Sunday, October 10, 2010

2010 Portland Marathon Results

402/7276 Overall; 76/501 Age
This wonderful trip started a week before when I was out to dinner with my marthoning bud, Morgan. We were talking about next races and when I told her I was running in Portland she offered up her parents place for me to crash. I contacted them (Linda and Roy) and they were very kind and were very happy to welcome me to their home. Being Morgan’s parents, they were totally hip to the marathon prep thing and even volunteered to get my packet for me as I was getting into town late on Saturday. When I did get into town I stopped quick at Applebee’s (two nights in a row) for a steak dinner. I had done a better job of in-between race fueling, munching all day on whenever was nearby, well except for that whole diarrhea thing.

I finally got to Linda and Roy’s house at about 8pm ready to crash. I stayed up a little while and chatted with them for a little while about Morgan, marathoning and life in general. A very pleasant conversation with some very nice people.

I actually slept in Morgan’s old room, which was still setup like a teenage girl. Linda said that Morgan would not let her ‘repo’ the room, so it still looks very much like a room of a 17 year old high schooler. Very very pink. Had I not known Morgan (who is now 22 years old) it would have been creepy of me, for sure. It ended up being funny, seeing pictures of her when she was younger.

I woke up relatively refreshed on race morning and it was already raining, in fact it would rain all damn day until I left the area that afternoon. Downpour, drizzle, mist, repeat. I was having coffee with Roy at the house and I was telling him about my totally awesome custom made water repelling covers for my shoes that I made for the Boston marathon back in 2007. After I gave him the story, I realized that, although I couldShoe coversnot replicate those here, I could get something close. With ~10 min, some safety pins, two plastic grocery bags and some athletic tape and I got something almost as good. Not sexy by any means, but very effective. They stayed on the whole race and I know they reduced the total wetness my feet experienced.
Because traffic was going to be horrible (~12,000 runners between the marathon and the half) Roy offered to take me downtown for the race and pick me back up afterwards. I got to the starting line about 10 min before race start in a sea of humanity, temps around 50 and rain coming down pretty hard. On the back of my (rather large) bib there listed symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. I laughed because what they really needed was symptoms of hypothermia, because that, if anything, was what was going to happen today.

My shins and ankles were at about 80% and I had high hopes that they would be ok, and I was right. Sometimes you can ‘run through’ shin splints and they get better after a few miles. Sometimes they get worse and debilitating. I was feeling confident at race start that they were in the former condition, and thank the FSM, I was right. In fact, my legs felts better AFTER this race than they did before, which was waaaay cool.

Something really weird happened to me at about mile 4. I was threatened with bodily harm by another runner. With 10,000 marathoners, I had people around me all day long so to make the day go by faster, of course, I decided to chat with fellow runners when able. I found a nice guy from Seattle to chat with and we ended up running together from mile 3 until mile 17 or so. We were commenting on how our GPS watches were giving rather different net distances after just 4 miles (almost 0.25 mile difference) and also noting that the 3:20 pace group leader looked like he was moving a little too fast. As we got near the pace group leader I asked him (a little loud, as he was in front of me) what his watch said our pace was. Before he got an answer in, another guy running with this pace group looks over his shoulder at me and says “If I have to listen to you this entire race, you won’t finish it”. I said “Excuse me?”. He repeated (with a very glaring look) “If I have to hear you for the entire race, you won’t finish it. I’m serious”. I looked to the guy was running with and said “Did I just get threatened?” “Ummm. Yeah”. Within 15 seconds, 4 other runners looked at me and said (effectively) don’t worry, we got your back. The guy I was running with and I decided to put the jerk behind us so we took off and moved up closer to the 3:15 pace group, which was not that far ahead of us. That was weird. I guess if runners are 99.9% nice gentle people, that means there would be 10 jerks in this field. I seemed to have found one of them.

