5AM, dark, rain pounding on the roof. I don't really want to get out of bed. 7AM, dark, rain splattering on the roof of my car. I don't really want to go get my race number. But I do. Back to the car to get organized and wait for daylight and the 8AM start. My sixth time here so I know the routine, and I have described the course previously.
Start - Yay, the rain has either stopped or is very light. Mostly Maniacs here and I know many of them as usual. We set out on the rougher trail, dodging a few puddles. I stay near the back as this is a good way to hold my pace early.
Mile 0.5 - MM111 sighting, playing the human traffic cone, at the turn around. Thanks volunteers! RD Van (pigtails), Jill, and others. Back to the start line, watching my footing and happy to see myself at about a 10:20 mile.
Mile 1.5 - Past the finish line and onto the real trail. Plenty of room now to run how I feel. In fact we are already getting spread out. Some super fast runners here, and some slower ones too. I am not with anyone and free to run as I please. Lately I have enjoyed starting slower and being able to hold on better in the last miles. I should not go faster than 9:30/mile, but I feel good and soon that is my pace.
Mile 2.5 - Catch up to Rikki. I have not run with her much but now we do. We chat and it is a nice time. This takes us all the way to the first aid station.
Mile 6 - After the aid station I can see that Rikki is all warmed up and ready to go a little faster than I should. We are with Dean now and I let the two of them go on ahead. For the rest of the race I will see Rikki's pink fluorescent Defiance vest, get smaller and smaller as she gets farther ahead, then come back towards me, off and on. That vest is one bright spot I can focus on, on this drab day. Raining a little bit more now.
Mile 8 - The long "lame" section. River crossings are done. Now it is paved and along route 169. With the rain, the cars are so much noisier. I am running fine and gradually catching up to "Crockpot". I am going a little faster than I should, so I make the tactical decision to catch her and then stay with her for a while and see how that goes. We end up spending the next ten miles together. Its a really good time. I don't know her well, but have followed her running career for a few years now. She has about double the number of marathons as I do and her finish times are close to mine. Today we click off the miles in a clock steady pace. Surprise, new this year, a staffed aid station. I will not have to carry this second small water bottle the whole way.
Mile 13 - MM#1 Prez sighting
Mile 13.6 - The turn around. 2:08 on the watch.
Mile 15 - A little heavier rain. Some headwind, but not too bad. Half drowned worms trying to cross the paved trail.
Mile 18 - I am fast through the aid station and leave Crockpot behind. She is doing the 50K so I was going to leave her soon anyway. Pass Rikki and Dean too.
Mile 20 - Now the heavy rain. I have been slowing a little. Mostly from walking a little more as I try to consume gels, S!Caps, and drink enough water. Tiring a bit, but not so bad. I do now walk to put on my stylish trash bag. Not sure I need it. It is warmer and not as windy as my last marathon, where I really did have to be careful about hypothermia. Crockpot, Rikki and Dean pass me as I gear up. Rikki is taking more walk breaks than I am, but when she runs, she is faster than me, so we stay close but not often together. Push on to the last aid station.
Mile 21.3 - Aid station. Thanks Betsy and Matt!! 3:27 on my watch. I remember that last year I finished in 4:27, so all I need to do is run the last five miles in an hour to beat last year's time. That should be easy, if I do not hit the wall. It is good to finally have a goal for this race.
Mile 23 - Mostly behind Rikki and Dean. I would like to catch and stay with them. I see them walking the bridges and I gain on them, but then I get tired legs and just want to walk the bridges myself. Happy that I am able to run for long sections, though my pace has really slowed. I know that if I just don't walk too much I will beat 4:27. Every mile closer to the finish and I am sure that my goal is too easy. It is good to have something to push for as it is a real mental game now. I do the math and maybe I can beat 4:20?
Mile 25.5 - No mile markers so I am going off my GPS and I can't remember if the course is a little long or not. I think that I have passed all the landmarks and there is not much farther to go. Tired, but able to trudge along, I finally catch Rikki and Dean. I feel a little cheap passing them. For so many miles I followed them, hoping to stay even and just cross the finish line together. I pictured myself being a gentleman and slowing at the very end so Rikki could place ahead of me. But now I cruise past them, don't look back and don't let up the pace. Getting under 4:20 would be really awesome today and I still have a chance.
