sunday, april 14, 2013
Big D MarathonRace: The Big D Marathon
Official Time:5:21:52 (27.3 miles)
Watch Time: 4:49:54 (26.2 miles)
Comments: This was not my finest race effort by any stretch of the imagination. I knew going in that I was undertrained and the odds were enormously against me but I didn't realize how terrible this race was going to be.
First off lets address the issues that shouldn't have been part of the deal. The folks who put this race on, Mellew Productions, were absolutely awful. They sold this race as a smaller, by-the-basics event. I liked that. It was something I had gotten used to in Arizona where there are a number of distance races with a thousand or so entrants.
Instead of being frugal, they turned out to just be cheap. I passed a lot of it off as part of the deal but it turns out the issue extended to the way they managed the race.
(I tried contacting Mellew Productions by Twitter and email to get an explanation and refund but, predictably, they have completely ignored my requests.)
Now adding a mile to any marathon is a serious problem but doing so on this course was downright dangerous because the conditions turned out to be extremely challenging.
It was cooler earlier in the week but by Sunday we kind of knew what to expect -- start line temperature of about 60 degrees and, depending on how long it took you, about 80 at the finish. Add to that the course went through an industrial area the final two miles you had to contend with the sun beating on you the whole way. And this is what ended up happening.
I got out very well at the start. I knew a fast beginning would be disastrous so I tried to keep myself in the 10 minute mile range. Of course, I was going about thirty seconds better than that most of the first third of the course. The tree lined neighborhoods and a bit of cloud cover kept the sun from being too much of a problem at this point so I tried to take advantage of any downhills to conserve energy. I was walking though the aid stations and making it a point to get a good drink of fluid at each one.
Things got ugly when we got to the lake. As the course wound around White Rock Lake it gave it's first long gradual ascent. Then, it threw the first big hill at as as it led into the Lake Highlands neighborhood and the host of the uphills I was concerned about followed soon after. Seriously people, they call it "Lake Highlands" for a reason. I tried to take the ascents easy and ride the descents but I could tell my reserves were going quickly and my quads were taking a lot of abuse.
At the "halfway point" I told the timer that he was at the 14-mile-mark. He said a lot of runners were telling him that but "this is where they told me to set up." I know it's not your fault dude, but you could let one of the idiot organizers know. A guy in a Mellew Productions shirt at the 20 mile marker (but 21 miles into the race) was similarly unhelpful.
Coming out of the neighborhood and back around White Rock Lake was when the course started to turn the screws. I knew I was going to have a tough battle on my hands at about the 15.5 mile mark but then things got ugly. There was a 10 mph wind coming off the lake that simply battered me. It was at about the 18 mile point I walked for the first time. There was no way I could keep up against that and the rolling incline of the lake trail and get to the finish.
When the wind lessened and the trail leveled off I was able to get back into my 11 minute mile pace but then the course went into the Lakeland area and threw another series of hills at us. About 100 feet of ascent in less than a mile. And, by now, the temperatures were well in the 70s and enough overhead the trees only gave limited protection. The neighborhoods were pretty but I wasn't really able to appreciate them.
Even though there were no more hills the heat was my undoing at the very end. I mustered enough energy to shuffle run most of mile 23 and 24 (at an electric 12+ minute mile pace) but after that I was done. There was nothing left in my legs. Nada. My walking pace was reasonably decent for mile 25 but at mile 26 I was even struggling with that.
And, sure enough, there was an extra mile to complete at at the very end. And it was simply awful.
In the end, my watch time came to 4 hours and 50 minutes or so. That was minus the extra distance and the bathroom breaks. My official time was a good half hour more than that but who cares? This was a pretty complete disaster with the single saving grace that I don't think I injured myself in the effort.
My goal was just to finish another marathon and that I accomplished. The strategy now is to rest up and ease back into general training over the next month or so. Then segue into strength work over the summer. As awful as this race was, I have to have some conditioning as a result of it. The hope is I can build on that over the summer and then translate that into a good marathon effort in the fall.
Start: 7:30 a.m.
Temperature: 62 degrees
Humidity: 79 percent
Location: Fair Park, Dallas, Texas
Shoes: Brooks Ravenna 3
Injury update: Everything hurt at some point.
sunday, february 24, 2013
The Cowtown Half MarathonRace: The Cowtown Half Marathon
Official Time: 1:59:53
Watch Time: 1:59:56
Comments: Last week I gave a gander at the race calendar and saw this race was planned for the weekend. After my 17-miler I was intending to do a 12-mile "short" long run and a half-marathon kind of fit that bill. So I decided to take a stab at it.
