Saturday, November 28, 2009

2009 Mississippi Coast Marathon Results

3/107 Overall
1/7 in age
Official Results
So I woke up in downtown Atlanta at 5:45am, slowly got packed up, took a shower and waited until 6:30, because I wanted my free breakfast. I was soaking this business class upgrade for all it was worth. One of the many things I learned after my last double was that I need to eat lots and lots in between races, to recover from race #1 and prep for race #2. That was my mission in this one day in between races, eat. So I did. I love running.

I finally took off at 7am on my long 7+ hour drive PAST my next stop all the way to New Orleans. The race was near Gulfport, MS but that is just over 1 hour away from the Big Easy. I was in the area and had the time so I decided I might as well take in the French Quarter because that is what you do when you are in the area. I am a ’speed’ tourist, meaning that when I am by myself I can soak up a lot very quickly. I submit my Las Vegas Marathon trip as evidence. I was in the French Quarter for just under 3 hours and thought I had a great and fulfilling time. It was incredibly crowded (which I am not a fan of) but seemed very ’safe’. Street performers, bars, gift shops, a classic ‘tourist trap’. I got my postcards, hit a national park, the Hard Rock Cafe, and the House of Blues (complete with my allowed ‘open intoxicant’. Yes, that is a beer I am holding on the street outside the bar). I even stopped by Harrah’s Casino to get memento chips and decks of high quality cards.
House of Blues
I then headed back to Mississippi for packet picket up which was (no joke) at the Mississippi Welcome center just off the interstate. Ya know, a rest area. There were the tables all setup just outside the rest area building. Umm, there was no ‘expo’ per se :)
After a 3 min wait to get my number, shirt and some safety pins, I went to my hotel 30 min away (Who is my travel agent anyways? Oh yeah. I am) checked in and walked 100 meters to dinner. On ‘double’ weekends, I don’t eat Applebee’s twice I just can’t do that, so this time I waited until the second marathon. Standard entree for dinner and then back to the hotel and in bed at 8 pm for the 4th night in a row.

A 5:10 wake up and standard PB sandwich for breakfast. No tea, and since this was a Motel 6, no coffee. A 24 hour McD’s just down the road got me a mocha. Note to self: Race morning my body is fine with coffee or a mocha.

The race was held on the Stennis Space Center, so it being a government facility, it took a little while to get through the security gate. It was a little crowded, there being a full, a half and a 5K all with the same starting time. The temp at race start was about 48 degrees with no wind and overcast skies. Absolutely PERFECT race conditions.

The race time clock at mile 1 said 6:10, a pace that I knew was a little fast, ok a lot fast. I had decided to run this race ‘hard’ since I knew I took Atlanta a little easy. I wanted to see what my body could do. I spend all day Friday eating to replenish the tanks and I was ready to go.

My legs were only a little sore so I thought I could hold a good clip. Mile 2 came and I decided I did not want to look at my watch until mile 5. I know my running enough to know that whatever pace I am running after mile 5, I can hold until mile 18 with little trouble. I have trained myself enough that my body ‘gets in gear’ (whatever it is that day) and can hold it between 5 and 18 pretty much every race. Well, mile 5 came and I didn’t want to know. I felt good and strong, and I didn’t want my time getting into my head, so to speak, so I didn’t look. I did touch the lap button at the half marathon mark (without looking, later I found out my half split was 1:24:12) again just trying to stay strong. I never really got tired per se. My body never outwardly rebelling.

Well into the race, still no real leg pain. My shins gave me a little grief and my knees a little pain, leg muscles a little sore, but otherwise I felt pretty damn good. The pains I had were all small and understandable. The half marathon ‘end’ came up and I figured out I was in 2nd place for the marathon. For the record, if I wanted to just run the half, I would have finished second in that race.

I finally looked at my watch at mile 20 for two reasons. I wanted to know if I had a chance at a marathon PR (2:49:59), and because I knew I had a small lead on the third place guy and a 2+ mile lead on the 4th place guy. I knew I would probably get passed (and I did at about mile 23). When I looked at my watch at mile 20, I was running a 6:31/mile pace which is about a 2:51/race pace. I decided to pick it up for a half mile to see if I could drop it to shoot for a PR. I did what I thought was a pick-up and looked down at my watch as saw that my pace was now 6:32/mile. So what that means was that I was doing under 6:30 most of the race and started to fail now that I was more than halfway into my second marathon of the weekend.

Knowing that a PR was now out the question, I just wanted to make darn sure I broke 3 hours. Looking at my watch might have been my death knell as I started looking at constantly and of course, slowed down as a result. I am seriously considering not wearing a watch at all at my next race, and going completely on feel.
I crossed the finish line and still felt pretty darn good. I was way better than after my last double when I felt like I was going to die and Misty thought I had a stroke or something. Post race food included yummy jambalaya and cold Michelob Ultra. I rested for a little while before I headed over to the recreation facility (remember, this is a NASA center) to take a shower before heading back for the awards ceremony since I had the time to burn. This was a small marathon with only ~100 runners, so lots of people got awards. I am way more proud of my 2:55 finish than the 3rd place.

