Monday, October 30, 2006

Tri-Cities Marathon

3:51, PR by 6 minutes...
20+ MPH winds ...
10+ hours to get home...
3rd place in age group...

Saturday I checked the weather forecast one last time. It was to be a bit windy but warm. I don’t really like running against the wind but how bad could it be? I guess now we know! I rode over to the Tri-Cities Marathon with Cliff the winner and Mel. I think this was Mel’s 309th marathon. We arrived with plenty of time to get ready to run.

It was a little chilly at the start but I knew once I was moving it would be the perfect temperature. The route was an out and back with 4 crossings of the Columbia River on 3 different bridges. And the wind did show up as predicted. But at least half the time it would be at your back.

I forgot my watch, so I thought to myself, self just run strong but try to stay behind people in the beginning that you KNOW you should be behind. For the first 1 1/2 miles there was some dust and sand being blown at us but for the rest of the day was just wind. Except for that leaf that was pinned to the side of my leg for over a half mile. I figured it would fall off when the wind changed direction and it did.

All day the wind seemed to come at us at an angle. It was almost never directly from behind. From mile 2 to 8 it was pushing us pretty good but also a lot to the left. So when I would have my right foot off the ground I had to make sure I didn’t trip myself. And with the left and had to make sure I didn’t kick the guy next to me. After all it was his first marathon. At one point I looked down and saw that my left foot was being pushed out over 3 inches by the wind. I asked the time at 3 miles and it was 24 something. I figured this was too fast but without a watch what choice did I have. I was trying to hold back. At 6 miles I still felt real good, but at 49 minutes I could tell I was going faster than I should have been.

At 8 miles I crossed the river for the second time, this time going directly into the wind. I could barely walk 4 mph let alone run. I tried to draft behind that same guy running his first marathon but then he started going slower than I was. Once I got down off the bridge I was headed west into the wind. Now I was leaning to the left instead of the right. I figured it would all even out by the end of the day.

At about 11.5 miles I got to the turn around. I still felt pretty good, I was just wishing the wind would straighten out so it would be more at my back. This sideways stuff was no good. It seemed to be slowing me down in both directions. At 12 miles I was close enough to another runner to ask her the time. She said 1:39 that’s an 8:15 mile, still too fast. I continued to keep a good pace all the way past mile 15.

Now I was crossing the third bridge and the wind was at my back. I went up the bridge like I was running downhill and down the bridge like I was skydiving. At one point the wind spilt around a pillar and came at me from the both the front and back. I felt like I was floating for about a second and a half. What an adventure. The cables were also singing a nice tune. I’m just glad I didn’t get thrown into them like some of the runners did.

At the end of the bridge it was the start of 8 miles of running into the wind, hunched over and leaning to the left. The wind was stronger than ever and could (and did) push you right off the path without warning. I was passing a lot of people some walking; they must have been early starters and some kind of running. It felt like I was going rather slow myself but I only got passed by 2 people. A couple of other guys tried passing me after I had just passed them but they couldn’t hold on very long. I kept asking the time whenever I passed some wear a mile marker but I don’t remember most of them.

Just before mile 20 my Maniac hat, that had turned around backwards because I was running into the wind, (I kept turning it back and front depending on the wind) flew off like a kite on a broken string. It went at least 50 yards straight sideways before I lost sight of it. Damn it! I love that hat. I thought I can go down that 70 foot embankment and find it but I’ll never get back up again, it’s just too steep. So I started running again, sans hat, cursing into the wind. Like it cared, I’m no Charlton Heston.

At mile 21 I remember the guy said it was 11:03. 11:03? Ahhh AM! So I had to figure out the time. I think we started at 8 so that 3:03. So I have almost an hour to go 5.2 miles. Can I do that? Into this wind? I don’t think so. It felt like I was running slower than that already. With about 3 miles to go I saw Van, she was on a short walk break. I’ve never seen Van this late in a race, even when I started an hour early. She must be having a hard day. Running 40 marathons in 10 months will do that to a person, if they’re still alive. I figured this was a good time for me to take a walk break also. 5 seconds later she started running and so did I. I passed Van with about 2.5 miles to go but I knew she would be passing me back before the finish. If she really wanted to that is.

