Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Air New Zealand: An Airline With A Sense of Humor

What fun!

Of course, we complain about naked cyclists and hikers . . . I can't imagine the hue and cry, or let us just saw that I can but prefer no to.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I did it! Not fast by any stretch of the imagination but with a certain and definite confidence.

As I write (9:20 PM) my friend GW has just checked into the Peachstone (Cal 2) checkpoint for the Western States 100. He is currently 76th and has been running for 16 hours. This puts what I did today into some perspective.

But the most important things is that I did it! :-)

Bottom Line:

Number: 18187
Age Group Place (Males 40-44): 311/438
Overall Place: 3029/5602
Official Finish Time: 4:42:57
Overall Pace: 10:48
Number of gels consumed: 8
Number of cups of water: ?? Drank a little out of my running pack + water + on course energy drink (Cytomax)
Blood: No! (Well other people but not me)
Number of Time Thinking I would be DFL: 0
Blisters: 0
Feet: Feel panel beaten
Ability to squat and bend: 95% down to the floor and up again

18187 Robin Datta M 40-44
Marathon Start: Gun 7:02:17 Chip 7:29:37
Splits:5 Km10 Km9 miHalf Way30 Km24 MileFinishO'AllSexDiv

The Long Story:

This has been a vivid day!

Woke up at 4:00 and had a pleasant walk with the dog just as the sun was beginning to come up. Not a soul was out excepting the paper delivery guy with his exceptionally noisy car. It was very pretty and the walk got things going and loosened up. Had time to sit, think, and read a bit once prepped. The FFF's (Four Footed Fiends—the dog and two cats) did not quite know to what to make of things and were very interested in my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I had to fend off Mo, the little fluffy hair monster, and she does not even LIKE the stuff).

Checked out the newspaper to find a headline that screamed "Private firm Competitor Group gets tax dollars to stage big-money Rock 'n' Roll Seattle marathon". Already the local yahoos had been posting angry comments either for or against this. The smarter of them made the point that cities have to spend money if they want to make money. I tend to agree with this assessment and will be interested to see just how much in revenue the area managed to bring in over the past couple of days.

All week the news media has been playing up the fact that 25ooo runners were going to be descending upon Seattle. 25000 runners, most of whom are trying to get down to Tukwilla (about 13 miles south of the UW, just NE of SEATAC) in time for a 7:00 start. This is Seattle which means that traffic delays are guaranteed.

SS, my neighbor, was running the half and told me that he and some of the other people in the neighborhood were chartering a van or limo or some such thing that would leave at 5:30. I got the last spot. It was nice to meet other people from the neighborhood. Spirits were high with lots of chatter as we headed down, including a fair amount of head shaking at the back-up on the freeway as cars mingled with the shuttle buses. We followed the driving instructions instead of following the buses but ended up in a traffic jam anyway. Someone had the brilliant idea of stopping at the Denny's to use to bathroom. The hostess told us where the bathrooms were as we walked in (THANK YOU!). Getting back into the flow of traffic was pretty easy (except for the guy in the white BMW 5 series (yeah you) who could not stomach the fact that we joined in front of him).

We got to the drop off area, mostly, jumped out and footed to the start area.

First impressions? These folks know what they are doing. This was the most organized start area I've seen. Everywhere I looked there were people to direct us and excellent signage. Even though the start areas was crowded the space was big enough for it not to seem so. I ran into a few people I knew, wished them luck, dropped my bag off, and found my start corral, #18.

Waiting for the start

This went on for some time. The race was to start at 7:00 but I had heard a call come over the radio that the start was going to be delayed due to the traffic (this did not happen and we started pretty much on time). There were, I would guess about 500-700 people per corral but it didn't feel crowded at all. It was getting pretty warm. I just stood there taking it all in and listening to all the chatter going on around me. Then I felt someone tap me on the arm. I turned and a woman asked me my name. I told her and she said "Oh, wrong name" and added that she was looking for someone "special" (!!!???). I went back to my reverie, thinking about the race.

The Start

Went surprisingly fast once the gun went off at 7:02 and I crossed the mat at 7:29. Not bad.

Almost immediately both shins became painfully tight and became more so with every stride. It was awful and I started wondering if I was going to be able to make it given how hard the road surface felt. I took my time though and looked around as the pack began to sort itself out. Got distracted by a couple having an argument with each other about something or other. It sounded like they had been going at it for some time and I thought "Why did you bring this into the run?" Then the first band of the morning, don't ask who, they were just loud and that was nice. So were the cheer squads out there. After about a mile my shins felt fine.

