Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9/28/14 Bellingham Bay Marathon

Keeping the legacy going, for my 8th year here at this 8th annual event.  For a few days before though I did not know if I would make it, and instead of the usual fun time and celebration of fitness this may be more of a therapy run.  My brother was killed in a car accident on Wednesday when a minor crash on one side of the highway sent a vehicle across the median grass and straight into my brother's car going the other way.  Killed instantly, a great man who will always be missed.  When I heard that the service was set for Saturday it meant that there was a chance that I could still race on Sunday if I wanted to.  Everyone was supportive, especially Jody.  So on Saturday we drove two hours south to Portland.  Attended the service and made plans to see family again on Monday.  Then the five hour drive north to Bellingham to get to my Father in Law's home by 11PM.  Short fitful sleep and then it is time to get to the shuttle bus.

This race is still growing, 372 will finish the full, but over 2,700 in all events.  Fortunately they still allow day of race packet pickup.  I found my usual parking spot and had my number soon thereafter.  On to the bus for a long ride in the dark.  Sit with a few friends in the tribal community center.  This year the tribe welcomes us with a larger group and they are dressed beautifully.

Not feeling so good.  Really tired.  Deb says that I don't look so good and that makes me wonder if I am getting sick.  I splash water on my face and then head outside a little earlier than I need to.  I have no idea how this is going to go, don't care about my time and don't expect to do well.  I really want to start slowly and at least have a chance at not melting down too early.  It is very foggy and we worry that it will burn off and warm up.  No chance of rain, and no wind.  Great running conditions.

Start - There are Deb and Margaret.  Now I get a wave of emotion.  Why right now?  Margaret gives me a hug and says "because running is in your soul"  Wow that makes sense!  Thanks for that! And then we are off, starting very close to the back.

Mile 1 - 10 minutes exactly and this feels like the right pace.

Mile 2 - Move ahead from Deb and Margaret.   Quick pee break.  

Mile 4 - Meet Maniac Krystal.  Very gradually passing folks.  No hurry.  If the pace drops to 9:50 I slow down, walk through the aid stations, let the average get back to 10:00.

Mile 7 - Having fun with the volunteers.  Love these enthusiastic kids!  Every year they are the best.  I start shouting out for the Bellingham Rangers and they like that.  Run side by side with a woman and neither of us says a word for quite a while.  I like her pace.  We just run and don't talk.  Finally something gets us chatting and it is very nice.  Just when I tire of the fog and the course along the water, we turn and enter the more open area.  "Leg 1 is done"

Mile 9 - Passed that awesome Father/Daughter who I met a few weeks ago in Tacoma.  So inspiring.  I got a little choked up when I recognized them.  But they are fading and I move ahead.  Now it is on to the long boardwalk along a wetland.  And I have to pee again.  I mention this to the person next to me and she says that she has to too.  There is no place to hide here, but when we get off the boardwalk finally, lo and behold, there is a port-a potty.  I tell her to go first and she does and I realize that I can just duck behind a building here, so I am back running very soon.

Mile 10 - Turn into farm country.  Very gradually catching people.  Another turn and a strong smell of manure.  Not unpleasant to me but I can't help but comment on it.  Woman next to me says "Oh I though that was you....just joking"  It was funny.

Mile 11- Is this the third or fourth year they have had this version of the course?  Either way I only come here once a year but I am feeling like I know very well what is to come.  More flat farmland and no wind this year.  The short out and back section.  I love a little out and back to see who is around.  Should be able to see Mount Baker, but for the fog.  Amy HW sighting!! So surprising we are past each other before it sinks in.  Makes me smile though.

Mile 12.5 - Another potty break?  What is going on?  At least they are quick.  And I must not be dehydrated.

Mile 13.1 timing mat - 2:12:37, lets call it 2:13.  10/mile on the GPS which is reading 13.28 miles.  My goal now is to just maintain this as long as I can and pick it up after mile 22 if I feel good.

Mile 14 - Run for a while with a nice guy doing his first marathon.  Only stranger that I will tell about losing my brother.  And he tells me that he is running in honor of his Father-in Law who recently succumbed to cancer but had been big into marathoning. Really nice mile, then he lets me go ahead.  Another aid station (every two miles) and another boost from the kids.

