Monday, October 29, 2007

MCM 2007 Race Report


We got on the road at 11:30 and had an easy drive to Washington but for the fact that Mapquest gave us some screwy directions. Checked into the Courtyard Hilton in Arlington by 3:00, then made our way up the street to the Ragtime Pub for a little refreshment. Little did we know it was a WVU hang-out. Mountaineer fans were there in force watching Rutgers get trounced.

Afterwards, we headed to the Armory on the Metro. We got there later this year and didn't experience any wait to get in. Packet pick-up went smoothly and we enjoyed the fitness expo. I was able to pick up some new tights and "snack-ass" shorts for the next day. We headed back to the hotel then out for some Thai food. I had pad thai for my pre-race supper. Went back to the hotel and watched PSU get whooped.

Got up at 5:30 and went for a 10:00 minute run to help get rid of some Thai food. Had a little breakfast and coffee along with some sports drinks. We boarded the metro around 7:00 and arrived at Arlington 25 minutes prior to the start. Things were set up a little differently. It was easier to get to the corrals. Tina walked up with me to the starting line and snapped my picture with Miles the mascot and his girlfriend. I don't know what her name is. I wanted my picture taken with the Redskin's cheerleaders, but Tina wouldn't take it. I don't understand why not. I was only trying to do them a favor.

Snuck in the bushes for a last voiding of the bilges then listened to a great rendition of the National Anthem, which included a flyover of two Ospreys - the aircraft, not the birds. Al Grey the former Commandant of the Marine Corps gave a great speech: "Ladies and Gentlemen I'm honored to be here, good luck." A man of few words.

Then it was 8:00, the band struck up the Marine Corps hymn, and we were off.

Miles 0-5
As usual there was a lot of bunching at the start, and it was hard to get into a rhythm. Spent a lot of energy passing and dodging slower runners. I felt good and managed a 7:40 pace. The highlight was crossing the Key Bridge into Georgetown, however, the wind coming across the bridge was gusting hard and made it difficult to maintain pace.

Miles 6-10
Once in Georgetown, the course took a different turn from last year and there were more hills. We went along the Potomac, up to a reservoir, then made a sharp turn and headed back down bypassing Georgetown and proceeding into Washington. My average pace was 7:36. I had one slower lap due to bladder issues which required a pit stop along the course.

Miles 10-15

This section, in my opinion, is the heart and soul of the Marine Corps Marathon and why it's named the marathon of monuments. You pass them all: Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, the White House and the Capitol. On a beautiful day like Sunday, you couldn't help feeling national pride. This section is filled with numerous spectators and the time goes quickly; there seems to be a bit more spring in the step when passing through. Around the Smithsonian is the half-way point; at 13.1 I clocked 1:41:03, and my GPS pace was 7:27. I should mention here that my GPS pace, or the pace I was recording on my device, is different than the actual course pace and distance. The course is measured to the inside, and unless you always run tucked into the inside, you are going to run farther than 26.2 miles. At the half marathon point, I was actually 2/10th of a mile farther ahead according to my device.

Miles 16-20

This section is the lonliest on the course. You have to run around Haines Point. Last year this is where things fell apart for me. I thought this year was going to be different, but because of an early fast pace and strong winds, I again felt the beginnings of cramps in the thighs. I had no choice but to shorten my stride, consequently, my pace fell off. I began to consume gels and sport beans in an effort to stave off full blown cramps. Unlike last year, I held them at bay and around mile marker 19, I began to pick up my pace again. Also around mile marker 19 I began to hear cheers for Miss Utah. She was right behind me, and closing. At a water point, she passed me and I followed her to mile 20. I had a strong tail wind going over the bridge into VA, and I used it to pull ahead. I figured she would beat me hands-down in a beauty contest, but this race was mine. My pace, however, fell to 7:42.

Miles 21 -26.2

I made it over the bridge with a 10k to go. I held off the cramps, but the race wasn't over. There was a large crowd in Crystal City, and Tina had caught up with me. As I passed her the first time, I asked if she had water, and she did. I hit the turn- around, and headed back. I stopped and downed another gel, drank some water, gave Tina a kiss and I was on my way again, but not alone: my old friend the cramps returned to keep me company. I was hurting, but I was detrmined to press on. I tried to pick up my pace a couple of times, but I wasn't strong enough to fight the wind and had to slow constantly. I was determined in the last two miles to not let anyone pass me. In fact, I began to reel a few in including a guy in a cow suit. A woman, however, who appeared to be older than me passed me at mile 25. No problem, a quick burst of speed and she would be broken. Not so, she passed me again. Another burst of speed and I was ahead, but she passed me again. Okay, the finish was only 200 yards away, I decided I was going to sprint home and off I went, but wait, What the hell!!!! They altered the finish, you had to run past it then turn around. I slowed, defeated, I couldn't muster another rally and sure enough, "slow and steady" defeated me. I did, however, have enough left for the grand stand and finished with my head and hands held high.

Final stats: 3:22:55; 835th overall; 737th male; 72nd in my division. And, I qualified for Boston. Sing it Kenny:

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Race for Education

Kyler had his "Race for Education" today at school. I was able to get off work in the afternoon, and join him. I was so proud, he ran his first mile, and at a pretty good pace. After that, we ran 100 yards then walked 100 yards for the remainder of the time. Despite the heat, he completed 19 laps - 4 and 3/4 miles - in an hour. He finished tied for first in his class and I believe tied for second in the first grade.

