Saturday, June 28, 2008

2008 Run Charlevoix Marathon Results

2:56:20 (6:44/mile)
4/168 Overall
1/19 Age
finishI just love small town races, and this one was no different. Charlevoix is a small town on the northwestern edge of Michigan’s lower peninsula right next to lake Michigan. The town had some mandate a long time ago to plant multi colored marigolds along the main drag of the town, so there was just a long line of beautifully colored flowers all over town.

For this race I brought along my daughter, Salacia, and my girlfriend, Stephanie. We rolled into town in the afternoon the day before the race, checked into our motel (bottom of the barrel, actually. It seems Charlevoix is THE place to get married, so (surprise) there was not a whole lot of choices for the last weekend in June when I booked the room a month ago.) and then went downtown to check in for the race. We then drove a small amount of the out and back course before we had dinner at a nice local Italian restaurant. Veal Parmesan seems to be my favorite night-before-race food. Yummy!

After we got back to the motel, Salacia having just got her 8 year old birthday present from us of ‘dress up’ clothes did a fashion show for us. 11 different outfits later, we had a winner. Let me just say that it involved a purple hair extension, butterfly shaped sunglasses and the most gaudy purse you have ever seen. It was fun, I admit.

As usual, I did not sleep very well and got up at 4:10 am for the 7am start. Peanut butter sandwich, white tea, shower, blah blah blah, my pre-race ritual now set in stone went off without a hitch. It had rained all night long and was just petering out as I left the motel for the 0.8 mile walk to the start line at 6:15. Stef and Salacia slept in (sort of) promising to see me at the turn (halfway mark). They would see me 4 times, halfway, mile ~16, mile ~20 and then again at the finish. Salacia was in charge of taking pictures and got a lot of me from behind.

The race start was unexciting. There were 4 races going on this day, a full marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K. They all followed the exact same course, all out-and-backs, with the marathon being two trips along the half marathon out and back. The four races all started at different times, and honestly, after my first turn at mile 6.5 I had no idea what race the other runners around me were running. I was never ‘on an island’ but was passing people (both directions) all day long. The temperature was in the upper 60’s the whole race, but the humidity was about 120%. That ultimately slowed me down, mostly because my shoes just got heavy from water (puddles) and sweat not evaporating. I would say my shoes were about 3 pounds heavier than they were supposed to. Not a whole lot of weight until you realize how many times I had to pick them up (many thousands).

I was (at least initially) shooting for a PR, but my watch died literally 59 seconds into the race. With it being a out and back (twice) course there were no real markings after mile 6 so even my watch was working I would not have known what my pace was. So once again, I ran as my body felt. ¾ through the race (last turn at half marathon turn point) I was right next to the eventual 3rd place finisher. I asked him our time and estimated my pace up to that point. I was (I think) still on 2:50 pace, but was fading fast. I was positive I was not going to be able to hold that pace, so I slowed a bit, just running on feel, wanting to survive. Most people would kill for a 2:56 finish. Me, I seem to jog to those finish times. I have run 4 straight marathons now in less than 2:57. Not bad, I guess. I will set a new PR, I just don’t know when. The next three marathons I will be running will not be conducive to PR attempts, so maybe I should go get my PR tattoo from the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon now.

handstand I have learned from previous long races that I cannot eat solid food for a few hours after a race as I get painful ‘gut rot’ afterwards. At the end of this race they had Gatorade and water but also Pepsi. I thought the issue was solid food so I gouged myself on Gatorade and water and drank a can of Pepsi. Well, that gave gut-rot but of a different sort. Before, the pain was constant, feeling like someone had punched my stomach (hard) but this time it ebbed and flowed but with the same pain. This lasted for a full 8 hours after the race. So, the big lesson learned this time was no carbonated beverages and to not go overboard with sugar beverages after the race. Again, I had nothing but Gatorade on the course and seemed well hydrated during the run.

I used to think only 3 people read my blog. My girlfriend, my Aunt Nancy, and this nice woman I met after the 2008 Groundhog Gallop race. It turns out there are a few more, and they were all running the race this day. Four, count ‘em four people along the race course talked specifically TO ME with comments like ‘Way to go Doc!’ and “You can win this one too!”. In all cases I did not respond, because I was too dumbfounded by the comments. Before I internalized what happened, the other person was long gone for me to respond. If you are reading this and you are one of those kind people, I thank you now for your words of encouragement. It was a weird experience. At the finish line I was talking with the guy who got second place (by only a few seconds) and he had also read my blog. The readership of this blog seems to have doubled (from 3 to 6) in the last few months.