Since I missed online registration I took the TRP train over on Saturday and signed up at the race expo. I've been meaning to give this service a try and this was as good an excuse as any. Despite messing up and over-paying the fares, it was pretty easy to use and darned convenient. Regrettably, I couldn't use it to get to the race itself as there isn't a Sunday service.
So I got up stupid early, pulled myself together and headed out. It was darned chilly -- getting down toward freezing -- so I had the full sweat regalia on. The drive over was uneventful and pretty quick due to the absence of traffic. When I got to the exit things backed up but the organizers did a nice job arranging the approaches to the parking.
I got to the lot and made a beeline to the corner of the lot near the road out and a group of porta-potties. A brilliant move on my part. I just waited in my warm car, taking my time to go to the bathroom since the line was so short. Got back in the car, took off the sweats (and warmed back up a bit) then headed out with ten minutes to the start.
Of course there was a staggered start I was not aware of so I ended up spending 15 minutes in the cold but once we were underway I was fine temperature-wise. I had my long-sleeve running shirt on over a short sleeve one. I took off the outer shirt at about mile nine and was good to go.
Now I have to say, this race was well organized and one of the best raceday experiences I have ever had. There were two caveats to that. The first was the start of the race was down a two-lane road making it insanely bunched up. The other was they located the first water station right at a sharp turn. Both created pretty serious congestion with the runners. Still, that's nitpicking given how great everything else was.
I was planning on doing at least a two hour effort and started behind the pace guy for that time. A mile or so in I was feeling pretty strong so I got up to him and double checked his mile pace (9:10). I felt I could do better than that, at least on the first half of the course so I took off past him.
Honestly, I didn't really check my Garmin that much the whole race. I just tried to hit a good pace that felt strong but not over tiring. There were a few formidable hills and, for those, I really shortened my steps and tried to maximize turnover. Then at the crest, I put a little mustard on my effort and, if there was an immediate downhill, tried to ride it the whole way.
It turned out my average pace was almost exactly 8:30 min/mile (my watch was a bit under, the chip said a bit over). My slowest mile was 9:07 but that included the long incline from the river to downtown (about a 100 foot change in elevation of a quarter-mile or so). That was far better than I expected when I got into this thing.
More importantly I felt very strong and in control this whole race. There were a few moments I lagged a bit on the last two miles but a I sang "Yea Alabama" out loud till I got past them. I pondered signing up for the full at the expo and now I think I could have done it but I would have been completely toasted at the end of it.
This time was a full eight minutes off my effort two-and-a-half months ago in the Dallas Half Marathon. That's a 7 percent improvement which is quite solid. I'm still a bit frustrated my times are so much slower than what I was doing just a few years ago but that kind of progress is great. Bottom line, this was a fun race and a great building block effort for training instead.
Start: 7:00 a.m.
Temperature: 36 degrees
Humidity: 79 percent
Location: Downtown Fort Worth, Texas
Shoes: Brooks Ravenna 3
Injury update: My right quad was a bit sore prior to the race but not a problem at all during the event.
sunday, december 09, 2012
MetroPCS Dallas Half MarathonRace: MetroPCS Dallas Half Marathon
Official Time: 1:59:53
Watch Time: 1:59:56
Comments: With just more than two weeks training, I wasn't expecting any more from this race than a barometer for how good my chances might be for a stab at a marathon in the Spring. The good news is that's seems to be a realistic goal. The bad news is I sure as hell ain't gonna PR if I go through with it.
The Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving (8 miles) was a pretty good barometer that I could survive this race but didn't give me any idea of how well I might perform. I got the hang of the DART rail service with that race so it put me downtown with a healthy amount of time to spare. They had port-a-potties in the corral so I got in line and ended up waiting until, almost literally, the starting gun.
(On the whole, The Dallas Marathon is a really well-run event but a bit of organizing with the corral toilets would be a huge help. Expecting that many racers to queue in an orderly fashion on their own with the pressure of the race start is kind of unrealistic.)
The run started pretty well. There was a lot less congestion than the Turkey Trot and, more importantly, no walkers, dogs or strollers to navigate around in the crowd. I got into my hoped-for pace pretty quickly and it was pretty much right the speed of the folks around me.
The worry going into the race was if the weather would hold out. With a cold front set to move through during the day, there was a concern that rain could be an issue. It wasn't but the heat was. It was very warm and very humid. I probably sweat more on this race than any I've ever run.
