Running Stories -- 2006
So I have been training vary hard over the past few months, and yesterday, I finally got to test how well my training would pay off.
Saturday night brought a Philly Runners Dinner at Marra's in South Philly. A large group attended, and Ryan kept us all amused by scheming to steal cake from 4-year-olds celebrating their birthday. I have to admit the cake did look awfully tempting. And I think we could have taken the 4-year-olds.
Sunday morning I woke up at 6 am and had my race morning meal of sweetened oatmeal. Out the door at 6:30am to pick up Andy and Bear for the ride down to Wilmington. Left Philly at about 7 am and by the time we got to Wilmington it was on and off pouring and not looking like a great race day. I was nervous and pumped for this race at the same time. I had trained very hard, and wanted the result to show it. But I haven't had many great races in the last year, so I didn't want to be dissapointed again.
The cannon went off, and we were on our way. I don't tend to run my races with other people (even other Rhilly Runners members) because I tend to get sucked into faster or slower paces than I want. Usually this ends badly. My target goal was 1:50 or 8:23 min/mile pace.
1:49:03 Chiptime in my second half-marathon. 1 minute under my goal time of 1:50 and a PR by nearly 4.5 minutes. I can't help but wonder what I might have run without any hills!
I slept most of the way home, and I am very sore today, but as tired as I am, I feel awesome. A few days off, and an easy week, then I start in training for Broad Street.
Somewhat late, but here’s my CR LBRR. Having prepped for this race by pulling a hamstring in week 4, skiing in Wyoming in week 3, and getting a stinking cold in week 2 before the race, I was prepared to settle for a 1:45 finish time. Which would still be a minute faster than last years time.
I picked up Ian, Jenn, Veena , 4 cups of coffee and 4 bagels at 8th and Pine. Veena was expected to win the race, and I was hoping that some of her speed would rub off on me on the drive to Wilmington. I was, and still am, way behind schedule for my London Marathon training. So this race would be a good measure of my fitness under race conditions. As a prep for London the weather couldn’t have been better. 50 degrees and raining…..perfect. Just like London in April! Fortunately, I came equipped. After parking the car in an illegal spot behind the Y, I discovered that I had a large black trash bag in my boot. So, after tearing holes for my arms and head, I donned this rather fashionable outfit, and made my way over to the start. At the registration they gave me my number and shirt in a green plastic bag. It was still raining cats and dogs so I converted the plastic bag into a waterproof hat. I removed the hat, just before the start of the race, but ran the first few miles in the trash bag. Last year I went out way too fast. I figured the the trash bag would slow me down in the first few miles. I was determined to run a steady 8 minute pace for most of the race this year. I was surprised when I went past the first mile marker at 7:42. I felt like I was hardly moving, and my legs felt light. Hey the trash bag was working. Perhaps this would be a good race. I met up with the Goat during mile 2, and we ran together for the next few miles. We maintained a steady 8 minute pace for the next few miles (7:58, 8.04, 7:52. I think I threw off the trash bag around mile 4. I picked up a bit of pace in mile 5, (7:38), and then slowed back to an 8 pace as we entered the hilly section (7:58, 8:08). The Goat was starting to pick up speed on the hill. Somewhere around mile 5 the Goat and the Bear were running side by side in front of me. So I yelled ‘Steve’ and they both turned around. How often do you get to run behind a goat and a bear in a half-marathon. Anyway, as the Goat took off up the hill despite developing a mild stitch, I managed to maintain a steady 8 min pace. It was a relief to get to the top of the hill on Kennet Pike. I was slightly out of breath, and figured I’d use the next mile to catch my breath. I passed the 8 mile mark and was pleased to see that I was still maintaining a steady 8 min pace. It was still slightly uphill towards the turnaround, but things were going according to plan, and I was playing with the idea of picking up the pace on the downhill section. As I swung around the turnaround and approached the 9 mile mark I saw Marita, Erin and Rachel heading towards me. We cheered each other on, and as I passed the 9 mile mark, I made a concerted effort to pick up the pace. I clocked myself at 7:32 passing the 10 mile mark on Kennet Pike. My legs felt great and I felt myself rolling down the road with nice long strides. As I turned the corner down the steep hill, I gave it another kick, and began to just bounce down the hill. I felt great and was having a lot of fun. I passed the Goat and continued to pick up speed. I clocked a 7:16 pace at the 11 mile, and 7:20 at the 12 mile marks. I knew there was a big hill coming at the finish, so I decided to save a little in the tank and slowed down to a 7:49 pace by mile 13. I’m glad I did this, because the final hill seemed even steeper than I remember from last year. It was a real struggle. I clocked the last tenth of a mile at 52 second which I think works out to an 8:30 pace. Final chip time was 142:20. Four minutes faster than last year, and only a minute slower than the 2005 PDR. Well it turns out Veena only came 2nd. So maybe I did steal some of her speed. Congrats and sorry Veena!
OK, a 5k race report can only be so long and boring, but I'm posting because this was a fun race and in my neighborhood, so I'd like to see it continue to do well in the future.
I got to the staging area at University of the Sciences and was immediately surprised by the number of people there. Over 300 ran the race, although it turned out that there were a lot of walkers. The race was organized by several student clubs at USP, which meant that the course was pretty well delineated with chalk lines and there were volunteers or police officers at every intersection.
The starting line was in a parking lot and was pretty wide, which meant that I lined up in the first row - not a particularly good idea. After the start and about 60 meters across the parking lot, only Lindsay Lohan is ahead of me, and I'm not sure how to correct my pace. After about a quarter mile I'm finally passed by Seebo, Anglo, and a couple of others, and all is right with the world.
The course was a double loop in (West) University City, with a long gradual uphill on 46th from Woodland to Larchwood, and a quick downhill at 44th and Larchwood. Erin and my wife are waiting at the bottom of this hill cheering and heckling the runners. The lead pack has disappeared, and Veena passes me about this time.
The second loop was more of the same, but I have to dodge a lot of walkers. I'm passed once more by a runner that I don't know, and bring it home in 19:14 (PR). Despite my lack of control at the start, I managed even splits (6:13, 6:13, 6:12), so this may be a new racing strategy.
I join Seebo, Anglo, and another runner whose name I missed for a cooldown lap. We receive lots of encouragement from the volunteers still on the course (35 minutes after the start) as we lope along.
There were a few hitches, and LL ended up running a very nice 5.1 K, but all in all this was a well-organized race with a nice change of scenery (actually, very familiar scenery for me).
I'm sure that Seebo will post about his heartwarming finish that brings a tear to my eye even as I write this.
Nice work, Kevin. Same to you, Kevin.
As for my race, I was promised that if I were able to run 3.1 Miles, all children in Africa would get measles vaccinations, and that's good enough for me.
Warmed up a bit with Kevin (not Kevin, the other one), who looked ready to represent West Philly. My girlfriend Jenn came along to run her first 5k with her friend Molly. They hid themselves somewhere in the back of the starting throng. Saw the usual suspects--Seebo, Anglocellerator--and after a weird 5,4,3,2,1,0 instead of a ready-set-go, things were off. Took the early lead, and after about a half mile took it slightly off course and up a hill. Whoever was behind me asked the cop minding the intersection "Is it straight or not?" to which I think he replied "I guess so." Thanks, Officer!
No harm done really, a little expletive and I headed back to the non-guerrilla route. I found myself in 6th place, give or take, and put it in high gear to catch up to Seebo, who'd taken over the lead place. As he slowed down to let me break even with him, I didn't stop to think about the fact that he was actually 23 miles ahead of me, after his enthusiastic warm-up. I was happy to have made up the ground, but knew that I had burned off any kick in the effort, and whenever Seebo wanted to make a move, I would probably not be able to cover it.
We kept running, around 5:30 pace, and passed Erin and Deirdre and others at the bottom of a hill. If I had known Erin was baking muffins in an oven just 10 feet away I might have just called it a day right there. We started lapping the field, finally catching Jenn and Molly towards the end of their first loop. A pat on Jenn's backside and they cheered for us. Seebo says, "you want to race this?" I say, "Up to you." What "up to you" means, by the way, is "I can't run any faster." Seebo says "alright, let's finish together."
Seebo held out his hand for the arms-up-in-the-air finish. Seebo, correct me if I'm wrong, but do you think we went for it a little early? I can't help but feel like we were holding hands much longer than necessary.
Jenn had heard someone say the prize was $1000, and believed it. In truth, it was so much better. That's right, folks: my very own bottle of Donald Trump The Fragrance. Thank you, Race for Humanity. Couldn't we be using this to sterilize needles somewhere?
Then a nice brunch, and back home. In the car I put on some Donald Trump. We had to roll down the windows. If your eyes are burning as you read this, it's because I still haven't showered.
It was a nice, but warm day when over 30 Philly Runners (yet only one Steve), with a team in each of the co-ed, women's, and men's divisions, raced. Team captains were perennial team leader Ryan, Elizabeth S, and me, with team names Future Team Champions Of The World, Fast Fems, and a repeat of the slightly mispronounceable Phil E. Runner & The Iliotibial Band.
Included on Ryan's team was our VERY FIRST PHILLY RUNNERS RECRUIT from April 2002, Jeffrey, as well as ubiquitous racer FOPR (Friend Of Philly Runners) / PRF (Philly Runners Friend) English Kevin.
Julie, English Mike, and Elizabeth's Valente were watching our stuff, and Seebo (who strangely STILL hasn't posted a Paris Marathon race report!), Erin, and others came to cheer. Thanks!
English Kevin was our first to finish, with John W as the first PR finisher, followed by a little duel between Kevin and Raymond. Heather was the first PR woman, followed by Daria and Laura B. Notable were Jim running with Elisabeth, Pat running with his son, and multiple PR first-racers. Since we had so many racers, our regular 9:30am run was cance HEY WHO WROTE THAT?! NO NO NO!
Our men's team repeated with 1st place out of 4 teams, shattering our 5K team club record. Our women's team also repeated, destroying the other 2 teams. Our co-ed team placed 7th in a tough division with 41 teams, beaten this year by the Clean Air Council's team led by PR Tim. I don't believe any bets were placed on that rivalry this year though, be it running the loop facing backwards, buying us all a round at Bishop's Collar, or doing the Rocky Steps in only a Speedo!
Both Kevin and Daria won division awards, and FOPR/PRF English Kevin did too. Good job to Tim's organization for putting on another fine race. We convened at my place after for Seth's French Toast Brunch, which effectively (and deliciously) replenished any carbs lost for this race, as well as for the next two races. Thanks, Seth!
See ya at the next club run!
Our week in Paris was awesome. Combining vacationing and marathoning is something I highly recommend. Activities like climbing up Montmartre to Sacre Coeur and taking long evening walks in the City of Lights provide an excellent post marathon recovery regimen, and place the marathon into a larger gallery of experiences and memories.
However, just like traveling abroad requires adapting to some adversity, likewise be flexible when running marathons abroad. In hindsight, I might have added some 1 a.m. workouts to my training regimen to prepare for the jet lag that hit me harder than I thought. Italian restaurants are not what most people look for when dining out in Paris. And then there is this business about kilometer splits.
You'll also realize that American marathons pamper runners way too much. In Paris there was one porta-potty per corral, probably a ratio of about 1:1000. I was staying in an apartment right off the Champs-Elysees about 500 meters from the start and I ran back there to do my pre-race business. At refreshment stops you get bottles of water that you unscrew yourself, half bananas that you peel on the go, and orange wedges. Watch your step if you are in the back of the pack, and don’t be looking for that Clif-Shot stop at mile 18.
The runners also seemed to take themselves less seriously, with a good number of runners in costume or carrying banners. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Paris Marathon, organizers distributed floppy yellow Gilligan's Island type hats, which many runners actually wore. My goal was to beat anyone with a floppy hat on, but I don’t think I was successful.
This costume bit was a problem at the start. Although I was supposed to have a "preferred start" and had to jump through all kinds of hoops to prove myself eligible for it, guys (less than 20% of the runners were women) in all shapes and sizes and various costumes managed to start before me. So the start has me running downhill on the cobblestones of the Champs-Elysees, around the Place de Concorde, down the Rue de Rivoli past the Tuileries and the Louvre in conditions that are really claustrophobic - passing guys dressed as waiters (holding up trays with wine bottles and glasses) and the like, and also negotiating around regular "islands" of spectators who inexplicably plant themselves right in the middle of the street.
This chaos is probably a blessing in disguise as it forces me to start slow. First 5k goes by in 19:12. I'm at the Place de Bastille and finally getting elbow room. I take the traffic circle here and almost run right into the water stop located right on the tangent. Note to self: be prepared for anything.
The shape of the course is basically a long flat oval, going through the center part of the city for the first 10k (next 5k go by in 18:37) and then turns around in the Bois de Vincennes, a big park on the east side of the city. Here you get woods and some solitude (and a chance to recover if you missed the porta potties) and some gentle inclines. The third 5k chunk went by in 19:22, the fourth in 18:53, and then it was through some East Parisian neighborhoods and up to the half mark (21.1 in km's). On leaving the woods the crowds pick up a bit and at the half point they funnel the runners so that you are forced to go through a big inflatable arch single file.
Halfway split was 1:20:23, meaning I'd have to negative split the second half of the marathon to beat my goal time of 2:40. I get cheered on by Joan A., who runs with the PAC club, who is the sole person besides my family I know who is anywhere near this race. By this point my head is starting to feel out of sync with my body, akin to the beginnings of an out-of-body experience that is likely from jet lag. The course now goes west along the Seine and I mark off the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre (again) and various bridges, as well as a series of tunnels that we go through that feel like rolling hills in and out of darkness.