With about 2 miles to go I got a time of 3:31. Wow 29 minutes to go 2.2 miles. I can do that! So I put the hammer down. Well it wasn’t much of a hammer. More like a feather and with that wind it was gone in a flash. Ok let’s try it again. I just need to make it over the last bridge then it’s just a mile to the finish. It was really tough into the wind and up hill but I knew the downhill would give me back some time. Well there was nothing left for the downhill. Sure I picked it up a little but nothing like I normally do. Now there was 1.2 left to the finish. I splashed some water on my face at the last aid station and gave it all I had. I just continued to do what I had been doing for the past 9 miles. Focus on the runner in front of me and try to catch them. I finished in 3:51, a Personal Best by 6 minutes. How fast could I have gone without the wind? We’ll never know.

After the race the awards were handed out and I ended up taking 3rd place in the 35-39 age group. Wow!

This is normally where the story ends. We got in our car at 2:15 and drove the 3 hours home. Blah blah. I took an ice bath. Blah blah, it was cold. How boring is that? Where’s the adventure?
Well here’s what really happened.

We got as far as Easton where the freeway was completely stopped. The Semi’s were either getting off the freeway or turning their engine off. After sitting for nearly an hour we decided to turn around and head for White Pass. That’s a pretty long detour but since the traffic advisory said the freeway was closed in both directions and would be for several hours we all came to the conclusion that it would be better to drive around. On any other day we would have been home at 9:00 pm which is what Cliffs GPS was predicting as our arrival time. But not today. We came to the turn for White Pass and the sign said Chinook Pass was open, which it should be, after all it only October right. So we took the shorter Chinook Pass route. The first time we stopped was right at the top. There was a pickup sideways against the guardrail. I thought, hey that’s it, it’s all downhill from here. We’ll be home in no time. Well ½ mile later we stop again for about an hour. Then the park rangers clear the vehicle out of the ditch. So we’re off we’ll be home in no time… 100 yards later stopped again. And again we wait for them to clear the obstruction. Now the sheet of ice has a nice layer of water on it from all the engine heat. So even after being parked for 5 minutes, cars are sliding sideways. Poor Cliff, after running a 2:59 marathon with 20+ mph winds (WOW), he can’t even give his foot a brake. He has to keep a foot firmly on the peddle or we’ll end up in the ditch like those other Yahoos.

Finally we made it out of the snow but everybody’s still so paranoid we’re only doing 40 mph in a 55 mph zone on dry pavement. I made it home at just about 1:00 am Monday morning. Good times!
Luckily next weekend it’s only a few miles to the start of UWR.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Halloween Marathon

It was another great day of racing in the NW. It was supposed to be sunning and warm but for the first half of the day it was cold foggy and windy. I didn't warm up until the second half of the race when the sun came out.

The first 13 miles I ran with Jennifer (the wife). It was her first 1/2 marathon and she did great. She kept an even pace the entire race and only walked the steep hill (freeway overpass). She finished just under 3 hours.

The course was different this year. We took a right at a mile and a half then under the freeway and a couple more rights to the turn around. There's only about a 50 foot elevation difference from the highest point to the lowest point. I guess it’s flatter than before but you still have to run on a cambered road which always bothers my hips.

