Monday, June 7, 2010
I decided to take Friday off work so I could sleep in then spend the morning getting my stuff organized and packed instead of rushing to do it the night before. After a nice relaxing morning I picked Jen up by her office and we headed out on the road to Newport. We took the turnoff for Bay Road in Toledo in order to drive the majority of the course (it was four miles in town then out and back for the remaining 22.2) and get some pictures of where I would be running.
Once we arrived at the hotel we checked in then walked downstairs to the packet pickup where I got my number (no chips) and asked about the shuttle in the morning. I wasn't sure if I was going to take it or walk (it was about a mile) but I figured I would at least find out where it was picking up. After that we went to our room, drove to the store to pick up some chocolate milk for after the race and regular milk for morning coffee, then walked around a bit and hit up the hotel restaurant where I ordered a great pasta dish and had an after dinner cocktail.
Race morning I woke up to clear blue sky and after having my toast and coffee we walked over to the start. It took about 20 minutes and was a really nice way to start the day. Once we arrived at the start I hit up the port-o-forest then walked over to the starting area and made my way to the front of the pack. Since this was not a chip timed race (it's a small race that is capped at 800) and I wanted to run a 3:10:00 I tried to line up as close to the front as I could. About three minutes later the countdown began and we were off!
I knew that the key to me running my goal time was going to be even pacing and no miles that were unreasonably fast. I kept that in mind as we started out and tried to stay relaxed and run strong but easy. The first four miles twist and turn through town with a few ups and downs and at 4.5 we passed by the hotel for a short but steep climb (which we would come back down right before the finish) then headed out onto Bay Road for the out and back section.
Paces: 7:06, 7:18, 7:10, 7:06, 7:32 - 36:12 (0:03 ahead of pace)
The next five miles went by fairly uneventfully. I got into a groove and kept pace with the few people that were around me. By mile 10 I was starting to wonder if I could hold the pace which started to worry me but I decided to take it one mile at a time and not let myself start to get negative this early in the race:
Paces: 7:14, 7:13, 7:19, 7:14, 7:15 - 1:12:27 (0:04 ahead of pace)
Ahhhh headwind - how sucky can you be - let me count the ways - mile 12, mile 13, mile 14. At one point around mile 13 I passed one guy who tucked in behind me and breathed in my ear for the next half mile or so. I could really feel myself starting to get tired but I also knew the turn around would be coming up soon where I would see Jen and then be heading back to the finish line. Right around 15 I saw Jen and she handed me a new water bottle and shouted some encouragement (and snapped a couple of pics).
Paces: 7:11, 7:20, 7:24, 7:24, 7:23 - 1:49:09 (0:23 off pace)
"On a long and lonesome highway east of Omaha, you can listen to the engine moanin out his one note song"
And the fade begins. After I passed by Jen at the turn around I could feel myself start to slow bit by bit. The sun was hot and the formerly stiff headwind was now a lazy tailwind that did nothing for me. At around mile 17 I realized that I wasn't going to make 3:10:00 and found myself not being upset about it at all. I remember thinking "this shit is hard" and "what did I get myself into" a number of times during miles 17 and 18. Finally at 19 I decided to take a 15 second walk break while I took a drink - that 15 seconds blew by and next thing I knew I was running along again. When we hit the water stop at mile 20 the guy in front of me walked through the stop and I thought "what an ingenious idea, I'm going to walk the water stop as well!" - I still only gave myself 15 seconds and again, it was gone before I knew it.
Paces: 7:33, 7:22, 7:36, 7:42, 8:12 - 2:27:33 (-2:31 off pace)
Holy Hell what did I get myself into? These last miles were SO hard. A couple times I considered grabbing onto a car as it drove by and sort of hooky-dragging along for a while. I figured my arms weren't nearly as tired as my legs so I could hold on for a good 30 seconds or so which seemed fantastic. I didn't think any of the other racers would get upset, in fact I figured I would start a hooky-dragging chain reaction when people started realizing what a brilliant idea it was.
One of the best things about this race being small was that everyone around me at this point was suffering as much or more as I was. There were eight or ten people within a half mile of me and not a single one of them was consistently running. There was guy cramping way worse than me, guy with audible stomach problems, run fast/walk slow guy, and 'oh my god it's another patch of shade' guy just to name a few.
Around mile 23.5 my right quad started cramping with every push off and I thought that if I didn't stop to stretch it out I was going to be in trouble. I stopped and grabbed onto a pole and tried to do a quad stretch but my hamstring stated in no uncertain terms that it would not tolerate any sort of contractions. I immediately put my foot down and rubbed my quad then started running again. My last 15 second walk break was at the mile 24 water stop.
Paces: 8:23, 8:00, 8:34, 8:54, 8:22 - 3:09:46 (-8:29 off pace)
The quad cramp hit me hard in the last mile and I had to stop one last time to shake it out. Audible stomach problems guy was right in front of me and I set the goal of beating that gassy bastard to the finish so I pushed it hard up the final incline then kicked it into high gear as I was coming down the hill to the finish. I could hear gas master's steps behind me so I gave it all I had and made it across the line before him.