At this point I’m still passing folks on a regular basis and for awhile play tag with two other guys who are doing the same thing. For some reason, in addition to putting bib-numbers on the front of their singlets, many runners also put a bib with their names on their back. I’m not sure why they do this, other than so I can curse by name the stream of runners who abruptly cutting in front of me throughout the race. Must be a French thing. Nevertheless, the next 5k goes by in 19:03 and the 5k after that in 18:58. I'm now at 30k and across from the Eiffel Tower. Cindy and Tony are here to cheer me on, as are a bunch of "amis de parquet" who are dressed as squirrels and acorns and trees. My head is feeling really heavy and my neck is starting to hurt from supporting it (yes, I know this is weird), but I’m starting to entertain thoughts of 2:40 again.
I eat my second GU (I was smart and packed my own) and take my only water of the race. I did just as I watched the others do: unscrew the cap, pour out some of the water, and then drink. But I’m not practiced at it and my stomach doesn't receive it well so I give it up. Somewhere around here mile 20 hits and I know there won't be a big kick happening today. We are now in the Bois de Boulogne, the big park on the west side of town at the other end of the oval. I find people to hang onto, but get that feeling where I know I'm slowing but there's not a damn thing I can do about it. Next 5k confirms this as I hit 19:21. Now comes the disadvantage of counting kilometers; I have no clue as to what my finishing time will be.
Just run, the time will take care of itself.
All marathons, regardless of place or culture, are hard at this point. The park seems endless. Kilometers are supposed to be shorter than miles, but there are also more of them. The 40k mark finally comes up and I see the last 5k went by in 19:39. My legs ache, I just can’t get my head placed to where it sits comfortable on my neck, and, as we hit the Avenue Foch for the last 2k and a little bit, I'm done. Interestingly, the French cheers (and the crowd support was solid except for the wooded areas) almost exclusively consist of two words: "allez" (go) and "courage." At this point in the race, I take the latter to heart.
I'm a bit disappointed to see the finish line clock turn over to 2:42 in the distance, but I know I have a shot to go sub-2:42 with my chip time. One last burst up a small incline and I cross the finish in 2:41:52 – a PR by about 20 seconds.
I'll take it. A PR is a PR, and I now inch down to become a 2:41 marathoner. I look back and can't think of anything different I would have done differently in the race - all went steady until the last 10k, and the difference was in just not having that final kick. Whether that was due to gaps in training or to jet lag or to biorhythms I'll never know. Gives me something to focus on for next time.
Did I say this marathon doesn’t pamper you?! The end was very businesslike - give us back the chip, here is your medal. No congratulations or other praise is put forth, and for my part I just keep walking. I look to get a massage and see, too late, that the massage tent is also the first aid tent and the folks who are popping blisters are also those who are rubbing down legs. It feels like a M*A*S*H tent in there and I just keep walking, looking straight ahead and thinking of a happy place. I meet up with Cindy and Tony and that they are the only ones I have to debrief with; I have met no one else who speaks anything but French.
We walk back to the apartment we are staying at, past the L'Arc de Triomphe and up the Champs-Elysees where the start was. All traces of the start are gone and it is a busy Sunday morning down Paris' storied thoroughfare. This leaves my memories, which will mix in with the sights I see for the rest of the week as many portions of the marathon course become woven into a rigorous week of sightseeing and an unforgettable trip.
I arrived in London three days before the marathon. I spent Thursday recovering from jet lag at my sisters in Twickenham. The next day, Friday, I went to the expo to pick up my number . A very efficient and well run affair. While I was there I signed up for a university study on the effect of low sodium in runners. They would check my salt, sugar and haemoglobin density before and after the race. Healthy folk like myself who completed the race without a problem would be the control group. Those who collapsed and ended up in the medical tent during or after the race would be the test group. Saturday, was 70 F and sunny. Perfect for relaxing on the deck, but bad news if it held over for Sunday. I checked the forecast and was glad to see that the prediction was for clouds with light rain. Perfect running weather. Though given that the weather forecast is as about as accurate as the train service in England, I was still a little concerned.
As it turned out, the Met office got it right, it was a perfect day. Light drizzle and cool temperature. Wish I could say the same for the rail service. There are no buses to the start of the London marathon. Most people get there by underground from Waterloo. In true British style, the train I planned to catch from Twickenham to Waterloo was delayed. Fortunately, I'd left plenty of time and caught the 7:26; though the 6:59 eventually arrived, also at 7:26, but in the opposite direction. Figure that out!
The start point at the Greenwich observatory was very well organized, and even on this drizzly morning, with all its greenery and neatly manicured lawns, it was a pleasant place to hang out prior to the race. The location, layout and organization were much better than the NYC Staten Island location. No porta potties, instead they had mobile bathrooms, complete with flushable toilets and sinks. Luxury compared to all other races. Plenty of useful information was given over the public address system. This included the opportunity to volunteer to wear a rhinoceros head and costume during the race. I thought about this enticing offer, but finally decided that it would severely limit my chances of achieving a PR.
With 5 minutes to go I made my way to my starting enclosure, and joined the 9 minute pace group. The plan was to go out at a 9 minute pace for the first 4 miles, and then drop to an 8:30 pace for the rest of the course. It took about 5 minutes to cross the line. It was very crowded, but the crowd was keeping up a good steady pace. The first half of the course was through South East London. Mainly a mixture of middle and working class neighbourhoods scattered with industrial parks and warehouses. The course starts in Greenwich and the weaves through the neighbourhoods of Charlton and Woolwich. Very much like the section through Queens and Brooklyn. Plenty of crowds and pub bands playing. Despite the crowds, the pace group was faster than planned for the first mile (8:41). I guess the pace group leader realized this, and overcompensated for the second mile (9:43). When we passed the 3 mile mark at 9:17, I decide it was time break from the group and start making up some of this lost time. My fourth mile was a nice 8:31. I felt pretty good except that my calves were a bit stiff; I was hoping they'd loosen up over the next few miles. Otherwise I felt pretty good and started to enjoy the crowd and the whole atmosphere. Mile 5, at 8:21, mile 6 at 8:29, then a brief run around the old big-rig sail ship, the Cutty Sark, followed by mile 7 at 8:46, mile 8 at 8:19, mile 9 at 8:20, and mile 10 at 8:36. The course was extremely crowded, but I was still managing to hold a pretty good pace. I passed the first of the BHF cheering points at mile 8-9, and got a big cheer as they recognized my BHF vest. By this time I’d made up a lot of the time I’d lost in the first few miles and still feeling good. My calves had loosened up by this time. I was still running using my own supply of Gatorade. I find this really helps avoid the congestion around water stops in the first half of a big race. There were plenty of water stations. And all were very well manned. The only problem I had was that the water was given out in 500 ml plastic bottles, which were great for twisting your ankle on. One half-filled bottle narrowly missed hitting me as it was flung to the side by another runner. Similarly, the sports drinks were handed out in plastic pouches with screw top lids. Don't know why they don't use paper cups?
I was still moving at a good pace at mile 11 (8:21) and was really getting into the crowds. I had my name on my vest. As I ran past I encouraged the crowd to cheer. This really helped keep me going, especially during the second half of the race. I hit mile 12 at 8:20, and shortly afterwards turned the corner onto Tower Bridge. The view was spectacular. The large ornate metal drawbridge was mobbed with thousands of spectators. It was like coming over the Queensborough Bridge into Manhatten in the NYC marathon. The elite runners had long since passed, but the crowd was enthusiastically cheering all the runners. As I crossed the bridge I passed the second BHF cheering point, and unfortunately missed spotting two old college friends who'd driven down from Leeds to see the race (they also missed me at the 22 mile mark, just north of the bridge). As I came over the bridge and looked West towards the City, I could see many of the famous sights: The Tower of London was to the left at the foot of the bridge, where the course turned East, away from the City, and headed out along the Highway towards the Docklands. This was the first wide open stretch in the course. I passed the 13 mile and 14 mile marks at 8.32, and 8.28. Still felt good and now within a minute of my target time. This was a good spot for spectators. The crowds were a bit thinner, and the course switches back along the same route for miles 20-22 (so they can catch you twice from the same spot…...theoretically!) One of my brothers was meant to be near the 35K mark on the return side of the Highway. But again, I didn't spot him, and he didn't see me. His 3 year old son commented after the race that he didn't see Uncle Mike, but he did see a rabbit and a chicken. That made his day. Costumes are a major part of this race.
I forgot to mention that I videoed the entire race myself. Rite-Aid now sells single-use disposable video cameras with 20 mins of recording time. It's very light (less than an iPOD, and easy to carry). I played the role of roving reporter……'embedded' in the London marathon. I'll have a showing at my place when I get the DVD back.
Mile 15 through 20 threads its way through the docklands and the new gleaming skyscrapers of Canary wharf. (Mile 15 at 8.42, mile 16 at 8.37, mile 17 at 8.44, mile 18 at 8.33). I'd been holding it pretty steady and was nowhere near hitting the wall. Though by mile 16 I was aware of my legs starting to stiffen slightly. After a slow mile 19 (8.42) I started to focus on my stride and managed to improve my pace a bit (20 at 8.27). We were now in the middle of the Canary Wharf district. The man made canyon formed by the tall spanking new office buildings really amplified the roar of the crowd. With only 6 miles to go the crowd was loud and raucous. I was having a great time videoing the crowd as I encouraged them to cheer my name. This combined with my general tiredness, caused me to loose concentration and back off my pace a bit. Mile 21 at 8.39, and we were back on the Highway. This was a bit of a repeat of the Harlem section of NYC: Runners were all over the place: Many were walking, blocking the way, and making it difficult to keep a steady pace. I was having so much fun with the crowd at this point. As mile 22 approached, I started looking for my brother and his son at the 35K mark. Again I missed them (and since I wasn't dressed as a rabbit or a chicken, they missed me). Mile 22 at 8.43, and my legs were definitely starting to weaken. Though, as I went past Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, it was more a lack of concentration than physical weakness that was causing me to slow up. There was just so much going: The crowds, the views, and yours truly trying to video the whole race, and all the tourist attractions whilst trying to keep track of my time splits. Not recommended if you’re trying for a PR. Mile 23 at 9:02 and we were on the Embankment on the North side of the Thames. Big Ben and the Big Eye were in view off to my left. With only 3 miles to go, my legs were feeling fairly weak, but there was still plenty of juice in my upper body. I focused on my stride and really tried to focus on lifting my heels. This helped; I passed mile 24 at 8.33. A good pace for me at the end of a marathon. There was another BHF cheering point near the mile 24 marker, where another of my brothers was waiting with his wife and kids. To attract attention, this time I slowed down and started running backwards past the BHF crowd. That got a huge cheer and a laugh. My sister in-law saw me, but my brother, who was ready and poised with all his camera gear somehow missed me. The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben were now in full view; Westminster Bridge off to the left. In my state of mind, the bright red double Decker busses crossing the bridge in the distance, looked like little toy buses, I just couldn't bring myself to focus on one final kick. Way too much going on. In fact, by mile 25 I'd slowed to 9:31 (running backwards didn't help). I tried picking up the pace, but the views were just too amazing, particularly Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, just as we turned onto the Mall. A large 600 meters to go sign provided me with a bit of an incentive. The Mall was lined with large Union Jack Flags waving in the breeze and the rain among the trees along the Mall . Easily the most impressive finish I've ever seen. The crowds were 3-4 deep on both sides. Two friends, who'd driven down from Yorkshire, actually managed to spot me in the last 200 M (though I didn’t see them). I passed the 26 mile mark at 9.16. With 200 meters to go I gave it a final kick and finished in 3:47:51. 2-3 minutes off my goal, but still a PR by about 3 minutes (Amsterdam, 2004 was 3:50 +, NYC 2005 was 3:58). Not too bad considering my very light, and somewhat injury spattered training schedule over the last 3-4 months.
The bag lorries were conveniently placed in one straight line down the Mall en route to the 'Meeting Point'. This was so much easier than the somewhat chaotic arrangement in Central Park for NYC marathon. I met up with both set of friends who'd been looking for me along the route and we walked over to Trafalgar square for the BHF recovery party at the Commonwealth Club. .This was nicely organized with food, drinks, a cash bar and a photo session. Runners were even treated to a free 30 minute leg massage. Finally, dinner and a few beers with friends, and back to my sisters in Twickenham for a well deserved crash (not before watching the highlights of West Ham beat Middlesborough to get into the FA Cup Final…go hammers!).
Perhaps a BQ in Philly 2006!
I went into this, my 7th BSR, the least prepared that I have been since my first one in 2000. (Blame that on moving, getting married, and not running all that much). So I really had no expectations of how I would do.
Saw Russ before the start and asked what he was thinking of running today.
I propose that Russ gets the nickname "Metronome", since we were consistently between 6:50 and 7:00 for miles 1-9.
Mile 1- 6:59
Creepy thing is that only Miles 3 and 7 were the same splits; the rest were all different (everything other than 6:58 for you numerologists). There's not much interesting to report in the middle of the race, other than spotting people who we felt that we had to finish in front of. Yes, it's a bit pretentious I guess (or running snob at the least), but if you saw some of these people, you'd understand.
There was some gas left in the tank to pull through a 6:33 last mile, for a 1:08:50-ish finish.
Big thanks to Russ for getting me through this in much better shape than I thought possible. It just goes to show that running with someone is a big help.
I ran the Valley Forge 5 miler a couple of weeks ago as a tuneup to see how I could run at Broad St. Although I did well enough, I was slightly disappointed with what it told me about my impending 10 mile race. I should have known better, though; the hilly, partly off road course at Valley Forge has nothing to do with the extremely forgiving Broad St Run. My previous 10 mile times were 1:13 at Broad St last year and 69:38 at the Icicle Run in Wilmington in January. I still figured I should have a big PR.
I had a flat tire on my bike, so I rode the trolley to City Hall and listened to Springsteen on my ipod to warm up (the new album, not Born to Run). I met up with Steve, Allen, and Erin again on the 6:30 train, and we got to the start with plenty of time to christen the porta potties.
