Oct 30, 2009

Ever have trouble thinking of titles?

Another thing I remember about the marathon but forgot to write: on our ride home on the subway we sat across from a man who had run and his wife/girlfriend/partner. She was talking on the phone to someone about his time and kept calling it his "score". "It was his best score ever." "They haven't posted the official scores yet but when they do we'll let you know." That was funny enough but then he wasn't even correcting her. Isn't that odd?

A little bit of recovery running today. Isn't it odd that when I'm resting/recovering like today that I'm looking forward to running and another marathon but when I'm in training I'd rather rest? Is everyone like that? It felt good to get out though except for the fact that I ran on the windiest day of the year if not ever. My HR was way up so I guess that was telling me I'm not fully recovered yet. I'll just have to work back into it.

Don't forget the NYC marathon this Sunday. 9 AM Eastern time but the actual races don't start until 9:10 women and 9:40 men. Watch live at www.universalsports.com. I know of at least one blogger that is running. You go girl!

All in: 6.31 @ 8:13 pace.

Oct 27, 2009

2009 Marine Corps Marathon

Right to the heart of the matter, I ran 3:52:11 for the marathon. That is about what I had expected but a touch slower than I really wanted. Training went down hill the last 2-3 weeks. I'm content with my time and don't want to feel like I have to apologize for it just because I've run faster.

Now for the whole race. This is a bit long and probably not overly well written so enter at your own risk.

I was running the race with a friend (his first) and we arrived at the start just in time to use the port-a-potty, check our bags and head to the line. He hung out towards the back as I jogged up to the 3:20-3:40 corral. I was able to climb over the barrier with just a couple minutes to spare so I didn't have to spend too much time waiting around. There was a cool fly-over by a couple of these bad boys. Suddenly the cannon went off and we were moving. Well not really, it took me about 3 minutes to actually cross the starting line. Since I had decided not to really "race" the event I just tried to get into a comfortable pace. I didn't even look at my Garmin because I was afraid it would affect my pace. Then maybe a half mile in my shoe came untied. Really? Already? So off to the side it was to fix that. I had a couple early observations: 1) Why are all these slow runners and even a few walkers up here at the start of the race? It's not really a pet peeve or something that even bugs me a lot but just out of courtesy they should start within their correct corral. I may not have finished within the time of my corral but at least I was at the correct pace in the beginning. And 2) I noticed more women going potty by the roadside then I ever have before. In fact I don't ever remember seeing that before. They just pulled the part of their shorts between their legs aside and squatted a bit. Good for them but it seemed awkward. (I guess if Paula Radcliffe can do it...)

I seemed to settle in at around 8:00 minutes per mile. I knew the course had hills but they were a bit more than I had expected so I just took it real easy going up and let myself go coming down. I decided to use the latest "drink when you are thirsty" research so I bypassed a couple early waterpoints. Mistake? I don't know but I was definitely well hydrated from the previous couple days. Somewhere in the early miles we passed under a large American flag hung over the course and a few military personnel next to me pointed and said that's the only motivation they needed.

5k in 24:51. I decided I was happy that I wasn't trying to do a real fast marathon. It would have led me to do too much weaving through the crowd and work too hard on the hills. I had forgotten how crowded it was in such a big race. But I was enjoying it, lots and lots of runners around. Going up and down all the hills we caught up to and were passed by a fair number of the wheelchair racers. Usually the people with the ipods had to be tapped on the shoulder to get out of the way. I was feeling okay but had to go to the bathroom again. I always play the game of can I wait this one out? Will it go away? Should I just stop? Well, this time the question was answered for me as my shoe came untied AGAIN. So I pulled off to the side and doubleknotted it this time and got some relief.

10k in 49:57. I kept looking for the 7 mile marker expecting a large hill when I heard someone next to me ask "Have we passed 7 miles yet?" and someone said we had. I looked at my Garmin and it showed 7.5. Nice. At 8 miles I took a gel, expecting a water station soon since that was where it was supposed to be. Turns out it was closer to 9 miles. Oh well, no harm done. It started flattening out at that point and we neared our first pass of the Lincoln Memorial. I knew my family would be there so I started looking for them. They were yelling and yelling for me but I only saw them as I passed by, too late for high fives for my kids. The crowds were great through this point and offered a lot of energy and support. Saw the first of many signs saying "Your feet hurt because you are kicking butt!" Then we started to head out on an island and suddenly the crowds were gone. No shouting, cheering or cow bells. Only the constant rhythm of hundreds of footfalls to keep pace with. It was also around here that I noticed the fatigue setting in. Somewhere around mile 11-12 is definitely way too early for that. I knew I'd walk at some point but just wanted to keep running while I had the chance.

