Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Subway, A Ferry, A Bus, A Marathon and 2 Mile Walk

In 2012 Detour (Gail)  and I got "Sandy'd" out of the NYC Marathon. Two hours after we arrived the race was cancelled. So we ran one of the best Marathons of our life in Central Park on our own. 26.2 miles with 10,000 plus other runners from around the world. It was an amazing experience.

We had to decide if we wanted to come back and run in 2013. The Race said if you want your money back that is fine. But you can't come back next year without going into the lottery. If you want to run in 2013 you can but you give up your entry fee for 2012 and have to pay full fare for 2013. Which imo sucked but they hold all the cards. So back we came. We had been trying to get in the race for years and I finally played the sad big eyed Race Director card with a phone call to the NYC RD. Hey it worked for 2012.

So off to NYC went again. Got the same hotel. Ate mostly the same places as last year, traveled on the same flights. But this year we got run. Both Gail and I are fighting long term injuries. We are an hour or so slower than a year or so ago. So we run marathons now not race them. It is pretty fun to run the entire race wth your spouse. Not many folks can or choose to do that. I think its a blast. We don't do it all the time of course but it is so much fun when we do.

So on race day we head out to catch the subway at 6:15 am or so. Take a jam packed, can't move, no one else will ever get in train to the Ferry docks. There we wait 20 minutes in line then get on the Ferry for a 30 minute trip to Staten Island where we sit for 2 hours then take another 30 minute bus ride to the start, hang for another hour then get ready to run. How they do this I do not know. Logistics are great, the crowds are too much for me.

So we are in wave 3 of 4. The gun goes off and we strip our warm clothes and head up over the Veranazo Bridge. It is very windy at 20 to 25 mph with temps in the mid 40's. So chilly but still doable. Once we get into Brooklyn it is pretty much crowds of fans everywhere. I feel good til mile 7 or so then my legs start to feel tired. I don't say anything to Gail as I don't want to whine and complain and upset her running day. I am a tad more quiet than usual I think. As we get to the Jewish section of Brooklyn I am fascinated  by what I see. Sunday is a work day for them so I enjoy seeing the culture as we pass by.

Around mile 15 I mention that my legs are tired but they felt bad at mile 8 too. Gail agrees and says she felt the same way. As we head up another bridge into Manhattan everyone gets real quiet. I can feel the pain starting to set in the runners. Gail and I think its a nice gradual up, not that tough for sure but others are suffering. As we come off the bridge back into "the city" the crowds are huge. Up to 8 deep in places and the sound is amazing. (I actually liked the quiet at times as the noise was so constant) We head up First Avenue on a gradual climb. Soon we head into The Bronx and cross mile 20. I had been doing some math and I wanted us to break 5 hours. We haven't done that much lately as we are just happy we can run at all.

As we come into Harlem then back in the big "M" I tell Gail I think we got 5 hours licked, as long as we keep up the same pace as all day. She kind of takes off around mile 23, I struggle to keep up but it was great to have her do this. My knee talks to me now and then but over all has been great most all day. Soon we hit Central Park where we ran our own Marathon last year. Gail keep us going. I force us to run the Tangents of the corners not follow the other sheep. One thing I noticed was with this group around 5 hours you usually see a bunch of folks walking after they have bonked. This race I didn't see that. Not sure why? Maybe after $250 entry fee walking doesn't taste so good. Well we press on. We cross the finish line in 4:53 hand in hand again, just like Portland last month. So fun to do that!

We get your medals which to me are not very good compared to whats out there these days. I really don't care about most medals as many just go in a drawer, but such a big event should have a "special" medal.

Well now they make us walk for I would guess close to a mile. Cold winds blowing and mid 40's many folks are starting to drop to the ground. They have great first aid folks anytime someone looks bad or sits down they are right on top of it.Good for them! Well finally after freezing we get this very cool, bright orange poncho that has a hood and warm liner. Oh man that was the best thing of the race. But now we continue following the sheep to the get out of this place. We think we will hail a cab but they are all taken. We don't get cold but we are tired. Gail suggests we just walk the 20 blocks back to our room. I shrug, but agree. She is so strong to just press on after this 10 hour plus day we just had. We grab some food finally at a store and get back to our room nearly 2 hours after the race finish in the dark. Wow what a day.

I am very glad to have done the NYC Marathon but I probably won't be back. 50,000 runners is too huge for me. was a bucket list item and I have no regrets in completing it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Where did he go?

Been almost a year since I posted on this blog. The dreaded FB kind of took over my posting. It is kind of like our society. A drive up blog, quick and easy. The life of the soundbite. Who needs details when I can say it in two or three sentences.

Well lets review what has happened since my last post. I ran the Mt Hood 50 Mile Trail Race again. Qualified for Western States but didn't get in. Died at mile 42 and hated life, but regrouped and finished.

Went through training and got checked out in my new plane at work.

Ran one of my favorite races, the Haulin' Aspen Trail Marathon in Bend. Had a great race in my road shoes as I forgot to bring my trail runners with me. Doh!