Rain, rain, rain. Blah. It ebbed and flowed from real rain to heavy mist all day. My plastic bag covers worked really well. The race was along city streets all day so there were puddles everywhere, and I managed to miss most, but not all of them. You try you best to run around them without zig-zagging all day.
The aid stations were all well stocked with water, Ultima, and enthusiastic volunteers, especially considering they were standing still in the cold rain, at least we were warm since we were running. They were giving out handfuls of Gummi bears every once in a while at aid stations, and those being one of the few race foods my stomach can handle, I got some every chance I got. Tasty, but it did make it hard to talk.

As with other large races, there were some ‘unofficial’ aid stations also along the course, usually just local folk who showed up to help out on their own. One ‘station’ was a woman with a 1 gallon Ziploc bag full of frozen grapes giving them out by the handful (she even had a little sign) which was awesome and boy, were they tasty. At mile 23 there was another rouge aid station giving out very small glasses of beer. This is the 3rd marathon I have gotten beer as an aid station drink and as with the other times (all around mile 23, now that I think about it) it was delicious.

At about mile 17, my new friend was starting to fade and I was feeling so good despite the legs and the rain that I sped up hoping to hang with the 3:15 group. I failed and after about mile 23, I started to coast a little bit. I know I would come in somewhere in the low 3:20’s, and I was very happy with that, this being my 4thmarathon in 8 days. I just stayed steady trying finish strong. When I thought about all the racing I had done recently it got me tired, so I tried not to think about it.

Considering how well the rest of the race was organized, the finish line and area was unsurprisingly awesome. An incredible variety of food and drink, so-so finishers medal, finisher t-shirt, a rose (Portland is one of the many ‘Rose City’s in the country) and even a Douglas fir sapling (they hope you will take it home and plant it. I will plant mine on the Falling Water Trail) Again these volunteers have been sitting in cold rain for hours handing stuff to the martahoners with smiles and happiness on their face. Wonderful people.
Roy found me at our designated meet up point about 5 min after I got there and we headed for his car and back to the house. After a ~3.5 hour not-so-warm shower that was the race, my hands looked a little wrinkly. My shoe coverings did a pretty good job of minimizing the soakedness of my feet. I don’t mind getting wet from the ankles up, but when my feet are wet I am just miserable. With my toe wrapping and lubing, I had no blisters or toe problems this time either. I mastered that problem long ago.

The Pacific We got back to Roy and Linda’s house and after a quick shower I got in my rental car and headed for the ocean. I try very hard to do at least some ‘touristing’ when I make these trips and when I am by myself, I am very quick and efficient with my time. The 1.5 hour drive to the Pacific was very cool, going through groves of huge trees that came right up to the roadway. Having seen nothing but clouds and rain for the last 24 hours, I was hoping the weather would break as I headed west and it did, about 5 miles from the ocean. Bluish skies and warm temperatures greeted me when I rolled onto (literally, they let you drive on the beach in certain places) the beach. I found a nice log and took a seat and watched the waves come it. Don’t ask me why, but the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast are very different. The waves on the Atlantic are fewer and farther in between and the beaches are very rocky. The Pacific Ocean has more frequent waves, in fact you cannot hear any one particular wave coming, just a constant wave crashing drone. Also, the Pacific Ocean beaches are huge (deep?) and very sandy and feel great under bare feet. Had I not run a marathon in each of the last two days I would have done a run along the beach for sure.
I took a slightly different route back deciding to drive along the mighty Columbia river and stopped at Fort Clatsop where Lewis & Clark had spend the winter of 1805-06 before they headed back east. That was pretty cool and I learned a little bit more about their epic journey that I had not previous known.

Tsunami! I got back to Roy and Linda’s in the early evening and they took me out to a local steak house to which they had a $25 off coupon, but there was a $35 minimum bill. They were glad to invite me along as they needed me to get over $35 anyways (They even ended up having to order some desserts to go)
We headed back and I got a very good night sleep, even though I had to get up at 4:30 am local to make my 6:15 am flight home. One bummer about flying way west is that you basically have to burn an entire day getting back to the eastern US.