After I got pictures of Jenn finishing and handed off Shela, I took off to finish the marathon. I didn’t really feel like it but I needed to. It took me at least a mile to shake the bugs out. Running at a slow pace used different muscles I guess. I figured there were a lot of people I could catch (I started the second half in last place). I quickly passed the first person; she was wearing wings like Jenn. I was cruising right at 9 minute miles. It was an easy pace that I kept for the rest of the race. I caught 2 more running before the turn around. I saw 3 more as they were leaving the turn around but it took me a mile to catch them because I took so long filling up. As I went under the freeway I passed another guy. After that I could not see anybody ahead of me for a least half a mile. I could feel that it was taking more effort to maintain the current pace but I decided to keep it up, even though there appeared to be nobody left to pass. Good thing I did because I ended up passing 3 more runners, one of them at the last A/S where neither of us stopped and the last one with about ¾ of a mile to go. He was in bad shape, walking for 10 seconds then running for 10 seconds. After I went by him I heard him try to keep up for about 2 minutes but then I couldn’t hear him. I didn’t look back but I knew he couldn’t catch me. I think I passed two other runners but I can’t remember where. At the finish I got mauled by Shela and hugged by Jennifer, or was it the other way around? ;) I ended up running a 5:05, a personal worst! But it was good training to run a faster second half, which I almost never do.

My hips did bother me some but not as much as they have been. And considering the slant of the roads that’s awesome. I have almost no soreness today. I rode 14 miles this morning with no soreness in my quads. Next up UWR, unless I can find one before that.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Baker Lake 50k

It was another beautiful day at Baker Lake.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather or a nicer course to run on. But once again this course beat me. I started out Way too fast! I was just running along enjoying the scenery doing 8:30 to 9:30 minute miles. I should have been thinking about how hard this trail becomes on the way back if you go out too fast. I just love to run on this kind of trail.

At right about 5 miles in my hip started to hurt, again. I guess I’m going to have to do something about that. I’m thinking about cutting out UWR, Birch Bay, and Last Chance. We’ll see.

So I popped a couple of Advil and kept running but now at the correct pace of around 10:00 m/m. When I got the aid station I was still feeling pretty fresh and the hip hadn’t gotten any worse. But I was starting to feel some cramps in my calves even though I had been drinking plenty and taking my salt.

I quickly refilled my supplies and headed out. Shawn had left the aid station right in front of me so I figured we’d have a nice run back to the finish. Then the wheels fell off. About a mile out of the aid station I tripped on a root that was hidden by all freshly fallen the leaves. And of course I landed on my bad hip. (What am I, 90 years old?) That hurt a little! I didn’t know it but as I fell I pulled the mouth piece on my bladder 95% off and it soon fell off the rest of the way. Why is my leg all wet? I look down and there’s a yellow stream coming out of my pack. Luckily I found the mouth piece before my bladder had gone completely dry. I get back to running but Shawn is long gone. She went on to have a real strong finish. Good Job Shawn!

I on the other hand was now paying the price for going out to fast. I had plenty of salt, drink, and gel. I didn’t bonk like last year. I just couldn’t run at the pace I wanted to. I could jog along without a problem but as soon as I would try to pick it up my calf would cramp real bad, a total lock-up. I tried over and over. I had so much energy left. I just couldn’t use it. It was very frustrating. I ended up with a 6:09, 23 minutes faster than last year. I’ll be back for another try next year.
There was, as always, great food after the race. Dave Dutton did a great job as race director.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The End of September

I ended up with fewer miles this month (94) then any other since I started keeping track. Ironically last month was the most ever at 230 miles. I guess that’s a good thing since I want to make sure I am completely healed from CCC.

Most of my runs have been tempo runs in the 7:00 to 8:30 range. My right hip still has some sharp discomfort but compared to how it was 3 weeks ago it’s almost gone.

Monday: ..... 4 miles
Tuesday: ..... 2.4 miles pushing stroller
Wednesday: .....4.3 miles
Thursday: ..... 0
Friday: ..... 2.2 miles
Saturday: ..... 9.6 miles trail w/Jenn
Sunday: ..... 0
Total: ..... 22.5 miles

Since it’s now dark so early (I give daylight priority to Jenn) my running schedule is changing to running in the morning before work. This will also allow me to run twice a day if I feel the need.

See you at Baker Lake!