Ran Waldo 100k but had to drop at mile 32 because of some ongoing issues I was having with neck pain. (Still have it and is quite frustrating.

Couldn't run the beautiful McKenzie River  50k due to the neck problems but paced Gail for almost 8 miles to a PR for her. We had a great time that day.

A week later Gail and I were in Reno for our annual trip to the Reno National Championship Air Races. The second day of the races an aircraft lost control and crashed in to the crowd about 50 feet from where we were sitting. There was no fire or I would not be writing this. I had numerous little breaks in my nose and face. Got a little concussion and was hauled off to the hospital. Gail got all cut up and banged up pretty bad too. We survived, that is what counts. We were the lucky ones as 10 people in the crowd didn't make it. Life luckily went on for us.

Three weeks later I thought I would run a few miles of the Portland Marathon with Gail. At first I thought I would drop at 4 miles. The it was at mile 7. Then mile 11 where are friends would be. Then mile 20. Then it was fun just to run with my wife and to celebrate the fact I could still run. We finished the marathon. I was probably stupid to do that but it just  felt like the right thing to do.

In late October Gail and I put on the Autumn Leaves 50/50 again. The little 50k/50 mile race at Champoeg State Park. This year was much less stressful than our rookie year. We had a great group of runners, volunteers and weather. Looking forward to next year.

December we went to Vegas for the Rock and Roll Marathon. What a joke that cluster was. Poorly organized and way to big. But we did have fun with our friends!

Christmas again was a celebration of life. I was the house husband and tried to keep everything in line. I think I passed.

December 26th Gail and I did Steve's 6 hour run just a few miles from our house. I think I ended up with 34 miles or so. Was a cold fine day to get loopy in the park.

I decided to try and get a Boston Marathon qualifier. I hired coach Nikki again and she sent me off on a quest for speed. My pr for the marathon was 3:50. I needed 3:30 to get a BQ. 20 minutes faster than I have ever run. Interesting....

February I ran a half Marathon and got a PR on a tough little course of 1:44

In March Gail and I did the Pac Rim 24 hour run. Even though we both just used it as a training run and did 32 miles each.

In April I ran the Vernonia half as a training run and got another PR with 1:43. Gail ran the Marathon that day and got a new PR by over 7 minutes. And that was her 63rd marathon or faster. Who says you slow down after 50?

Eugene was my target race. I knew the course and it is a fast one. I felt ready but knew 20 minutes was a huge leap for me. Could I run 8:00 pace for 26 miles? Come to find out I couldn't. I ran that pace for about 18 miles then started to burn out. By mile 25 I was at a 9:30 pace. I finished with a PR of 3:39. Eleven minutes faster than I have ever run a marathon. I am very happy with that time. Never dreamed I could be that fast.

Boston is still a goal. Just something new to try and get. I do hate the idea that I need to stop some of the trail races to get fast. I love running these races in the woods in the summer around here. But I got to keep pushing this new idea and see where it takes me.

I am back flying now. Just finishing up my training. Life will be returning to its more normal ways. This summer I turn 20 as a runner. It was a torturous 4 mile run in Alaska in 1992 that created this crazy hobby of mine. I don't love it. I don't crave it. I don't like running for running. But it is who I am. What I do. It is a part of my life that I can not really explain why I do it. I just know if I go more than a week without doing it I feel something in my life is missing.

Hope this gets me back to this Blog. I enjoy the witting. Maybe I will post some pictures next time!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Race It Bret

I got a coach again a few weeks back to help me get through my summer running goals. My two drivers again this year are to complete the Mt Hood PCT 50 miler in less than 11 hours to give me a Western States qualifier and to finish the Waldo 100k again this year but to do it under 16 hours. Last year I took over 17 to finish. Our goal over time was also to get this Fatboy to a Boston Qualifier which is 3:35 now and soon goes to 3:30 I think. Coach Nikki just keeps me accountable for my workouts and gets me to a new level. Last summer she had me run almost 100 miles more in a month than I had ever run before. So if definitely works!

On July 4th it was the annual running of the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon. I like running this race because it is close to home and can be run midweek if that is when Independence Day falls. The course is not totally flat anymore but is probably the flattest marathon I have ever run. Many times a group of us have gathered to run the the full or the half. So that is always a great time too. But the best part is the free strawberry shortcake at the finish!!! So this year I just figured I would run it for fun. Not push real hard but just take in the views, chat with other runners and just overall have a good time. I didn't put any real focus on this race, it was just another marathon to do. Well that plan didn't last for long after I told Nikki about it. She told me that she wanted to take my 3:56 time at Eugene and whatever time I got at Sauvie to set up my pace work for the next few months. She said "I want you to Race It." Hopefully I could finish sub 4 hours or at least do better than the 4:07 I ran here last year. Well "oh crap" I thought. Now I have to work at this. It is so much more fun to just go run, but that is why I got a coach. To push me to new levels.