Mile 26 - I think this is the last bend in the trail. Then I can see, through the trees, a car crossing the bridge that is past the finish line, so I know that I am very close. Make the slight turn and I can see the finish. I watch as the clock ticks past 4:20.
Mile 26.2 - 26.15 on the GPS. Happy to be done and seven minutes faster than last year. No pains, but both calf muscles start cramping a little after I stop running. I really want to watch the others come in, but now I start shivering. Put on dry clothes. Get some of Betsy's famous soup and a slice of pizza. I am still cold though and don't want to get these clothes wet, so I head home soon after finishing.
This race ends the year on a good note. I have work to do to get back under 4 hours and every marathon continues to be an adventure so I hope to keep on running them.
19th of 74
Marathon or ultra#119
Pigtails Flat Ass #5
Saturday, December 6, 2014
My second time here. Last year was super cold, this year it will be wet with light rain and a few puddles, but not too bad. Last year I came in 39th of 577 but so many of those were walkers. This year they are having a "Competitive 5K - under 30 minute finish time" at 9AM, with the 5K fun run and 1.55 mile walk starting at 9:45AM. I remember that last year I lapped a few walkers and had to negotiate my way around them, so I guess this will be better.
Pricey but a nice long sleeve T-shirt, chip timing and warm staging area in the gym. 8:35 I head out to warm up. Things feel good. I had a very good recovery from the marathon that was 8 days ago. I have not done a 5K in over three months, so I expect to be a little slow. I am not concerned with my finish time, just want to have a good solid run and speed effort.
Start - Crowded like last year. I am near the front though and it is a smooth start. Road widens and we are free to run our own pace. Catch Mike Henderson and will go back and forth with him the whole way. Erick Lindburgh is just ahead, but he will stay that way, good for him.
Mile 1.55 - End of first loop. I joke that I did not know that we had to run it again and somebody laughs. Too hard to breathe though for much talking. Legs are good but I have a little side stitch and and breathing so hard, that is my limiting factor. To be expected, my not being in 5K shape.
Mile 2 - Back and forth with a bunch of people, I am being passed more than I am passing people though. Kali Walker sighting. I run faster on the pavement, and then am careful on the grass and trail. Mike catches me for good this time. I follow him through the short but very nice conifer needle lined trail. I just can not catch my breath enough to pick up the pace. On to the pavement and the finish. Through the line of cheerleaders and done.
Mile 3.1 - (3.09 on the GPS). I do not even think about a cool down run. I start breathing better and walk back to the course before the finish. Cheer on other runners. Soon the clock is reading 30 minutes and the last stragglers are coming through. It is all over so soon. I go inside for a cookie and to check results on the laptops. Now I really should go jog a mile, but I am wet and a little cold and just don't feel like it.
Slower than last year, but I am pleased with my run.
23:18 (7:30 per mile pace)
62nd of 204 competitive runners
5th of 15 in age group (40-49)
Saint Martins Jingle Bell Run 5K #2
Monday, December 1, 2014
It has been seven weeks since my last race! I rested after Defiance, which was my fourth marathon in a seven week span. I was registered for and very much looking forward to running the Turn Back the Clock half marathon on November 2nd, but had to take a sick day. My first time getting a flu shot and I just happened to run a 102 degree fever two weeks later. Quick trip to Hawaii for Saki and Jake's wedding and the next thing I know November is almost over.
There are four options for Marathons near Seattle on Thanksgiving weekend and some runners do all four. I have done the big Sunday Seattle race a couple of times, but it is pricy and logistically difficult with a required trip the day before for number pick up. Thursday is out. Friday (Grandpa's Wishbone) is the clear choice for this year. It is south of Seattle, a $20 donation to a food bank and an awesome alternative to the Black Friday madness. I have been wanting to run this for some years now, hoping to try some of RD Bill's huckleberry pancakes. Unfortunately this forest trail race has been moved to the Green River paved trail due to logging in Bill's woods the past two years. It does make it easier for me to get to, and I should know the course to some degree.
