Wednesday, April 20, 2016

4/16/16 Whidbey Island Marathon

Every May I run the same two races (Tacoma and Capital City).  Every April I find something new to run.  This year I finally get to run the Whidbey Island Marathon.  Been wanting to run this one for years and doing so will get me another Washington State County that I have run a marathon in. Jody is off on a trip with her Mom so it is a solo overnight for me.  I get there early enough on Friday to explore some beaches, but alas see no orcas.  The island is so pretty, I hope to come back with Jody some time for a longer stay.

Start time is 6:30 AM but we have to catch a shuttle from the finish of this point to point course.  Hotel is a short drive away, so I am up at 4:30 to catch a bus by 5AM.  I get to ride next to Pedro.  Great to catch up with him, especially since he resists all social media.  It feels very cold out here at Deception Pass. I have a hat and fleece that I will put in my drop bag, but even with those I am shivering.  The time goes by quickly enough and then it is time to run.

Maniac Pace Team is here.  With the course supposed to be very hilly and I am not at top form, I see no need to try to set a great time.  A second half faster than the first would be wonderful.  I think that 4:15 is just a little too aggressive and the 4:30 pacer is Super Sabrina who is a ton of fun energy, so the choice is easy to plan to stay with her for a long while, then go faster later in the race if I feel good.

Start - The road is closed for the first couple of miles so we can run right down the middle.  Starting at the park and then onto Route 20.  Over the Deception Pass bridge.  Yesterday I stopped here to get a couple of photos.  There was lots of traffic zooming past the narrow sidewalk and with the sweeping view I started to get vertigo.  Today I stay to the center and enjoy the scenery.  Mostly a few steps behind Sabrina and with a little pack.

Mile 2 - On to a side road that is quiet but like the rest of the way will be open to traffic.  So we get to see and stay inside of every traffic cone in the county.  It makes us run no more than two together.  Aid stations every two miles or so and nice temperatures with sunshine.  Easy comfortable pace.

Mile 8 - The little pack is much smaller and I have had the chance to chat with Sabrina.  I don't know her so well, but have been amazed at her running career.  Talking with her, the miles eased by.  I even get to hold the pace sign for a few minutes as she makes a quick stop.  I take my duties seriously and make sure the pace stays even.  Other than that I don't have to think about pace.  It is so relaxing to trust a pacer and let them do the work of timing.  Sabrina is also a certified coach and I get some good advice, most of which I already know but just don't do enough of.  Maniac Coconut Boy sighting, running his 499th marathon! 

Mile 10 - Have I mentioned the hills?  Ever up and down.  Nothing too steep but its relentless.  Here at mile 10 is the steepest one yet.  A few years ago I would have explored this course more closely, memorizing the map and driving the whole thing ahead of time.  I am glad that I did not do that this time, I would have been discouraged before the start. Better to just let it unfold today.  And it is not like a trail race where I might take a wrong turn.  Just follow the cones.

Mile 15 - Up, down, up down.  I ran the Bremerton Marathon last year and remember that being the hilliest road race I had done.  Today is even hillier.  My watch data will show Bremerton as having over 1,700 feet of elevation gain and Whidbey will be closer to 2,100 feet.  But I feel fine.  Taking lots of gels and shot blocks as my stomach feels great.  Just three of us now staying together. Smart to stay with Sabrina (and fun).

Mile 18 - More uphill.  Nice views of the water, but I think there are better places to race on this island.  Lots of twists and turns with no long straight views of what is ahead.  Hard to know if this is the last big hill or not.  I had looked at the course profile and it showed just about all downhill after mile 21.  But some people are saying that the course is different this year.  The great thing is that I feel strong and light and have no trouble getting up any hill.  Walk when Sabrina does.

Mile 20 - After a nice downhill it is up again.  Right hip flexor is starting to bug me, but not so bad.  I had planned on staying with the pacer until mile 21, then going faster.  But I feel good enough to not go slow on this uphill and without a grand goodbye, I just ease ahead.  After a quarter mile I realize that I am ahead of her for good (hopefully) so now it is time to go faster, work hard and see how much I can beat 4:30 by.