Marc and Sarah running their 3rd marathon in 3 days! Photo by Steve Walters

My plan was to bring up my pace right from the start. Most of you probably know by now that I start out super slow. It takes me a few miles to get moving up to pace. Well not this time. I needed to be at a 8:45 pace for the first 10k. As the gun went off Gail and I took off. The start was pretty packed because only one lane of the road was open due to incoming traffic that was running late. I usually will run with Gail for at least a mile, but today I was told to race so that is what I did. After a slow 9:25 first mile I got my splits down to about 8:35 so that by the 10k mark I would average a 8:45 pace. My goal was to pick up the pace every 10k so that I wouldn't be dead by the last 6 miles. This was risky for me as I am a second half runner for sure in most marathons.

The course was sunny and a tad cool for the 6:30 am start. Around mile 6 we ran into a pretty good headwind. I just relaxed and told myself don't overdo it as you can push when we turn around and get the tailwind. Which is exactly what I did. I started clicking off some 8:15/8:20's with the tailwind through mile 12. I was efficient going through the aid stations. I would use a hand held bottle today rather than my belt as I feel sometimes the belts pressure on my gut makes me stop to water the bushes a few too many times. That worked too today, I didn't stop once, which has only happened a couple of times in the 85+ marathons I have run.

Around mile 16 we had this 1/4 mile out and back. It was a good time to see who I had passed and how close they were to me. When I made the turn I was sort of shocked on how close these folks were. I was starting to feel the first fatigue of the day here. Back on the main course I heard the patter of girl in the pink top. I caught a glimpse of her in my left eye. I had passed her a mile or so back. I new I had slowed down a bit and hearing her come up reminded my that I was racing today, not just running. So up went the pace. At this point I was up to around a 8 minute/mile, which is pretty quick for me at any distance. She hung a few strides back for about a mile. I wasn't going to go any faster but I figured this would test both her and me. Soon it worked, she must have dropped back and the sound disappeared.

As we got into an open section on the course and headed back North, the headwind picked back up. I knew we would be out of it in a couple of miles but it just sucked right now. As we hit mile 20 I felt pretty good but a bit slower. This mile would be my first one over 9 minute pace except for mile one. My hips and left glute were really starting to bother me. This has been an issue for the last few weeks. I kept trying to keep up the pace but pain and fatigue was a constant battle. I think a few years earlier I would have been walking with this pain but over time I know what is bad pain and what is just something that you just have to get through. Today I had to push through so that is what I did.

Around mile 23 pink shirt girl tried to pass me again. This time she had another women on her shoulder too. "Ain't gonna happen if I can help it" I said to myself. So I picked up the pace again and the 3 of us ran line abreast for about 1.5 miles. It was so cool! Not a word said but you could feel the sharing of energy. All three of us were hurting for sure but by banding together we ran harder as a group. We were coming up upon the slower 1/2 marathon runners so we were weaving in and out but would always join back up when the pack cleared. At about the mile 24 aid stations the women stopped. Not me I had to keep going. In my mind over the last 4 miles or so I calculated there is a slim chance I could break 3:50. "Wow you know how good 3:49 sounds?" Never in my dreams could I be a 3:49 runner. When I broke 4 hours it was amazing, now I have done that 4 or 5 times. I had crossed mile 20 at around 2:54 or something, by far my fastest point to that distance in my career. But the wheels were falling off after 21 miles but I guess that is what happens when you actually try and run hard from the start.

The course markings were a bit off on the back half of the course, not sure why but the first half was perfect. I was worried that the last mile or so they would be long as they need to catch up to the actual 26.2 mile distance. (Gail said the same thing after the race) Sure enough it was a bit long towards the end. I was really tired by mile 25 and my hip actually made my leg collapse at one point. My entire left leg was in pain the last 3 miles. I kept pushing as it was going to be very close to break 3:50. At least I was going to get a PR for the marathon unless I just fell on my face. With less than I mile to go it was a real battle. I went by the Oregon Live aid station and Kelly yells out a "Hi". I respond back but with no real energy. I am laying most everything I got to finish this sucker. I heart kind of fell out of the race at this point. I was pushing but I could have gone faster but really didn't want to. I knew I would PR but probably not get the 3:49.

With less than a quarter of a mile to go, my watch said something like 3:48:30 or something. It still would be close. A sprinter passed me but I was staying ahead of most. I turned my tunes off to enjoy the sounds of the finish. I never tire of this, it's a great way to feel good about what you just did, no matter what the distance. I looked at my watch as I turned the corner the finish, it clicked over to 3:50:00. "Oh well". I cross the line at 3:50:12, which is over 2 minutes faster than my previous PR at the Portland Marathon back in 2009. So at a fat 51 years old I am running even faster! This was a pretty motivational event for me.

"I think I done good!" Photo by Steve Walters

After finishing I chatted with a few folks and just walked around trying not to get the low blood pressure thing. I could tell it was really trying to kick in but I also was trying to walk for at least 20 minutes and stay upright for an hour. As I walked back to the finish line I saw Gail coming in. She was having a much better day than I thought she would. She crossed in 4:28 her 5th fastest marathon time! She had a great time out there she said, even though her iPod never worked all day and she never ran with another person. I was very proud of what she did. She needed to have a day like this.

