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Running Stories -- 2005

 


Click on the name of a story to go directly to it.
Anglonymous: NERRC Winter 10k Ian: Charleston Distance Run Ryan: Marine Corps Marathon
Anglonymous: Caesar Rodney Ian: NYC Marathon Ryan: Caesar Rodney
Anglonymous: Fighting Irish 5K Ian: Dirrrty Bird Scott S: Narberth Five Miler
Anglonymous: New York Marathon Gary S: Commodore Barry Bridge 10k Sean:  Philly Marathon
Bill From FL: Sunrunners 10k Jim: The Ugly Mudder Seebo: Black Eye Pea 5k
Bill From FL: Knoxville Marathon Jim: Media 5 Miler Seebo: Road to Super Bowl 5k
Bill From FL: Marathon of the Palm Beaches Jim: Dirty Bird Seebo: USP triathlon
Biz: Ugly Mudder John W: Philly Marathon Seebo: Caesar Rodney
Biz: Caesar Rodney Kevin F: Wanderer's Track Meet Seebo: Resurrection Run
Biz: Devilman Kevin F: Athens Marathon Seebo: Boston Marathon
Bike Mike: PSP LBRR Kev: Philadelphia Distance Run Seebo: Masser Five Miler
Carrie: Broad Street Run Kev: Philly Marathon Seebo: Wanderer's Track Meet
Craig: Caesar Rodney Kevin J: Philly Marathon Steve G: Broad Street Run
Craig: Broad Street Run Laura: Caesar Rodney Steve G: Guerilla 5K
Craig: Wanderer's Track Meet Laura: Broad Street Run Steve G: Ben Franklin Bridge Challenge
Craig: Philadelphia Distance Run Laura: Double Trouble Steve D: The Ugly Mudder
Craig: Marine Corps Marathon Laura: Philly Marathon Steve D: Caesar Rodney
Craig: Philly Marathon (spectator) Madeleine: Philly Marathon Steve D: Broad Street Run
Dave C: NYC Marathon Marita: Broad Street Run Steve D: NYC Marathon
Ed W: Broad Street Run Marita: Thundergust Tri Stevus: Dirrrty Bird
Ed W: Philadelphia Distance Run Marita: Two for the price of one Tim K: Clean Air
Ed W: NYC Marathon Melissa D: Broad Street Run Tim K: Philly Marathon
Erin: Philly Marathon Melissa D: Media Five Miler  
Ian: Ugly Mudder Rach: Marine Corps Marathon  
Ian: Caesar Rodney Russ: Ugly Mudder  
Ian: Boston Marathon Ryan: Broad Street Run  
Ian: Broad Street Run Ryan: Vermont City Marathon  
Ian: Double Trouble Ryan: Philly Triathlon  
Ian: Wanderer's Track Meet Ryan: Vermont Journey Half IM  

 

Black Eye Pea 5k - Seebo - January 1, 2005

For once it was not my idea to run a race.

On New Year's Eve Cindy decides that she wants to walk in the morning, and finds a little 5k race in Fort Worth on the internet. I groan that I'm in no shape to race and she retorts that the race isn't for me. Cris, Cindy's niece, agrees to walk with Cindy. My son, Tony, pipes in that this is something the whole family should do. The next morning eight of us: me, Cindy, and our two kids and Cris, her husband Aaron and their two kids, are on our way to the race.

The Black-Eye Pea New Year's 5k plays on the southern tradition of eating a bowl of black-eye peas on New Year's Day as a way of appropriating luck for the upcoming year. The course is out and back along the Trinity River; along paths that are Fort Worth's equivalent of the West River and Kelly Drives. For the first time, my whole family will participate in a race; I help them with the usual pre-race routines such as filling out registration forms, safety pinning race numbers on, and herding everyone for water and a porta potty stop.

They all line up in the back and I line up in front. As with many things in Texas, the race director's pre-race comments are a bit folksier than one finds up north, and I take the time to look around. About 200 participants line up; clearly not a major race. Hard to tell who, if anybody, might be competition here beyond a group of young males, either high school or college age. The gun goes off and, as is age appropriate, they all take off like jackrabbits. I, on the other hand, take a more conservative start, necessitated by shortness of breath and a slight lightheadedness. I ain't close to being in any racing form.

Mile 1 passes in 5:49, dispelling any hopes that perhaps I'm running faster than I think. One by one, however, I reel in the boys now wilting ahead of me and move into second place, with the first place runner about 100 yards ahead. My attention quickly shifts from the unlikely prospect of overtaking the lead runner, another youngster, to the sound of footsteps and breathing behind me. At the turnaround I see three guys about five yards behind me. It was now a foxhunt, and if any of these hounds have any finishing kick I will be dead.

In the mix of runners still heading the other way, I first see Aaron and then see Tony jogging along. The shock on my face is answered by his beaming face. I let out a whoop and high five him as he passes. I hope that my outburst has the hounds thinking that I am coasting, because I am struggling. Mile 2 passes in 5:35, a bit better. But time is irrelevant now as the race has become purely tactical. My strategy is simple - don't let the hounds overtake me. A minute later footsteps move closer and I too amp it up and wait until this surge abates. I hate the intensity of these **** 5k races. My mind ponders the I-30 overpass now in sight, which I know is just before the finish. That moment is punctured by a shout from one of my pursuers. I realize I have gone straight where the course has veered left. A curse and a correction later I am trailing the lead hound by ten yards. Now I'm in pursuit but quickly overtake him again. A quarter mile left, but the race is over. Mile 3 goes by in 5:50 and the finishing time is a very so-so 17:48. I start the New Year knowing I have work to do.

I finish, catch my breath, and double back on the course to look for Tony. I fall in with him a little past mile 2. Sweat has soaked through his long-sleeved t-shirt and his hair is pasted to his forehead, but he smiles when I ask him how he is doing. He is a tough kid, but also a very cautious kid, so I'm surprised that he has ventured ahead on his own. I talk him through the rest of the race, and with about a half mile to go we alternate between running and walking until the finish line is in sight. I tell him that at this point runners gather whatever they have left to finish strong. In response he takes off with more energy than I thought he had left and runs the last quarter mile to finish in 40:58. I don't know who is happier, me or him.

I leave Tony with Aaron (finished in about 31:00), and double back one more time. After about half a mile I run into Cindy, Cris and the girls. Upon seeing me, Cindy and Cris take off and jog in the rest of the way. Maricela looks very fresh but tells me to forget any notion of her doing any more than walking through the race, whereupon she returns to planet iPod. My attention turns to Cris' kids, Victoria (10) and Erica (5). They complain of cramps but are in good spirits and horse around as we walk into the finish. The usual post-race spread is supplemented with black-eye peas and Coors, and my finish is good enough for the prize, as first master's runner, of a large mason jar full of (what else?) black-eye peas. Tony, to his delight, gets an age group prize of a small mason jar of the same (as does Erica). We are both very proud to pose for a post-race picture with our jars and both agree we will do this again soon.

 

LBRR - Road to Super Bowl 5k - Seebo

After ten years living here I must finally be getting to be at least somewhat Philadelphia. Why else would I be going to a pre Super Bowl race (rescheduled from mid January) after the Iggles let us down yet once again. From where comes the need to relive that? Then again, I can also blame my participation on my wife, as she wants to run one 5k per month this year and the race pickins are slim in February.

So C., T. and I packed up for Wilmington to run the Road to the Super Bowl (that already was). Fortunately it started at 11 a.m. so we could sleep in a bit and I could eat a big bowl of Cream of Wheat for breakfast. The weather, sunny and in the high 30's, was ideal for racing. In a nod to the start of Spring Training, I looked at this race as my preseason, coming out of the January-February doldrums to test how my mojo was coming along.

The alert reader will have already picked up several disclaimers upon which I could write off this race, should I do badly. In this spirit, I was also aware of a knot that had settled itself into my right calf from the "speedwork" I did yesterday on the USP indoor track. Looking back, I think there is some sadness to the fact that I need to spend so much self-talk to convince myself that this is just a race to see how I'm doing, that there is nothing at stake here.

Last year's results showed this race was won in about 17:45. It was clear upon getting to the race that this would not be the case this year. The staging area was in a sports bar, offering a roomy, heated area for doing the usual pre-race stuff. Immediately to the right upon coming in there was a group of young guys with UDXC on their sweats, and then I recognized Greg Cauller, a guy I had dueled with in last Fall's Delaware Distance Classic 15k. After all my playing this race down, now it suddenly became interesting.

I was also looking forward to this race because it would be the second one that my boy T. would be running. One of the fun parts of being a dad was showing him the right ways to do all the pre-race stuff that you gotta do. He was excited and liked that you got a shirt for racing. He also liked the awards, which were bobble-head football player trophies. According to the race director, they were recognized by Runners World as being among the nation's most unique road racing trophies.

The race started on a downhill and two UDXC types took off in front and stayed there. I held third for about a half mile and then got absorbed by a pack of about five, including Cauller. I slowly fell behind this pack as mile 1 came in at 5:17. After mile 1 the course hooks up with an uphill piece that I recognized as part of the infamous 3-mile uphill stretch of the Cesar Rodney course and at about three-fourths through the second mile the course turned around and the uphill became a downhill. On the turnaround I counted myself tenth, just behind two guys dressed all in black. Right after the turnaround I made my move screaming downhill past Agents J & K. Mile 2 went by in 5:34 and, while nobody was coming up behind me, Cauller remained about 50 feet ahead of me. Mile 3 was in 5:28 and I finished in 16:53, good for 8th overall and a bobbing head trophy for first male in the 40-44 group.

I then took a cooldown run by retracing the course to meet up with C & T. I had seen them after the turnaround heading up the course a little past mile 1. After that T left C in the dust and was running alone when I met up with him at about mile 2. He was pretty tired but managed a strong kick for the final .1 mile to finish in a little over 36 minutes, almost a five minute improvement over his last race. Not bad for an 8 year old. We both then cheered C. when she came in at about 3 minutes behind him.

And I was happy with my 16:53 as well. A sub 17 showing, without having done any speed work over the winter, tells me I got my mojo working just fine at this point in the preseason and gives me a head of steam for my second pre-season run next Sunday at the NE Roadrunners Winter 10k.

 

 LBRR Sunrunners 10k - Bill From FL

LBRR 27th Annual Sunrunners 10 K Vero Beach, FL February 20, 2005
"The Biggest Little Race in Florida"

I am going to run a marathon in March, and I needed a race to help me estimate my predicted marathon pace. In general there aren't many races here in South Florida, and I could only find one race over 5k to fit in with my marathon schedule. The problem was that it was a 90 mile drive from home.

The 5:30 wake up call was a bit early for me, and I was worn out from the drive and the general lack of sleep.

As I was registering, I heard some people talking about a course change from last year. The previous course had you return to the start/finish area only to realize that you had to pass the Start/Finish to make another small loop back to the Finish. They completely reversed the course so you did the small leg first. I assumed this would be a good change, but it's always a good rule of thumb to try to know the course.

I looked at the course map in all its poster board and magic marker glory, but I couldn't really make any determinations about the course. Drawn to scale never entered the mind of the artist. I guess the follow the leader approach would be in effect. Failing that trial and error. T&E not necessarily the best approach, but I do remember a 10 miler that turned into find the fastest return possible to the finish.

I moved to the start line a little early. I wanted to find a spot with at least a little room to move. Apparently no one wanted to line up right on the line. After watching people dance along the line for a while I just moved up and took the spot dead center. Since it's midseason for track there weren't any rabbits to take off at the start.

Another bit of trivia, I haven't run a 10k since the 80's so it's possible that I have no idea what my pacing should be.

The starter says go on the siren. 3...2...1 and everyone starts moving. I go ahead and start instead of being swallowed by the crowd. And Siren. A legal start I guess. I take about 5 strides and I am in the lead. Check that one off my list. That is the first time I have ever lead a road race. The glory doesn't last as the next five strides pass and I fall to 6th in the lead pack.

One of the guys that passed me does a quick check to make sure I am not actual competition. He has a blue Outback Steakhouse shirt on. A recurrent goal of mine is to be the first overall male wearing a shirt. Most of the faster runners in Florida seem to run without a shirt so it seems like an obtainable goal for those of use who are not psycho serious about racing. First OA w/o shirt not looking good today.

I tag along with the lead pack for a little bit trying to figure out where I might be pace wise. I or could have been day dreaming. Sometimes it's hard for me to differentiate listening to your body from zoning out.

We make a quick left and in about ten yards there is the turnaround. I almost flatten a woman runner in front of me as we turn around the cone. She does some sort of backward turn around the cone that I wasn't expecting. Maybe the course change wasn't such a good idea. I looked at my watch and we were just under 2 minutes in. Probably way too soon for a 180 turnaround. We make the quick left to head back to the start/finish area. I looked for my age group competitors but the turn was too fast. I assume that they are just a couple of steps back of me.

The two women ahead of me pick up the pace and move to the lead. I start to fall off the lead pack of five. I could push it, but I would be way in over my head.

We make a left and I can see the 1 mile mark. I pass by in 6:03. I feel good even though I am probably 30 seconds ahead of where I think I should be. I make a right and the lead pack has gapped me by probably 100 yards, but they also dropped on of the women off. I catch her pretty quickly, and she falls away without ever running a stride with me. I can see mile 2. I pass by in 6:11. I still feel pretty relaxed. There is a water stop so I take advantage of a chance to practice taking water. I spill most of it. This validates my original assumption that I needed practice.

I can see runners 3 and 4 are about 200 yards ahead after I make another couple of turns. It's the other woman, and a master's runner. The lead two are way ahead probably over 500 yards ahead. I pass the three mile mark in 6:34. I am surprised that I slowed that much, but I am still doing fine.

I start working on catching the pair in front of me. They are within a step of each other, and I reach them as we approach the next water stop. They both grab water and I skip it to gap them a little. I move into 3rd. I think can hold on for a third place finish, which would be personal best overall finish.

The leader and second place come by going the opposite direction. The turnaround must be close. Past the turn around and see the 4 mile marker. I pass in 5:59. The pace swung back the other way a bit much.

I see the normal age group winner as I go back by. I have a comfortable lead on my age grouper. I am starting to move up on 2nd place. I try to sneak up on him. I half expect him to take off when I get close. The leader is gone out of sight and this guy has been running by himself for a while. As he passes course volunteers they all tell him that I am catching him. I guess the sneak up thing isn't going to work. I pass him without a fight. He has definitely lost a gear.
I pass 5 miles at 6:27. I am probably paying for the 5:59 earlier. If I can just hold on I am back in second place. I almost go off course as the volunteer doesn't signal the turn. I speed up and make a really hard left in case the guy is coming back on me.

I see the leader as a speck in the distance. I hope he just made the final turn. Since I don't know the course I am not sure. I motor up to the turn, which is also 6 mile in 6:17. The volunteer tells me that nobody is going to catch me. I see the clock, and pick it up as much as I can to make sure I am under 39. I finish in 38:53 for PR. The winner came back to give me a "Good Race" he finished in 36:57. I wonder if he was even breathing hard when he finished. Apparently Outback sponsors him and they donated some gift certificates to the race so he had to run in it.

I waited around for my schwag, and ate some cookies.

No awards for second overall. There was Masters, Grand Masters, Intergalactic Grand Masters. Florida is weird I guess. But I got my age group award. It was of the Lucite variety, but the engraving was hopelessly crooked, but definitely not too bad to remember a race in which I was the second overall finisher wearing a shirt.

 

LBRR - USP triathlon -- Seebo

This was an event sponsored by the Athletic Recreation Center (ARC) of my employer, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. It consists of an 800m swim, 5 miles on a stationary bike, and 2 miles either around the indoor track or on a treadmill, with a 10-15 minute break in between events. The whole event is done inside the ARC and is in time trial format, meaning you schedule a time sometime during the course of this week to run the event individually with an ARC staff person supervising. I scheduled for today (Friday) to be one of the last to do it.

I entered somewhat ambivalently, but for two main reasons. First, I think participatory sports events like these are important for the university community, and insofar as my humble participation promotes this, I'm happy to oblige. The other reason was the hubris of seeing if I can whup on the undergrads, who are now literally half my age. The latter particularly intrigued me because, while I knew I had the running down, I had never before swam nor ridden any kind of bicycle for time. I had meant to practice some in the past weeks but, not surprisingly, did not get around to it.

I started with the event I was most uncomfortable with. Six laps in the pool, and I went out too fast, realized how winded I was and then focused on more efficient strokes for the remainder of the time. Efficiency here was somewhat of a joke as I kept my head above water the whole time and had no idea how to turn. Time for this leg was 5:36 (time to beat was about 4:45).

Stationary bike was next. Again, no idea what setting to put it on or what position was best to pedal from. Just started cranking and was quickly winded but kept going. Gluteus and quad muscles started burning by about mile 3 and I just kept pedaling through the **** thing. Finished this in 8:14, again about 45 seconds off the best time.

Since I was among the last participants I could look at the previous times and calculate that I needed to run the 2 miles in under 11:10 to win. Here's the dilemma. The fastest the treadmill goes is 10 mph (6 minute mile), which would give me second place. Winning thus meant running 2 miles on the indoor track at a 5:35 pace - eminently doable for me, but requires making very sharp curves that put undue pressure on the inside leg, and particularly on knees already susceptible to IT band problems. Blowing away the competition might mean blowing out a knee.

What to do, what to do? Sun Tzu whispering in one ear to choose my battles wisely, Pre screaming in the other ear not to sacrifice "the gift". Nigel Tuffnell was in there somewhere as well, saying all I had to do was turn the treadmill up to 11. Back and forth. Then I thought about the Cesar Rodney race and about Boston, and decided to abide by the constraints of technology and run the treadmill.

Looking back it was the right decision. It strikes me as egotistical to think I could just take up two events out of three and still win. Maybe next time I'll work a little at them and if I win it will be more satisfying, and more deserved, and more realistic. Or maybe the ARC will get a faster treadmill.

----------

I double-checked, it was indeed 300 meters. I guess I'm a legend in my own mind.

The story does, however, end happily (for me). I got an email just before I left work yesterday that the time that was haunting me was due to a calculation error and I did win.

This gives me a good opportunity to retire undefeated from my tri career.

 

LBRR-The Ugly Mudder 7ish Miler – Ian

Russ, Biz, Jim, and Steve D went out to Reading for the Ugly Mudder 7(ish) Miler. It's a Ron Horn race, which means it's got some form of drinking, polka covers of Johnny Cash songs, ridiculously difficult trails, and other surprises along the way. I think the "ish" comes from the fact that it's difficult to get an accurate wheel measurement when the trail runs over 3 foot high stone walls, fallen logs, and dead or hibernating animals.

It was a nice drive out there, and we had enough time to grab our numbers and get my car stuck in the snow. I've been considering upgrading from one-wheel-drive, and now I really have the incentive. We were promised mud, and there was mud. It just happened to be under 6-8 inches of the white stuff.

Having done a couple similar races before, I advised the guys on a tried and true strategy: no matter how fast you feel like running, start out fast, because on singletrack trail, you've got to be ahead of the bottlenecking crowds. After some announcements by Ron ("all trail markers will be on your left. If you see markers on your right, you screwed up!"), and an "on your marks, get the hell out of here," everybody took off. I was taking it easy, having already achieved my one goal for the day--figuring out which of the 150 Steves "Steve D" was. There were about 20 guys in front of me, and I figured I wouldn't have to wait too long when the trail narrowed ahead. After about a quarter mile, the throng, now in single file, proceeded up into the woods. Up and up and up and up into the woods.

The pace was really easy, but with every step of the ascent it felt less so. People--good runners, too--were walking before the first peak. Finally we found some relief, a short drop to an asphalt path covered with snow. Then more up. Oh, and then there was some more up. Then there was some slightly less steep up, which I began to consider to be down. I'd been passing people along the way, and I figured I was probably in 5th or 6th place. Then we hit actual downhill, and all those heaving runners I'd passed came from nowhere going pall-mall past me. I thought I was taking the downhills hard, but these mountain goats were easily going twice as fast as me, and falling half as much (which, for the record, would be 1.5 total yard-sale faceplants and 4 hooves-on-the-ground slips per mountain goat). I still don't know how they did it. I'd catch them on the flats and uphills, but they'd be out of sight by the end of a quarter-mile descent.

As for the surprises...the Mt. Penn Mudfest has actual Easter eggs hidden along the way. This one had some great Burma-Shave style signs: "roses are red...spinach is not...nothing sticks to your face...like frozen snot." I think Jim was surprised that 7 miles could be harder than a marathon. Oh, and the beer stop at mile 5. Fantastic. We talked on the drive over about how Yuengling Lager tastes different in every bar, and I have to say it never tastes better than in the middle of the woods. Maybe PBR could get into the energy gel market?

Then, MOUNT MUD. We'd been told this was coming at the end of the race. A 75 yard vertical climb up, yes, mud. Said mud was frozen, which made things slightly easier. After hurdling a giant dog at the bottom of the wall, I began my climb. Halfway up, a vine was sticking out, and I grabbed it and used it like a rope. Just when I'd put all my weight behind it, it broke free from the ground and sent my flying backwards, much to the delight of the 30 or so spectators (masochists) watching from above. Eventually I made it up to the top, jogged the remaining 200 yards to the finish, and went back to await the rest of the guys at the top of Mount Mud.

A few minutes later, as a runner began his climb, somebody in the crowd says "What the hell? That guy's smiling!" Sure enough, it was Steve D, who may be part mountain goat himself. Then Russ, who collapsed at the top of the climb, thinking it was the finish line (a common, and hilarious, mistake). Then Jim. By the time Steve "Run Like Bear" Markey made his way up the hill, we were all there to cheer him on. Seeing Run Like Bear make his way up a hill of mud was kind of like watching a gazelle in its natural habitat. We all took in a little polka and some cookies and hot chocolate. I had 300 twizzlers.

After using prayer to get my car out, we capped off our trip to Reading with a visit to Russ' grandparents house, where they fed us copious amounts of pancakes, ham, bacon, pancakes and ham, the perfect end to a totally weird day. 

 

LBRR-The Ugly Mudder 7ish Miler – Jim

Ummm, so I'm still trying to piece together the events of yesterday. The first hill climb put me in such a daze, I'm surprised I'm still alive. As far as I can tell, the fact that I didn't impale myself on a branch means that I won the race. Ian gave a pretty good recap so I will put my LBRR in the form of fairly obvious questions one would ask when doing one of these races:

1 - So what's with the "start fast" strategy? The whole start fast thing is great for people who can actually run fast. For the rest of us, the start fast mantra only means that you will be running the first part of the race at a much faster pace than you should be, especially when you've never run a trail race before and I have no idea how fast you should be going. I finished the first mile in 10:30 and I still felt like curling up and crying.

2 - Exactly what is a 128-step stone staircase doing in the middle of the woods? Clearly, I have no idea. I suppose the better question would have been what was I doing running up a 128-step stone staircase in the middle of the woods. Of course that wouldn't be the question either because at that point, I was walking.

3 - How much does it hurt to run through a thorn bush? Not as much as you would think. But picking the thorns out of your clothes whilst you are hurtling yourself down a 30-degree incline of snow, rock, mud and trees provides some serious hand-to-eye coordination challenges. Particularly when people are passing you.

4 - Who thought it was a good idea to have lager at the water stop? Whoever it was is a smart man. The only time I actually felt good during this race was when I was drinking. Shortly before the beer stop, I was passed by a 65 year old man in shorts. When morale was at an all time low, lager came to the rescue.

5 - What is the worst part about all of the uphill running? The worst part was running downhill afterwards. Ian is not exaggerating when he describes the so-called "mountain goats." There were people flying down the hills. At least going uphill, I had a reason to walk.

6 - What's it like to get kicked in the head while trying to scale a wall of mud? It feels exactly getting kicked in the head at any other time, only dirtier.

7 - Why did Russ collapse at the top? I'm not sure if Russ did, but I know I did. After what must have been about the 5-mile point, I finally was able to get a decent pace going. Surprisingly, I think my last two miles were my best. The result of excellent conditioning on my part? No, the desire to get outta the friggin' woods. So after hurdling the dog (thank you Ian and crew for confirming that the dog was more than a figment of my imagination), I made it to the top of the mud pile and collapsed. On my way down, I realized everyone else was still running. I got up and finished with a blistering finishing time of 1:14:and change.

8 - Finally, just how much bacon and pancakes can a person eat after such a race? The answer is a lot. Man, those were some good pancakes. 

 

 

LBRR-The Ugly Mudder 7ish Miler - Biz

Sunday morning started with a 7 AM wakeup call and a time or two of hitting snooze. On the way to Ian's Pimp-mobile I washed away my Yagermeister-induced cottonmouth with some OJ and a bagel. What a day to do a trail race!

The start of the race seemed innocent enough..until 50 yards later when we started to climb the first of many hills. At this point I still had Jim within my site; however, several folks had inserted themselves between us.

With the first hill done my lungs were burning and my legs weren't far behind. After taking a long way around a log I lost site of Jim and it was then that I realized why Ian said to start out quickly...there were 20 of us all in one single file with little hope of passing. I found this annoying due to the fact that it was difficult to find an even pace when someone was a foot and half in front of you...slipping & sliding all over the place didn't help either (note to self..sacrifice the new running shoes for more traction in subsequent runs).

Finally, after what felt like 2 miles, we started on a decline and I picked up the pace; however it didn't take me long to discover that stopping was going to be tough.....and so I started to use trees shrubs...whatever....to slow down and as a handy railing for tight turns...

We hit a good & flat trail after that and I convinced myself to find Jim. I passed quite a few folks...only to finally turn a corner and see a hill that lead to steps that could only be the route to Reading's Pagoda...SUNNAVA. I fought up the hill in a half-hearted fashion and then took two steps at a time with a fast walk. After that, another hill, and after several more obstacles we crossed a road where encouragement came in the way of a guy screaming that we were at the "Two-Mile MARK"...

There was only one thing wrong here I felt like I just did a MLK-Kelly looper....I am dying!!!

Well, I carried on and started to think a little strategy.....:

1. Don't get hurt for the Caesar Rodney.
2. Walk the hills.
3. Make up time during the declines & flats.

There was a problem here in that the race was mostly uphill & for the declines, like Ian, I was still getting blasted by these mountain folk with no fear.

The next 5 miles of the race included much of the same thing expressed above, except: my graceful "trip" on some ankle-length wire right off of a road crossing (the race helper very intelligently mentioned to me to look out for this AFTER I fell), the beer stop (canned Lager.....breakfast of champs) and some nice signage.

As the reservoir came in site (we started right next to it) I gained some intestinal fortitude and passed the nicest runner I ever met saying "nice run guy...gut it out...think Broad Street" (I was wearing that beautiful 2004 eggshell blue colored shirt for the race...after a very detailed ribbing of such shirts on the way to the race).

I came to the "mud hill" and heard my support group with the all so well known "Go Biz" chant. Feeling the end was near I hit the hill like a "bear", got to the top and trudged the 200 yards to the finish.

Pancakes, Fudge Stripe Cookies and Bacon never tasted so good...maybe it was the Lager!!? 

 

LBRR-The Ugly Mudder 7ish Miler - Steve D

I think Ian, Jim, and Biz gave a good overview of how the race went, but here are a few additional comments I had.

With much fear about inflating Ian's ego, I think his strategy about starting fast was right on the money. The first hill was quite a bottleneck, and even though I started fast, I still felt like throwing people off the course. After the first couple big hills, I started seeing a couple people in front of me walking up the hills and I remember thinking to myself... walking up the hills... come on... isn't this a race? I had decided that I would take it easy on the flats and downhills and make up all my time on the uphills.

Meanwhile, about 10 minutes into the race I had decided that there weren't any mile markers on the course. Little did I know, 30 seconds down the trail, mile one approacheth. My "catching people on the hills" idea was working for the first couple miles and I was able to pass a few folks. However, about half way through, with the most intense burning in my legs and barely enough strength to lift a leg (in the literal sense, with no reference to a male dog), this strategy completely fell apart. I resigned my self to a secondary goal of catching up to the guy in front of me... and then walking behind him up the hill. Still quite a challenge on these hills, but nonetheless a little emotionally disappointing.

I don't remember much else of the race, but I have a feeling I was in a bit of a trance... seeing as how I missed most landmarks on the course (aka giant dog and beer stop). The run was a ton of fun because it felt a little like I was in a movie, jumping over logs while being chased by bad guys and basically being totally out of control the whole race. I only remember bailing hard once through some brush and didn't even "bleed my own blood", so that makes it a successful race. I think I finished up the race in about 1 hour and 6 or 7 minutes. That was by far the hardest race I have ever run, but I will definitely be running another in the future. I think my short, stumpy legs are better for this type of course than a flat road course!!

also... who's idea of a joke was it to not have the finish line at the top of the enormous mud hill? I think Mr. Horn got his rocks off everytime someone stopped after summitting Mt. Mud and being able to say, "You're still not done!!".

And Russ, make sure to thank your grandparents again for the grub... it was awesome. 

 

LBRR-The Ugly Mudder 7ish Miler - Russ

Well everyone has hit the high points but I'll also chip in my two cents. Steve D and I started out chatting the first 1/4 mile or so and then we started up hill. Steve, who may be part mountain goat, took a better line on the first climb and was gone. I fell into as good a groove as you could on those hills.

I didn't catch the first mile marker and when I saw the second mile marker, my watch said 20 minutes. Just a bit off my 10k pace and it finally sank in how steep this course was. I will also plug Ian's start fast advice because it was very narrow going and passing people was very hard. Also, it's mentally really hard to keep running when the guy ahead of you is walking. It's much easier to go around when he's walking and puking. Two things to keep in mind for your next trail run.

Fast forward 5 miles of more hills punctuated with an occasional treacherous descent and I was at the bottom or Mt Mud. It was so steep and there was nothing to hold onto, although I hear there was single vine before I got there. As an aside, I was wearing a cheap pair of gloves I bought for $2. They are a nice shade of maroon or so I thought when I bought them. However, at one of the runs, one of the girls told me they were the prettiest gloves of anyone there. Somehow I'm not sure that's a compliment but I was amused so I related the story before the race. So as I started up, I heard Ian yell "Get those pretty gloves dirty." Let's just say, they ain't pretty no more. I somehow made it up and collapsed over the top. Perhaps the cruelest joke of all was that this wasn't the finish and I had to get up and run another 100 yards. I finished just under 70 minutes humbled by snow and the hills. Reading back over this I'm not sure how you could call this fun but it really was, even if the gloves are at total loss. 

 

NERRC Winter 10k - English Mike's brief race report - Anglonymous

Waking up at about 6:30 am I felt pretty good. I'd been skiing and snow boarding the day before, and only had a few minor bruises and butt injuries to show for it. I took a look outside. It was a bright sunny, yet brisk day. Spring was clearly around the corner, but temperatures were still in the low 30s. I poured myself a bowl of cereal and watched replays of Saturday's Premier League games on the tube. At about 9 am, I left my house near Graduate Hospital and jogged the two miles to Lloyd Hall as a warm up. The run along the Schuylkill River extension path was just what I needed for a pre-race warm-up. I felt pretty good, I'd been running a 7:30 pace over about four miles for the past week. I figured I'd go for a 7:45 pace over the 6.2 miles for the 10 K race. I didn't want to push myself to hard. I 'd just endured a lengthy recovery from hamstring injuries suffered in the two back to back fall marathons, and I was planning to run the Caeser Rodney half marathon in Wilmington the next weekend. This was only my second 'short' race. In the past two years all my other races ranged from ten to twenty six miles. I was a distance runner and was a bit unsure of my best strategy in shorter races.

As I approached Lloyd Hall at about 9.20, I could see that a good crowd had already congregated. Several other Philly Runners were expected to participate in this race: Ian, Kristi, Michelle, Evan and Ryan. And Tim was going to volunteer at the water stop. When I arrived, Michelle was already in line, doing her usual impression of a frozen chicken. After registering we selected our sweatshirts. As usual, all they had was large and extra large. Baffles me why organizers don't order more mediums. Runners are not generally bulky folk. There was still twenty minutes to go before the start of the race. Fortunately, we were able to wait in the heated lobby of Lloyd Hall. A big plus, given the frigid temperatures outside. Michelle looked at her bib and noticed that they'd misspelled her first name to make a nice rhyme with her last name "Michetti". I think we have a new nickname there! Ryan arrived and we discussed each other's pace. I was planning a 7:45, Michetti was going for an 8:30 and Ryan for 9:30. Seemed like we'd all be running alone. There was no sign of Ian; Ryan surmised that he was probably having a 'good weekend'.

With five minutes to go the runners were asked to line up at the start. There were over 200 runners. I lined up according to my expected pace about a quarter of the way back from the start line. As the race started I tried to run the pace I'd run in training during the last week: about a 7.20-7.30 pace. During the first half mile I was pleased to see that I'd placed myself appropriately at the start line. There were not too many passing me, and not too many slowing me down. As we passed the first mile clock, I was glad to see that I'd hit my target pace of about 7.26. During the second mile the wind picked up and I wished I'd worn gloves. With such a strong head-wind, I started looking for people to draft behind. I was passed by two guys who seemed to be holding a 7:20 pace: One in orange shorts and a younger chap with a pony tail, who was clearly drafting the other guy. I snuck in behind them and began cruising. As we passed the second mile marker at about a 7:24 pace, the pony-tail took off, followed by a runner in a blue shirt who'd been tailing us. I decided not to join the pursuit. I stayed with the orange shorts for about another quarter of a mile. He seemed to slow a bit, so I picked up the pace and passed him. As I approached the water stop at the St. Joe's boathouse, I could see Tim waiting with two cups of water. He'd seen me, and was getting ready to hand me a cup. I made a decision not take on any water, and shook my head as approached. This was a short race, and I didn't want anything to break the rhythm I had going. Another quarter of a mile down the road, misfortune struck: My shoelace came undone on my right shoe. After yelling the usual set of expletives, I pulled over to the side and re-tied it. I was particularly annoyed because I'd remembered re-tying it just before the beginning. Hmm. I wonder if I should take a shoe tying class? Does Temple offer them? This cost me at least ten seconds. As I re-started, I could see the guy in the orange shorts was about 100 yards ahead of me and the man in blue was even further ahead. He'd been pulling away from me and now I'd never catch him. I managed to regain my pace and at the next mile marker clocked a 7:44. Subtracting out the 10-15 seconds I'd lost with my laces, this meant I was still holding a 7:30 pace. That cheered me up and I kept plodding.

The turn-around at the third clock was about a quarter of a mile before the Falls Bridge. Since it was a 10K race it wasn't a useful mile split for me. And I hadn't done the math beforehand to figure what a twenty-three minute halfway split meant. A few minutes later I passed Michetti coming the other way. She was obviously having a good race. I judged she was well under her 8:30 target pace. I was now out of synch with the mile markers painted on the running path. I was running blind. I'd have to wait for the next mile marker to re-set my watch. I tried to hold a steady pace, but felt like I'd slowed, probably to about a 7:40 pace. I reset my watch at the three-mile mark. About a quarter of mile past the turnaround a green shirted runner wearing dark shades passed me. He looked like he was holding a 7:30 pace so I followed him. As we passed through the next half-mile marker, I checked my pace, 7:40 over the last half mile. I could see two of my targets ahead of me: The guy in blue about a quarter of a mile ahead and the guy in orange shorts a short distance in front of him. Over the next mile we held a steady 7.42. About 1.5 miles from home I ran level with the green shirt and said that I' d take over the pace. I said I needed to catch the guy in the blue shirt. "He's in my age category and I need to knock him out". With that, the green shirt runner nodded and picked up the pace; I followed and eventually passed him, encouraging him to draft if he needed. As we were gaining on the blue-shirt a bearded grey haired runner in a white shirt, and in my age category, passed us at about a 7:15 pace. He would push me even further back in my age rankings, but I could never catch him at his pace. We were now gaining rapidly on the blue shirt. We pulled to within a 100 yards of the blue-shirt, while the white shirt continued to pull away from us. We rounded the curve by tall hedges and at the half mile mark clocked 7:29 for the previous mile. As I was hitting the split button on my watch, the blue-shirt came from nowhere and sprinted passed me. I reacted instinctively and sprang forward to pursue him. I knew I still had plenty more inside. For the next quarter mile, I stayed tucked in close behind him. We were moving at good pace, but I felt comfortable. I knew he'd never be able to hold this speed to the finish, and I knew that once we got to the quarter mile marker at the boathouses, I'd be able to pick up the pace and accelerate past him to the finish. At this pace we were passing plenty of other runners, but at the time I was oblivious to it. My goal was to beat the blue-man. As I tailed the blue-man I looked behind, the green-shirt was not able to follow. As we hit the quarter mile mark, I hit the split button on my watch, and took off. We'd managed a 7 minute pace over the last quarter, but would the blue man be able to keep up with me as I picked up the pace for the final stretch past the boathouses? We dodged past folks out for their Sunday walk and rowing crews assembling their gear after their morning row. I continued to pick up speed, I looked back over my shoulder. The blue-man was loosing ground. I'd shaken him off for now. I kept the pace up, constantly aware that the blue-man could mount a counter attack at anytime. Now the finish line was in sight. I could see the green-neon digits of the finish clock. As I focused on the finish line ahead I was surprised to see the runner in white, who'd passed me about a mile back, was now only 20-30 yards ahead of me. I'd thought I'd never be able to catch him, but now, with 150 yards to go, he was within striking distance. I knew I wasn't at full tilt, my legs still felt strong, but my heart was pounding hard, probably a good 190 beats per minute. I was sure I was at my maximum heart rate. I knew I could do it, but still had to race the Caesar Rodney half-marathon next weekend. It's amazing how all these considerations rush through your head under stress. So, with a 100 yards to go, I held my pace and coasted to the finish.

After catching my breath, I thanked the green shirt, and shook hands with the blue shirt. He'd enjoyed the competition as well. It had been a great three-way battle in the last mile. My final quarter mile was a 6:48 pace, and my overall was 46.47, or 46.32 if you subtract the shoelaces. That placed me 46th with an average pace of about 7:30, I was well under my 7:45 target and placed 12th in my age category. Other Philly Runners did well. Evan with a stunning 40.35 (11th overall), Michetti with 49.31 (76th), Kristi at 46.59 (50th) and Ryan with 55.27 (137th). The race was well organized by the NERRC and clearly enjoyed by all who took part. I thoroughly enjoyed the competitive back and forth between the runners. It just shows that you don't have to win, or even place, to have good race. It's all about beating your own expectations. Whether you're a 6 minute miler or a 10 minute miler. Thanks to all those who organized it and all those who volunteered. 