My plan for the race was to go out at 6:20 for the first mile and see what happened. I lined up near the front of the 6 minute pace group, which is apparently the new 8 minutes. Other people complain about optimistic starters, but I rather enjoy spending much of the race passing people (since many of my fellow 6 minute milers apparently started with the 5 minute group.
I go out for the first mile, squeezing between people who are dressed for yoga or a stroll on Kelly Drive, and hit the mark in 6:13. A bit fast, but I'm feeling good so I figure I'll keep it up. I always assume my pace is faster than my first mile split, though, accounting for a slow start, so I back off. Too much, though, as mile 2 comes in 6:20.
The rest of the splits are almost as metronomic (but slightly less creepy) as Steve's and Russ's:
The course, as usual, was great fun. I saw girls playing Nirvana covers, some great gospel singing, and I heard the Rocky theme twice - played by a high school band and over a loudspeaker. I realize that my running has progressed a lot in the last year when I pass City Hall and don't have any worries about holding my pace for another 4 miles. Miles 8 and 9 are a little warm, and I slow a bit, but I get a boost when I see Christine and Silas with my mom and brother around the 9 mile mark and actually manage a bit of a kick over the last 300 meters.
Crossing the finish line (62:17, 7+ minute PR), I'm handed a card that says I'm probably an award winner and should report to somewhere something something. I do a quick calculation, though, and figure that the age group awards probably don't go 50 deep, so I toss the card.
Seems like most folks who were training had big PR's at this race, and most folks who weren't had fun anyway. Looking forward to that fall marathon now...
Nice work everybody. As always, the best part about this race is standing about 50 feet past the finish line and watching people come in like "how the hell did I just do that?"
Jesus rules. I did all of his training with him, meaning we warmed up together before the race.
Perfect day for a race, as evidenced by the fact that there were roughly one bajillion people in under an hour. Among them, Kollar ran a sweet sub-58, one of five PRs for our team, the Isaac Resnikoff Cash Money Allstars.
I poured Gatorade in my eye around mile 5, and I nitrate-loaded instead of carbo-loaded by eating hot dogs. Neither seems nutritionally sound, but things turned out well.
I was wearing a shirt that said "Claire found the Afikomen." This is the result of a Passover disaster. Anyway, I got a lot of cheers "Go Claire!" "Yay Claire!" Don't people know my name is Lindsay Lohan?
I also passed one guy who said "did you see that guy's shirt? Best shirt all day." I was touched until I realized I was running next to a guy who was wearing an american flag shirt with an eagle on it and the eagle was holding a rifle and the rifle was shooting a piece of apple pie at Osama Bin Laden, so I think they were talking about him.
Despite running the last two miles next to a guy who apparently really wanted to cuddle, I managed to run pretty even splits and sneak in just under 56 for a PR.
I was very happy, but certain members of The Isaac Resnikoff Cash Money Allstars were not. I'm not even talking about our runner who ended up in a sprint race with the ambulance at the back of the field. Anyway, as a result I had to miss both Kegs and Eggs, which is the only thing I had to complain about on what was an otherwise perfect day.
I went into this feeling really confident. I ran a 37 min. 10K 2 weeks ago (without a taper and 5 drinks the night before), so my goal was to do under an hour for this race.
I was going to run this race unregistered but one of the students dropped out of the SRPS program after registering for Broad Street. So I assumed his bib #, chip, and identity. I am Akeem Crump.
Per usual (see Philly marathon reports '04& '05), circumstances conspired to disrupt my race before it even began. I was cut off from my team while trying to make sure they all got on the Broad Street subway, operated by ConAgra for the day. After searching for them, unsuccessfully, at the starting area, I took up position on a hill next to the starting line. I saw several Philly Runners, and then I saw Donald, who I was going to run with, taking off down an open seam on the far side of the road. "Oh shit." I ran down the hill, tried jumping the corral gate, failed and looked like a fool, and then ran around the gate the long way, crossed the starting line, and ran all out for the first three miles. I saw Donald about 100 yards ahead but at that point if I caught him I wouldn't have been able to hold the pace so I dialed it back, found students Eric and Frank, and ran with them. After giving them a small goal to keep them going, Frank went off like a steer at a rodeo, while Eric and I plugged away at the remaining miles. As we passed City Hall, with Frank still only 50 yards ahead, the band was playing the Beatles "Birthday"- a nice touch given that it was both Frank's and my birthday. Eric and I finished at 1:37. Frank said he finished with a 1:19 though his posted time had him closer to 1:30. And Donald ended up finishing with a cool 1:13.
I know this is a bit late, but better late than never; otherwise we’ll have to read another post in the “For English Mike” post that isn’t as funny as English Mike thinks it is.
Well, like everyone else my BSR LBRR is a story of a (minor) PR as well as optimism for the direction my running season has gone thus far. In 2005, my goal was to break 1:30, and I missed that goal by 8 seconds , so I kept this same goal for 2006. Not a lofty goal, but one that still bothered me for not reaching it in 2005.
I started at the tail end of the 8-minute group; I don’t need to tell you how that worked over the first mile or so. My first few miles, aside from crazy runners trying to pass in that construction zone, were uneventful. I ran 8:30 in the first mile, 8:45 in mile 2 and then settled into about a 9 minute per mile pace (I don’t have an expensive watch/GPS/heart rate monitor to track that stuff to the nearest millisecond). As I ran, it was a very comfortable pace, and I was able to enjoy the experience more than just about any race I have run. I noticed that it seemed like there were fewer sideline cheerleaders this year, but with so many more runners I think the BSR might be converting cheerleaders from one year into runners the next, which is a great commentary on this race.
Anyways, at about mile 7, I was about a minute and a half ahead of my goal time, so I figured I could run 9:30’s the rest of the way and still beat my goal. Unfortunately, mile 8 went by in about 10 minutes as I took water/Gatorade and walked a bit so I could actually drink it (I still haven’t mastered drinking and running). So, I hustled a bit to do sub 9’s again for the last 2 miles, and came in at 1:29:27 chip time, a full 40 seconds under last years time.
So, a 10-mile race in the middle of my unique brand of marathon “training” and I was able to hit a PR somewhat easily. With one long run to go this weekend before the Vermont City Marathon on Memorial Day weekend, I am cautiously optimistic that I might finally have a good marathon, which for me would be less than 5 hours and 25 minutes. More importantly, this PR combined with tying a PR in the 5k distance in the Organ Donor 5k has me on sort of a roll so hopefully things will continue going well.
And a special thanks to Craig and Andy for the after-party; good food and a good time.
"With a little bit of training, maybe I could break an hour next time"
That was what I had thought last year after the BSR. Apparently a little bit of training wasn't quite enough. John W and I were running solid 6's and feeling comfortable for the first few miles. At mile 7 (42:00) my hopes were still alive. By mile 8, I wanted to jump in front of a truck (or at least felt as if I already had). I managed to finish respectably, but lost ~30 seconds between miles 8 and 9. I guess it is important, when running a race that takes an hour, to squeeze in a couple of runs over an hour. But hey, with a little bit of training, maybe I could break an hour next time...I'll never learn.
Congrats to all the other Philly Runners. There were many incredible performances and, as always, a great atmosphere of comaraderie. The best part of the day is being able to find each other amongst the 14000 people all waiting in line for the port-o-johns before the race, and then meeting up again afterwards to compare miseries and triumphs.
So let’s talk about the pre-race. This race was my first Triathlon last year and essentially it was the one that got me hooked. I think the high from that first race took through August, so there was no question in my mind that I was racing it again. The only slight issues were that I haven’t been in the water for at least a month and my training had definitely fallen off since Memorial Day because of the end of school and Philly Lindy Love (this huge dancing weekend I helped run at the beginning of June). I came to race day with some nerves, but hoped that my December and January miles would help pull me through.
My awesome cousin Patrick joined me with his camera, so there was lots of banter and fun photos going on before the race. It was also awesome to see my other T3 teammates Julie and Wendi. By the way, I want to note that none of the T3 boys showed up to this race- wusses (j/k)
So we are all standing around waiting going through the race meeting and it comes time for the National Anthem. They have this cheesy CD player and then couldn’t even find the song. I am sorry, but I just couldn’t resist, so I walked up to them and told them that I would just do it. I think I messed up the words of the second verse, but my voice was doing pretty well for 7:30 am and everyone clapped and cheered and were very appreciative of my efforts. Yeah!!!
Finally the race starts and there are only two words I have for the swim- it sucked!!! The water was disgusting, my wetsuit opened half way through and I never really found my rhythm. My time showed it- 8:59 v. 13:03. Ugh!!! Coming out of the water I knew I had a lot of time to make up.
I hoped on my bike and flew out onto the bike course. I knew that my bike was awesome, but now I have the proof. 48:07 v. 40: something. Today I really feel like I raced. It was a flat course, so I was in my big gear for over half the race. The best part is that I was really pushed by another woman named Mindy. We traded back and forth the entire time and she never let me slow down. My bike leg definitely made up for anything I lost in the swim.
My second transition went well and I was off on the run. It was so cool getting off the bike knowing I was going to burn all the people around me- and I did I just kept on picking people off until the very end and came in at 22:46, 15 seconds slower than last year, but my overall time was 1:22:56- a 1:30 minute PR.
I placed 5th in my age group, which is now 25-29 and was the 28th woman to cross the line. My goals this week are to get in the water everyday, rest and be ready for next week. It was an awesome first race and I look forward to my month of races coming up.
Woke up early this morning to head out with Christine and Silas to the Double Trouble 15 or 30k trail run. I was running the 15k; Silas was going to do the 30, but we forgot his socks. This race, like all of the Pretzel City Sports races, has a reputation for misery; organized by a sadistic race director and aimed at masochistic runners. Last year was supposedly run in 142 degree weather, and folks from PR that I normally finish with spent over 80 minutes on the course. I was looking forward to cooler but rainy weatherr this morning, and Weather Underground didn't disappoint.
We saw the triathletes on MLK on our way out, and got to the park about 20 minutes before "start" time. I found Goat, but no one else that I knew, got my number, and hung out until the actual start time, about 25 minutes late (why was this acceptable today and not last week in Media?) Ron Horn led us in derogatory cheers (15k vs 30k) and we were off in the mist.
The race started along a narrow path that included several small gulleys to be jumped over. The pace was slow and crowded for at least half a mile as I tried to pass people without knocking anyone over or running into a tree. Crossing over the first dam, things opened up a bit and I got into a small pack that hung together for a couple of miles. There was a short uphill and a road crossing, then some easy singletrack trails with a few chances to pass or be passed. The first water stop was at 3 miles (~22 minutes) and then we hit the first uphill slog.
This was my first trail race, but the advice that I've been given repeatedly is don't be afraid to walk. About halfway up that hill, I heeded the advice. I was technically capable of "running" at that point, but I was slipping on rocks and kicking my toes. The pack had broken up a bit, and the guy about 20-30 yards ahead of me was walking as well. Walking for about 2 minutes turned out to be not much slower than running anyway but didn't really allow me to catch my breath.
After the second water stop at the apex of the course, (4.8 miles, I didn't bother checking my watch) we headed downhill. Matt Palombaro from the Wanderers, playing the time-honored game of starting the race at the back and seeing how many people he could pass, caught me here. We ran together for about half a mile on a paved bit of the course, then he was off like a deer when we hit the trail again. It had started raining again around 4 miles, and on this section of trail I could feel my feet sloshing in my shoes. The trees were decorated with signs that said things like "Which Simpson is dumber, Homer or Jessica?" and "What are you thinking running an event like this?". 5 seconds after reading the latter, I found myself lying on my side in the mud. I wasn't particularly hurt, so I picked up and kept going. The last uphill, toward the third water stop, was through a gully of red mud that made me homesick for Georgia. The mud was squishy and rocky enough that I had to walk again, and there was a minor traffic jam of people hiking up the hill. We finally got onto firmer ground, got some water, and headed downhill for the last 1.5 miles. I finally managed to catch a guy that I'd been chasing for a few miles, only to figure out that he was obviously running the 30k.
After the finish (1:17, 29th place) I grabbed a couple of peanut butter bagels and had a shower, then we hung out and listened to the bluegrass band for a little bit before heading home. Christine pointed out that IK had missed some mud in my armpit. We were all pretty beat, and I thought of Marita's party as I passed out in bed at home (after a second shower).
My race day started off at 7:30 after a night of some tasty food, a couple episodes of House (a great show), a couple episodes of scrubs (another great show), and a late night whooping in Uno by Kristin. We started playing Uno a few months ago and I consistently beat her in the first few sessions, but now it seems as though the apprentice has become the master, cuz I can't win a game. I awoke hoping this Uno-slaughtering was not an omen for the race to come.
The drive out to French Creek went quickly, but the clouds looked quite ominous. I met up with Kevin after registration and had a quick jog before the race to try and see how things were working. I immediately got sharp pains in my stomach... so I stopped running, and thought to myself, "things seem to be in order... lets race". In all previous Ron Horn races, I have started near the front of the pack and went out quick at the beginning. This race, however, after the start, I got stuck in the middle of the pack and was quite frustrated for the first 1/2 mile or so because the course was pretty tight and there wasn't much passing room. The course eventually widened a bit and I was able to get some open running room. I didn't see any mile markers (i believe they had them last year) so I really had no idea of the pace I was running, but I felt fairly strong throughout the race.
The rain came midway through the race and was initially welcomed for the cooling effects, but later cursed for the "Each of my shoes weighs around 4.5 lbs and every time I push off I lose half the energy because it is so damn mucky"-effect. I ran in normal street-training shoes and i wonder if trail shoes would have been any help in those muddy conditions. I don't remember many specifics about the race, but I was extremely happy about how my ankles faired throughout the race. Last year, my ankles were rolling all over the place and were incredibly sore for at least a week afterwards. This year, I didn't twist my ankles until after the last water stop, around 7.8 miles I believe, and even those ankle twists were relatively minor.