Mile 16 - Long uphill and I feel great.  Passing some walkers and slower runners.  Get the average pace down to 9:55 but make myself not go any faster.  I am not usually so disciplined.  I know that the merge is coming and I ask a guy I am with whether he has done this before.  I also let it slip that I have a streak of 8 going on.  He has run this, is looking forward to the merge and says that we should have picked an easier distance for streaking......he has 17 years in a row at the Vancouver Marathon.

Mile 16.5 - The Halfers are streaming down the hill and we turn to travel together.  Some are walking, many are 2-3 abreast and most are going more slowly than me.  But it is OK.  Instead of weaving around I am able to maintain my pace and pass people when I can.  Enough room on the road for all of us.

Mile 18 - Lots of runners and lots of spectators.  One sign says "Run now, wine later".  I am still feeling really good.  At 9:56/mile average and it has never felt too slow, but I still have no trouble holding it.  No pains, stomach is fine.  Only thing bugging me is my quads.  They have been feeling more and more sore.  I am regretting running that 10 miler last weekend.  But it is not so bad yet.

Mile 19 - We make a turn and I see a sign that says "cookies ahead".  I have to go to the other side of the road and there is a table set up.  A little girl has fresh baked, still warm chocolate chip cookies, each one in a little baggie.  I take one and thank her.  Start running again, take a bite and it is so good and I get all choked up.  Almost sob, then in a few seconds I am better.  Now another little kid holding a sign.  I can't figure out what it is at first so I stop.  Still not sure but I think it was all footprints done with paint.  Abstract and beautiful.  I tell her that I love her sign and I run on.  Now I start to realize that I may be in the best place in the world right now.  People of all ages out on the closed streets on a beautiful day (fog is lifting) helping and encouraging each other.  Wonderful.  We need more of this.

Mile 20 - On to more of a major road and we are asked to stay on the sidewalk.  Meet a first time marathoner and just after we introduce each other and I am hoping to pace her to a strong finish, she falls back.

Mile 22 - Passing on the sidewalk is not great but it helps me with my patience.  Finally we get the road again.  Now a steep uphill and I catch up to Mike.  I give him a push on the back to help him up the hill, then I move ahead.  This late in the race I am really getting excited to see if I can finish strong.  With each mile marker, I celebrate with a Gu Chomp and enjoy the fact that I have not slowed yet.  Pass by the finish area and see runners heading in to beat 3:45.  But I still have the two miles on the gravel, the steep hill and then two miles on the road before I am done.

Mile 23 - Gravel path is good.  Oh but some medics are tending to a halfer on the ground.  I can see that she is talking, I think she will be fine, but it makes me sad.  I look at the person next to me and ask how she is feeling.  Then we pass another runner down and getting attention from medics.  It is very rare for me to see that in a race.

Mile 24 - Made it to the waterfront.  The boardwalk over the water.  I see ships and think of Steve.  Now the turn and the last steep hill.  It is shorter and easier than I remember.  I am running strong up a steep hill at mile 24!!  Aid station, the first bit of water poured on my head and a celebratory Gu Chomp.

Mile 26 -Still passing people and no one has passed me since I can remember.  Looks like I can't beat 4:20 but I will still have a strong negative split.  Cruise on in to the finish.

Mile 26.2 - Done and feeling good.  A little faster than the past two years.  And not too emotional.  The weather is so nice that I stay for almost an hour cheering runners on at the finish line.  Another great Bellingham Bay Marathon is complete and I love this race more and more.

The chip split times tell the story: at the half I was in 273rd place.  At 19.6 miles I was in 224th place.  I finished in 200th place.  I might be able to figure out how many halfers I passed in the last 7 miles but that will take some calculating.

For the best finish time I should have gone out a little faster today.  I used to have a good idea of what my finish time should be, now it seems to be random.  Much more fun to err on the conservative side and get that rare negative split.

200th place of 372
Race # 339
Marathon # 116 
Bellingham Bay Marathon #8

Saturday, September 20, 2014

9/20/14 Cooks Hill Challenge 10 Miler

Back to Centralia for my second time here.  Over 120 in the 5K but far less to take on the 10 miles and the hills.