Sorry guys, she is taken. Photo by Steve Walters.

Well after a couple of bowls of awesome strawberry's we headed back home. As I reflected on this race it a few things came up. One is maybe I should push a little harder at the start of races, yeah the finish was harder but I hung on for my best time ever. I think its a risk issue. Do I want to take the risk of blowing up on the course? Also thank to Nikki I got a unexpected PR. I also quietly had a pace band in my pocket to run a 3:49. I just ran some numbers the night before and thought if I had a really good day maybe I could run this fast. Only checked my pace 3 or 4 times against the band but every time I was ahead of schedule. Maybe the mind is stronger than we think? When I have worn pace bands before I have usually done pretty well.

Now it's back to summer training. I am going to hit the weights more this year. At the end of July I have the PCT 50 miler which I am going to really try to run strong. After that we might do Haulin' Aspen Marathon in Bend but we have not committed yet. Then on August 20th the Monster Waldo...again!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Forest "Home Course" Park 50k

Late May was the date for this year's Forest Park 50k. This is my home course and I know it well. I wanted to push a bit on this race and see how I could do. I knew I still had some tired climbing legs from Mac Forest 2 weeks ago but this course doesn't have the killer climbs that others do. It is not flat for sure but they don't go on for more than a mile or so.

The race was a bit smaller this year because for some reason the wonderful city of Portland would not let them have a 10k this year. I surely do not get how the City of Portland operates. Well so we had a 20k and the 50k only. The RD also said they were not allowed to put ribbons on the course by the City also. Relax Bret....deep breath....relax. OK so the course actually ended up being pretty well marked with flower and signs.

Off we went and the usual traffic jams go on for the first few miles of climbing. I chat with a woman from Wisconsin on vacation, then another tags on behind me and the 3 of us have a nice chat. Let see, are you a better ultra runner after having children? Is the pain worse? These were the topics of the day. We get to the first AS which is also the turn point for the 20k runners. I refuel and say goodbye to my trail buddies. Down we go into the canyon which is a fun run. I remember in my early running days I thought this was a huge drop, its actually only 500 feet or so.

I am pretty much alone now. Running most everything, even the ups. The trail is nice but there are a few good mud sections to add some fun. We drop off Wildwood on to Saltzman for the climb up to AS 2 at mile 13 or so. I run the entire road up. Down the Firelane and back on to WW for a few miles. Life is good, tunes are fun, weather is cloudy and upper 50's, just perfect. The climb up Trillium gets the HR up but then we have the nice section on top to cruise. I talk with a few more runners here that are starting to feel the pain of the distance. Then the fun begins, down the Oil pipeline trail. Glenn T is at the bottom taking hilarious pictures of all of us nut cases. I stay off in the woods off the beaten path trying to stay upright. I have to grab a tree to slow down and I swing around in the air. Lucky me I never fell here this year, but I have in previous years.

The Tree stopped my rapid descent! (All photo by Glenn T.)

Well we are now on the Leif Road which we cruise on for about 1 mile or so. My Achilles is just killing me now. I mean I have to stop running. I think, "I'm done! This hurts so much." I probably didn't tear it but I sure strained/sprained it for sure. I start thinking how many weeks I will be off running. Every step is agony. I slow down and it gets a bit better but some points it actually shoots pain so bad that I stop running. This goes on for about 2 to 3 miles. We hit the Firelane and begin the big grunt climb back up to the AS 2/3 and about mile 20. I get to top and feel pretty good. Eat some food and drink Coke and off I go.

Going down Salzman I feel pretty good, my leg barely hurt now which is sure strange. I am running 8:15 or so down this hill. I get on WW and I notice a couple a few hundred yards behind me. Nope, they are not going to pass. So I run on. As I hit the switchbacks I notice they get closer. Crap, don't go faster just do your own pace. But nooooooo! I pick up the pace, pushing pretty hard for me at mile 22 to 24. They finally catch me. I ask if they want by? He says "No you are doing a great pace". Oh great, that means I am going to fast. Well, finally on the climb up the canyon towards mile 26 AS they go by and I am getting tired. But out of the woods I see such a site. can't be? But those flowing grey'''s....The Wildman! Mr Fred of Pac Rim fame. How cool is that? We high five and I continue the climb.

Fly like an Eagle! (Glenn T.)

At AS4 / mile 26 my legs are pretty tired. I know it's mostly a nice downhill 10k back to the finish but I am worried I won't have the gas to have fun. As I get to the nice downhill sections I was right. My legs are done. I just run 10 minute pace or so. I even have to walk a few of the small up sections. I am sad as it is so fun to bomb on this section. I wonder if it's age? I have this happen a few times this year. Even though my overall finish time is fine my legs are a bit weaker at the end. I get to the Lower Macleay Trail and two women even pass me. They are full of energy and really moving. Again, not many ever pass me at the end of a race.

Out into the open and under the bridge and the finish line is up a ahead. I cross in 6:11:52. My third slowest time (by nine minutes) in my four running's of this race. I feel pretty good at the end. No real low BP this time. I eat some soup and chat with my fellow runners.

