile 26.2 - 26.2 on the GPS.  Good sustained effort to the end.  No walking!  Cupcake from PK

Finish time is better than last year, but not near what I would like.  With the positive split again I really should not try going any faster.  In fact I start thinking of a new strategy for pacing.  I think that I will take my finish time from the previous race and make sure that my half point matches half of that finish time.  So for my next road marathon I should run a 2:11 first half (since I ran 4:22 today).  That should make for a strong second half and if I can negative split I can set out faster next time. 

If I recover well I might run the Shuck and Run in Shelton next weekend.  Otherwise I for sure plan on the Defiance 50K on October 12.

189th of 373
Marathon or ultra#101
7th Bellingham Bay Marathon (Legacy)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

9/21/13 Cooks Hill Challenge 10 miler

Centralia WA, my first time at this event.  A while back I was looking for a race on this date and found this one that I had not hear of.  Apparently it has been run for some years, but is a small event.  The 10 mile race is billed as a very challenging course with two major hills.  There is also a 5K "fun run".  I looked at the results from the 5K of last year and saw that the fastest person ran it in 21:51 and second place was over 25 minutes.  If the 21:51 guy does not show up, I could have an easy "win".  Except that it is billed as a fun run....but it is timed.  This week I was reminded of the distinction between group run and race.....

.....On Tuesday I went to Priest Point Park for the Oly Trail 5K run.  It was a fund raiser for a local family that has extraordinary medical bills to deal with.  A 5K run though is not a race.  In fact the City of Olympia will at this time allow races to go through the park but only group runs, not races may be held entirely in the park.  The event was fun, despite the rain, and was a good fund raiser.  No real time goal on the trails here.  I started off well and picked up the pace.  A couple of young kids were very hard to pass but I finally caught all but one of them.  Martino was ahead of me the whole way.  There was a clock (27 something I ran) but no record of times, otherwise that would be a race.  I was in the top 50 and got an Oly Trail Runners bandana. Good hard run, but I will not count that as a race on my "official" list.  It did make me want to run a real race today, so I signed up for the 10 miler.......

.......and then I looked at last year's results from that race.  The winner was 1:33:21, second place in 1:35:11.  That is over a 9/mile and three weeks ago I ran a ten mile race in 1:20 something.  Unless the course is that hard, I have a better chance of winning this than the 5K.  I should not get my hopes up, there is a very good chance that some fast people will show up this year.  But until the race starts I can dream about it.

The course is billed as being challenging.  Two hills, one of 200 feet and another "the hill to beat all hills" according to the race brochure, of 250 feet.  Any of my ultra running friends who are reading this must be chuckling.  As long as I do not go all out, these hills should be manageable.  In fact after the hilly Narrows ten miler, I have been on a hill quest and this race is another part of it.  Bring on the hills!  In the past two weeks I have run up 2,300 feet at Mount Rainier, plus another 1,300 foot run there three days ago.  I also did a tempo run that included a 400 foot climb.  The hill out of the Narrows must be more that 250 feet as well.  So this will not be a PR course, but I think that I can manage the hills.

$30 online registration two days before the race.  No T-shirt but I don't need one.  The 5K is a legit race with timing and finisher ribbons.  For ten miles we will get a finishers medal.  Everyone gets a goody bag with lots of fun items like glass cleaner, a toothbrush and numerous pens.  The race is sponsored by the Rotary Club and is happening at the same time as a large Health and Wellness Fair.  Proceeds from the race go to the National Rotary's fight to eliminate Polio worldwide.

Plenty of volunteers and a well marked and beautiful course. It is foggy and perfect running weather.  Nice to see Barb Johnson.  I will drive the course after the race and take some pictures.

Start -  One fast guy that I recognize is here.  He asks my predicted time (I tell him 1:22) and he says that I will win, but as soon as we start he is off like a rocket and dissapears into the fog, never to be seen again.

Mile 0.25 - So I hope for second, place but now another guy catches up to me.  We chat a little and I am worried because he has no trouble talking and I am gasping for air.  We both think that we are going to fast and will slow eventually and neither of us think that we can get to number 1.

Mile 2 - My running buddy decides to go a little faster and he takes off.  He will get about 100 feet ahead of me quickly, but then stay that way for a long time. Now the first steep uphill.  It is tough but manageable.

Mile 4 - Scenic country roads with no traffic.  The long downhill on Joppish road is welcome.  I pick up the pace and keep working hard.  7:52 average per mile by the time I get to the bottom of the hill.  The flat road then seems harder.  Gatorade and water is offered at each aid station.

Mile 5 - The second place guy is gradually coming back to me.  But now I hear a little talk behind me.  I am by no means locked into 3rd.  Nice flat road, feeling pretty good.  Then the left turn and the biggest steepest hill.  The hill has a little break in the middle.  I make it up the first half OK, but the last part beats me.  Near the top I am still pumping my arms and going as fast as I can, but I think that if I were walking I might be able to move faster.  I really want to walk.  I should not have made light of these hills.  Fortunately the top of the hill arrives and the running gets easier.

Mile 6 - Running better now, but so are the two guys behind me.  They pass me with ease and move ahead.  One of them will take off from the other in a few minutes and really pick up the pace.  In the mean time I am able to catch the guy who was number 2.  He fades out  and for the last three miles I pretty much have a lock on 4th place.

Mile 8 - Very welcome downhill, except that I am slapping on the pavement.  This can not be good for my knees or feet.  I need to relax and make it to next weeks race without injury.  But if I can hold this pace I have a shot at getting under 1:20

Mile 9 - About an 8:30 mile would get me in under 1:20.  But there are some uphills and some 5K walkers to pass and the running is getting more difficult.  When I see the finish clock and see that I will not beat 1:20 I relax some more and cruise on in.

Finish - 10.11 on the GPS.  The course might be a little long, but not so off.  The ten mile marker is placed well in front of the finish line too and I don't know what that means. Simple tag board timing and very fast results.  A nice awards ceremony where the Mayor of Centralia presents me with my 1st in age group super sized ribbon.  Very well organized, great course, good price and worthy cause.  I must do this one again.

4th place of 18