Easy parking and day of race registration.  It feels like Autumn, and the wind is blowing a bit.  It will be mostly sunny and feel just a little warm later in the race.  Terrific scenic course......if you like hills.

Start - Hard to judge the competition.  Then we start and it is clear that there are some fast guys here.  One takes off super fast, two more are close behind him.  I positioned well and we have the whole road so it is easy to find my pace.  Except that I go out quicker than I should.  Watch says 7:40 per mile, which I know will never hold.  I should slow but I don't.  Until the first little hill.

Mile 2 - A guy and then a woman pass me.  But I pass one guy and then catch another who is walking up the steep first real hill.  I encourage him to get running again and he soon does.  But from here on out I will be running alone with no one very close.  On the long views I can see the two who passed me get gradually smaller.  I never sense anyone behind me.

Mile 3 - Joppish road and the long gradual downhill.  I pick up the pace but do not feel strong today.  The first hill was tough!  Now my legs feel tired.  I have doubts about being able to hold on to this pace.  Enjoy the downhill while I can.

Mile 5 - Holding steady on the flats, working hard and not feeling well in my legs.  Tired and this is too hard. And now is the big hill.   Look back and see that I have a decent lead on those behind me.  No chance of passing the guy ahead.  So I give it a good effort up the hill but not my best stuff.  Pump those arms and try to save something for the next 4 miles.

Mile 7 - Flat and now the steep downhill.  Try to not slap too much.  Focus on form and running about as fast as I can.

Mile 8 - Tiring now.  I can feel that I am going slower.  Have to really focus to keep it going.  Worried that I will be passed keeps me running as best I can.

Mile 9 - Merge with the 5K walkers and have to work around those who are walking in groups.  Not exactly flying past them.  Legs feeling somewhat battered, not firing quite right.  Won't beat last years time.  Have to hurry to beat 1:23

Mile 10 - Here is that mile marker with another 0.1 to the finish line.  Cross OK and glad to be done. 10.11 on the GPS.

Finish - Congratulate the winners.  Cheer on those coming in.  One guy was close behind me, then a big gap.  We all talk about the challenging course.  It is hard to remember a year ago, but today seemed more difficult and less fun than last year.  Two minutes slower than last year, but then I had competition with me most of the way.   The race itself is a nice little event that I hope to run again.

5th place out of 39
Race #338
Cooks Hill Challenge #2

Monday, September 8, 2014

9/6/14 GOAT Marathon

First time event, just west of Port Angeles.  The Adventure Route of the Olympic Discovery Trail is a new trail being built on state lands.   Race website says that it is a tough course but the elevation profile does not look so bad for a trail race.  Just under 4,000 feet of gain for the whole course.  Longest climb is about 1,000 feet but spread out over some miles.  Elevation profiles can be so decieving though, I really won't know until I get out there.  There is a 7 hour cut off time.

I had so much been looking forward to this event.  Especially fun to do a trail run that I have not done before.  But after this last week I have serious concerns about what will happen.

Monday I ran the Sporty Divas Bad Azz marathon and it went horribly wrong.  My slowest marathon on a paved surface and that was not for lack of trying.  Fast first half with Tammy and then a complete meltdown.  Worst split ever.  I don't think I have ever been that dehydrated before.  I shuffled in at 5:18 and felt so bad the last two hours. 

Tuesday - Rest day, but a 2 mile hike with Jody and my legs feel OK.  Hopefully the slow time at Sporty Divas saved my legs some.  I never planned to be fast at the GOAT, this is more of a fun scenic run, but I don't want to drag the whole way.

Wednesday - At yoga I notice that my right foot is slightly swollen.  I have had minor pain on the side of my left foot for a while now and it flared up a little on Monday, but the right foot has had no problems. It does not even hurt now, just a little swollen.  Ice.

Thursday - Swelling gone but now it hurts a little.  High in the foot, low in the ankle.  Went for a three mile easy run and stopped to walk it out a couple of times.  Not serious pain but something to watch.