 

Caesar Rodney Race Report - Craig

Since many stories are going to go up about this, I might as well be the first to do it...
I was both excited and clueless about this whole thing. The longest race I had run before this was an 8K in the fall. So for me, running a race always meant sprinting till you collapsed or finished, whichever came first. On top of this, I was a team captain, but hey..I'm an ambitious guy anyway. So there I was, standing in my makeshift Philly Runners T-shirt; a very economical shirt indeed. I was thinking 1:35 would be my goal, and anything close to 1:30 would be bonus (no, I wasn't smoking a crack pipe when I came up with these numbers- but maybe having a few drinks :) A gunshot (I mean racing gun) went off and was trying to figure out what pace to start out at. I felt good, so I started out a little faster than my normal running speed. At mile 5, I was at 35:09 according to my stopwatch. OK, flat so far, doing great. Then the infamous "hills". My next 2 miles were 7:30 and 7:45. No big deal, this was to be expected, and there was some breaks in the inclines-which was great. After that, things got weird. Miles 7-8 seemed like a blur. The course didn't "flatten out" as much as I had liked...(I'm used to running on Kelly Dr. and treadmills, so it was a bit of a switch). I thought I was picking up the pace, but my watch showed otherwise. Mile 8 was 7:15 or so, not that good. Who would have thought fatigue could have set in? At mile 9 I took in this magical carbohydrate gel Jim gave me. Thanks Jim. For about a mile I wasn't feeling it, although my stride opened up more. Then at mile 10, Bam!, it kicked in. This stuff really isn't bull-**** after all. Mile 10 was about 6:35-more like it. I kept the pace up and passed some people on the way in. I started to feel crappy the last mile, big surprise, but kept kicking. Then, the Hill of Hills. I said to myself "f@#% it" and began to charge up it. Once I started gagging, I slowed it up a bit, since I didn't think it was worth puking for an extra 10 sec. Then I saw the captain of the Evil Killer Bunnies, who was well rested by this point, cheering me on and Kevin right in front (that was great-thanks). Once I saw the finish line I just sprinted it in to get the job done. My official time was somewhere under 1:33, or about 7:05 pace. Somehow through this thing, all of the hills averaged out. With that...bring the season on!!
Afterwards, it was a lot of good stories, ice cream, and Krispy Kreme donuts. I love irony.

I would like to thank everyone who helped out with this and ran. I really had a great time with all of you and am proud that we did great, swept the team places, and had fun doing it. Looking forward to Broad St...... 

 

 Caesar Rodney - Anglonymous

EXCUSES: 1) Didn't train for this. Longest run this year was about 10 miles. 2) Laura didn't bring any rice cakes. 3) Still recovering from shock that Ryan doesn't understand why a cell phone is useful.

EXPECTATION: 8 min miles.

RUN DESCRIPTION: Well there was total confusion at the start. As the gun went off I jumped about 6 inches in the air. Like most folk I got off to a fast start over the first mile (ca. 7 min). Mile two was a bit slower at about 7.30. Carrie joined me at about mile three. We'd run together a lot in training last year, and I new (thought) she had a similar pace. It would be good to have a running mate for the race.....or so I thought. As we continued we both slowed by about 10 secs per mile as we went into the first set of hills. I was still feeling pretty good miles at 5 and 6, and Carrie was running strong, we both clocked a 7.47 and an 8.18 as we slowed to less than my target pace. But I figured, heh we're still heading up hill and I was still 3 or 4 minutes ahead of my target time. But these were early days. I was expecting things to flatten out around mile 6 or 7, but oh no, it kept going up. As we entered the residential area in mile 7, I slowed for the water stop and just couldn't get back up to speed. Carrie was still running strong and started to pull away from me. At the mile 7 marker I measured my pace at an appalling 9.03. That shocked me back into gear, and over the next few miles proceeded to pick up speed averaging about 8.30 over the next 2 miles. Just before the turnaround at mile 9. Marita and Michelle passed me. OK, enough was enough I thought to myself. Over the next few miles I managed to pick up my pace to just over a comfortable 8-minute mile. The last few miles were a lot easier and I was able to keep the 8-minute pace and coast down hill to the finishing hill. The finishing was not as tough I'd thought it would be. And I managed go through the finish line with a ca. 1.47.

RESULT: Developed a new split terminology: PARABOLIC SPLIT: Run out as fast as you can, slow down in the middle while you catch your breath, then speed up for the last third.

THINGS I LEARNT: 1) Good idea to train before a race. 2) Make sure Laura brings rice cakes. 3) Avoid running races with lots of hills. 

 

 

Caesar Rodney Race Repository - Ian

Apparently, nobody knows who the hell Caesar Rodney, for whom the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon, which we ran today, is named, is. I ask almost everyone, but then Jim, who for some reason works in Wilmington, comes up with the answer. When the states were voting on Independence, or something, Delaware had 3 votes, and Caesar Rodney was one of them. The other two delegates were split, so Delaware's vote would have been nullified. Upon hearing this, Caesar Rodney left the backwater casino in Tennessee where he'd been spending his days, got on his horse, and though he was half-dead with a virulent strain of the dropsies, he rode 20 hours through the night to get to Philadelphia and cast his vote. He and his horse both voted to go to war for our Independence, which made the count 3-1. I stopped listening at that point, so I don't know if we won the war or not, but I'm sure Jim would know if you ask him.

Just as the Boston Marathon honors Paul Revere's ride, the Caesar-Rodney Half Marathon honors the ride of Caesar Rodney. This was, to be sure, at the forefront of all of our minds as we toed the line at 9AM on Sunday Morning. Donning my authentic Revolutionary War Aviator Sunglasses, I took a spot near the front, next to Evil Killer Bunny Kevin and behind Evil Killer Bunny Seebo. Evil Killer Bunnies Jim, Biz, and Steve D lined up somewhere in the mess of runners. Evil Killer Bunny Russ took a spot that would have him crossing the line exactly eight seconds later, a portentous choice indeed.

The Cannon fired, and the building across the street was hit and immediately collapsed. I figured I'd start out at 5:55 or so, and see how I felt. We descended down a hill and around some turns. I could see Seebo hanging with the lead pack about 100 yards in front of me. I felt pretty relaxed, and found my own pack of two. We came through the first mile, and simultaneously said "oh, ****." The clock read 5:28. He said "did you think it was that fast?" I said "Nope." I considered the course, and hoped that my body wouldn't notice this too-fast mile till I was on the downhill near the end. My partner in my pack of two, James, was local and had won the Delaware Marathon a year ago. He had a lot of fans out on the course. We chatted through the first 4 or 5 miles. I passed Cin-bo and Kev at around 4 and a half, and tried to (affectionately, of course) pelt Kev in the face with my balled-up gloves, no longer necessary, but ended up hitting Cin-bo.

James and I came across the chip (anklet?) mat at 5 miles in 29:00. I was feeling great, but the hills were beginning. He asked me what my "hill strategy" was. I started to answer that I didn't really have one, but all of the sudden he took off and was out of earshot. I guess my hill strategy is "go hard, get ass kicked."

Pace, which had been around 5:50, slowed to 6:05-6:15 up the hill. At the crest, I felt great, and I thought, if I'm feeling good here, I'm in pretty good shape. I picked up the pace, and went 5:55-5:55 for 8 and 9. I started seeing other Philly Runners, which was great. I gave Russ bunny ears, and he started to say something back, but then realized he couldn't make words (he was going uphill). The first few people I saw, I could say "Looking Good, YOUR NAME HERE." But my pace was quickening, and by the time I got to English Mike, it was a thumbs-up and a friendly grunt. A few people mentioned Seebo was three spots in front of me. I started reeling in James.

Dropped it down to 5:43 for mile 10, and crossed that line in 59:00. Just as the terrain started turning downhill, I caught James. A quick "how you feeling, Jim?" and I pulled around him. I was feeling stronger and stronger. He hung behind me a little while, but then his footsteps disappeared. I caught some other guy, and then when the downhill got steeper, I realized I was within 100 yards of Seebo. I figured I didn't have time to catch him before the line, but I felt good, so I thought I might try. I kept thinking "I hope he doesn't know I'm coming...I hope he doesn't know I'm coming." Now, the gap about 70 yards, he rounded a hard left turn and took a glance over his shoulder. He saw me. I perceived a little more pump to his arm. He's speeding up. I'll never catch him. Passed 11 in 5:40.

Some 280 year old man in last place--I think it was actually Caesar Rodney himself and I have to say I think it's so great that he's still active--came running (running-ish, anyway) up the middle of the road, and he and Seebo almost collided. I gave the man a nod of thanks for breaking up Seebo's rhythm, and proceeded to try close the gap. Mile 12 passed in 5:28.

When we hit the flat, Seebo was about 20 yards in front of me. Flat, after downhill, is uphill. I figured I could catch him, but I couldn't figure out if I should try to sneak up and then sprint past on the hill, or if I should pull up beside him now, and risk having to run a half-mile with a guy who I know to be gutsier than I. I pulled up beside him, and he looked over, saw it was me, and said "you @#$%@." (pause) "Nice work." He then threw a mock elbow. I threw a mock voodoo curse. He sped up, and I covered. I got a step ahead of him, and tried to make a break right before the final miserable hill.

I figured he was right on my heels as I made the left turn that put the finish line in view. My form fell apart completely. As Delaware area spectators were gathered, I summoned my final tribute to Caesar Rodney. I assumed his form, as described by John Adams:

"...the oddest looking man in the world; he is tall, thin and slender as a reed, pale; his face is not bigger than a large apple..."

The details are sketchy, but if Adams went on to describe Rodney as a "flailing, moaning idiot," then I was spitting-image. I heard Cin-bo say "go Ian! You got it." I crossed the line in 1:16:20, a mess. Seebo followed right afterward, then James. Congrats, high-fives and hugs all around. Kevin came in shortly thereafter. Seebo and I urged Russ across the line as the clock ticked toward 1:30. He crossed in 1:30:02, but with those extra chip seconds he was safely under the 1:30 landmark. The rest of the Evil Killer Bunnies all came in with huge PRs, and we took the team title for the 2nd year in a row. I felt great, and tired. Everybody seemed delighted with a morning well spent. But then, any event that ends with war stories and ice cream is a good one, I think. 

 

 

Caesar Rodney Race Repository - Steve D

First, I want to say thanks to everybody that helped get the race weekend together (Craig, Ian, and Marita). All aspects of it were a total success!! And now to bore you with my LBRR.

I really had no idea how fast I was going to be able to run the race. This was only my second half marathon and I had a good feeling that I would be able to beat my first time of 1:57 by a good margin.... but how good was still up in the air. by the time I got to the starting line, I had planned on sticking with Mony and Steve G. because they sounded like they were running around my pace at 7:30-7:45. the cannon sounded and I took off like a bandit. Apparently, I took Ian's advice about starting the Ugly Mudder as fast as possible to be applicable to all races and ended up hitting mile one in about 7:00 minutes. Seeing this, I knew I had to slow down or catastrophe would soon follow. For whatever reason, pride (wanting to stick with a group of PRs) or stupidity, I stuck at around 7 minute miles for the first 5 miles, crossing the 5 mile mat in a second or two over 35:00. As a side note to emphasize how ridiculous of a pace for me this is, my PR for a 5k is at a pace of around 6:45.

The couple miles of hills came and my paced slowed to somewhere around 7:45. I figured this wasn't a big deal, because I was still feeling reasonably well and the hills were only for about 2 miles. After the course flattened out, my pace dropped back down to around 7:30. So after about 7 miles of the race, I finally settled into the pace I had planned to run the entire race at. However, my body had plans to punish me for the ridiculous start. Once we hit the downhills, all of my energy was spent and my pace started dropping considerably. I think I ran the last few miles at a pace of over 8:15, but I can't be certain because somehow in my delirium I stopped my watch... or maybe I sub-consciously turned my watch off because I didn't want to know how fast/slow I was running.

My final time was around 1:37:37 which is a PR of almost 19 minutes!! I was really happy with my final time, but, more importantly I think I learned a vital lesson about pacing and I need to realize that not all races have the unwritten rule that you can walk up the big hills (ala the ugly Mudder). Congrats to all that ran and thanks for the great team!! 

 

Caesar Rodney Race Repository - Laura G

Even though I've already heard some of these stories, keep 'em coming! They're great to read and really inspiring. And maybe next time I'll remember to bring you all rice cakes, and you won't be able to pass it off as any kind of excuse!

In terms of my race yesterday, I didn't have any specific goals other than to try to run 9-minute pace. I think I knew deep down that I'd be able to run faster, but I had heard so much about this hilly course, and my knees have continued to hurt me in the last few weeks, so I wanted to set my sights on a manageable goal.

As the race started, I tried to go out conservatively, keeping in mind that I had many miles in front of me. The pace felt very comfortable, so I was surprised to come through the first mile in 8:57. I guess that downhill had the same effect on me as everyone else. I got to see the leaders (including Steve Metraux) looping back around mile 1.5 or 2, and I was psyched to see Steve so close to the front. The next few miles passed by relatively uneventfully, and my splits started to go down. Mile two was 8:41, mile three was 8:37 and mile 4 was 8:52.

It was nice to see Kevin and Cindy cheering as we passed through downtown Wilmington again. I started to notice that I was breathing harder, but my knees were relatively pain-free, which was good. I had heard so much about those miles 5-7, but I tried to look forward to the hills, telling myself, "bring it on," to psych myself a little. I have done absolutely no hill training in recent months, or really years, so all I was going on were memories of hill running from high school cross-country. Mile 5 was surprisingly on pace in 8:42, but I passed through 6 in 9:01 and 7 in 9:15.

Somewhere in here I started seeing the lead runners on their way back. For me, this was the best part of the race. I think it was almost as much fun to cheer for everyone I knew as it was to just know so many people running by! I managed to find everyone but Serena, since we must have missed each other during the little loop between miles 8 and 9. Watching for everyone also took my mind off of the race and the fact that my knees were in fact starting to hurt. I was also starting to get tired. Just plain tired. Mile 9 was 8:54, and I was really just waiting to get to mile 10, which was when I had heard the long downhill to the finish began.

Miles 10, 11 and 12 were actually my fastest of the race, at 8:29, 8:32 and 8:14 respectively, but fatigue was setting in. Once the downhill leveled off, I lost all steam, and that hill at the end felt like a killer. My last mile was 9:27.

I was happy with my final time of 1:54:24, and when I got home and checked my other half marathon times, I realized that it was a PR by over 2 minutes.

But more important than any mile splits or PRs, I think that yesterday was just a great day of camaraderie and spirit. I'm really proud of everyone who raced and cheered. You all are good people.

And a big thanks to all of the organizers -- Marita, Craig, Ian, and of course Kevin. Thanks for stepping up and making this happen. 

 

Caesar Rodney Race Repository - Biz

Biz's Play-by-Play:

Start: Loud Gunshot....where am I Fallujah?
1: Stev-o way too fast....
2: So that's the Blue Rocks Stadium
3ish: Joe's Crab Shack....steamed crabs...beer...wait a minute it's 9ish on a Sunday morning!
4: Wilmington's River Front...perty...
5: Hills...argh
6: Why are people running the wrong way...they look fast...please, no more hills...Mommy....I want my mummy
7: Seebo...Ian..Russ...Jim...Hi Craig...bye Craig, you're dust tastes..er..gritty..
8: Mighty...Laura....Serena...there's Steve D....hey, carry me...190lbs would never feel so light!
9: Downhill, glide...Silent Bob...glide..
10: I'm so hungry......1:13, yeah...good job..don't mess this up Stev-o/biz!!!
11: Almost there...
12: Where in the @#$% is the finish line?
13: For the love of God...take me now...oh, there's the fast ones...hi-5 'em!
13.1: I smell Pizza...don't barf..that wouldn't look good! 

 

Caesar Rodney Race Repository – seebo

Before I start this lbrr, I must echo the previous accolades for the most excellent pre-race dinner and the remarkable feat of having 21 persons and 2 spectators from Philly Runners (PR) invade Wilmington. And to top it all off, I got to see Mony again.

For those of you who don't know it, Cesar Rodney has a nasty little course highlighted by a prolonged acclivity from mile 5 to mile 7 1/2 which then becomes a screaming downhill from mile 10 to mile 12 1/2, with the course finishing with a brutal quarter mile uphill to the finish. Against my better judgment, not to mention my dignity, I somehow ended up racing on a team called The Evil Killer Bunnies of Death (TEKBOD).

I think I got hare and bunny mixed up. I took off on the downhill like an oil slick fire and was stupid enough to think, "Oh good, I got some time in the bank" when I hit mile 1 in 5:11. I was in the chase pack of 5 with the eventual winner already a good bit ahead of us. Over the second mile I was smart enough to let this pack go ahead and looking behind me as we circled around the stadium I didn't see anyone for a ways. I was in sixth place, same as last year and I thought we were spaced out far enough to where this was how it would end. If I only knew.

Mile 2 in 5:37 and I still had the fifth place guy in my sights. This was the pace I wanted to keep but it wasn't to be. Mile 3 in 5:44, wave to Kevin and Cindy (spectating) and then its mile 4 in 5:57 and pick it up a little in mile 5 to 5:44 to cross the mat in 28:16. Time slipping, running alone, with the dreaded hill upon me, things didn't bode well. Sure enough, miles 6 & 7 went by in 6:07 and 6:11, although I had the illusion of running faster as I reeled in number 5. As things flattened out miles 8 and 9 passed in 5:56 and 6:00 and I just didn't have it to push it any faster. Mile 9 took me around the MBNA building and when I looped back to run against the oncoming people I didn't see Ian. But I still wasn't worried.

The next two miles doubled back on the other racers and the PRs along with a bunch of others became a great cheering contingent. But even with this support I only managed to hold steady at 5:55 and 5:54. This last split was particularly disconcerting, as this was where I had gloriously screamed downhill in previous years running this race. I wasn't going and my mind wasn't pushing me. Mile 12 in 5:43, I was finally picking up some steam. My inner hare told me to relax, I'd still have fifth place locked up and I started to listen. I listened up to the point I snuck a glance behind me and saw the glint of aviator glasses gaining on me. Then the clapping of bystanders didn't stop as I passed. Then the ominous sound of breathing, and then the footsteps. There was Ian. I gave him a friendly greeting that he must have misunderstood as an expletive. When we passed under a bridge I cocked an elbow and got ready to throw it but, alas, I'm not a very good evil killer bunny and he passed by. We rounded the hairpin turn into the final uphill to the finish and I knew that with all those Lemon Hills under his belt Ian was the better bunny that morning. I take consolation in leaving everything I had on that final quarter mile hill, and though Ian passed me I held off the next guy who was breathing down my neck. Final 1.1 in 6:26 and crossed the finish line in sixth place (first master) in 1:16:31.

I felt I was in shape to do better, but my self-pity melted away quickly standing by the sidelines with Cindy and Kevin G. watching PR after PR land big PR's. I'm sure I'm missing several but I remember Russ sneaking in (chip time) in just under 1:30, Tim coming in just behind him to a huge PR, Jim, Biz & Steve D all PR'd in double digits and I know I'm missing several more. TEKBOD won the team competition, the PR women's team won as well, and the second PR men's team won second as well. All in all a very successful day for Philly Runners.

I need to remember it's a long bloody race, don't be in a hurry. If Cesar Rodney teaches me that, then losing to Ian will have been worth it. He ran the race I like to run, just bide my time and slowly make a move as the finish approaches. And now Boston becomes much more interesting. Care to suggest a wager, Ian? Loser hydrates with a nice tall glass of Charles River water, perhaps? 

 

Caesar Rodney Race Repository - Ryan

So, my first trip to Delaware began so frigging early in the morning it felt like a workday. Anyways, as Ian, Steve G, Biz, Tim and I rode in Ian's Ford Focus to Delaware, it occurred to me that the Ford Focus recently failed a crash test, and that I should point out to everyone seatbelts weren't necessary, since if we crashed we would all die. Since we made it to Delaware alive, I got the feeling it would be a good day.

Having only run 1 half-marathon before, I knew it was either going to be a day where I set a personal best time (PR) or a personal worst (PW). Last weekend, I had run a 10K just under a 9 minute pace, by far the longest distance race I have done at such a fast (relatively) pace, so I was optimistic about this race.

So, as we lined up for the start, everything felt good. There have already been a lot of jokes about the canon so I will that go. I realized early on not knowing where I was going would be a real detriment. Regardless, I made it through the first mile at just under 9 minutes, so it felt about normal. For some reason, I just didn't have any energy in the first mile and a half (stupid Pop Tarts). So, I was uncomfortable for this time, but eventually some endorphins (or Pop Tarts) kicked in. I have no idea what happened between miles 1-3, except for a water stop at mile 3; still on course for around a 9 minute pace. At about mile 4, a slight hill began and in my mind this was the beginning of the 3-mile hill, which would later prove bad intuition. I the 5-mile mat in 47 minutes, which I was okay with because I thought I was already in the midst of the hills.

So as mile 6 began, I figure only about a mile left of the hills. I saw Steve and Ian between mile 6-7 and they were both in the top 10 and flying down the hill. I was on the other hand about to crash and burn, as I realized the hills don't end at mile 7, or 8 for that matter. Even after the big hill, there were many more little hills to go. One of the positive things was that after about 7-8 miles, I started seeing everybody coming back and I at least had the energy to yell out to everyone. I also pulled out my cellular phone and called to tell English Mike he was running great, since using a cell phone was much more convenient. Seeing everyone come back was a little motivation to get moving so the turnaround so I could start on back and be able to take advantage of the downhills like they were.

At about mile 9 I began asking myself "where the hell is this turnaround already?" Sure enough, I thought I saw it. As I approached that little loop there weren't many people running in this section and I thought you went to the water stop and turned. As I stopped, I found out as I almost turned back that I needed to run around the little loop. Oh well, at least I would be heading back soon, and I was still under a 10-minute pace, my backup goal.

The next few miles were a blur, and I realized that I never really run downhills and that I'm not comfortable doing so. I actually ran my slowest miles the last 3 miles even though they were downhill, all above 10 minute pace. Downhills, definitely something to work on in the future. As I got to about mile 13, there was a cop holding back 2 lanes of traffic so I though I was supposed to cross the street to where I though the finish would be. About half the way across I heard a yell "Turn right", so I stopped not realizing where the hell I was (I felt like I had just run up...and down...Mt. Everest). It turns out the finish was to the right (and, oh good, uphill) and I ever so slowly made that final climb to the finish at 2:13, definitely not a PR

The race certainly kicked my arse, but I'll get my revenge next year. Downhills, downhills, downhills! Course knowledge, Course knowledge, Course knowledge! Finishing at the back, I didn't get to see anyone else finish, but reading these stories was actually my favorite part of the race. It sounds like we really had teams, not just a group of people running together. However, I still think we would be much more intimidating set of teams if we traveled around in school bus decorated with Evil Killer Bunnies painted on the side. 

Fighting Irish 5 K run March 19th Chestnut Hill - MIKE'S RACE REPORT – Anglonymous

Philly Runners had a small but eager contingent for the 3rd "Annual 'Fighting Irish" Chestnut Hill 5 K. I drove out there with Ryan and May Mon (one of our newest PR members). We met up with Kevin Ford at the race. He'd substituted his usual Union Jack headgear for a scarf covered in little green shamrocks........an Englishman of Irish parentage. I told him I'd draft him for the first 10 yards and then let him go.

You might ask what I, as an Englishman, was doing running a race called the "Fighting Irish". Well it was a simple misunderstanding on my part; I thought it was a "Fight the Irish 5K." Brian corrected me on this point and convinced me that I'd be safer and faster if I left my boxing gloves with one of the volunteers. Oh well.

Set in the woody surrounds of the Chestnut Hill Academy on a beautiful spring-like day, this was a truly glorious setting. It was a well-organized event with more than 1100 runners and walkers participating, as well as significant local and corporate sponsorship.

The course starts and finishes outside Chestnut Hill Academy and winds it way through country roads around the bucolic wooded perimeter of the Academy and the Philadelphia Cricket Club. It's a hilly course with plenty of ups and downs.

I'd never run a 5K before, so I was a bit unclear about my race strategy. I asked Brian and his advice was to, "run like 'ell". I considered this to be good advice. Based on my 7:30 pace in the NERRC 10K, I figured I could manage a 7 to 7:15 pace. The start line was immediately adjacent to the Academy's running track. I made good use of it and warmed up for about 10 minutes with a gentle jog.

I positioned myself about 10 yards back from the start line to avoid being trampled by Kevin and the rest of the 4-6 minute milers. I started at a fairly fast pace. As we swept around the first corner going downhill, it felt like I was running with a herd of galloping horses. As the first half mile was mainly downhill, I made the most of it, and let myself role as fast as I could downhill. As I passed the 1-mile clock I was pleased to see that I'd managed a 6:33 pace. I figured my pace would probably slow a bit over the next mile, but I tried to keep the rhythm going as we started up a short hill. At the halfway point I finally felt that I'd caught my second wind. I passed the 2nd mile marker at about a 7:13 pace. I was satisfied with this, but figured I still needed to work hard on keeping up the pace. By this point I'd already entered into a bit of back and forth with a bloke in a red shirt in my age bracket. Entering the last half mile, I started talking to a woman who knew the course (it did occur to me that if I could talk, I was probably not trying hard enough). She let me know that the finishing quarter mile was up a steep hill. "As steep as the Caesar Rodney course" I asked. " No, not quite as steep". This encouraged me and I picked up the pace. As we approached the final corner before the finish, I focused on the guy in the red shirt and two others in my age category who'd passed me over the last mile. As I switched into pursuit mode, I started lengthening my stride and picked up the pace. We turned the final corner. It was all uphill to the finish, but I still couldn't see the finish line banner. I kept chasing the three in front. The banner came into view. I figured it was about 300 yards away. I gave it everything I had, accelerated and managed to pass the three in front with about 70 yards to go. The guy in the red shirt nodded as I went past. The other two didn't look like they'd be able to fight back. I crossed the finish line at a respectable 21.33. Which over 3.1 miles, if I've done the math correctly, converts to a 6:55 pace. Just under my goal of 7 minutes. This placed me 84th out of ca. 1000 runners overall and about 5th in my age category, my best finish in any race. Maybe I should try more of these short runs.

May Mon and Ryan also both beat their goals. Kevin ran a good race and won the Master division. All together a good day for Philly Runners. We should definitely put this on the calendar for 2006. 

 

Resurrection Run (lbrr) – seebo

Greetings from Clear Lake TX, site of installment #3 of C's "5k a month in 05" initiative. Except for the first one, which we all ran on New Years Day, the others have been on the last weekend of their respective months. This being Easter weekend, the pickings were slim, but this being the buckle of the Bible Belt, there was the Christian themed "Resurrection Run" sponsored by a Lutheran Church, complete with free packages of Peeps with the church's Easter service schedule on the label. There was also prize money offered for the top overall and masters finishers, and was spitting distance from NASA, which we planned to visit after the run.

So C and I got our two grumpy, groggy kids into the car at 6:15 to drive clear to the other side of the metro Houston area and get ready to race by 8:00. This had all the trappings of your typical neighborhood 5k, with about 400 folks participating on a flat course that wound through the subdivisions surrounding the church. I had fun trying to guess who the studs were, and which of them looked over 40. For once before a race I felt relaxed, as I had so many excuses why I would not run well this morning that I actually came to believe them. One of them is a little known product from Shiner, TX which I always enjoy when I'm down here, perhaps a bit too much last night. So, inspired by yesterday's workout, I resolved to take the first mile easy and see if I could simultaneously negative split and reel folks in as the race progressed.

True to my resolution I went out easy and got in with two 40+ looking guys, with 3 other younger looking folks ahead of us. Mile 1 passes in 5:36, just where I want to be. Now I just need to pick things up. And I thought I did this in mile 2, putting about 50 feet between me and the two guys in my pack, but pass the marker with a split of 5:43. The #3 guy is a ways ahead of me, but I'm careful to keep my lead over #5. With this in mind, I run mile 3 in 5:37 and finish fourth in an uninspired 17:35.

In what now becomes a ritual, I cool down by running the course backwards until I run into T at about mile 2. He's walking, and is dripping with sweat. The humidity is intense already at 8:25 a.m. in March down here, and he alternates between running and walking the last mile before sprinting for the last .1 to pass about 5 people to finish in 40:27. C & M come sauntering in about ten minutes later, and race against each other the last 50 yards or so to finish in a dead heat. They then recounted how they amused themselves by checking out flyers from several houses that were for sale along the way and plotting how we could all move into one that was going for $2 million.

By the time the family was in the results were posted and the number 2 guy was over 40, so I missed my payday. All goes to show that how well you do depends on who shows up. This guy must have been twins with KF and separated at birth, as they'd be about the same age and this guy was in full Mexican regalia. He ran about a 16:30, and there was no way I could have pulled out that kind of a time this morning. So I had to feel good about winning my age group, which got me a pair of newfangled cushioned socks.

 

I forgot how people in Texas are a lot less inhibited about coming up and just talking to you. Several folks after the race did this, including one guy who said he was in his 80's, that this was his God knows how manyeth race, and although he had to run it pretty slow on account of his pacemaker he just couldn't stop racing. At this point I started to feel very uncomfortable listening to him and excused myself, which I realized later on was likely out of the fear that that could one day be me.

The 5k was but a beginning of a marathon day that included breakfast at Denny's, all day at NASA and then the evening in Kemah, a bayside town nearby known for its entertainment district and not getting back to Katy until 9 this evening. 

 

RBRR 2005 Knoxville, TN Marathon - Bill From FL

2005 Inaugural Knoxville, TN Marathon
Where the Marathon meets Southern Hospitality

First the why - I am from Knoxville, and it was an excuse to return home to see family. When the race director was asked about the possible course profile, he responded by stating that the course could be potentially hilly based on the constraints of holding a marathon in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So what you are saying is the course will probably have a hill or two.

I generally knew the course, but my dad and I headed out to drive the course on Saturday. We stopped driving the course at the 1/2 Marathon course split. The course was a lot hillier than I had remembered. This was enough confidence building for the day.

My dad drops me off for the start. The traffic plan is perfect for drop off. I am about 100 yards from the start, and they have the convention center open for the runners. People are flying up and down the wide halls warming up. They prod us out to the start. Ronald McDonald is trying to get people to move up closer to start line. It seems like no one is in the mood to be trampled by all the people that are going to go out way too fast. McDonald's and marathon sponsorship, a topic for another day. Pre-race pep talk by the Knoxville mayor. And the gun.

As we start off it's like a rollercoaster. The first 400 meters is up hill. As expected, people are flowing around me in droves. I lined up with the 3:10 group. We crest the first hill and start the ride downhill. Mile one passes in 7:51. The flood of people continue by as we work are way along the Tennessee River. I pass mile two in 7:18. The first water stop is just ahead. The Cytomax tastes awful. We head back up hill towards mile 3. I shed my long sleeve shirt to hand to my dad. I am still a little cold, but I know that I will want to ditch the shirt soon. Mile three passes in 7:56. We head toward Cherokee Boulevard, and Sequoia Hills. Huge, expensive houses overlooking the river line the road. The hills are steep, but short. One guy that passes me is wearing some sort of red parachute pants variant. Mental note, I have to pass this guy later. Miles 4, 5, and 6 pass in 7:41, 7:39, 7:44. It is about as even as possible considering the terrain.

Just after 10k, I finally start passing people. I know that we are coming up on the longest, steepest climb on the course. There is a lot of chatter in the pack about the upcoming hill. Most of the runners went into the course blindly, without any course knowledge. The fun part is that you think that it's over, and then you make a turn and realize that you still have a couple hundred yards to go. We are making our way up the first half to the Rocky Theme toward a ridiculously placed water stop. People start flying by me huffing, and puffing with their hearts about to explode. I think to myself, "What would Raymond do?" This confused me enough to slow, and steady my pace. We made the turn, and a chorus of groans made its way through the pack as the second part of the hill came into view. I crested the hill, and started making headway in the pack again.

Miles 7,8 had passed in 8:13, and 7:47. I met my dad at mile 8 for a welcome bottle of Gatorade, and a Gu. The course turns into a shaded bike trail called the Greenway. The course meanders down hill over rolling hills. I am passing a lot of people. It is a little crowded due to the narrow path. There are a lot of 1/2 marathoners starting to fade. Miles 9, 10 are 7:07, and 7:16 benefiting from the downhill. As we exit the Greenway we pass through a park with the first Music Stop. The local band is playing Cumbersome by Seven Mary Three. It's a great pick up since I know we are headed for another big climb.

We head back to the University of Tennessee main road, Cumberland Avenue. It's a steep climb through the string of bars up into the Fort Sanders area. Fort Sanders is home to a number of landmark Victorian homes. It has served as cheap student housing over the years, as they have been cut up into apartments. The area is starting to be renovated, and has become the trendy new place to live. We head higher through the neighborhoods to miles 11 and 12. I am holding pace at 7:20, and 7:25. The 1/2 marathoners are getting antsy, and pick up the pace. They have climbed their last hill. We bound downhill, and the 1/2 folks start moving right to head back to the finish.

I make the left as the marathon heads under the bridge that the start was on. We head past 1982's World's Fair Amphitheater, and Sunsphere. There is a big crowd at the Convention Center as we pass by. The pack is spread out, but I see parachute pants guy ahead. Dignity saved. I am looking for mile mark 13. Nowhere to be found. The 1/2 clock is ahead. I pass by just over 1:39. On track of a PR, if only buy a few minutes.

We head for the 4th and Gill Neighborhoods. In the mid 80's the city took a number of run down houses for unpaid taxes, and offered them for $1 a piece to the public. There were a ton of restrictions on the sale, but for the most part the experiment worked. People purchased and renovated the little houses, and they have created a thriving little community. There are a lot of people out on front porches as we wind around. We crest the highest part on the course, and head downhill for a while 14, 15, and 16 lead toward Music Stop two. I can't remember what they were playing. We wind quickly though another neighborhood, and head toward the Old City. Up ahead I see everyone from my support team. Mom, dad, wife, and daughter. I wave, and my wife snaps a picture as I wave over my shoulder.

We head into the industrial district, I am catching people every couple of minutes. With only a 1000 marathoners everything is spread out. We make a quick left and we are in Old City. Mostly bars, restaurants, and antique shops. There are people everywhere. One bar has a beer water stop. Quickly we are out of the Old City, and I grab a Cytomax energy gel. The taste is just as bad as the drink. It is a long way to the water stop. I should have passed on the gel.

Now the people I am catching are starting to look bad. 17, and 18 were 7:20, and 7:21 but we are headed back uphill now. We make a couple of lefts, and we head by the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Home of the world's largest basketball. The view to the left is over the Tennessee River. I realize how high we have climbed. It is a long way down to the river. I catch my first walker. I am sure that there are going to be many more walking up that hill.

At this point we head along a 4 lane divided highway out to the Island home area. It is a huge mile long bridge over the river. You can see runners stretched out way into the distance. I hear footsteps coming up fast. I wonder if my pace is falling off. He passes with a relay number on his back. Finally over the bridge to mile 20, 7:27. It's a long downhill off the bridge to mile 21, and I am starting to feel it. Mile 21 done in 7:21. It's a flat out and back into the hidden neighborhood of Island Home. I give a 'Go Philly' to a runner with a Philadelphia Track Club singlet heading by. He's only 2 miles ahead of me. Back out of Island Home I see a bunch of people that passed me on the big hill earlier. They are definitely paying for their early pace. Mile 22, 23 were 7:33, and 7:43.

Mile 23 is one of the lowest points on the course. It takes two mile uphill run before the next downhill. It is a slow climb. Mile 24 goes by in 7:53. It gets steep as I approach 25. There is a course marshal on a bike and I am passing him as he struggles up the hill. He is weaving all over the road. I cross 25 at 7:40 I try to pick up the pace. It's now or never to try to get back some time. I turn right onto the bridge back into town. I feel like I am running at 5k pace. In actuality I am just running completely out of control like I do in a 5k.

We make a left into Market Square Mall. There is a big crowd, and I am trying to pick up a few stragglers as we head toward the finish. We wind around, and we are back to the start line. This is something I didn't know about the course. You have to climb the same hill from the start again to get to the finish. This is too much for the runners in front of me to take. I watch one by one as people reach the base of the hill and start walking. I keep my pace and pick off at least 5 runners by the top of the hill. The police officer yells, "It's all down hill from here". I have heard that lie before, but it looks like he was right.

There is one guy about 50 yards ahead. We head down a twisting path between traffic barriers to lead us in to gate 51 of the University of Tennessee's football stadium. I blow by the last guy, and I am into the tunnel that the football team comes out of. It's pitch black coming out of the sun, and a steep downhill. Quickly, I am back out into the light, and people are everywhere on the field as I motor towards the finish at the 50 yard line. I cross the line at 3:17:36. Not quite a Boston Qualifier, but I am happy with the finish. I quickly grab my Finisher Shirt and medal. I finished 45th overall, 8th of 84 in my age group, and first overall relay. 

 

Clean Air uLBRR - Tim

This was both the best and worst race I've run. After lining up near the front of the pack, the starting "gun", a sort of weird buzzer, sounded. Other people began to run so I figured that was the start. Because it was a 5K I was afraid of getting boxed in and starting out slow so I darted in and out of the runners ahead of me, kicking people's feet and knocking into people in the process. At the time, I was annoyed that these people had lined up so close to the front, but later realized, as will be seen, that maybe I was just being obnoxious.

I was afraid that Jim and other Philly Runners were already out ahead. I overcompensated for my fear of running slow, and soon realized that I was near the front of the pack and did not know anyone around me. I had never been this far up in a race. It felt lonely and I couldn't understand why there were so few runners and no Philly Runners.

For a moment I feared I was hallucinating- that I actually started running before the starting "gun" sounded, was really running all alone, and was just imagining the few other runners around me. I was running with a really small kid who couldn't have been older than 10 (was he my spirit guide?). I thought to myself that it is a bad idea to hold pace with him because he will soon fade. But then he pulled away. The back of his shirt read, "It's not the miles you put in, it's what you put into the miles."

The mile 1 clock read something around 5:30, and the reason why everything felt so strange hit me. This was Ian territory and I knew that I was screwed. The pain hadn't begun yet, but I did some quick math: 5:30 x 3 = certain death. Feeling stupid, I knew that I was the rabbit and folks would be passing soon. I began to slow, and expected Jim to be passing at any time. My mile 1 split made me realize those people I knocked around at the start of the race were probably in my REAL pace range, and I was just being an asshole.