Still, the crowds were good and the runners were all in good humor... well, except for one asshole who got way too picky about being "cut off" on one of the bottlenecks and started screaming at people. Seriously dude, do us all a favor take up trail running. Preferably in the deep wilderness.
Wearing my Alabama shirt got me quite a few shout outs along the course. I gave each and every one of them a "Roll Tide" in return, even the guy who yelled "Bammer" and especially to the lady who screamed "Beat Notre Dame's ass!" I did pass one spectator waving an Auburn car flag at one point but she was so startled when I passed by she didn't have time to bleat forth the usual Barner epithet.
One thing is for sure, there were a whole lot of folks in Texas A&M gear in evidence both particpating and along the course. Which was a sharp contrast to the lack of burnt orange. One girl had a "Beatdown in Bama" shirt on which I found amusing. A beatdown is what you suffered in the years under Franchione, sweetheart, not a skin-of-your-teeth, five-point victory that went down to the final seconds.
That said, I was reaping the rewards of starting off at a slower pace. Even though I didn't speed up much on the back half of the race I passed a ton of folks on the back six miles.
The last uphill was through uptown along Cedar Springs Road and it pretty much drained my reserves going into the final portion of the race. Even the gradual ascent along Main Street the final mile proved an extremely unpleasant experience after that. Still, I had enough in the tank to do an almost-sprint the final quarter mile to the finish line. That's more than I could say about the race two weeks ago.
So what can I take from this effort? First is that I've clearly hit some kind of metabolic slow down. My time was a good 25% slower than my efforts just two or three years ago. Training will whittle that down a bit but I'm doubting I'll see times I enjoyed in the past. And given my issues with injuries, I certainly don't want to push the envelope for ego's sake.
Thus, I feel pretty confident given I got through this race with a minimal preparation that another marathon is certainly realistic but Boston Qualifying would be asking a bit much. I might take another stab at it down the road but just doing another 26.2 miler is clearly a challenging enough goal for me at this point.
Start: 8:00 a.m.
Weather: partly cloudy
Temperature: 68 degrees
Humidity: 84 percent
Location: Downtown Dallas, Texas
Shoes: Brooks Ravenna 3
Injury update: Nothing really.
thursday, november 22, 2012
Dallas YMCA Turkey TrotRace: Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot
Official Time: 1:13:13
Actual Time: 1:13:17
Comments: Once again, real life has pretty much brought my running to a complete halt. After making a game effort while in Alabama, the difficulties of work and a cross-country move simply absorbed all of my time. But, by last week, I was finally ensconced here in Dallas and thinking about re-starting the running again.
My new place is near White Rock Lake where running trails are plentiful but I couldn't seem to get the motivation to get out the door. So, since I knew I would be doing the Thanksgiving holiday solo this year, I decided to sign up for a turkey trot race. And, since the one in downtown Dallas was close, it seemed logical.
What I didn't know was that Dallas' Turkey-day race is one of the most well-established in the country and has been going strong for 45 years. Instead of a smattering of holiday runners like I was expecting, this was a full-on event. All told, more than 45,000 people participated in one form or another. (Photos from the event can be found here and here.)
I chose to do the timed race, since I'd like a benchmark to start back in training and the hope of avoiding the crush of humanity that portended. Instead of driving downtown I got to use the DART train for the first time which turned out to be the way to go. It put me right near the race start with half-an-hour to spare. Just enough time to hit the toilet and find a spot in the corral.
For a large race, the Dallas Turkey Trot is really well run except for one big problem. They let a bunch of the walker/stroller/dog walkers start with the timed runners. So you spend the first two miles dodging these people on ridiculously clogged streets. This is not simply an inconvenience, it's a recipe for disaster if someone takes a spill (like I saw several people do) and suffers a serious injury (which, thankfully, didn't seem to be the case).
Outside of the danger it posed, I didn't overly mind the heavy pack since it forced me to keep my pace slow and gave me a chance to finish a race I had not run a step to train for. After the turnaround on Elm Street, the congestion eased enough to run a reasonably normal pace. With a slight downhill, mile three was easily my fastest and I was feeling pretty confident about the effort.
The downtown portion of the race basically was all downhill toward the river but once you got around Reunion plaza, the course threw some unpleasant uphills at you. The first was to get up onto the Houston Street viaduct (I got a "Roll Tide" from a DPD officer which helped a bit). Going across the bridge was fine but you could see the return over the Jefferson Street viaduct was going to suck tremendously.