Friday - Drive to Port Angeles.  Walk from my hotel to the race packet pick up and I can feel the right foot with each step.  Not bad enough for me to drop out, but I am thinking about my options here.  I could drop to the half, but I don't want to.  At the race there will be aid stations every 4 or 5 miles so worse case if I am in pain or get dehydrated again I am sure that I can make it to a station and drop out there.  I don't feel nervous or bummed out, it is what it is.  Hopefully all will go well.  If it doesn't, that is the price I pay for racing so close together.

Saturday - Roll out of bed and the foot feels great.  Noticeable that there is no discomfort.  Leave PA at 6:30 to get to the Joyce Grange by 7AM.  Shuttles leave at 8 so I have plenty of time.  Going to be a hot day so I carry my small water bottle and my fuel belt.  Been hydrating and with the aid stations much more often than on Monday I am sure to not get as dehydrated.

I have been studying a map of the course.  It looks confusing in places, with intersecting logging roads.  I hope that it will be well marked.  One runner assures me that it is a new well marked trail with plenty of signage.  I hope he is right.

The shuttle consists of 3 vans and the drive is only about 10 miles.  Small group with a larger half starting later at a different location.  Fun to see a few fellow Maniacs.  Jason, Susan, Nancy, Will, Suzanne.

Start - As usual no one wants to line up in front.  The very start looks wide but we know that it will soon be single track.  My goal is only to finish and I do not want all these guys having to pass me, so I also move toward the back for the start. We start a few minutes late and with the sun up it is already feeling warm.

Mile 0.25 - Well this is going poorly to start.  I remember now that I hate that fuel belt.  I need to tighten it up, but the velcro is not long enough.  So it jostles up and down and I think it is going to rip apart and fall to the ground.  Plus I brought my phone and it is secure in my lower front pocket but is swinging wildly with each step.  If I put it in a regular pocket I am afraid that it might fall out.  I move it around and it settles in there.  Throughout the race it will flare up and I will have to make an adjustment that lasts for a while.  In the meantime I start drinking from the two bottles in the fuel belt.  When they are each about half full, the belt is much more manageable.  It moves on its own to where the bottles are in front and that really helps them stay in place.  OK now I can focus on the race.

Mile 2 - Lovely forested trail.  A few runners have stepped aside to let my larger pack through, now we are marching along just fine.  Uphill but gradual.  Soon I see that there are 4 women in front of me and I like their pace.  They are all talking and everyone seems relaxed.  One has "run happy" socks/calf sleeves.  The woman who is just in front of me has helped build this trail.  I stay far enough back to not crowd in on her, but close enough that we can talk a little.  She sees that one hole has developed and plans to come back to fix it.  Trail is in great shape.  Hard packed dirt, few rocks, no roots.  No mud, it has been so dry.

Mile 3.5 - We enter the first clear cut (this is a working forest) and have an amazing view up the Elwha valley. I want to stop and take a picture but I just passed some people and I do not want to repass them.  I like my position here, but I also want to enjoy the view.  Fortunately Jason ahead of me did stop for a photo and let me use his here:

Mile 5 -  Gentle climbing.  Switchbacking.  Big trees.  Almost trip once but I recover quickly and do not fall.  Walking the steeper uphills but keeping up with my four leading ladies.  Metal trail mile markers and we started right at zero.  My GPS is already way off though.  It will read over a mile short by the time we reach metal mile marker 24.

Mile 7 - Steeper uphill.  Wider trail and I pass one person.  Long steep way but I feel good. Check the altimeter ap on my phone.  820 feet.  Another 800 feet to the highest  point of the course.

Mile 7.5 - Second aid station.  Only water and Nuun again.  I will have plenty of fluids but I might get hungry by the time this is over.  I do have two gels (provided with my race number) and some Gu chomps, so I will not starve.

Mile 9 - After more gentle uphills, we are now on a gorgeous gentle down-slope.  No rocks.  I am way ahead of schedule but feel great and still feel like I am holding back.  Two women drop back and now it is just me and run happy sock woman.  Her name is Alecia and it is fun to talk about races and find out that we have done some of the same ones.  We see the only piece of litter on the whole trail.....a cigarette pack.  Doubt it was a runner who dropped it.