As I passed the turn around, I was hoping that I would have enough to finish the race. The clock at mile 2 read something around 11:30 which meant a 6 min. mile 2. While slowing considerably during the last mile, a few more people passed and at one point I felt like stopping. But then the finish line appeared just over that bridge by the Art Museum. I reeled in a guy who had just passed me, and tried to kick it in at the end. It looked like the scaffolding was the finish line, as is usual, but the people standing there said to keep running. I saw the time on the final clock, and, delighted, kicked it in a bit more to finish with a final time of 18:38, a PR of about 3 1/2 minutes. But my last PR was last year's 5K Run for Clean Air, which was before I really started running.

I had different levels of goals going into the race. My first goal was to break 20 minutes, which I felt was possible. My "itchin' for" goal- the time I was itching to break- was 19 minutes. My super goal for this race was to break Kevin's personal 5K best of 18:35. Two out of three isn't bad. I often have a goal of bettering other people's times. For the marathon last November, it was George Bush and John Edwards- I was faster than the former but not the latter. I thought an 18:35 was a good time to shoot for in this race.

This race was the best and worst I've run because I feel I ran it pretty fast and achieved my time goals, but my splits were around 5:30 (mile 1), 6 (mile 2), 7 (mile 3). Technically speaking, those splits don't look too good, and ideally I guess I should have paced myself at around my mile 2 split. It was pretty dumb to go out like a rabbit.

At the end of the race I congratulated one of the magical little wonder kids who finished just ahead of me and who had obviously "put a lot into his miles," and then made my way up to the finish to see Students Run Philly Style kids, PRs, and runners from my office finish.

Thank you to everyone who cheered for me. I wasn't feeling capable of cheering back but tried to acknowledge everyone with a wave. 

 

Boston LBRR – Ian

First of all, I must say: watching the Clean Air 5k on Saturday was so inspiring. Seeing so many people come in with solid PRs had me really buzzing for my trip up to Beantown.

Most marathons put their wall at around 20 miles. Boston for some reason installed one at mile 8. I don't know what happened yesterday. I couldn't get into a rhythm, and after about 45 minutes, I said to myself, "something is very wrong today." My heart was broken well before Heartbreak Hill.

At one point I stepped on a cup of water, and I realized I'd run right through a water stop without seeing it. God knows how many times I did that. Usually during these things I'm very happy and very focused, but yesterday my mind wandered all over the place.

I don't know if these things happened in the order I remember them, but I'm 50% sure they all happened. When I was pretty close to my nadir, I heard a familiar voice say "tough day out here, buddy?" It was Seebo, and I've never been happier to be passed by him. We chatted about the misery of it, but he was bearing it better than I was and sped ahead. I felt a lot less alone after that.

At 17, I had a gu. I didn't think anything could taste more rancid, but then when I threw up a little while later I realized gu tastes worse when eaten backwards. People actually clapped when I booted, which made me laugh. Someone handed me water and I kept going.

I slowed to give some hand-slaps to my friends on Heartbreak. I smiled at Jed and said, "this is the worst day ever." I could hear him laughing as I covered the next 10 yards. At my pace, he must have been laughing for 15 minutes.

I figured the only chance I had to do something worthwhile was to jog to the finish, so I kept running. I made friends with a guy named Pete from Maine a little after 20. He had, as they say, gone out for wool and come home shorn, and looked nearly as bad as I. We helped each other to the finish. It's amazing what an intimate friendship you can forge under those conditions. My legs felt sort of alive again for the last half mile down Boylston, and somehow I made it across the line. I'm not sure of my time; I haven't had the guts to look at the results yet. I think it's around 2:57 or so.

Pete and I walked arm in arm through the finishing area. I saw Seebo and Kevin F and we all hugged. I felt like we'd all just survived a horrible battle.

While this lbrr isn't exactly filled with sunshine, I'm not upset about the race. Celebrating with my friends afterward in Cambridge was pretty great, and I'm just so happy the damn thing is over with.

And most importantly, thanks. Knowing some of you were paying attention kept me from dropping out. See you tonight. Maybe. 

 

Boston LBRR - seebo

An abbreviated Boston report:

Temp was 70 degrees at high noon in Hopkinton, with a blazing sun and a headwind. Newscasts would later say that the humidity was under 10%. Combined with that wind, you would not know you were dehydrated until your skin started turning to powder.

In other words, not a day to pr.

Ian and I started in the corrals together but after the gun sounded he left me in the dust to head down the Hopkinton hills. Painful past lessons with heat and headwind taught me to hold back.

First 5 miles went at about a 6:10 clip, on the slow side of my target pace. Then the splits drifted into the 6:20s and I didn't fight it. My throat was starting to dry up so I broke with tradition and drank at almost every water stop. I took additional cups of water from kids and poured them over my head.

I promised God I would not lust after the Wellesley girls if I were spared a death march today.

On the other side of Wellesley my splits dipped into the 6:30s. My slowest point in the race (6:45 split at mile 17) was about where I caught up with Ian - a stretch called "Hell's Alley," an understated uphill stretch just before the Newton firehouse that softens you up for the upcoming hills. We commiserated and then I turned right to face the hills.

This was more than a literal turning point. I was able to maintain pace through the first two Newton hills and suddenly dropped the loose group I was running with. This energized me enough to pass more people, and suddenly I had momentum where I least expected to find it. Seeing Cindy and the Bryn Mawr folks at Mile 19 kept me pumped, and I took Heartbreak Hill in a 6:28.

After Heartbreak comes the Haunted Mile, which featured a steady stream of walking or barely jogging runners as the course passed by an actual graveyard. All the adrenaline from Newton was gone, but I realized I'd be okay. I wouldn't PR but I'd beat my two previous Boston times, so I settled down and focused on reeling people in.

I passed three people in a final sprint down Boyleston Street. With the finish line in sight I suddenly wanted the race to go on forever. And as soon as it was over I almost collapsed.

2:47:05. Not my fastest race but definitely my smartest. Age has its advantages. 

 

Narberth 5 mile lbrr - Scott S

After finishing my best 5K at the Run for Clean Air (26:04) the week before, I had high hopes for the Narberth run. The Narberth run marked the first anniversary of my return to running after a more than 15 year hiatus. I had run in the mid to late 80s, culminating in a sub 8 minute/mile pace at the philly distance run. After a decade and a half and 70 pounds later, I began running in March 2004 unable to finish 2 miles at a 12 minute pace. Hoping to lose weight and improve my health, I started slow and entered the Narberth run. Although I had not run more than 3 miles, I was able to finish in 54:29, with a chip time of 53:11 without walking. I was hooked.
I joined Philly runners last week, ran on Tuesday, but after struggling with my training runs, I lowered my expectations to about 45-46 for Narberth.

1st mile 9:15 - about where I wanted to be after a long uphill and not crossing the start line for 20 seconds or so. At my age, I've learned to leave my watch in the car on days my legs aren't feeling spry. Learned it the hard way last summer after pushing myself into chronic overtraining injuries. Lost a good part of four months.

2nd mile 18:17 (9:02) over a slightly downhill part through the residential streets. The weather, although humid, turned out better than expected with the rain holding off and the temperatures hovering in the 50s. Adjusting for the up and down hills, I may have a chance for 45.

3rd mile 27:53 aaargghhhh!! And on a downhill part. Don't know what happened. My legs had no spring. Got some water. Went down the wrong throat. Gagged and coughed all the way down the hill. I have never learned to drink water while running. Probably never will. Last year, the 3rd mile was my fastest. Now ever a 46 seemed unlikely.

4th mile 37:40 (9:47) OK, Reality check. Time for reevaluating my finish goal. It was a 3/4 mile uphill, followed by a short, steep down and a short even steeper up. Funny thing happened on that short climb, though, my legs felt stronger and passed a couple of people.

The last mile was all downhill and there was no way I wanted to be over 47. From the encouragement, I knew there was a good-sized group of runners right behind me. Ahead, though, it was sparse with only a few runners within a couple of hundred yards. Unlikely to pick runners off, I vowed not to let anybody pass.

Just then, I heard the clop, clop, clop of a freckle-faced red-haired boy, no more than 10 years old surge by me. For all of you rabbits, there is something disconcerting about a kid so young passing you. An unwelcome reminder that I am closer to death than birth, and the days of playing hoops for hours and hours on a steamy summer evening are long gone.

Freckle-faced boy seemed like he was pushing, so with a long, straight downhill ahead, I picked up my pace determined to reel him in. Just then a couple of spectators recognized him as a local kid and cheered him on pushing him forward. His pace was erratic with fast spurts then slower jogs. Half way down the hill, I passed him and realized now that other runners within striking distance. Feeling stronger, I vowed to leave it all on the road.

Picked off 2 to 3 runners as we made a right hand turn into the town center with a downhill finish at the park. Quickening my pace with about 600 yards to go, I was running all out, not knowing if I could keep it up, but determined to try.

After a slight turn, saw the clock 4?:03. Somebody's head blocked the minute digit. I was determined to finish within the minute. Yelled encouragement to a friend and former neighbor as I passed him, feeling his pace quicken. Looking up, I see 45:34, as several people cheered, "Go, Danny, go" and freckle-faced boy sprints on by me. I hit the line in 45:46.

8:06 final mile!

Race volunteer kicks "Danny" out of line (he was unregistered). Turned around, high-fived my friend and silently thanked freckle-faced boy for spurring me on to a kicking (for me) final mile.

Happily spent, I realized, if only for awhile, I felt young again. 

 

Commodore Barry Bridge 10k run - Gary S

I'll start off by saying this was my first 10k. I somehow figured a few weeks ago it would be fun and good training for broad street. Ok here's the race run down.

Mile 1 8:11 Started to wonder if I was running too
fast being my average 5k pace is like 8:00 to 8:50. 1st mile is semi flat until about .75 mile then you start climbing the bridge found a few to run with which helped.

Mile 2 18:10 (9:58 pace) Now I have climbed
to about center of bridge time to start down hill which was welcomed after the climb I was able to real in a few runners and was feeling really great but was cautious of burning out half way through.  I also looked over at my next climb the return leg and I said to myself that will be a tough climb.

Mile 3 27:33 (9:23) hey I picked my pace thanks to the downhill. Ok grabbed some water, And from my volunteer duty at penn relays I thanked all those guys, and need their support. No spectators on top of bridge lonely at times but peaceful looking at philly so far away. Now time to mount that tough climb back up the bridge. The one thing I kept in mind was it will be sweet going back downhill so tough it out. I also heard someone say this climb was shorter not sure because it felt longer.

Mile 4 38:10 (10:37) Slowed up on that climb but almost at top. Crested top and knew it was all down hill now started to recover get a good kick going. Learned from mile 2 to use this downhill to my advantage. Thought of finishing last also motivated me to get moving only 105 runners in this 10K. A water stop off the mile markers messed up my time for mile 5. hit watch off time

Mile 5 I'm guessing 48:10 so back to 10 mpm pace. still heading down hill heard footsteps and breathing getting closer oh boy not too many more behind me I gotta GO. Well this was a first for me I really heard breathing and it was real close looked over my shoulder and this guy was maybe 4 inches from me. I guess drafting must be a biker or a Nascar fan never have heard of this technique in running. He finally passed me I let him just to get him off my ass. now we are starting to flatten back out its now taking effort again to run but it is almost over I tell my self.

Mile 6 57:53 (9:43) yes .2 to go and this is about where I met Charlie
or at least his cheering section. Sorry Charlie But your not going to beat me nothing personal my friend. made the turn and never realized how far .2 was. Ok now getting ready to head under bridge Charlie's kids must really love him they cheered me on as well told me good job. I really needed that. Ok I see the orange cones now I kicked like a 100 meter runner to finish and finished 1:00:30 or so.

Now I'm feeling better about Broad Street because I had a lot of gas left in tank at the end. But there is always next year and now I can strategize better.
Was a good day to race not hot at all. I thought times for winners of 5 K where slow I think winner was 18:50 or something. 10K was in 30: something. Very small turn out 105 10k like 90 5k. 5K ran simultaneous with 10k on return side of bridge so they paced me faster at the start.
After race was good nice brunch eggs, rice, chili, broccoli , chicken. But I just ran a 10k no appetite just yet.
I do feel running with the Philly Runners has helped me greatly with my running.

 

LBRR - Broad Street Run - Ed Wong

Well for now this is a SHORT boring race report...

At Tuesday's run I wasn't feeling up to par. I chalked it up to eating too much for lunch. But it turns out it was something worse...
Wed Night I went to bed as soon as I got home from work with my knees feelin "hot" on the inside (no temp measurable from the outside)
Thursday night I cancelled my usually Bike ride and got home to ummm well I lost 6 lbs in 12 hours...
Fri I managed to hold it together long enuff to get my number but that was all I could do on Fri. (Yes I called in sick to work but I did managed to answer a few work emails)
Sat I wasn't much better.
Needless to say my wife (who is a Doctor) thought I was crazy for even CONTEMPLATING starting on Sunday.
I figured I go over to the start to turn in my chip....

I managed to survive the jam packed subway ride and got to the start and wandered around looking for people in a daze/stupor and managed to find no one.
I had a bag and ditched my pants and jacket on the bus.
Got in line and off goes the gun.

The start is GREAT as its rolling down hill - wheee!
I jog along at what I guess is a 10min pace. I somehow miss the 1 mile marker and overhear some people talking at the 12min time that the 1 mile marker is 1/2 a mile back....
Oh - the mile markers are in the MIDDLE of the road.
Mile 2 comes up and its 17min on the clock - Hmmm. that's 8:30 ish... I wonder If I can hold this?
I pace off of a "Temple Police" and "Diane Eat My Dust" runners for the next couple of miles to city Hall and managed to hold all the miles between 8:35 and 8:45. Cool.
Weather is perfect for my kind of running. Cool breezes.
The kids who are Drumming really inspire me and make me forget what I'm doing.
Soon the Roadblock that is City Hall looms and it's mile 5.
Mile 6 is on the other side of City Hall. I check and its 8:45. Not good. I pick up the pace and loose the two "pacers".
I passed Kevin at South and Broad and keep motoring along.
There seem to be WAY too many water stops. I'm stopping at every other one and taking on maybe 2 teaspoons of water and using the rest to rise and splash.
Soon enough I roll through to Mile 9 and then a slight uphill and the gates are in sight.
Since its kind of midpack its hard to get a good sprint going but I managed to pick up the pace and tad and finish in fine form....

This is one race that I was just glad to START. 

LBRR.......Broad Street Run - Craig

I've read some good LBRRs so far. For me, most of my memories are of the events surrounding the race. First, the pre-race party was awesome! That food was great, and I had a good time-eat enough carbs to choke a horse. Second, the expo. It was a pain in the ass to get to, but I did get $40 off on a pair of shoes, and my flashy red tank-top for the race, so I made it worth the trip. In fact, lining up on Sunday...some guy told me I looked like a salmon. I ignored him.

The race.....A bunch of us started out in the "6:30" group, and I figured I would slow down to 6:40 (I was expecting 65-67 overall). I was almost alone from the start, and passed by young kids and old, old people who were lined up at the front-or in more politically correct terms, they were part of a "terminal masters" team. Hell, it takes balls to do it though, gotta give them credit. I missed the 1 mile mark, and at 2 miles I was just over 13, so I knew my chip time was under 6:30/mile, but I kept coasting. Mile 3 was 6 flat, and I said to myself "oh f$%k, better slow down. My next few miles were about 6:30 on the dot as I approached and went through center city. I quickly went into a daze and ignored everything on the side..except this one skit with people dressed in green shouting "we are green". I appreciated their support, along with occasional quirky high school bands. For a fleeting moment I was brought back to the days when I was a band nerd. I missed Ed Rendell, who I would liked to have high-fived just for story-telling purposes. I also remember one water stop where most of the Gatorade landed on my face instead of my mouth. It does not sting the eyes though....for future reference. Anyway, after mile 7, the race got boring and I hit a mini-wall. I started thinking...just back off a bit, and don't die. Over the next 2 miles people passed me (about a dozen), and I said to myself "move it you wimp!". I gradually opened my stride, and at mile 9 the clock was 58:00! I said to myself "holy s&%t, if I pick it up I can break 64 min.! Being greedy now, I passed some people, and coasted downhill into the navy yard. By this time I was so out of it, I didn't notice the navy ships off to the right. On the long final stretch, I enjoyed the crowds and strided it in, running slow enough to keep myself from dry heaving. The guy in front started flapping his arms and the crowd roared, so being a ham, I did the same. I'll admit I loved the attention. The clock was over 64 min., but those precious chip seconds brought me down to 63:54 (a 6:23 pace!).

Right after, I jogged over to Ian and Steve. Steve was a little perturbed that I was jumping around after running 10 miles. We hung out, high fived, and shared stories as other people came in. We got our goodie bags with tastycake snacks and herr's chips...doesn't get anymore Philly than that. We all hung out until we almost froze. After that it was fun tailgating with a few beers (Amstel light-one of my favorites). I was in the mood for getting drunk, and being the light-weight that I am, I didn't think it would be too hard, but the buzz was light. This continued at Nodding Head. Once again, like Caesar Rodney, I was glad to do this with a good, excited group of people with a strong sense of camaraderie and spirit. I would not have done as well otherwise. Congrats to everyone who finished, and keep rolling in with the stories!! 

 

My first LBRR Broad Street Run- Marita

Let me just say first that I was not overwhelmingly excited about this race. The night before I was at two weddings and really hadn't done as much training as I would have liked in April due to illness. However, when I entered the Expo on Saturday and felt the pre-race excitement, it became obvious that I was happy to be running this race.

When thinking about Sunday's race I picture it in a frame. I did not PR this time around, but I was not disappointed due to the other small things I accomplished. Last year my chip read 1:16:17, a fabulous time and one that took me by surprise. Although I was thrilled about my time, it was a VERY painful race. I began way too fast and was tired by mile two. Somehow I was able to keep my pace, but the race was not pretty.

This Sunday I felt much better about how I actually raced, despite my fall in time. When lining up I started in the 7's, not thinking I'd actually run that, but wanted to be a little ahead of the crowd. My goal was to break 80 minutes, so I was planning on keeping an 8-8:30 pace for the first half, see how I felt and make up time in the end. This was the opposite of what happened the year before. I tried to pace myself with some fellow PR's, but it didn't really work and I clocked in at 8:15 for the first mile. There are two significant things here. 1. I actually know my first mile time. If you have run with me you know that I am usually bumming my splits off of others, partly due to my 1980 Casio watch and partly due to my lack of strategy. I kept figuring out my splits at each mile mark and I think it invigorated my race. 2. I felt comfortable enough with my own pace to run the beginning of the race by myself. This is the first time I ran a big race like this alone.

After that I was pretty much cruising hitting below 8mm consistently. At mile five I was at 38 minutes and feeling good. So I thought to myself, "Let's ante up and see what you can do today. Perhaps 76 isn't too far away." A triathalon friend passed me around city hall and I was invigorated. I think I did the next two miles in about 7:15, but right before mile 7 things were getting a little harder. To put it bluntly the last three miles sucked. My paced slowed considerably and I felt horrible!! Ugh! For a while I wasn't even sure I was going to be in under 80 minutes. Mile 9 passed, but it was not a relief. I began to curse all the sicknesses I had in April, but then my curing turned into, "You can do it Marita". Like a nun saying the rosary I kept on repeating this phrase, bothering the people around me I am sure and sounding like a lunatic. Then somehow right before the entrance to the Naval center my stride began to get longer and my arms dropped and began to move. I finished the last 1/4 feeling strong and was relieved to see the clock read 79 something when I crossed the finish line.

I quickly became cold and went home with my awesome cousin who volunteered and come out to support me!! Then I quickly took a shower cleaned up my apartment a bit and (now this is crazy) rode down to Nodding Head on my bike. There I had an awesome meal, some great conversation and felt thoroughly exhausted, but hurt significantly less then other races I ran this year.

My final chip time ended up being 1:18:48, with a pace of 7:59.2. Here's a list of some of my victories for this race:
1. No major pre-race jitters
2. Calculated my splits at every mile
3. Had a race strategy
4. No CHAFFING!!!
5. Completely ran my own race
6. Bought lots of great running gear really cheap!
7. Recovery time was significantly less than other races this year.

Philly triathlon here I come!!!! 

 

Broad Street LBRR – Ian

First things first. I went through the first 5k of the BSR in 15:58, thereby winning THE BET. Everyone owes me beer tomorrow.

Okay, I'm lying. I wasn't looking to work hard, let alone suffer, just two weeks out from My Boston Massacre. I just wanted to go for nice run down Broad Street. It didn't matter how fast, just so long as I could get a scoring time for the Last Minute Wonders, and enjoy the scenery.

I figured 6 minute miles would be a good way to start, but the pack took off like crazy. I bet 200 people went through mile 1 in 5:30, and I was with them. I put the brakes on hard and coasted till City Hall.

I was just so happy to be enjoying a run. I talked to the spectators, gave some high-fives to the little ones. Passed halfway in 29:05.

Around City Hall, a guy pushed me out of the way to take the inside line. I wasn't aware they were giving out prize money for 104th place, but I guess so. I admired his matching shoes, shorts, and singlet, and decided I needed to crush him.

Saw a lot of my friends, and one governor. Kept a pace that felt great. Slowly made my way up to Evil Killer Bunny Kevin, who let me catch up so we could get our picture together with a quarter mile to go, then he promptly tossed me to the curb and proceeded towards a huge PR. I had no hope of following his monster kick.

The next two Last Minute Wonders were right behind me. Jesus Steve pulled off a scary time for a guy who runs just 2 days a week. John and Craig followed. Clubbers keep coming in with PRs. Seeing this is the best part. All told, the day was perfect. I followed up the race with a World Champion Bloody Mary, and then we snuck into great seats behind the Phillies dugout. 

 

Broad Street LBRR - Steve G

This was my third consecutive attempt to bust the 1:05 barrier. I lined up with Jesus Steve, Craig, John, and Mony (who showed up just in time). I figured we would be better off staying to the left, since it would be easier than dodging those 60+ year olds who like to line up in front. Juking around people caused JSteve and I to lose Craig, John, and Mony rather early (sorry about that).

First mistake from running on the left was missing the Mile 1 clock. I looked at my watch, and saw 7:22 or so and told JSteve that we had better have already passed Mile 1. Hit Mile 2 at 12:30, so I'm guessing we were doing 6:15s. Big problem for me: I can hold 6:15s for a 5K, but no way I could handle it for a 10 miler. I didn't slow down that much into Mile 3 (6:21), but JSteve took off shortly after Mile 2 and I knew that I couldn't keep up.

Craig passed by between Miles 2 and 3; by the time I saw him, he was too far away for me to shout to. Besides, I couldn't have kept up anyway.

Saw John sometime after Mile 3 (I think). Also zipped right on by.

Started to blow up into Mile 4 (6:44) and Mile 5 (6:50). Beginning to get a bit delirious; tried drinking some water. Helped a little bit. Enjoyed the drum squads.

Mile 6 (7:05). Loved the large crowd near the Bellevue. Missed the Guv and the PR group at South St. Trying to hang on through Mile 7 (7:11), Mile 8 (7:17), and Mile 9 (7:14). Attempted to average my time, and still saw that I was averaging under 7:00 per mile. The problem with that was I felt like I was in a dead zone - I couldn't keep up with people as they kept going by.

After Mile 9, I see Brian S. fly right past me. Damn that Brian Smith gear! (For those of you unfamiliar with this, Mr. Smith can accelerate towards the end of a run, regardless how far. First noticed this phenomenon during a 21 mile training run for the 2002 Philly Marathon; with about one mile to go, he just takes off. Un-bleeping-believeable.)

I recover a bit to finish Mile 10 (7:02), to end up in around 1:08:20. Better than last year, but about 2 minutes off my PR. I am pleased with the time, but wished I would have been more consistent (that minute-plus blow-up bugs me). 

 

 Broad Street LBRR - Steve D

I will post my LBRR simply so I can brag about my first 5 mile splits which I am all too giddy about.

I went into the race publicly claiming a goal of 7:15 pace, but inside my head I really wanted to break 7:00. I could probably spend days psychoanalyzing why I don't make my real goals public knowledge, but I am not sure that has any bearing on the race. This was my first 10 miler, but based on how I have been running the last couple weeks, I thought 7:00 pace was a bit of a reach, but within the realm of possibility.

So I lined up at the front of the 7 minute pace sign The race started pretty smoothly... I felt strong for the first 5 miles and my beautiful splits (yes I am modest) are indicative of this (6:56, 6:56, 6:54, 6:55, 6:59). I could not have imagined I would ever have splits that even. During this time I slapped a bunch of kids hands, something I have always wanted to do in a race but never did... I was probably smiling for a quarter mile after this. After mile 5 I started to lose some steam and my splits got progressively slower and I started having flash backs to the Caesar Rodney half marathon in March. 6-8 went by in splits of 7:00, 7:05, and 7:15.

About a half mile before the 9th mile marker, there were some people with a stereo that started playing "gonna fly now" just as I was approaching them. As ridiculous as it sounds, it gave me quite the boost for the last mile and half. Mile 9 went by in 7:07. Mile 10 I felt surprisingly strong and even had a little left over to smoke a few people at the end... always fun. The last 50 meters I started sprinting a bit and got the funny rubbery leg feeling that I remember having for the first time when I ran a 5k in high school cross country... and it felt the same as it did 9 years ago... totally out of control and a little bit spooky. Mile 10 fell at 6:45. My elapsed time was 70:49 but I was able to sneak a chip time of 69:58, just two seconds under my goal!!! nice...

like everyone else here has said, it was awesome to see so many people racing from PR and thanks to everybody involved in the weekend... Kev and any others who cheered, Rachel and Dave for the pre race party, and everybody else who participated for making it a great weekend!! probably my best race experience yet! now if only school would imitate running...  

 

MDeR's (first) LBRR - Broad Street - Melissa D

"There are times when we will be humbled. The only question is whether we will allow ourselves to see this as a defeat or merely a setback. And that's the lesson runners of every ability learn every time they race--the lesson we all need to learn from life." -John Bingham, from No Need For Speed, "The Endurance Factor," Runner's World, June 2005.

The BSR marked my first distance race and my first big race disappointment. On the positive side, it's helped me come up with a strategy for the next one. And now it has me motivated for summer training and counting down the days 'til the PDR. That is, as soon as I can walk easily again.

For the other races I've run this past year (my first year of running and racing) I've participated in pre-race rituals that involve preparation, good training the week prior, a wholesome pasta dinner the night before, the absence of any alcohol, and plenty of hydration. The week before BSR I wasn't able to train and I was on my feet in strappy sandals at a cocktail party the night before. I tried a pasta dish, but consumed more fatty hors d'oeuvres and wine than I should have. But figured I had run 10 miles the day after a night out before and felt pretty confident in my running ability. That was probably mistake number 1. Running 10 miles and racing it are two totally different things. And I wasn't owning up to myself that I am a competitive runner. I won't let that point slip by me again.

I also never raced with music before, but decided to try it, as I noticed others breaking this rule in the PDR. I had only run a 10 mile distance once a few weeks before (and 8.5 the week prior) and both had been done at around a 9:45 pace, easy, listening to Swan Lake. I felt like I could run at that pace forever. The music in the race was a distraction to my own inner dialog that I had experienced in other races. A disadvantage not to hear that positive voice, and a lesson learned.

When asked my racing goal the day prior, I said I hoped to run it at 9:30 pace, which we calculated in our heads to be around 1'35. With 9:30 splits in mind, I lined up with some PRs in the mid 9's. My shorter distance training pace is 9" and staying with these wonderful PR women kept me at around 9" pace for the first 7 miles. I knew it was fast for me, and I was concerned about my heart rate, which was up to around 180 at that point. I stopped at the water stations, sipped and walked, and resumed running. Though I didn't feel pressure in my bladder, I started to have stress incontinence, which was a frightening new experience. After mile 7 there were no more friends stationed to cheer. I dropped away from the PR women warriors. The stadium felt really far away - even though I had driven it the day before - it felt way too far away, psychologically. I couldn't visualize 3 more miles in my mind or body. So I slowed to a walk. I felt like my body was telling me to, as much as my ego spirit did not want to. I walked and waited for my HR to go lower. My sister (the doc) later told me I should not realistically expected it to go and stay under 170 at that point in the race and I would have been fine to stay at 180. But it felt too high and I was being cautious, which I don't regret.

I intermittently ran and walked miles 8 and 9, but think I was able to run all of 10. The crowds were a blur, not really a help. The last 1/4 mile post psych-out gate was long, but I sprinted it with everything I had. I didn't see the clock. I was stumbling through the chute looking for the chip people and a place to sit to take it off. I really wanted to sit down and someone walked me to the med tent to rehydrate, which is why I didn't see half of my friends post race. They were caring and wonderful in there. In a way, I was glad to be hiding out. And also glad to see the faces of PR friends when I surfaced.

I don't know what to say to people who ask me how was my race. If I want to be honest, I could send them to the PR message board, where I thank everyone reading this for letting me be honest. It's hard to admit you had a hard race, or to find understanding about it. Everyone's support in PR means so much. I can't wait to train with all of you when I get home. 

 

Broad Street LBRR – Carrie

This was my 4th Broad Street. I've been running consistently- but also at a pretty relaxed pace- all that time. So my previous BSRs were all in the 1:22- 1:23 range. I knew this one should be quite a bit faster, but I wasn't sure how much. I planned to start at a 7:40 pace and see how that felt. At the start line, I ran into my sister's boyfriend- my sister lives in NC, so she wasn't running, but her boyfriend lives in this area- he mentioned that she had told him that he had to beat me- as he said, a little vicarious sibling rivalry...perhaps this related to Caesar Rodney, where they both ran and may have been surprised when I beat them by a couple of minutes...in any event, suddenly I had a new challenge, since I was already pretty sure I was going to be able to beat myself.

When I lined up, a shirtless stranger wanted to know my pace and asked if he could run with me. I've never really run with anyone I didn't know in a race before, but we started off together- other than his annoying habit of moving back and forth from my right side to my left side for no apparent reason, it was kind of nice to push and be pushed by an anonymous companion. Like many of the rest of you, we started a bit faster than I expected, the first mile was a 7:19, the next few miles were around 7:30, so I reached the half at 37:26. It felt great, but I'm pretty sure this is faster than I've ever run 5 miles, which probably explains why I started to lag a bit after this...my running partner didn't, and took off as we rounded City Hall.

Miles 6-10 hurt a little more than the comfortable trip down North Broad...Saw a Kevin at South St and a friend at Carpenter. At about mile 7 or 8, I came upon JJ- he didn't recognize me at all, but I told him he was on my team and we ran the rest of the way sort of loosely together. I wasn't much company, as I was mostly reduced to grunting at this point. And I'm not sure we were the best for moving each other along-- at this point, the knowledge that I could slow down considerably and still have a pretty significant PR made it a little hard to motivate to shave off extra seconds-- he, on the other hand, knew he wasn't going to have a PR, which had the same effect for the opposite reason. Not knowing how far behind me the sister's b-friend was helped give me a little push.

So, for the second half, my pace was about 7:45, a little slower for mile 9, a little faster for mile 10- on one hand, I was frustrated at how many people were passing me during the second half and felt like I want to be better at maintaining my pace- on the other hand, this was definitely my first race with no splits above 8mm, so that was an accomplishment.

Anonymous running partner from the first half gave a little cheer as I crossed the line. In the end, it was a 1:16:09 on the chip. Can't really complain about a 6+ minute PR...And sister's boyfriend, if you're keeping track, came in just over 1:17.

Congratulations to everyone! 

 

Broad Street LBRR - Laura G

My goal going into the race was to run 8:30 pace. Judging from recent races and how I've been feeling, that seemed like a realistic goal. I had felt sluggish during a morning run the Thursday before the race, and I was low on sleep going into Sunday, so I really wanted to wait and see how I felt once the race started.

I lined up with Emily, Seth, Tracy, Gary and other PRs in the mid-8-minute pace area. Emily was nursing an injured hamstring and wasn't sure how she'd feel. The two of us started off together, and when we went through the first mile in 8:14, I thought to myself, uh-oh, you're going to crash and burn if you keep this pace up. We stuck together for the next mile and a half, keeping up the same pace for mile two and going through the third in 8:09. At some point around here Emily took off, and I thought to myself, let her go, this is a crazy pace and there are many miles left to run. But for some reason, my splits remained constant. I caught up to Emily, who was with Seth and Tracy, about a mile later. At this point we were nearing City Hall, and I think the endorphins started kicking in.

Running through Center City was such a thrill. I always love that part of the race. I told Emily and Tracey to look out for Rendell. I picked him out of the crowd first, and I pretty much shoved Emily aside to high five him! We saw Kevin at South St., which was great, and then we were in South Philly. Our splits were consistently between 8:02 and 8:10 for miles 3-8.

The weather felt great, the crowds were energetic and we were women on a mission.

It felt like I hit an actual wall somewhere after mile 7. All of a sudden, I felt like I was carrying bricks and sucking air through a straw. It was a weird sensation that I told myself was all mental and tried to push through.

I think the mental talking combined with wanting to stay with Emily kept the pace up. Mile 9 was 7:49, and I believe I said to Emily at that point, "holy sh*t, we're running sub-8 pace!" By the last mile, we were exhausted but determined. Emily said her hamstring was hurting, but she wanted this race badly. I told myself to put everything I had out on the course. We crossed the line with a chip time of 1:20:43, a PR of roughly 6 minutes.

I know I wouldn't have had the race that I did without Philly Runners. There's simply no way. I really cherish the way we push each other to do our best while supporting each other no matter how we do. Congrats to everyone who ran, cheered and read these lbrrs. No matter how you felt about your race, major props to getting out there, giving it your all and then sharing it with all of us! 

 

My BSR LBRR - hopefully the last one? - Ryan

Okay, so it may have taken a while, but this should be the last BSR LBRR to go up on the message board, unless people are slower than I at writing these. As I sit here on Friday the 13th listening to Pep Boys conference call about having a net loss this quarter, I need something to cheer me up. And none of my bosses are around today so I also need something to keep me busy. Here we go.

Broad street weekend began on April 30th for me, as Jmac, Seebo and I were slated to do the University City 5K over at Drexel. I wanted to run this as a small tune-up as it is a very basic course and you always finish better placing wise at this race since well over 80% of the runners are still drunk from the night before (Go Drexel). For whatever reason, the course changed at the last minute and it went on a hillier path than I would have liked. Even though I ran a terrible race on a course I didn't want to run, I was still able to finish at 25:20, which was only 24 seconds off my PR from 2 weeks prior. So, while I didn't get the PR I was looking for on the old (easy) course, I was able to feel good that I wasn't that far off on the new (harder) course.

So heading to the BSR the next day I was feeling good. It was my first 10 mile run, and after a good meal at Dave and Rachel's house the night before, I was hopeful that I would be able to finish in under a 9 minute race. I didn't get a good night's sleep the night before for some reason, but having set 3 PR's in 2005 (2 at 5K, 1 at 10K) an one PW (Personal Worst, at Caesar Rodney) I was pretty hopeful to keep it going; it doesn't hurt that as my first 10-miler, it would be another PR as long as I finished.

The race started out okay, with a lot of people meeting up at our set spot. I couldn't really find anyone who actually thought they would run a 9 minute pace the whole race, so I started with the 8:30 group figuring that I usually start too fast and fade, just so I could have someone to run with. I missed mile 1 but hit mile 2 at 16:40 clock time (WTF?) and realized that I had made a HUGE mistake and that the "8:30 people" actually started the first 2 miles under 8. I was able to reel myself in and enjoy miles 3-5, with the exception of one ambulance coming down the far left side of broad street and then 2 minutes later having another ambulance come down the far right of the street. It was majestic seeing all the runners move from one side of the street to the other. Regardless, I got to the five-mile mark at 43 something, so I was well on my way to my 1:30 goal.

Going around City Hall was where I began my decline, no doubt due to the stench of corruption that City Hall wreaks of. I was beginning to try and pace myself to finish at 1:30 exactly as I was feeling that I didn't have it in me to stay under the 9 minute pace after mile 6. At about mile 8, Gerry passed me, the only PR runner I saw between miles 2 and 10, and I was slightly behind my pace. The Rocky theme did nothing to help me speed up at mile 9, but that little hill before the naval yard was a godsend. There were a lot of people who were running much slower on the downhill than on the flat, so I actually ran into about 3 people here and had to knock some of them out of the way (seriously).

I crossed the line at something like 1:32, and figuring in my chip time I knew I was close to 1:30 flat. I ran a decent race, but had I run the downhill better or had I not gotten a blister from my heel insert, I could have done better. Again, by finishing, it was a new PR, 4th one of 2005. I went to church that night to pray that God would make my chip-time under 1:30. In the end, though:

Chip time: 1:30:06

Oh well, maybe next year.

6 seconds. Son of a bitch 

 

 Devilman (Sprint) Tri LBRR – Biz

After wrapping up a Saturday morning PR run and some errands I headed to the race location (Millville, NJ..3/4 of the way to the shore) for the packet pick-up, race briefing and equipment check. After getting lost a couple of times I found the place and soon realized I was the only one with a Mountain Bike....hmm. Also, while there I discovered that the lake we were to swim in had brackish water...double hmmm. At least there was no current....

After racing back to PA, getting my gear ready and grabbing some sleep it was time to go back again.

While going through the motions of getting ready for the race the bugs were eating me alive...I doubt that the bugs will be as bad for the Philly, but it is a point to note (note to Biz....use DeepWoods OFF). While waiting I also saw a lot of experienced folks adding some type of lubricant to help get their wetsuits off quickly....I didn't have any nor would I need it as my suit came off fairly easy (I'll touch on this later).

So, 20 minutes before the start the Butterflies are knotting up my stomach...I take some Gu, stretch and somehow that alleviates my anxiety. The time comes for everyone to go towards the water and many of us jump in to check our suits and get used to the water temperature (about 70ish)....prior to this point I've never swam w/ a wetsuit nor have I done an open-water swim.

We have heats and mine is first (M 22-29). It is an in-the-water start and the swim leg/course (.6 miles) is horseshoe-shaped w/ Red Buoys to keep to your right and Yellow buoys signaling the start and stop. Prior to the gun my heart is going a mile a minute...both from being nervous and the cold (at least to me) water.

We start....and even though I started in the back I am immediately banging in to legs and such. I settle into my paced freestyle and soon find that I am breaking my breathing rhythm because I am either banging into folks, they're banging into me or I am checking to make sure I am on course. Due to trying to avoid people I start going on tangents...off-course; so, I begin to look-up every 200 yds..this seems to work fairly well..even though I am banging into people again during the last 1/4 mile as folks from the latter heats catch up to me and as I pass the occasional swimmer. I reach shore...and I am a little dizzy, my arms are burning but I gut it out...1 leg done!!! Jogging to the transition I have little trouble getting off my suit. I use a towel I set down and some spare water to get the dirt off of my feet.