"Marathon Man"

Camping at Twin Grove

We went on a family camping trip with friends this past weekend. Tristan and I arrived at the KOA Friday night after a miserable drive through what seemed like a hurricane. We couldn't find our cabin, and once we did, we didn't have any power due to the storm. Luckily, I threw in a flashlight and we got unloaded then went to bed.

Tina and Kyler joined us the next day after Kyler's soccer game. We had a great time. The boys enjoyed the rides and arcade and being able to run free. Later in the afternoon, the boys and Makenzie went trick-or-treating. They were both impressed with their haul.

We had a great camping supper and hung out by the fire for awhile then we headed back to our cabin. I wasn't tired, so I went out on the porch after the boys were down. Struck up a conversation with our neighbors in the next cabin and was invited to join them around their fire. We had great conversations and a lot of laughs.

Got up Sunday and played with the kids at the campground after brerakfast then packed up and headed to the "Chinese Wall," or "Box Car Rocks" depending on what you want to call them. We had a nice time hiking on such a beautiful day.

Here's a few pictures from the weekend:

Marathon Season XIII

One week to go, 6 days actually. Last week was a good week of training until I did my long run. Tuesday was 5x1000 on the track at about a 6:15 pace. Wednesday I swam 1500 yards and Thursday was a 6 miler: 1 mile easy, 3 miles at 6:45, then 2 miles easy. We went camping this weekend and I got off my normal weekend routine. Got home Sunday, and decided to go out for a run in the middle of the day. My training plan called for 10 miles at marathon pace, which is 7:40 pace. Started out at 6:58 pace and was feeling good until I came to a long uphill. Once again, I was stupid and went out too fast in conditions that were too hot. I quickly began to fade. I was going to throw the towell in at 8.5 miles, but my buddy Scott saw me and pulled along side. "Do you need something to drink," he said. Ahh, relief, he gave me a whole bottle of Propel, which got me through the rest of my run. I managed to hang on for a 7:44 pace, but I was hurting. Thank you, Scott!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Marathon Season XII

Two weeks to go until the MCM. I had a good week of training. Tuesday was 10x400s along with Pilates in the evening; Wednesday I swam and set a PR for 1500 yards; Thursday I ran 7 miles at 7:20; Saturday I ran 13.1 in 1:38, which is well below BQ pace; and Sunday I went for a 25 mile bike ride. Despite the wind, I was able to crank out an 18 mph ride. In light of how I've been running, and more importantly how I've been feeling, I'm revising my MCM goal to 3:20. This is down 10 minutes from my original goal of 3:30, which is my BQ time. I have also given serious consideration to running the Harrisburg Marathon on 11/11. Might as well run while I'm in shape and before winter sets in.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Chiquesalunga and the AT Too

It was a nice weekend to get out, but it was a little on the warm side. My buddy Andy came up Friday afternoon and we hit the Chiques late in the day. We did well and each caught five different species of warm-water fish: Smallmouths, Green Sunfish, Red Breasted Sunfish, Rock Bass and Creek Chubs (venerable creek chubs as Walton would say). The smallies were quite nice and feisty. Andy took the prize for the largest one at just over 13". Great fun on 4wt rods. Andy also showed me how to ID rusty crayfish, and Asiatic Clams which, unfortunately, are now in the Chiques watershed. Capped of the day at Bube's.

Saturday we hiked into the Shikellamy Power Dam located between Rt. 183 and Rt. 501 on the AT. There was a kid fly fishing at the dam, so we set up camp then headed downstream. Perhaps I should say "downtrickle." The drought has really taken it's toll on small brookie streams, however, we each managed to hook a few. We then went back up to the pond and each caught another fish. The pond was loaded with brookies, but it was hard to fish, because the edges dropped off fast and it was hard to generate a back cast. After supper we explored the boulder field near our camp. Then at dark, we went on a "herp" hunt. We identified two species of salamanders in the stream near our camp. Oh, and an American Toad.

Sunday, after a leisurely breakfast and coffee, we headed out. We drove to the Northkill Creek and fished for an hour or so, but again, low water made it difficult. Decided to call it quits, and headed to the Union Barrel Works in Reamstown for lunch. This turned out to be a great find, and I would recommend it to anyone, especially the trout chowder and their pale ale.

Here's a slideshow of the weekend:

Marathon Season XI

It's so nice to be tapering. Last week I ran 6x800m @ 6:15 on Tuesday and a 6 mile tempo run @ 7:30 on Thursday. Wednesday I rode the bike trainer for an hour. It was a mistake to go that long on the trainer. Unlike road riding, the trainer keeps you in a more static position for a longer period of time, and I paid for it with a bout of sciatica.

I didn't run this weekend, because I was backpacking, which provided two nice aerobic workouts on Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Marathon Season X

Let the taper begin, Woohoo!! Last week was a good week of training despite not being able to get in a speed workout. On Thursday, I resumed my training and went for an 8 mile tempo run @ 7:30 pace. I lifted on Friday. I felt a need to add this back into my routine, because on a long run two weeks ago, I felt my upper back tighten up from the fatigue of holding up my arms. Saturday was my last long run. I was scheduled to do a 20 miler - my fifth one - but I stretched it out to 21. I maintained a 7:48 pace, well below where I need to be for the MCM. Sunday, was a beautiful day and I was able to get out for a 20 mile ride. I was averaging 20 mph over the first 2 miles, and was going to see if I could maintain that over the next 18 when my GPS bonked out. Forgot to recharge it. Not knowing my pace, I decided to ride hard, but not too hard. From here on out it is taper time.