I don't remember much about this early part of the run. We went through neighborhoods in Rainier Beach. Some folks were out, including Meko Lawson, during mile 5 or 6 who had a shrine to Michael Jackson and was playing "Thriller" really loudly. This brought a smile to my face and I listened to that music in my head for a while. Nice!

At about the six SS caught up with me and we ran together for a bit. It was nice to chat, although, I was so focused I suspect that most of my answers and comments were a bit mono-syllabic. He was having a great time and soon jetted off to meet his own goals. I was concentrating on running as evenly as possible given a fairly hilly course (I heard many complaints about the hills along the way. This is Seattle and it is impossible to avoid hills if you want to get anywhere) and also counting down from 26.2 for my mileage instead of up (quite a mental change). It was neat to be running with people from all over the place (it looks like Seattle now has a destination marathon and I have now learned that something like 40% of the runners were from out of town). At this point I was about 30-50 yards ahead of the 4:30 Pacer (thank you Chuckit).

I gotta Pee!

"Welcome to Seward Park!" a rather nice tall gentleman said as we made our way through the 6th mile or so. Incredible view from Seward Park towards the I-90 Bridge to the north, it looked so far away. I never get tired of running along Lake Washington Boulevard. During mile 7 there were runners stopped and looking up at one of our Bald Eagles sitting up in one of the trees. There was a family out around mile 8-ish with their very own rock band. Number 1 son was playing "Smoke on the Water" on the guitar with Mom, Dad, and Number 2 son (or was it daughter) banging away on toy drums and other instruments, pretty funny. And then I really needed to pee. Kept on going past water stops with porta potties until finally I found one with a shorter line (IMHO, 600 porta potties is not enough for this size of race but what do I know). I had been standing there waiting for a few minutes when a spectator came over and mentioned that there were public restrooms just across the street. Off I went. Felt immediately better to tackle the hills coming up but, I had dropped well behind the 4:30 pacer and I don't think I ever caught up.

The Bridge! (Miles 9-14 or so)

Around 9 miles we came up on the I-90 Bridge, the world's second longest floating bridge (the 520 bridge just to the North is the longest) and a split point for the Half and the Full Marathon. This was a narrow bottle-neck and I found myself frustrated behind a whole bunch of TNT runners who insisted in walking up the incline. The first tunnel of the day awaited going east to the bridge deck. It was hot and kind of still in there, not very pleasant. Running on the bridge deck was spectacular but also in full sun with little wind and hot. Mount Rainier was spectacularly out to the south and it impossible to run without looking at it. The crowd had thinned out with the departure of the half-marathon course and so, though still congested, there was plenty of room for gawking. The concrete was hard. Around 10.5 miles I saw my first marathon casualty of the day. A runner standing, bent over, to the right (she was being evacuated by a first aid crew when I came around on the return).

The headwind that hit just after the turnaround felt wonderful! Crossing the bridge for the second time felt faster. I saw JB, with whom I had run a brutal 18-mile mountain run, running with two friends just ahead of me. I eventually caught her, said hello, and then pressed on (didn't see her again until just after the 24).

The second tunnel was longer and more uncomfortable than the first. We rejoined the flow of the half-marathoners at about the 12-mile point only this time the runners were much slower and the constriction of the tunnel made moving through more difficult. People were stopping in front of me or going from a run to a slow walk especially through the water station. This congestion lasted all the way to about 13.75 when we got off the freeway and onto the city streets again. Throughout all of this were the Medical Assistance bikers (I don't think I was more than 30 yards away from one this entire run).

A nice pick-me-up @ Mile 14

At 14 PT came out of the crowd and ran with me for just a few seconds. We commiserated about the tunnel and then she had to leave me as the marathon course headed up on to the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Such a nice surprise and it was nice to know that at least one person out there lining the course was cheering specifically for me (among other people).

Alaskan Way Viaduct (Miles 15-20)

The AWV is one of the more controversial pieces of road here in Seattle. Built in the early 1950's as a double-decker elevated section of Highway 99 (Aurora), the AWV is an ugly concrete monstrosity that blocks the views of Elliot Bay from downtown. That it is falling apart and could collapse, especially during an earthquake, is an added part of the attraction. Seattle politics being what it is we cannot decide what to do with it, although it looks like we'll break ground on its replacement, a deep bore tunnel, in 2011 (people drive around with bumper stickers that say "I Love the Viaduct!" and "Keep the Viaduct, Bury the Mayor!"). So it is an interesting thing to be running on the bottom tier of this road, in the shade, mindful of the tons of concrete above my head and hopeful that the WSDOT crews do their jobs well.

After the excitement of the crowds through downtown we are back to being alone. I have finally noticed that the time in the I-90 tunnels has thrown my Garmin off by at least six tenths of a mile. But off I go, running sub-10 paces on yet more hard concrete and through the Battery Street Tunnel (shorter and emptier). Stopped to retie my shoes at a hill.