Final Time: 3:20:23 - 7:39 AP
8/38 Age Group (30-34)
The guys in the chute asked me how I was feeling and my response (after a few moments of deep thought) was "thirsty". They gave me a bottle of water which I took a few drinks of before dumping the rest over my head. I walked over and got another bottle then saw Jen and she ran over and gave me a hug. She was kicked out of the finishers area a minute later so I stood in the shade and ate a few orange slices before walking over to where she was standing. I spent a few minutes stretching out then we headed back to our room where I took a shower and changed.
We walked over to Rogue Brewery and had an awesome lunch and a couple drinks then spent some time bumming around Newport.
Finishers Medal - made by local glass shop in Newport
Goodbye Marathon Beard
Overall it was a great race and even though it kicked my ass it made me hungry for more. Jen and I are talking about our next marathon but I'll leave the announcement to her as she is the family race planner.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
While I was out running I was thinking about my upcoming race and I realized that I was pretty nervous about and excited for it. Nervous because, well because it’s a marathon; and excited because, well because it’s a marathon. To ease my nerves a bit and to pass the time during the run I started thinking about the training I’ve done and the things I’ve accomplished over the last four months.
I ran three races during training; two half-marathons and a 5k.
The Shamrock Run 5k was in week four and although I had been doing hill work I had yet to do any speed work. This race features nearly a mile of incline and only about two-tenths of a mile of decline so it’s a tough one. I managed to push hard and set a new PR of 19:37.
One week later Jen and I were up in Washington for the Mercer Island Half Marathon which is on twisty, hilly roads for the majority of the race. Since I knew it was a tough course my plan was to run strong but not push too hard and then really try to hang on and pick up the pace at the end. I hoped that the hill training I had been doing would help me push through. It was a hard course but I managed to pull out a new PR of 1:32:38.
On May 2nd we were down in Eugene where Jen was running her marathon and I was running the half. This race was a good confidence boost for me and I ended up finishing with a new PR of 1:30:15.
Even though there were a few days when I really didn’t feel like heading out the door I managed to complete every run except the one mentioned above and one in April when I was traveling for work. I still have a few left during the taper and while I hope to get them all in it is the taper after all and I’m not going to beat myself up if I have to miss one (although I’m sure I will spend some time agonizing over it).
I used a plan that had me doing two 20 mile runs and one 21 miler which I was a bit intimidated by at first but as I completed each one it was a good confidence boost. I was able to run two of them point to point on the Banks Veronia trail and one of them on a new out and back route along the waterfront downtown. I really enjoyed the runs on Banks Vernonia because it gave me a chance to get out away from people and enjoy my surroundings. I felt progressively stronger on each run and was able to run the last six miles of my 21 miler at an average pace of 7:06. Granted that is likely the primary reason for my sore calf but thankfully that appears to be on the mend. My 21 miler was also only the second time I’ve run over 20 miles
I felt confident in all of my speed workouts but there were definitely days when I wanted to quit on the second interval when I was scheduled to do six or eight. I pushed through the mental blocks and finished all of them on pace and feeling good; tired, but good. I think the hardest part of speed work is the warm up and cool down. If I’m at the track I don’t mind running fast intervals, but running a 2 mile warm up and cool down can be quite boring.
As of this evening I have six runs left for a total of 37 miles. The majority of the miles will be at a GA pace or an easy pace and on the last two I’ll likely throw in a couple of goal pace miles just to remember what they feel like. Tonight I ran five miles at an 8:00 average and of course I was questioning the taper the entire time. Luckily I’ve had Jen telling me how important the taper is and to have faith in my training which I definitely do. At this point no amount of speed work or heavy mileage would do me any good. What I need now is to let my body recover so that come race day I am ready to roll.
Springtime in Oregon – I think that about sums it up.
Overall I think I am more excited than anything else. The visual I have is that I am a chocolate chip cookie with the cookie part being excitement and the chocolate chips being nervousness.
I’ll post a race report after I get home – since the race is on a Saturday I should be able to get one done sometime on Sunday.
Thanks for reading!
Monday, May 3, 2010
Saturday morning I got up and got in a short easy run before we packed up the car, grabbed a bagel and coffee, and hit the road. When we got to Eugene we hit up the expo, grabbed a sandwich downtown (I’m a big sandwich fan and am always looking for a good sandwich shop), bummed around for a bit, then went to our hotel to check in. After that we walked over to the University to scope out the start (they had changed it a bit from last year) and then walked over the river to find a spot where I could hopefully catch Jen at around mile 16/17 of her race the next day. Then it was back to the hotel for a nap followed by race day prep, picnic style dinner on the bed (chicken, pasta salad, and bread), then some reading and bed.