The bike leg was 19 miles and I was gunning it to gain some ground on those more proficient than me in swimming, but I have a Mountain bike..probably the only person there w/ one! I start off on a good pace, but I am still getting passed like I am standing still. The course is flat as a pancake and, at least initially, everyone is moving.... About 5 miles into the bike leg I start to feel sorry for myself for not having a road bike, but then an occasional racer (usually the ones who look like they do this for a living) comments on how I am kicking butt for being on a Mountain bike...what a pick-me-up! This sustains me until the last 5 miles where I am able to focus on picking off a couple of those Road bike folks. Then before you know it I am at the transition for the run.

My legs are burning at this point, as well as my gluts & lower back, but I rack my bike and trudge towards the starting point for the run. I put on a shirt to show my bib (for the Philly I am definitely going to buy a bib-belt so I don't have to put on another piece of clothing just for my bib). In the first mile I am cursing myself for not doing more brick training, but I tell myself I'm not the only one as a lot of folks are barely moving. I pick up the pace as my legs feel better and I soon find myself at my old pace, and I make up a little more lost ground. Before you know it my 4 mile trail-run is over with and I finish w/ a clock time of 2:06. At the finish the race folks had a buffet of shells, meatballs, etc, which during any other Sunday morning would seem/taste weird, but I certainly had no problem scarfing it down! 

 

Vermont City Marathon 5/29/05 Burlington, VT - Ryan

My Ultra-Long Boring Race Report

Hello readers! After reading the following ULBRR, you will be able to answer the following questions:

1. What is my greatest fear?
2. What did the VCM Expo have far more of than any other expo I've attended?
3. What is the appropriate attire for playing an accordion in Vermont?
4. How were runners "supposed to line up for the race" according to spectators?
5. What is EOHE?
6. Why did God put so much Vaseline at a Christian Bible Camp for teens?
7. What is meant by the term "Ryan Splits"?

I guess I should start with why I ran this race. I had already registered for the Marine Corps race in October, so I wanted to use a spring race to gauge where I had progressed and to set goals for the MCM this fall.

So, even without the draw of seeing Jim at the VCM I still made the trip home (upstate NY) for Memorial Day weekend and made it to the race in hopeful spirits. The day before the race, I spent much of the day visiting family, trying to stay fed/hydrated and then driving up to Burlington to pick up my packet and check out the expo. On the way to the expo I rediscovered my most irrational, long standing fear in my life: driving next to open water. For whatever reason driving next to open water in a car has always scared the hell out of me (I've had nightmares about driving my car into a canal since I was about 5) and the trip to Burlington involves about 5 miles of waterside driving. About an hour later my nerves subsided as I finally got to Burlington I was able to relax. I was quickly reminded that I was in Vermont, hippy-state USA, after about 5 steps in the expo when while passing by one gentleman the overpowering stench of body-odor hit me like a truck. This happened several more times as I passed through; far more non-showering runners at this expo than any other I've attended.

Race-day morning came and my alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. I slept well, if not for as long as I'd hoped since I got caught up helping put a niece and nephew to bed the night before, as their parents seemed to mistake me for a babysitter and not a guest. Anyways, I made the scenic, if somewhat boring ride to Burlington and got there by 7:30 for the 8 a.m. start time, as expected. Leading up to this race my training runs had gone EXTREMELY well, I wasn't hurting and I felt good. I got in some good stretching and jogged a little to wake myself up, and the race was about to start.

Where the race starts is about 1 block on a small 2-lane road where you might be able to fit 1,000 people if you crammed them, yet there were like 3,000 people at the start of the race. As such, the start was bound to be interesting, and the only way to get on course was to enter from the side as space opened up. As we tried to find our way through, it became apparent that for some reason spectators lined up behind the starting line. While waiting to get to the start, a woman told me 3 times, each time about 30 seconds apart, to watch out for her friend's dog on the ground which I guess she felt earned the right to stand in the runners' way. After the third time, I said to her with a smile, "I got ya, don't step on the dog." She then leaned forward and said as loudly as she could to her friend, "They-re not supposed to come in this way, there supposed to go around." No doubt she was a former NYC/Boston resident transplanted to the country, but luckily she brought her big-city obnoxiousness with her.

Finally on course, mile 1 was needless to say congested. There was slight incline, but worse there a man in a Speedo playing an accordion. After mile 1 passed at 11 minutes even, the next mile was very substantial downhill where I swear everyone basically began walking; I ran mile 2 in about 9:15 without putting forth much effort. Mile 3 was back uphill slightly and passed at 9:50. At this point I was actually close to my 10-minute pace goal for the first half of the race but I was all over the place. I was finally able to settle down and run just under 10 minutes per mile for about the next 10 miles or so. Sadly, even though this race was billed as a very scenic race, its first half was really not so scenic. The first 8-10 miles are through the city, at least the crowds were very vocal. The race then went into some other neighborhoods until mile 14 brought you pack towards the start finish area for the second time. Mile 15, the proverbial wall as they call it, had a rather steep hill, but I made it to the 15 mile marker at 2:32:30, which in my head at the time worked out to "close enough" to a 10-minute pace.

By the time I got back into a running pace after the hill at mile 15, I noticed something just didn't feel right. My legs and everything were still there, but my body was trying to tell me to be careful for the rest of the race. I got to about mile 16.5 and I was having some pain in my abdomen so I knew it was the beginning of EOHE, my personally coined disease Early Onset Heat Exhaustion. I had hydrated before the race well, during the race well, but I guess the heat, running in the sun for about 12 of the first 15 miles, and the fact that it was deceptively humid all got me. Checking weather.com, it looks like those early race pace issues combined with what was 90% humidity might have been my downfall. Luckily, I have experience with EOHE, as I have to be very careful to hydrate since I am a "sweater", so I knew I had to stop running and I began my walking journey. Mile 17 took the race into a sort of development that had a lot of families making a morning of cheering racers on from their front lawns. Many offered their own refreshments and several were even out there misting, or in my case, hosing down runners. As mile 17-20 very, very slowly ticked by, I was able to stay in the shade and have actual conversations with some of the families on their lawns since I was going just that slow.

By mile 21, I was finally recovered from my mid-race exhaustion and I was able to begin jogging again. Of course my legs had tightened up so it was at a slower clip, but at least I was moving again. Miles 21 through the finish took us on some bike paths and some more little neighborhoods back along the lake. At this point, I was just enjoying the race and not thinking about time any more, obviously. Lake Champlain has always reminded me of my boyhood days at Bible camp in the town of Vergennes (pronounced the way you think it is) with a church group I didn't belong to. My main question about religion came from that experience, as they made us play this game where they would cover a watermelon in Vaseline and then we had basically play capture the flag with it in the lake as a scheduled activity. I could never figure out why God put so much Vaseline at a Bible camp?

Anyways, I guess these were the scenic miles of the race, but they pale in comparison to Forbidden Drive, as you had to look through about 200 yards of woods to see the lake and the bike path itself was just a regular old bike path that had explicit view of only peoples' back yards. I didn't care, and as I got to about the last mile, finally you had a clear view of the finish line, Lake Champlain (finally, very scenic) and still a fairly large crowd. One guy reached out and slapped my hand so hard it actually swung my body and I had to run sideways for about 5 steps. The last half-mile or so saw my calf muscles tighten up and about every 10th step my legs almost gave out. I finished at like 5:28 clock time, so that (sadly) was a PR for me before we even got to my chip time. Sadly this race was "better" than Philly.

So my splits were:
Total: 5:26:40
Half: 2:10:46
My personal splits for fun:
First 16.5 miles: 2:50:30 (10:20 pace)
Mile 16.5-Mile 21.2: 1:22:40 (17:35 pace)
My last 5 miles: 1:13:30 (14:42 pace)

Hmmmm, where did I go wrong? And what do you call those kind of splits; positive (no), negative (no), what then? "Ryan splits."

So, I learned a lot, like maybe an October marathon will be cooler, but even if not, I pretty much have gotten my legs figured out for future marathons as I didn't have any pain in running from my feet to quads. I just need to do a better job of not dehydrating/tempting death. Except for the tempting death part, I feel like a bad Gatorade commercial.

In closing, gentle reader, I'd like to thank you. `What's that?' you say? Me thanking you?
No, it's not a misprint, for you see, I enjoyed writing this ULBRR as much as you enjoyed reading it. The End.

On to the Philly Tri! 

 

LBRR - Masser 5-Miler, Lewes DE - seebo

Masser 5-miler is put on by the local running club, the Seashore Striders, in Lewes, DE. Cindy and I got to the staging area, a local high school, at a little after 8 (she came to cheer instead of participate).

The morning, even at 9 am, was sunny and warm for the 200 or 300 race participants who lined up at the start on the school's smurf-blue colored track. Knowing nobody, I checked out the folks around me to see who looked fast. Only one guy impressed me as such, he was doing wind sprints from the starting line and had on a lifeguard shirt. I also caught an older guy squinting at my race bib, no doubt checking my age.

When the gun sounded I tucked in behind the lifeguard to draft against the wind. We ran about halfway around the track and then out and around the school parking lot and onto the road to Lewes, a small coastal town. I hung with lifeguard, and by the mile mark we were both overtaken by the older guy. Mile 1 went by in 5:17, which felt like the mile marker might have been short. Regardless, I had to decide whether or not to speed up with older guy. I played it conservatively and focused on keeping pace with lifeguard. I pulled ahead of him and he drafted off me for the second mile, which passed in 5:36. Soon after the second mile lifeguard started to fall back and older guy, while still in sight, was a good 30 seconds ahead of me. Mile 3 went through "downtown" Lewes and passed in 5:43. I tried to pick up the pace and get closer to older guy, but I wasn't gaining on him. Lifeguard was no longer a threat. Meanwhile we were back out on rural roads, running into what seemed a perpetual headwind on a wide shoulder with a series of cones separating us from the traffic on the road. Second place was by now more or less preordained, and I made a half-hearted attempt to pick up the pace which resulted in a 5:35 split for mile 4 and then, after retracing our steps through the high school parking lot and back onto the ugly track, I sprinted all out at the end to finish in just under 28 minutes: 27:58 (5:42 split).

Top 6 reasons I was happy with this time. 6) I am not currently in any kind of racing shape since Boston; 5) it was 15 seconds off my (admittedly soft) 5-mile PR; 4) it came in the wake of a hard 16 mile run yesterday; 3) the sun and headwind provided conditions remarkably similar to Boston; 2) the winner was, indeed, 44, suggesting I have at least three more years in which to get faster; 1) it prompted C to take me out for oyster shooters afterwards.

Notes: I got interviewed by a guy from the local newspaper, who judging from his questions, probably provides more intelligent race coverage than the Inquirer usually does. The race registration featured a weigh-in to determine eligibility for the Clydesdale and Filly divisions, a race within the race for the, ahem, larger race participants (190+ for guys, didn't catch the female minimum weight). They also had a passel of trophies for them, which were like regular running trophies but also had large horses on the base (Budweiser should sponsor this). A series of kids races on the track followed the 5-miler (my kids both stayed in our rental), from the 25-yard "diaper dash" all the way to a mile for 11-12 year olds. The future of US running will emerge from such races. 

 

Thundergust Tri LBRR - Marita

It is a long time in coming, but here is my first official triathlon race report!

Thundergust Triathlon
Saturday, June 11th I successfully participated in the Thundergust Triathlon in Parvin New Jersey State Park. So now it is official, I am a triathlete! Whoohoo!!!

The day started with a 5am wake up call. Kinda tough on a Saturday morning, but I got up no problem because I didn't sleep much the night before anyway. I think pre-race jitters are the worst to combat!!! So once 5 am rolled around I was ready to get out of bed and get this process started. I packed the night before, so all I really had to do was get dressed and find my way out to the car. By 5:15 I was on the road. The drive to Parvin State park was very easy and less than an hour long, but my nerves were cookin'. I had to remind myself several times that I actually find all of this to be enjoyable and that I voluntarily signed myself up for this torture, I mean race.

I got there pretty early and started to find my way around and get set up. Everyone there was super nice, which is one of the awesome qualities about triathletes I have come to notice. Every triathlete I have met has been very helpful and encouraging. To get ready for this season I joined T3, a small, Philly based Triathlon team. I have learned so much from them over the past year and was really glad to be sporting their uniform that day.

One small glitch at the start is that we weren't supposed to wear our wetsuits, because the water was so warm. I was a bit bummed, because I wanted the practice for the Philly Tri, but all turned out well. This is one complicated sport! We had a small meeting on the beach and they reminded us about the wetsuit rule and tell us about the course. I just want to note that the race was publicized as a .4m/16m/4.5m. They told us nothing different about the race lengths at the meeting.

Then we all lined up and began our swim 4 minutes apart. The swim entrance was as everyone has reported. Lots of arms, splashing and bodies everywhere. I know I clocked at least one person on the head, but I did apologize. Once we were around the first buoy though I was able to get into my bilateral stride. The swim was a "dogleg", we entered from one point, swam around some buoys, then exited at another point down the shore. From shore I counted six buoys across before the final turn, so you can imagine my gleeful surprise when needed to turn after I only counted four. I don't know what happened to the other two, but I was happy to be swimming to the finish. The leg to the finish did feel like forever though and I think I stood up and started to run a bit soon. Nonetheless I finished in 8:59, way under my estimated time of 15 minutes.

The transition went smoothly. Thanks to Mitch I had some water for my sand covered feet and was sure to get my treasured Oakleys on. Even though the swim took less time than expected I felt like I was behind the pack starting the bike. The 16 mile stretch was very flat and easy to ride. There was one bumpy stretch of road that lasted a few miles, but the only thing we had to work against was a bit of wind. Actually the breeze was a bit of a blessing. It kept us cool out in the hot sun and dried us off quickly. I was grateful that I had a fitting the weekend before, so I knew my bike was going at its top speed. I must say that aerobars rock!!! I spent most of the race tucked in due to the wind and knew they were helping me with speed and energy. I have to point out that after this point in the race I don't believe I was passed by a woman, although I did a fair amount of passing, so my energy level going into the run was high. I finished the bike in 48:07 with an average speed of 18.7 mph.

My transition into the run was easy. I was happy to see only one other bike on my rack. The run was completely shaded, which was a nice break from sun soaked Kelly Drive. I tried to follow Chris' advice and didn't really open my stride until after the first mile. Despite my efforts to chill out in the beginning I found I was passing people left and right. The best feeling was passing a bunch of young guys I had met before the start of the race. We were making our way around the lake and I figured I had about a mile and a half left, then I see my friend Mitch and ask him how much longer. To my surprised he said 200 meters! I didn't believe him and asked someone else and they confirmed. So I got into gear and sprinted with another woman to the end. Apparently the race was changed to a 5k, but they didn't tell us. I wasn't too mad, but was a bit bummed to know I could have paced the run differently. However, I did finish the race with lots of energy and very high spirits. My 5k time was 22:31 with 7:16 splits. Not too shabby after two other races. Perhaps I need to race a 5k for The Bet sooner rather than later.

My final time was 1:24:33 and placed 185. I was 5th out of my division, first time females.
I enjoyed the awards assembly where many T3 members placed and had fun meeting people and talking to everyone about their race!

This first race was an incredible experience. The high I got last for days!!!!! Now I can't wait for Philly where the field will be wider and the course more challenging!!

Here are my official results, placements and paces:
swim: 8:59 190 22:26
Bike: 48:07 228 18.7
Run: 22:31 93 7:16
Overall: 1:24:33 185, 5 of 19 in division 

 

I went to Media and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.... – jim

So I'm standing at the finish line at last night's Media 5-miler....exhausted and sweaty....and I'm thinking "it's 8pm on a Friday night...what the hell am I doing running a race in Media???"

But I should probably start at the beginning. Against all obstacles (some team realignments, an absurd registration process, Friday night traffic), we arrived in the sleepy town of Media for a race that I must admit was larger than I thought. We ("we" being Ryan, Craig and myself) quickly found the other PR team, our teammates Erin and Seebo, Seth, Tim and his band of SRPS runners, etc. Our team, Liberal Media Bias, was looking for a decent showing and felt like we might have a chance at snagging an award.

So we line up for the race at 7pm and off we go. Mile 1 passed in 5:40 or so, which was pretty much when I knew I was in some trouble. The course was very Caesar-Rodney like in that there really was no flat part of the course. You were running up, or you were running down....and after Mile 1, you start the "up." I'll note that Seebo and others think Mile 1 may have been short. It's definitely possible, and it was also almost all downhill, so it was a fast mile for everyone.

After Mile 1, there were no time callouts or markers that I could see. Suffice to say the next 3 miles were rough. My pace went to just above 7 minutes per mile or so and my legs felt like lead. Jenn S. (who had a great race) passed me at around mile 3 as I was clinging to my now 7+ pace. I tried to find people to "latch" on to pull me through but it seemed like everyone was passing me. Finally at Mile 5 I got my legs back a little and was able to step up the pace again.

Final time was 34 and change. Of course, I wasn't at all happy with this time, but I have to say, Ryan was right, I was being way too negative about it. This was the first time I've been able to run 5 miles without stopping, had one of my fastest mile splits ever, had no ankle pain at all and put up a decent time. Ryan - I've also decided the statute of limitations for complaining/talking about a running injury is one successful race. Thus, my Achilles injury is forever banished into the realm of the quickly forgotten past.

Incidentally, our team won nothing. Some PR's had some great individual finishes, but LMB was shut out. Seebo is convinced that the fix was in. The local flavor of the race is great when people are sitting in front of their houses giving you water and running sprinklers. The local flavor is not so great when the hometown running team rigs the award so that they win everything, including the raffle prizes which were handed out, bizarrely, BEFORE most of the actual awards!!!

Wait a minute...Liberal Media Bias? Rigged awards? Possibly mismeasured course? This has all the makings of a conspiracy..... 

 

 

I went to Media and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.... - Melissa D

Well, in the end, it sounds like you got more out of it than just the lousy t-shirt.

But I also think Seebo may be right in questioning whether the DELCO RRC team "wins" were rigged. The entrants and the results are now posted if anyone out there is looking for a mathematic puzzle to unravel. It also seemed suspect that Jenn did not get an age group placement prize (though she placed 8th in women overall) and both of us swear we heard a slower time than hers placing in her group. I think we need to get to the bottom of their scoring methods.

But onto the positives. For me, racing Media was a very wholesome experience. I felt like I was running for the "goodness" of the town (aside from any DELCO RRC conspiracies), and was especially carried by the kids shouting their positive words of encouragement, the noisemakers, and the loud, coach-like cheers in the last mile. I didn't get to look up at the folks a whole lot except for the one older black woman with the garden hose. And before the race I talked to a 90-year old resident in a wheelchair with a glass eye who helped plan the race 26 years ago. Very cool guy.

There was no giving up for me in an environment of such innocence, community and compassion. I had never run a race with hills, so I ruled out any expectations for time, which took a great deal of my usual self-imposed racing pressure off. I was just there to do my best, for myself and our team. I loved the feeling of my legs carrying me up the hills and through the race. It was a beautiful night. There was no humidity. The streets were shaded by leafy trees. The first called-out mile may have been imprecise, but then again, I'm not exactly sure where the race "started" so I used the 1/2 way mark as my gauge instead. I ran an average 8:44 mile, which is considerably slower than my best 8K and even my training runs with PR, but there were those darn hills and turns which count for a lot. From a racing perspective, I gather it's something to make you stronger on those great flat courses. And it proves that mental expectations of a race also create the biggest hurdles.

It was a different kind of race and a new experience. I'm grateful for the perspective, because now I realize that every race is going to be a different kind of race and a new experience. I had a great time, and best of all, as we all noted, none of us would have been out in Media on a Friday night without each other being there. Thanks, Philly Runners, for another great race. 

 

PSP LBRR - Bike Mike

Saturday AM Parvin State Park in the middle of nowhere NJ.

Duathlon: 2mi run, 12 mi bike, 5K run.

Goals for the 1st run were to run smart. Stay with the front group, but no quicker than 12:00 unless I had too. Settled in with the front group at what was a manageable pace, but somewhat hard. Still breathing was under control while the rest of the 5 in our group were noticeably struggling. About halfway out (notice I didn't say 1/2 mile out), a rabbit jumps the back and goes. Faced with the decision to let him go or chase, I let him go. The guy is wearing a primal bike jersey (because of this I'm assuming he can't ride, and I'll catch him on bike). I see him hit the turnaround check his split and its 6:45?? WTF??? Yeah, and the other 4 I'm with do the same as we hit it at 7:00?? Again. WTF??? That was the hardest opening mile I've ever done. (yeah, 2.5 mile course). About 3/4 mile to go I broke from the pack, hoping to get someone to chase, and I did. Able to dangle out far enough that I was making him work but not killing myself. Finish 2nd in the run.

T1 I run over the guy who finished 1st in the run as he's trying to get his bike out....sucka! I'm out in a minute. Too bad everyone else is out in like 30 secs, and now I got some ground to make up.

Bike Leg: Damn this is fun. Blowing past Zipp Discs (tri peeps)like they were standing still....you can spend as much as you want on the bike, you still gotta learn to pedal it. Finish 1st off the bike with 2 Du guys right on my tail....

T2: Where the multisport inexperience comes in and I fumble around like an idiot changing shoes and taking off helmets...I'm a minute plus in T2 other guys are like 20 secs....

Run #2 - 5K: In 3rd going into the run, and damn the first mile brings back memories as to how hard that 1st mile is after the bike. Feels like I'm moving in slow motion, as I see the race lead and 2nd place drift off....turn around point the legs come back to me, and seem to moving with a little more ease, and I can feel myself picking up speed. No mile splits so I cant tell what my splits are, just know that I have it pegged, and this is all I'm getting. The battle for 2nd place wasn't much of a battle, soon as I caught the guy he seemed to slow down, and we drop him quickly. The leader is in sight, but waaay up the road. I'm picking up ground on him but I run out of race. had the run been 5 miles I'd have had him, but we'll get him next time.

Sure was a lot of fun. I think I'm going to focus a little more attention on these in the future. A couple a year. 

 
Ryan -Philly triathlon LBTR

So triathlon weekend began after an excellent night at Marita's house for her birthday/summer kickoff party (thanks Marita) where those in attendance got a preview of her singing. The next day at the expo we all finally got to hear Lars Beck, race director tell those of us newbies what to do and what not to do on the course. USA Triathlon has a lot of rules, but they tend to be for experienced (faster) athletes so most didn't apply to me.

Race morning began with the always-fun 4:30 a.m. alarm. I had packed and re-packed everything the night before, but nerves made me want to wake up extra early in case something went horribly wrong. I got to the transition area and saw Biz, Marita and Carrie and everybody was in really high spirits. By the time I got to the start it was about 6:30, so there was plenty of time to mill about. I saw Jmac and Xiao at the start are (but still no Raymond), and then looked at the start line and saw that it was fairly wide and, given the size of the waves, I got the feeling the swim start wouldn't be as much "kick and punch" as I thought. Marita sang the national anthem and the day finally began.

At about 8, my heat (heat 12) went off and I must say the Schuylkill was surprisingly warm and since it hadn't rained in like a week, it was fairly clean. The start was pretty decent and I swam my slow and steady pace in a pretty straight line to the Columbia bridge, where I had to move about 20 meters to my left to go through the "correct" area under the bridge. I began to loop around to the swim finish where there was a large increase in the number of wackos who were doing the backstroke and running into people. Ironically I was hit by more people in the last 200 meters than at the start. I finished the swim in 36:23, good enough for a whopping 873rd place, unbeknownst to me this would be my highest ranking on any leg this day.

My transition from swim to bike was slow, at 5:01, or exceedingly slow considering I didn't wear a wetsuit. I knew the bike part would be my worst part comparatively since I haven't ridden much this year, but it was also the part I anticipated the most. The Strawberry Mansion/Chamounix Mansion hills crushed my spirits on the uphill, but coming down them was the fastest speeds I have hit on my new bike. It was soooooo nice not having roller-bladers to contend with on the Drives. The Strawberry mansion hill on the Kelly drive side I actually completed easily on the first lap, but everything got progressively slower on the second lap. For whatever reason, my bike seat felt a hell of a lot more uncomfortable on the course this day than any of my practice rides. Oh well, I managed to finish the bike course in 1:41:02, a slow 14.7 miles per hour, at 924th place. All things considered though, it was still a fun ride.

My second transition was naturally faster than the first, at 2:55, though for the life of me I can't remember what I did for those 3 minutes. I hit the run and realized just how uncomfortable my bike ride had been, and felt like I was running in molasses. Given that I'm not a speed demon to begin with, I knew I was running way over my normal 10K pace, but didn't have it in me to speed up. Those first few stations with that Hammer HEED sports drink (??) were a lifesaver on such a hot day. I think I did the first 2 miles of the run in like a 12+ minute pace, but managed the entire 10K portion at 1:13:30, an 11:24 pace. Strangely enough, I actually placed better in the run 878th than the bike, even though I felt like my run was horrible. I have never been so proud a 73.5-minute 10K time in my life.

In total, I finished in 3:38:49, which was good enough for 912th overall on race day (since then my place has fallen to 918th as I guess some competitors are still passing me on the course). This was a really fun race, and was amazingly organized for a first time event in my opinion. I think most of us who did it this year will be back next year, and I would recommend this to anyone with a spare $125 in his or her 2006 race budget.

Oh yeah, and I still haven't seen Raymond...


Marita - Two for the price of one

Here are my race reports for the Philly Tri and Hammonton Sprint Tri.

Sunday, June 26th
Olympic Length Triathlon
Fairmont Park
Overall Time 3:11.

So this event really began on Friday night for me because I had the pre -party at my place. It was lots of fun with many people from many parts of my life wishing me well and having a great time together.

Saturday was also really fun. I spent several hours at the expo hanging out with my teammates and soaking in the entire event. I finally received my T3 warm-up shirt and was proud to wear it around the expo and the triathlon the next day. I spent Saturday night putting everything together and generally being nervous for the event.

Then Sunday morning finally came!!!!! and with a 5am wake up call. I quickly got dressed, ate and warmed up my voice. Why might I need to warm up my voice for a triathlon? Well because not only was this my first Olympic length triathlon, but also my National Anthem debut at a major sporting event. Crazy, huh? Actually the singing was really the easy part and a very successful part of the day. Right after I was done, Barbara, the official at the start said, "You nailed it!" which was a wonderful start of the day.

Over the next hour I watched every competitor take off and after about an hour it was finally my turn to start. It was an easy start in water that was surprising clean and refreshing. Swimming in the ocean those few times really made this swim easier. It did seem a long trek to the Columbia bridge though and I was really excited to get on my bike. There wasn't much of a current and I found it hard to swim straight, but after 39:18 I was in right on time.

Right as I was out of the swim finish I got the first glimpse of my family who made great efforts to see me and sing and be on time for the event. It was an inspiration every time I saw them! Pretty soon I was enjoying our challenging bike course through Fairmount. I think this was my favorite part of the race. It was great to ride the course without any barricades or cars to worry about. I felt really comfortable working my gears and for the first time ever I even raced with a little bit of strategy. I hit 32.2 mph and averaged 16.7 mph. My split for the bike was 1:29.08 placing 747 overall, which isn't bad for first time cyclist, on a hybrid, with a hilly course.

After a little over two hours I entered the third leg of the race, the run. Even though I am a runner I have actually been most nervous about this part of the race. This is the longest event I have ever done and running takes a lot out of you, so I knew it was going to be a mental and physical challenge. I think I started strong, but tired. I didn't pass people like I did at Parvin Park, but I knew I was keeping better form than most. I tried to keep my stride small and quick for the first two mile or so, but I am not so sure how successful I was considering my last two miles. This is the part of the race I was able to really see all my supporters. I stopped to hug my family and get some divine inspiration at about 2 1/2 miles into the race, then saw my running friends, T3 teammates and other supporters up until mile 4. At this point the race starts to turn on me a little. Our last 3 miles were out on the un-shaded portion of West River Dr, so my body was done running by mile 4. The list two miles were the most hellish miles I have ever experienced, so when my name was finally called at the finish I really felt like I accomplished something! My run split ended up being a slow 56:22 with a 9:05 pace. Ugh! I finished the race in 3:11.19, 730 out of 1003 and 33 in my division out of 70.

I must say that every one person that was there cheering me on at that point felt like 10, so thanks for everyone who came out. You kept me going through my longest race ever!!!

Check out my official results at: http://www.lin-mark.com/results/results.asp. My bib was 1141.

 

Hammonton Sprint Tri
July 2nd, 2005
400 meter swim, 12 mile bike, 5k run
1:16.34

So about 2 hours after the Philly Tri I had myself signed up for a small sprint tri in NJ the next Saturday. Kinda crazy, but my cousin Joey from Colorado, who got my into this anyway was racing, so I had to be there!

I went pretty light the week in between, only getting out on Wednesday and Thursday. I had some soreness in my right hamstring and knee, but by Saturday AM I was cleared up and ready to get out there again.

The overall experience was great and relaxing. It was fun to hang out with my cousin and teammate Jeff. They both have lots of wonderful positive energy and have been coaching and encouraging me this entire year, it was an awesome experience to finally race with them.

Some highlights of the race:
1. The lake was disgusting
2. Timing was done manually or "old school" as my cousin called it, which made the awards an exciting time
3. Fun, mostly flat bike course, with a great tail wind going out.
4. Nicely shaded run course with fun turns and a nice downhill motion on the way back. I felt like I was flying after the turn around
5. Race marshals did a poor job of marking the trail during the race. There were several times I was confused, slowed down or actually turned around by their directions.
6. Lots of fun, sociable, exciting people to race with.

In the end I won my age group, was the 11th woman to cross, came in 104 out of 189 and got some nice swag.

Thank you Joey and everyone else for getting my involved, showing me the ropes and continually encouraging me. I think this is the beginning of many triathlon seasons to come!

 

Ian - Double Trouble LBRR

Erin, Stevus, Russ, and I trucked out to Birdsboro for the Double Trouble 15k/30k--you decide which during the race--on Sunday. Goat and Laura were there, too.

I lined up with Stevus, Goat, and Russ--who it's clear at this point needs a reliable nickname--and we were off. I quickly lost sight of my compatriots, which was odd because they were all wearing matching uniforms. I passed Goat after about 200 yards. He had slowed down to eat a tin can on the side of the course. Then I caught up to Stevus, and had no desire to try and run any faster than He was going. We were in 7th/8th place, give or take. We passed mile 1 in about 7:40, a blistering pace. By that I mean I was actually developing blisters.

I don't know what happened to Stevus here. I kept going, passing people here and there, tripping regularly.

I passed the third place guy, but only because he'd sprained his ankle. Stevus would be along soon to heal him, I prayed. I eased back, figuring nobody behind me was on the way, and the two guys in front of me were waaaaaay in front of me. I passed the 8 mile mark and came to a welcome downhill. About halfway down the hill, I saw the second place runner far ahead of me, who had probably done the same calculus I had, and was jogging it in. I sprinted down the hill and caught him for a second before he realized he should actually run, and then he left me in his dust.

Stevus came shortly thereafter. We walked over and jumped in the lake which lined the last 100 meters. I waded. Stevus walked on the water. We watched Russ, Erin, Goat, and Laura all make their way to the finish. Best grandstand ever.

Any calories burned by our romp in the woods were then replaced, several times over, by the bountiful bowls of pasta from the Grandparents Russ. I am still full.

 

Laura -- Double Trouble LBRR

I've been meaning to post something here about the race for the last several days. All in all, I had a great time running this race, but the aftermath has been a bit more challenging and has considerably sidetracked my training.

I had been looking forward to the Double Trouble for a long time, having heard about these crazy trail runs out in Reading. I lined up with the 15K group and took Ian, et al's advice and started out much faster than a comfortable trail pace in an effort to beat the backlog of runners on the narrow trails. That was probably a mistake for me, since I spent the next several miles hearing "on your left" as people passed me. The first mile was also exhausting. I reached the mile marker in about 11 minutes, thinking to myself, "holy ***t, how will I ever get through 8 more of these."

Running a race on trails was a completely new experience for me. I've run on Forbidden Drive several times, but this was different. Rocks everywhere, steep hills up and down, constant roots to look out for. What stands out most in my mind is how little I remember of the actual race, since I was looking down the whole time. But it was beautiful, and it was pretty neat to be out in the woods running a race.

Somewhere around mile 2 or 3, I felt some pain in my right hip. At first I thought it was a cramp, but when it didn't go away and started to become more of a sharper pain, I realized that something might be wrong. I couldn't think of anything to do except keep going. So I continued on. I walked the uphills that felt unrunnable and ran the rest of the time. Some of the downhills -- especially that last downhill during mile 8 -- felt even harder on my body than the uphills. When I reached the third water stop at mile 7.8, I felt a great sense of relief, as I was almost done with this monster.

I saw Ian, Stevus, Steve, Russ and Erin at the finish, as they cheered for me to pack it in. The post-race camaraderie was great, as were the bagels, hot dogs and other treats. But the hip pain was still there, and I knew it wasn't great when all I could muster was a turtle-pace limp to my friend Jenny's car.

The last week and a half has been pretty painful. I haven't really been able to walk without pain. Large doses of Advil is the only thing that seems to provide relief. I saw a sports doctor last week and started PT yesterday to realign my sacro-illiac joint (basically my butt), which seems to have gotten a little jarred from the uneven terrain and is causing the pain. I'm also having acupuncture treatments. I fully expect this injury to be a temporary setback. I may have to put thoughts of a fall marathon on hold, but I'm more interested in healing and getting back out on the roads with PR. I miss everyone!

I suppose I have a few words of caution to those who may be contemplating a trail race: Be careful! Those rocks and roots can cause problems if you step on them the wrong way. Try to get some practice running on trails before doing a race, since your competitive juices might tell you not to stop during a race. And if something does hurt afterwards, try to stretch it out.

Great job to all the other PRs who ran it. It really was a great race, and who knows, maybe some day I can be convinced to try another one.

 

Steve G. - Guerilla 5K LBRR

For a first time event, I was surprised to see that many people show up (that would be 11, for those not there). Some Guy (or his appointed representative, Ian) had graciously marked part of the course, including the roughly one mile mark, the water hazard, and the approximate location of the finish line.

We were sent off at the "poink" of the Nerf dart gun starting pistol, and promptly saw Tim running to join us from the opposite direction. For the record, Tim did not tag up from the starting line and rejoin us, but I don't think anybody cared. At least I didn't since I thought I could attempt to follow him. Which I did until I saw him nearly stumble down the hill on the first lap. I thought it would be best to give him plenty of room to run, which he graciously accepted and added to. Brian S. and Seebo were running together in front, and knew that there was no hope of catching them (that tricky "Brian S gear" kicked in earlier than expected). Russ (Tayshaun) was safely in 3rd, I was in 5th, and everyone else was somewhere behind me.

Then we hit Mile 1; I cross in about 6:35. Not too bad for a hilly run and my first run after a week off laying on the beach (more discussion of that elsewhere). Mile 2 was not marked, so I was guessing as to when that would come up, but I was mostly trying to keep Tim within visual distance. For some strange reason, I decided to look back and see how close the next person was behind me. And since we were in the hills, of course it was Goat.

I encouraged him to catch up, and he did so, but then kept on going right past me. I had no hope of hanging on. Only now do I think about throwing the hip check...

As I approached the line, I was closely paying attention to my watch, hoping my time was close to the "official" time, since I was unsure of the scoring system that would be employed. I suggested a numerological scoring, but wasn't sure that had been accepted by Some Guy and Ian didn't tell us before the start. So I slowed down a little towards the finish to get the lowest possible score.

My time was 21:21, for a total score of 6. Which, I am stunned to say, was perfect for winning the race!! My first ever race victory and I didn't even have to run faster than everybody else! And a fancy custom made race T-shirt to boot! The wheeled Jesus action figure ("with floating action") for winning was later given to a somewhat confused six year old.

 

Seebo - Wanderer's Track Meet

Last night was the first of the Wissahickon Wanderers' summer track meets. The rain put a damper on the attendance but among those of us who showed there was a palpable bond in our willingness to be out there in that steady rain - a bond that was almost religious in our communal defiance of adversity so as to partake of the sacred ritual of running around the hallowed oval.

I ran two events. The first was the mile, which, to make a short, miserable story shorter and less miserable, I started out on target to break 5 minutes but proceeded to plod through the last 3 laps alone to finish in 5:23. I hate the mile. Kevin F ran a solid 4:57, Ian beat me handily, and Craig finished a bit behind me.

The second event I ran in was the 5000, which was the funniest race I've ever done. Only four of us, myself, Ian, KF, and Chuck, a local XC masters stalwart, lined up to run it, so it was more of a challenge among friends. "Well, one of us has got to finish last" was how IC put it, and as we started it seemed like each of us was shooting to be that guy. A very tactical race, with all four of us sticking together and IC seeking to throw our rhythms off by killing us with the one-liners he'd throw on the track. The best one (which I hope translates to writing) was in response to our split for the third lap, which the official called out 4:43 and to which IC said "that was a blistering mile there boys." I almost fell of the track. The real first mile split was about 5:48, after which I picked up things a little and KF picked up things even more and by the time 2 miles rolled around (5:40ish) KF had a small lead, CS was in hot pursuit and me and IC were battling it out for the bronze. As I said, very tactical but I couldn't get a big enough lead to fend off what I knew would be a final burst by IC, so I finished as the caboose in 17:35. I had too much fun to complain about that, however, and it just makes me that much more motivated to return to the track. But probably not before the second meet next Tuesday.

After the events, which also included a distance medley, which we were all to exhausted to care much about, there was easy conversation and pulled pork with various fixings to work off any fitness we might have acquired during the meet. I left feeling wet on the outside but warm on the inside, and if there were an answer to the question "why do I run" it would have to lie somewhere in last night's events. I got home and went straight to bed.

 

Ian -- Wanderer's Track Meet

That was great fun last night. When I got to the track and it looked like the rain had kept everyone away but me and some zaftig high schooler doing wind sprints in football cleats, I figured I might have a chance at second in each of the events. But then Craig, Seebo, and the Anglocellerator, Kevin, marched onto the field, and a few others came out from under trees and benches.

The first event was the mile. Unlike Seebo, I like this event. I like it because it is only four laps and I don't enjoy running. I jumped at the gun and took the early lead. I was fine until the last 1500 meters. Came in 4:56 or so, not so great.