I finished the 15k in 1:25:xx for a 51st place finish, which I think is around a 1.5 minute improvement over last year, which I am happy about. I can't imagine running another loop and I have respect for anyone who completed yesterday's 30k. Mad props to them.
I had a very pleasant experience at NYC Tri last Sunday despite there is room for improvement according to some of my friends who also raced that day. The water was dirty, the post-race party didn't supply enough water, the pocket pick-up was long and painful, Cytomax (official drink) tasted like the Hudson River, etc. I thought the race’s organization was phenomenal given the size of event (3200 athletes and several major roads on the west side were closed for hours). Did I mention that I love urban racing? This is my kind of race.
I arrived in NYC around noon on Saturday and checked myself into the hotel that is on W79 St. and Columbus Ave. The room is small, but it is affordable (<$145) and is very close to the transition area and finish line. Then I went to pick up my number. The process was long because of the mandatory briefing. Since I didn't grab my lunch before, I was already in my glycogen-depleting state by the time I finished all the administrative stuff at the pocket pick-up. I spent the rest of my afternoon eating, drinking and walking around Central Park.
On the race day, it took a couple of hours before my wave start. I thought that was a test of patience. The sun started beating down on me when we entered the water. I did take a look at the river and noticed debris floating around (someone told he saw used condoms, dead fish and all kinds of other stuff in the water). My strategy for the swim was not to swim close to the sea wall and tried to think about something pleasant while swimming. It worked, and I hadn't had any used condoms sticking to my face or swallowed any dead fish, which could happen during the race. Around the 1400-meter mark, the back of my wetsuit got loose (I didn't tighten it up well) and was open. Suddenly, water rushed into my wetsuit and I experienced this drag that felt like swimming with a balloon on my back. I couldn't fix the problem in the water, so the last 100 meters of swim was a bit of struggle. My time for the swim was 25:56 and I am sure many athletes had a sub-20 that day.
The bike course was great with some rolling hills. Going out to Bronx was a lot harder than coming back to the transition area because of the head wind. I saw a friend on the bike around mile 4. We said hi to each other and he then passed me. After the turn-around point, I just hammered and passed a bunch of people on the course. That made me felt a lot better.
After the second transition, we had to run 1/2 mile or so under the sun to Central Park. It was 100+ F (thankfully the humidity was only 45%) and I was probably going a little faster than walking. Thanks to all the hammering I did earlier, my legs were toasted. Nonetheless, I was moving forward. Running in Central Park was a great experience even on a hot day. It was scenic and there were people around you all the time. With shades protecting me from the scorching sun, I started running faster mile by mile. I finally finished the race at 3:04:01 (a new PR).
At the end of the day, my time didn't matter that much. I was glad that I never faltered after a series of tough races taking place in the early summer season and kept on plugging. This time in NYC, I put on what I believe was my solid performance for a long time.
I would rank this as Worst. Race. Ever., but there was no hail and it didn't last for 26.2 miles, so I'll set the hyperbole aside.
Getting home from work Friday, I swapped the orthotic insoles that I've been wearing for the lighter, factory insoles that came with my shoes (skipping ahead to the moral of a story: NEVER DO THIS before a race). I then left with Christine and Silas, picking up Seebo and heading out Baltimore Ave to Media.
Steve and I got to registration to find that the racce was sold out, but we could hang around and wait for unclaimed numbers to be re-released. This meant no warm up, and we go our numbers a few minutes before the race was due to start (I got 42, which I thought would bode well).
The race started about 10 minutes late for some reason, and the crowd is getting antsy (while I'm wishing I'd taken another drink of water). After repeated reminders that the course is a DOUBLE LOOP, we're off. State Street narrows on the right side just a few meters after the start, so it's a race to the middle of the road. I've lined up too far back, as usual, so I spend a few blocks squeezing between folks until I settle in with a group. The first of about 8 water stops came before mile 1, so I was able to rinse my mouth out and feel a little less parched. The first mile went by fast in 5:55 - "F$#!" I said, pronouncing the punctuation - but everyone else seemed to be in the same boat.
Around this time, it's clear that I'm running with the eventual winner of the women's race, who is getting lots of cheering that I appropriate as my motivation. This gets to be pretty important, because around mile 2 (6:30) I start to feel a dime-sized sensation in the middle of my left foot. Apparently I had grown pretty accustomed to those old insoles, because a blister has started to nucleate and I can feel it getting bigger with each step. Thursday night's trail run in Wissahickon probably didn't help, either. I'm considering jogging the second half of the race or even dropping after the first half, but hanging with a leader is good motivation.
At the turn back onto State St, Christine and Silas are waiting, surrounde by about 6-8 small children. Christine had bribed them that they could see the baby if they cheered for me, but the kids suddenly got shy.
The second half of the race was spent running with the same folks and counting down the half miles until I could stop. The blister on my left foot was bigger than quarter-sized and one was developing in the same spot on my right foot. I'm able to squeeze out a 6:16 mile 5 to finish in 31:59, 47 seconds slower than my PR at Valley Forge, and then the true level of disorganization of the race becomes clear.
Seebo met me at the finish, I took off my shoes, and we waited for Jim to make it through the chute and headed off in search of water. Despite the large number of water stops on the course, there is none to be found near the finish. We find a guy giving away Fuse, a nasty fruity low-carb concoction that I drink gratefully, and eventually find the oranges and Wawa iced tea near the courthouse. About this time, the finish is backing up and people actually had to stop running about a block before the finish so they could queue up to cross the line!
Seebo got a ride home with Monika and Elizabeth (whose advice of Duct Tape on the feet may be worth a try) and we met up with Jim, Liz, Ryan, and Tim at the Iron Hill Brewery. After a much-deserved Hefeweizen and nachos with everything on the side, we headed home and Silas proceeded to sleep through the night for the first time ever. At least some good things, like beer and sleeping babies, can come after a bad race.
Since I hadn't raced since Broad Street, it was about time to get out and race, just to see how things were. And I hadn't raced a 5K since the fall, so I figured this would be interesting. Then I looked at the flyer again, and had thoughts of a very crowded event, like on Mother's Day. So I headed out early; so early in fact that it took less than 15 minutes to get there from South Philly (love those empty highways at 7:30 AM).
So I registered and did a short warm-up run. As I was looking for a spot to stretch, I saw the Kenyans. And I knew the day was shot. Then I saw Kevin G and Mike C from NERCC and talked to them for a little bit. Stretched, and then went on the "pre-race find out what's still too stiff" jog. And I saw Ian and Veena R, who just kicked some serious arse at Grandma's Marathon, qualifying for the Olympic trials!
During final warm-ups, I saw Cecily Tynan and her baby jogger, complete with number on the baby jogger. Made a mental note not to finish behind her (personal pride in not wanting to finish behind someone only a few months removed from having a baby and running with a baby jogger).
Started out with Kevin G. Opened in 6:10. Not bad, and I was feeling good. Oops, thought that too soon. Started slowing down heading towards the turn, after I saw the Kenyans on their way back. (Damn those guys are fast! More on than in a moment.) Hit the turn at 9:20, and mile 2 was 6:30. I could feel myself getting slower, mostly due to the heat and that I was once again in running no-man's land by myself. The only good thing is that only one or two people passed me after the turn. Hit the finish line in 20:18, or something like that - about one minute off my PR. Not that I was expecting to PR.
I checked the results online today. Before I tell you how fast the Kenyans went, make sure that you're not drinking anything; I don't want to be responsible for you doing a spit-take at your monitor.
The results are online at: http://users.erols.com/runadvte/. You can see the winning time of 14:09, and that the first seven were all at 14:33 or under. And FYI, Simon Wangai, #5 overall holds the Broad Street course record.
As for me, at least I finished ahead of Cecily, albeit barely.
Run 4 Your Life 5K on June 18 was my 2nd race of the year. Temps were to be VERY warm and although I'm good in heat... running in heat... meaning I may place higher because of it, my time will likely be a little slower. I foolishly didn't factor that in to aiming for 6:10s, to give me 19:10. I race for time, not place. I had moderate stomach/GI problems that morning, but they... worked themselves out. I felt decent for the race, although even after my ritual of soaking my legs in very hot water before a race, they weren't perfect, but race-able.
I knew Monika would race with her Dad, and I expected PRF/FOPR English Kevin in it (since he does about every race), and I saw their names on the registration list, along with Cecily Tynan, who I haven't spoken with since pre-baby (hers, of course!). And surprise, there was Gelman, sportin' a wedding band nearby. I was hoping the added weight would slow him down for me. They had 700 pre-registered plus probably a couple hundred more race-day registrants, offering plenty of prize money, so they attracted some fast Kenyans (is that redundant?), and I added about 15 places to my finish. I need a larger competitive race to push me though. Saw Ian and Veena -- not racing, ready to cheer -- and I bumped up my race place 2 because of it, and saw Pearlette shortly before the start. I lined up near Gelman and struck up a conversation with local race legend Andrea N from Bryn Mawr club.
Mile 1 was 6:08, about where I wanted, and at 1.5 was 9:15. Good. I saw English Kevin and Andrea working in the opposite direction. Mile 2 was about 6:15. Saw a bunch of folks from my cycling club and they cheered, but the heat was getting to me. Apparently, it was more so with others, as I passed 10+ racers, yet 2 smoked me in the last .1 mile, and I ended up with 19:18 watch time, only 7 seconds faster than 2 months ago. :-( Not thrilled with that... but it waaaas hot. Results strangely were not printed afterwards, though English Kevin won his division! Spoke with Gelman, Cecily, and Joe H after & they had strong performances too, even with Cecily pushing baby Luke. Good job in the heat, folks! We were allowed to pick up out race shirt & hat AFTER the race (good consideration, folks!), where they also had refreshments. And, a table with people giving out sample-sized aspirin and acetaminophen. I find that amusing. When I looked closer at the aspirin at home, I saw it expired last month. Was strangely even more amused. Took 2, and was laughing uncontrollably. Or, that might have been due to the "other" pills, I don't know. Was eating most of the day until a family gathering for Father's Day, although since my Grandfather just got home from heart surgery, it was more to see him, and running seemed a bit less important... although I'm glad running is so beneficial to the heart.
When I got home I found results online, and saw what I suspected would be the case, that I placed well, 34 of 911, top 4% (7 of 105 in my 10-year age group). This considering that 6 people finished under 14:30, and the female winner got 16:13! Pretty impressive. I might just do this one next year, they did a solid job at most everything, 'cept the heat!
I went into this race probably about as confident as I have been for any race ever, having had some really decent training in March/April as well as having set a new Broad Street PR (by about 30 seconds), without really pushing myself just a few weeks before this race.
Anyways, got to the race about a half hour before the start, and managed to see Jim and Lis (but not Ian) for a few minutes, which was encouraging; relay people are always so much happier and less serious before a marathon.
I suppose we all knew going in that the weather for that day did not point to anything good, as it was fairly warm (for Vermont) at the start and was projected to get really warm by noon and beyond (my finishing window). Since I didn’t really get a chance to train in heat, it was something that I really couldn’t account for except to just lower expectations on race day.
The race began without a hitch, and for the first few miles, where there were downhill’s (but also some moderate shade), I was under my 10 minute pace. The neighborhoods and streets in the first few miles are full of spectators so I expected to go out like this. However, as we headed out onto a 5 mile out and back section, I was still maintaining a pace sub-10 and even though I though I was slowing down, I wasn’t. At about mile 4.5 for me, I saw Ian flying by in the other direction. For about another 4 miles, the sun just beat down and I maintained my sub-10 pace, but was holding back so I was feeling good.
At about mile 9, Jim flew (literally) past me and headed out on his leg of the relay. Jim would appear to have gotten a bad deal on his team, running the third leg includes the only 2 major hills I think. He didn’t seem to care. For miles 10-12, you run back through the town and head out to some neighborhoods that had people out there cheering but also willing to spray you down with a garden hose. Like a cow at a county fair, I was much obliged to get this “treatment”, as by this point it was somewhere between 70-80 degrees. I was hydrating and eating well (that sounds weird) through this point and everything felt fine. As the race moved into the neighborhood south of the city, it was more beaming sun and by mile 13, my overall pace had slowed to just under 10 minutes (where it should have been) meaning I was running some over-10 minute miles and had a half-marathon time of 2:09:46. This was just fine for me, as the 10-minute pace isn’t something I can hold for more than 15-20 miles even in perfect weather.
At mile 15, you hit the “Assault on Battery” , a hill about a quarter mile long that has a fairly decent grade but awesome spectator support. At this point I saw Lis again and she was cheering heartily, though due to my forgetfulness she was not in possession of my cowbell. Mile 16 was were I dehydrated and crashed and burned in 2005, so as I was continuing to run past this point (albeit at 11 minute miles) I felt I had conquered that idiocy and was feeling pretty confident. Miles 17-21 passed by as we wound through more little communities with people still cheering and hosing as we ran by. I was slowing down substantially; hitting mile 20 at 3:36 but I just ran out of fuel. I had eaten and drank enough during this race to keep me going through pretty much any normal condition, but I am just not a warm-weather runner. As such, I began walking/jogging and stumbling through the next few miles. By this point I’d guess it hit 80 degrees and that was pretty much the end of me. While walking I was able to eat and drink and get my body caught back up, but I managed a grotesque 17+ minute pace for the last 5-6 miles, but managed to run the last half-mile or so with the crowd cheering at the finish line. My finish time was 5:17:05, off my realistic goal pace of 5:15 and my “pie-in-the-sky” goal pace of breaking 5 hours. Still, it was a PR of just under 9 minutes from my 2004 Philly marathon race.