Of all the 50+ marathons I have run so far, this one in Oregon is by far my favorite, so far. Wonderful people, wonderful touristing, wonderful (all except the rain) marathon. This is exactly why I don’t like ‘repeating’ races. I don’t want my memories of this weekend being confused with ‘some other time’ I went to Oregon.

Some final thoughts at the conclusions of this ‘double double’…. I knew I could survive 4 marathons in 8 days because I have survived 100+ mile races in ONE day. Given the choice of 4 marathons in 8 days or 100 miles in one day, I would have to go with the 100 miler. When you do a 100 miler you go slower and relax, knowing you will be running all day long. When I run marathons ,(no matter when I ran the last one) I try to run them about the same time, low 3 hours. Of course, this foursome of races I did them all in respectable times but boy, did I want to slow down even more much of the time. Maybe my mental toughness is getting better now, who knows. As my marathoning career seems to be (maybe?) closing and my ultramarathoning career is taking off, I am looking at these 26.2 milers as nice training runs. On the flight home from this double, knowing that I do not race again for 6 weeks, I am thinking about how many miles I can log this week. On the flight home I was doing my stretches, strengthening my ankles and shins. I barely take any time at all to enjoy an accomplishment before I look forward to the next big challenge, a 100 mile race in the mid of February outside Buffalo, NY. Granted, I have 2 marathons between now and then (one in Late November, one in mid December) but those will be easy. Well, now they will be :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

2010 Layton Marathon Results

11/294 Overall;  1st in age
So I have done a few ‘doubles’ in my running career (two marathons in consecutive days) and had mixed results. It seems I usually have shin problems going into all of them, spare one. I have never done a back to back double (4 marathons in 8 days) before this stint, and I vow to never do it again. I would rather run 100 miles in one shot than do it over the course of 8 days in 4 different races, I’m just sayin’…

This trip started (again) at 4am Friday morning to make a 6:40am flight out of Detroit. Unlike last week, I had a longer flight to get some reading done and did not arrive in Salt Lake City until late morning. The weather wasn’t all that great (nice temps, but cloudy) so the mountains didn’t look that great. I know these mountains well, so my brain filled in the gaps, no problem. I had time to burn and on the way towards the hotel so after a lame packet pickup, I stopped by the Hill Air Force Base Aviation Museum. I usually don’t pre-plan touristy things, I just let karma guide me when in a new place. This time I was way lucky. I got to see a bunch of cool planes up close and personal, including an SR-71. A very cool looking plane that hasSr-71been my favorite as long as I have known. It is wicked fast (world record holder, still) and sexy looking, especially at a range of 3 feet. A wonderful time killer, for sure. I ate dinner at Applebee’s, but knowing I would eat there (well, an Applebee’s in Portland, OR) the next day, I got something other than Fiesta Lime Chicken. Still good and tasty.

Early to bed, early to rise, at 3:30 am (local) for a 6 am start. This race was a point (staring on the south end of Antelope Island) to point (somewhere in Layton, UT) race so there was a bus to the start at 5 am. Not wanting to miss the bus, I got there plenty early. A quick phone call to my lovely (and still half asleep) wife and I was on the bus into the darkness.
I met some pleasant people at the race start, including a few marathon maniacs and at 6:15 (only 15 min late) we started off, heading North with greater Salt Lake City (at the lights) to our right. It was so dark, I could barely see the road for the first 45 minutes. Had it not been overcast allowing for the city lights to be reflected) we would have all needed head lamps for sure. The view for the first 10 miles was great, except we could not see the mountains to our east. In fact, we didn’t see them all damn day they were shrouded in clouds. On the island, there are hills and a few roads, that’s it. Well, besides a bunch of sage brush and 5 buffalo I saw. The smell reminded me of my home for 3 years, Rock Springs, WY. A nice sweet ‘middle of BFE’ kind of smell.