Then we had about 20 minutes of rest before the 5000. We watched Craig gut out a tough 3000, which, doing the metric conversion in my head, is about 9 and a half miles.

As Seebo noted, it was Kevin, Chuck, Seebo and me running the 5000. Chuck has beaten Seebo, Seebo's beat me, I've beat Chuck, and Kevin's beat me, and many of these matchups have happened on multiple occasions with varying outcomes. The way I saw it, it was anybody's race. Except maybe mine. We kept a chatty, leisurely pace for the first four laps, no one wanting to do much more suffering after the mile race. I led, with Kevin right beside me; apparently he wanted to run 5100 meters. Chuck and Seebo drafted behind us, or behind me, rather. Kevin is built like the new Lindsay Lohan and I am built like the old Lindsay Lohan so I provide better cover.

I hoped that we'd continue our jog the whole way and I wouldn't have to run. But, as I feared, Seebo had too much integrity to let the pace stay lazy for very long. After about 5 laps, he took the lead and everybody started going. Kevin hung back a little while, then opened up a big break that I was confident would stand for the race, but then Chuck went after him. I had no interest in chasing them, so Seebo and I hung back. The sudden increase in pace must have shown on our faces. We kept pacing these two women jogging the other direction. At first they'd said things like "looking good!" But by halfway they were saying things like "keep going" and "it's possible that you might finish!" The race played out pretty much as Seebo said.

Then we ran the DMR. The official actually looked at Seebo and I as we lined up and said "are you guys gonna be okay?" He didn't seem to believe us but I guess he figured that since it was a track race he wouldn't have to walk more than 200 meters to come drag our bodies out of the way.

After running so much, I couldn't bring myself to eat the barbecue, but it smelled good.

I'm with Seebo--we should get everybody from the Tuesday night run out for next weeks meet. I'm pretty sure the Tuesday group runs are cancelled on occasion for events like this, inclement weather, et cetera, so why not next week?

 

Kevin F - Wanderer's Track Meet

Well I'm damned if I'm gonna be left out!!!

Mile: my feeling prior to leaving the house for Roxborough was that not only would the rain "separate the men from the boys" but it would also favour "the English runners." Lets face it having lived in London for 22 years prior to coming to Philly if I'm not used to running in the rain I'll never be!!

I probably held a slight advantage over Steve, Ian and Craig going into the mile as I'd spent the summer running the mile and 3,000m at Plymouth Whitemarsh where I'd ran times of 4.59,4.57 and 4.56. I anticipated Neil Adams and Chuck Sheilds taking it up from the gun as indeed they did.  I tucked myself in behind Ian (a.k.a. "the old Lindsay Lohan") and ran an opening 400m in 1.10 consistent w/ my prior mile races.

Surprisingly I kept w/in striking range of Neil and Chuck until 600m,usually 200/300m into the mile and Chuck leaves me in his wake, it could've been the rain, some would have you believe in sport that rain makes for a level playing field.  I however sing from the song sheet that while "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" mad English distance runners go out in the rain...often!!!"

Coming off the final turn I tried to catch the old version of Lindsay Lohan but it wasn't to be, 4th in 4.57 I could live w/ that.

5,000m, only 4 of us Steve, Chuck, and the old and new Lindsay Lohan. We all know how the other one runs so it wasn't a surprise a slow tactical race began to unfold - 1.26 for the opening 400m w/ the Lohan twins sharing the "pacemaking" duties. At 1,200m and the timekeeper calling out 4.23 Ian was heard to proclaim "that's one hell of an opening mile boys." It was all I could do not to fall over laughing!!

The official mile split was a "whopping"5.58,again Ian was heard to proclaim "anybody getting a pr in this race can have my car" to which I inquired as to what Ian was driving these days, "trust me you don't want it" was Ian's answer. Another lap and another quip from Ian regarding the pulled pork, followed by a "I'm here all week folks" which led me to remark "at this pace we'll all be here all week."

A lap later Steve hit the front which compelled me to comment "hey it's about time you did your share of the pacemaking and stopped drafting off of Ian and I." W/ 7 laps to go I hit the front.  I wanted to control the pace.  I should reevaluate an earlier comment that I wanted to slow things down....I'm not sure things could've gotten any slower!!!

For a couple of laps I had Steve hard on my heels ... a terror I know too well from our road races but unlike the roads where eventually Steve blows right by me this time I broke away from him w/ 2,000m to go.

W/ 800m remaining Chuck showed his hand, I tucked in behind him and hoped for dear life I could hang on, a few things went in my favour, Chucks 4.40 mile compared to my 4.57 meant I may have more left in the tank should it come down to a sprint finish, not to mention being 4 or 5 years younger. In fairness Chuck encouraged me to stay w/ him and w/ the sight of Ian and Steve closing in behind me I dug a little deeper into my reserves.

Coming off the final bend I pulled level W/ Chuck and managed to hold him off b/4 the finish line... in 17.28,far from earth shattering and far from a pr... so Ian gets to keep his car... for now!!

I shall look back on tonight's races w/ great fondness in my twilight years and while I eagerly look forward to renewing friendly rivalries w/ Ian, Steve, and Chuck next Tuesday on the track it'll be w/ a sadness knowing track season is over.

 

Craig -- Wanderer's Track Meet

Since I am completely obsessed with marathon training, I went to this thinking it would be a good speed workout with some grub afterwards. I actually welcomed the COOL and wet weather, especially after my long run last Sat. When we got there- registration for the events was quite formal-putting my name and event on a blank card and handing 5 bucks over at a van off to the side- good stuff. I "registered" for the mile, the 3000m (about 5 min. after the mile)-and the distance relay awhile after that.

I jogged at few laps, and all of sudden I see people lined up across the track and thought "shit-its starting any second now", so I ran as fast as I could without sprinting to the start line- and made it by 1 sec. I spent the first few seconds getting my watch set-since this was a personally timed event. The first two laps felt OK, but it felt weird trying to open up my stride- after just running distance for awhile. I quickly fell to the back, since it was still sinking in that I was racing on a track. My first lap was 84 sec -ugh; my next one was slower. The last lap I picked it up (or at least thought so, and some dude passed me with 200 m left to go. I hauled it the last 100, but couldn't quite catch him. My goal time was under 5:30-but came out at 5:32.

After that I cooled down a little for the 3000-which I planned to use more as a fast tempo run than a race-despite Ian's advice to go all out. I figured I could change my mind if I felt good a few laps in-like that was going to happen. There was only me and a couple of others running this-my first lap was 80s-this was a problem, and each of the next three laps was slower than the one before it-so my first mile was 6 flat. I "picked it up" after this, meaning I held my pace the last 3 laps or so. I got lots of cheers from Ian, Seebo, and Kevin. Seebo at one point made the semi-wise-ass remark "she's catching up on you". I looked back, and of course no one was near me, but I was thankful to have my sense of self-awareness raised. Like the mile, I didn't feel like dying until my last lap-not sure if that's how it was supposed to be-but it wasn't bad to deal with.

Next I watched the infamous 5000m featuring Seebo, Ian, and Kevin, and some other fast dude (a.k.a.-Chuck). Cheering on a 5k at the track is hard b/c you have to say something encouraging every lap for 12 laps. I ran out of the generic "looking good" and "keep it coming" pretty quickly, so I resorted to the old standby of clapping. Great race to watch, they really hung in together most of the time. All 3 finished strong, and mad props to Kevin for finishing literally a foot ahead of the fast dude.

These guys had about a half-second to cool off before the distance medley. I graciously volunteered to do the 1st leg, the 1200m. I tried to hang with yet another fast dude running next to me-but it was pointless. I didn't feel burnt out, but my legs were pretty much jello, and therefore useless. He beat me by 200m, which gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

Afterwards it was some good grub-I liked the pulled pork sandwiches and homemade brownies, along with the mini-cliff bars they were handing out- a well-balanced meal. My adrenaline was still going the next morning, and this also made me remember why I love racing-formal and not. There's something about the sense of community you don't get anywhere else, and having a supportive group of people to boot makes it that much better. Its great-and I can't wait to do it again. To all of you-get out there and do it next week!
Lessons from my mile race:
-get to the start at least 5 sec. before the gun
-warm up first
-run like you're trying to get somewhere
This event is MINE next time!

Note: "fast dudes"=dudes outside of PR who I do not know at all.

 

Ryan -- Vermont Journey Half IM August 27, 2005

So, for those of you wondering why my "marathon training" has been so sporadic thus far, here’s the answer, my first and most lengthy triathlon of the year. I ended up signing up for this tri because it was far enough away from the big fall races that I could recover and it was actually convenient for me since I was going to be in upstate NY the last weekend of August for the Travers (a horse race at Saratoga) anyways. After all day at the track where I didn’t lose too much money, carb-loaded like never before and got to see George Steinbrenner’s horse lose, I got home about 9 the night before the race. After spending about an hour getting everything packed and loaded into my car, I got to bed and managed about 5 hours sleep until my 3:30 a.m. alarm to get up.

I got up and was on the road to Vermont by 4 a.m. I was pretty relaxed except that Yahoo maps had given me some odd directions to the race start that I had for whatever reason not looked at until I got into the car that morning. Luckily Yahoo maps had also extremely over-estimated the time it would take for me to get there by about an hour, so I got there about a half hour before pre-registration even after making a wrong turn. I decided to go back to sleep in my car and woke up about an hour later. 

I got registered and everything went smoothly at check-in, whereas many of the "real triathletes" either forgot photo ID, had expired USAT cards or a host of other issues. I may not be fast or train for these races properly, but I take care of the silly administrative stuff like a pro. Entering the transition area, I noticed there were a lot of triathlon club teams and a lot of people with REALLY expensive bikes and hardly anyone who looked like they did this sort of event on a casual basis like me. Uh-oh! 

The pre-race announcements were somewhat confusing and the explanation of the swim course baffled me somehow (it turned out to be really simple and I just over-complicated it). My goal for this race was an 8 hour finish (1 hr swim, 4 hr bike and 3 hr run) which I felt was about the best I could do given where I am with all of these disciplines.

The lake somehow was only about 5-8 feet the entire swim as you swam the length of the beach for two loops. I guess I failed to check my goody bag at check-in for the official yellow swim cap provided by the race organizers, so I wore my Philly Tri cap and was the only neon green cap in the water. I had a rough swim, as I found it a little harder to do 2 loops around buoys than I did the point-to-point swim in the Schuylkill. Aside from zigzagging all over the place, the swim (as always) was the most fun part of the race. My time was 1:00:02, #202 out of 204 competitors and much slower than my Philly tri pace but about what I expected. I also figure I swam about 1.4-1.5 miles all over the place instead of the 1.2 mile swim the course was measured to be. Swimming loops in open water, something to work on for next time.

The bike leg was next and after my 5:02 transition time, I was off. Biking is still my weakest and least enjoyable part of the race, but I was hoping that the work I put in during July/August would allow me to do a little better than in Philly, where I was just really slow for a 25 mile distance. My goal was to basically maintain the same pace since it was over 30 miles longer in this race. It rained the entire day, and since I still refuse to buy bike shoes of any kind (I ride in my running shoes), my feet slipped off the pedals about a half-dozen times per 14-mile lap, mainly on hills where I was shifting, which was just great. However, I noticed that my lap times got progressively faster each lap and I was able to maintain about the same pace as I did in Philly, finishing in 3:50:57, #202 out 204 participants. I tried doing the math myself, and I think I basically maintained the same pace I had in Philly, about 14.7 mph. A new more comfortable bike seat and yes, possibly bike cleats, are things I would definitely invest in if I did this distance again. Do this race again? 

Lastly, the run came and since my main concern about finishing the race was that I would crash/fall during the bike portion, I was no longer concerned about finishing. As I started the run, I now see on the race results page that about 20 people had already finished the whole race but at least there were quite a few people on the course during my first few miles since the course looped through the start-finish area twice. It was a rough go on the run, as I noticed right away that the course was a lot hillier than I trained for, especially in the first 2 miles. By mile 3, I had settled into about a 12-minute pace and was able to maintain it for a few more miles. Even though I was basically the only person on the course after mile 3, the water stops were all open at every mile marker, which was nice but made me feel guilty for keeping everyone out in the rain so long. By about mile 7, my knees, shins, Achilles and feet were all shot and I was hurting BAD. However, after getting through 64 of the 70 miles of this race, I had to finish so this is where the walking began. I knew I could "jog" most of the rest of the way, but since I have 2 marathons in the fall it really didn’t make sense to push it. I finished in a grotesque 3:12:19 time, #202 out of 204. Who in God’s name was running slower than that I do not know.

One thing I didn’t notice was that during the run, the rain finally stopped. I was soaked from head to toe so I never noticed, but by the time I got to the finish line it was actually sunny out. Crossing the finish line at 8:10:48 never felt so relieving, and by taking so long, I was one of only 3 finishers who crossed the finish line under sunlight, an added plus. Anyways, my half IM adventure was finally over and I can cross it off my list of things to do before I die, though I may move it to my list of things that may cause me to die. I guess the good news was that my legs haven’t shown any signs of permanent or semi-permanent injury, so I think I may have saved my fall running season. Also, since this was the first ever-running of this event, the Vermont Journey Half, that since I finished last I actually hold the record (and may hold it for decades to come) as the SLOWEST FINISHER EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THIS RACE. I’m hopeful they’ll send me a t-shirt to commemorate this fact...

The end (of my 2005 triathlon season, consisting of a whopping 2 races).

 

Ian - CDR LBRR

Although it is impossible to halt the ceaseless march of time, one hopes that with age one at least gains wisdom. This year I've rerun several races I did last year, and therefore have had sharp and exact relief by which to measure the value of my gained experience.

I faced Boston for a second time, and as a smarter runner. Two miles in, the smarter runner realizes what the neophyte, for some reason, does not: running is dumb. The smarter runner wants to stop. The dumb runner fights back, and they wage an exhausting battle. At the culmination of this fight, the smarter runner vomits up the dumb runner at mile 17. At least in my case.

This weekend I ran the Charleston Distance Run 15 miler for the third time. It was the first race I ever ran, and so it holds a special place in my heart. It's five miles of really steep hills followed by 10 miles of mostly flat. Last year, I was dead by the time I started the flat, and stumbled in for a 1:31 and change.

This year, I knew what to expect. The hills would be tough, but if I could just take them at an easy pace, and not shred my quads on the downhills, I could blast through the remaining 10. But no. This was an exact repeat of last year: I passed 5 miles in 31:25, and I was dead. As we left the mountain for the remaining 10 miles through the city, I gave up any hope of a good time. Knowing it wasn't worth suffering if I wasn't going to be happy when I finished anyway, I dialed back the pace a bit and grumbled to myself.

I caught up with one of my old track club buddies. It was nice to have company, but I just wanted to drop him. I'd surge ahead, remember how much I hated running, and then ease off. He'd catch up and do the same. We were like an old couple who didn't want to be together anymore, but figured it'd be more trouble to separate than to just continue on in our miserable relationship.

I wasn't feeling bad, I just didn't have a higher gear. We caught a couple people, and we got passed by a 95-year old Russian woman. The miles were coming quickly. I felt like we were running steady, but we'd run what felt like a 6:10, and it'd be 5:45, and then we'd run what felt like a 6:10, and it'd be a 6:10. The race ends on the track that was my home oval in high school (though I rarely ran more than 200 meters of it). As we entered the track with 300 meters to go, I decided to finally break up with my running husband and be done with the thing. Finished in 1:30:something, and he was 10 seconds back.

After a sip of Gatorade, I turned around to track down my sister, who was running the race as well. I made it all the way back past the 12-mile mark before I got to her, and then we finished the race together. That was the best part--it was her first 15 miler and she was delighted. All told I got in about 22 miles for the day. The next day, I felt like I'd run a marathon, except without the feeling of accomplishment.

I'm sure next year I'll be wiser.

 

Kev -The Prose of the Modern Half-Mar' Runner - PR PDR RR

Writing this is one of the things that helps me to relax.  Plus, I think this is the only way to beat Ed to being the first to write a RR.

I've never waited so long for a race.

It's been three years since the last Philly Distance Run, and although I've only run it twice, it became my favorite race, in part because I think it's the distance that best suits me.  It was my running goal in 2001, my first year of running, and I was able to shave off 9 minutes the 2nd time I raced, in 2002.

Between then and now, I've had a left knee issue which, due to cautiousness, kept me from racing distance the next year.  I've had a left high ankle/shin injury, which kept me from much running & any racing the year after.

I watched the race in 2004, cheering for my friends but yearning to be in it.

I've had pre-acute left ankle issues that made me back off a bit in 2005, but not sideline me.  A rebuilding 2003 led to a backtracking 2004 led to what was becoming a worrisome 2005, but this was the year to take it back.  There were points of discouragement during training, but they were just speed bumps this time.  The left knee in early August was bothering me, a pre-acute overuse, so I backed off a bit for two weeks.  A Marathon was still possible and I was training for it, even though I would not venture a decision before conquering PDR. The somewhat disappointing 5K was back in April, a million years away, and this was time to "avenge" it.

Philly Runners had 8 teams racing, and my team, Phil E. Runner & The Iliotibial Band, stood a decent chance to place in the co-ed division.  We used this name to take 1st place male team in that April race.

I had wanted to race a 5K in August as a gauge, but wasn't able to.  With this unknown, I set a goal of 1:28, which would shatter my best time of 1:35 set 3 years ago.  I knew I could beat it, and I "needed" under 1:30, but what's the use of setting an easy goal?  Imagine if I take another 9 minutes off, I'd get 1:26!  Or, since I need 8 minutes to qualify for Boston, if I take 8 minutes off here, I'd get 1:27!  Wow!

I thought that if things go well and I think all of my body parts are ready for it, I may again race Steamtown Marathon 3 weeks later.  If I think I need to test my ankle more for distance, I may do a 5K 2 weeks later, then possibly another half (in Hamilton NJ) 2 weeks after that, then Philly Marathon November 20.  However, I need to face that this might involuntarily be my last race of the season, which isn't a happy thought.  I then twisted my ankle on a fast Tuesday run 19 days before the race.  What's going on?

Strangely, a couple days before that, I started waking up every morning around 5am, taking an hour or so to return to sleep.  This happened almost every night, including two nights before the race (the one where you're supposed to get a good night's sleep) when my fan (which helps me sleep) decided to stop working at 4am.  It might have been before, but that's when I woke up.  Couldn't get it to work, so I turned on the air conditioning.  Bought a new fan today.

All this is but a prelude to my race.  I actually need to speed up to north NJ immediately after the race for the unveiling of the headstone at my Grandmother's grave.  If I race as planned, I have about 25-30 minutes to recover & cool down, run home, shower, change, use the bathroom, stretch, and eat.  The run home must serve as a short cool-down run.  I'll have food ready to take with me on the car ride.  I might need to forego stretching, but not to worry, I'm sure my legs will appreciate a 90-100 minute drive with little time to even stretch in the car.

I wanted to wake at 5:50am (perhaps "want" is not the most appropriate term) but woke at 5am, continuing this phenomenon of waking around 5am for no reason for the past 3 weeks. I lay in bed until the music chimed on, and was up. Drank a little grape juice and turned on the faucet in the tub. I need to soak my legs in very hot water for 20-30 minutes before a race to loosen the muscles. They were in bad shape last night, better but not fresh that morning, and I could tell wouldn't be great for the race, but this should help plenty. This is perhaps my favorite race; that it's practically in my backyard, and that the majority of the course is what I use for my training runs are just two reasons why.

Out of the home, I needed some slow warm-up miles, and was awed by the sheer number of runners on my jog over. We are in charge today! Spoke with a bunch of folks at our meet-up spot, right near the art museum where we meet for the club runs, while I stretched a bit and sipped water, tried the aversive course drink again, then got another short warm-up with Seebo, Bike Mike, and John W, 3 strong runners in the club, just before entering corral 1 wearing my 4 or so ounces of clothing (plus shoes). There were 12 assigned corrals, plus the elite racers in front, so hopefully this would alleviate how some slow runners try to start way up in front, hindering thousands of racers that have to then pass them. Race started a little late, which meant I'd have less time to recover before my drive up to north NJ for a family function. Ran down the storied Ben Franklin Parkway and found Gelman soon after the start, then found Russ. Wasn't going to try to follow Russ, but ran near Gelman for a bit. Mile 1 in 6:50. I wanted a 6:44 or so pace, but wanted the first 1-2 miles slow, around 7:30. The 6:50 seemed effortless though! This had been one of my mantras leading up to the race, so I grabbed it here. Would I pay for it later? Do I dare and do I dare? Maintain, I thought.

We ran around City Hall and headed east on Market Street, with the post tequila sunrise now blazing in our eyes. I don’t know what is meant by a tequila sunrise, but if it is analogous to a tequila drinking binge, feeling great now, then being in agony later on, it would fit, I would find out... later on. I passed Mony here who mentioned that he wasn't feeling too great. Ran with him a few seconds. I soon turned right onto 4th Street, positively.

Running through the city, I was impressed that many people were out cheering for us. The race, after all, had started before 8am on a Sunday. I don't need a lot of cheering, but I grabbed this. I unfortunately also had to grab that course drink, which would certainly win awards... if we were giving them for worst taste. The drink came complete with its claims of why it's better than the others (not evaluated by the FDA of course!). It also was served in plastic cups, a big mistake, as runners need to fold the cups to form a spout so as not to get the liquid all over us when running & drinking at the same time. The cups cracked, but I was still able to manage. Water though was correctly served in paper cups. I was pleased to hear & see the Rittenhouse String Quartet performing for our benefit, and I clapped for them. Also saw Katie cheering on the left & she acknowledged my shout to her. We turned right onto 16th Street for a few blocks, then left onto the Ben Franklin Parkway. This is where the race used to end (in the opposite direction) and I saw Bridget cheering. I would see her later with a mile or so left, and she saw me both times too.

Entering West River Drive, I was consistently maintaining about a 6:49 pace. Effortless was still the mantra, but my left quadriceps were starting to bother me. This is unusual, but then, my legs weren't great even at race start. Okay, I can deal with some pain. Shouted out to Raymond cheering, but no response from him. Saw two folks from my cycling club and since I couldn't recall their names, I shouted out the club's name. Didn't note a response from them either. I knew the rest of the club would be looking for me, but didn't know where they would be able to get to on their bikes. Mayor Street biked past us and another runner shouted out to him. Got to remember to thank him for making an appearance. Elizabeth, who is on my team for this race, passed me soon after, looking strong. I wasn't sure she could maintain that fast, so I shouted out to her. She said she was fine and took off. Go get 'em Elizabeth! Somewhere around here I passed a jazz combo that I normally would have loved, but could have used a Rocky or Olympic theme here for motivation from the small brass ensemble I also saw. I probably clapped for both of them. Approaching mile 8 when I knew a water stop was coming, I took 1 of the 2 energy gels I had with me.

I crossed Falls Bridge with the bagpiper (playing, not running with me) onto Kelly Drive, and caught a glimpse of my cycling club. I was too far away by that time to shout out, but I did recall how I saw them in 2001 or 2002 and they did cheer for me! I found out later that at least one of them screamed out my name, but I didn't hear. I passed one of the "vivacious high school cheer squads" that the new race management got for this race. There were a couple squads I already passed on the course, but this one, and the next one a mile or two later were quite spirited. This was a welcome thing, as Effortless had been making way to my other training mantra, Embrace The Pain.

At this point, soon after Falls Bridge, I wasn't just Embracing The Pain, but I think I got to 2nd base with it. A few people were passing me, but I was still passing more. I decided to get a partner, and caught a cute woman who had been exchanging positions with me for a few miles. After a few minutes, I thanked her for helping me, and she then thanked me for the same; I didn't want her to think I was simply using her without appreciation. I asked her goal time but I think she just wanted to maintain whatever pace she was doing. She said something about college... that she hasn't run this race since college, or that she was in college, or that college tuition has been gradually increasing beyond the rate of inflation for many years now especially with private 4-year institutions and it was getting increasingly difficult for the average family to afford it for their children without some sort of financial plan. I maintained with her only a mile or so and I let her escape. I would later see her a bit beyond the finish line, and would thank her again there. Walking along the side in the opposite direction was Meg, perhaps the most accomplished runner I'm friends with, and we shouted out to each other. I walked through the 3rd & 2nd to last water stops. Grrrr. My mental fortitude, which I consider one of my strengths, was wobbly. Pace had slowed a wee bit by this point I think. All the way up King and down Kelly, at the water stops, I fell behind some people I was running near, but kept catching up. I don't think I was catching as many now. At the 11 mile point, and more at 12, sub-1:30 became the new goal (from 1:28), and the possibility that even this won't happen unless I dig in came pounding to the front of my mind like a ton of bricks, which ironically is what it seemed like was repeatedly smashing into my body. Quadriceps on both legs were now screaming obscenities to me in Greek (which I fortunately don't speak), the calves were slightly more than gently nagging, my neck hurt, and I think I forgot to add the fabric softener to the last load of laundry I did. I haven't felt so much soreness since my last long race, my triumphant marathon in October 2002. I missed that. I really did. This will be over soon.

Miles 11 & 12 were probably the only ones slightly slower than all the previous miles, as I impressed myself how perfectly consistent I had been, usually not one of my strengths, and I upped the pace (at least, I hoped I did, as my effort certainly increased) around 12, and was now passing several people. I spotted Helena a little past here, and she shouted plenty of words of encouragement to me. Thanks, Helena! Somewhere between 12.5 and 13, my vision became a little distorted. This never happened before during a race, and I took it to be a positive sign that I was really pushing. Well, I do now, but at the time I was just focusing on my new-found superpower of tunnel vision. MUST... BREAK... 1:30. I passed Bike Mike and said his name as loud as I could, which was barely more than a whisper. I then passed who I thought was Craig (it was). Don't know if I said anything to him. If I did, it could have been his name, but it just as likely could have been something like "Beethoven" which makes no sense now you may say, but probably made no sense then either. Just before the finish line, I spread my arms like wings, emulating the bronze medal winner in the Athens 2004 Olympic Marathon, Brazil's Vanderlei de Lima, just before he finished. I probably looked pretty silly doing that, but no more than the distorted face I was probably already wearing. He was leading that race when a crazy fan came out and collided with him, sending him into the crowds. That's how I felt, yet no crazy fan hit me. I admired the spirit of de Lima to continue & win the bronze, and that perseverance is what I needed. Finished in 1:29:17 (chip time). I did it! Gun time was 27 seconds difference. Found out that Russ beat me by 12 seconds, and Brian by 2 seconds (less than 1/4 second per mile)! Good job, boys! Physically I was completely spent, but was satisfied mentally. This was not just a race, but with everything I had to go through to get to this point, and with everything seemingly interfering still, it was in some respects an act of defiance!

Saw Seebo and English Kevin right after the finish. One of them asked how I did, and I told them & showed my watch time. Took my impressive finisher's medal, had my timing chip clipped off, and was handed a bottle of water which I immediately sipped. My breathing was harsh, but I was not worried as it was now recovery time, though my quadriceps continued to remind me that they were now unwilling to support anything more than slow walking. Walked (slowly) around the corner to the food area, but all I could stomach were the orange wedges. People from Philly Runners started streaming over to me upon their finish, and I was happy to hear they did well. Must have spoken with a couple dozen friends. The Broad Street Run race director spotted me and came over to get feedback on the race. I gave him a bit, but all this talking was sapping the little energy I had, so I had to stop. As much as I wanted to stay and soak up all this celebrating, it was time to leave, as I had what turned out to be a 2-hour drive ahead of me for a family obligation (with a drive back) and I hadn't time to stretch or do a proper cool-down. The pain would only get worse. As I could not run, I started the short walk home. A minute or two on, I noticed Pola, a sight for my sore eyes (and other sore body parts) a bit removed from the rest of the crowd, and we gave each other a big hug and chatted for a short while. We don't get to see much of each other, and I realized that the day isn't just a race but also a reunion of sorts. It was regrettably time to leave it all now.

I hadn't felt this much sustained pain since the last general elections! Both sets of quadriceps make it tough to walk, left calf hurts, back hurts, neck is bothering me, 1 of my toenails is a tad discolored and is tender. I don't mind though; I can feel the pain and (almost) grab something tangible to remind me of the day... sort of like a wild & rough session of... oh, never mind. Besides, that excruciating pain shooting down my quads commanding all my concentration rendering focusing on anything else impossible, means that it's working! I'm not sure what "it" refers to, but if "it" means that I broke my PR by over 6 minutes, and had my first solid race in 2 years, then I'll take it. A small area where my 2 gels were rubbing against my right abdomen is irritated too. Apparently, nothing is immune to aftereffects of this race with me. It resembles a little hickey, which is cute, as I haven't had that action since, well, since I got to 2nd base with the pain around mile 10 or 11. I put a bandage on it, and it seems like I have a birth control patch on. That may seem strange, but at least I can be confident I won't get pregnant.

Recounting the race stories of others made me feel more satisfied with my time, as many of them also were negatively influenced a bit by the warmer temperatures and sun blazing down. I was also amazed that I kept such a steady 6:49 pace throughout the entire race, which is usually not my strong point. The first 5K was in 21:09 (6:48.5 pace), the second 5K was 21:14 (6:50.1), the next 3.79 miles was 25:54 (6:50.0), and the final 5K was a tad faster, just when you want it, at 21:00 (6:45.6). The first half was 44:42 (6:49.5 pace) and the second half was 44:35 (6:48.4), seven seconds faster! Aside from starting 5 seconds per mile slower than planned, tactically, it was about as perfect as one can get. Mentally, I ran a much more disciplined race than the 5K in April.

It was a very good day, and I'll continue to nurse my war-wounds back to where I can put in another solid performance, which I know again now that I can do. The pain will go away, but I'll remember this race for a very long time.

 

Ed's LBRR (PDR)

Well after a night of not enough sleep (why was I watching "For a few dollars more"?) I woke at 5am to begin my standard morning rituals (it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours from alarm to get out of the house - mainly because I make a breakfast and then also do the dishes etc).

The weather called for less humidity than the past few days – that’s a good thing. But it was still too "hot" for my kind if running. I prefer temperatures in the 50’s or less.

I decided on shorts instead of tri shorts to see if I thought I could do shorts for a real marathon (chaffing issues). I packed along a cliff bar as fuel even though with a big breakfast it was not likely that I would need fuel for a ½ marathon.

As many know – the course is different this year. Not that I would notice as the last 2 years I’ve been riding in the MS150. For some reason the MS150 fell a week later this year – which means that I also can do one of my favorite trail runs – the Pfaltz Point Challenge up in the Mohonk Preserve in New Paltz NY (aka the Gunks).

So instead of the leisurely stroll to the traditional start at Market and 10th, I had to make my way over to the Art Museum. Being the lazy type I snagged a cab on 8th and Arch and got a ride...

This has NOT been a good fall running season. I don’t know what’s been happening but my training runs have been in the 9:00 range instead of the 8:00 range where I was last year at this time. So this year the goal was a very modest "break 2:00" instead of the previous goal of 1:50. This also means that breaking 4:00 for a marathon is getting less realistic. But then again I still have 6 weeks.

So I got to the start and took care of more rituals and took some cell phone camera shots for the record...

Then off to the corrals.
This PDR was being run like it was the NY Marathon or something. Not necessarily a bad thing – the crowd was MUCH bigger than I remember them (I was there for the 2001 race – just after 9/11). I think there were more porto-potties than I have seen for almost ANY other event at Eakins (almost more than live 8!)

The race was delayed by about 5 min, but I heard that Deana Kastor was there as well as what I thought was the Japanese woman who won the Women’s Olympic Marathon.

So the gun goes off it takes what feels like an ETERNITY to get moving. Even once I cross the mats – it still feels like I’m jogging for the first mile or so.

The Ben Franklin parkway is pleasant and then we turn briefly into the sun on Arch. It's not too bad as we duck south down 15th and around city hall. Then back around straight into the sun on Market. This could get ugly.

I don’t see a marker until mile 2 – 18:33
That means 9:15-ish. Hmm that’s kinda slow. It must be the traffic.

Around the corner down 4th and with the wind at our backs we are back up Walnut. Its dark in the Canyons and I finally am able to start marking off runners and slowly moving up. Methinks I was corralled too far back. I’m mostly moving up on people.

I pass the 5K marker and take a note of my watch but don’t log the time. I'm going too slow – I’m still in the 9:15-9:30 range.

I miss the mile 4 marker and the Ben is too warm for my opinion, but I’m looking forward to Eakins and the 5 mile marker.

There are speakers and music at the Eakins and I take on a splash of water. One thing I have found is that I simply can NOT hydrate very well while on the course. The water doesn’t hurt – but IMHO its not really getting into my system. I have never tried the "sports drink mix" they are giving out so I avoid unknown foods like the plague.

I take a mark at 5 at I'm running 46:34 – good enuff for a sub 9:30 but this is looking like a marathon pace and not a ½ marathon pace. Oh well – go with the flow. I vow to cut the pace to 9:00 for the final 5K or at least at the turn down Kelly after mile 9.

Now the Drives have been the scene of a PR 5K cranking out 7:30s so here it was odd running at a 9:15+ and finding that it felt worse than it should. I'm doing OK in the heat, but searching for level pavement and some shade. It's hard to find both. At least the road is now wide enough that I’m not jammed in a crowd.

I look across the river and the finishers are on the final leg in. This is gonna be a long day.

Mile 6 comes at 55:49 – with a 9:14 for that mile. Not bad. I just realized that my watch will tell me this w/o having to do a mental calculation. Cool. Or Doh. I was hoping to push that last mile down to 9:00. No go.

The 10K marker flashes by and for a brief moment I think I'm on target for a sub 2:00. Nope – 20K is 12.2 and we gots 13.1 to do here. Doh. The heat and lack of sleep really is getting to me.

Another water stop. The plastic cups are annoying – they crunch an awful lot under foot.

Mile 7 comes buy at 1:05:05 giving me a 9:16 for the leg. Not bad but still not enough. I try to dig but I can’t hold it. The lack of a good latch on pacer to target is making this a lot harder to hold. I find a pair to pace off of but I soon realize that they are drifting fast/slow. I revert back to my classic "eyes closed" running.

Mile 8 arrives at 1:14:24 giving me a 9:18. Not bad considering the rolling terrain. We got 2 hills to go – the Falls Bridge hill and the Art Museum hill. I try to hold it steady on the rise. Its good enough to pass a few more targets.

Mile 9 comes on the other side of the Bridge. The climb was a good opportunity to take out a few more targets – while others take me out. I’m often amazed at finding 10:00+ pacers this far into the race. How did they get up this far?? I take a 1:23:51 for a 9:26 pace. I guess that climb was worse than I thought. Durn. I got to start digging for 9:00 pace.

Mile 10 rolls in at 1:33:19 for an even slower 9:28. Not sure what went wrong here. There were some sections where it was hot and there was a water stop but I thought I paced through those OK. Wow and I thought I was working for a 9:00. This feels like the Marathon finish. Shorts are chaffing. They will be OK for the ½ bit not good for the full deal.

Mile 11 rolls in by our favorite turn around at 1:42:3 giving me a 9:18. Ok I’m back on pace as per before, but I’m not sure I can grab a 9:00 pace. Dunno what’s going on. It seems like on these longer races I can latch a pace but can do much to push it forward.

Mile 12 comes in at 1:51:58 for a 9:20. Huh. I KNOW I have been gunning for a 9:00 but it seems like things are in fact getting slower. I’ll try to push the pace up for the final hill and mile.

I hold the pace around the corner of Boat House row and stay on pace until. Then I try to start moving up. I vaguely hear another runner pacing my pickup on the right side of the course (I’m on the left) but everyone else seems to be on auto pilot. I start chopping past larger bunches of runners.

The top of the hill still has no 13 marker in sight but I sport the banner off in the distance and it seems the sprinter on the right has me matched. I take it in to the corral at as fast clip. I don’t get to my watch for a few seconds and it logged a 2:02:34. I’m not sure what it really was – I’ll wait for the official time.

I give up my chip, grab a water bottle and a medal and start gimping home. The marathons are going to be painful...

The left shoe seems a bit tight. Looks like new shoes for the marathon as well.
No back toe nail, but it is sore.

I hope it cools off soon.

Craig – PDR

I was looking forward to this race. It was my first PDR and on home turf so I was excited about it the last day or two. Based on my 1:04 at Broad St. and my improvement through marathon training this fall-I was shooting for 1:25 or slightly under. Had a big breakfast this morning-did 22 miles last Sunday, and about 40 miles this week total including the race, but I THOUGHT doing slower runs this week would help me-hold that thought.
I made it to the corral 5 min. before the gun, and I had enough room to breathe, b/c I was is in line for 20 MINUTES for the bathroom....this was a freaky concept being a dude and all.
I wanted to start between a 6:30-6:40 pace for the first several miles and take it from there. The first 5 miles or so were great. Center city is so cool to run through with no traffic-except people practically jogging who should have been farther back. Saw Jim at mile 4 giving a good cheer. At mile 5 I was 32:38, just over 6:30 pace-going great, felt fine and not out of breath at all.
Over West River Dr. I started to slow down a lot, and my splits were getting a lot worse, and I was losing focus quickly. I think half the time I wasn't even adding my splits right-i.e., how did I run that last mile in 9 min? My second power gel at mile 7 gave me a boost, but my legs were too fatigued to keep up.
I was scraping by on Kelly, and just wanted to get the damn thing over with. At mile 10, my time was 1:07 and change-3 min. slower than Broad St.! At this point this was just training run and not a race. Oddly enough-most people around me were also slowing down and doing shitty. At least I wasn't alone-hey, misery loves company. Over the last mile, Russ, Bike Mike, and Kev all passed me, giving words of encouragement in various ways as they did. My stomach cramped up really bad, and I dry-heaved past Lloyd hall, first time I did running that slow.
Towards the finish, I knew I was finishing close to...1:30! I was like fuck this-I'm least coming in under that time and sprinted it in the last 100m for a time of 1:29:46. Oddly, I wasn't even out of breath. Overall....my first 5K-20:10, last 5K-22:05, you get the idea.
Afterwards we hung out for a while, and found out most people had the best or worst race of their lives. I tried endurathon-the worst tasting shit I've ever had in my life-I'd rather drink lead paint laced with cyanide. Took half a bottle of water to get the taste out. It was good hanging out with the group and sharing stories and encouragement as usual
After most people left the area, stuff was still being given out-so Andy and I took full advantage of this. Grabbed about 6 or so Power Bars. Those things are good-and worth a chunk of change too. This was a great way to finish the morning.