At the end of the day, I couldn’t control or really prepare for the weather, and I wouldn’t have trained in 80-degree heat for a May marathon in Vermont even if the opportunity had presented itself. As odd as it sounds coming from me, I don’t think I really could have run much better of a race (obviously the parts I walked could have been better). There wasn’t much shade until after mile 22, and I was already wrecked by then and was going to be even worse off if I had spend more time in the sun by slowing myself below the pace I had run. I didn’t injure myself in any way; I just got physically drained during the race.
I’m actually fairly sure that I had the sub 5-hour race in me, with cooler and less sun-drenched weather, which is comforting and annoying at the same time. I feel pretty damn good about where I am , and I am thinking of potentially trying to find an obscure early fall marathon to supplement Chicago Marathon training...
Du the Philly Tri or Tri the Philly Du, that is the question?
My Philly tri LBRR starts way back on the Friday before the race (brace yourselves for looonnnggggg emoticon-filled LBRR). Heading to the Philly Tri, I had planned the weekend horribly, having a going away party Friday, a bunch of pre-race stuff and errands to take care of Saturday, a wedding in Long Island Saturday night and then the race Sunday at 7 and Marita’s post-race party Sunday at 2.
Starting in wave 9, I was in the purple group (same color as my Neon ) and started about 25 minutes after the pro’s. The initial 5K I knew was a throwaway as I was just running to warm up for the last 2 legs. Biz was in group 11 (pink) and started about 10 minutes behind me, but made up half of that on the run and the other half in the transition when I had to hit the porto’s when the prior night’s wedding cake sought its revenge. My 5K time was 29:41, or a 9:35 pace. Not bad, and better than my 1.5K swim from the prior year of 36:23.
Heading out on the bike , I felt I had made a lot of progress in the prior year but was unsure if it would show on this day. On the first loop, the hills up near Chamounix knocked me down a peg or two in confidence , but I was having much more fun this year enjoying the experience rather than struggling with the experience. The first lap went fairly smooth, though I pretty much got passed by everyone on the course but received way more encouragement than expected. Then, on Lemon Hill it happened. As I was struggling mightily on the top of the hill, I see that I am pretty much alone and for whatever reason the camera guy is trying to get a “good” photo of me. Out of my left ear, as yet another rider is going by, I hear this rider (a female) yell out “I don’t want him to be in my picture” (oh, the humor is coming). I think to myself, that’s odd and I know she was only kidding, but also I think I know that voice. As I look over, I notice the female passing me (at a good rate of speed, I might add) is none other than pre-race national anthem singer Marita McCormick . I didn’t say anything (I could hardly breathe) but you better believe I was going to make a big deal out of this. The second lap went pretty much the same as the first except most everyone was off the bike course so no one was passing me, except for the MANY people who had to change flat tires this day. I actually went slightly faster on the second lap for whatever reason, and finished the bike in 1:36:41, better than last year’s 1:41:02 but still not as good as I would have liked.
Onto the final run , I recall last year this was the death march of running (okay walking) in the beaming sun and about 90% humidity. Recalling this, I knew there was time to be made up on the run versus last year. On mile 1, I had to stop and get some pebbles out of my shoe and just felt like taking it easy, so it went by in about 13 minutes. On mile 2, I noticed I was feeling good and ran an 11-minute mile and felt great about it. Miles 3 and 4 includes running past the transition and getting cheers from several PR’s in the race (Marita and Laura B., already finished and Biz still on course) as well as Kevin and Seth; which actually helped me maintain about a 10:15 pace for those miles. Mile 5 was a little slower for around 11 minutes and then the last mile (plus 0.1) was at about an 11 minute pace once more. I clocked my final run at 1:06:49 , which was substantially improved versus last years 1:13:30.
So, in total, I did a 29:43(5K)+1:36:41(40K)+1:06:49(10K) plus transitions for a 3:21:16, about 17 minutes quicker than last year and close to the 3:18 I gave myself at the start. I finished ahead of a whopping 4 people in my age group (79 of 83) and 1,194 overall. The good news is I think all of my disciplines (even the swim that we didn't do) are improved but I still need to learn how to ride a bike. I also wonder if sleep would have helped me do better.
After the race, I went home after chatting with Kevin, Seth, Xiao and Laura B. after the race (by the way, if anyone wants to hear a story of perseverance about the bike leg, email Xiao and ask). After getting home, I put on the World Cup to listen to England beat Ecuador (I think) I ended up falling asleep in my post race bath. I woke up and “This Week with George Stephanopolous” was on; combine that with having fallen asleep in a bath and I have never felt so old in my life.
I woke in time to get to Miss Marita’s post race party . We really need to lobby for a post-race barbeque and beer tent on-site for next year’s race because all racers really need these. Needless to say, I confronted Marita about her not wanting to be in a picture with me and she was quite horrified that she said that and it turned out to be around me (I’m good with the guilt trip). Naturally she didn’t know it was me (or mean it) but I still think the is irony too funny not to tell.
All in all, a great weekend, a good race, a fun experience (I honestly think this race got even better than last year) and a very funny story. What else could I ask for?
Special Thank you’s go out to:
I had a rocky start early this year due to the passing of my mom and a very stressful job. Despite every attempt was made to resume my training, I still wasn't ready both physically and mentally for two of the high profile races I signed up - the Big Sur International Marathon, CA and the Columbia Triathlon in Maryland. Money was lost and I was more frustrated than before. Instead, I ended up doing a couple of 5Ks and other short races in the hope that I could gradually get myself back in shape. I even ran the Broad Street with a reasonably good time given my circumstances. Little did I know, my frustration and dismal performance didn't end there.
To better arm myself for the Philly Tri, I signed up Escape from Ft. Deleware (Olympic Distance) which would take place two weeks before the Philly Tri. I actually went down to Deleware City with a couple of friends to swim in the canal and try out the bike course. It was a beautiful and calm day, so everything went well and my spirit was pretty high afterwards. The race day came and it was a night-and- day difference. I was hammered big time by the choppy water and crosswind. I have never raced anything during which I wanted to give it up multiple times. I was lucky to finally pull myself through that race (one hour slower than I initially predicted). It could have been much worse.
After a few of open water swims and PR runs, I was optimistic because Escape from Ft. Deleware and my additional efforts helped me a little bit. However, I wouldn't feel bullish about the race until I do it. As a result, my pre-race attitude was to view the upcoming Philly Tri as a challenging race.
On Saturday, I carb-loaded and went to sleep early at 8 pm. Next day, I went to the transition area well- rested and ready to race. The cancellation of swim threw me off a bit. I was not suprised by the weather and the disgusting water, but I was concerned because I am not a duathlete, period. The biggest lesson I learned from the Philly Tri is that I now have a lot of respect and appreciation for the duathletes and the sports. To me, the duathlon is much harder because it will expose my leg muscles right from the beginning. As a result, my ability on the bike will decline significantly. This is what exactly happened to me during the race. I ran the first 5k at a roughly 8 min pace. After hopping on my bike, I knew immediately I was in trouble because I was breathless and already dehydrated. Right after the first big hill, my focus seemed to be on hydrating myself like crazy rather than accelerating on the flat like everyone else. Next thing I knew, I lost my balance on my bike and fell. It was not a hard fall and I am grateful for it. However, one of my bottle cages broke and I lost a bottle of my gatorade. VERY VERY STUPID MISTAKE!!!! I went on biking the next 10-15 miles without hydration. This challenging bike course became a very punishing course. I was simply unable to do any hammering because of the dehydration. I still regreted to this day that I didn't hammer on the bike where I should. The trouble seemed to sense my weakness at this time and capitalized on it. As I was climbing my fourth hill of the total eight, my front tire went flat. This has got be my luckest day!!!! I sworn many times while I changed my tire. In the end, my pace for the bike dropped to 15.2 mph.
The final 10k was hard for me as my legs became really tired and refused to do what my brain wished. I was glad at least that I was moving although slowly rather than coming to a complete stop. At the 3rd mile, I saw Marita coming back on the other side of the road. She was trucking, and I thought that was amazing! On the run, many familiar faces flew by me and I realized how slow I was because they started the race many many minutes behind my wave. My only salvage for the race was to cross that finishline. I did after 3:11:00.
I don't know how many bad races I will continue to have before I have a good day. In the end, I really don't care about my time relative to other's. All I care about is to push myself to be better than before. My next race, New York City Triathlon (Olympic), is coming up in three weeks. This is going to be a big race by anyone's standard. The people at NYC tri have been working with me trying to get my story (not this one) published in a local newspaper. I am certainly excited about this race and hope to do well. But I remembered the autograph Jessie Stensland (US female Pro triathlete) gave me and it says "Xiao - live your best life everday! Tri-hard". To that end, I will definitely try to enjoy my trip to NYC. Stay tuned for the race report on NYC triathlon.
This race report is longer than the race itself! Still, there haven't been many posted in a while, so I thought why not write one? Good thing I ran a race and had some material for it.
It was to be a race-time (not just race day) decision for me, as I had a slightly nagging left hamstring/groin soreness for a couple weeks, plus on Saturday I got a cut under my left knee (which doesn't hurt until I sweat on it) and on Sunday was stung by a jellyfish at the beach on my right thigh! None would keep me from running though 'cept possibly the first, but I wanted to race... especially since it may have been my only race where transport to the race was longer than the race itself.
This was not only my first track race, but also my first evening race, and my first miler. Since I'm racing Boston Marathon in April, I'm not racing distance this year, so it was ripe for me to get a miler in. After stretching and warming up, and chatting with others from Philly Runners and Wissahickon Wanderers, the official had us line up. It was a cavalcade of Kevins, which amused me, with Kevin J at pole position, me to his right, then English Kevin to my right. It's reassuring with so many unknown factors to have so many people I know here.
The gun sounded and we were off. This was the first, the faster, of the two 1-mile heats. Having never done this before, I set a goal of 5:30 time, one that was probably attainable, but not easy. Only 13 of us were in this heat, with 14 in the next. We were pretty bunched at the start, as we approached two people jogging on the inside lanes, who were apparently oblivious to the outside world, meaning us, for the past half hour of preparations. I whistled and clapped at them to get their attention, and someone else shouted out. One jogger asked if this was a meet, and English Kevin, in his usual sardonic wit, said something about this being a book club. They got out of our way quickly. In retrospect, we must have been a pretty imposing sight, bearing down on them! But, it did later give me amusing ideas for a "competitive" book club.
I couldn't see who I led, since I was looking only ahead, but I did see Kevin J a few steps in front of me. His lead of a few seconds would gently fluctuate during the race, but I was also in front of others and widening the lead on them I think. Lap one was quick. I don't recall the pace, but faster than I planned, although 1/4 miles progress quickly anyway! There's not much one can do to compensate in such a short race. Kevin's wife Christine and baby Silas were there shouting for Kevin... but since that's my name too, I can be an intended recipient!
With a small field, my place in the race seemed secure unless I falter, although Kevin's lead was increasing on me. Lap 2 and 3 were similar; I estimated up to a 5 second lead. It's hard to strategize, as the thing is over so quickly! I think mental fortitude is more important on distance races, but it doesn't hurt here too! I know I put in the required training, including on a track for the first time, and could do a good job.
When do you start your final kick on a mile race? I have no clue. I did it starting the final straightaway, but realized after the race that I should have sooner. So noted for next time. I started gaining on Kevin J when I started kicking, and right after I heard footsteps creeping on me. I dared not turn around to see who it was -- it's irrelevant anyway -- and trying to escape phantom runner is good for mental momentum. It would be interesting to figure which is more of a motivator: trying to catch someone ahead of you, or trying to escape someone approaching you. I closed the gap to one second behind Kevin J when I finished, and mystery man, who turned out to be mystery woman Laura F, was one second behind me. Kevin J told me that he heard my footsteps behind him and saw my shadow, which helped him push at the end. Good for him! Phantom woman Laura F helped me similarly, and, in an odd bit of obstetrical phrasing, I thanked her for being partially responsible for delivering two Kevins a few seconds faster.
I broke my 5:30 goal with a time of 5:19.40. Could I have run faster? Sure, but it was a strong debut, and I doubt I could have improved my finish more than a few seconds. The mid-80s temperature certainly hindered things a few seconds. Cooler weather and an earlier kick would have returned me sooner, but it was a good confidence boost, and a good validation for the hard training I've been putting in for the past few months! It was the first time that I broke the 70% mark for age-graded results! I don't expect it to be my last.
Went up to Brooklyn this morning with Christine, Silas, and Deirdre for the Miles for Midwives 5k in Prospect Park. Silas and I were lured by the prospect of an award for the first baby stroller, and Deirdre likes running Prospect Park and figured she should at least get 1 race in before the Philly Marathon.
The race was a benefit for a community-owned birth center and the New York chapter of ACNM; they are apparently pretty well connected since the borough president and city council rep gave (mercifully short) speeches at the start and the awards. The Prospect Park course is a single loop. We started at the southwest corner of the park, which meant a mostly downhill course until about 4 km, then a long easy uphill to the finish.
Didn't run a great race (splits were 6:12/6:56/6:3x, go figure) but the the competition wasn't stiff so 20:17 was good for first stroller and first in my new 30-39 age group. Apparently I should have had more to drink the night before. Deirdre won the women's race, we had some great bagels, and then brunch in Manhatten.
Gettin' Foucaultian on they asses: an LBRR.
Team Discipline & Punish lined up together on the start line, and the prospects of a team victory looked good: volunteers didn't know where team registration forms were, which suggested there might not be any other teams. But Elizabeth noticed there was a group of five people wearing matching shirts, so we wouldn't win by default.
The siren fired and I took off next to some quick-stepping little dude I'd seen on the Drives. I thought he might be trouble, but he soon drifted back as the course made a quick left and up a gradual hill. A man gave me what was perhaps the most impotent "yay" I've ever heard, and I continued up toward Girard College, the sound of footsteps behind me soon silent.