I like running this race. It is fun to test yourself on your home course and to have the aid stations along the way. It is a very low key event which also suits me. I am surprised we don't get more locals out to run this one. Not sure why? Maybe because it is where we all train. I will probably be back next year if my schedule allows. Timberline Marathon is up next week. It will be a fun one as Gail and I will run it together.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mac Forest Wedding and 50k Too.

I am way late on posting this but in early May I was to run the Mac Forest 50k for the fifth time. This course usually kicks my butt and this year was no exception. I enjoy this course due to the diversity of terrain. You get to run on gravel roads, double wide and single track trails through many different challenges, super steep power walk climbs, quad crushing downhills and long gravel road climbs that you swear will never end.

There is no flat section at the Mac!

The fun this year was that April and Craig were getting married at mile 18 at the high point of the course at Dimple Hill. Gail wanted to go to the race and help out so she volunteered at that AS. The theme this year was the movie "Fletch" so Detour dressed up as a Doctor as many of the volunteers did. She and Pam Smith made up the "Consummation Tent" which included many items to help through that first nervous night! They did a great job and it was fun to check out.

April, the beautiful Bride!

As we blasted off at the start I did my usual trot at the back of the pack. This year I must have been fast as I wasn't dead last! I was treating this race as a training run as I wanted to spend some time at the Wedding. So a PR was not gonna happen today, but I was trying to get a good hill workout in and and finish feeling good. By mile 2 we are climbing good. I ran most but figured a good power walk would be smart. We roll out to the gravel downhill section for a few miles and I just crank the tunes and cruise. We come upon some of the new trail they cut and it was fun. I get to the first AS at mile 6 or so and just refill and plug on.

Grunting away at mile 16

The next climb up a gravel road I force my self to run. Then the big downhill comes, this section always trashes my quads for the day and did it again this day. I tried to be loose and flow with the fall line but it still takes it toll. When then get to hit Lovely Rita the power walk of the day then work our way through some old growth to AS 2. I feel good and begin the climb back out. I talk with many runners that this is their first 50k. Boy, I wouldn't want this to be my first 50k! It's a tough one!

As we hit some of the toughest single track I run with my arch Nemesis, Nancy. Actually I love Nancy but she is over 60 and kicked my butt last year at Waldo. I have so much respect for her that I have fun teasing her about it. We run/walk together for a few miles just so that we can chat. Soon I am on my own. I come upon a mud bog but just think my feet are muddy already so I will just power on through. "Oh Crap!" As I run through the mud my entire left shoe gets sucked off my foot. I hop along on one leg trying not to fall on get my sock covered in mud. I stay upright and get back to my shoe. It takes two hands to pull it out! I sit on the hill side and get my shoe back on. This whole event takes about 5 minutes, what a mess. Well Nancy passes me again, just like at Waldo. I get moving again and we power walk up to the gravel road that takes us to Dimple and the Wedding. I run this entire climb again but doesn't seem to take as long this year, but is just as hard.

Bret meets the Doc at Dimple (Craig T.)

As I get to Dimple it is one big party. I meet Gail in her scrubs and chat it up for quite a long time. The AS was so cool. I say high to AS Captain Craig (Aka LB) as he is wearing a bad mustache and a motorcycle helmet. I go down the meadow a bit and see the final minutes of the wedding. This is so cool. Run 18 miles to watch a wedding! I hang out some more, eat, drink, and socialize. I no longer am sweating and it is getting a bit cool. I finally leave after about 15 minutes of slacking off.

Fletch aka Craig (Craig T.)

Pam Smith meets the hotties I met on the trail (Craig T)

Now we the second big downhill of the day on Dan's trail. A nice 1500 foot drop or so of soft switchbacks. I just go easy again. Passing only a few folks. I say hi to Sean who is pacing his sister to her first 50k! I don't have a ton of speed but just try and stay steady. We soon begin the climb up the small park near town. This section is usually where I start to feel like crap. I do a bit today but I am running more than normal. I get to the mile 22 or so AS and Craig and April run in holding hands. So cool to get married then have to run 12 more miles then they have to go get married again in a Church so the friends that couldn't make it up to Dimple Hill can see them get married! Wow what a day!

The 3 artists show off their design (Craig T.)

"But Craig, we have a race to finish first!" (Craig T)

Inside look at the "Love Shack"(Craig T.)

So I start the climb out and I am feeling tired. I just walk most the ups now as I know the treading upper Horse Trail is coming that killed me last year. I hit the open meadow climb and I talk with one of the Bridesmaid's in April's wedding. We are chatting away and she says "well I better run. I still have to get my hair done before the second wedding at 5 pm and April is faster than me and might catch up!" Yikes! Now that is a little pressure on your race.

Well as I hit Upper Horse I power walk but I feel good enough this year to run the flats. Last year it seemed like this went on for 10 miles. This year it was tough but I got to the gravel road much quicker. I saw the same pile of rocks I sat on for 10 minutes last year feeling sorry for myself. This year I just waived and continued down to the last AS at mile 26 or so.