At mile 10, we left the island and started the 7 mile STRAIGHT shot of the causeway back to mainland Layton. My shins were starting to hurt, so I ran most of the time on the gravel shoulder of the road. Nice even pace all day long, ~7:40/mile. I was tired and I knew I had another marathon tomorrow, so I took it easy. I was never in severe pain, and my shin after this race would not feel much worse than after my first race the previous weekend. The temperature at race start was probably 45, and at race end, maybe 65. Again (knock on wood) a beautiful race day for me and my fellow runners.

peaceThis was the inaugural Layton marathon, and as many of you know from reading this blog, running the ‘first annual’ anything is usually a bad idea. But yet, I did it again, knowingly, because it fit my racing schedule. That 15 min late start was the only hitch in the entire day. The course was very well marked, plenty of water at all aid stations, happy volunteers, all good. The finish was nice, well run, cool finishers medal, but the post race food was a little lacking. Oranges, bananas and peanut butter sandwiches. Seriously, that was it. Oh well, room to improve I guess. :)

Knowing I got burned last week for not eating enough (I just wasn’t hungry!) I bought a 6-pack of Glucerna strawberry shake. It is a drink make for diabetics and each bottle has 200 calories. After the race I drank all 6 and they all tasted delish. Unfortunately, I had never done that before. I will just tell you that about 4 hours later I stopped at a pharmacy to buy a box of Imodium-AD. ‘nuf said.

My flight wasn’t until 4:30pm local, so I had some time to burn. Got a quick shower and some ice for my leg and I went to a local sports bar to watch some football. As predicted, I had no appetite. It literally took me about 10 min of staring at the menu to finally decide to get a burger, and I only ate about 2/3 of it. I need to figure out a solid food to eat post race, because I need a solid food for when I am doing 100 milers that sits well and my mouth doesn’t reject (like it does consuming most Gu type stuff) . Later that day I did buy a box of saltines and ate many of those with some peanut butter. That got some calories in me and I didn’t balk at that, but I hope it is enough to get me through tomorrow. We shall see…

Sunday, October 3, 2010

2010 Maine Marathon Results

90/893 overall
14/80 division
One of the most important things to do in between consecutive day marathons is to eat. You have to replenish what you burned race 1 and then stockpile for race 2. My problem has always been I have no appetite right after a race (or heck, during a race either). That hurt me in my debut 100 mile race and sure enough, it got me here as well.

I woke up with two other people in my hotel room. Morgan, (fellow marathon freak and girlfriend to Gary, whom you have heard of before on this blog) and Adam, a marathon maniac from L.A. who just needed a place to crash. We had a pleasant conversation about marathoning the night before at (you guessed it) Applebee’s. Adam was walking the race (due to recent surgery) so he did the early start (6am as opposed to the main 7:45am start) a
nd so I drove him to the starting line early but the early rise was in my normal ritual, so no fuss.
Morgan and I got ready and headed to the start 45 min before the gun. We hung out with the crowds of marathon manics the day before in NH, but couldn’t find them here in Maine until right before race start. The weather was a carbon copy of the previous day, but a few degrees colder and no wind whatsoever. A little wind would creep up near the end, but the temperature would off set it.

peaceThe very first steps (and all others) were painful, the first few miles adding up to be horrible. My quads and calves were fine, but my ankles and shins were in pain and I looked silly, trying to compensate. I just tried to be gentle, but honestly wanted to stop from the very beginning. After a few miles I think I just got numb to the pain and my gait got stable and I seemed to get used to it. My first mile was 7:32 and in the end my per mile average was a little over 7:40, so there was not too much slow down. Sadly, I am getting used to running with that pain. I shall overcome. Damnit.

For the second day in a row, there was a portion of out-and-back togetherness that allowed me to again high five a bunch of marathon maniacs, which again was cool. A built in cheering squad, gotta love it. They were all happy and enjoying themselves, many again taking pictures of other maniacs.

fall colorsSince I did not eat enough I got horribly tired and was running on fumes for the last 8 miles. I actually started taking Gatorade at aid stations (which I almost never do) just to try to survive. Just then I remembered I did not use my new and improved recovery drink, chocolate milk. How could I have been so forgetful??