Half in 1:45:35. At the halfway point is a turn around on the island. Little did I know that we were running with a slight tailwind for the last 5-6 miles. Now a headwind, ugh. Now I was just trying to duck in behind runners as they were passing me. I decided to keep running until I saw my family again at mile 16. I was able to do that but unfortunately my family wasn't there. Evidently my son had a sudden case of needing to go to the bathroom right about that time. That was at the Lincoln Memorial again and we started our trek along the mall. We passed the Vietnam Memorial, Washington Monument, WWII, Korean war and of course some others that I'm missing. I distinctly remember thinking somewhere in there that I really thought I'd be more inspired when running through that portion. Someone held a sign saying "Run if you think I'm sexy." A lot of people were running so I guess she was. I stopped to walk for the first time around mile 18. Mostly my hamstrings/upper buttocks were feeling sore. Cardiovascular didn't seem like too much of a problem. Someone yelled at a couple Navy guys to get going because an Air Force guy was just ahead. "We're all on the same team" answered the man from Navy. At the end of the mall we did a turn around by the Capitol and as I passed a high school band was playing the theme to Rocky. Sounds corny but at that point in a marathon any sort of motivation is good and I got a little from that.

35k in 3:05:28. The "Your feet are hurting..." signs were getting tiresome because it felt like my butt was getting kicked. Saw several signs warning me "Don't poop your pants, self, shorts etc" What's up with that? Someone have a bad experience once? Somewhere in the last 10k the miles started flying by. Not time-wise of course by I was always further along than I though I was. I thought I was coming up to mile 20 and I was already at 21.5. Saw Death holding up a sign saying "The end is near." Mile 23 came quickly and it seemed just after mile 24 that mile 25was already there. Sign: "Toenails are over-rated."

All along the last bit I was just telling myself to keep up the effort and enjoy what I could because it would be over before I knew it. And suddenly there it was, the last uphill .2 miles to the finish. I had visions of charging up the hill like all the runners around me were doing but as soon as I started up the incline all along the back of my legs clenched. I was just trying to keep moving to avoid a full cramping breakdown. And finally I was done. It wasn't until then that I realized how thirsty I was. Maybe I should have started drinking from the very first water stops.

After we got back to the hotel my kids took enjoyment in running an ice bath for me. I could barely spend more than several seconds at a time in there and wasn't in for more than a few minutes total but it definitely helped. Not a miracle cure but more than I thought it would. The backs of my legs felt a lot better.

There it is, not much more to say. The marines run a good race but the mass of people is overwhelming at times. The finish area is long and difficult to get through. Text updates were very slow (didn't get the 30k update until after I finished) and only good for relatives following your progress from afar. The subway was incredibly packed at the end and I was in front of the big bulge. Truly though, it is a good race and I'm glad I did it.

Thanks for all the well wishes. No pity consoling comments saying I'll get it next time. I fully embrace my effort, the race and the time that it resulted in.

All in: 26.2 in 8:52 (26.56 by Mr. Garmin)

Oct 22, 2009

Ready or not...

My last run is out of the way, another dismal comparison to my Myrtle Beach fitness but I'll leave it at that and save you the details and ugly chart. The cold has neither worsened or slackened (a word?). So my plans have gone from initially starting out at about 7:25 per mile in hopes of a 3:15-3:20 marathon to hoping I can find a rhythm in the 7:45-8:00 range and try to keep this think under 3:30. Quite honestly though it might be as much as 3:45-4 hours and I'm fine with that. I just want to have a positive experience and I think I will. As long as I'm not reduced to a shuffling, crawling, incoherent mass I'll be happy.

Final preparations are now being done since we fly out early tomorrow morning. Got my new bright orange technical shirt because my wife wants to be able to spot me better. I've done a few runs in it to make sure it is comfy. Garmin and camera batteries are charged. All necessary papers and maps printed out. Last blog entry is done (well, mostly).

Best of luck to all runners and spectators this weekend. I'll be in touch with a race report next week.

All in: 3 miles at 7:56.

Oct 19, 2009

Looking Back

First off, congrats to all racers over the weekend. Marathonguide.com said it was the weekend in 2009 with the most marathons scheduled.