At the last AS I just refueled as usual. Chips, potatoes, and Coke. I didn't eat a ton this day but felt pretty energized. I do think I have reduced my calorie intake too much and need to up it back up now. Well down the gravel and across the road again for that last boring gravel road grinding climb. I say I want to run it all but I do end up walking a bit of it but do better than in the past. We get to the top and have a nice down section but my legs are done so I am only running a 10 minute pace now and 3 or 4 runners pace me. This usually doesn't happen much but so be it. I do get to run with the Groom, Craig for a few miles and we have a nice conversation about marriage, Western States and some other trail races. Glad I got this chance to chat.

The Groom

Finally we get to the last single track. A little grunt climb for a quarter mile or so. April has caught up so I let the two of them by. She reminds me to do that for her in other races we run. I laugh and say "only today for the Bride!". I am still pretty tired and can't really enjoy this last nice downhill so I just get 'er done. I get passed by a few with gas left and cheer them on. I hear the crowd cheer and I know that's the wedding party crossing the line so I know I only have a few hundred yards to go. I cross the bridge and finish in 6:57. It was my third fastest and third slowest time here. That means it was the middle run of my 5 finishes here. I probably could have had my second fastest but with the 20 minutes or so of breaks I took that was pretty good I thought.

I was tired at the finish but now wiped out. I ate some great soup, got my 5 year finishers mug and got a great hug from the wife. We chatted a bit with fellow runners and then headed home. This race is deceivingly hard. It always seems much longer than a 50k. None ultra friends always comment about how slow you were doing on a race that is only 5 miles longer than a marathon. I have run just a many marathons as ultras and there is no comparison to me. The hills in most trail 50k's are the hard part, not the distance. Well the race was fun and hard as usual, the weather was cool and perfect for running. This is a great race that kicks my butt every year but for some crazy reason I will probably try and run every time. Thanks Mac for another whoopin'.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eugene Marathon Surprise

Gail and I had run the inaugural Eugene Marathon a few years back. It was a pretty good course but running it once was enough for me. But this year Gail's co-worker Mary was running her first Marathon there and had asked Gail to run it with her. The RD's had changed the finish from boring to pretty interesting by being able to finish on the famous Hayward field track. That was enough to get me to run it again, plus I really like the bike path part that runs along the Willamette River. So off we went to Eugene.

Mary and Gail ready to rock!

Up early on race day we drove over and met Mary and her mom only a few blocks from the start line. We got lucky as it was a rare blue sky and cool morning. We have had nothing but clouds and rain all Spring here in the Northwest. Over at the start we hung out and chatted with folks. The set up was good with not too long of lines for the blue boxes. I was in the A corral but wanted to run with Mary and Gail for the start so we got about half way into the pack to start. We did the Slug cheer then off we went about 5 minutes after 7 am.

"OK it is just a tad cool"

Fathead steals all the sun.

It was pretty crowded at first with probably 5,000 runners. This included all the half marathoners too. You couldn't get a good rhythm until about the 1 mile point. Somewhere around there I left the girls and pushed it a tad. The course winds through some Eugene neighborhoods then follows a two lane road with a slight upgrade.

By mile four I was thinking this might not be much fun today. I just didn't have a good feeling about running. I was running about 9:10 pace, not what I thought I might do. I didn't really have a goal for this race until I could see how I would feel for the day.

Mile five I picked up the pace to 8:45 or so and pretty much held this until mile 10 when the only bathroom break of the day was needed. This was right back at the start finish line so there was no waiting. From here on we cruised into Springfield for some more city street running. I held the 8:45 pace except the aid stations when i needed 20 seconds or so to fill my water bottles. I was only eating a half bag of chomps and maybe a gel every 45 minutes but was hydrating about 25 ounces an hour.

At the half point I was at 1:58, which 2:00 hours was my goal and then I would see how I felt if I should push it up on the second half. Well, I was feeling real good with no pains at all so I decided to just try and keep the 8:40 pace or so going for as long as I could. If I bonk I bonk.

We were headed back west out of Springfield towards the trails along the river. We went by Autzen stadium and there were quite a few folks out cheering so that was fun. Back on the river trail I was really feeling it. I cranked the old man tunes on the iPod and pushed on. I started doing the math and figured a sub 4 might just happen today. That was cool and unplanned event. I passed Darin and the guy he was pacing, had a few words and I motored on.

Mile 17 I noticed I slowed just a tad. My watch would show 8:50's or so for the next few miles. Mile 20 came and went and I felt good. As usual this is when you start seeing the folks that have begun walking. I always feel sad because I have been there many times before. It sucks when you think you will have the gas to run the entire distance but come to find out you just can't or don't want to.

Mile 24 I really started smelling the barn. No one had passed me in probably 15 miles at least. I was doing the passing. I picked the pace back up to 8:45 but a woman passed me and I tried to keep close but she had little faster legs than me. When mile 25 hit I still felt pretty good and kept the same pace. But I think it was about mile 25.5 when I said "I think I am ready to be done." My pace slowed down by only a few seconds. As we came close to Hayward field the crowds got pretty noisy. Sean was there yelling "Go Fatboyee!!!" That was fun. We turned onto the track and had 200 meters left. I poured it on which is rare for me as I usually just trot it across the finish line. But I wanted to make sure when I crossed the gun time still said 3 hours and something. Not 4 something.

