Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 FSCA 5K Results (or hmmm… I think I will run a 5K this Morning)

5/116 overall

Just a little local 5K. I decided at about 7 am that I was going to run it at 8:30 am and my race day registration meant I got a XL size race shirt :(. Just another ‘forced speed workout’ that helps shake the rust out of my legs in my training for serious endurance events (100 milers) I actually ran this race a few years ago and got 2nd overall back then. I have gotten slower at these shorter distances just because I never train for racing 5K’s.

The weather was actually quite nice. high 40’s with a small wind and overcast. A nice tour of downtown Jackson (there are a few local road races that are in downtown) that I actually run every once in a while. I managed to keep an even pace for the race (slow, I know) which is nice considering I was never able to do that ‘back in the day’. My pulled hamstring, which I have been nursing for about 1.5 months did slow me down, but not too much.

Just for the record, the first time (and most recent) time I ran this race was way back in 2006 when I ran an 18:58 (2nd place overall). That was my 6th race of the modern era. Oh, how much I have learned in the 98 road races since then…

Saturday, April 23, 2011

2011 River Rat Marathon Results (or Cross-country Road Trip with Good Friends)

4/33 overall
State #48 was more about the road trip than the race itself.
My trusty running friend/pacer/coach Ryan arrived at my house on Thursday afternoon and we left, trying to get some miles behind us before the long driving day on Friday. My other good running friend, Gary, who currently lives in Erie, PA left right after work and drove to meet us at our hotel in Joliet, IL. Gary is used to driving late at night to races (he does it all the time) and was scheduled to arrive somewhere around 3am. When I woke up at 5:30 and saw no sign of him, I texted him asking if he was alive. Turns out, he was so tired, he got to the hotel parking lot and fell asleep right there in his car, without even undoing his seatbelt. Safe driving, eh?

We got his stuff packed up into my car and took off about 6am for the 10 hours left we had to go to make it to South Dakota. Gary slept in the back seat for a few more hours until we stopped for a pizza lunch some where in Iowa. Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas are just plain boring to drive through. Few hills, long expanses of nothing much besides farms. Being completely overcast just made for a blah visual day. Conversations were standard marathon road trip banter, talking about races, past and future.

We arrived in the cow capital of South Dakota, Yankton at about 4pm local. With packet pickup at 5, we checked in to our hotel and went out for dinner. We had Applebees the previous night, so I had ribs. I had never tried that for a pre-race meal before, and it did not disappoint. This being a small town race, the packet pickup was held at the local bike/outdoor shop which was technically a wing of the local Ace Hardware store. Umm.. no expo.
Lewis and Clark (again!)
After dinner, Ryan and I did a quick touristy trip around the area taking pictures of the Missouri river. I seem to have an affinity for the whole Lewis and Clark thingie. Last October, the end of the Lewis and Clark journey in Oregon. Last month, the start of of it in St. Louis. This time, I was right in the middle of it, the race being on the banks of (you guessed it) Lewis and Clark Lake, a man-made lake behind a dam along the Missouri river. .

The three of us crashed for the night about 8pm, well Gary and I crashed. Our hotel room was quite near a local bar that had live music playing. Poor Ryan didn’t fall asleep until the band stopped, somewhere about midnight. Did I mention the band wasn’t that good?

The 4th member to our party, Morgan (Gary’s girlfriend and fellow marathoner) had flown into Omaha late the night before and drove up, arriving at our hotel room at about 3am. She was not running this race, and just came to spend time with Gary (she now lives in Phoenix).

6am and we were up and ready to go. Race conditions were so-so. The temperature was mid to high 40’s, but we had 20-25 mph winds all day long. With the course meandering in all directions, it was sortof a pain. Poor Gary has no fat on his body so he was wearing 5 layers on his torso and was still cold.

8am start and we all set off into the wind. It was absolutely brutal for many of those early miles. The course went through Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, including many miles on the banks of the Missouri river. It was a very peaceful and pretty run. A few hills here and there that were not that bad, and overall good run. The only thing I really disliked was running right next to the water treatment plant at mile 25. That was annoying. While I though the course was ok, Gary and Ryan didn’t much like it at all.

Gary is trying to run marathons in all 50 states under 3:00. He is a little faster than me, but not that much. He has accomplished sub 3 in 40 states, but here in South Dakota, he has failed, now twice. He ran a 3:07 (finishing one place ahead of me) and sadly will have to return again to attempt a sub 3. Ryan, however, had a better day. He had run 2 marathons the week before (the same marathon race course, just twice in one day) He had been sore, but was very happy to run a 3:47 this day considering the wind.