And it did. While the Houston Street bridge was pretty level, there was a bit of a climb to the turnaround and then onto the Jefferson Street span. Then, at the middle of that bridge there was a very large arch. So, basically, the entire second half of the course was dead flat or uphill, very few declines for relief.
By mile six I was not a happy camper. I felt reasonably good in that I wasn't suffering so bad as to doubt my ability to finish but the final quarter of the race was extremely unpleasant. There was no final spurt to impress the crowd and look good in the photo. I just got there, gave my finishing "Roll Tide" and went looking for fluids.
Since this was the first time I ran an 8-mile race I technically PRed. But the 9:00 per mile pace really wasn't setting any land speed records by any stretch of the imagination. I ended up finishing 136th in my age division and 1,603rd overall (out of about 7,900 timed runners). Still, it was a nice kick-start for my training and not a disappointing performance given my lack of preparation.
Start: 9:00 a.m.
Weather: partly cloudy
Temperature: 60 degrees
Humidity: 60 percent
Location: Downtown Dallas, Texas
Shoes: Brooks Ravenna 3
Injury update: The outside of my right shin was sore for a few miles early on and the lower right calf felt like it was threatening to cramp the last mile and a half or so.
saturday, march 31, 2012
NABI Chasing the Sun 10KRace: NABI Chasing the Sun 10K
Official Time: 46:15
Actual Time: 46:21
Comments: Since January, I've been doing a race each month and extending the distance each effort as well. So I was due for a 10K and this one in central Phoenix fit the bill nicely. It's the third running of this race so it wasn't too large a field (151 runners but you had to deal with the slower 5K folks at the end) and the course was pretty darned flat too boot.
I didn't sleep well at all and was woken up at 3 a.m. by the asshole kid down the street riding his motorized scooter up and down the block. So I ended up just getting up and getting ready for the race since it started pretty early. The downside was I had that unpleasant overtired feeling all the way up to the start.
I started at the front and held a straight line as the faster runners eased by on the left side, then dropped in behind them. This had to be the smoothest start I've ever enjoyed in a race of any size.
The run went straight west for a full mile meaning the sun was in our eyes the whole damned way (well, it is the "chasing the sun" 10K). While annoying it did kind of help me focus on the pace because, for all intents and purposes, I was flat blind.
At the turn I could see again and get a better fix on the folks around me. There were three or four runners ahead of me and I spent the next mile and a half reeling them in. This really helped me keep my pace in the 7:30 range I wanted.
But by the end of the first lap (we ran the 5K course two times) I was pretty much on my own and my pace suffered accordingly. I lost a full minute on the next three miles and even a reasonably strong push at the end couldn't get me back under the 45 minute mark I was hoping for. But I still kept it under my old marathon goal pace so that's something.
Obviously, beating my overall pace in the 5K I did last January shows I've made reasonable progress but, yeah, it's tough to be overly excited given how far my times have fallen. The most encouraging thing about this race is that despite the slowdown on the back half, I felt pretty strong the whole way and in pretty good control of the run.
Start: 6:40 a.m.
Temperature: 64 degrees
Humidity: 33 percent
Location: Wesley Bolin Memorial Park, Phoenix, Arizona
Shoes: Adidas Supernova Sequence
Injury update: My right hip and butt have been sore for a few days now.
saturday, march 10, 2012
The South Mountain ChallengeRace: The South Mountain Challenge
Official Time: 48:04
Actual Time: 48:05
This was my week to do the South Mountain trail loop for my long run but when I saw this race advertised I thought it would be a nice change of pace.
It was a five mile run up Telegraph Road to the summit of South Mountain. The organizers did it in conjunction with a biking event and that meant it started at 2 p.m. rather than the early morning. While temperatures are still very mild in the Valley, it was pretty warm with the usual unrelenting sunshine.
All that added to the real challenge of this event -- the ascent. The route involved more than 1,000 feet of uphill with just one half-mile downhill section.
I toyed with the idea of doing the Mount Lemmon Marathon last year and so I though this would be a good test of if even hoping to accomplish a race like that was even a remote possibility. It turns out it is. Remote, I mean.
I made a mental goal of finishing under 50 minutes but tried not to treat this race like a true competition. Since it was the inaugural running there were only about a hundred people total and most seemed to have the same casual attitude about it I did.
I tried focusing on keeping my steps short and quick despite the incline. As I got further into the race the worse my turnover became. The general ascent was tough enough but many of the curves in the road presented rather steep inclines that just wore me down.