Lessons learned:
-NEVER eat a big breakfast before a race
-Bring "accessories" to a race in case of long bathroom lines
-If stuck in the Sahara with a camel and endurathon-drink piss from the camel before resorting to the endurathon
-Stay till the crowd leaves, and pretend you're a looter from New Orleans when grabbing free stuff-you'll be compensated for the registration fee.

Most of all, this humbling experience has driven me to work my ass off even more the next several weeks. Almost anything good can come out of a bad race.

 

Craig -- Marine Corps. LBRR

My marathon was the tale of two races....one from miles 1-19 and the other from 20-26. You guess which one went better.
Ok, the weekend itself was fun. I was stoked for this since it was my first marathon. Myself, Tim, Ryan, Rachel and Dave had a really good time in DC, and had random conversations in the car...cool road trip shit. Ryan can really get going when he's bored.

My goal for this race was to do under 3:10, based on projections from other race times-and is conveniently the Boston marathon qualifying time.
The race... the first 2 miles were uphill, so Tim and I took them at 7:30-7:40 and saved up our energy. These were followed by a few gentle downhills...followed by a nice stroll over the Potomac into Georgetown, and Tim got ahead of me pretty quickly. I gallowalked for 1min./mile for the first six like I did in training, and was averaging 7:20 or so per mile, exactly where I wanted to be. After this, I kept up my pace of just over 7 min./mile and passed the 3:10 pace group at mile 11-perfect. This part of the course was cool since it went by all of the monuments, etc. I was hoping Dubya would draw my name out of a hat and appoint me to the Supreme Court. At the half I was at 1:34:35, so I made up for my lost time in gallo-minutes. Miles 15-20 did a loop around east Potomac Park, nice but not nearly as many crowds and the wind definitively picked up. Still, by mile 19 I figured with my current pace I was going to come in around 3:08-Boston baby!

Once I hit the 20 mile bridge, my heart and lungs still felt great, but my legs had a different agenda. They cramped up really bad all over and my pace dropped quickly. The 3:10 pace group jetted right past me, along with my chance to run Boston in the spring. Knowing I still had six miles left regardless, I started gallowalking again, doing this 2-3 times/mile. This helped a lot actually, and I was still able to keep an 8-9 min. pace for a couple of more miles. The cramping got worse though, and my legs buckled from time to time, but I kept going b/c 1-I was on a boring expressway and just wanted to get done, and 2-I wanted to finish with a decent time. My last 3.2 miles took me 40 min. to finish. Need I say more. I wasn't the only one walking either... so I guess the pavement was filled with Boston rejects. The last 0.2 was this uphill to the Iwo Jima monument, which was a baby hill compared to Caesar Rodney, but I barely made it up without stopping. My final time 3:20:44, which is still respectable for a first marathon despite the disgraceful finish.

Of course, this did not stop me from gorging on post-race food and hoarding energy bars, etc. We all hung out afterwards and talked about our races, and it was a good bonding experience as usual. Plus I got a cool medal and a decorative souvenir space blanket.

Ironically... I have this itch to sign up for another marathon in the spring, so I'll start looking in a couple of months.

 

Ryan -Marine Corps. LBRR

Like Craig and Tim I had a "rough" race, though unlike Craig and Tim I actually deserved to have such a bad race. 

As a backdrop, I signed up for the MCM some time back in the summer, somehow luckily stumbling onto it and registering before the field limit was hit. At the time, I was feeling pretty decent, as I had set PR’s at 5K, 10K and 10-mile and marathon distances earlier in the year. Of course after that half ironman and my other incident, my body got pretty banged up in the 4 weeks around Labor Day. So, between Labor Day and the MCM, I did about 45 miles of training in total, not per week like some other MCM’ers. But I wanted to run a large race so I still decided to do MCM. No training + marathon = let the fun begin.

Due to a variety of factors, mainly to a cell phone (that didn’t reset daylight savings time and yes this is a legitimate cell phone gripe) and a malfunctioning alarm clock, no one in our group got a good night’s sleep.  I’m guessing the average for the group was about 3 hours. Before the race, after Craig and Rachel left for the early wave of runners, I noticed that a recently injured toe had its toenail come completely off right before the race. No pain, but this really weirded-me-out about potentially issues during the race.

Like Craig, it really was a tale of two races. Given my "speed" I was seeded in the second and much larger Gold wave, about 35 minutes after the Scarlet wave where Craig, Tim and Rachel were. At the start, about 18,000 Gold wavers started, and it was a slow lumbering pace that even I felt was too slow. The first few miles were full of spectators, but do to the crowdedness it wasn’t really that fun because I was scared of being trampled or trampling others.  After about 4 miles, things began to thin out, and I was at about a 12 minute pace. I knew from prior races that I ran too fast at the beginning and died at the end, so running slower was an "ad-hoc" strategy, forced on me by the crowded start. At about mile 6 I was feeling good at about 12 minutes but decided to try and do a little faster; at this time I saw the buses coming around to collect slower runners as you are required to maintain a pace to "beat the bridge". This was the saddest thing I have ever seen in a race, knowing that a lot of people who trained were going to get collected by the buses before the bridge at mile 20. Anyways, I finished miles 7-12 at about 11:30, but a left Achilles twinge started so I knew that wouldn’t last. My mental goal at this time was try to get to mile 20 at 4 hours flat, a 12-minute pace.

The most surprising event of the day was seeing Deb H. in the crowd at both miles 13 and 15; I didn’t know anyone else from PR aside from our little group was going to be there and that was a nice surprise.  . My half-marathon pace was 2:34, which was only 10 minutes slower than my PDR time from September, but still below my 12-minute pace goal. But like everyone else from PR, the miles after 15 began to destroy me. I was able to hold my 12-minute pace until mile 17, at which point I basically lost the will to live. We were so close to the Potomac River, and I though how nice it would be to swim for a while.  Miles 18-20 were run at (get this) 18 minutes per mile, so of course that was mostly walking and limping versus running. Mile 20 I actually regained the will to live and finish, as I had "beaten the bridge." I began jogging for 1 minute and walking for 1 minute, as my body would allow. I hit mile 23 at 5:12 (according to ChampionChip, since all sense of time or space was lost on me by then). Ironically, miles 23-26.2 were run faster than miles 18-21, Hooray!!!!

As I approached the finish, Tim, Rachel and Craig were all cheering me on    since they had been finished for about 17 hours. They asked for a hi-5 but I said no as that would have required my to move 5 feet to the left and I felt that might kill me. I tried to smile as Rachel took some awful picture of me and finished on an about 20-degree incline 0.2 mile hill.

Thus I finished at:
10K—1:14:24 (Bad, but not too bad)
Half—2:34:06
23M—5:12:16 
Finish—6:05:17 (Someday Seebo, I will have even splits))

So, I finished this marathon, a new "personal worst" by 37 minutes. I felt guilty about making the PR crowd wait for me, but it sounded like everyone was experiencing "disappointing race syndrome" so it was all-good. I got my medal, had a fun experience, lost a toe nail and we were still able to meet the 5 o’clock hotel checkout time by about 30 seconds. And unless something amazing happens, I think this race KO’s any idea of running Philly and may end my 2005 running year; I think its time.

And I think the best part of this weekend, something Craig forgot to mention, was our post-race meal at "Five guys burger and fries" in suburban Baltimore. Best post-race meal EVER for me.

           

Also, special thanks to Dave, Rachel's boyfriend for driving us the whole weekend, I dedicate this LBRR (and all the emoticons you so vociferously hate) to you.

 

Rach -- Marine Corps. LBRR

So like everyone else I also had a disappointing race...

The weekend itself was great, and I really enjoyed the large race atmosphere... although from what Ryan says, if I had been in the second wave I might have been singing a different tune....

My goal pace was 4:00 as I ran a 4:04 in my first marathon in Philly last year. Had some great last training runs and I felt pretty good going into the race.

I started the race conservatively due to crowds and long tough hill that rose over two miles. I did some training on Lemon Hill for this, but it was still tough. First two miles were slow, then I settled in just under 9 minute miles. At mile 5, I met up with a girl who was also trying to run 4 hours and we ran together until Mile 17. I don't even remember her name. During Mile 16, I started to feel my legs hurting, and was feeling pretty bad. The girl I was running with was asked if I wanted her to talk me through it, and she gave me some encouragement. Unfortunately, all the encouragement in the world didn't take away the searing pain in my R calf and hamstring that hit at Mile 17. I felt mentally foggy also. I sent my running buddy on her way and wished her luck, and walked for my first time ever in a race. I went from 9 minute miles to ~13 min miles almost instantly, and at that point I was mentally defeated. Mile 17-~19 was pretty deserted, and I actually was worried about seriously injuring myself. There were no marathon staff in site, so I figured I might as well keep going cause I was going to get myself back to a more populated place anyway.... There were many moments I really wanted to quit, but I couldn't stand the thought of a DNF next to my name.

I walked at least a few minutes every half-mile or so, until I got to mile 25, and then I was so close that I ran the whole way in from that point b/c I just wanted the race to be over with. Somehow that last mile was a 10:15. Then I turned the corner at mile 26 and the last 0.2 was up a steep hill. I knew it was coming b/c we had checked our bags up the hill but when I saw it a "holy crap" slipped out anyway. I figured that I better just get it over with and I sprinted up the hill as fast as I could, determined to at least have a strong finish even if my race didn't go so well.

Came in at 4:28...still decent considering my muscular and mental defeat out on the course.

I unfortunately had to work 2-12 hour shifts at work on Mon and Tues, and I have affectionately become known at work as gimpy, as I have a very noticeable right limp... still in a lot of pain, but I am glad I stuck it out and finished.

 

Steve G. -- Ben Franklin Bridge Challenge

I'll provide a little more detail about the race. Wonderful morning to run: nice and cool. It was a big crowd, a total of 2200 runners and walkers. Having the entire BFB to run on was very nice (although some of the large expansion joints were tricky). We were "escorted" to the start, since we had to go through an access tunnel to get onto the bridge.

My goal was to run this 10K in about 42:00 - not a PR time, but respectable based on my racing history of the past 2 months. Started out nicely, but with far too many people ahead of me. The good thing was that most people darted left towards the concrete divider; I went right to get around some of the slower people. John passed me just after Mile 1 (I think it was around there) and just kept going.

I saw the leaders on their way back (the turn was about Mile 1.5 or so), and was curious as to how far ahead of me they were. I hit the turn about 1:45 after I saw them - so about 3 1/2 minutes in 1.5 miles (only now do I realize how depressing that is).

After making the turn, I gained some distance back on some people who had passed me on the downhill portion of the bridge. Either they slowed down on the uphill, or I was working too hard; not really sure which. Hit Mile 3 in about 20:00, and I was feeling pretty good.

Coming off the BFB, the rest of the course was pancake-flat. Lots of turns through various parts of Camden. Nice view of the Tweeter Center side and garbage (Dumpsters were scenery on the course). We had a variety of surfaces to run on: blacktop, brick, grass/dirt, and gravel. Right around Mile 5, I was having some issues with another runner who displayed a complete lack of courtesy by cutting me off during the turns. There was ample room to not need to cut me off - apparently she thought she could work the angles and I almost stepped on her one time. As you might guess, I got rather aggravated by this and had to pass her shortly thereafter. My only thought was that I'll drain the tank if I have to in order to sprint past her at the line. But that never came - I passed with about 1/2 mile to go, and finished with a few seconds cushion on either side of me.

Official time was 42:08; my unofficial time was 42:04. Either way, I am rather pleased with the run. I do recommend it for those not running the NYC Marathon next year. Unless if you want to win prizes. The winning time this year was under 30:00.

 

Anglonymous -New York Marathon LBRRs

I failed to hook up with any of the other Philly Runners before the race. Instead I decided to cash in my free pasta dinner coupon at the NYC marathon pasta party near Tavern on the Green. This event was incredibly well organized. The lines were long but very fast moving. The atmosphere inside was electric. Folk from all over the world totally wired about the marathon. I’d certainly recommend it for PRs running NYC in 2006. According to my split watch it only took me 15 minutes to get from the end of the line on Central Park Ave, to the food. There was plenty of really good pasta... and even a free Coors Light (yummy). Normally I wouldn’t drink Coors, because it’s almost like water; normally I wouldn’t drink beer before a marathon... but since it was Coors I figured it was OK. So after devouring my pasta in about 30 minutes, grabbing an ice cream and a few apples on the way out, I headed back to my hotel to rest up.

My goal was to run this race in 4hrs, at steady 9 minute pace. I was tempted to try something faster. I managed 8:30 pace over 20 miles in training. But I knew the course, and I knew those extra 6.2 miles really make the difference.

My past three marathons had also taught me that training is only one component of running a successful marathon. It is equally important to have a plan that is within your capabilities, and stick to it. I suppose this is what might be called mental discipline. The other major component is nutrition, salt balance and hydration level. Before and especially, during the marathon. In addition to the eating plenty of pasta the night before, staying off the beer, I’d finally realized, after my 3rdmarathon, that adequate and appropriate salt intake is a must. So during my long training runs, I’d experimented with various salt and sugar containing energy drinks. I found they really helped (derr!). So I started the NYC marathon with two 20 fl oz bottles of Gatorade. Carrying my own turned out to be a great way of avoiding the chaos of the water stops.

I decided to run with the 4 hour pace group. There were about 50 of us in the beginning. I’ll spare you guys the mile by mile split analysis. I ran a steady 9-minute pace almost the entire race. Thanks in large part to the leader and other members of the 4 hr pace group that I ran with. Running with the pace group really proved to be powerful mental boost for me. It also stopped me from overrunning. At times the pace felt incredibly slow. So I focused on lengthening and smoothing out my stride. Keeping it as fluid and as a light as possible. Running with the pace group also allowed me to really enjoy the atmosphere... at times it really felt like we were in a parade.

We started on the lower deck of the Verrazano (the green start). Most people prefer the upper deck because of the views. But I figured that there was at least a 30-foot difference in elevation between the two levels, and I was going to take any advantage I could. It was foggy and in the mid 50s as we started. As we headed into Brooklyn the fog cleared and the sun came out. The temperature kicked into the mid 60s. Still a nice temperature to run in. Brooklyn and Queens all merged into one. The first 10 miles clicked by very quickly. The only problem I had in this section, and actually throughout the entire course were the sheer number and density of runners. The race was just too darn crowded. Seemed like there were more people than last year.

The experience of having run this course before, in 2005, really paid off. I knew what to expect, and could compare how I felt at each stage to how I felt last year. As we approached the Pulaski Bridge at mile 13 I still felt great. I remember joking to the others in our group, that the Pulaski was the "teaser bridge" for the Queensborough’. Getting over it was much easier than last year. As we headed into Queens we kept up a steady pace despite the numerous twists and turns on this part of the course. Before I knew it we were making a left into the Queensborough Bridge. All I know is that last year I walked most of this monster. This year it really wasn’t a problem. Though it did still seem incredibly long. But I was looking forward to the roar of the crowd as entered Manhattan. The crowd seemed even louder this year. Perhaps because we were clearly visible as the "4 hour pace group" or perhaps because we were the green group: The just erupted as we came off the bridge. I remember the crowd looked like a sea of green. Must have been an Irish contingent. All wearing green hats and holding green balloons. I think they might have mistaken the 4 hr pace group as Irish runners... the marker balloons for our group were green!! I remember running alongside the crowd with the pace leader. She was holding her green and white pace group balloons, aloft. I had my arms outstretched above me. As we ran past the crowd the screaming was intense. It was only during the run North down 1st Avenue that I realized I was in a marathon. Now into mile 17, I could feel some stiffness starting to work into my legs. At this point I figured I’d enough Gatorade and switched to water. The change felt very refreshing. This section seemed longer than last year. As we crossed the bridge into the Bronx we almost came to a standstill. The bridge is narrow, too narrow for the crowds. Fortunately, it’s a short bridge so the delay did not lose us too much time. After a mile or so in the Bronx we headed back into Manhattan. Miles 21, 22 and 23, clicked away pretty quickly. The temperature was now in the low 70s but I still felt OK. At mile 23 we were about a minute ahead of our 4 hr goal. A nice margin to have at this point, but one that could easily slip away if you pushed to hard, too early. I started to pick up the pace at mile 24. But didn’t do much better than an 8:50 pace (still about 2 minutes faster than my pace at this point last year! The toughest mile was the 26th mile. It seemed to go on forever. Finally with half a mile to go, I managed a little bit of acceleration. At the 400 yard point in Central Park, I imagined I was at the 1/4 mile mark in front of boat house row, and just kicked in with everything I had for a 3:58:28 chip time finish. At the finish, I turned and waited for the rest of the pace group...and especially so that I could thank the pace group leader... oh yeah her name was Cathy... for doing such a great job. As a final gesture of thanks I organized a round of applause for her from the group and the crowd. What a great end to a great race and a great day!! And now for London 2006. I hope.

 

Ed W--NYC Marathon LBRR

The story this year starts a few weeks BEFORE the race.

First was a disappointing start to the racing fall season.
There was that rather slooo PDR run.
I haven’t runt he PDR in ages because it conflicts with the City to Shore ride, but this year they were on separate weekends (but I couldn’t run the Pfaltz Point trail run in the Gunks this year – sigh).
The race under the new start had me NOT cracking the 2-hour time for the first time in a long time. This was not a good sign.
The City to Shore ride was marked by a constant feeling that I was struggling the entire time.
Then there was the Move.
We lost the leas to our apartment and we were in the scramble to find new housing.
So we ended up buying a place – more stress.

About two weeks prior to the NYC I came down with a nasty cold/flu/sumpthin or other.
Ugh.
My training runs on Tuesday Nights in October were marked by infrequent and if I did show - late appearance and a short run with the Philly Runners (bear in mind that I run 2.5 or so miles to GET to the Art Museum start).

So on the Thursday before the NYC I was giving some serious consideration to deferring my NYC till next year.
Since SEPTA was on strike I decided to take the infamous Chinatown Buses in to the City to get my number - $20 for a round trip!
While deciding what to do my wife mentioned that if I was in fact too sick to unpack boxes at the house that I was also too sick to run a Marathon. Uh oh.
I got to NYC and decided that I would grab my number and get back to Philly and then spend the rest of the night unpacking / working on the chaos that occurs when moving to a SMALLER space than one previously lived in.
I work at WRSU-FM on Saturdays, so that meant that with a 6am wake up, I didn’t get much sleep Fri Night (I did get the cabinets up in the Garage and stuff unpacked / moved around).
After my radio show I dropped off stuff at my parents in NJ (you’ll understand the logistics in a bit).
My Parents hadn’t seen Kathy in a while so it was off to a late lunch (Dim Sum).
Then we went off to Greenwich CT to stay at Kathy’s cousin’s house.
Dinner was at a Japanese Sushi place. Hmmm not exactly a typical Carbo-load dinner eh?

At 4am I woke up and tried to quietly putter around an unfamiliar kitchen.
I ended up making coffee from the small bag of grounds I had – WOAH – coffee jitters! (note self – when you tell everyone that this small bag of grounds is good enough for 2 pots of coffee it does NOT mean you drink it all in 16oz of water....)
I couldn’t eat my breakfast (a ham and salami sandwich) so I ate a few bites and took the rest with me. I did manage to grab 2 bananas to take with me as well.

As I walked outside it was pea soup. The ground was soaked. No need to get to the park early to sit in the wet grass.
At 5am there are a large number of ummm "impaired" drivers out on 95 and the Henry Hudson (aka 9A).
After driving around the blocks I realized that the Sunday Rules were opened up again and I was able to get a street spot on 71st off Amsterdam Ave. Cool. Not far from the finish. I did a last minute inventor of what I needed. I decided to wear the heavy Books Beasts instead of the lightweight Asics Trainers that I had gotten special for the Marathon.
Then it was cell phone tag time. I raised Mitch on the phone, and got Kathleen’s number. Mitch was picking up Kathleen. Since I was still uptown, he would swing by me and then we would share a cab. Mitch found a good spot at 73rd on Amsterdam. It’s hard to street park a Suburban in NYC!

So we get in a cab and zip to the Library for the busses to the start. It’s the usual zoo.
Having been through this before I’m not too concerned with the time.
The bus we got dint have a rest room. Oh oh.
The ride out has the usual festivities. It was someone’s B-Day so the bus sang Happy B-Day. There were a few "shirts" being passed around for signatures. I sat next to I guy from Italy. It was his 4th NYC ("quattro!")

I still couldn’t eat my sandwich, so I managed to eat two bananas.

This year we got stuck on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. I guess they wanted the bridge clear for the wheel chair starters? We did get to see a few vans of what appeared to be the women’s elite starters go by. The bridge was shrouded in fog. So this year we didn’t get to see any exciting Coast Guard interceptions of boats on the water. You could barley see the water from the bus.

The weather was waay warm. I didn’t bother with any "break down" clothing (aka windbreaker). I knew from last year’s heat that this race wasn’t going to require anything at all.

I was amazed at the number of people wearing tights and long sleeves, vests and throwaway clothing. Maybe I just have an abundance of power fat?

I tried once again to eat my sandwich. Then I just gave up as it was getting too close to start time to eat that much.

Once again there were changes to the corral system – but this year I think they got things working better. So we could all run together we jumped into the Orange start with Kathleen.

We got to the corral and then marched off and were crowded at the foot of the bridge for the National Anthem and the gun.

I got to the start at about 3 minuets. That’s one of my better NYC starts!

This year was the sleep waking Marathon. I never really felt like I was awake the entire race... hmmm.

Mile 1 is on the bridge and the bridge was very bouncy this year. I managed a very crowd constrained 11:22.

This year I was marking miles but NOT watching my watch. I looked at the times and sort of noted them but I really was running to survive. There was a reach target goal of 4:45 and a real target goal of a sub 5 hour. So I was going to enjoy the day and listen to my body.

As usual the first pit stop was the dump trucks blocking the ramp to the bridge at the Brooklyn side.

Into Brooklyn and mile two with a 10:55 split. The crowds are out in force and of course yer feeling fine.
We take on Water and Gatorade and already I can feel the heat. It's gonna be a tough one.

Mile 3 rolls by at 10:41 and mile 4 at 10:32.
I’m not following the clock – I’m just enjoying the parade.
There are tons of people and bands and its party time!
It strange – but perhaps because if the coffee I'm feeling ravenous. I start on Cliff bar #1.

Miles 5 and 6 roll by at 10:30 and 10:37.
Our target is 11min miles but since I'm not watching the clock I don’t realize until Monday that our pace was "too fast". I did make a mental note that it felt kinda ahead of schedule but I didn’t say anything to Mitch or Kathleen at the time.

Miles 7 and 8 roll by 10:09 and 11:11
This year there was only ONE "marathon" billboard that I saw. It was for Tylenol. "The last .2 miles is all you" or something like that.
There’s a new landmark to the right of the clock tower. Mitch explains that it’s full of big box stores (aka Target)
I made a pit stop just before mile 8 hence the slow time for that mile.
I mentioned to Kathleen and Mitch that I'd catch em later. I never see em again.
We had been playing catch up at the water stops as we didn’t all want Gatorade / water at every stop. I’d been taking on about 2 gulps of Gatorade and 2 of water at each stop. I knew from last year that I needed to do that.

At Lafayette and Oxford I stopped to say hi to Kathy and Robert who were running race support. I got some Gatorade in a small 6oz bottle and a spare cliff bar.
Mile 9 comes up with a 10:52 and I recall that in my "worst" NYC marathon I got to this down hill and I was already struggling. This year I feel fine.
Mile 10 rolls up with a 10:13
The Hassidic neighborhoods are an interesting contrast to the hipsterville that is the Polish neighborhoods. Every time I pass a "Barbie" going I get really hungry. I dunno why.
Mile 11 and 12 roll by at 11:11 and 10:27
There is a hill on Bedford Ave that isn’t steep but it seems to take a lot out of me. Someone trips over the welded plates at the top of the "overpass" but doesn’t fall all the way.

After the 20K mark the half way point is visible – the Pulaski(?) Bridge. Ah the promised land – its half way over and the real fun is about to begin.
Mile 13 comes in at 10:40 and we are on to the bridge. In past years I recall walking this bridge. I’m not moving fast but I’m rolling along. In still in some sort of trance. I'm not occupying my mind with anything (like working on a project designing something) I just seem to be "in the moment" and running. I’m noting that unlike past years there seems to be a core of 20-30 runners who I seem to be pacing with. They are not all around all the time – but they seem to be at my speed.

Mile 14 comes in at 10:45 and there are changes in the gritty industrial neighborhoods. I note that one block that was particularly bleak is now full of Sihk(?) car service places or car repair shops. There’s someone on a lawn chair playing a squeezebox. This race is so cool.

Mile 15 comes in at 11:06
There used to be a run down building on this corner with a "punk rock" crew banging away on trash can lids. Now there is a hole in the ground and cranes. NYC is changing.
So we get on the 59th Street Bridge. I note that IMHO its one ugly bridge. I mean it has form and function but that "suspension bridge built out of solid erector set bars with Granite pseudo members" just looks well – too busy.
The road way is steep and I’ having lots of trouble working my way through the walkers. I try to be nice – that was me long ago.
No more ice stop at the top of the bridge.

There’s construction on the bridge and at one point there is a full "tunnel" ya have to run through. With sunglasses on it's pitch dark. I pray that there are no potholes.

Mile 16 comes up at 11:40 and then the fun really begins. The roar of the crowd carries up the bridge and I point out to a few runners what I saw on a billboard long ago – THIS is what the NYC marathon is all about!

I round the bottom of the ramp and duck into the aid station that’s there. I decide to get some Ben Gay on my knees. They aren’t too bad but I decide to do some preventative application of Icy Hot. The EMT there is very talkative. I guess he was trying to make sure I was conscious etc. I rubbed some Icy Hot on my kneecaps and I'm off on the best mile in running. Period.
Coming out from under the bridge I take out the camera phone and snap some pics. There really is NOTHING like this mile!

I meet Kathy and Robert again at 72nd. I get some more Gatorade and down one whole 6oz bottle and grab another to carry along. It seems that it was perfect timing as they had grabbed a quick bite and then made it to the sidewalk about 2 min before I arrived. There is a woman who is cheering for me next to them (I had written Ed on my leg).

Mile 17 passes with a 12:29 due to the stop.
The adrenaline carries me to mile 18 with a 10:52
Now it starts to get HARD. There is an uphill here.
It takes its tool.
I don’t feel terrible but the mental toll is grinding. I’ve got this constant nagging hunger pang going on. Sucking on my Cliff bar (1/2 way through #2) doesn’t seem to help it much.
Mile 19 comes with an 11:34
I'm not watching the clock so I don’t realize that I’m slowing.
Also my brain is off because I’m recalling the OLD course – when Mile 19 was closer to the Willis Ave Bridge.
Finally the Willis Ave Bridge comes into view. I manage to keep running up the bridge.
It's hard as there are now numerous "walkers" on the course. The grating is covered with a soft "scrubbie" mesh foam thingy. It's way comfy on the feet. A few runners stumble hard on the grating. A bagpipe band marches down the other side of the bridge.
Mile 20 is on the bridge at a 12:28.
As a post race analysis – I must have really been struggling.
Down the bridge and through the Bronx, I manage to keep things moving as I can start counting DOWN now.
Mile 21 splits in at 12:10
It’s now a flat land cruise through an improving Harlem
Mile 22 flies by at 11:51
Mile 23 seems to take forever and my splits show it. 12:38 to get through to Central Park. There was at least one "walk through the water stop" to get here. But the real trouble starts. The hill climb up 5th to the 90th street entrance to the park. The hill takes a lot out of ya.
Mile 24 clocks in at an agonizingly slow 12:48
I start looking for Kathy and Robert again in the park.
I see the woman who was standing in front of Kathy at the 72nd street stop who yells "Go Ed" for me. I’m rolling at a good clip as I can TASTE the finish. I wont make a 4:45 but it will be sub 5:00 on the gun time if I hustle.
I spot Kathy and stop to confer about where to meet for the finish. Since the W family re-union is so far down we agree to meet on 71st.
Mile 25 clocks in at 12:19 so you know I'm picking it up.
After Mile 25 there is now a 1 mile to go sign.
I cut the corner onto Central Park South and the crowds are packed. I start lopping off groups of slow plodders as I know I can suffer for a little while. Still the ½ mile to go sign seems to have taken a long time to get there. It's slightly uphill as I work my way through the pack. Finally I pick the far left and run along the barge boards. I presume the crowd digs it. Around Columbus circle and into the park. The sighs continue – 400m. 300m. The road winds around and it's hard to make out where the finish is. There’s a tantalizing down hill and the final up hill to the chutes.
Mile 26 clocks in at 10:58
And I manage a decent finish at 4:55 on my watch and 4:58 on the gun.

The NYRRC did a great job of improving the finish chutes. The chip removal is far back so that the chutes are clogged up. The walk is just as long but not clogged up with the baggage trucks.

 

Ian -- NYC Marathon

About a week ago, I get a call from the Achilles Track Club. They take care of Athletes With Disabilities for the New York Marathon. They have a blind guy coming in from Mongolia wanting to run the race and in need of a guide. I say absolutely.

They can't tell me much about Jambal. They don't know if he speaks English. I try to learn some Mongolian, but all anybody seems to want to tell you how to say is 'What is a game to a cat is death to a mouse.' Also, 'God Bless You and May Your Moustache Grow Like Brushwood' seems important in the Mongolian language.

I don't have any idea how this is going to work. I look up information about how to guide blind runners. Some use a tether, some don't. I run with my friend Alex and he offers to run with his eyes closed as a rehearsal. I look over at him and just let him run off the path into a pile of leaves and branches because it's more hilarious that way. I am the wrong person for this.

I'm told Jambal wants to run three hours flat. That's no walk in the park. I've run faster. But I bet Jambal hasn't spent the last three weeks drinking gin and tonics like they're mother's milk, cause I bet Jambal didn't swear he was done with running forever until he got a phone call from the Achilles Track Club. If only he wanted me to guide him to the cheapest Pabst Blue Ribbon in the city.

I go to New York on Saturday morning. Jambal's staying in some hotel on West 43rd Street, Room 400. My friend Leo has asked if Jambal is rich--how else could you go from country to country running marathons and enlisting the help of guides? On Saturday I get to Jambal's hotel, and it's a dump, and Leo's question is answered. At the top of his door, somebody's spray-painted "POOP." I think, "it's a good thing Jambal is blind."

I knock on the door to Poop 400, and Jambal's sister Jambal lets me in. Apparently Jambal is the last name, but he goes by it, maybe because his first name is impossible. It is all Ls, Ks, and Hs. There's also an A, but it's silent. She leads me in, where Jambal is sitting on the bed. He's wearing red bikini briefs and nothing else. He pats the bed for me to sit next to him. He speaks almost no English. He says 'hello.' I say 'what is a game to a cat is death to a mouse.' He is immediately likeable, all smiles and laughs.

He wants to show me the tether, which he's deposited in the drawer beside the bed. He ransacks the drawer with his hand, groping for the tether among, apparently, every last one of his other belongings. I notice that there's a giant butcher's knife in the drawer. He is going to cut his hand off looking for the damn tether. He finds it at last, and wants to practice running with it down the hall. I don't know how to say 'dude, you're wearing red bikini briefs and nothing else' in Mongolian. It wouldn't bother him if everyone were naked, so why should it bother me if he's showing it all? He seems to remember just as we get to the door, and throws some pants on.

Until this point, I have believed I was adequately prepared for just how bizarre and difficult this would be. But I am not even close. Running with a blind Mongolian on a tether will be like carrying a football for 26 miles at sub 7 pace, crooked arm and all. I need a gin and tonic.

Race day I wake up early and shuffle to the subway. There are plenty of weary runners, each headed out for their own adventure. I think to myself, 'time to go to work.' I have no choice in this one; I cannot be a variable. I find Steve, Jambal's other guide and a buddy of mine from Philly, at the Achilles pick-up spot. Steve and I are wearing the official red guide shirts, though his is of some space-age fabric and mine is burlap. Jambal is late, and they tell us there is an 8-hour marathoner in need of guides in case Jambal bails. He and his sister finally show; I am relieved and terrified.

On the ride to the race, Jambal points up and asks 'nice?' He wants to know if it's a beautiful day, whatever that means. It is. Steve and I make attempts at conversation with varying degrees of failure. I'm surprised how visual Jambal's sense of humor is--he does so much pantomiming and pratfalling when words don't work. At the staging area, Steve and I get some practice guiding him through the anxious throngs. He seems to respond to "step" by lifting his legs higher and then tapping for the ground, and 'left' seems to work better than 'right.'

At the start, Jambal quietly sings to himself. Steve worries about having to pee. I pee in a bottle tucked up my shorts. The cannon fires and we're off. It's all the normal chaos and stopping and starting. We're on either side of Jambal--he doesn't want to use the tether yet--guiding him to open spots. Steve has the presence of mind to surge ahead and kick bottles and garbage bags out of Jambal's path. I quickly realize I have no idea what I am doing. I think Steve thinks the same thing, but I don't ask. He's first to figure that this business is as much about guiding the rest of the runners as it is about moving Jambal. "Blind runner coming through!" "Blind runner on your right." We make attempts at this in Spanish, German, Italian. I have Japanese at the ready--this is much like navigating the Tokyo subways--but it never becomes necessary. Most people move with good intentions either in or out of Jambal's way and cheer him on as he passes. One guy tells me as we pass "I'm holding my own fucking line here." He has a point. Stepping to the side for a second is going to cost him 4,000th place.

Running a marathon is all about finding a rhythm and letting the rhythm take over. I start to do this naturally and realize I will kill Jambal if I lose myself. The way to guide is to constantly resist rhythm and focus on seeing everything. My body is in two parts: legs moving below me, and brain taking care of Jambal. I am a weird bifurcated self. This dual existence is so taxing; I am scared I can't do it for two more hours. I am so grateful for Steve.

I'm surprised at the things Jambal knows. About ten yards from the 5k mark, he asks "five kilometers?" He's just sensed it, I guess. I'm surprised too at what he can't perceive. He can't tell whether the going is getting tougher because he's tired or he's on a hill. Several times, his face betrays the slightest struggle, and I tell him 'up up up,' and he is relieved. Later, when he gets tired, he will ask 'up?' when we are on the flat.

We fly. We cross halfway in about 1:32. I sense that we're going to come back slower, but who knows. On the Pulaski Bridge, I say 'up up up...Pulaski Bridge.' He says 'Queensbridge?' referring to a landmark two miles in our future. "No, Jambal. Not Yet."

In Manhattan, the tether comes out. I try to swing my arm in rhythm with Jambal, but it's useless. I can't run normally--rather than perpendicular to the direction we're running, my torso is 10 or 20 degrees toward Jambal. After a mile or so, he hands the rope over to Steve, and I think I've been doing it wrong. I think he just wanted to wear out his arms evenly, though.

Jambal has hit the wall. I think of my dad running this in 1981. He said the winds were strong enough that day to blow the carpet off of the metal lattice that is the bridge into the Bronx, and how having to run on the spiny metal really hurt his feet. I think how difficult it must be for Jambal, who must rely much more on touch than us, in this endeavor that is ultimately about pain. I concentrate on the ground beneath our feet as we pass into the Bronx. The carpet feels like a cloud.

I stop to make a sign: JAMBAL. Steve and I take turns holding it above our heads, and all of New York is Jambal's. His name is suddenly everywhere. I worry that he doesn't know why people suddenly know him, that the cheers are more confusing than encouraging, but I think I see a little smile on his otherwise stony face, so we keep at it. Whatever is going on, he's speeding up. We pass a park in Harlem, and maybe Jambal smells the trees? He says "Central Park?" This would mean only two miles to go. "No, Jambal. Not Yet."

We close in on the finish. Steve tries hard to encourage Jambal. We make the turn onto the finishing stretch. I am for the first time sad for Jambal, that he will never know the joy of seeing the finish line. His satisfaction is all the same though as we cross and the three of us collapse into one another. Jambal howls. Steve gets him water. I don't know if he's happy or not.

We hang out a little bit at the finish in the Achilles tent. We say our awkward and exhausted goodbyes. All of the sudden none of us speak enough English to express what we've just been through. My friend Matt comes to get me and we walk home through the throngs. I keep directing Matt and pushing other people out of the way. I can't shake the guide mindset. We take our turns wide. I point out potholes. I am not yet sore, but I will be. I have little cuts all over my body. There is a cut on my clavicle that still bleeds intermittently as I write this two days later. The inside of my skull feels scraped clean; I have concentrated for four hours and have nothing left.

At four or so I make it to Union Square, where I'm meeting my very pregnant ex-girlfriend Edith. She's ten days from her due date and the baby has settled lower in her belly. She is exhausted, and beautiful. We sit and talk, and we're both thinking about who should walk who home; I am hobbled from the race and she's full enough of baby that she's not exactly spry herself. The negotiation ends up being more about who's condition comes from greater valor, and we both silently figure being pregnant is bigger than running a marathon, so I walk her home. She asks me how I feel. I'm surprised that more than anything, I'm sad. Jambal has been my life for a week, and now it's over.

 

Goat --NYC Marathon

Wow... I am not sure exactly what to say about my first marathon. The first and most prominent thought that comes into my head is to echo Laura G's comment about how amazing it is that so many people in our group have even finished a marathon. After reading the message board and attending the PR runs, it almost seems commonplace for someone to finish a marathon... but after running my first, I have realized that finishing a marathon is anything but common. Perhaps if I trained more diligently, or if I had prepared better in the week leading up to the race, my time would have been better, but I wouldn't have felt the accomplishment I feel now.

the start of the race went pretty much how I expected. It was crowded, there were people peeing everywhere, and I couldn't get enough room to just run and had to focus a lot of energy on not killing anybody. As E. Mike mentioned, the bouncing of the bridge was quite creepy and I noticed my self shortening and quickening my stride, in an attempt to get away from the natural frequency of the bridge, thus single-handedly averting total structural failure of the bridge (ala Tacoma Narrows). I have no idea what my splits were for any of the miles, but I know after the first 5 miles I was pretty much on pace. And by on pace I meant around 9 minute miles, which is about the pace of my long, training runs. I think around mile 5, I caught a glimpse of E. Mike, and I tried to make my way towards him to pace with him, but I couldn't make my way through the crowds and lost track of him.

At around mile 8 I saw my girlfriend and two college friends who were traveling around the city cheering for me. It brought a smile to my face to know that they were hopping all over the city to see me run. Up until this point, things were going well, my stomach felt great (which has always been a concern for me), I was on pace, and things were looking good. Shortly after that, my lower calves started tightening up, immediately followed by intense pain in both my lower calves and my arches. I am not quite sure the cause of the pain, but it stayed with me the entire race. Sadly, this new calf pain, swamped out the general, comfortable, soothing soreness in my right ankle I have been dealing with for 5 months or so. Because of the tightness, it seemed I was landing on my toes, which seemed to make the tightness and pain worse, which made me land on my toes more, which made the tightness worse....