The course will be a double out and back, overlapping the Green River Marathon course, but starting in the middle of that route. It is so easy to get to. Right off I-5 and a Park and Ride lot directly across from the start/finish. I get my number and have an hour to eat, relax and prepare to run.
It is warmish and dry, but supposed to rain all day and then get cold. I wear my Maniac jacket and stuff a trash bag in my pocket just in case. Small event, with a half and a 50K. The course is listed as 27 miles. I had a great 16 mile training run two weeks ago, and then a miserable 8.5 miler in the rain that I cut short last weekend. Those are my recent long runs. Bellingham on 9/28 went great at a 9:45 pace, so I decide to run 10:00 per mile today and see how it goes. Main objective is to finish in good spirits and maintain/build on my endurance.
Great to see Maniac friends as always. I know about 25% of the runners here today. Ten minute delay for the start. Bill gives some announcement about directions and I will regret not having listened more carefully. Right at the start I realize that I have a very casual attitude about the course. I will just follow the crowd and I feel confident that we will do fine. Bill said something about going around the construction........
Start - I start near the back and off we go down the sidewalk on Interurban Avenue. About a half mile and then left onto the Green River Trail. We are going "upstream", the opposite direction of the one way Green River Marathon. The river itself is brown and near flood stage. We have had a lot of rain lately. Chalk mile marker says 1 mile, but GPS says 0.9 and that marker could be from something else. Our race has orange painted arrows to point the way.
Mile 1 - Maniac Suzie catches up to me to say hi. She is doing all four races this weekend and will not plan to be as fast as me today. We catch Monte and she drops back with him. I settle in behind Mike and Gary. Listen to them talk about Cascade Crest and other races. Mike, Gary, Suzie and Monte all have many more marathon finishes that me.
Mile 3 - Holding my 10:00 pace, sometimes dipping under a little. Meet Maniac Karey, finally someone with a mere 18 marathon finishes.
Mile 4 - Aid station. The only one on the course. Fill my bottle and keep moving. Now a fun part of the course. Running along the river. There is a bridge crossing ahead and runners are turning left after the bridge, so we can see and wave to runners who are a half mile ahead of us. There is Sabrina. I cross the bridge and see some orange arrows pointing left. This is the detour section because of work on the trail. I am running comfortably at the back of a small pack. They are all chatting and everything is fine......until we reach the end of the trail, a major road and no arrows to mark the way.
Mile 5 - Dead stop. What to do. Don't panic. More people coming behind us. No sign of anyone ahead of us. Lots of people cutting off the trail and running through the industrial/office park. Someone says that we went past the detour and we can just parallel the runners going through the parking lot. I get going, staying on the sidewalk of the busy road, but looking for runners going through the office park. Then a small road to the left and I take that. Now I am with Hope Fox and her husband Cliff, making decisions as we run. He sees some arrows on this sidewalk and we think that we are OK. Now I see fast runners on the trail, that is up an embankment. Through some dirt and past a bulldozer, this is clearly not the way we were supposed to go, but it gets us back on the trail along the river. Funny to look back and see 20 people had followed us. Steve Walters running fast towards us and I am sure that we just continue on here to the turn around. We should have turned right at the bridge and stayed on the trail. Curious to see how much mileage that added to the course. Maybe not much. Early starter is coming toward me and I confirm that the turn around is ahead, though he says it is not marked. "Just look for the three totem poles", that is where you turn around. Ah the joys of a free race. No complaints here. Worse case I would just run until my GPS said 6.75 mile or so and then turn around. In fact we reach the park with the totem poles right at GPS reading 6.75, so it all worked out OK. A little worried about Pedro, Sabrina and Andy Lin who were ahead of me, but I did not see at the turn around.