The course was great--scenic, with a good number of volunteers cheering and pointing the way. I followed the police lead vehicle past mile 1 in a pretty relaxed feeling 5:18, and maintained effort, not sure where the little dude was. The course traced the periphery of the campus then turned into the center of it. A kid said to me "go the winner!" Odd diction, and a little premature, but I was grateful nonetheless.
There's a turnaround and a sharp little hill, and as I headed back the way I came I saw KJ in second place, looking happy. We slapped five. The little dude was right behind him and I gave him devil horns and he gave me "ghurrghddjollllllllllb!" Saw the rest of Discipline and Punish, everybody looking good and toward the front of the race.
I realized I had a pretty good lead, and dialed things back a bit. Saw John and Ryan--not Ryan, some other Ryan--about 200 meters from the finish, who alerted me to someone in second place rapidly making a charge. I was a miserable little league baseball player once, and on the rare occasions I made it toward a base, the other kids loved telling me a throw was coming in from the outfield, so I'd slide unnecessarily and clumsily, to their amusement. I had a feeling John's warning was made of the same stuff, so I resisted the temptation to slide across the line.
I considered stopping and waiting for KJ to share 1st and really represent Discipline and Punish's solidarity, but I really wanted some coffee, so I finished.
Crossed in 17:3x, feeling real good. Jogged backward on the course, to watch KJ finish a stong second, then the little dude and some other dude, then somebody, then Elizabeth (Go Elizabeth! Don't let Gelman catch you! He's got nothing!) and Gelman (Get her Gelman! She's got nothing!), and Anglo, who locked up first Englishman Under 50. Then Heather, looking great. Went back to get my friend Ann Marie, passing three obligatory "you're going the wrong way"s along the way.
Nabbed a $100 gift certificate to Rembrandts--a nice surprise. KJ got $50 to somewhere for his trouble, at which point I was really glad I had suppressed my fleeting moment of team spirit back before the finish line. Elizabeth got the same, Gelman got some bling, and Anglo nabbed a medal for 3rd in his age group, until they figured out he was fourth and made him give it back, which was really the highlight of my day.
Team Discipline and Punish won first, and I'd hoped they'd acknowledge the panopticon we'd just circled in giving us our prize, but instead it was something like "there must be a lawyer on the team!" Oh well. We all got another medal, and $25 certificates for Brigid's. A really nice take, especially when you count the pineapples we stole.
I parted from my usual pre-race routine this morning. A 25 minute jog to the Penitentiary made for a better warm up than my typical frantic 5 minutes of jogging, strides, and stretching, and there was no line at the portapotty, hence no need for a change of shorts. I met up with D&P and we scoped our competition. Dubs saw a woman he recognized from the Drives (I heard her mention a 17th place finish at Broad St) but there weren't many other folks that I recognized in the crowd of 100-150.
In another departure from the norm, I lined up in time for the start, at the front of the pack. At the horn, some dude in a gray shirt with a beer gut took off and was the eventual winner by over a minute. I started in 4th place with Gelman behind a guy named Al and a young guy in a red shirt. I ran 5-10 meters behind these guys until we got to the north side of Girard College and put on a surge to catch them and draft a little. Red shirt dropped of the pace around mile 1 (5:57) and I decided to share the work a little, so I pulled ahead of Al to lead for a bit. He was having none of it, though, and passed me again pretty quickly. OK, no more nice guy. I hung behind Al for about half a mile, then pulled ahead for the rest of the race. Al must have been intimidated by beer gut's devil horns. Despite these shenanigans, mile 2 was a lot slower (6:14), partly due to the headwind I guess. I ran mile 3 solo, which always makes it hard to push, but managed 6:05 as I came around the Penitentiary and still had enough left for a good kick of about :34 at the finish, good for second place overall. My time (18:47) was a PR, but as the timer said to somebody at the finish: "Certified course? This is a fun run!"
The post race spread was great, with bacon and eggs, bagels, grilled pineapple, coffee, etc. Schwag included $50 for McCrossen's Tavern and $25 for Bridgid's. I walked by McCrossen's (aka Jumbos) on the way home and it looked like $50 will buy a lot of beer, probably on a Tuesday night. Details TBA.
Yep, after running a blistering 21:19 and declared 2nd in my age category I was ceremoniously stripped of my medal and winners towel Hell they didn’t even give me an extra pineapple for the humiliation That said. It was fun race, and great course, wrapping once around the outside of Girard college and then once around the inside of the college, with a final dash around the prison. My first mile was at 6:45, I was pretty confident I could hold this for at least another mile, but was surprised when my second mile came in at just under 7 mins. My third mile was a bit faster, especially the last half mile. In the last mile, my nearest competitors were either 100 yards ahead of me or 500 yards behind me. Made it tough keeping up a 5K race pace, as compared to bigger races of 500 or more where you end up running neck and neck with half a dozen runners throughout the race. Thanks again to the organizers for a fun race.
The start horn went off without any warning and we were on our way. It took about 45 secs to cross the starting line and I was moving pretty well.
The crowds were ridiculous. We went under a bridge just after starting and a wall of people were cheering us from above. I had chills and a huge smile on face. I was thinking “This is it John, keep it cool and don’t get swept up in the moment, or the pace, keep it slow and relaxed.” The first mile went by in 7:12, exactly the pace I was shooting for. I was in a fairly thick crowd and I was getting passed by a lot of runners but I held back and tried to get into a good rhythm. I just kept telling myself that I was running my own race and I had 25 miles to make up a couple slow ones in the beginning.
I had studied the race route but I was quickly disoriented with all of the turns and monotony of the crowd. It was three people deep on the sidewalks. It made the Philly marathon feel like a little league game and I was at the World Series. I couldn’t believe it. Mile 2 went by in 6:56, a little quick but I really felt like I was falling into a good pace and didn’t sweat it.
The first 5K went by in 22:01, dead on. I wasn’t feeling as good as I would have liked, but during long runs in training I felt much better at mile 12 than mile 4, that thought made me feel a little better.
By mile 4 we were making our way into Lincoln Park, a large park north of downtown along the lake where the city’s zoo is located. I hit a slow mile 6 through the park in 7:17. This stunned me a bit, I needed to really concentrate on my pace. It seemed like any wandering of my mind was going to slow me down.
Despite the slow mile my 10K split was 44:07, right on track. After mile 7 we turned south back towards downtown. I was really cruising now and feeling good. The miles were ticking off perfectly. Miles 7-11 were, 7:02, 7:00, 7:01, 7:02, & 7:02. The crowds were great, and the wind was at our back. I still had a smile on my face and I just tried to enjoy the race. 15K split was 1:05:58; Holy Shit, perfectly on track.
Around mile 9 I started chatting with a guy who was also shooting for a 3:05. We fell into a pace and began running together without really saying anything about it. I found out he was from Manhattan and his name was Josh.
Except for a little hiccup, 7:10, at mile 12 things were moving along exactly how I wanted them to.Josh was asking me if I had run at this pace a lot in training and I said that I had done some training at this pace but at that point I just felt dialed in. 20K split was 1:28:00, I was astonished, I was running 22 minute 5K’s to the second. In fact, I guess Josh and I were moving along so well that we developed a bit of a group behind us, two guys that had tucked in and were along for the ride. We asked them to take the lead for a bit, but after one mile we passed them and kept going. Miles 13,14 and15 were 7:01, 703 and 7:03. 25K split in 1:49:50, I was getting a little ahead of my 22 minute 5K’s.
I had taken a gel at mile 10 and popped another between miles 16-17. In past marathons this was the point at which things started going downhill, my mind would start to wander, I’d start feeling less alert and my mile splits would steadily get longer and longer. In this race though I felt fantastic, I was getting the crowd into the race by raising my arms and cheering, I was smiling and, to my astonishment, I was passing people.
Josh and I were flying along, it was almost surreal. Was this really happening? Could I be feeling this good? Was this just a little fun before I hit the wall? It didn’t seem like it. Miles 16-20, 7:01, 7:05, 7:06, 7:06, and 7:03. The way I was feeling mile 18 might as well have been mile 10.
After a water stop during this stretch Josh caught back up to me and said, “You are like a metronome”. I couldn’t help but smile and think of Seebo, Mr. Metronome himself. I wanted to try and explain what his comment had started me thinking but I thought the explanation would be a little lost on him and kept in my head.
As I had planned I started picking up the pace a little after mile 20. Not crushing the miles but just a little acceleration. Miles 21 and 22 both went by in 6:54. I honestly felt like I was running harder than this but fatigue was starting to catch up with me. However, I couldn’t have been happier.
3 miles to go!!! It is really going happen!!! I am going to run a good marathon!!! I am going to negative split!!! There are only 3 miles to go!!!!!!!
Based on past marathons I really didn’t think it was possible to feel confident and in control this late in race but I was. Things were definitely getting much harder by this point but I was handling it.
I knew the wind was going to be in my face during the last few miles and I just tried to prep for it before making the turn towards the north. Josh and I were still hitting the same pace and we were passing people non-stop. Scores of people, people running, people walking, and people stretching. I though back to last year when I was one of those people and I knew how they felt and damn if it didn’t feel great to be the guy passing this time.
Mile 23 was 6:55, and then we turned north. The wind smacked right into us. It would abate on occasion but it was fairly steady the last 3 miles. I hit mile 24 in 7:01. 2.2 miles to go and I just tried to push as hard as I thought I could sustain for the last couple miles.
Mile 25 was 6:56 and this was it, 1.2 to go. 1.2 miles and I would qualify for Boston. 1.2 miles and I would have a result to show for all those miles over the summer. 1.2 miles and I would be able to erase that feeling that had been at the back of mind since crossing the finish line in the Philly marathon a year before.
I tried to speed up as much as I could, which wasn’t to much at this point. I saw the 800 meters to go sign and we made a right up over a bridge. Ian had warned me that although this bridge was a bump in the road it would feel like a bit more this late in the race and he was right. It made it that much harder to push.
A left after the bridge and I could see the finish line. 400 Meters to go! I ran as hard as possible and crossed the line with my arms in the air. I was totally spent and totally wired at the same time. I yelled “Fucking Right!” and didn’t realize it until I got a few looks from the volunteers but I didn’t care and I didn’t think they did either after they saw the smile on my face.
A final time of 3:04:24. It couldn't have gone any better. I learned a lot in this raced and enjoyed it from start to finish.
So, recently one Alexander Goranin wrote what I would say is the best LBRR of the year in the “no emoticon” category. I could try to compete, but I know you all click on these for the emoticons!
I’ll start by stating that it was great to be in Chicago with other PR’s. I had a pre-race pasta meal with Heather and John, met up with Dave and Rachel for a Chicago deep-dish pizza and talked to Laura and Jeremy before and after the race. Truly, Philly Runners represented.
I set up this race as another sort of fall vacation, a little longer vacation than the Marine Corps trip we did last year. I had a terrible summer with running and triathlons, so my hopes weren’t really that high. But, since a car didn’t hit me this fall (like in 2005), I felt I still trained better than I did for Marine Corps.
At the expo, I got to see a couple of famous people speak (The Penguin is funnier in person than any thing I’ve read by him) and the expo was better than the others I’ve been too. Since I got to Chicago a day early, I decided I would treat myself to one of those 15-minute massages at the expo. For $20, I received a shoulder and back massage and was informed “I would be unable to move by the age of 40 if I didn’t start getting regular massages after my runs.” I felt this was a bargain as I got a massage and my horrific future told; who knew the American Massage Therapist Association was so closely aligned with the Psychic Friends Network. Also, to my surprise, a dream came true; free cowbells at the expo (I got 6 in total).
Leading up to race day the weather forecast seemed to change hourly, but it was going to be windy and cold ; only the rain/snow was in doubt. For me, this cold and wind was a Godsend; I am basically 4-for-4 in dehydrating in marathons so I figured the cold would do me good.
When the race started, I may as well not have even been at the park. It took a whopping 21 minutes for me to get to the starting line, but I felt hopeful for the day. As most of you know, I didn’t have any dramatic goals for this race, just hoping to keep around my 5:17 PR from Vermont earlier this year.
Miles 1-4 were a bit congested and my splits were running well above 11-minute miles. I was a little nervous about this, because it was far slower than I expected, but I talked myself into letting these minutes go and NOT trying to recover them by speeding up. For those of you who have never run a large race, I can’t explain how much having people everywhere cheering can help make a race more enjoyable. Obviously these miles had spectators , but were so many they were actually spilling onto the course in some areas. It was great.
By mile 5, things sort of thinned out in the 5-5:30 (hours, not minutes per mile) pace groups and I was able to settle in. My feet were a little tight, but nothing severe. I had developed a couple of blisters while walking in Chicago being a tourist that I was very worried about, but they weren’t acting up (yet). I was feeling okay but not nearly as good as in many of my training runs. Still, I had a good feeling that a good day was coming, and the next few miles I increasingly felt more comfortable, and held steady around 10:30 miles.
As we headed towards miles 10-13, I finally had a benchmark to races like Broad Street and PDR to make sure I wasn’t running anywhere near these paces (I can’t do the math in my head while I run like some people can). I was well off my BSR pace and was a solid 10 minutes slower than PDR at the half-marathon. More than this, I felt for the first time EVER that I was actually getting stronger as a long race went on.
At mile 14, I saw the best sign of the race, “Don’t poop your pants”, I’m sure there was an interesting story behind the sign, but I didn’t need the story to laugh out loud at it . As we headed into the mid-teen miles, I was falling short of my internal goal of hitting mile 23 in under 4 hours. I had promised my body that if I did this, I would let myself walk the last 3.2 miles. As it stood, it looked like I wouldn’t hit this goal, but again I still needed to talk myself into not trying to change my pace.
