Archive for December, 2010

California International Marathon 12/5/2010

December 16, 2010

I’m always shocked by the rapidity with which epic meltdowns occur.  Especially when it occurs early, or somewhat early, in a race.  Unfortunately, CIM is a “point-to-point” course…which means it starts at one point and finishes 26.2 miles away at another point (as opposed to a “loop” course which starts/finishes at the same place).  When you crash and burn on a point-to-point you really have no choice but to make your way to the finish line.  That pretty much describes my race on Sunday.

I approached this race much more conservatively than St. George.  I had zero intention of attempting to run a qualifying time for Boston…and it’s a good thing.  I was hoping and expecting to come away with a PR somewhere in the 3:39 range.  I strapped on the Timex and slapped on a 3:40 pacetat and headed out the door.

My splits were perfect through 10 or 11 miles.  Even at the half I was within a minute of where I needed to be.  That would be the extent of the positive news from the split front for the duration.  By mile 15 I went from running mid 8s to mid 10s (though I still wasn’t feeling bad).  By mile 16 I was taking walk breaks.

Shortly thereafter, my running buds started passing me.  Hillary had already gone by when the 3:40 pace group clipped me at mile 11, then C/M, then Sandy.  Sandy, of course, had to “check on me” (by bumping me with her shoulder) and “encourage me” (by issuing me a little nah-nanny-boo-boo).  As she sprinted off down the course (more hopping with joy than running) I yelled out that the RACE WASN’T OVER YET and that she’d better be checking over her shoulder for the next 9 or so miles.  A guy walking next to me on the side of the road (aka the shoulder of shame) looked me square in the eye and said, “Dude, your race is over.”  Why thank you, complete stranger!

Vance, POJ, Linda, Jerie, and Amber all must have passed me as well but I never saw them.

An interesting twist in this race was the fact that Kel was running the relay with Linda and a local girl (Ruthie, who Linda found via a relay matchmaker web site).  Kel had the final 5.7 mile leg and Linda thought she’d be handing off to her at around the 3:30 mark in the race.  I quickly adjusted my “plan” to try to arrive at the relay exchange within a few minutes of Linda and run in with Kel.

What felt like three weeks later, when I arrived at the relay exchange point, I made sure to make eye contact with every runner that was waiting for their partner.  I didn’t see Kel.  About 50 yards past the exchange I did see Linda.  That meant that Kel had a head start on me…and, depending on her lead, I may or may not be able to catch her.  Linda informed me that her lead was about 4 minutes.  I gave myself about a 1% chance of closing that distance over the remaining miles.

I ran continuously for a mile and a half and did not see her anywhere ahead of me.  I decided that I would try to pick it up a little more for another mile in a last-ditch effort to close the distance.  Within a half mile or so I finally saw her up ahead.  When I had closed the distance down to about 50 yards she took a little walk break.  When I got within 10 or so yards she started running again and I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to reel her in.  Fortunately I did and we made our way to the finish line together (kinda, this race has a split finish line…one for chicks and one for dudes).

I clocked a 4:38:47…about 56 minutes slower than St. George two months ago.  My streak of sub 4 hour marathons  in 2010 is over.  CIM was my 20th marathon in my 11th state.

An hour or so after the race we headed over to Pete’s and, you guessed it, ate well and pounded lots of beer.  I split my burger with Big Jerie who arrived a little late (after most of us had ordered) and was looking might hungry.

After an awesome night’s sleep, Kel and I met Corey and Ashley for breakfast at Capitol Garage.  Corey was raving about the tamale omelette that he’d had on Saturday morning.  When we arrived we discovered that their weekend menu is different from their weekday menu and there wasn’t a tamale omelette to be found.  Our waitress, Crystal, offered to “check with the kitchen” and came back with the best news I’ve heard in quite a while.  They would, in fact, be able to produce for me a tamale omelette!

Peer closely between the light, fluffy layers of whipped egg and tell me what you see.  Your eyes are not deceiving you…that is a whole tamale wrapped up in there!  What a treat!!  I am now a huge fan of the tamale omelette.

After breakfast it was off to the airport.  Kel was heading home and I was heading to DC for a couple of days of work.  Somewhere around midnight on Monday I arrived in DC.  Sometime around 4:45 pm on Tuesday my luggage arrived.  I did all but one of my meetings on Tuesday in blue jeans (dirty), a 2005 New York Marathon shirt (dirty),  and running shoes.  The hotel did have a toothbrush/toothpaste but no razor.  I hadn’t shaved since Saturday.

Next up is the National Marathon To Finish Breast Cancer in Jacksonville, FL in mid February…unless I squeeze in Running From An Angel in Boulder City, NV in early January.

St. George Marathon 10/2/2010

December 3, 2010

St. George is a lottery marathon…meaning you have to “apply” by a certain date and then, about a month later, they draw names to establish the field.  11,000 runners put in for 7,400 spots.  You can also put in as a group of up to five runners.  The Ship put in three groups, two of which were selected. 

The course is nearly perfect, theoretically.  It drops pretty good for the first seven miles, climbs for the next five miles, and then drops hard to the finish line (with the exception of another little rise at mile 19).  The climbs are manageable…with only the first mile and a half (roughly mile 7.5 to mile 9) of climbing at a steep grade while the balance is just grinding.  On paper, the mile 19 climb, while not in an ideal spot on the race course, should be somewhat of a relief after all the downhill running between 12 and 19.  It should also set you up for the final 10k which, on a day when the weather is cooperating, should be an awesome way to finish a marathon.  Notice the overuse of the word “should”.