Mile 21 - And right here we get a fantastic downhill with a long view of more than a mile ahead.  Meet up with a guy named Micah and we pick up the pace.  Passing the half marathon walkers now.  There will be more and more of them, but we will not have trouble getting past them.

Mile 23 - Had been averaging 10:15/mile for the first 20 miles.  Now I am running about 9/mile.  Not blazing fast, but moving along fine.  I realize that I have 5K to go and I remember the four 5K races that I ran last Saturday.  That seems so short.  I am tired but not as stiff as I was at the start of the last race last week.  Now a discouraging little uphill that slows me down.  But after that it is gentle downhill and then a steep down to the finish.

Finish - 26.35 on the GPS.  Happy with my time and the about 2:14/2:12 split.  No wall or real struggle.  I guess that I could have gone out a little faster, but if I had really tried for a fast time I could have had a very bad race, with that course as hilly as it is.

Whidbey is done.  Off the bucket list.  Nice enough event but I don't feel like I need to come back again any time soon.

76th of 138
Race#388, marathon or ultra#139

Sunday, April 10, 2016

4/9/16 Orting Daffodil Parade 5K

Get to Orting and find decent parking.  Lots of people around with the traffic negotiating the detours.  Now a long wait.  Almost two hours till race time.  It is hot and I smell.  I want to nap in the car but it is too warm.  I walk around town a little.  I am worried that I am dehydrated and I drink and eat but hopefully not so much to get sick while running.  4th 5K race in 4th town today.

This course will be a simple out and back on the paved Foothills Trail.  After a long wait, race time is getting close.  I shuffle a little and feel as stiff as I have all day.  Fun to see the same people again and we line up accordingly.

Start - It is a beautiful sunny day in Orting and lots of people are using the trail.  We will have to watch for bicyclists, dogs, and families walking together.  But it turns out to not be so bad.  About 70 degrees and it sure feels warm for running.

Mile 1 - 7:57 - There is a volunteer here shouting out the mile pace, which is nice.  No water on any of the courses, and just bottled water at the finish.  But organization including starting on time has been very good.  I feel slow and creaky but really my pace is not so bad.  Jemma and Jared are pulling well ahead though and will beat me in the challenge.  Cattle pasture with baby cattle, then an amazing view of Mount Rainier, followed by a run along the beautiful Carbon River.  By far the most scenic course of the day.

Mile 1.6 - Turn around.  Looks like a slightly long course.  Try to keep working hard.  Wonder if I can beat 25 minutes?

Mile 2 - an 8:07 mile - First time I have been over 8 today.  Try to push on and get it done.  No one with me or right in front to give me impetus to speed up.

Mile 3 - 7:52 mile - Passed a fellow challenger who is struggling and just keep on.  Now I can see the finish clock and it is going to be super close to beat 25 minutes.  That gives me the goal I need to finish strong.  Push really hard.

Finish - 3.15 on the GPS. 24:59 on the clock! There are the Daffodil Princesses from this morning.  One drapes a Challengers finish medal around my neck, one gives me a much needed bottle of water.

I would like to stick around, but foolishly I am meeting Jody in an hour in Auburn and we are driving an hour north from there to have dinner with her parents.  Towel off and change of clothes and nobody seems think that I smell.  Fun long day.

I would do the challenge again for sure.  Happy with my results and really everything went great.  Except for them losing the Puyallup race results.  So for the three races that were timed, I ended up 15th best of 116.  Age group 45-49 I was second place of seven.

For the Orting race:
19th of 149
Race#387, 5K#102

4/9/16 Sumner Run For Rhubarb - Daffodil 5K

Third 5K today.  Drive to Sumner was quick and I find the Middle School with easy parking no problem.  Warming up, the sun is out now.  Drink a lot of Gatorade and eat a bunch of fig newtons.  Have about an hour to wait.  Put on sandals and walk around the school grounds.  Chat with fellow runners.  Try to keep loose, but feeling it now.  Feeble attempts to run a little before race time.