I had slowed to almost 10:30 pace on mile four and was really concerned about how bad the final mile would be when the course went into the half-mile downhill. I tried to just ride the descent and save up for the final push, which turned out to be smart since the final incline was the steepest.
I crossed the line at 48:04 which put me at a 9:39 average pace for the whole race. That kept me under the 50 minute/10 minute pace limit I was shooting for. More importantly, as tough as it was, I felt pretty solid the whole way. This was a pretty successful effort, overall.
After finishing I sat for a few minutes and had drink then headed back down. They had vans running back to the bottom but there was also a 2.5 mile trail back to the main parking lot. I took this and it took about an hour to get to the bottom. It's a nice trail. I need to run it at some point.
Hour: 2:00 p.m.
Temperature: 65 degrees
Humidity: 21 percent
Location: South Mountain Park, Phoenix, Arizona
Shoes: Adidas Supernova Sequence 3
Injury update: Nothing.
saturday, january 28, 2012
The Retro Run 5KRace: The Retro Run
Official Time: 24:41
Actual Time: 24:41
Comments: I kind of signed up for this one for the hell of it. I certainly am not in even remotely good enough shape to do an actual race effort but I figured doing an even might help me get some enthusiasm back for the thing.
The primary reason I picked this run was because it was pretty nearby and next on the calendar but the "retro" aspect sounded pretty cool. The theme of the thing was "The 80s" and so I just cut the sleeves off my retro looking Alabama t-shirt and bought a pair of over-the-calf socks and was ready to go. I figured wearing pretty damn much what I did when running 25 years ago would be authentic enough.
There were lots of sideways pony tails, leg warmers and more of those godawful fluorescent shades on display than I ever wanted to see again. But some folks really got into the thing. I thought the group that dressed up as "The Breakfast Club" crew was unbeatable till I saw the guy in the '85 Mike Ditka outfit doing the "Super Bowl Shuffle" as he crossed the finish line.
The goal I set for myself was to have as close to 8 minute miles as I could but I didn't look at my Garmin at all the whole race. The final time of 24:41 gave me a 7:54 overall pace -- so that was six seconds of gravy every mile. It turned out that the first mile was at a 7:48 pace and I slowed by seven seconds every mile after that.
Overall, I felt pretty good the whole way and wasn't annihilated at the finish. It was a nice run and reasonable benchmark for the considerable amount of work that remains to be done.
Start: 9:05 a.m.
Temperature: 55 degrees
Humidity: 21 percent
Location: Kiwanis Park, Tempe, Arizona
Shoes: Adidas Supernova Sequence
Injury update: Nothing.
sunday, february 20, 2011
IMS Arizona MarathonRace: The IMS Arizona Half Marathon
Official Time: 1:37:56
Actual Time: 1:37:59
Comments: The original plan was to make this race my BQ effort but the problems with the calf pushed things back a bit. So I opted to switch to doing the half in this one. This turned out to be a fortuitous decision due to the weather.
Turns out a front is passing through the region. Heading out to the West Valley yesterday for the race expo I got treated to a pretty violent wind storm and intermittent rain. It rained on and off all night and the temperatures got on the chilly side. Not cold, just damn uncomfortable for standing around in the dark waiting for a race to start.
I went with Rob and Lacen to the start of the marathon to see Kyle off. Rob and I then headed back to the half-marathon start where we found the rest of the Rx Running crew. I hit the head and chatted a bit then found my way to the line. The clouds to the west didn't look too promising.
As the gun went off I realized I didn't have my Garmin set to record mile splits. So I stepped out of the group, set it and got started again. The result was I was back in pack heading out. It was more crowded than I expected (a total of 605 runners to be precise) especially since everyone was running around the puddles of water in the parking lot. I just blasted right through them. It was pretty obvious we would all be wet by the time this one was over.
Now my initial intent was to make this a goal pace run and try to get as close to the 7:37 as possible. But last week the info about Boston changing their times came out and it looks like I need to really consider going for that 3:15 marathon again. So I decided to try and hit the 7:27 pace that would require.
The first mile went by pretty well and I nailed the 7:27. But I felt pretty good so I decided to increase my pace a little but not to the point where I felt I was pushing it at all. And even when the rain started coming down at mile four it didn't slow me down too much.
The precipitation eased up after 10 minutes or so but I was completely soaked. Now I knew my shirt sticking to me made it possible I would get raw nipples but they didn't hurt and I was way too focused on the pacing. I had passed a slew of people the first few miles but now I had about five in front of me I would spend the rest of the race reeling in.