Uncooperative weather.  Seriously.  If I had a nickle for every time an announcer said something to the effect of “this is the hottest it’s been in <insert large number> years” before a race I’d have at least a half dozen nickels.  My friends are going to stop running out of town marathons with me.  New York, Marine Corps, San Antonio, Eisenbahn, Mesa Falls, South Bend, and Nashville all had horrible weather on race day.  Most had awesome conditions either the day before or the day after but NOT on race day.  This year’s St. George, according to the announcer, was the hottest race in 15 years.  By Tuesday of the following week it would be 12 to 15 degrees cooler across the board…but that didn’t stop them from bringing out the bonfires at the start!

Though it was relatively cool at the start, I was sweating up a storm within a mile.  I, of course, ignored that and went on about the business at hand (ie grinding out miles at as close to 7:40 pace as possible in an attempt to qualify for Boston).  I knew it was a longshot but had to try.  Most of my running buddies have qualified recently and are running Boston in 2011…I didn’t want to be left out.

The format below is Mile, Mile Split, Overall Average:

Mile Split Average
1 8:10 8:10
2 7:49 7:59
3 7:37 7:52
4 7:42 7:49
5 7:42 7:48
6 7:20 7:43
7 7:37 7:42
8 8:28 7:48
9 9:05 7:56
10 8:07 7:57
11 8:37 8:01
12 8:42 8:04
13 8:41 8:07
14 7:34 8:05
15 7:56 8:04
16 8:01 8:04
17 8:02 8:04
18 8:04 8:04
19 9:21 8:08
20 9:32 8:12
21 7:57 8:11
22 9:15 8:14
23 8:48 8:15
24 9:03 8:17
25 9:11 8:20
26 11:36 8:27
0.2 2:11 8:28

I started very conservatively, got myself right on pace through 7, ran the big hill at 8 almost exactly as prescribed, ran 9 & 10 too slow, got back on track on 11, too slow again on 12 & 13, right on at 14, and 15 is where I knew I’d need to adjust my goal.

Some of you may be looking at the 15 split and thinking 7:56 isn’t too bad for that point in a marathon (when your goal is 7:40) but, let me tell you, that was a beautifully smooth, downhill mile that I ran pretty much as hard as I could.  The fact that I could barely crack 8 on that bad boy foretold of some major pain to come.

16, 17, and 18 are all gentle downhills that are just a pleasure to run.  With very little effort and on very tired legs I was able to keep it right at 8.  At this point the sun is out and the mercury is rising.  Mix that with the lack of shade and it was game on in the battle between body and mind.

The slight uphill at 19 was hard, much harder than the incline would have lead one to believe.  I spent the better part of mile 20 trying to recover.  21 drops like a rock…as do it’s close associates 22, 23, and 24.  As previously mentioned, I would love to run this course on a day when the high temp was around 40 degrees.

Just past the 25 mile mark, St. George has a 25.2 mile marker.  That’s a pretty cool touch because it’s very easy to look at your watch, add the time it takes you to run a mile, and ballpark your finishing time (much easier than trying to figure out 1.2 miles in a degrading mental state at 25 even).  That’s a long way of saying that at 25.2 it dawned on me that I could PR today…something I’d given up on several miles back after seeing all the 9s.  That was energizing so I picked it up a little.  Within about 1/4 mile my quads disagreed and both locked up completely (one of the downsides to running hard downhill).  I was forced to walk about 100 yds or so before they finally released.  It was at this very moment that Paul Williams, with whom I’d been volleying with for the entire race, caught me…again.  Paul encouraged me to start running and I did…kinda.  Really more sleestacking than running.  The finish line finally appeared in the distance but covering the ground between here and there was akin to slo-mo running in a bad dream where the target seems to be getting further away no matter how much ground you cover.

There was an awesome misting station just past the finish line.  I got in and stood there for what seemed like an hour.  I even got out, found a popsicle, and got back in.  I was thoroughly nauseated by the popsicle but that didn’t stop me from consuming the better part of it.  Once I extracted myself from the cool, flowing water I grabbed a coca-cola and laid down in the grass.  I had no plans of vacating that spot until they closed the park.  I had no desire to reunite with the shipmates that I knew finished ahead of me or the ones that were behind me.  I just wanted to lay there and pout…so I laid there and pouted.

What’s good for pouty, whiney babies??  Beer!

That was by far the coldest beer in the coldest mug I’ve ever had.  Once I started pounding them I couldn’t stop (kinda like what OU was doing to UT on the TV screen).  After about 5 (@ 20 oz per) with no warm fuzzy feeling forthcoming I realized they were probably 2% due to the altitude.  That’s ok…they were big and cold!

It was time to say goodbye to St. George.  Beautiful place, beautiful course, warm fires, cold beer, and (again) my second best time in a marathon ever (3:42:18).  The streak of sub 4 hour marathons in 2010 is alive and well.  The count now stands at 19 marathons (in 10 states).

Next up is California International…which is this Sunday because it took me two months to write up this report!