I knew once the pain set in that there was no chance at keeping a 9 min pace the entire race. I figured... I would try to keep up running until the halfway point and figure out a new strategy then. The strategy turned out to be approximately this. At every mile marker, I would walk approximately one minute... then run anywhere between 5-10 minutes... and then walk again when I wanted to. by this point in the race, I just wanted to get to the finish line to get a marathon under my belt. One thing that has never happened to me in a race was that I got really hungry. This could be a result of the later race start than I am used to or the length of the race, but after the halfway point, I basically grabbed as much food as I could. Twizzlers, bagels, gels, anything I could get my grubby mitts on I ate. I saw a tin can... but passed on it because i don't think it had any sugar in it...

I saw my cheering section again at mile 15. I stopped showed them some love and my butt, and then moved on. Each of the last 11 miles was a race by itself. I was doing my best to run to the mile marker, walk to regroup, and then start the next mile race. this worked and got me to the finish. the walk to the family reunion area seemed like another marathon, because all I wanted to do when I was finished was give them all sweet, salty hugs and say thanks. who knows if I am going to do another marathon... everybody keeps telling me I will, but I am not too certain I will. I am not sure I have commitment to training/motivation that is required to prepare for a race over a half marathon. who knows... I have been wrong in the past.

 

Dave C. -- NYC Marathon

I was able to finish the NYC marathon, which was my goal. I had been fighting the IT Band issues in the last few weeks up to the race. I essentially took the last 3 weeks off and was doing physical therapy for the last 2 before the race.

I got hooked up with an FDNY friend of mine before the race. The FDNY and NYPD know how to do the race in style. We all met up at a hotel by central park and filed into a bunch of buses and got a police escort over to Staten Island. We had our own private park to hang out before the race with food and our own set of port-a-potty's. Then rather than having to line up in our corrals, we got to start right at the front, behind the elite men. I was about 20 yards from the start line when the cannon went off.

I was planning on running slow (~12 min/mile) to hold off any knee pain as long as I could. That only lasted until after the Verrazano Bridge, then the pain began. I thought about stopping but I couldn't since it was too soon to do that. Once I made the first turn into Brooklyn and saw and heard the crowd and band playing I got a rush of adrenaline that kept me going. The pain was consistent and bothersome but didn't get worse. I decided to continue as long as I could. I stopped to use the facilities at one point and realized that it was more painful to walk than to run, so that also kept me going. I broke the race up into segments after that so as not to feel too intimidated by the fact of having to run 24 miles in pain. First one was to get to my family members at mile 8, next was the halfway point at the end of Brooklyn. I was at 2hrs and 30 min then, so breaking 5 hrs became the goal. Then came the short segment in Queens followed by the grand entrance into Manhattan at the 59th St. Bridge. That was amazing. The family was at 84th St around mile 17. Once I got there I realized that I had to go all the way out of Manhattan and back and it was kind of depressing. I hit the wall at around mile 20 or so and the pace slowed considerably (but I never stopped and walked). The stretch at the top of Manhattan and the Bronx was really tough. Once I got into the park I felt much better - around mile 23. Saw the family again at mile 24 and coasted in the rest of the way. I put in a finishing kick and did the last mile in about 9 minutes.

Finishing time: 5hrs 23 min
(First marathon)

I was pretty sore all last week. I've been off the painkillers since this Sunday and am just about back to normal. I'm going to keep resting the knees for a little while longer before I start running again though. They have been through a lot.

Nice job to all the PR's finishing the marathon. Good luck to all running Philly this weekend.

 

Kevin F -- Athens Marathon

Thurs Nov 3rd

Ironic really that my historic journey to Athens should begin on Nov 3rd,that was the date of my debut marathon 20 years ago in Harrow Middlesex, just outside of London which was the whole point of flying 5,000 miles to run this marathon. Where better to celebrate your 20th anniversary of marathon running than the birthplace of marathon running itself?

Any week leading up to a marathon is a tense one for me. In my line of work I’m always concerned if I zig when I should zag I’ll injure myself. You can imagine my horror at Septa’s decision to go on strike on Monday. I ended up walking the 6 1/2 miles to work on Monday and then home again. I needed this like I needed a hole in the head but help was at hand, my good friend and mentor Tony D offered to give me cab fare to and from work which I humbly accepted for Tuesday and Wednesday. More importantly he offered me a ride to the airport and agreed to pick me up on Monday, which was another issue to cross off my list.

Having crammed everything into my carry on bag I took my seat on the London-bound flight from Philly, an extra $100 had earned me an upgrade to World Traveler class which basically was an extra 7'' of leg room, another pre-race concern taken care of, along w/ an isle seat. So far so good.

I didn’t sleep on the plane. I tried thinking of sleep inducing things....the political speeches of Margaret Thatcher which would and should sent the most extreme insomniac into zzzzzzzzzzzzz. No such luck!!

Friday Nov 4th

W/ the narrowest of time frames to catch my connecting flight at Heathrow it was w/ untold joy that we touched down at 6.40am, no problems getting over to Terminal 4 for my 8.15 am flight to Athens right?

The fact the plane then sat for 15 mins a mere 400m from where we needed to taxi to in order to exit the plane did not sit well w/ me and lead to a hustle of biblical proportions once I departed the plane, remarkably despite not getting off the plane till just after 7.00am I was over to Terminal 4 by 7.25am, 50 mins b4 take off. Several "pardon me, excuse me" and "Athens bound marathon runner coming through" and one "MOVE IT" to one of life’s slower flight bound passengers who deemed to obstruct my path had helped me get to the gate on time and warranted a Coke in celebration since all the coffee joints were all the way back at Terminal 1.

Another isle seat on this much shorter flight and a few brief moments of sleep b4 hearing we were descending to land in Athens. My first sight of Athens through the plane window leads me to think "is it all this hilly?" - a sentiment shared by fellow members of the tour group who were also on the same plane.

The taxi ride into Athens give me the chance to get to know both Bryan and Jacki, who’d flown from Florida to run Athens. Over the next three days we became good friends and have swapped a few emails since the marathon.

Just b4 arriving at the hotel we passed Panathinaikon Stadium where the marathon would finish and my mind wandered back to both Olympic marathons last summer, providing I got it right on Sunday I too would finish in the very stadium where the likes of Baldini, Kastor, Tergat and company had finished.

After checking into what was truly a luxury hotel the Royal Olympic I checked my messages to discover one from my big sister Lynn who along w/ my mother Eileen had arrived in Athens the day b4 and were staying less than 200m away at the Athens Gate hotel.

 

Despite the fact I’m in constant phone contact w/ my family{my mother is still the first person I call after each and every race}it was great to see them face to face for the first time in almost two years, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn't pull a prank on my mother and in some respects she deserved this one.

For even though I’d told her a dozen times prior to leaving from Philly that the tour group were picking me up from the airport and driving me to the hotel {the last of these dozen times was the previous Sunday} Eileen proceeded to beat my sister’s ear off at how I wouldn’t know how to get from the airport to the hotel and would wind up lost.

The fact than in ten days time I would be turning 42 and the fact that for the past 18 years I have lived and worked on my own in America was neither here nor there to my mother and I couldn’t resist this. Standing out of view outside her room, Lynn proceeded to knock on Eileen’s door and said she’d gotten a phone call from me.

"Where is he?" asked Eileen.

"Piraeus," replied Lynn, which is miles away from Athens.

"I told you," said Eileen, my cue to stick my head around the door and inquire, "how gullible are you mother"??!!!!

The three of us spent the afternoon catching up w/ the things family members catch up on when they haven’t seen each other in almost two years as we walked through the Plaka district, several rows of shops and I must add a number of fine dining establishments which I frequented in my all too brief time in Athens.

By 8pm Athens time I was done for. It was 1pm Philly time but I’d been up since 6am the previous day, time to call it a day...

But not quite, having left Eileen and Lynn at their hotel I returned to mine to discover a tour group checking in. Rather than fight my way through the lobby and very small elevators I opted to walk over to Panathinaikon stadium. Sure I’d be over there tomorrow morning as part of our walking tour/orientation but I wanted to see it now, as a runner whose origins began some 29 years ago on the track as a 400m and 800m runner. Any race that ends on the track is special, but this is the original Olympic stadium and that meant it was twice as special. I know I’ve missed the chance of going to the Olympics but this marathon finishing in this stadium was going to be my Olympics.

Saturday Nov 5th

Off of a good nights sleep I awoke to finally meet my roommate. Numo is a 62-year-old Japanese runner now living in Arkansas, thankfully his English was better than my Japanese!! Following breakfast we had our walking tour/orientation, over to the stadium where the busses would take us to Marathon for the start tomorrow morning.

Having already arranged to meet Eileen and Lynn I left the tour group after a few more points of interest but remarkably ran into Bryan and Jacki when we all arrived at the Acropolis.

W/ limited time for sightseeing on this trip I figured if I only saw one major landmark it should be the Acropolis. Now anybody who knows me or has ever raced w/ me will know I take great pride in being English, a Union Jack bandana or St Georges bandana has become my trademark if you like and I’d decided a long time ago that I wanted my photo taken on the Acropolis w/ the Union Jack and I did not see this as a problem...

HOWEVER!!! this was perceived by a handful of Acropolis staff/security as a MAJOR offense and w/out getting bogged down in too much detail they demanded the film from my mother's camera. I never really got a clear answer to why my photograph atop The Acropolis w/ the Union Jack was such a huge to do w/ them - something about The Acropolis being a historical landmark. My feeling is there’s still bad blood between Greece and England regarding the Elgin Marbles, which we Brits have taken from the Greeks and never given back, but hey, this is how one builds an empire!!!

The upshot of all this was Eileen had to use up the last of the film in her camera so that they could have that photograph; supposedly they’ll send her the other photos. That remains to be seen, but here comes the best bit... they never saw Eileen take my photograph w/ my disposable camera which she’d handed back to me b4 all holy hell broke loose and I have that photograph. England 1 Greece 0!!!

Trust me that photo will be doing the rounds this holiday season, and should Eileen not get her other photos back as promised by the security staff at the Acropolis I’ll be sending them one too!!!

I refused to allow this incident to ruin my day or my visit to Athens, and while Eileen was still a little testy still we made a joke out of it. Anytime a photo was being taken the word "cheese" had been replaced w/"Union Jack"!!!

Mercifully the rest of the day passed w/out incident, although by the time I returned to the hotel for the pre race pasta meal the story of my patriotic fervor gone awry has spread like a bush fire. Ah us wacky Brits and our flags. I felt a heart wrenching rendition of "Land Of Hope And Glory" coming on but given I didn’t know if the Royal Olympic hotel was a historical landmark or not I felt it best not to temp to tempt fate!! Singing could wait till tomorrow... after the race!!!
After dinner it was back to my room to inspect my goodie bag. In it was something you don’t see every day, a cloth running bib. In almost 200 races I’ve never seen a running number on anything other than paper or cardboard. But then again this is the Athens Marathon. Lights out at 9.15 pm, though I never felt like I really got to sleep. Please don’t let this be jet lag/time zone changes catching up w/ me.

Sunday Nov 6th

Numo’s alarm went off at 4.30am, my wake up call for 4.45am arrived also and we were both up. I took advantage of a shower to make sure I was properly awake b4 heading down to the dining room. Being one of the first runners to arrive I got dibs on the limited number of bananas that were available - one for now and one b4 6.30 the cut off time for me to have eaten b4 a race. In my efforts to cram everything into a carry on bag I’d left no room for my trusty Gatorade or Power Bar. But no big deal, two bananas and a few cups of coffee and I was ready to meet my destiny.

Still dark at 5.45 am we walked over to the stadium to catch a bus to Marathon, the morning sky may’ve been dark but the mood wasn’t. Myself, Bryan, Jacki, Doug, Donna and Tammi had a gigglefest for the 26 miles/42 kilometers out to Marathon. Normally I’d have my Walkman on, not talking to anybody that whole game face/Eye of the Tiger routine, but not this marathon. Taking a leaf out of my Philly Marathon from last November I relaxed and went along for the ride. Yeah this is the Athens marathon, yeah it’s my 20th anniversary of my marathon debut but I want to look back on this and have fond, funny memories, not being so uptight that I’d..., I’d..., I don’t know wig out at the sight of a Union Jack being waved atop the Acropolis!!!

We arrived at Marathon by 7am some 90 mins b4 race time. Like any race the first order of the day.....stand in line for the portajohn, yes folks, even in Europe runners make a bee line for the portajohns, it’s universal!!!

It was a tad ber at 7am and we sought shelter from the wind in a below ground warm up area as we got ready. As has now become marathon tradition for me I dug out my lucky mascot....my stuffed Eeyore who when he’s not in my running bag at marathons sits atop my pc at work.

Why Eeyore? I’ve always been a Tigger man but ever since I took over the loading dock at work I feel like Eeyore... because I do all the donkey work!!!

By 7.45 it was time for a final visit to the portajohns b4 stripping down to our running gear and placing our belongings on the baggage buses. No turning back now!!

Having downed three 12oz bottles of water since my arrival I probably could’ve used a third visit to the portajohn but resisted. Hopefully my bladder was good for the long haul. There was always the pull over to the side of the road option but having felt I used up my "get out of jail free card" yesterday I didn’t want to risk a second diplomatic incident!!!

Just b4 the gun went off Doug and I shook hands and wished each other luck I wanted a sub 3-hour time and believed I could get it. The last remaining factor for me was how I’d deal w/ the course being marked in 42km markers and not the usual 26 mile markers. I believe it was Ian who said to me, "Yeah, there’s more of them, but they arrive a lot quicker" and w/ that in mind I set off.

I must’ve missed the first three km markers, I later asked Bryan and Jacki if they saw them and they said yes so I was probably too preoccupied w/ following the blue line and trying to stay in the little shade there was. If it had been ber at 7am it had warmed up to 57 degrees by race time.

To nail a sub 3 hr time I needed 6.45 per mile pace or 20.15 per 5k, I went through the 5k mark in 19.17, a tad faster than I wanted but I was feeling ok at that pace and so my race unfolded. I won’t bore you w/ splits other than reaching the halfway point in 1:23. Here I knew a 2.46 marathon was too much to hope for but I knew in my heart of hearts a sub 3 hr time was on. All I had to do was stay calm.

Some random thoughts from along the 42km course. No way was this course as tough as I was lead to believe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an easy course but not even close to being as tough as I expected. The crowds were something else. Having ran in Chicago, Boston, London and New York, where sheer size of the crowd and the noise they make can inspire you, here the crowds, much smaller in size, form into the small pockets of spectators clapping and the cheering seemed louder even though there were clearly considerably less people making it.

A personal favourite for me was passing a lone guy on the course who noticing my bandana and running clothes yelled "C’mon GB." In the middle of Greece I found a fellow countryman. Just reliving that brief moment again now brings not only a smile to my face but a pump of the fist. It means that much to me to be a Brit!!

W/ 10km to go we faced the final uphill. It was a steep one too. This was not the time to panic. Crest this bad boy and it’s down hill and flat for the final 6 miles.

At this point two English runners from Tipton Harriers passed me and yelled encouragement as they passed. Not long after them I finally caught up w/ two runners in matching yellow running vests and shorts who’d stood out like a sore thumb since 4km. Those two Greek runners will never know how grateful I was that they unknowingly served as my markers from 4km till 33km,thank you both.

As each final km went by I kept telling myself I had this. The closer we got to Athens the bigger the crowds got. I couldn’t see the finish but I could taste it.

The second of the two Tipton Harriers runners kept looking over his shoulder and I knew, fellow countryman or not, he was getting passed. As we made the turn towards the stadium I overtook him (YES!!). I bounced up the ramp towards the stadium and entered a fairly populated stadium. This was my moment, the one I’d played over and over in my mind for the past couple of years. Of course in that version Eileen and Lynn were franticly waving my Union Jack, but after yesterday I felt it best not to give the flag to them for risk of more trouble. Meanwhile spectators were waving other nations’ flags, oh well. Raising my arms to the cheering fans, I ploughed up the home straight giving everything I had. The finish line was in sight and so was the clock.

2.55.28,my 6th fastest marathon of the 14 I’ve ran since my debut. On my marathon debut on Nov 3rd 1985 I ran 2.55.11, now 20 years later and on a much tougher course I ran 2.55.28. I’ve only slowed down some 17 seconds!!!!

Reprizing my Chicago marathon celebration I jumped up and punched the air as I crossed the line, 6th fastest time wise but believe me this ranks right up there w/ my 2.48.58 in the Windy City.

I found Eileen and Lynn after having a few minutes to regroup. I’ve often envied runners at marathons who’ve had family to cheer them on and greet them afterwards. This could be the last time I’m in such a position; it meant everything to have my mother there to celebrate w/ me. It’s a moment I won’t forget anytime soon.

The Athens marathon was everything I’d hoped it would be and while my initial feeling was this was a once in a lifetime deal, I want to return years from now and do it all again. Only this time w/ more time to sightsee afterwards. Bryan, Jacki, Doug, Donna and Tammi all went to Santorini the following day; most people consider Santorini the most beautiful Greek island of all. But while those guys were heading over there I was on a plane from Athens at 9am and arriving back in Philly at 8.40pm Philly time{3.40am Athens time}.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Tony D picked me up from the airport w/ the news that not only was the Septa strike over, but I’d finished 67th in the marathon and, wait for it.................... I was the first American runner to finish..................ME THE poster child for not only British distance running but all things English.

Life, you’ve got to live it, love it and enjoy it

See you at the starting line.

Kevin J -- The Rime of the Modern Mar' Runner - PR Philly Marathon Race Reports

Today was my first marathon, so I guess this is my first LBRR. I'll try to keep it short and just list the more interesting splits.
I met Erin at her house this morning and we biked to the museum to immediately get in the porta potty line. The line was pretty slow, so going to the start we only managed to make it up to the back of the 11 minute pace group. Erin had come up with a wacky schedule that started and ended with four slower miles, so I decided to try that with her. We both have a similar goal time; mine was 3:23.
Mile 1 - 8:41, but we manage to pick it up a little towards the end.
Mile 2 - 7:41, almost back on track now, despite that awful first water stop on 4th St. We keep passing people to try to make up another 20 seconds or so.
Mile 3 - 7:15, oops.
Miles 4,5 - 7:36-7:37. Here we are passed by Zack, the juggler. I met him after the race and signed up as a witness; he broke the juggling marathon record today with 3:11 (gun time), so I guess he'll be juggling in Boston.
Miles 6-8 - We keep this pace up. I drop my hat at Erin's friend's house on 34th St (I didn't find it later).
Mile 9 - 7:06. I take the downhills fast, getting ready for Lansdowne. Running on my own now.
Mile 10 - 8:09. I don't much care for that hill. I missed the Vaseline at the water stop; I could have used it.
Mile 11 - 8:08. I stop to, uh, admire the foliage on Horticultural Drive.
Mile 12 - 7:21. Taking these downhills faster reduces the pounding on my knees; I just kind of fall forward and try not to slap my feet.
Mile 14 - 7:43. My lovely wife is in front of the Art Museum; I almost miss seeing her, but she sees me.
Miles 15-19. I try to dial back a little so I can finish with a strong 10K. I like the down-and-back part of the race because we see the leaders coming down the homestretch. I see Seebo heading back right on schedule; not sure if he saw me.
Mile 20, 7:55. I love Manyunk! The sidewalks are packed, someone gives me a brownie, there are plenty of runners on the other side of the road. I feel great, I'm going to try for a sub-7 mile on the way back.
Miles 21-25, 7:44, 7:45, 7:53, 7:56, 7:45. It sure felt like I was running sub-7! I start to see more people I know, watching and running. It feels good to cheer each other on. I pick up a strawberry cliff shot at mile 22 and save it for the next water stop (It lasts about 200 meters before I spit up pink). I should stick with chocolate and vanilla.

Mile 26.2 9:19. I see my wife again (barely). For some reason I expect to see a marker at mile 26 and start cursing that it's never going to end. Finally I see the finish and kick it in. I concentrate on not vomiting and so I miss picking up my medal (I got it later). Time by my watch is 3:23:17, dead on.

I missed Erin's finish, but I watch the awards and make it back to yell for Mad Dog.

We wander around a bit, then pick up our friend Nancy, who ran the 8k, and head to Sabrina's for a late brunch (chocolate pancakes with blueberry syrup. Yeah!)

The race was great fun, and there's not much I would change. Next time I run a distance race in the cold, though, I'll bring a wristband for wiping my mouth and nose (my polymer shirt sleeve just didn't cut it) and try to make it to the start on time! I had a great time training and owe a lot to Erin and Seebo, who are great running partners with plenty of good advice, and many of the other Philly Runners who have made those early Saturday mornings more interesting and challenging, not to mention my wife Christine who is very tolerant of my long weekend and midweek runs.

 

John W -- The Rime of the Modern Mar' Runner - PR Philly Marathon Race Reports

Figured I would get the race report out while everything was still fresh in my head and my legs.

A beautiful morning. I met up with Chemistry Steve and Ian before the race, everybody seemed in good spirits and I was feeling great. Ian was nice enough to offer to pace me through the first half of the marathon and I took him up on it.

We started off right on track hitting 2 miles at just under 14:00. From there we slowed up a bit and just started ticking off the miles at a perfect clip, right between 6:55 and 7:10. At mile 7 we turned up 34th street and we kept up pace through that hill and up Lansdowne. At mile 10 I was really just feeling awesome enjoying the day, bullshitting with Ian, the miles were flying by. We came down onto MLK I hit the half, tying my PR for that distance at 1:32. After that Ian wished me luck, gave me some words of encouragement and stopped at the museum.

At this point I was still feeling good, saw some friends and kept on hauling. The next few miles were right on pace, 6:45, 7:22, 7:12. Mile 18 goes by and I start to realize that people are passing me although I feel like I am running at the same effort and pace. The next split, just over 7:30, confirms what I felt was happening. I'm slowing down. By mile 20 heading into Manayunk I am feeling like a zombie, I can't really concentrate and my pace is lagging badly. I remember rolling into Manyunk in the 2001 marathon and just feeling like the world was about to end but the crowd there gave me a huge boost. This year however I barely noticed them. It was odd I have never really felt this was, just completely out of it. I roll out of Manayunk willing myself to keep going up the hill towards Ridge. It's amazing how a small hill that you have run up a million times in training becomes a mountain.

I had taken a gu around mile 19 and I popped another about mile 21. I guess they started to kick in because my energy picked up the last 4-5 miles and I was able to concentrate better, although at one point I had myself convinced that 4 x 8 was 24. It really sucked when I finally realized it was 32 and I knew there was no chance in hell I was gonna qualify.

The last 4 miles were an ambling slow paced run mixed with a waddling walk that actually hurt more then the running. I came in at 3:20 and although I was very depressed about not qualifying for Boston I was glad to have it done. My quads were locking up horribly the whole way down Kelly Drive and I just didn't have any energy left. I am trying to analyze what went wrong but I'm still not sure.

I saw Seebo right after the finish, he had run a 2:42. Great job Steve!!!

Let me also say that the support from all of you guys was incredible. Craig and Ryan at mile 24 with some words of encouragement and sympathy really gave me a boost. Ian running with me was of course a huge help, and to everyone else who cheered me on from the sidewalks and in the race THANKS!!!

What does everybody think about another attempt at Phoenix in January?

 

Sean -- The Rime of the Modern Mar' Runner - PR Philly Marathon Race Reports

This is my first LBRR and my third overall marathon. First, let me say that I feel privileged to be able to run a marathon, especially on such a beautiful day in my hometown. It struck me as we lined up before the race how incredible this is and that very few people ever experience the thrill (and sometimes agony) of such an event.

My overall goal was to beat my previous PR, which was 3:48:49 in 2002 in Philadelphia. And since in 2003, I added a full 30 minutes to my time when running New York (4:18 something), I really, really wanted to reverse this trend as the minimum goal (i.e., no 4:48 marathon). And my stretch goal was to finish in 3:40. My other goal was to not walk and run all the way through (which I had never done before).

Fellow Philly Runner, Brian S and I began the race together. We had run together for most of our marathon training and it was great to start the race with Brian. We started the race with an 8:40 mile #1 and then ran the next 18 at an about a 7:50 average pace. This was a little faster than expected, as the plan was to be more like an 8:00 minute pace through 20 and then hang on during the last 6. I began to become concerned as we passed the 3:30 pace group shortly after the long hill around mile 10. Although running a bit faster than my previous marathons was a conscious strategy because I noticed that my body really has about 3 hours in it for running and after that it begins to break down quickly after this time. So, I figured if I covered more ground at a reasonable pace before this happened, it might work out.

Brian and I separated after mile 19 as we hit Manayunk as Brian was not feeling well. I kept going and hit Mile 20 in good shape, or so I thought. My time was something like 2:38 for the 20 miles and it seemed like I was in good shape to hit all goals. Things began to unravel as I left Manayunk before the ramp. The goal of not walking ended as I approached the ramp as I felt like I had nothing left. As has happened to me in previous marathons, it was very sudden and it felt like my body was telling me "you must be a crazy person to think I am doing any more running today." But I am a crazy person, so I began to run again. This is also when I saw my friend JJ who helped me throughout the rest of race. He left me briefly to find Brian, who was just behind me at that point. Brian and I met briefly again around the Falls Bridge (Mile 22), and as Brian is known to do, he got his second wind and passed me like the wind. JJ then stayed with me the rest of the way and helped me along - thank you JJ!.

The rest of the race is a blur, but think it was about an 80/20 run/walk mix for me until the last mile, which I ran all the way through. I saw the 3:30 pace group fly by me around Mile 24 like I was standing still. And then the 3:40 pace group passed around Mile 25. I hit Mile 26 around 3:40 and finished at 3:41:45 - 7 minute PR!

Brain finished at 3:34 and change - a significant PR for him as well - congratulations Brian!

I am not sure what to do about the last 6 miles of the marathon - it does not seem to matter what happens the previous 20 in terms of pace, the feeling is the same. I also added a 23+ mile run this year as well. The one problem this year I had was I had a hard time drinking or eating anything during the race (stomach problems), which I am sure added to my misery during the last 6 miles. If anyone has any advice on breaking through the last 6, it is very much appreciated.

But in the end, I am very, very happy with the race, the time, the experience and look forward to trying to tackle those last 6 miles again in about 12 months!

 

Mad Dog -- Madeleine -- The Rime of the Modern Mar' Runner - PR Philly Marathon Race Reports

This was my 2nd marathon (1st was LA in '94). My goal was 4:30-5, though, my main goal was to just be able to run the whole time and to feel good and enjoy the race. The gods were smiling on me as I was able to run the entire race feeling great, often with a huge smile on my face, and finishing in 4:35. I don't know why I had such a good race - I shouldn't have. The furthest I had run in training was 14 miles, though, knowing that I spent the last 2 weeks doing a lot of mental preparation - getting up at 6 & 7am to run and get my body used to being active at that time, reviewing the marathon course and doing lots of visualization, reading Runner's World articles each night like prayers. It was such an awesome experience, and all I could think was "I want to do this again." Didn't hurt that the weather was perfect - not too cold or too windy. I think one of the biggest things that helped me was writing "Mad Dog" on my legs - that served as a great distraction, getting people to cheer for me and letting me have fun with the race. I also decided I would keep a conservative, steady pace the first 10-13 miles.

I originally planned to run with the 4:30 Clif Bar pace group, but they seemed to be going too fast, so I dropped back, running with 2 PR ladies, Sarah and Sunitha. Within the first few miles their pace felt too fast as well, so I let myself drop back even more and settled into a comfortable pace. I maintained an even pace the whole race, running 10.5-11 min miles. I saw Sarah again around mile 5, and we ran together high-fiving the kids on Chestnut St. I ran past a friend around mile 5.5, and high-fived her. I had 2 GU gels safety-pinned to my shirt, and took my first around mile 7.

Me & Sarah took a bathroom break around mile 10, and that took around 5-10 min waiting in line, but it was probably a good break for our bodies. The woman in front of us was nice enough to lend us a tissue as the porta-potty was already out of TP. I took a Cola Buzzz Clif shot around that same area, but the first mouthful tasted like poison so I threw it away. Also took some vaseline around there and reapplied.

Around mile 13 Sarah decided to drop back a bit. At that point, I felt really comfortable being back on familiar territory and knowing there was a crowd up ahead to cheer me on. Running past the spectators in front of the Art Museum was such a rush. I was cheering with them, and raising my arms up & down telling them to make some noise. Being back on Kelly Drive was great too - I cheered runners on coming in the opposite direction, including 2 PRs (Seebo & a guy whose name I didn't know so I called out "Philly Runners"), and interacted with the crowd - it gave me such a boost of energy. In fact, the whole race felt like one big adrenaline rush.

I took my second GU gel around mile 15. My legs felt pretty stiff around mile 16, but they had energy so I was able to keep them moving. I had prepared all these mental strategies, in case I needed to distract myself or keep myself going, but I never had to use any of them. It was a very "zen" race - I was in the moment, enjoying the experience, and just having fun interacting with the crowd and runners.

Reaching Falls Bridge felt like a huge accomplishment, since it's such a big running landmark. This time I took a Cola Buzzz Clif shot, and forced myself to ingest the entire thing. I felt good, but didn't push myself as I was anticipating hitting "the wall" at mile 20. Running in to Manayunk was awesome. I saw PR, Kat, running the opposite direction and cheered for her. One of the spectators was handing out cookies, so I took one, and people continued to cheer for me yelling out "Mad Dog." Reached the turnaround at mile 20 and still felt good. Got a brownie on the way to mile 21, was able to run up the hill on the way to mile 22.

Looked for Porter around mile 22/23, but didn't see him. Tried to pick up the pace a bit, as I had lots of energy. I really picked it up around mile 24, and once I reached the crowd around mile 25. I was cheering with them and raising my arms in the air like I was a rock star. I was planning to really push it at mile 26, but didn't see a mile marker. I realized how close I was to the finish line, and when I saw some guy ahead of me I said "f**k that guy!" and sprinted the last 150 yards to pass him up, crossing the finish at 4:35. I was ecstatic, it couldn't have been a better race. I still get a rush just thinking about it!

 

Erin -- The Rime of the Modern Mar' Runner - PR Philly Marathon Race Reports

My lbrr is the same as Kevin J’s until we hit Kelly Drive. Like KJ, this was also my first marathon, but I had, to put it charitably, a less-developed race strategy, with a semi-facetious goal of beating my husband’s first marathon time of 3:29.

Things were going well until West River Drive, when my knee started feeling twingy. No big deal, I thought, twinges come and twinges go, and I had no knee problems on long runs before. But the twinge was still there on Kelly, which, as anyone who has ever run with me knows, is in my opinion the most mind-numbingly boring place to run on, perhaps, the entire east coast. I tried to both distract myself from my knee and relieve my ennui by thinking up synonyms for "boredom," but this turned out to not be as entertaining as I initially thought. I then decided to explore the hypothesis that the knee pain was all in my head, a ploy of my subconscious. Maybe, I thought, my subconscious mind knew I had bit off more than I could chew, and was manufacturing a face-saving way out. This was a promising line of thought until mile 18, when my knee actually started to buckle, and I decided to start walking through the water stops.

I was at that point only about 2 minutes off the pace KJ and I had initially set, but the 11 minutes it took me to get through mile 18 were a bit of a set-back. I spent the next 5 miles trying to crack my knee back into alignment and, amazingly, felt fine by mile 23, picked up the pace, and finished with plenty of energy, although four minutes off my target of 3:29. While looking for Kevin J and my husband I bumped into Ian, who had some words of wisdom, and a woman with whom I recently had jury duty, but somehow managed not to see my co-worker and my neighbor finish, although they had to have run right past me. After finding my husband and informing him he still held the household record for marathoning, we went out to eat and I then took my class on a field trip to Eastern State Penitentiary, which is, for those of you contemplating how to spend your next post-marathon afternoon, gratifyingly flat. I was strangely relieved that my knee hurt biking home after the field trip, as the phantom-pain hypothesis still seemed somewhat compelling.

All in all I had a great time, and it was great to see Craig and Elizabeth out on the course and Steve cruising to his finish. I’d like to state in this public forum that I’m never setting foot on the drives again, but I’m sure I’ll forget my antipathy in a few days.

 

Craig -- Philly Marathon Spectator report

Awesome work everyone!
Figured for once I'd write an LBRR from a different point of view. The marathon lasted about 4 hours for me (exactly from gun time). 40 minutes longer than my marathon, but I could actually walk after this one. After the gun went off I peddled my bike to 34th and Spring Garden and watch everybody come by around mile 8. Ryan came over and we hung out and cheered everyone on. At first I saw Seebo, Steve K, John and Ian, and then Kevin G, who was in this massive stampede of people trying to qualify for Boston. After this the field got way too crowded and couldn't see anyone....it was kind of embarrassing to see people running yelling out my name-oops. Around the 4-hour pace group, all of the quirky people started coming by. I saw a man running with his dog (poor dog-hope he carb-loaded on biscuits). We even saw a blind/demented/both woman walk across the street with her cane! And I thought I've seen it all.
People then started running by with costumes, names on their shirts, and Ryan was yelling them out. He taught me the ropes of spectating pretty quickly.

Tim and Ashley finally passed by, and I reminded Tim how crazy he was. I peddled fast over to Kelly Dr. at roughly the 16/25 mile mark where there were NO people and I could actually be useful in cheering. Saw Steve K pass me by, who was kind of surprised to see me 5 min. later. Then saw John W, who was looking great at this point for 16 miles in. Kev G passed by me and threw this random article of clothing at me. Then someone else threw their shirt at me. I felt privileged to be the throw-away bitch. I kept cheering people on and on. I said "yeah, runners, go" like a broken tape recorder. Even my big mouth was starting get tired after about a half hour of this. I did get many thanks from random people though. I also started with the whole "name-calling" thing, repeating things I saw like "stacy, mother of four" or "need encouragement, please cheer". Ryan joined me soon thereafter so my vocal cords got a break. Also, I knew who was running now so I could spot them as they went by. We saw so many more Philly Runners and others that I don't have the space to mention here.

On the way back, I saw Seebo cruising in to his PR, and looked like he was 2 miles into it instead of 25. I guess that's what happens when you run 150 miles/week. Then I saw Steve K, who also ran a flawless race, and then eventually saw Kevin G, who was still hanging on with the stampede (now noticeably smaller) to head to Boston. A few minutes later I saw John W, who gave thumbs down and the same look of disgust I gave people at MCM. Good job on the PR John, and you'll get it next time. After this it was all sorts of people, including some talking on cell phones. I cheered "good reception"-I had to. I watched the race for a while longer seeing the same quirky outfits go by. Amazingly, the dog was still running at mile 25, and looked better than half the runners did. Wonder what his training program was like? In short, I had a great time spectating, was not bored for a minute, and was glad I could be there to support everyone on the course. Rest up guys, and eat a shitload at the Thanksgiving table this week! You all deserve it.

 

Laura -- The Rime of the Modern Mar' Runner - PR Philly Marathon Race Reports

First off, congrats to all the PRs who ran the marathon. I’m so impressed with how many people’s races seemed to come together just as planned. That’s no small change with such a long race. I think that’s what I learned in this race – just how much anything can happen in a marathon. And to never underestimate the marathon. I gained much more of an appreciation for the distance this year.

I felt good overall going into the race. I had trained pretty much the same this year as I did last year, and I had experienced much less knee pain in my long runs this year than last. But I hadn’t felt quite as good aerobically during some of my long runs and decided to try to pace myself to start out at 10 minute pace with the idea of either staying there or speeding up. I ran Philly in 4:10 last year in a negative split second half. I hoped to do as well this year but knew it just might not happen.

I started near the 4:15 pace group with Tracy, who was doing the first leg of the relay and graciously agreed to run with me at whatever pace I wanted. Having her with me for the first 10 miles was such a huge support. We went through the first mile in 10:23, mostly due to the crowds. The second mile was 9:44 and mile 3 was 9:07. I had already ditched my plan. I quickly realized that I needed a port-a-potty. The lines had been too long before the start, and the line at the first port-a-potty on the course was several people deep. Along Delaware Ave., I decided to ditch the port-a-potty idea and go follow several other women behind a brick wall. Thank goodness for that decision, since all the port-a-potties I saw along the course had pretty long lines. Mile 4 was 10:34, due to the pit stop.

Tracy stayed with me this whole way. As we got back into Center City, the crowds grew, which was great. The stretch along Chestnut between Broad and 25th seemed much more crowded than last year and was a great help. I saw my parents and Jeremy at 17th St., which was great. My parents had come down from Boston, and this was the first time in several years that they’d seen me run a race. I also saw Biz along Chestnut, which was a nice surprise. Mile 5 was 9:23, mile 6 was 9:32 and mile 7 was 9:38. I’d found a groove. We maintained that pace as we turned up 34th St. towards the Zoo. Mile 8 went by in 9:33 and mile 9 in 9:29. Ryan and Craig were cheering along 34th St., as were some awesome Drexel frat boys. What great spirit they had! We saw Marci right before mile 10, which was another nice surprise. Mile 10 was approaching, and I was starting to realize that Tracy wouldn’t be with me for much longer. I was sad to see her go, as her company was so helpful. I ran the next 4 miles through Fairmount Park and along West River Drive alone. The splits stayed pretty constant with 10 in 9:56, 11 in 9:22, 12 in 9:36, 13 in 9:18 and 14 in 9:31.

Jeremy met me just before mile 14 at Lloyd Hall. The plan was for him to run with me until Midvale and then pick back up with me on my way back from Manayunk and run together to the finish. I had fallen into the 4:15 pace group as I got to him at Lloyd Hall, and as we started running together we stayed with the pace group. But I was already starting to feel a fatigue setting in that seemed too early for where I was in the race. However we managed to stay more or less constant for the next few miles. Mile 15 was 9:31, 16 was 9:41, 17 was 9:34 and 18 was 9:45.

We saw my friend Maryam at Midvale Ave. waiting with a banana in hand. When we got to her she started running along side us and asked me how I was doing. I told her I was really thirsty. She said I sounded like I was withering. I agreed. I had hit the wall. I had lost the resolve to keep going. Luckily I had Jeremy with me to encourage me and keep me thinking positive. He never stopped running with me as we had planned. He ended up running nearly the entire second half of the race. I started stopping at each water stop and drinking water, Gatorade and then some more water. I couldn’t really stomach much of the banana or energy bar but I managed to take some, as I knew that would be crucial to getting me through the rest of the race. Mile 19 was 10:31, 20 was 10:13 and 21 was 10:20. The crowds in Manayunk helped, but the hills seemed like mountains at this point. I should note that by this point Ed and I were starting to pass each other regularly. I could tell he was tiring too, and even though we had less energy to acknowledge the other each time we passed, knowing another Philly Runner was out there struggling with me was comforting.