During the awards I saw a guy who was wearing the same t-shirt I was wearing. Yes, it was a race shirt, but the surprise was WHICH race shirt. It was the race I won back in March in Ruston, LA where there were ~30 finishers! Small world us marathoners ‘run’ in…

An easy 2+ hour drive got me back to Pensacola airport with 2 hours to drop off the car, get my boarding pass and eat some more. A late flight and 2 hour layover in Atlanta meant I landed back in Detroit at 12:10 am Sunday morning. I didn’t get home until 1:45 am. Having awoken at between 4-5:30 the previous 4 days, it took some convincing of my body to go to sleep. I woke up at 8am, actually well rested considering how long my trip was.

One day later and my body felt pretty good. Only slight muscle soreness and two toenails that are a little pained. Other than that, I feel great. I am really having fun now. I could do some damage, and be somebody for once doing this stuff…

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 Atlanta Marathon Results

30/825 Overall
4/105 in age
Official Results
This long weekend began at 3:30 Wed morning, having to get up that early to catch a 5:45 am flight out of Detroit Metro. I had a little less than 2 hours in Atlanta as a layover and my original plan was to fly to Pensacola, drive up to Atlanta, drive to Gulfport, MS then back to Pensacola. With my down-trip layover in Atlanta and having to sleep Wednesday night IN Atlanta, why not just hop off here, get a car STARTING in Atlanta and ending in Pensacola. The answer is cost. Turns out a ‘one way’ rental from Atlanta to Pensacola was going to be $500 as opposed to my Pensacola roundtrip rental cost of $200. Saving 6 hours of highway driving was not worth $300, so I got on my Atlanta to Pensacola flight knowing I would be back here in Atlanta in less than 9 hours.

Once in made it back to Atlanta (1 hour flight, 5.5 hours driving) I went straight to the Expo hosting hotel. I did not want to pay $10 for parking so I found a 20 min loading/unloading spot next to a nearby hotel. In 15 minutes, I was back. I knew that the expo would be quick and I was correct. I walked into the checkin room and saw 6 tables setup for people registered for the half marathon, and over in the corner was the single table for the full marathoners. It being Thanksgiving and a relatively quick time cutoff for the full (5:30) made for a small field in the marathon, ~800 runners.

At the expo was a fellow marathoner who I have become friends with, Dane Rauschenberg. I first met him August 2008 in Green River, Wyoming running the Run with the Horses Marathon. I finished second, him third. Turns out he is an author and was at the expo hawking his book, See Dane Run. I chatted with him for a bit before I headed back to my car. No ticket, of course.

I changed my Atlanta hotel just days before the trip, using staying at the downtown Hilton instead of an Econolodge 20 min away. Same price, actually :). With it being a business hotel and it being Thanksgiving weekend, the place was almost empty so I got a business class upgrade and got a room on the top (28th) floor. Nice view and it entitled me to the business lounge which included light fair food in evenings, so my dinner was small chicken breasts, spring rolls and some cold veggies. Good enough for me (free!)
Since I had been up very early and had a long day, I was in bed watching The Matrix by 8pm and asleep soon after. Up at 5:45, with my PB sandwich and coffee (forgot my tea) and my race day started as it normally does. The race start and finish was at Turner Field where the Atlanta Braves play so there was lots of parking, so much so that I parked about 50m from the starting line and stayed in my warm car until 5 min before the start. 200 M into the race we passed under the Olympic rings and where headed off to downtown Atlanta. It was cold, slightly windy and hills. Not my favorite course for sure. The hills were not that bad, there were just so damn many of them. I was not running that fast, but I could tell it was effecting other people as I passed about 15 people in the last 5 or so miles.

The first 5 miles or so I ran with a few guys, including Dane conversing about the course and marathoning in general. I found out that 90+% of the course we ran was the 1996 Olympic marathon route. I felt sorry for those Olympic marathoners as the course was kind of boring, running the whole time along city streets with unexciting views. Maybe I am just spoiled, having run on some gorgeous courses this year. After about mile 5 we started breaking up and so I was on my own again, like usual with my thoughts. The course was through downtown Atlanta heading north, then loop back as a sort of out and back. The worst thing was the hills, gentle, but frequent. Only a few long ones, all seemingly in the back half of the course. Up and down up and down blah blah blah. The course was rather cold, being in the low 40’s at race start with a light wind. I kept my gloves on until about mile 18 and was still chilled at the race end even though the temp got up into the low 50’s by then.
30th place overall is nice. 4th in age with 105 in my age group was interesting. Yes, that means a full 12% of the field was men between the ages of 35 and 39. Where was everyone else? Resting to eat?