So many great runners have been here.

So I crossed in 3:55, an 8:58 pace for the day and a 1:58/1:56 negative split which means I probably don't run fast enough at the start. But that's the way it is with me. I just hate running hard at the beginning. This was my third fastest marathon with my best being 3:52 at Portland two years ago. Im pretty happy with this, being 51 years old and weighing in at a chubby 225 pounds.

Sweet finish line crowd.

I waited for Mary and Gail and luckily I got them videoed crossing the line at 4:30. They were both all smiles and in fact ended up with the exact same time. It was fun to see someone run their first marathon again, just like Staci did last month at Vernonia. This is a huge accomplishment and anyone who can do this is a champion.

Gail's 54th and Mary's 1st marathon

The finish line food was pretty lame for big expensive marathon. I give them a 2 on after race refreshments...boring! The aid stations were all good and plenty. The first half of the course was generic but the last 10 miles are great. The course is basically flat except for some minor uphill at the start and a few 2 block grunt climbs early on. You do a couple of overpasses too. Fun run but probably wouldn't do it every year unless it got cheaper. But for a first marathon I think it's and excellent choice. I sure had fun. Especially when I had Fatboyee on my bib. Folks would start to yell my name then quietly stop and they became embarrassed. It is a fun prank to do now and then.

This is what it's all about.

Well I got McDonald Forest 50k up next and my hill legs have gone missin' I think. Should be an interesting day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What about Mary? and Staci...and Gail...and Katie

Gail and I had quite a few firsts on Sunday. Gail is training two runners for their first marathons this year, Staci and Mary. Today was to be Staci's day. Gail would be running with Staci for the entire race. Mary will be running Eugene in a few weeks with Gail on her first Marathon. Mary was running the half marathon and talked about trying to break 2 hours. I said I would be glad to pace her and get her a time somewhere between 1:55 and 2 hours. I would then trot my way to the finish line of the full marathon. So our plans were set.

The bus ride to the start.

We got to the Banks High School and stayed warm in the gym. Fellow Slug Katie was running her second half in two weeks so we had a great big group. We hopped on the school bus that was to drive us the 20 or so miles out to Vernonia and the start line. We chatted away the trip and it went real fast. As the bus arrived Kelly Barten jumped on the bus and told us where everything was located. She did such a great job of color coding everything. Plus she said "Oh you got the Henry's on your bus!" She always cracks me up. Once we got to the start they had rooms open for us so we could all stay warm. It was a real nice set up.

FB, Detour and Staci staying warm.

The fast women runners pose for a pix.

Staci, Mary and Katie.

"Are we excited or what?"

We walked up to the start line and got in the group about mid pack. I usually like to start near the end but this race was not chip timed and since Mary wanted a good time I figured we should be in the middle somewhere. We did our little Slug cheer then off we went in cloudy cool weather with just a touch of mist.

Tell us what the purple shirt girl saying to the white shirt guy???? Hmmmm.....

The start was on a road so we could use both lanes. There was probably 400 runners or so. I don't like to start fast but Mary took off like a shot. I tried to keep her in sight but she was moving running about a 8:20 pace or so which is tough for me at first. I actually thought she might lose me but you see this allot at races as the adrenaline usually gives runners a boost for 10 minutes or so and then they come back down to a slower pace.

We had some nice downhill sections to get warmed up with as we rolled into downtown Vernonia. I caught up to Mary around the one mile point and she wondered what had happened to me? We chatted a bit and I called out our pace. We entered the park and ran the couple mile loop around the lake. We were running 8:30 to 8:45 pace. I figured earlier that if we ran around a 8:45 pace we could get a 1:55 finish time but also that pace gave us time in the bank to finish around 1:58-59 or so.

Around mile 3 we chatted with "the woman in purple shorts" as Mary called her. She asked what races we were doing and told her what our goal finish was for Mary. She felt this was a tad fast for her but more on that later. Mary was strong and her breathing was good. I just prompted her to slow just a bit. As we came upon the first few aid stations they didn't have enough volunteers to keep the water cups filled. Mary decided against carrying a bottle so she missed water in 2 of the first 3 aid stops. This was to hurt her later she admitted.

Mile 4 feeling good. (photo by Kelly Barten)

We got on the man Banks-Veronia trail and began the run through the woods. We had a bit of a headwind at times and I was worried on the backside of the marathon course it would slow me down. Around mile 7 we start a very easy climb, hardly noticeable. But I begin to hear Mary's breathing get just a bit out of sync. We both have our tunes on so not a lot is said. But I try to keep her up to date on our pace which has settled to around 8:50 or so. We have time in the bank which is a good thing. Purple shorts lady commented that our pace was rock solid. She wanted to break 2 hours but didn't think she could do it. I said "for a case of beer you can join us". So she tagged along 10 yards or so behind.