Heading to mile 21, I finally gave up trying to do mile splits on my watch, which seemed to do something freaky every time I did the split (by the end of the race my watch said I had run 30 mile-splits in less than 4 hours. ) When I hit mile 21, I realized that I was still running right about 11 minute miles and I felt GREAT. This was accentuated by the fact that at mile 21 “WHO LET THE DOGS OUT” was blaring. That song is clearly under-rated as a running aid and I started singing out loud and couldn’t stop laughing at this. Most people around me were giving me weird looks but they were for the most part not enjoying this race. Mile 21 also has a little uphill near the mile marker, and I noticed that on the few small hills this race had, I was passing a lot of people on these little hills and maintaining a better pace; I don’t know why .
Heading into the final stretch, I hit mile 23 at somewhere between 4:05 and 4:10, so I guess I wouldn’t be walking the last 3 miles. I had never actually made it past mile 21 of a marathon without walking, so from here on in everything would be gravy. As we finally turned up Michigan Avenue, I just started jogging and realized that this race really couldn’t have been any better. I felt consistent and strong, and this supposed headwind down Michigan Avenue wasn’t bothering me at all. At mile 25 I was in the neighborhood near where I was staying, so I started to look for my landlord and her family, but didn’t see them. It was only 1.2 miles, so I started trying to do the math in my head of what my pace would, how big of a PR it would be, etc. While doing this, I noticed I was basically zigzagging from one side of the 6-lane road to the other like a New Jersey driver on a cell phone . I ceased the running + arithmetic and just focused on running to the finish in a straight line.
Coming around the final 800M was a hill, but it makes the Art Museum hill on Kelly look like Everest so I just sprinted the rest of the way. I question the last 400M marking because I ran it in 2 minutes and 30 seconds and that seems too fast. I crossed the line at 4:48:54, and felt great; I actually could have run another couple of miles and still maintained my pace.
So, what does 4:48:54 get you? Well first, an apology. I pretty much lied to every person I know about my goal. Sure 5:15 would have been acceptable, but my fall runs (all solo) went great. I think I would have cried if I didn’t PR. I’m sorry to you all. Also, I accomplished a lot in this race:
This race simply couldn’t have gone any better. I looked forward to getting drunk during the Philly marathon and cheering you all on around the Art Museum/Lloyd Hall with my new collection of Chicago Marathon cowbells.
This is the fourth time I've done this race, and the second time that it has been really windy. I'm talking about stand you upright, not thinking you're moving anywhere headwind. Of course, with the schizophrenic wind conditions around the Loop, any headwind could suddenly change to a tailwind.
The race started out interesting, as we had to dodge whatever walk was going on in front of the Art Museum. I almost knocked over someone who was taking a picture, but too stupid to look after taking the picture and before moving. Shortly after that, we headed out onto the path along MLK Drive. I fell into pace with two other people (one guy and the first woman) and we were running together, but not running together. Basically we were running at the same pace, but not talking to each other. I think the guy kept trying to lose me. But since he cut me off badly within the first half mile, I was kinda pissed.
There were supposed to be mile markers for us on the course, but I didn't see them. I only saw the people setting up the water stops for the walk. Anyway, the three of us kept together through at least mile 2.5 and were covering (at my attempt to do math while I run - a dangerous thing) at about a 6:35-6:40 pace. I hadn't been racing that fast for this distance (8.4 miles) for quite some time. So I was a bit worried about the speed, but felt really good. This just goes to show how much better you can run when you run with other people.
It was somewhere around this point in the race (near Montgomery Drive) that we finally started gaining back on some of the people in front of us. There were two guys ahead of us, with a small distance between them. We swept up the first guy and he came along, we then swept up the second guy. I thought he held on for a little while, but we eventually dropped him. The good thing about this group was that we were all sort of taking turns in the lead, in an unspoken agreement to try to handle the wind better.
I started fading a little bit when we hit Falls Bridge. I could feel them pulling away from me, and I got hit with a nasty headwind blast just as we were heading up the last little rise to the bridge. I thought I would be stuck in no man's land behind this group. I managed to catch up to hat guy for a little while, and then went by him as we approached mile 6 (which was the only marked mile on the course). He then caught me back around the John Kelly statue and stayed just out of reach for the rest of the race. I couldn't catch him, but he didn't get that much farther ahead of me.
Some other guy came from out of nowhere to pass me just after we cross the far end of Boathouse Row, within the last quarter mile. I had nothing to try to surge to keep up with him. And didn't really care about the place - I was very happy with the time. About a 56:45 (I had a slight finger malfunction on the watch buttons). Not a PR for this race, but one of the better races that I've run by staying with a group for that long.
I went into this marathon with a few objectives – help my boyfriend Jeremy run his first marathon, experience a large, well-spectated marathon and (hopefully) run well.
The day of the race, we woke at 5AM relieved to see that the rain had stopped overnight. In its place was a cold, blustery wind. We had decided the day before at the expo to sign up with the 4:30 pace group with the goal of sticking with them for the first few miles (at a 10:17 pace) and then picking up to a 10 minute pace for the rest of the race. It sounded entirely doable in theory. Unfortunately it turned out to be much harder in practice.
After we started (it took us 15 minutes to get to the start), the crowds were unbelievable. Being part of this marathon was unlike any other race I had run. The cheering was so loud, and the spirit of the spectators was infectious. We stuck with the 4:30 pace signs, and were a little surprised that the first mile was 10:40. Not only was it off pace, but it felt faster than 10:40! The next few miles picked up to 10:15-10:30. Around the zoo at mile 6, I had to make a pit stop, and we lost the pace group. We would see various 4:30 pace groups throughout the rest of the race, but we wouldn’t really be able to stick with one again.
By mile 6, I was already feeling tired. Maybe it was the psychology of knowing what was ahead of me and wanting to slow down to conserve energy. Maybe it was the cold winds. Probably the psychology. But I just felt tired. I’m not sure why, since we were running such an easy pace. Jeremy was doing great at this point, really taking in the crowds and enjoying the experience.
As we got to the halfway point, we saw a high school friend of mine running her 6th marathon with her dad. She looked great as they said hi and took off. We were planning to meet our families at mile 14 and then again at 16 when the course took a bit of a u-turn, so I tried to look forward to the rendezvous. But I could tell I wasn’t in great shape. Around mile 14, after we saw our families, my knees started to hurt. Not aches, but sharp pain that I hadn’t had in a few years. I’ve had knee problems in the past, but in the last few years, I’ve been able to manage the pain with knee straps and regular icing after runs.
At this point, I started to get pretty down on myself, slowing to a jog and encouraging Jeremy to go on without me. We passed our families at mile 16 and Elan, Jeremy’s brother-in-law joined in to run the last 10 miles with us. He was super encouraging and supportive, but at this point I needed to go at my own pace. Around mile 18, after lots of encouragement, I finally convinced them to go on without me. I was relieved to be by myself and face the challenge of running 8 miles in pain at my own pace. I was running slower than I’ve ever run before – clocking 12 and 13 minute miles. Around this point, the race stopped being about time and just about getting through the miles and finishing. Although I was disappointed with how the race was turning out, I turned my attention to the task at hand and focused on putting one foot in front of the other, stopping when it hurt too much and soaking up encouragement from the crowds.
Slowly but surely I got through the miles. The crowds were amazing the entire race. It is a testament of a great city to see so many thousands of people lining the course on a cold, windy day and staying out for hours to cheer. I don’t remember too many specifics from the last few miles. I do remember the wonderful volunteers at the water stops handing out drinks and encouragement. And I remember seeing a guy running barefoot and thinking how he was lucky not to have stepped on any glass during the race. And then I remember seeing the 800 meters to go sign and thinking, that’s two times around the track. How am I going to do that? But then I turned the corner, saw the finish line, and shuffled toward it. I smiled as I crossed the finish line, relieved to finally be done with the journey, and glad that I stuck with it, even if it took over 5 hours to complete. I slowly made my way through the finish area to find Jeremy, who had finished about 5 minutes ahead of me, and both of our families, ready with warm clothes, flowers and lots of hugs. They were so happy for us, so how could I not be happy?!
This race taught me a lot about the importance of persistence, perspective and support. It also highlighted the fact that I really need to take care of my knees. I love running and don’t want to do any type of long-term damage to them with these marathons. So I may take some time off from marathons for a while. And while I ran this race considerably slower than my past marathons, I had a truly wonderful weekend. Running is great. But it’s just running. I’m glad that Jeremy and I were able to share it together, and I’m so proud of him for running a marathon. Most importantly, we were able to share our accomplishment with our families.
Big congratulations to John W. on his BQ and to Ryan on his huge PR. I’m sorry we couldn’t get out to help you celebrate on Sunday night – I was like a zombie. It sounds like lots of other PRs are gearing up for some exciting fall marathons, so I look forward to hearing about them and seeing lots of you out there in the Philly Marathon in a few weeks!
I got up this morning and biked to Camden for the Ben Franklin Bridge Challenge, only my 3rd 10k in recent memory but I race I've looked forward for some time. As I hit the Delaware I passed Seebo, running, whose iPod blocked my exhortation to "get to the right, asshole". Probably for the best.
The start of the race was pretty regimented, as we all had to proceed from the staging area on the Rutgers campus to the start on the bridge 20 minutes for the start. This meant warming up with wind sprints up the bridge. The weather was cool but not too cold and I thought this would make a good tune up for the Philly Half in 2 weeks. I saw Gelman, Goat, and Kevin Forde before the start as well. We lined up across 4 lanes of the road on the bridge and started with the siren.
The plan was to take it easy up the bridge for 6:30 in mile one and then pick it up to average 6:17 pace and break 39 minutes. Mile 1 ended up passing in 6:22 though, and I was feeling good and picked up up a bit going down the bridge. There was a turnaround on the Philly side, and I saw a tight pack of the Fast guys coming back up the other side. Hit mile 2, halfway back up the bridge, in 12:33 and fell in with the loose pack of guys I would be with for the rest of the race. Mile 3, mostly downhill on the bridge, was a fast 5:54 and I realized this race was looking pretty good. I ran alongside a guy in a yellow shirt and black bandana for a couple of miles and we hit Camden for the second half of the race. There was a water stop at mile 4 and I had a sip to finally rinse out that Clif shot I'd taken 20 minutes before the start. Running through downtown Camden, I had the first of 2 sinking feelings as my right shoe felt looser and looser. A few blocks later, the shoe came untied and I had to bend down and tie it. Even with gloves on, this went quickly and yellow shirt only got about 50 meters on me. Shortly I was passed by another guy in a black shirt. At this point I just wanted to run my own race, so I followed the course toward the waterfront and the USS New Jersey. Somewhere around here I hit mile 5 in about 30:53, 32 seconds ahead of schedule. I was kind of in a zone and before I knew it I was passing yellow shirt, but still behind black shirt. Here came the second sinking feeling, this time literally in my stomach. I had my goal in sight now, though, and planned to stick it out through the GI distress that occasionally accompanies intense track workouts, but that I seldom feel in a race. Hitting the home stretch, which was a road cratered with potholes like the face of the moon, didn't help matters. Nevertheless, I was closing in on a guy in a grey shirt, and cheers from Seebo helped me turn on the gas in the last 200 meters to pass him. I congratulated black shirt on a nicely run race and headed back to see Gelman and Goat coming in shortly behind.
The race was won by Samuel Ndereba, Catherine the Great's little brother. My overall time for this race was 38:21, a PR by 80 seconds and a bit of a relief to me after a not-so-fast 5 miler in Radnor last week. Things are looking good for the half marathon later this month, and I'm looking forward to starting my taper tomorrow.
Nice, crisp 35 degree morning for a tune-up race 2 wks. pre-marathon.
Start area was at the Constitution Center; and the restroom facilities there beat any Port-O-John I've seen at any other race. I met up with Chris and his brother before the run, and wished him luck and happy birthday as well.
At the starting line I saw some fast dudes around me....one had a t-shirt w. the "4 min/mile club" on it. But hey, nothing like competition to pull you through a 5K when you're ready to vomit.
Gun goes off, and down Market St. towards City Hall we go. Few hundred yards in there were about 25 people in front of me. I thought "holy shit.. this race is really competitive". However, a lot of them turned out to be jackrabbits who couldn't pace themselves, since I passed many of them during the first mile.
I didn't feel in-sync though...my legs were cranking along just fine but I felt out of breath. Not good for the first mile. It passed by in 5:42, a little slower than expected. I tried to pick up the pace after this as we headed towards Logan Circle. A bit of a headwind kicked in, but nothing too severe. As I rounded the circle, everything seemed to kick into gear and my body felt much better. Mile 2 I was at 11:33 and thought, damn I'm slowing down. I gradually picked up my pace as we rounded City Hall and East again on Market. I felt great; the pain didn't even bother me, and I passed a guy. Towards the finish line my stride gradually turned into a sprint, and Shanley and Co. were there cheering me on. I saw the clock at the finish line read 16:XX and thought ....."damn!", and sprinted it in for an official time of 17:02. I had never felt so strong at the end of a race.
However, I found out afterward that this was in fact a 3 mile race and not a 5K. However....
Now onto Philly marathon.........
That noise you hear is my 3 year old 5K PR shattering... or crying, as a 3 year old is wont to do
This was to be my last opportunity of the year to set a 5K PR, as my body yearned for rest, and I had to stop denying it! The Roman Run on Kelly Drive was to serve as my coliseum, Sunday, the 12th of November.
The running and cycling in the days leading up to it were to be gentle. Gently, I reminded myself while doing it, like one of the prevalent autumn leaves tenderly gliding to the ground. The reminder served to bolster my confidence, that the requisite hard speed work and other challenging training were already put in. My three year old PR had to fall.
Unfortunately, my stomach and upper back had been bothering me for a day or two. That's almost de rigueur for my stomach, and I wonder if, since I don't outwardly appear nervous anticipating a race, that's how my body manifests it. Oh well. My lower back is never great, but when my upper back hurts, that can be a problem.