This course is so well marked.  Many red arrows on the trail.  When we cross a logging road there are ribbons on both sides of the trail, across the road making it clear where to go.  At one crossing we have to go about 50 feet on the road but there are volunteers there to direct us, even though it is also clearly marked.  This gives me the confidence to strike out on my own.  At some point I pass the run happy socks.

Mile 12 - False Ginger sighting.  I have been gradually catching up to her and seeing her on the upside of the switchbacks as we near the high point of the course.  She has earbuds in and does not hear me ask to pass her.  I have to wait for a wide section of trail to make my move.  I like having all of my senses when I race.  Later I will hear a raven call and that in itself is worth all of the effort.

Mile 16 - Still running!! Aid station has pretzels and orange slices.  Out into a clear cut and a view across the Straight of Juan de Fuca to Canada (Vancouver Island).  Have to stop for a photo here and to salute my favorite Canadians, Dixie and Tracy. Warm in the sun.

Mile 17 - Back into the dark forest.  Still terrific trails. It dawns on me that if I can keep this up I have a reasonable chance of beating my time form Monday!  I never expected to do that.  If I had to walk it on in from here I would still be happy about it, but really I feel great and am running fine.  Sometimes I find myself going faster than I should and I hold the pace back.  Wonderful to be doing that at mile 17. 

Mile 20 - Above photo and some of the others provided by the race organizers.  Aid station here with lots of food.  Stuff some pretzels in my pocket, fill up fluids and drink a lot.  Also eat a golf ball sized salty "seed and nut ball".  It tastes good but either that or the different fluids and the pounding of the trail finally gets to my stomach.  I will battle a little upset stomach the rest of the way, but really not so bad.  I have enough water that I can pour some on my head to cool down and still have enough to drink.

Mile 21.5 - Run Happy socks catches me, good for her.  First person to pass me since mile 7.  We exit the trail and negotiate the only rocky section of a poor dirt road.  I walk this bit and as it gets easier I still walk a little as she picks it up on the nice downhill.  Then on to the real, driveable dirt road that will take us to the finish.

Mile 23 - Alternating long sections of sunshine and heat, with some shade.  Taking walk breaks now but when I do run I am pleased with how far I am able to go.  Hot. More water on the head.  Great to fill up at the last aid station.  I thought this road would be mostly downhill but it has more ups and flats.  Pretty sure that I will beat Monday's time.  Generally thrilled with how this has gone. Never even came close to turning an ankle.  Right foot is fine.  No pains anywhere.  Hot and tired but this has gone way beyond my expectations.  Run walk conservatively so as to not blow up.

Mile 25.5 or so - Only 24.4 on my watch so I don't know how far it is to go for sure.  Reach a T in the road and a guy in a chair says that it is only about 800 feet to the finish.  Had I known that I might have tried to beat 5 hours.  Sprint on in to the finish line at Lake Crescent.

Finish - 5:03:45 on the watch but a 5:05:15 official time.  Runner ahead of me was recorded at 5:03:42 so they might have the times off.  The GPS miles can be off but my clock should be correct.  Either way I smashed Monday's time.  Hope to come back next year and beat 5 hours, and have a towel and sandals in my drop bag so I can cool off in the lake.

Hang around for a while at the finish and as soon as I am ready they announce a van is leaving for the parking lot.  Short drive and nice to chat with Suzanne.  Trails >>>>> roads, at least this week.

15th place of 35
Marathon or ultra#115

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

9/1/14 Sporty Diva Bad Azz Marathon

Chehalis Western (paved) trail.  A fun course would be to start in Yelm or Tenino and take the trail point to point all the way to Woodard Bay.  Today I will run a marathon here, but it will be a triple out and back from 67th street at the same start/finish as the Run for Luck and the Puddle Jump.

Sporty Diva Rose greets me enthusiastically and takes time to explain the course to me.  Small event with a 5K, 10K , 26.2miles and 50K.  Tammy is running the half and it is her birthday.  I decide to run the first 10 miles with her at about 2 hour half pace.  That is faster than I should go out for a marathon, but I can slow after and it should not be so bad.