Mary having a good time around mile 5

At mile 10 the climb starts. For some reason people think this is a downhill half but it actually has some good easy climb to it. Mary struggled here a bit. Either wanting to slow way down or stop. I would promote taking baby steps or just walking. She would break for only a short time then be right back at her good sub 9 pace. This happened a few times and I could tell she wanted to give into the pain. I suggested she drop a big "F" bomb out loud so she could vocalize some of her stress. Which, she promptly did with much vigor! But she started running hard right away.

At mile 12 she had issues. She had really run hard and this hill and probably my constant chatter caused her to stop a couple of times. I always kept saying, "just walk we got the time, keep moving". And she would move again. Even at 12.5 miles she fought those demons. Finally the steep downhill section at the finish came into view. I pointed it out and Mary took off, she was cheering and telling all the runners that they got this one done.

Half Marathon finish line.

We crossed the highway and it was kind of confusing. We had to follow the trail with a 90 degree left turn. Mary stopped and thought she had already crossed the finish line. I turned and yelled. "Mary no! Keep running! Keep running! The finish is up here!" So she got going again. I had looked at my watch and it said 1:57:50 and I was worried we might mess up the sub 2 with a mistake. She raced across the finish line in grand style with arms outstretched. She finished with a 1:58:08 and a average pace of 9:01. She did great and we high fived or guess you call it high ten when you used both hands. She was pretty happy. She came in 33rd woman and 7th in her age group.

Well now I had another 13 miles to go. I went to the aid station where the Reisinger Twins were running the show. I took a few minutes to collect my thoughts, chat, fill my water bottle a Twinkie they had out. (Those things are darn good!) Off I went on the short steep climb back up on the course. I stopped to water the trees once then got my head back in the game. I didn't eat anything on the first 13 miles so I knew I would need to get my fueling back on track quick. I started eating Chomps, then a gel 30 minutes later and tried to keep that up for the rest of the race. I was slightly behind in hydration but it was a cool day so I could get away with that.

"Must have Twinkie, must have Twinkie"

For about a mile or so my legs were hurting pretty good. I wasn't sure how much I had left for the race but my goal was to get Mary a good time then just plod to the marathon finish, not caring what my final time was.

Mile 14 to 20 was like this. So was my brain.

Around mile 14.5 I started moving pretty good. The course peaks out at around 1100 feet then has that nice gentle railway grade to just over mile 20. Soon I was in a groove and cruising back at 8:40 pace or so. The miles clicked by in the dense rain forest of the Oregon Coast Mountains. I was passing everyone. Only at mile 19 or so as I stopped to fill my bottle did anyone pass on the second half of the course. A woman my age who was really moving along. I kept her in sight and would eventually pass her back as she began walking around mile 22 or so.

I started thinking, "can I break 4 hours?" I was doing the math and it just wasn't going to work out. I would have to go full out, max effort and then it still might not work. I took a 3 minute break after Mary finished and that really dashed any chance, but at the time I thought I wouldn't have the gas to try. I just kept motoring on. My legs ached like crazy but with this being my 81st marathon length or longer race I knew this pain well. You are not going to die but it sure isn't fun.

The course really flattens out around mile 21. My pace dropped to almost 9:17 on every mile til the finish. I was steady but not real fast. I kept passing folks but it was pretty thin by this time. Around mile 23 Mary came back out and ran a bit with me. It was great to have a few minutes of company plus she gave me the update on how Staci and Gail were doing.

Got back into Banks and ran along the sidewalks of town til the High School was in view. Kelly Jean cheered us on as we entered the parking lot. I got on to the track and had to run one lap to get my 26.2 miles done. I crossed the line feeling very satisfied with my time of 4:03:33. I was 47th overall and 4 in the old man age group. Another one done, that was fun.

I walked around and cheered other runners in. Talked with Steve, Kelly and others. Later on Purple Shorts Lady came up and thanked me for getting her a PR on her race today. She didn't think she could run that fast. That was great to here. I love when folks take it a notch up and grab that goal that seems out of reach. But hey! Where is my case of Beer???

Gail and Staci with a quarter mile to go!

Mary joins me and says Staci and Gail are close. Soon we see them enter the lot. They both look awesome! Staci had some injuries and her training was definitely not what it should have been she was mostly pain free by race day. She really wanted this and you could see it in her face. The last 20 yards she took off sprinting. She crossed the line just under 4:45 with her husband and family there to celebrate her awesome accomplishment. I really enjoyed watching the excitement of all of this. I give Gail a hug and tell her what a great job she did. We all walk back to the school and talk about the days events.

Staci getting her medal

Gail and Staci pose for a finish photo.

Staci, Mary and Gail trash talking!

It was a great first marathon. Very few problems and lots of fun. I really like these little races like this. Especially when they are out in the country.

Well Gail and I have Eugene Marathon up in a few weeks. We did it about 5 years ago so I am excited to go back. Marathons are fun. You are just not totally wasted like I feel after many 50k's and almost all 50 milers. I never had any issues of light headiness like I did after Pac Rim. So maybe I should just do marathons??? .......Nah! Thats stupid!