Mile 8 - I have decided to stay along the river for the return trip. Somehow I am in front of about 20 people, with no one in site ahead of me. I will just stay on this trail and it will take me to the bridge and then I will be back on track. Past the bulldozer where I rejoined the trail on the way out. I have to go through a barricade that states the trail is closed and under construction but it looks pretty much done. The trail splits and off the to right there are some runners coming up. I stay along the river and after about a tenth of a mile I realize that I am on a loop that will bring me back to that other trail. Tamara is yelling to me. At this point it is easier and shorter to just keep going and rejoin the main trail after a detour. I do so, but my mistake puts me behind that whole crowd. I have been going just slightly faster than most of them so it takes me a while to re pass them. Mike says that he has taken that long route before.
Mile 11.5 - Holding pace. Feeling fine. I take a Power Aid gel and it immediately causes me stomach grief. I have three different species of gels and some Gu chomps. Still don't know when or why something will be fine, or cause trouble. Taking S!Caps every 6 miles or so, but I am barely sweating. It might have rained just a little earlier, but all of a sudden the skies open up and it starts dumping. Hopefully it won't last long, but it is coming down hard. I pull out the trash bag, poke a hole for my head and slip it on.
Mile 13.4 - At the turn around. It has been pouring for the past 20 minutes. Serious rain. I consider dropping out at the half and some runners will. But I am relatively OK with the jacket and trash bag and it is not too cold yet. This rain is going to make it memorable for sure.
Mile 16 - More and more puddles. The shoes are heavy now. And getting windier and a little colder. I can not swing my arms, encased inside the bag. I am wet enough inside the trash bag that my hands are sticking to it, so it is difficult to make any adjustments. I have to walk a bit, just to drink or eat something. But my legs feel pretty good. At the aid station I suggest that they watch for hypothermic runners. This is a real possibility with the wind and rain. It will drop to 42 degrees by the finish. A short section of the paved trail has a smooth dirt trail along side of it. I ran the dirt on the first out and back, but now it is all one long puddle. Sometimes if I am not paying careful attention, I end up slogging through a deeper puddle and really soaking my feet.
Mile 18 - Across the bridge and turn right, staying with the river. Steve, Mark, Pedro and other fast runners. Ah, there is Sabrina. She will go on to be first female but at this point she is struggling, wanting an aid station. She will make it there and get gloves and a jacket. It is crazy windy and sideways rain on this exposed section.
Mile 20 - Happy to reach the turn around. By myself. Not concerned about pace anymore, just survival. It is not raining as hard, but it is still heavy and windy. I will take the weather penalty on my time and not let that bother me. The next two miles, after the turn around are the worst. Wind more directly at me. This has got to be zapping my energy, but I am pleased that I am still running OK. If I do have to walk I really better keep at it, or risk cooling off and start shivering.
Mile 22.5 - Thank the aid station volunteers. I do like the course for the distance between landmarks. Now four miles to go. I run nice and steady for a mile before having to stop to use the bathroom and drink and eat something. Back to running and feeling good. No aches or pains. Heavy shoes though and still dealing with this trash bag, that I am so glad I have on.
Mile 24.5 - Pass early starters Jane, Cindy and Larry Macon. Still feeling good, I keep on running. What a great and rare feeling to be running strong at this point in the race. My finish times are not what they used to be, but I feel like I have been running smarter of late, and definitely doing well in the later miles. The one mile mark is now a blur of chalk but I know that I have less than a mile to go. Then on to the sidewalk and a long straight way to the finish tent.
Finish - Mile 27? - 26.5 on the GPS. I feel like I could keep going and joke about doing the 50K, but I am happy to be done. Patty records my time and I can tell Ray that Jane is very soon to finish. I want the pancakes, but first I will take some hot cider to my car and change in to dry clothes. Dried off, car running and drinking the cider, now I start shivering. I don't know how else to treat it and it passes in a few minutes. Go back for pancakes and they are terrific! But now I get cold and shivery again and decide to head home. Nice wooden finishers medal.
I really had a good day here and would come back for sure. I miss the big Seattle race though so I might have to do that one next year. We shall see.
4:34:50 (very happy with that finish time considering the weather)
Marathon or Ultra#118