A pleasant run, for sure. A cannot believe I have run 17 of these things is just over 24 months. What kind of addict am I? Do they have therapy for these kinds of things?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Remembering Nancy Peabody

Nancy and SJ She had failing health for a few years now, and 4 hours ago, she passed away. All three of her kids were by her side, young grandchildren mere feet away. I always said that she was the person most prepared for death. Calm, not denying it, ready for the next journey. She truly lived her life the way she wanted too, enjoying it. She always knew it would end, and she was ready, darnit. When I visited her for the last time last Christmas, she had great fun telling my brother George and me about the difference between hospital staff and Hospice staff. She joked ‘The hospice people come in and say ‘Here’s your Morphine!’ Still in pain? Have some more!”‘.
I got very close to her when I was in graduate school (University of Minnesota) living in the same town I saw her at least once a week. We shared a common passion, Jiffy brand Corn Muffins. Whenever I visited, I made them for breakfast for us. She always said they were only good straight out of the oven, and boy was she right. When I first moved to Minneapolis she let me ’live’ on her front porch for a few weeks until I got my own apartment. When I had to come back for 5 weeks in the summer of 1999 to defend my thesis (I had already moved to Wyoming for my first job the fall previous) and teach a course at the UofM, she let me stay with her with open arms.

She lived in a huge house build at the turn of the 20th century. She prided herself in telling people she moved into the house the same day the JFK was shot. That house was a rock, always there, with her standing guard. I remember being a very small boy visiting her for Christmas and sleeping on the back porch with the windows open, even if it was freezing outside. It was just the ‘cool’ place to sleep.

I would have to say she is the closest family member to me outside my immediate family, hands down. Her stories and sense of humor were so enjoyable. I will miss her very much.

A sad day for me and my poor under-read blog. Her spirit will always live here, though. As long as I run and blog, I do it for her. Take care Nanc. I miss you already.
~Your ‘Marko’

Saturday, June 7, 2008

2008 Another Dam 50K Results

3:56:50 (7:37/mile)
3/79 Overall
Official Results
Why do I look so happy? This was only my second ultra marathon, but this one I finished the distance I planned to complete. Way back in November of 2006 I attempted a 50 mile run but (because of sickness) had to bail after 34 miles. The official rules for that race were if I bailed when I did, I got credit for (and a medal for) finishing the 50K that was held at the same time. This time I came in well trained and reasonable healthy. I did run a marathon 13 days before this one, which took me a few days to recover from.

The day started out hot (~80) and humid (~80%) and the bugs were pretty dense as the starting line was in the heavy woods. The course is a was a large figure 8 shape in which we ran around 4 times in total. There were two aid stations, one in the middle of the figure 8 and one at the start/finish (the end of one of the loops) so we were never more than ~2.5 miles from water. I still took a small 10 oz plastic bottle that I filled with Gatorade each time I hit a water stop. 65% or so of the course was on trail, either hard packed dirt or grass.

I took the lead about halfway around the first loop and just tried to get comfortable. The hills, grass, and dirt trail made the course slower than a road race (obviously). The weather also slowed me. I was still in the lead when I made the turn after loop 2. Very soon after, however, I lost it to the eventual second place finisher. What also started was much worse, rain. Yes, light, but constant rain. That turned the slick dirt course into a wet and muddy mess. When running through the woods, the tree cover tempered the worst of the rain, but it still slowed me down. The good thing was that the rain dropped the temperature down into the 70’s. The race turned into a long easy Saturday morning run for me, just getting through it. I never had any bodily issues. 24 hours afterward I feel just fine, my muscles only slightly sore, but no more than the day after a garden variety 14 mile run.
This was a very low key race, with mostly locals doing the run. Nothing flashy, including no awards (at all) but this was the cheapest (ultra)marathon I will probably ever enter at $25. The post race food included hot pizza, which was a first for me. Well supported, nice course, small race feel, all added up to a very enjoyable day. I wouldn’t mind running this one again actually, which is a very rare thing for me to say.

My 3rd place finish is significant as I never had one before. In my 15 marathon races, I have two 1st place finishes, one 2nd, two 4ths and one 5th. I needed a 3rd place to round out my top 5 place finishes. Now I have (as one runner remarked yesterday) ‘hit the cycle’.

Lessoned learned:
~You can eat solid food within 3 hours, you just have to eat it slow. I took ~45 min to eat 1 piece of pizza and my stomach was fine.
~ Completely tape all toes but then also slather the taped toes with Vaseline. I did 31 miles with this preparation and had no blisters. Remember, my feet were wet pretty much from the beginning, so this is a significant trick.