My legs felt really good but I started having trouble keeping the pace down at about mile seven. Looking at the elevation readout later I saw that was because the whole second half of the race was a gradual incline. But a guy at the next water station saw my hat and yelled "Roll Tide." I yelled "Roll Tide" back and rode the adrenaline to my second-fastest mile on the course.
As expected, there was the bitch of a bridge over the 101 to cross in order to get to the end. I shortened my stride and tried to increase my turnover but I was pretty tired by that point. I rode the downhill and just focused on finishing strong. A kid wearing a Camelbac that I passed at mile ten passed me right close to the finish line. I let him go. It made his day even though it turned out I beat him by ten seconds.
I stood around with everyone as they finished waiting for Kyle to finish his marathon. I was fine at first but when the rain and wind started again I started losing body heat and began shivering pretty bad. Dean went and got my sweatshirt but it didn't help. I eventually had to go sit in his car under a blanket to warm up. I stopped shivering but I sure as hell wasn't warm. Finally the guys got done and Dean drove Rob and I back to our cars.
Overall this race went well. I was a full minute faster than the last half marathon I did and my 7:24 average pace was in the ballpark of what I was shooting for. My finish was 30th overall and third for my age group. But most importantly, there's now some data to make the decision of what race I'll run next.
Start: 8:00 a.m.
Temperature: 48 degrees
Humidity: 100 percent
Wind: 7 mph
Location: Buckeye/Goodyear/Litchfield Park/Glendale, Arizona
Shoes: Adidas Supernova Sequence 3
Injury update: Pretty damn good actually. The hamstrings didn't even bother me.
sunday, january 16, 2011
Rock n Roll Arizona Half MarathonRace: The Rock 'n Roll Arizona Half Marathon
Official Time: 1:38:50
Actual Time: 1:38:53
Comments: The initial plan for this race was to run it as a goal pace long run and get a little race day experience in as well. Then the calf injury struck and I've essentially spent the last week doing incrementally longer goal pace runs to see if it can handle the strain.
So I went into this with the hope of a sub 1:40 run but, more importantly, the hope of finishing without aggravating the problem that sidelined me for the start of the year.
I decided to do the RnRAZ half because it fell in the right place on the calendar and it's been awhile since I ran something that I got a medal for. But, just like the last time I ran this race, I woefully underestimated the chaos involved with the event. The race expo was complete chaos (although I did get to hear Frank Shorter speak) and it was even more insane on raceday.
Dad dumped me off about 20 minutes before the start of the half and it was simply packed with people. The half marathon ended up with more than 19,000 runners and I had to make my way through all of them to get to my starting point.
I got to my corral, the first one, and just tried to stay warm till the start. The usual collection of race veterans and local high school track kids were in this area. I expected to get passed pretty regularly at the start. And, lo, it came to pass.
We got going with the usual jostling and whatnot but it really wasn't too bad. As I expected, I started a bit too fast but not overly so. I just tried to drop into a very comfortable pace and focus on holding to it. I tried not to think too much about my injury.
After about two miles I was feeling very comfortable and the main wave of folks passing me was pretty much done. A lot of the ones going by were breathing way too heavy for the first section of the race. I knew I'd see them again pretty soon.
The musical offerings were pretty much the usual collection of bar cover bands and whatnot... with one great exception, Steelin the Night Away. Their calypso drum music is a treat to hear on the course and I was really glad they made it out to the even this year. (My buddy Cogdog walked the marathon and whipped up a nice video sampler of the experience.)
I spoke briefly with a guy wearing a shirt advertising a Peruvian Restaurant. I had never heard of it but it had a distinctive Spanish/Quechua looking name. He seem pleased by the comment but wanting to get on with the run. I could relate. Mostly I just tried to ignore folks since I didn't want to lose my concentration on my pace.
The steep section near Papago Park was a little more difficult than I expected and Mile 12 turned out to be a serious little section of work. This turned out to be my slowest mile of the race, but still well within my goal range. I pushed a little harder on the final mile but not so much I would risk aggravating my calf.
Crossing the finish line I put my arms up and yelled "Roll Tide!" And a few folks in the crowd answered back. That pretty much made the whole effort worth it, in my mind.
I finished with an average pace of 7:30, well under my goal pace range. And I came in 727th, for whatever that's worth. More importantly, I felt pretty good at the end. Not completely worn out or exhausted but more the regular post-hard-long run type of feeling. Can't say I'd be able to have done another 13.1 miles at the same pace, but certainly I could have finished the marathon today if I had chosen to run in it.