The weather forecast two days prior called for cold, rain, and wind. Since I had neither recourse nor control of this, I stopped checking it; it would only aggravate me. The morning prior, I played "Taps" at a Veteran's Day ceremony in perfect race weather. I would have gladly performed out there in cold, rain, and wind, with a nice suit and my trumpet, to get these conditions for the next morning, but somehow that wasn't an option.
I kept Saturday evening quiet and my back was getting a little better when I went to bed. A phone call woke me up at 4:15am! Well, the message did, as my ringer was turned off, and all I heard was the woman saying, "Hi, umm" and pressing redial a couple times. Since my sleep pattern is a bit precarious, I feared that this was all the sleep I'd get... but after a while, I did manage to return to sleep.
Better news greeted me the next morning. Not cold (but humid), no rain, and less wind. Did my normal morning routines plus my vital pre-race routine of soaking my legs in hot water to warm up the muscles. A little stretching and I ran off to Lloyd Hall to pick up my packet. Spoke with Jim, Broad Street race director, and Northeast Mike. Friendly, familiar faces help allay some trepidation with the race, though it was time for some warm-up miles, which I feel I had partially neglected in my 5K race three weeks ago.
Not only were Shanley and Elizabeth S #3 racing, but so were Sue (whose husband was often the oldest racer) and another guy I've seen before who looks a little out of place, with skinny legs and bulky on top. He's deceptively fast though, so when we lined up, I went to him and asked his pace or goal time, but he didn't speak English. I asked, "Espagnol" and he nodded; too bad I never learned Spanish. The only phrase I know, "siempre usa condones," I thought might not be quite relevant or even appropriate since it means "always use condoms."
We started the race and my legs felt slightly anguished early on. I knew I was going too fast, but I was scared to slow down. Around the dirt path divergence was long-lost Emily M running with a friend the other way and she shouted out some words of encouragement. I gave her a thumbs up; I try to remain silent when racing... except for some grunts that inevitably escape near the end. It was 5:35 for the initial mile. Way too fast, and my conversation with Craig 20 minutes prior, that the two 5K races I've done well in had too-fast opening miles, reminded me that I told him that I was NOT planning on racing that way. Never mind! The good news is that I knew I could have gone 17 seconds faster for a 1-mile PR (assuming I'd be finished then).
After the turnaround Shanley and I saw each other, then Elizabeth, both keeping a strong pace. Most of the rest of the race was filled with various manifestations of pain, but that's what I'm here for. Internal declarations of self-doubt repeatedly traded spots with self-confidence. Like my previous 5K three weeks ago, I decided that no matter where I am, at minute 16:00 I would kick it, and I did. My head was starting to hurt a little and I wondered how much I was overloading my circuitry. I knew it would be close here. Potential Olympian Jenae and I passed each other around the start of Boathouse Row, and as I was racing and she wasn't, it might be the only time with us passing each other that I was running harder than her! I couldn't quite make out the clock but I did see -- and hear, shouting his encouragement -- Craig. I want this. If there was anything good about the race three weeks ago, it's that I realized I can mentally compensate for a physical weakness.
It was 18:25 when I finished. Bam, I got it. A 10-second PR (30 seconds faster than the 5K three weeks prior) and I knew I got over 70% age-graded time. I let the lady pull off the tear-tag and I hobbled out of the chute. My kingdom for a place to sit, and I don't recall if it was on a bench or a curb, but it was still expending less energy, so that was good. Cradling my face in my hands with very labored breathing caused a guy near me (non-racer, but involved with the race) to ask if I was okay. Extending my non-talking beyond the race, I gave him a thumbs up. He asked if I needed water, but I waved him off. I wanted, but I'll get that myself in a moment. He said in a friendly way something about leaving me alone. I didn't mind him talking, as long as it didn't obligate me to reply! I got up for some water and then went to meet Craig. Next up was Shanley in a strong finish, then Elizabeth with a pace that pleasantly surprised her when I calculated it... and this after running the loop for her first time the day prior! It was over 30 seconds faster than my predicted time for her (which she didn't know). I told Shanley that she probably placed, but she disagreed. We all chatted for a while, but since the awards ceremony was delayed, they left.
Shortly into the awards ceremony, Shanley was called for her division! When I went up to retrieve her medal, I assured them that I'm not her (they laughed) but that she had departed. It was gratifying to have my friend win and accept it on her behalf. Soon after, I was up again, to collect my third place division medal. I assured them that this one was mine. They laughed again... easy crowd; must have been all that beer that they provided to adult racers (really!), and then they took my photo. He told me to stay up there for any other awards people didn't claim, but I escaped.
Of the five races this year (tying my record from 2001, my first year running), this 18:25.23 (5:55.7 pace) was the only one of the four 5K races (the other was my first miler in August, which went well) that I was pleased with. Considering the calculated training I did for short races this year, I thought I would physically be able to race this faster, but my attempt three weeks ago compelled me not go for sub-18, but simply PR. I suppose that since all the calculated training can give you a quantitative measure of your physical attempts, that's what one focuses on, but I didn't give myself enough credit for the mental improvements. This latter was, in my opinion, more responsible for this triumphant race. That's my race swan song of the year, but from it, I know I'm competitive again. Boston awaits.
This was my first marathon so I did not focus on mile markers, split times, or pace - I had a very loose goal time but was more focused on just finishing it with the intention on running the entire thing.
Overall, it was an amazing experience! I was battling nerves all weekend but once the race started, I began to relax - I suppose I ran off the anxiety. I started conservatively, remembering that I had no idea what it would feel like to run more than 20 miles. It worked out because I felt pretty good throughout the race (all things considered).
Monika and I ran together up until mile 20.5 which made it a really fun run. My favorite parts were definitely running through UPenn - nothing like drunk frats to keep the energy levels high - and the 14th mile around the art musuem, which was surreal - especially because we got to see so many other Philly runners cheering us on (thank you Kevin, Marita, Shanely, and Seth with the megaphone and everyone else there)!
I saw some friends at mile 15 which was also really exciting (they provided lots of energy and great sign that said "Mueve la colita Elizabeth"). Shortly after, Monika's friends were to our right with cow bells and lots of cheers. At some point we saw Craig who was on his way back down Kelly. We cheered him on as he went flying toward the finsih and were hoping that his look of pain was a sign that he was having a good race.
By mile 18 I was starting to feel tired and actually a little sick (I had been fighting a cold all week and I think it has caught up with me today). But I just tried not to think about it too much. I kept aiming to get to Manayunk where I knew another group of friends were waiting. This helped tremendously because I was in need of some serious crowds and destraction.
On our way out of Manayunk, Monika said she was feeling good and so she went ahead - I made a promise to her that I would finish it and I would finish running. I then slowed just a bit, but found a pace that I felt I would be able to finish at - it worked. The last 5 miles were not easy per se, but I didn't hit the wall, fall into the death march, or want to give up. I just kept my legs moving and told myself I had done the run from Falls Bridge to the Art Museum 100 times before. Plus, the idea that I was at this point, running farther than I ever had before (20 miles was my maximum training run) made things that much more exciting.
I finished in 4:33:09 (by my stop watch - which I stopped when I had to stretch at one point). I had told myself I would be happy with anything under 4:45:00 as long as I didn't walk.
I am glad that I decided on Philly for my first marathon - it definately helped to know where I was distance wise and to have people I knew out in the crowds. I am soar today and have been eating everything in sight - and I feel terrific. I am looking forward to plotting my next marathon.
Thanks to all those who came out to see us and for those who volunteered - especially to Monika for providing such great company and incentive - and to Ben for hosting a much needed pizza get-together after the race.
And finally congratulations to all those who raced!
My race fell into different parts according to how I felt, so here's the synopsis:
My original goal was to beat Lance. Fuck him. I'm still a Sub 3-hour marathoner! I just love the sound of that phrase. This race if anything taught me a lot about perserverence and and beleiving in myself. Congrats to everyone else who ran and for everybody who cheered. You all are great!
OK, I’ll cut to the chase. Still can’t believe it! I hit my Dream Time of 3:30 with time to spare (3:28 chip, 3:30 gun). That’s a PR of 19 minutes over my London 2006 time in April, and a BQ for old farts like me. I’ll spare you the split details. It was essential a fairly even 8 min pace with a few miles at 7:45 ( 9 & 10 I think) and a few at 8:10. Although running with or close to the official pace group was helpful, having Bike Mike, LL and J Dubbs pace me (in order of appearance) made all of the difference. Bike Mike appeared at mile 2 (he’d run from the start before he spotted me after a couple of miles. LL joined at mile 5, and J Dubs joined at mile 16. I think Seebo once quoted someone else as saying that it takes a village to run a marathon. Well nothing could have been truer for this race. The support that these three Phillyrunners provided was awesome (had to use that word once in the LBRR). And thanks to all the PRs and friends who came out to cheer and volunteer (Jamie & Sis, Gerry, Seth, Kev and Marita are the ones I saw). But that’s not to take away the contribution of the official pace group leader George, and all those PRs that I’ve trained with over the past few months. Combining the official Tuesday and Saturday runs with the unofficial ‘run around the park’ runs provided me with a good chunk of my training for this race. Although the pace group was great to have close by, Bike Mikes early appearance help guide me through the crowd and to the space in front of the pace group. LL prevented me from overrunning as the pace group leader occasionally surged (or up-surged as they now say on NPR). J Dubbs kept me going at a nice steady pace through the last ten miles. Just following his stride proved to be the biggest help. There were times between mile 18 and 22, when I know that if I’d been by myself I would slacked off the pace and let the main pace group run ahead of me. But having a buddy, who you know you’re going to have to answer to if you DNF, or miss your time, really provided a huge incentive. I’m still amazed that I did not feel the usual loss in power after mile 17. I can remember very clearly in London the effort it took to try and maintain an 8:30 pace, and here I was running a steady 8 pace. In addition to the help from my three PR pacers, I’m certain that my increased mileage made a huge difference. For London I was running a max of 35 miles per week. For the 8 weeks before today’s race, I was peaking at 50 miles every other week. With a mid 30ish week in between. I did this by increasing the length of my shorter runs by a bout 3-5 miles, and still only ran a max of 4 times a week. I think a shortened taper also helped. I ran my last 20 miler 2 weeks before the race, and still ran 30 miles the following week. That said, I almost over did it in the final week. I went out with a pack of fast pace PRs the weekend previous to the race, and perhaps over did it: I strained my hamstring a bit, and was still having problems with it the Wednesday before the race. So when I started today’s race you can imagine the sinking feeling I had when less than two miles into the race, I felt a sharp pulling sensation in my left hamstring. Shit I thought, I’m gonna DNF. Well nothing to lose I thought, just keep going and see if it disappears as you warm up. Fortunately it did, and for the rest of the race I just had rather dull stiff sensation in hamstring. A concern, but something I could definitely run with. I think the lesson there, is “don’t push too hard in the final week” of training, A late injury can really mess you up. The final mile into the finish was magnificent. I knew I had about 3 minutes to spare. I was so excited, and so emotional. I really can’t remember another sporting event that was quite like it. With about a quarter of a mile to go I really started pushing it. Around the final bend to the Art Museum I was in full tilt zipping past other runners. An amazing feeling as ran under the clock with a 3:30 gun time. Boston here I come!!
I actually have no idea what the title of this race is. It may have been the Holiday Heart Haddon 5k.
Anyway, the lady Nora and I headed out to New Jersey, which is the state next to Pennsylvania. They are known for their wildlife and well-thought out roadways.
We got lost and I thought we were not only going to miss the race but that we were going to have to live at one of the five Home Depots we passed on the way to Collingswood. But Nora was somehow able to navigate using the sun and her wristwatch. We pulled into the parking lot of the Wachovia bank where registration was just before a helicopter landed and Santa got out. This is true (it was not the real Santa).
There was a group of runners dressed as reindeer tethered together with tinsel in front of another man dresed as Santa (also not the real Santa) who had not arrived in a helicopter but in a Nissan Sentra. A mirthful spirit was felt by all.
I warmed up for about ten minutes then took to the start line. I was standing next to these two guys and a race director looking guy came up and pointed to each of them and said "first" and "second." Sure enough, when the gun fired, they took to the front, along with another guy, and I trailed behind them. The race started uphill, which is always nice.
I closed in and we made a tight little uncomfortable pack until "first" took off, leaving "second," another guy, and "me" to fend for ourselves. The terrain plateaued a bit, and I just stayed steady, "second" and the other guy maybe 5 yards ahead of me. I accidentally deleted the splits when I was trying to navigate our way home, but mile one was something like 5:13 or so, and it felt pretty good.
I just maintained the little gap with the others, "first" well ahead and probably done already. I didn't realize it, but I guess 2 and 3 were slowing down. I came up on their heels and it felt too easy. I didn't want to blow it early, so I just hung out awhile. Finally, I took it away, other guy following me and leaving "second" in fourth.
I had a little hiccup around mile 2. I came to a T in the road and I asked a policeman marshalling the course "which way?" He made it clear that I should turn either right or left.
I started to go right, which was wrong, while the other guy went left. I got back on course and followed him for a little while before pulling ahead. We came to another unmarshalled intersection and he was kind enough to give me directions there.
I pulled away a bit on the final stretch and crossed in 16:41. The guy in first had already finished and read a book and was making omelettes for everyone, which was nice.
The time is okay for me but not all I was hoping for. It's slow mostly, I think, because I'm dumb, not because I'm out of shape, which is good becaused I am usually dumb and out of shape.
We didn't stick around for the awards. They did 19 and under, then 65 and over, then masters women, then first Santa, then teenagers aged 30-34, then first overall, then clydesdale teens, and I didn't know if we would ever get to me, and it didn't look like the prizes were money anyway, and we were hungry.
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