At the end, there was standard end of race food, I stayed long enough to take a few pictures then headed back to the hotel for ice bath on my legs (brrr) then a shower. I then headed right back down to Turner field to start my shift volunteering at the HOSEA feeding of the Homeless. I needed someplace to eat Thanksgiving dinner and decided to volunteer my time to a good cause as well. This year, this annual event fed 30,000+ people, quite impressive. As a volunteer, I was tasked with helping clean up the main cooking area, processing leftover food to be sent to area shelters. A family tradition actually, being there until the end. Long story there, ask me sometime if you want the history lesson. I did get fed there with cold VERY dry turkey, but it was still good, considering the intent. The whole thing really made me miss my family, SJ and Misty especially.

After we were all done and closed up, I headed back to my hotel, ate some more free food (buffalo chicken wings and salad. Lots of both) and was asleep my 8pm again, because I was tired, and I had to get ready for my next marathon, coming up in less than 36 hours

Sunday, November 1, 2009

2009 Inland Trail Marathon Results

2:54:17 (6:40/mile)
6/160 overall
2/12 in age
A while ago, I became a member of the 50 Sub 4 marathon club. An organization for people like me, who want to run all 50 states, but not just finish them, finish them fast. As an added incentive, you get so many points based on how fast you run each race. So for example, you get 9 points if you run between 2:45 and 3:00 but only 5 points if you run between 3:45 and 4:00. Your points give an average and a ‘title’ based on your average. I already had a sub 4 Ohio marathon, but it was a 50K (so 5 ish miles more than 26.2) and on wet cold trails, so I only got 5 points for it. So I ran this race because A) it was a close, only a 2.5 hour drive away and B) I wanted to up my Ohio point total for the club.

I am the assistant coach of the JCC cross country team and we had our regional meet the day before this race so I left the house with Mistique at 4pm Saturday, just 16 hours before race start. After a nice drive down, we checked in to the hotel about 6:30. It being the official race hotel there were copies of directions to the race, a late checkout time (2 pm!) and a cheap rate. Gotta love those crappy-economy-deals… Then we were off to dinner. I think I set a record for distance as the nearest Applebee’s was on the other side of the mall parking lot from the hotel. You’ll never guess what I had for dinner…

With daylight saving time ending race morning, race start was effectively 9am, which meant I did not have to get up ‘early’ on race morning. That’s a good thing as I slept awful the night before, even worse than usual the night before a marathon. Race morning went just as well as always, me being comforted in the familiarity of my procedure. It helps to calm the nerves having such a strict schedule. We arrived at the start/finish line (a local elementary school) about 70 min before race start. Mistique was doing the 5K walk while I ran the marathon, so we grabbed our race bibs and timing chips and hung out inside keeping warm before the start.
In looking at previous race results, I know this would be a fast field, (7 sub 3 times with only 160 runners is amazing) so I had no illusions of high place finish. I wanted a 3:15 (8 points for the club is 3-3:15) but would be even more happy if I could break 3 hours, but I was not counting on it. Ignoring 3 week earliers race, I have not broken 3 hours in over a year. I decided to just go out and see how I felt. The conditions were pretty damn good, with little wind and a 40 degree temperature.

The race course was almost identical to my last marathon, 3 weeks ago in that it was along a converted railroad line now paved with woods/lakes/farms on both sides the whole way. Unlike the last race it was only _1_ out and back. My first mile was a nice 6:36. Faster than I wanted to go out, but I thought I was in a comfortable rhythm, so I stuck to it. Mile after mile and my pace never slowed. In fact the difference between my first half and my second half was 33 seconds, a sure sign of even pace racing. Booo yeeaaahhh….

I never hit the wall and I felt great all day. In fact, afterwards my legs were not even sore, no lie. You see, recently I have upped my mileage, even going over 100 miles in a week. I never follow any marathon ‘training schedule’ because I hate being tied to one. I just go out and do my run every day, sometime fast, sometimes slow, but lots of miles anyways. Today I figured out what that high mileage got me. It means I might be able to run sub 3 hour marathons easily. Which means if I actually focused and RACED a race, I should be able to get a new PR.

I got my finisher’s medal and age division award, some food and Mistique headed back to the hotel quick for a shower before we left for home, arriving roughly 23 hours after we left. She is such a doll, kindly driving my tired body home. I ate a bunch of food and even the next morning, no real soreness. I was planning on doing another 100+ mile week (starting your week with 26.2 is a good idea when you have such plans) and since I felt so good, I ran 26 more on Monday, culminating in a 19:51 (that’s 6:20/mile) 5K ‘race’ at the local HS cross country course. Life is good.