Start: 8:30 a.m.
Temperature: 42 degrees
Humidity: 70 percent
Location: Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tempe, Arizona
Shoes: Adidas Supernova Sequence 3
Injury update: My leg felt tightish before the race but that could have been just me worrying about it. It gave me no problem whatsoever during or immediately after the race.
wednesday, november 24, 2010
The Sam Lapidus Montclair RunRace: The Sam Lapidus Montclair 10K
Official Time: 45:08
Actual Time: 45:04
Comments: Since I was spending Thanksgiving in Alabama by myself, I figured I'd look around for a holiday race to run and found The Sam Lapidus Montclair Run after a pretty quick internet search. At first I thought I would just make it a goal pace run but since my football activities over the weekend are likely to preclude a long run, I decided to make a serious stab at it.
So I got up at 5 a.m. and drove up from Tuscaloosa. The traffic on the highway was spare as you might expect for Thanksgiving morning but every damn car had to driven by a drunk. Between weaving across the lanes to the inability to hold a consistent speed, it was pretty hairy for me.
And when I got to Birmingham it took me a little bit of time to find the place. The roads around the hilly areas of the town lack a hell of a lot of consistency and I got turned around pretty badly.
But I got there, got registered and hit the center's track for a warm up mile. I got back to where the crowd was milling but nobody seemed to have any idea where the start was at. Finally, just three minutes before the race was supposed to start the "organizer" started yelling over a microphone from down the road a ways.
We get over there and get ready and then had to wait while he read through all the sponsors and said howdy to everyone in the crowd he knew and asked about people who ran recent races. Then we had to wait through possibly the worst rendition of the national anthem I've ever heard.
THEN we had to wait for the one wheelchair racer to start. The kid got maybe 50 yards and fell over so we had to wait while they ran out to get him set up again and then wait some more while he got a bit of a head start. (It didn't help, we all passed him on the uphill).
The race started very crowded and it took a few minutes to get out of the crush. Between that and the downhill I was whipping out a sub six mile pace and had to really concentrate on slowing down. My quick glance at the course suggested it would have hills so I didn't want to screw things up at the start.
It turned out the course had a lot of hills. Since it was essentially an out-and-back course, the ease of the first half of the event was going to come back and be one hell of a bear in on the back end.
One big plus of this race was there were a decent number of Auburn fans running it so I just kept focusing on running down anyone wearing that damned orange. One guy who even had on orange and blue shoes I waited to a particularly steep upgrade to smoke.
So while I had a very good race up to about the four mile mark, I slowed down substantially on the last third of the race. My worst mile was exactly at my goal pace so from that point of view, this was a nice workout.
I finished 8th in my age group with an overall pace of 7:11 minutes per mile (7:16 by the official clock) which was what I hoping for at minimum. The legs held up well and I had good stamina the whole way. As I finished the race going up the last little uphill before turning into the finish line, I heard a kid on the side of the course say "Hey, that guy is really strong" when I went by. Made the whole effort worth it.
Start: 8:39 a.m.
Temperature: 66 degrees
Humidity: 66 percent
Location: Levite Jewish Community Center, Birmingham, Alabama
Shoes: Adidas Supernova Sequence 3
Injury update: Got a bit of the lower right leg soreness late in the run and my left calf threatened to cramp at points in the last mile.
saturday, october 16, 2010
South Mountain Classic 20KRace: South Mountain Classic 20K
Official Time: 1:43:34
Actual Time: 1:43:33
Comments: When I signed up for the Arizona Road Racers South Mountain Classic 20K, I thought it would be a reasonable test of my conditioning. A bit less than a half-marathon and a bit of hills to make it a challenge. Well, it turns out the "bit of hills" were something more than a "bit."
I got out to the South Mountain Activity Center a bit late. Although I left the house in plenty of time, I got confused on where the race was, exactly, and had to retrace my tracks down the interstate to find it. Of course once I got there I recognized it from the Phoenix YMCA Half Marathon I did in 2008.
Despite the delay I got there with plenty of time since I planned to use the first mile as a warmup and didn't need to be particularly early. Rob got there pretty much simultaneous with my arrival and so we got our bibs and shirts together. By the time we went back to our cars and returned to the start area, there was only about ten minutes till the race was set to get underway.
The field for this one was pretty small, just several dozen runners (a total of 140 people ran it but part of the field took the 6:30 start to get off the course by the race curfew). I got back in the pack a bit and when they got us started I was immediately passed by a host of folks. On the first mile I kept passing people and having to pull up because I was clearly going out too fast despite the uphill.