Quick showers and we all took off. Morgan had been planning to go back to Erie with Gary, so we had to go back to Omaha to drop off her rental car before the 4 of us headed east. Ryan and I took turns driving, resting when we could. We ended up dropping Gary and Morgan off in Joliet around 11pm, Ryan and I then getting to my house about 2:30am, and then Ryan took off getting to his house at 4am. It was a loooong day, but we all made it through.

A fun cross country road trips with good friends, which made up for the unexciting marathon. This was also the first race that I tried my new shtick, the dyed hair. I had been toying around with the idea of dying my hair the week before big races (so people would know I was racing) and then shaving my head right after the race. Having never dyed my hair before, I was a little concerned about peoples reaction. Turns out, almost everyone loved it (even my lovely wife, Misty) so I think it will work. I won’t do it for every race, just the important ones like 100 milers, state #50, etc.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Go! St. Louis Marathon Results (or How to Run in Heat and Not Die)

72/1904 Overall
9/210 Division

State 47! Yeah! That means I am getting oh-so-close to my 50 states goal, and I tell ya, it can’t come fast enough :) This race would prove to be fun, hot, and demoralizing all at the same time.
St. Louis is only an 8 hour drive from home, so I left early Saturday morning getting to the marathon expo in the early afternoon. I met up with a ultra running friend, Rob, who was set to be the 3:50 pace group leader. During the race, he had to fall back due to heat sickness but according to him, his group had already all fallen away before so it was OK. What’s worse, is that his racing chip was not working and so (as of this writing) he does not have an official finish time. Rob and another maniac friend of his, Steve, and I got together Saturday night to swap war stories and have a few cold ones. Turns out, Steve is a fast marathoner, his average race time (he calculates it meticulously) being close to the 3:00 mark. When asked, he said he wanted to run in the 2:50 range to drop his average time a little bit more. For the record, he beat me by only 30 seconds, finishing 25 min slower than his goal. Did I mention it was hot? Everyone crashed this day it seemed.

ArchI had some free time Saturday afternoon, so I did the speed-tourist thing, this time hitting the St. Louis Arch. I had been here as a child, but forgot how HUGE the 500+ foot sculpture really was. That was way cool, and I also went to the nearby courthouse (1st courthouse in St. Louis, built in mid 1800’s, awesome architecture) and found out this was THE courtroom that started the court case (Dred Scott, slave suing for his freedom) that led the famous US supreme court decision that can be argued was what began the US civil war. Considered the worst event in United States history, that epic struggle has roots in a simple courtroom. It was cool being in a place of such important history.

And of course, the arch itself was there to commemorate (amongst other things) the starting point of the Lewis and Clark expedition after the Louisiana purchase. For those avid fans of my travels, you remember I visited the official place commemorating the OTHER end the Lewis and Clark adventure in Oregon back in Oct, 2010. Just goes to show you I am really trying to do more than just run marathons when I travel all over.

After a good nights rest on an air mattress at a friend-of-a-friends local apartment, I got to the race start early enough to be in the massive marathon maniacs group picture. We are becoming quite the large national group.

maniacs! Since my last marathon two weeks ago, my hamstring has been bothering me, In fact, I had not run one single mile since that last race, only doing walks and elliptical training to keep my cardio system up and minimizing impact and strain on my poor hamstring. I even got a deep tissue massage two days before this race, which helped, but it was still sore race morning. My only real goal was to finish under 4 hours, as I really had no idea what my hamstring would do. But, as a starting point, I found the 3:10 pace group and decided to start with them. It was led by a really nice 2:35 marathoner from Grand Rapids, MI named Chris. He did an awesome job keeping us upbeat, with lots of suggestions throughout for the newer racers. At about mile 5, there were still over a dozen of us hanging with him, as we rolled through downtown St. Louis, including running near the Arch and by the Anhueser Busch Brewery. The first few miles were rough on my hamstring, but it loosened up as we went, to a point where I did not feel it much at all, and that was not because it went numb from pain, promise :) I think I was just very smart to keep my form good and smooth and with no real strain, I was fine.

At about mile 15, we hit more residential St. Louis and the long slow hills began. Combined with the raising temperatures (low to mid 80’s) I started to slow, as did everyone else. The 3:10 pace group slowly left me and I tried to keep them in sight as long as possible, but it was no use. As almost always happens, my second half is ~10 min slower than my first half. This was another survival marathon, so I was totally cool with just finishing strong. No matter how much the urge to walk struck, even on those long slogging hills, I never did, not even at water stations. At mile 22 a very nice woman was handing out Starbursts which were absolute heaven. I guess my body was craving sugar it seems.

A short wait for my free Michelob (tasty, of course) and I was on the highway within an hour of crossing the finish line. I arrived back at my house with sore muscles, fresh good and bad memories of another state conquered a mere 38 hours after I left. The light at the end of (this) tunnel gets a little closer and a little brighter. I think I am starting to get excited.