With every marathon I do I like to look back at my training for other marathons to assess my fitness. This one is no different and if you are reading this, you get to come along for the ride. I'm comparing my training with the Myrtle Beach marathon because that one is the closest (did it in February) and has the most similar training schedule (3-4 runs per week with one long and 2 MP runs). The key difference in training was that for MB I spent a month building up my MP runs from 5-8 miles before hitting a month of long ones. For MCM I spent that month doing speedwork and then started the long MP runs. As you can see from the chart below, I ran more miles the two months prior to taper for MCM but at a slower pace. I think that was mostly due to the slow miles (warm up, recovery, warm down) associated with the speedwork. When you look at just one month prior to taper MB is definitely better with more miles and a faster pace. In looking at long runs though MCM has the advantage with 7 runs of 17 miles or better to only 4 for MB. Finally I did a workout today that was the same that I did for the MB taper. It was 5 miles with one warm up, one a little faster, two fast and then one a little slower. This data is also on the chart. All things are quite equal except the most telling stat, avg HR. I was working quite a bit harder this time around.

What does it all mean? It means that I think my training and preparation was pretty similar to what I did for MB where I ran 3:19:54 but the cold that I have now is holding me back and causing my HR to rise. It's like I've gone back 2-3 months in training. Anyway, that's what it looks like from my point of view. Later this week, I'll share my marathon plan and prediction.
Sorry about the format of the chart. Haven't figured out how to put a decent chart into this thing yet.
All in: 5 miles at 7:46.

Oct 16, 2009

Countdown Begins

Ten days from today...Marine Corps Marathon. Early weather reports are good, low of 50, high of 67, partly cloudy. Touch on the warm side but certainly can't complain. Hopefully a tailwind all the way around. ;)

Like I said before, the Garmin is back. Big relief. They certainly were fast on the turn around. Actually, this is a reconditioned unit, not the one that I sent in. I don't mind though, it works well and holds a charge. Speaking of the Garmin, have any of you ever turned it on for the first 10 minutes of a flight? Kind of fun to watch the speed and elevation indicator go so fast. Try it sometime.

I certainly have some sort of something or other going on with me. As I go about my normal day I really don't feel any different but when I try to run (is that not normal?) my HR goes wacko at speeds it has no business going wacko over. This week I got in no run longer than 8 miles. I know I'm tapering but I still don't have a good feeling going into this marathon. Hopefully I come back around in 10 days...

Oct 14, 2009

Oct 12, 2009

Is it just me?

When the marathon is two months away I invariably wish it was just two weeks away. But now that it is only two weeks away I always wish it was back to two months away. Is it just me or is everybody like that?

I've been feeling a very mild cold in my throat and chest the past three or four days. Not really anything to affect me but I can tell it is there when I breath. So with just two weeks left before the Marine Corps marathon, I bagged the long run over the weekend. I also seem to be fighting some leg pain that isn't usual. My left heel hurts, my upper hamstrings/lower buttocks feel strained, calves are a little sore. Not sure what all this is about. It's like my shoes need to be replaced but they only have a couple hundred miles on them and I can usually get 500-600 before I replace them. So my taper has gone from two weeks to a little closer to three weeks. Oh well, hopefully that will allow me to get my legs straightened out.

Today was two warm up miles and then five at about 7:30.

All in: 7 at 7:54.

Oct 9, 2009

When is 3 miles greater than 9 miles?

First of all, catching up on a few items. This is the weekend for the Chicago marathon and I plan to run on Saturday afternoon/evening so that I'm free Sunday morning to get up and watch it. Now the question is do I get up even earlier at 3 AM to watch the World Half Marathon championships until 4 AM or so and then get a few more hours of sleep before Chicago starts. Sounds like something I would do. Also adding complications: forecast for subfreezing temps and snow tomorrow. What's up with that?

My Fedex tracking number showed me that Garmin received my yesterday at 8:10 AM. Not bad. Shouldn't take them too long to replace a battery and send it back. I've been upgraded to hopeful. Side note: when I explained to my wife the dilemma with my watch and the proximity to the marathon her first response was "Buy a new one." I declined but what a great wife.

Finally on to the question in the title. I wasn't up to running my normal MP run yesterday, 2 miles warm up with 9-10 miles at MP. So I threw in a new workout for something different. I went 10.05 miles very slowly, 9:18 pace and then 3.35 at 7:22. Throughout the run I struggled with the fact that I was kind of wimping out. I mean my normal MP workouts are 11-12 miles in under 90 minutes. How can 13.4 in about two hours be better than that? Well, it really can't but it does have this advantage: in my normal MP runs I'm done in less than 90 minutes. In this run I didn't start running fast until after 90 minutes. May not be as good but I'm consoling myself with that anyway.