Start - This will be on roads with lots of sunshine.  Off we go and it is not too bad.  With the usual suspects.  Loosen up and pick up the pace.  Lots of police support as we go through a residential area, to Main Street.

Mile 1 - 7:43 - good enough.  Warm for sure, I am not heat acclimated yet this year.  The course looks like a J.  Spectators along the parade route, but not too many are cheering us.  Out and back, then along the route again.  A little stomach trouble, drank too much fluids recently.

Mile 2 - Second mile in 7:51.  Second turn around.  Hard to get moving again after slowing at the U-turn.  Catch a fellow challenger and we tough out the next half mile together.  I feel like my place will be good here and I have not slowed too much.  And coming in to the finish I see that it will be a short course.

Finish - 2.87 on the GPS.  My finish time of 22:14 is great even with the short course.  Off to Orting

16th of 147
Race#386, 5K#101

4/9/16 Puyallup Daffodil 5K

Race 2 of the challenge and my 100th 5K.  I leave Tacoma at 9:15, and take River Road to Puyallup.  I have not driven here in a couple of years but I think it will take me right to the fairgrounds.  Part of the challenge is getting to each of these sights, places I do not often go to, with potential road closures.  The main street of Puyallup is lined with chairs, reserved places for parade watchers, but the road is open and I get to the Golden Gate at the fairgrounds at about 9:45.  That gives me 90 minutes to scope out the area and try to keep loose.  I also eat some fig newtons and drink gatorade.

Recognize other challenge runners milling about.  There is George who is way faster than me and has been one of my CCM pacers.  The Dog Lake shirt woman thinks she knows me and then I remember her.  I ran some with Jemma a few years ago when she was running her first race, the Over the Narrows ten miler.  We have some friends in common.  She and her husband Jared are just a little faster than me and we will be close in all four races.

A little warmer but still nice for running.  Bigger group of runners here including my first sighting of a "Mini Maniac"  I run a little bit to stay loose and I feel OK, but not sure how fast I can go.

Start - Chip mat is on the road, we start and immediately turn left into the Fairgrounds.  Wide, plenty of room to find my pace.  Fun to run past the roller coaster and other attractions.  Loop around the food court.  No stiffness, I feel really good.  I pull ahead of Jemma and Jared.

Mile 1 - 7:19 - That is great.  A few back streets and then on to the parade route. Spectators!!  Whole wide road open and fun.  Couple of turns and a turn around.  The out and backs are fun to see the same runners again.  Same guy will win all four races.

Mile 2 - 7:29 for the second mile - Really doing well in this one.  Almost run into a family who is crossing the parade route and stops halfway in the road.  Really not that close a call, lets me catch a guy who was closer to running in to them.  Having someone with me helps so much to go faster.  Turn the couple of blocks back to the finish.  I know that after the last turn it will be a short sprint to the end and my time looks great.  Have to navigate around an oblivious couple crossing the road, but I do so and finish strong.

Finish - 2.98 on the GPS.  I guess that makes up for the long Tacoma course.  Even with the shorter course I am thrilled with my pace and time.  7:24/mile average pace.  I am among the top finishers and beat some of the people who beat me in Tacoma.

For my 100th 5K I finished in 22:03 which matches my finish time from my first 5K back in 1996.

Unfortunately the computer system keeping track of times crashed during this race and all times from 18 minutes to 28 minutes were lost.  Good thing I have my watch time for my own records.  But not place info.  And the challenge results will now be based on three races, with my fastest one not counting.  I am having a fun day and although I love to look at the data, I won't let this bother me.  Its off to Sumner.

22:03 (watch time)
no place results
race#385, 5K#100

4/9/16 Tacoma Daffodil Parade 5K and Challenge

Late last year I realized that I was in striking distance of my 100th 5K race.  Not as significant as 100 marathons, but it is fun to celebrate the milestones.  I usually do not commit to a 5K until just before the race and I did not map out a path to #100.  But after the Hop for Hunger (#97) and last weeks Run Like a Fool (#98), I started looking.  Then Jody mentioned that she would be doing a long training run on Saturday with her running partner and I found myself free to find a race.  A quick search found not only this Tacoma race but the four race challenge event.  Sounds like a crazy fun way to celebrate #100, so I signed up for all four races.