A little further a guy asked me about my Peru Runners running shirt in Spanish. Given his accent, he was clearly from South America (although I didn't ask where). We talked a little bit about running in Lima but then I pulled ahead of him (he would blow by me at mile 10 or so later in the race, but in a nice way).
Rob had warned me that after the initial two uphill miles it was a pretty steep downhill for the next three miles. Since I would be coming back on this route I tried to gain as much time as I could on the descent. Long strides and constant turnover of my feet rather than taking it easy. As a result I passed a number of folks in pretty good order.
But then there was a bit of an uphill to the turnaround and I got my first taste of what this course was going to do to me. I had run with a guy aiming for a 7:30 pace for about a mile but he just pulled ahead of me on this incline. I was getting good turnover but I could feel my legs losing the momentum. Again, at the top I turned around and tried to gain a bit of time back on the downhill but nowhere nearly enough.
In fact, I staggered to the Mile 11 marker and had to take a brief break because I was shot. A massive headache, aching all over and running a better than even chance of throwing up what was in my stomach. Somehow I got started again but my pacing from then on wasn't particularly impressive by any means.
Somehow I got through the race but it was not pleasant. This was, by far, the most difficult race I've run since the debacle that was my last Boston Qualifying effort. Crossing the finish line I was done. It was all I could do was grab a bottle of water and stagger to the shade. And that's where I ran into Coach Dean who kindly showed up to give us a bit of finishing encouragement.
The hope of hitting marathon goal pace was pretty dim to start but my final average pace of 8:16 was almost a minute off. Dean said that was kind of irrelevant given the difficulty of the course and the better barometer was the time spent on my feet -- a good half-hour more than any run since I got back into training. (I also concur with Rob's observation that the course was a bit overlong, but that didn't really matter for my goals today.)
At this point, I'm kind of tabling the assessment of this race till I see how I recover. On the face of it, I am kind of let down to have struggled so hard. But, given where I am in training and the godawful hills of this course, it might be worth evaluating it differently than a regular race effort.
Start: 7:30 a.m.
Temperature: 80 degrees
Humidity: 46 percent
Location: South Mountain Activity Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Inspire 6
Injury update: My right ass was not happy over the last three miles. It never got into that sharp unpleasantness that has led to worse things but it clearly would have become an issue with any more miles. I also had that ache in my lower right calf again. The post-race ice bath, for the record, was brutal.
sunday, september 13, 2009
I Did A Green Run 5KRace: I Did A Green Run 5K
Official Time: 21:26
Actual Time: 21:29
Comments: This was my first race in quite some time. Initially, I didn't even plan to do this one but when I was cleaning up the website a few weeks ago, I realized I didn't have a 5K personal best time. Hell, I can't even remember ever running one. This one, part of the Arizona Road Racers summer series fit well into the schedule so I signed up.
I got out there about an hour early and Rob met me. He later blamed me for making him do this race but I have a hard time believing he wouldn't have been out there anyway. We got the chips and numbers and then headed out for a warm up run around the course. This turned out to be a good idea since the course was mostly a kind of trail run with small washes and lots of sandy dirt.
This was a pretty small field and both the 5K and 10K runners - just more than 500 - started together. We got started pretty well and the first half mile on pavement was about enough to even out the pack to handle the narrower track on the trail portions.
I got going pretty strong - the first mile came in at 6:23 - but could tell my recurring issue with lack of stamina was going to be a problem. But I wanted to keep the pace as strong as I could as long as I could.
The second mile was where it started getting hairy. I was able to get it in at 6:50 but I could tell I was pushing myself but I didn't want to give so much I couldn't finish. I was getting passed by the better runners who had started back but not by folks taking advantage of my fatigue, yet anyway.
Mile three was a battle. A lot of it I was wrestling with the just-let-it-end mental stuff. Something I don't need to mess with when I'm in good shape - suggesting that I'm not where I need to be conditioning-wise. The progressive slowing continued with a 7:14 effort for this mile.
The end was a nice push but nothing crazy. I was severely overheated. The overwarm temperatures and relatively high humidity really jumped all over me. I missed the 20-minute target by quite a bit, dampening my hopes for the run. But, now I've got a PR target to knock down.
Start: 7:15 a.m.Injury update: Just this beastly fatigue.
Temperature: 81 degrees
Humidity: 45 percent
Location: Horse Lover's Park, Phoenix, Arizona
Shoes: Pearl iZUMi Surge+