All in: 13.4 in 8:48.

Oct 6, 2009

Dead Batteries

Yes, the batteries are dead. I charged it up and turned it on and it promptly turned itself off again. The Garmin of course. Aaaaaaauuuuuuuugggggggghhhhhhh! IT'S LESS THAN THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE MARINE CORPS MARATHON!!!!!!! I mailed it in, what else could I do. The Garmin service agent said I'd have it back in 10-14 days. I'm not so hopeful. I'm pretty much hopeless.

Maybe my batteries are somehow cosmically linked to the Garmin's batteries. Somewhere in the past three years of use my electrical system has been linked to the unit on my wrist. It's like I started myself up on my marathon paced run today and turned myself off just as quickly. Five measly miles. Didn't seem to really have it physically; maybe mentally as well. This isn't unprecedented; it usually happens once or twice in each marathon cycle. This is the first time for this marathon, I guess that isn't so bad. So I just shut it down to have a better workout next time.

Stupid Garmin...

All in: 5 miles at 7:53.

Oct 4, 2009

Marathon Season

Marathon season is in full swing. Congrats to all who have already raced and good luck to those in the future. As for me I'm still three weeks out from the Marine Corps marathon. I kind of suddenly noticed all the marathons this morning because today was the day for the Twin Cities marathon and I had friends running. Thoughts of them inspired me on my own 20 (well, almost) mile jaunt. Didn't help me go faster but helped me get through it nonetheless. Wasn't trying to go fast anyway, just getting the miles in.

As I mentioned it was 19.65 miles and I didn't realize I had a tailwind going until I made a turn after about 6 miles in. Not so bad at the time but when I made another turn at 10 miles I was faced with a headwind. Not too bad of one, just enough to be bothersome. Stopped for a gel and water at 11 miles. I've given over to taking them routinely now. What are you gonna do? Coming up on 14 miles I ran smack into the hills that stymied me a couple weeks ago. This time, not so bad. They definitely slowed me a little but also made me stronger right? I felt pretty solid the whole way, kept expecting to feel bad but it never really came around. On long runs like these I often ask myself "why can't I just be done now?" when I'm only a couple miles into them. The answer? "Because I haven't earned that yet." I can only earn the right to be done when I've finished the run. So today, coming in on that last quarter mile I was happy with my right to be done, having finished a run I could be satisfied with.

All in: 19.65 miles at 9:02.

Oct 3, 2009


My mistake. I guess the Chicago marathon isn't until next Sunday. October 11th. I guess I get seven more days to decide if I'll get up early enough or not.

Oct 2, 2009

Chicago Marathon (not for me)

Chicago marathon is to be run on Sunday at 8 AM Eastern time; which means 7 AM for me. It is being broadcast live on universalsports.com (hopefully no technical difficulties this time). Normally this wouldn't be a problem but the deal is I have to get a long run done in the morning because the afternoon is filled up with my son's baseball games. What does this all mean? Well, getting up to run at say 5 AM to be done by 8 AM and watching the last half of the marathon. I mean you've got defending champ Evans Cheriyut, Sammy Wanjiru promising a new world record, Abderrahim Goumri and Tadese Tola. On the women's side you have Deena Kastor going for her second Chicago title. I really don't want to miss it but getting up to run by 5 AM?!? Oh bother.

Today I got up to run but it was by 11 AM so no problem. Well, no problem with the time anyway. Still problems with the running though. After two warm up miles I kicked it into marathon pace but was at a HR of 166 after only mile 3! That is way too high; I should only be up there after mile 8 or so. I had gone to a different park and was running 2.5 mile loops around a lake and to offset how bad I was running I decided to take a small break after each loop. First time around I went potty, second I took my windbreaker off, third I sipped water, fourth I talked a park ranger out of giving me a parking ticket even though my time was up. So basically I cheated my way to 10 miles at a 7:17 pace. At least I got them all in but I did stop way too much and I'm none too happy about it. But the other choice was to keep running and only do 6 miles or so. Currently not so happy with how things are shaping up.

I am happy with the Garmin again though. It seemed to perform flawlessly (aside from not showing me the numbers that I wanted to see). I had to reload all the software from the Garmin website but I think that worked well.

All in: 12 miles at 7:33 pace.