Mile 22 went by in 11:00 and 23 in 10:03. Kelly Drive never felt so long. Jeremy was a huge support this whole way. Mile 24 was 10:46 and 25 was 10:25. I saw Ryan and Craig again along Kelly, which was so great. At this point, I could smell the finish line. I was trying to enjoy the experience and the moment, even with the pain and fatigue. My parents were a few hundred yards before the finish, and my Dad was holding a big orange sign that said "Go Laura!." I rounded the corner and finished the last 1.2 in 11:50. My final chip time was 4:18:50

Even though my time was nearly 9 minutes slower this year, I’m not disappointed with my run. It was a challenging race, but I was lucky enough to have people cheering me on throughout the whole course. I hope I can repay the favor in the future. Congratulations to Seebo, Kevin G, Kevin J, John, Ed, Marci and all the other Philly Runners who ran. And thanks so much to everyone for cheering.

 

Tim -- The Rime of the Modern Mar' Runner - PR Philly Marathon Race Reports

I meet the Students Run Philly Style crew in the cold morning at 7 am in front of Lloyd Hall. We were supposed to be there by 6:50 but I always underestimate how long it takes to walk along the Schuylkill River path from Walnut Street. It is cold, but I am fairly comfortable beneath my five layers. Soon after, we walk over en masse to the top of the Art Museum steps for a group photo. Ashley hasn’t arrived yet, but after a few phone exchanges in which Scott, Meredith, and I try to find out where she is and tell her we’ve moved to the Art Museum, she is walking up the Museum steps as we are preparing to take the photo. She makes it up in time.

Privately, I am concerned because she is wearing a long-sleeve cotton shirt (the official race shirt, in fact- isn’t it bad luck or something to wear this before the race?), and, over that, her blue cotton Students Run shirt (instead of the dri-fit one we had received), and long pants. I ask her if she is warm now, because, if she is, she will overheat during the race, but she says "no," and I think maybe it’s ok. Her plan is to remove the long-sleeve shirt if she does become overheated.

Twenty minutes before the race I am still holding my big bag-o-stuff. Jenne, an SRPS organizer, had told us we could keep our bags at the SRPS tent, so, after stripping off my outer layers, I hurriedly jog down to the tent. But then I have lost Ashley. After quickly scanning the Art Museum steps, I head over to the start to look for her. In a moment of desperation I reach back to the more religious days of my youth by saying a prayer to St. Anthony to aid in finding her. I would feel bad if I wasn’t with her at the start, and it would be pointless to run without her. Searching through the crowd, I find her and am relieved. It’s now time for business. I tell her she should make sure she stretches a little, but, unlike I who can be forgetful of such things, she has already made sure to do so.

The gun sounds, and about a minute later we cross the starting line. We seem to have started a little too far up in the pack, and people are running by us. A couple people hit Ashley as they run by. I ask her if she wants me to do something to them, and she jokingly says, "hit them back!" I keep the joke going and charge ahead after them, but she calls me back. The clock at the first mile reads 11:30. By my watch, it’s about 10:30 since we crossed the line. It’s a little fast for us and I hold her back a little.

As we pass into Old City, Ashley has already begun to feel hot. She removes her long-sleeve shirt and ties it around her waist. Everywhere people are shedding their excess clothing. Ashley thinks it’s funny that so many runners repeat the comment that it’s a good day for the homeless.

We pass people relieving themselves at random points along the course, and, this being her first marathon, Ashley apparently finds it strange. I am a little embarrassed because I have to relieve myself and will soon have to be one of those people. Soon I am telling her to keep running as I water the foliage in front of the Old Swede’s Church on Columbus Blvd. I quickly rejoin her and the miles go by through South Street, 4th Street, and Chestnut. On 5th I see a familiar face, Russ from Philly Runners, and he cheers us on. On Chestnut we come upon a man attempting to jump-rope for the full marathon. As we are approaching him, he actually misses once, but we don’t mention it. Ashley runs up to him and pays him a compliment. Later in the race, when we thought he would have long since left us behind, we would see him again.

Along 34th Street we come upon Craig and Ryan, from Philly Runners, who cheer wildly for us. As we approach the zoo, Ashley looks at the zoo balloon and says she wishes she could fly to the finish. I tell her we ARE flying, and she laughs. We then enter Fairmount Park. Ashley points out that this part of the course will connect with Martin Luther King Drive and makes the same mistake I made last year and expects to be on the Drive shortly. At one point I think we have passed the 12th mile mark and, knowing the halfway point is on West River, tell her we’ll be on the Drive soon. Then I see the 11th mile mark. I don’t bother to tell her I had been wrong, and hope that two miles will feel like "soon" to her.

Finally, we do make it to King Drive and we eventually pass the halfway point in about 2:30. At one point along King, Ashley has to stop because her knee hurts, but after only a few seconds we quickly resume running again.

It’s exciting to arrive at the Art Museum, and I think only of that and not yet of the lonely miles that will follow it. Along here, I see Jim from Philly Runners, and I am thankful to hear him cheering Ashley on. Then Ashley beams as she sees her cousin and friend in the crowd. We feed off the energy and pick up the pace a little. I see some familiar faces running down Kelly in the opposite direction as they finish the marathon, and I cheer for them.

Past the Museum the crowds thin out along Kelly. I am surprised to see the five-hour pace group come up behind us because I had thought we had fallen behind that pace. I ask Ashley if she wants to try to keep pace with them and she agrees but it quickly becomes evident that they’re going a little too fast and they slowly leave us behind. Then there’s another welcome sight, as I hear someone cheering for Ashley and look around to find Elizabeth from Philly Runners. Once again I am thankful. Ashley says she feels famous.

After passing mile 17, Ashley comments that every step she takes now is the longest she’s ever run. I tell her, "I know you can do it," and she replies, "I know I can too." Throughout these last miles I make a conscious effort to be more verbal, and tell her, "you’re an all star, Ashley," and "you’re my hero!" Throughout the race random spectators, seeing our Students Run shirts, have been cheering us on, and they continue to do so now, four and five hours after the race began.

Just like last year, I want to get into and out of Manayunk in the worst way. Before we are even on Main Street, Ashley asks how far it is to the turn around. I know its still a ways ahead, but I lie and tell her that it’s not too far. As we enter Manayunk, Ashley looks up, smiles and laughs. I look up too but don’t see what she’s laughing at. I ask her and she points out a billboard advertising the marathon. I don’t find anything particularly funny about it and am for a moment concerned. I take a quick, assessing look at her to make sure she is all right, but nothing seems to be wrong.

Finally, at the far end of Main Street, Ashley stops for just the second time during the race. She pays a visit to the porta-john, and two minutes later we’re back on the road for the final stretch.

As we pass a man sitting or crouching on the ground by the side of the road at the end of Manayunk, he says to me, "you still look fresh," and "you should pick up the pace" or something to that effect. I pat Ashley on the back and say "I’m running with her," but don’t know if he heard me.

The sight of the ramp at the end of Manayunk is dispiriting but I point out that, though it is steep, it is not very long. Ashley "charges" up the hill, passing a few people who had to walk it.

A second obnoxious bystander, a cop at the Falls Bridge, urges us to increase the pace because, otherwise, they’ll be picking us up- he’s obviously more concerned with the sacred right of motorists to use the Drives than with the amazing feat unfolding before his eyes.

These last miles are painful for us both. The landmarks along Kelly Drive that usually tell me how close I am to finishing instead now tell me how far I am. Once again, we come upon our friend, the jump-roper. He remembers us too and encourages us. It was a lift in those late miles and passing him became a goal. It was good to know we weren’t as far back as we thought at that point.

A mile or two out from the finish we come across a large contingent of Students Run Philly Style supporters. Heather, coordinator of the program, jumps out into the street and enthusiastically urges us on, saying how proud she is. We are joined by another leader in the program who is carrying a Students Run placard. He passes it off to me and, hand in hand, Ashley and I come to the end of our journey together. Fittingly, Ashley turns it up the last 100 yards, and we dash across the finish. Our final time is 5:13. She ran the whole way.

Despite that the medals we are handed are still packed in their plastic wrapping (I was happy to learn that this was the case for all finishers and not just the slower runners), they are accepted with pride. Unlike my medal from the marine corps marathon, which did not go well for me, I’ve hung this one proudly on my wall. So now it’s off to Thanksgiving dinner. To the victors go the spoils.

Kev –- The Rime of the Modern Mar' Runner - PR Philly Marathon Race Reports

It's nice to race a marathon in your backyard.

I was only 1/2 mile from the end of the 2005 Philadelphia Marathon, by Lloyd Hall, when Rick called out to me from the left side. Not privy to Heather's exploits a few miles prior, he also ran along the sidewalk, keeping pace, cheering me on every little bit. Racing over 25 miles was already an achievement, something I had only done once prior, three years ago. If I fail to achieve my goal, at least I failed while daring myself.

Looking back, I didn't decide until three weeks prior that I was going to actually race the horribly wonderful thing. My only other marathon was three years ago, a 3:18, and I had only one long-distance race since then, the Philly Distance Run half-marathon, two months prior. The three years of tribulations I had to overcome for that race, including injuring my left ankle 19 days prior, are in that race report, the only other one I’ve ever written.

The ankle had been healing since then and although not all healed, it would not bother me at all. My right foot, possibly subacute plantar fasciitis, started bothering me in mid-October. It didn't bother me for my 5K race, where I won money for the first time in a race for placing in my division, but on what was to be my longest training run of the season on a Saturday at the end of the month, it was quite painful, and I had to cut the run short, which I never do. I decided that if it weren’t bothering me two days later, I would do my long run then. Well, it was bothering me, but only a little, and in what was truly not a prudent decision on my part, I did the 24 miles then. I'm glad I did actually, and registered for the marathon that evening, as it was a good run. The right foot was little worry for the race.

What was worrisome was weather. Why?  Well... I prefer warmer weather to race than most others, and a latter November race doesn't hold much promise for weather conducive to me. It was warmer than usual for a while, but the 10-day forecasts had the temperatures plummeting three days before the race. Argh! As the date drew nearer though, the race forecast become more favorable. Although slightly chillier than I would have liked, the weather on race day was certainly in my good range!

Race morning, I saw long-lost Emily S, then Seebo, Laura G, and Ed at our club's meet-up spot. With different goals, I don't know if I'd see them later, and I wished them all luck. They were all ready for it. I gave my extra clothing to the gear check and then did a bit more stretching and warm-up running. I told myself it was time to race a marathon. I was ready.

I lined up with the 3:10 pace group and told the pacer that for the next few hours, he was my new best friend, with apologies that the relationship will be short-lived. I thought about telling him that I would be his bitch for the next few hours, but actually didn't think of that until later. Fortunately.

About 1/4 mile after the start, my right calf felt either tight or sore, which strangely developed out of nothing the previous evening just before the pre-race pasta party, and had dissipated only a little that morning. It was gone a mile later, which indicates that it was just tight, fortunately. I think it was Rick that called out to me early on, and I raised a green-gloved hand to acknowledge.

We hit a water stop and I partook (as I did with every stop), but a man near me was unable, so I gave him mine once I took some. This prompted another runner to compliment me, something about the spirit of racing I think, and that made me feel good. Not physically good of course, I was racing a marathon after all, but people don't race marathons to feel physically good that day. We are here for the same purpose, I thought. Indeed, most of us would watch out for each other, calling out uneven terrain or a pothole to those behind us.

I saw Russ, Sarah, and maybe Craig and Ryan through the city. I'd see all but Russ later on too. At this point, we had a large group of runners (a stampede, described Craig), mostly men, so I was looking at some of the women, and also noting some idiosyncrasies of other runners amongst us. There was "commentary guy," who would note things out loud to us, such that many people are running to the side to take a quick pit stop. Okay... thanks. Man-who-complimented-me was with us. There was nice Chinese accent guy, who with me was amongst the people who stayed with the pacer until the end, who asked me a few questions about Philly. Not many questions to be annoying and energy-sapping, but just a few. His name I found out later is Lin, as spectators were reading his name on his shirt & shouting it out. I had my name on my shirt, but today, my name was also Lin, also Steve, also Bridget, as then each of the thousands of spectators were cheering for me.

I was impressed with the numbers & spirit of the spectators along Chestnut, and then turned right onto 34th. I had practiced running up 34th and Lansdowne the previous two Thursdays, so I knew what to expect. I realized that I might need to take a bathroom break, but didn't, figuring it would either get worse and then I'd go anywhere I could, or more likely it would go away. It wasn't impeding my running, and it did go away. I'm usually pretty good at finding my hydration balance.

Up a few hills and down for some miles, I was maintaining a steady pace. The crowds (including some 8K finishers) were boisterous and numerous around the art museum just past the halfway point of the race, which was amazing. Around the bend, I saw Clay, then Rachel and Northeast Mike, and shouted to them. Just after was Leslie, and I tossed to her my throwaway shirt. It was actually a tank-top I had on underneath so when I take it off I'll have a dry shirt on. So that I can remove it without taking off my top-shirt, I had sliced the entire right side & the straps then used electrical tape to fasten it until I tug on it. It was interesting to later note her reaction to what the hell I did to it. I later explained it to Heidi, who I missed at Lloyd Hall, but who showed me her great signs later.

Along the way were Craig (I tossed one arm warmer to him, but had dropped the other), Ryan, Elizabeth, and others. Thanks for making the effort to go where there were few spectators! I also saw Philadelphia Track Club and Bryn Mawr Running Club shirts, our two local powerhouses, on racers coming in, and shouted out the club names to them.

At Falls Bridge anticipating me at mile 18 was Heather, right on target. What a great boost! It's two more miles to the turnaround. I was hoping to see Seebo running the other way, but didn't. Up in Manayunk, I passed John in the other direction. He was perhaps 2-4 minutes ahead of me. It was here, right by the turnaround, that I passed mile 20. Mile 20 in marathoning folklore is where the race really begins, and I said out loud to myself, "Now the race begins" or something equally amazingly profound. An Olympic Marathon medallist once remarked that anyone can run 20 miles, but it's the last 6.2 that make the difference. At around mile 20 is where many people hit the dreaded "wall," or as Raymond mentioned, the Dutch expression of "the man with the hammer."

I then saw Stacey, Steven, and others from my cycling group & we shouted to each other. The turnaround was just ahead, and I then saw them again in the same place. I tossed hard to them my green gloves, imbued with a combination of water, lemon-lime Gatorade, and sweat, to reach over the runners in the other direction and those eating on the sidewalk. They caught 'em! I saw more cute women to toss my articles of clothing to, but decided to hold on to what I had.

 

Nearing the end of the race, I'm not sure I looked at my watch as the entire race was to simply stay with the 3:10 pacer, and the final clock was not quite in my view at mile 26, but I was turning round the bend to the art museum, about to finish my 2nd marathon. A massive PR, but would it be enough for Boston? Would I achieve my do-or-die goal?

About four miles earlier also on Kelly Drive, on the way home at mile 22 was Heather once again at Falls Bridge. Not content to cheer me on for a few seconds this time, she actually ran on the sidewalk keeping pace with me for maybe 1/3 mile (ahead of me sometimes... must be her excitement!). I'd look over, and there she was, and I'd repeat a few times, brown-eyes smiling back at me. Thanks Heather!

Continuing down Kelly was uneventful, and I told myself that I was on a Saturday morning club run. Lying to myself was the easiest defense mechanism... albeit ineffective! I spied Pola in yellow, almost matching her flaxen hair. I called out to her and I think she called out my name before I even finished hers. Ed was perhaps 100 meters behind, Madeline a little later, then Tim as a pacer for another. I shouted to 'em all.

Giddy up 309! Three-oh-nine, my 309, nothing can stop me, nothing... well, here's where my little wave of creativity retreated back to the sea. The Beach Boys song is "409," but it was a good rhythm to modify for my purposes (besides, "Big Joe And Phantom 309" by Tom Waits wasn't really such an upbeat song!) I had chanted it to myself in the days leading up to the race at times when I didn't think I was being nerdy enough. Strangely, I wasn't begging myself for the race to end, but wanted it to keep going. I don't know why, but perhaps I wanted to prolong this test, realizing that I was delivering. We marathoners are a peculiar bunch.

I saw the John Kelly statue off to the side, indicating only 2.2 miles to the art museum. I sometimes "talk" to John when I stop there for a drink at the water fountain. The conversation is markedly lopsided, as I say things about my run like, "John, this is tough" and other equally philosophical gems, yet answers from John come there none, as he is frozen in a pose that won him multiple Olympic medals. John doesn't complain that it's tough. John doesn't complain about being out there day and night, in all weather. He practices "gaman," the semi-untranslatable Japanese word of persevering against tough odds without complaining (I even have the kanji character framed next to my desk). He is a silent inspiration.

This rowing statue is the turnaround for our Tuesday night club runs. I lied to myself again, with about the same effects. This mile 24 is the site of a lesser known marathon tradition, shouting out "God save the Queen," in somewhat deference to a Queen of England who helped establish the current length of the marathon (lengthier than previously) so the finish could be where she wanted it. I was more concerned about saving my legs than a long-dead queen. It was around here three years ago while on my bike accompanying Karen for the same race that she cried out in anguish to me, "Kevin, it hurts." I know baby, I know.

It was also around here that our pace leader shouted out that we've gotta want it. It served as a good reminder for my mantra for this race. No longer was I using "effortless" or "embrace the pain" that I used for the half-marathon, but the simple two syllables, "I want." I repeated a few times. I want.

Less than a mile to go, I finally realized a technique I had wanted to try for shorter races, but figured I'd do it here (no harm in experimenting during a race, right?). As I'm a cyclist as well, and have parts of my legs that weren't quite over-sore yet, I decided to bend my knees a little more to use different muscles and run lower to the ground to see what would happen. It worked! It was a little easier and I could speed up a bit. So noted, for future races, if I can ever remember. Still, I wasn't severing my umbilical cord just yet. It was between here and the finish that a few others told me later that they saw me & were cheering for me. As I was a little focused at the time, I'm sure they will forgive me that I neither acknowledged nor even noticed most of them, but let me take this opportunity to thank you all for the cheering! It wasn't until about 0.2 left, where I was just a few feet behind the pacer, that I knew I would at least finish. There’s more in me; I have yet to show you everything I’ve got. Go on, go on! What the hell am I saving myself for? Why am I holding back? My legs partially dead, it's your heart that propels you this late in the game, and I had plenty of that, with some energy to spare. I can't hold back; what kind of wretched person would I be to not give it all? I didn't quit during the over 40,000 opportunities I had earlier, and I wasn't going to have come this far with nothing to show for it; I am not here simply to complete this race. I sped up. I saw it, and a few meters before the finish, I spread my arms, again in tribute to de Lima from his inspiring 2004 Olympic Marathon bronze medal finish in Athens. I knew, I knew. Bring it home, baby.

And there it was. Chip time was 3:09:50, with the clock (gun time) showing 3:10:02. I did it. I did it! Except for 300+ who finished in front of me, I won the race. Wanted to thank the pacer right there, but I had to keep moving or I'd die. Got the chip removed, got the medal, and the blanket. Didn't start bawling like I thought I might, but just thought to myself triumphantly, "Look what I just did." The battle is not really against the clock, it is against yourself, and I did it.

After the chutes, I took Gatorade from Jenn and Julie, who were volunteering. Just like the PDR, the first racer I saw that I knew was Seebo, who after trying a few times, finally tore off his 2:45 albatross and earned 2:42. How I wished I could have seen him finish! We both congratulated each other with a hug. Again, the second was English Kevin, another strong runner, who had just raced Athens, and today rocked the 8K race.

Although my lower body was in agony, I wasn't as spent cardio-wise as I was for the PDR. I could have run a little faster (my own magic formula predicted 58 seconds faster), but this was a pass-fail class, and I passed with 69 seconds to spare. For me, a 3:10:59 was the same as a 2:30. A 3:11:00 was the same as a 5:30. I didn't want to crash & burn before, so I ran conservatively, rarely looking at my watch, and just staying with the pacer.

After hobbling around a little and realizing that my quadriceps are now having difficulty supporting my 145 pounds, I sat for a bit, then got up with the help of my arms (which were fine; I suppose weight-lifting and remembering to drop my arms & relax during the race helped) and walked to the heated recovery tent for food & drink. I stayed a while until I decided that I wanted to watch some racers come in.

I saw some from afar when I spotted Pola who had just finished and went over to her. She had accepted her finisher's medal but it wasn't around her neck yet, so I offered, and was honored to do so. We chatted for a while, me in this rather strangely suggestible state, an internalized giddiness of sorts. She was the last person I saw after the PDR, but I had to tear myself away to get to a family function then. This time, I could revel in the collective achievement. Pola became my champion, telling everyone we know that I qualified for Boston, including Ed who finished shortly after her, and her parents who came to watch. I was beaming each time (even if I lacked the energy to fully express it). It's a good thing it was on the chilly side that day, else I might have melted in front of her, an amorphous lump of Kevin right there on the ground (not that my legs didn’t already feel like that)! I usually revel from within, a calm ocean surface concealing any energy underneath, but was content to let her do this. Most people in Philly Runners don't know that I'm generally not as extroverted as I appear at the club runs, but I have to be then as I'm in charge. Northeast Mike was there and thanked me for the great work PR did with volunteering. As with most club-related factors, I took it personally and was surprised that glowing beams of fulfillment weren't already emanating from my body. That would look funny, but not more than the odd way I was now walking.

To some extent, I'm glad the 3/4 mile walk home was agonizingly slow. In this respect, I was still part of the living breathing marathon, and would be such until I retreated into myself at home, thus transforming it into something uniquely mine, rather than sharing it with all the others. Neither is necessarily better, just different.

My quadriceps were in agony, calves were not far behind, and balls of my feet joined in on the fun. The sole of my right foot, a concern, was fine, as was the left ankle. I had a bucket of ice in the freezer for my ice bath. No, the pain is not over. I procrastinated a few hours, then filled my bathtub halfway with cold water and added dozens of those little instruments of torture and watched as they grew smaller, inversely proportional to my anxiety. This will help reduce the soreness immensely. I needed to soak my legs for 10-12 minutes. First go my feet, then kneeling, then turning to sit with my legs in front. Those first two minutes were agony, and yes I was moaning a bit, and not in a good way. Must... continue! I mentioned to friends that neighbors are going to be banging on my door wondering who is torturing that person! Marathoners are no strangers to pain, and after two minutes, the pain was dissipating and I was reminding myself to relax my muscles. I had brought in my kitchen timer to make sure I don't surpass 12 minutes, and never before had I discovered such a mundane thing to be so captivating.

The rest of the day was spent in quiet solace and contentment, partially realizing the extent of my personal achievement, but also simply attaching it to who I am. Heidi came for a much appreciated visit that evening, with the theme being her yelling at me for trying to do for myself, like getting up for some water when she can get for me. I remarked that tomorrow would probably be worse. Oh, it was. Legs got worse, but that's normal, balls of my feet were about the same, but my back hurt, and my right knee became the worst. Stiff, a little swollen, feeling bruised. Icing helped, and the knee became manageable enough to do a 4.5 mile recovery bike ride later, which helped the legs a little. I had a well-deserved piece of my pecan pie for breakfast.

"Nearly" 8,803 runners competed in the Philly Marathon, said the press release. Of those, 5,934 finished, and I placed 362 among the finishers, top 6.1%. Ironically, it was almost the exact placement from the half two months ago! I wish to thank basically every person I ever ran with.

I coined the term "marathon refractory period" a few years ago to describe the period of time between when a person who finished a marathon swears never to run another, and when the person starts thinking, hmmm... maybe another one. It's also known to start DURING a marathon! Having qualified for the Boston Marathon (the only marathon you need to qualify for except for the Olympics), there's no doubt in my mind I'm racing another. But, I think my body will revolt if I try for this coming April, so I plan to tackle my 3rd marathon in Boston on April 16, 2007. Might be nice to have a "2" as the first number of my marathon PR. Compared to most other racers in the club, I don't run nearly as much, only 3 days a week. However, my mentality is that I’m running every day; it’s just that many of those are "zero-mile" days. I'm still considered by many a novice marathoner, so I'm still growing in this respect.

For my first marathon in Scranton, PA (Steamtown), I must have high-fived the hands of over 100 kids while racing. This time, none. There was more pressure on me -- by only myself of course -- though I had to make sure not to be too serious. I just did the job, and did it well, and that in itself was just plain fun. The culmination not just of this year’s injuries and of waking up at ungodly hours on Saturday for long runs, but of my nearly five years of running was achieved that day. It is true that you can’t effectively explain finishing a marathon to someone who hasn’t done it, but I think it’s also true that you can’t effectively explain finishing your second marathon and qualifying for Boston with it, to someone who hasn’t. I understand now. And I am not yet finished. This rocks.

 

jim's achilles heel –Dirty Bird LBRR

I learned a very valuable math lesson yesterday.

The hardest race I've ever run (Ugly Mudder) + 2.5 more miles + Thanksgiving dinner + the now infamous "start fast" strategy + numerous ankle roles = recipe for disaster at the Dirty Bird.

The day started off fine....the ride out to Birdsboro was much shorter and easier than anticipated so there was plenty of time pre-race to stretch, chat and wait on line at the bathroom. The weather was just about perfect and I was definitely looking forward to hitting the trails. We lined up for the start at which point LL reminded us that there would be about a 1/4 mile run to the start of the trail. I had already made up my mind that I would not partake in any kind of mad dash to the trail and instead stay back with the thought that I would be able to pick off runners as the crowd thinned out mid-race. So of course when the race started, I promptly sprinted right behind LL and the other fast starters making the first mile, at best, unbearable. I spent miles 2-3 getting into a groove and by the time we passed the first water stop, I was feeling much better.

Between water stops 1 and 2, I started going a little faster but also started to get more careless. I rolled my ankle on a rock and went down for the first time. I made it to water stop 2 and rested for a bit. After leaving stop 2, I promptly went down again. Same ankle...and it hurt like hell. I was able to get going again, putting the pain in back of my mind. We hit a patch that was not rocky, but instead covered with pine needles and fairly flat. Tried to ramp it up again and rolled the left ankle for the third time...on a FLAT!!! The lack of coordination would have been hilarious it wasn't so painful. Hurting your ankle on a trail race is bad for a multitude of reasons. You lose confidence in running the downhills and you have very little power to get uphills. Basically, you slow to a crawl. Which is what I did....in my head, as soon as I hit the water stop that was at about mile 7, I was going to stop. I was hurting, I was exhausted and I just wanted to get out of there....then two things happened.

1 - someone ran by me and yelled out "hang in there".....it's always a tough call as to what you should say to someone who's obviously struggling in a race. For some reason, my irrational reaction was that it ticked me off. I was already having a crap day and I didn't need.....whatever...it ticked me off.

2 - as I shuffled to the last water stop, prepared to accept my ride back to the start line, one of the folks working on the course said, "Are you OK to keep going?" For some reason, I looked at him and said yes.

I refocused on the course and told myself that whatever happened, I was finishing this damn race. It wasn't pride, more of anger that despite having done this before, I was once again completely unprepared for how difficult the race would be. But I was not getting hauled out of those woods. The last two miles proved uneventful since I was moving so slowly and much of the rest of the race was spent on fairly flat ground. I finally got up to the homestretch and finished. I would post a time or a place but I don't know either.

The best part of the day was that the others who made the trip out to Birdsboro had some great finishes and the Philly crowd managed to pull a few awards...but I'll leave that for their LBRR's.

The worst part? I can't wait to get out there for Ugly Mudder and Mudfest to avenge my performance!

 

Ian - Dirrrty Bird LBRRRR

Yesterday, Jesus, Erin, Elizabeth, Jim and I headed out to Birdsboro for a Ron Horn race: the Dirty Bird 15k. Jim was kind enough to organize and drive those of us still caught in a deep and groggy tryptophan hangover.

This was your typical Ron Horn triathlon: complain about the terrors of the last race, struggle through the miserable terrain, then ask when the next one is.

I was not feeling like the world's fastest human, which doesn't explain why I jumped to the lead at the gun. Only stupidity explains that. After about 400 yards--or about 1/38th of the total distance we had to run, if you're keeping track--we embarked on a gentle but loooong hill and I regretted the decision. It would be another 100 yards before I regretted ever starting running to begin with, and I wouldn't regret being born until at least the half mile point.

Before that, Steve Jesus, who can now be referred to as Jesus Magoo if you like, passed by me and said 'why don't I ever learn?' I was pretty sure I wouldn't be seeing him again, and by the top of the hill, he had a substantial lead on the rest of the field, with me back in 10th or 11th place and falling fast.

Pretty soon I was on my own, nobody in sight ahead or behind. Then I heard the most horrible wheezing coming up behind me, and I feared I was about to be passed. In what I still have not determined is good news or bad news, I realized the wheezing was me.

After 4 or 5 miles, I started feeling great, and went pall-mall down the hills and running pretty quick through the flats. I'd spent enough time dogging it that I wasn't going to contend for the coveted jar of tootsie rolls, but I had a great deal of fun running hard. As some of you know I messed up my face playing with some of our more local wildlife a couple weeks ago, so I had little to fear from rocks and gravity.

I finished too far back to count. Steve Jesus Magoo Stevus was there to usher me in at my finish. He'd run a great race and hung on for third, winning the tootsie rolls. Elizabeth won some too, for fourth place in a pretty competitive women's field. Had there been a prize for Most Time Spent on Ground, Erin would not have come home empty handed, either.

Halfway through the race, Ron Horn was out on the course and upon seeing my miserable condition said

"You having fun yet Ian?"
"Nope."
"There's a real fun half mile coming up," he said. "It's after the finish line."

He was right. Hanging out with everybody afterwards was altogether less miserable. Maybe at the Ugly Mudder in February we can do more talking, less running?

 

Stevus -- Dirrrty Bird LBRRRR

Quick feet, slow legs. Unable to recognize out-of-shapeness as the explanation for the absolute misery that presented itself with each incline, I reasoned that my ability to make up ground on the downhill was derived entirely by taking quick enough steps to allow gravity to do all the work (coupled with the added stupidity of not slowing down to properly negotiate the leaf-covered rocks and crevasses). However, running (a term I use loosely to describe the movements I was attempting) uphill required more internal control over leg-speed with the forces of nature now working against me (like the old 'frog in the well' math problem, I think that I fell back 2 feet with every 3 feet I progressed). This could explain why my hip flexors feel as if they have been entered into a taffy pulling contest followed by a whittling competition.

Having experienced this sort of race before, I had all intentions of starting off slow so that the last half of the race wouldn't be spent coming up with excuses for why I had to drop out, or at least coming up with interesting ways to kill myself to make the pain stop. I was greatly disappointed to find that nobody really wanted to take the lead (at least not for the last 37/38th of the race) and even more disappointed to find myself in that unlikely position. So the next few miles were spent wondering if I had taken a wrong turn and cursing ever thinking running was a good idea. But it was not my day to remain in the lead for long, as I was eventually passed by runners who found it possible to pick up their feet while running uphill.

But overall, it was a fun time and, as LL pointed out, an experience that you loathe while simultaneously anticipating the next race to loathe (Ugly Mudder, anyone?). I suppose that not learning from our experiences is what makes us all runners - perhaps if we had better memories, we'd all be playing chess.

Congrats to the other runners who all made it though with minimal injury. The Philly Runners certainly made our presence known in the awards ceremony and also in the Twizzler eating competition - well done in all fronts!

 

Bill From Florida -- LBRR - Marathon of the Palm Beaches

This is the second running of West Palm Beach's marathon. The course follows the intracoastal waterway through the towns of Lake Worth and Riviera Beach. The event is organized by Dave McGillivray whose real day job is planning Boston. The winners are awarded champagne, caviar, and a cut of the $40,000 total purse.

We get to the course on schedule, and have 45 minute to gun time. The race is 1200 marathoners registered, and 2500 1/2 Marathoners.

It's busy but manageable. They have the start split into full and half self seeding with a small area closed off for the 20 or so elites. I ran the race last year, and started dead last. It was my first marathon, and I just wanted to finish. I took me three attempts at 20 last year to complete the entire workout running. The first two involved a lot of walking home, and lying on the floor. Not a real confidence builder.

I line up with my finish time from my last marathon. People actually seem to do a good job lining up. No pushing or shoving like most local 5K's. There is so much room I end up sitting on the curb just relaxing until about 10 minutes out. At five minutes, they remove the elite barrier, and the field packs into position.

The crowd quiets as they play the national anthem. Two minutes to go, and they send the wheelchair racer. There are two other charity competitors pushing baby joggers, and they head off into the distance. Team Hoyt from HBO sports was scheduled to run, but were not going to be able to complete due to an injury.

The horn sounds, and we head out. It is a completely different view that last year. My pace is the same as the field, and I am able to get through the first half a mile without having to wander through the crowd for position. I can see the clock for mile one from a distance. Mile 1 is 7:07. The easiest 7ish mile of my life, but faster than planned. Mile 2 passes in 7:17. I hear someone yell, "Go Randy and Paula's friend". It takes me about 10 seconds to realize she was talking to me. Mile 3 is 6:58. I grab the purple Mardi Gras beads and try to stop thinking about pace.

Mile 4 is 7:05 with the runaway bride water stop. The Palm Beach county clerk of the court ran the water stop. No one took them up on the offer to get married. I took Gatorade from the Bride. If you spoke to her, then she would ask you to marry her. I was her first proposal of the day.

Mile 5 was 6:57, the leaders passed going the other way. There was a course marshal on a bike riding along next to me. I asked him if he thought I would catch up. He almost fell of the bike.

A little farther and I was nearing my wife's office. I took off the heart monitor strap, and Mardi Gras beads, and tossed them to my family at 5.5. The battery in the strap died on about the third step of the marathon.

I missed the 6 mile mark as we neared the turnaround at 10K. I head back North past the family again. A smile and a wave and I continue back North.

I get passed by a bandit runner without a number around mile seven. He just flies by. He has to be headed for a blowup even if he is just doing the half. Mile 6/7 passes with a combined 13:38 (6:49 average). I cruise past the water stop winner Tropical Beach Vacation. Big wave, men in hula skirts, girl in bikini. I didn’t find the water stops as much fun as last year. I think the whole 'Wacky' thing only works once.

8 & 9 pass exactly at 7's. I catch up with a couple of people to run with for the next mile. They are talking away. I ran through ten miles at 7:14 (1:10 split). As I come up to the clock, I realize that this is a new PR for ten miles. I catch up to a guy that looks familiar to me, and I slow up a bit to make sure. It's a local who usually finished right with me for 5K'S. He looks bad. Eyes down, and he has on a half marathon number. I say hi, and he picks it up. He said he's just not feeling it today.

We pass a few people who have started to walk. I don't remember seeing anyone walking until mile 16 or 17 last year. I remember the first time I saw someone pull over during a marathon. It sort of freaked me out at the time. I remember thinking past here bad things happen. The day has warmed up. We started at 69 degrees and it probably up to 76 or so.

7:05, 7:00, for 11 and 12. We are coming up on the split. They channel the half to lane on the left and full stays in the middle. I can finally see who is what race. We run side by side for the mile back to the start/finish. 7:10 for mile 13. The bandit that passed 7 doesn't blow up, but he looks really bad as he finishes the half.

I am at 3:05 pace for the first half, and I feel really good. I decide to stay conservative, and not do anything to screw up a Boston qualifying run. I have run two negative split marathons, but the qualifier is more important, and I am not running even enough miles.

We wind along the waterfront into a little bit of a headwind. The pack is really spread out. The next person is at least a couple of minutes ahead. They have blocked off four lanes, and I use every bit to try to save some seconds along the twisted road. We make a right, and head into Larry's neighborhood. Larry is the guy with the broken hip in the training story. I am planning on using a little marathon karma during this section. I actually still feel like talking with some of the spectators.

Miles 14, 15, 16, & 17 are 7:03, 7:20, 6:59, 7:19. I am trying to keep as close to 7:14 as I can but it's difficult to find the pace. The next mile is the only real hill on the course. It's a bridge. You run up to the top, to the turn around and come back. Since it is a sparse pack, the course photographers look bored. I joke with them that I'll be right back. It seemed funny at the time.

And I was back, 20 seconds later. I got my picture snapped, and I was on.

Back down the hill/bridge, and past Larry's place. I passed an aid station, and told them I was glad I didn’t need their help today. They said they were even happier.

18, 19, 20 were 7:13, 7:08, & 7:09. My dad waves at me in the distance. He is going to make the turn going the other way before I get there. Another half mile and I am back to the start finish area. The course actually runs past and duplicates, and comes back to the start. I see the family, and pick it up a little.

I feel like I am headed to no man's land. I am not sure exactly where the final turnaround is. The streets look so much different when you are running the wrong way in the middle of the road. I get through 21, 22, & 23 with 7:14, 7:15, & 7:17.

The mental block of the turnaround starts to set in. I do some quick math. I am at 23 at 2:43:33. That means I have 24 minutes to finish. All I need is three nines, and I make it. Even Ms. Lohan would have pointed out my mistake.

I made the turn, and crossed 24 at about 8. I didn't press my watch hard enough. I didn't realize the mistake. There is a guy about 30 seconds ahead, and I try to catch him, and bring my pace back down. I look at my watch 15:20 lap time 2:58:54 split.

I can't do the math. I am afraid to walk. I really want to walk. It seems like everyone I pass on the way back is walking. It's just a mile, one mile. One mile, and .2. Realize the earlier math error. I can see the bridge I need to get back to. It is about a third from the finish. You can't see the finish line until you pass that point. Even then I am not sure how long with will take me to get from there to the finish. I try to budget 4 minutes in my head.

I make it back to the half/full split. The half rejoins the full course to head to the finish. I think that it is nice that I have a clear path ahead. Last year I was trying to pass a runner in the final straight, and he ended up colliding into a group of half finishers that were four wide across the course. I backed off, and let him go not to end up pushing someone. You need all the running karma you can get. I probably beat him on chip time anyway.

I get to the bridge, and I can see the finish. It looks more than 4 minutes away. I pick it up as much as I can. It's going to be close. There is a local runner directing us into the different lanes for the finish. I give him a 'Hey', and I am about 100 yards out. They announce me as a local runner from Manalapan as I cross the line 3:08:29.

 

 

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