The Daffodil Parade is actually 4 parades in 4 cities in one day.  Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting.  The floats and marchers travel from one town to the next from morning to late afternoon.  With the roads closed for the parade someone had the great idea of staging a 5K race before each parade.  Separate races you can sign up for just one race, or two or three, or with one entry you can register for all four races.  Results for each race plus a cumulative challenge total.  T-shirt for everyone and a medal for challenge finishers.

Tacoma race start at 8:45.  A little traffic coming to downtown as I have to wait for some parade floats to pass by.  Lots of police and road closures, but easy to get to my usual parking spot a few blocks away from Tollefson Plaza.  Plenty of time to walk to the plaza, get my shirt and number and back to the car.

Cloudy and about 50 degrees.  Short sleeve shirt, cap in case the sun come out.  A little warm up run.  Looking around I can tell that challenge runners like myself have a red dot on their bibs, single race runners do not.  I see a woman with a Dog Lake Marathon shirt, I will have to chat with her at some point.  Mike Henderson and a few other regulars are here for the first race only.  Mike asks if I am going to hold back, or blow it all in the first race.  That is the big question.  What is my goal?  How do I approach today?  When do I eat?  I guess that I would like to average a sub 25 minutes per race, but really I have no benchmark for something like this.  I could really stiffen up after the first race and the other ones could be very difficult.  We shall see.

Start - Nice sized race.  Chip timed and I start near the front.  Word on the street is that last year the course was a little short, but they have fixed that.  The course is not so simple, with a loop and then two different out and backs.  But it will be well monitored by police and volunteers.  Daffodil Princesses cheer as we head out.

Mile 1 - 7:21 - Standard 5K first mile.  Guess I am not holding back.  Over to Highway 705, don't think I have every run on here before.  Now back to Pacific and the parade route.

Mile 2 - 7:27 for mile 2  - Feeling good.  Following Dog Lake woman and her husband.  Short line of Daffodil Princesses reminds me of the Wellsley girls at Boston.  Lots of runners near me, gives me incentive to go fast and I gradually catch one woman.  She is in the challenge and I will go on to barely beat her in each race, coming from behind each time.

Mile 3 - 7:47 third mile - Can see the finish, but it looks far off.  We have a long course here.  Dog Lake woman is just ahead and I work hard but do not full out sprint.  When I realize that I will not beat 24 minutes I pull back just a little and cruise in to the finish.

Finish - 3.27 on the GPS.  Another runner has 3.25 on their watch.  Catch my breath, check in quickly with Mike and then off to the car to get out of town and get to Puyallup for the 11:15AM start time.

27th of 219
Race#384, 5K#99

Monday, April 4, 2016

4/2/16 Run Like a Fool 5K

4th time here.  Same ugly course around Capitol Lake.  Easy logistics.  Really nice shirt.  Sunny nice weather.  Lots of runners, but not so many familiar faces.  Decent warm up, hoping to beat last weeks 5K time.

Start - Behind Martinho, Christie and Tony and I will never get even with them.  That is OK.  Feeling pretty good.  Now I see a shadow of a court jester hat catching me.  He passes and he is in a full jester suit and he is juggling three balls.  He drops the balls twice that I see, but picks them up, starts juggling again and gets way ahead of me.

Lap 1- 11:57 by the time I look at my watch.  Try to go faster.  I can't get the turnover speed that I had last week.  Run as fast as I can sustain.  Not much else I can do.  Navigate around some dogs, a kid and a large walker on the narrow sidewalk by the dam.

No one close ahead of me to challenge me, but I glance at the watch and see that it will be very close to last weeks time.  Give it a strong effort, but alas I come up one second slower than last week.

Finish - 3.09 miles on the GPS.  Short cool down run, then raffles, but I do not win.  4th in my age group.  But fresh coffee and snacks and a nice morning overall.

24th place of 238
Race#383, 5K#98, RLaF#4