Three or Four Ladies From Canada

I came up behind three or four ladies from Canada, from the Toronto area I think, all dressed in Red and White with Maple Leafs and part of a contingent of people who travel from marathon to marathon. I overheard so many people talking about this. We were still on the AWV, though by this time off the lower section, and could see runners coming back. One of LFC's wondered aloud where the turn around was. I said not for another 3 or 4 miles and that most of it would be uphill. "Long way to go" I said and she replied "We've already come a long way." They were having fun. I spent the rest of the run leap frogging with them. Their mood was infectious.

Watching the returning runners I saw Beloved Rooster whizz by with a very determined look on her face. I called out to her but she was wearing headphones but my voice was lost in the general din.

Miles 16 through 20 or 21 were long uphills out of downtown up past Queen Anne and then down across the Aurora Bridge. I've spent a fair amount of time training here, though not on the road itself, and knew what to expect. The heat was coming up, more and more people were walking, and the medicos were getting busier. Crossing the bridge was simply spectacular with a nice cross breeze and a wonderful views of Ballard, the ship canal, and the Olympics to the West. As I got closer to the turnaround point I started hearing Gloria Gaynor "I Will Survive" pumping out of the loud speakers (the band there was doing something other than playing). A cheer squad lined the edge of the turn and provided another pick-me-up as I went past and I headed towards The Wall.

Center of Gravity

Going up to and around the bridge I was trading off with a TNT runner, a survivor whose birthday was 6/27. She got a boost every time someone wished her a happy birthday and when her TNT coach came and ran with her. It was nice to see this. I never saw her face even when I went out past her. It is a funny thing to be so focused around other people, to be so aware of their presence but also to be basically anonymous to each other (is this how cats feel?). Another thing that I discovered is that each runner has some kind of gravitational pull that you can feel going past. You pass them and try to keep a distance but find yourself drifting towards them just a tiny bit. Not sure what is going on there. On the way down Aurora I had a woman begin orbiting me much like The Horse Fly during the Dawg Dash last year—pass on the right, pull in right in front, drop off to the left, repeat. Was this the gravity thing in action?

The Wall? Not sure there was one for me. I did slow down but that was because mile 19 going towards 20 was all uphill. Actually I didn't even notice the 20 as I was eating. A good tactic for avoiding that infamous "Run Fatboy Run" scene. :-)

Cresting the hill I began the long descent back towards downtown, the Battery Street Tunnel and the upper-tier of the AWV. It was getting very hot in the direct sun and I spent time running in the shade. Going through the tunnel for a fourth time was even quieter. All I could hear was the rush of traffic up above and the footfalls of other runners. One guy grunted at me as I went past and that is when I knew that things were getting really tough for people. Another guy was squatting at the side of the tunnel trying to remove a cramp.

Coming out of the tunnel and back under the heat of the full sun onto the AWV was a bit disconcerting. I noticed that I was not really sweating and was covered with salt. Unusual. I had been drinking Gatorade from my pack and also drinking water and Cytomax at the water stops and had peed clear at the 8-mile stop. Volunteers started handing out little salt packets. I was good though and just kept going, well plodding might be the better term.

Aw Nuts!

I hate straight out-and-back courses and today was no exception. Starting at about 22 or so I could see where we were going and how far into the distance it is. Mentally, four miles is really just that, four miles, one Green Lake Unit plus an add-on. It is just that, put end-to-end, this looks so long. Here is the kicker, the top deck has a downhill which you can barely see and which masks the rest of the run at street level. I saw this and had my moment of mental crisis. Not that I would not finish the run though, I knew I would, but I wondered if I would be walking or hobbling like so many around me were. There was so much grimacing, blown muscles, and weaving going on. I guess I just don't like seeing where I have to go. Bizarre.

The turnaround at about 24.2 or so was a treat because we got hit by a wall of refreshing wind and the realization that there were only about two miles left to go. I was running behind a couple and went out to pass on the right. Just as I did, the right-most runner rinsed her mouth out and spat out all the water. She narrowly missed me but you'd have thought I gotten a bath given how apologetic she was. The perils of being a stealth runner I guess. :-P

The last few miles were really slow though. A trot more than anything else. More leap-frogging with the Ladies From Canada and Birthday Girl. This was really interesting as I would pass the ladies as they were walking after a water stop (I had started walking through the stops too) and then they would catch me up until the next time. Birthday Girl was walking but then would start running really hard whenever one of the TNT coaches turned up, then she would just stop and I would pass her again.