The course was fine, starting out near a bay (I never did have a good view of the ocean during the race which was a bummer) and then getting to urban ‘backroads’ with lots of color changing trees. Nothing to right home about, just another course, actually. What for sure did stink was that with about 2 miles to go, you can see the finish line area. I hate that, because then those last miles seem to take forever. If and when I design a marathon course, you come around the last corner and you have 100m to go. Done :)

Since I had not eaten enough, after my handstand, I was hungry. Very hungry. I was waiting for Morgan to come in such that I could take her to the airport so I hung around the finish line and ate. A lot. Several glasses of Gatorade, 2 bottles of water, 2 bagels with cream cheese, 2 bottles of chocolate milk and 7 containers of yogurt. Later I would eat a lot more, probably the most I have ever eaten in a 10 hour period in my life. Yeah, I was toast at the end of this one. I am glad I can still say that I learn a little more about my running every race, even after 51 marathons.

A two step flight late Sunday got me home in my bed a little after midnight. I was so completely exhausted because the flights were just short enough that I couldn’t sleep on either one. It took me a few days to catch up on sleep. Now I have to nurse my legs and eat a bunch because my new marathons are next weekend. ugh.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

2010 New Hampshire Marathon Results

13/240 overall
My 50th marathon (or longer) race! 
FiniFreaks abound, and I am one of them I admit, but no matter how freaky you think I am, there are those that are far freakier. My good fiend Gary and his girlfriend Morgan are just such freaks. I do ~1 marathon per month, they do 1-2 a weekend. Every weekend. Even when injured. They will both finish 50 states at the end of October, having started just last year. There are many other stories of people just a wacky. I am glad to call them friends and fellow marathoners. This was a weekend of hanging out with the crazies, for sure. Because this was the first marathon of 4 for me in the space of 8 days
It all began with a 4am wakeup on Friday for a 6:10am flight to Manchester. (It was the cheapest, what can I say) I had time to kill (obviously) once I got to New Hampshire so I headed for the ocean. Unfortunately, a nasty coast wide (yes, from Miami all the way to Maine) storm was just finishing its downpour that day so it was rainy and generally depressing at the ocean. I did find a Starbucks and spent some time working on my race schedule for 2011. Its never too early to start, ya know…

Friday night I had dinner with friend of friend of friend (Erin) and her boyfriend Mike. Two wonderful people who were more than happy to lend their place for crashing marathoners. So gracious are they, that they ran out of room, but not to put me out, Erin convinced her mother to let me sleep there. It was pretty cool, I must say.

I woke up at 6 and stopped back at Erin’s house to have some polite conversation and some fresh fruit. We talked about running, school and a cool site called Couch surfing is kindof like hitchhiking, only staying at someone house instead of just riding in their car. Saying it that way makes it look scary. It was really nice to share stories with other crazies.

The weather the previous days had been horrible but (because of my incredible race weather luck) it broke on race day. 45 degree and sunny sunny sunny.

The course didn’t look hilly based on the course elevation profile, but there were zillions of small hills. None of them were too high, just too many of them. The course was (mostly) around beautiful Newfound Lake. It was a nice day, but very windy, in our face most of the day. Luckily though, most of the last 5 miles had the wind at our back.

I have been having shin issues for a few races now. I am working on it, and they are getting stronger, but I knew they would not be 100% for this race. At about mile 17 they started to give me a little grief and were not great at the end. Ice and more stretching reduced the inflammation, but they would not recover by the next race, since it was 18 hours later.

ManiacsThere were lots of marathon maniacs doing the same double I was this weekend (NH and ME) because they are only 2.5 hours apart by car. Because there was an out an back portion of the course, I got to high five about 25 of them. I even got my picture taken by a few of them. Fun people, they are.

Though I did not see him at the start, I saw my friend Chuck Engle during the same out and back (me going out, him back) and he won the race and beat me. He always does. Remember those freaks I was telling you about, Gary and Morgan? Chuck runs just as frequently and a little faster. I chatted with him a bit after the race, and as always, it was great to see him.
I had a pleasant and quick shower and ate some post race food (pizza!) at the sponsoring school and then I started my 2.5 hour drive (all back-roads and very beautiful) to Portland. Where our next chapter takes us