Sunday morning I was up at a little after five to have some coffee and toast, get ready, and hit up the rr a couple times before walking over to the start. Since our hotel was a four minute walk from the starting corrals (we timed it on Saturday) we were able to stay in the room until around 6:40 which was great. When we got over to the start I did a couple short warm up jogs then Jen and I got into the corral together before we wished each other good luck and lined up in our respective time zones.
Going into the race I my main goal was to have an average pace in the mid 6:50’s with an A+ goal of breaking 1:30:00. Leading up to the race I had been telling myself “remember not to go out too fast” and for the most part I stuck to that (although I did go out a bit fast and had a moment of “this is happening!” before reigning myself in.
The three miles are basically flat with a few downhill sections mixed in so I spent this time getting into a groove and constantly reminding myself that I was likely going a bit fast and needed to reign it in a bit.
Miles 1-3: 6:46, 6:43, 6:44
The next two and a half-ish are basically a slight incline capped off with a steep pitch at the end before the course turns and comes back down the incline one block to the west. During this section I knew that I had started pushing my luck with the miles in the 6:40’s but I felt like I had caught myself before doing any real damage. I was certainly glad to see the turn and the beginning of the decline after the climb.
Miles 4-6: 6:54, 7:02, 6:46
After the six mile mark I felt like I was getting into a good groove but at the same time I could feel myself starting to get tired and knew that it was going to take some mental effort to hang on and keep pushing. It wasn’t that I was ready to give up, I was just running fast and started to question myself and wonder if I could keep it up for another seven miles. When I hit 6.55 I shook out my arms, took my Gu, and knew that I was halfway done and that I could hang in there. After rounding a corner at mile eight and running by the water stop I saw Alisa holding her sign and cheering which was a nice pick-me-up before I had to tackle the biggest hill of the course. I kicked it down a notch and was surprised when the hill didn’t seem nearly as daunting as it did the year before. I don’t know if I had just built it up in my head or if I was just in better shape or what but it really wasn’t that bad. After reaching the top I used my strategy from last time where I didn’t push too hard downhill and let myself relax and recover until I hit the bottom. The rest of the mile was uneventful and before I knew it we were at the nine mile mark.
Miles 7-9: 6:53, 6:51, 7:09
The rest of the race was basically an exercise in perseverance and trust in my training. What really seemed to help me was thinking back on my speed work at the track and remembering how it felt running that fourth mile at 10k pace or my sixth 800 at 5k pace and I knew if I could do that I could hold on and make it through these last miles. There were a couple people who had passed me in mile ten that I managed to pick off over the last three miles and that gave me nice short term goals to focus on. When I got to about 12.6 or so I looked at my watch and thought if I was going to break 1:30:00 I needed to pick up the pace and push hard. Right after that another part of me said, in a very sarcastic tone “Sure, you go ahead and do that, just start running faster”. I pushed as hard as I could but when I hit the stadium I knew I was going to fall just short of breaking an hour thirty, but I was also very happy to be taking a sizeable chunk of time off my PR from the Mercer Island Half marathon in March.
Miles 10-13: 6:51, 7:04, 6:53, 6:51
After I was done I downed a couple bottles of water and ate a pancake then hurried over to the hotel to change, grab the camera and a water bottle for Jen, put on sunscreen, and hurry over the river to catch Jen at mile 16.5. I made it with about five minutes to spare and was able to get a few good shots of her as she ran by. I ran with her for a short bit to pass off the water bottle and let her know she was looking strong, and then I took a couple more pics and watched her run off to finish the race.
You can check out her report on her blog to get the full details and also to hear about the exciting conclusion. She ran great and I was really proud of her for tackling her eight stand alone marathon.
Monday, March 15, 2010
As anyone who has run any of the Shamrock races can tell you the second mile is a steady climb up Broadway with a nice increase in grade for the last .2 of a mile or so. My strategy was to run the first mile to get into a groove and find my pace, keep it steady but not push too hard in mile two, then try to hold on in the third mile.
Once I was underway it took me a while to settle into a groove but once I did I felt comfortably uncomfortable and figured I could hold on, or at least try to, for the next couple miles.
The first mile came in at 6:10, then I turned onto Broadway and started the steady climb up to the mile two marker. My pace stayed fairly steady for mile two but I did feel myself start to slow a bit. I knew that pushing hard at this point would kill me in mile three so I just tried to hang on and keep moving forward. Mile two: 6:47.
Once I made the turn and started mile three the course was flat for a couple of blocks and so was I. Ever so slowly I increased my turnover and picked up the pace as we encountered four or five glorious blocks of decline. The crummy thing about the mile long climb is that the downhill lasts for less than a quarter mile as the course makes it's way back down to the waterfront. After we made the turn onto Naito I kept the pace strong and when I hit the 2.5 mile mark I picked up the pace just a bit. Once we passed the three mile mark I pushed it to the throw-up threshold and crossed the finish line at 19:36 (6:18 pace).