Marathon Maniac group photo

Start - 5K and 10K go off in one direction, half full and 50K go another way.  To get enough miles we do a short out and back on 67th street.  We can see that three runners are ahead of us, but we have no idea which race they are in.  Now a left turn to head south on the trail for half a mile.  Turn around and stay on the trail going past the aid station.  We won't see the aid station again for about 7 miles.  I have a small water bottle and some gels.  I debated carrying another or bigger bottle, but foolishly went with the small one.

Mile 6 - Nice time chatting with Tammy.  Bill biking along here and there to take some pictures.  One woman (Amanda) has been ahead of us.  When we reach the T junction with the Pacific Ave trail we are to turn right, but Amanda is no where to be seen.  Looking left we see that she has gone the wrong way.  Tammy and I yell and get her back on track.  Small chalk arrows on the trail are there, but not so obvious.  Out Pac Ave Trail for a bit and then turn around.

Mile 9 - Tammy started tiring a few minutes ago.  We were at 2 hour pace but now it is slowing some.  Her friend Cheryl joins us and we finish the first loop at mile 10.

Mile 10 - Tammy takes the 5K out and back to complete her half.  I start my second 10 mile loop by heading out 67th street.  But first I refill my empty water bottle and also open a gatorade, drink some and leave that next to my car.  Now running alone.  But so many Maniacs that I can greet on the out and backs.  Lisa, Tory, Rick, Monte, Cindy, Jane, Slug, Steve, Crockpot, Peter, David.

Mile 13 - Not feeling well.  It is getting warm and I am thirsty but want to conserve what is in my bottle.  Start taking walk breaks.  I do catch up to Amanda who is also starting to struggle.  We start talking and I hope for a nice couple of miles, but when I can no longer keep up, I see that I have only gone a mile with her.

Mile 15 - Feeling very poorly.  I remember stepping on the scale this morning and being surprised to find myself three pounds lighter than expected.  I don't know how it happened, but I must have been dehydrated going into the race.  Now my legs do not want to move and a real struggle begins.  I drink more and go off course to the Chambers Trailhead to fill up my bottle.  Run a short bit with Peter but he gets away from me.  Too bad, I think that there is only one woman ahead of us, and Peter is now the first male.

Mile 18 - I can't run more than a quarter mile then it is a long walk break.  Water almost gone and I have two miles to the aid station.  Seriously struggling.  I could just quit at 20 miles.  Not my day.  But I know that I will go on.  With the 50K, I won't be the last one in and there are others going slowly.  No one is passing me, at least not yet.  Hot.  Slower Half fanatics encourage me.

Mile 20 - End of lap 2.  Rose is concerned about me.  I must not look so good.  A cold drink sounds great and I sit on a bench and down two full cups of cold Fresca.  I will probably get hit with nausea, but it just looked so appealing.  Fill my water bottle and also carry a larger bottle of gatorade.  Head out slowly for the 10K out and back.

Mile 21 - Lisa catches up.  We walk for a while and I help her get something out of her sweaty back vest pocket.  Then we run and she goes much faster.  Pavement getting to my legs and my left foot is hurting  a little.  Mostly just lacking in energy and afraid that if I run much I might pass out.  So I walk a lot.  Down to the Chambers Trailhead where I toss the empty gatorade and fill up my water.  Tory passes me here and is soon to be way far ahead.

Mile 24 - My spirits are OK but my body is just not willing.  Stomach is Ok but I just can not run. Wont beat 5 hours!  Moving along but thinking about that Fresca at the finish.  Picturing how I will open the cooler and pour myself a cup, how good it will be.  Rationing out the water I have left.

Mile 25.8 - Over the bridge and on to the last bit to the finish.  Guy on a bike says that I am really close.  Then half a minute later I hear him say the same thing.  I look back and a pack of three is finally getting close to me.  They are far enough back that I know I can come in ahead of them if I give some effort.  Not caring at all about the clock, I work hard to the finish so as to not get passed.

Mile 26.2 - 26.77 on the GPS - So happy to be done.  Stick around for a little while to recover and commiserate.  A couple of us had rough runs, but we got it done.

Results pending, but I think I was 5th of 15
Marathon or ultra#114