This went on for the last two miles and the closer I got the more excited I became. Dropping down off the AWV via an entrance ramp took us to the 26 and back into the energy of the crowds. I kicked it in for the last .2 miles, right past all the hot dog and kettle corn sellers outside the stadium (remember seeing one hot dog seller taking a BIG bite of a dog) and beamed as I went across the mat. A very big smile on my face as I had my finisher picture taken (wonder how it will turn out) and then I found a shady spot to just sit down and rest my panel beaten feet. I could not stretch. KK emailed later that he had seen me finish on the live feed and that I looked strong. I wish I could see. :-)

Then my phone started binging as congratulatory texts started coming in, even more after I sent out my time. Ah, the wonders of online tracking (thanks guys!). A volunteer asked if I wanted a bottle of Cytomax? "Ice Cold" he said. I said, "NOOO!!!" but took an iced tea instead. Wandered around to meet Beloved Rooster (big hugs), got my gear bag, met up with Sj and H (who had just run her first half marathon), hopped on a bus towards home, and sat there aglow.

Am I disappointed I didn't beat my Portland time (4:24) or make at least 4:30? Not in the least. This was a real accomplishment AND I could have gone further given better fueling and a more forgiving running surface. Very different feeling after this run than after Portland. In fact, I actually WANT to go run tomorrow. I am sure that it will be a very gingerly one though.


Mentally this was a much stronger race for me than Portland in 2006. Then I really thought of giving up during the last miles and did a lot of walking. My time was faster in 2006 than today but I think that today I was much stronger physically and mentally over all. The course was harder too, especially those last three or four miles.

Pre-thinking the race is a good idea and I spent a fair amount of time coming up with a race strategy that I actually stuck with, at least until the very end.

I need to drink more. Eating was fine, possibly. I started on a schedule of every three miles but soon lost track of that and ate when I felt the slightest energy drop-off. This probably contributed to the slowness of my final miles. When I went to clean my water bladder I found that it I had consumed maybe 15 ounces of my Gatorade. It is possible that Gatorade is not what I need, too sweet, but it also interesting that I thought I was sucking it down on a very hot day and hadn't been.

Speedwork. I need to do more speedwork and tempo runs at marathon pace to get comfortable at road pace (this is different than hammering trail runs, my preferred method of speed work this time out). I did some of this in preparation but not as strongly as I should have. It might have made a difference in the last miles too.

I am sure there will be more . . .

And there is . . .

Second Skin works well to protect nipples.

PS. GW finished the WS100 in 27:57:26!

PPS: Seattle Times and Seattle PI Slideshows

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oregon's Rupp wins 1st U.S. title with late kick | Local News | kgw.com | News for Portland Oregon and SW Washington

EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of Oregon's Galen Rupp won his first U.S. championship last night, using his strong finishing kick to win the 10,000-meter race at the USA Track and Field Championships in Eugene.

Oregon's Rupp wins 1st U.S. title with late kick | Local News |
kgw.com | News for Portland Oregon and SW Washington

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The Bands

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Other Sports | Paul Tergat withdraws from Rock 'n' Roll Seattle half-marathon with injury | Seattle Times Newspaper

Oh well. :-(

Other Sports | Paul Tergat withdraws from Rock 'n' Roll Seattle half-marathon with injury | Seattle Times Newspaper

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Robin Rennt . . .

This morning PT and I went down to the Expo Center to pick up our race packets. There is nothing like picking up your race number to drive home the point that we are now two days out. I am getting very excited.

We have a new kind of timing chip, at least it is new to me, a single use ChronoTrack tag. It looks much like one of those hospital wrist bands, except it HAS to be worn in a "D" attached to the shoe laces. Arghh! The last time I tried that it came off. I'll just make very sure that it is securely attached (as required) and hope for the best. Rain and sweat should not affect it.

My race bib is huge, probably to contain all five digits of my race number. :-P So is the Sugoi technical shirt (but I just tried it on and it is alright albeit very, very thin).

Tried a few things at the expo but otherwise didn't buy anything. Inquired about "NipGuards" and took a close look at them. They are so thick that I am afraid that I would look a bit like Nurse Diesel were I to wear them. I think I'll try an Ultra-Runner trick, clear medical tape over Body Glide. There seemed to be an abundance of clothing and accessories for women and not so much for men. This stands to reason given that something like 70% of the participants in this race are women. Why? The Competitor Group's Sharon Buffington is quoted in the Seattle Times as saying "Women are planners . . . Guys wait till the last minute and they get shut out." [ST] This race sold out in April.

It was interesting going downtown by bus and walking around. I am glad that I went early as I imagine that the number of people coming to pick up their packets is going to steadily increase over the next couple of days. Already you can see out-of-towners dragging rollaboards and carrying other luggage heading down town. We had a nice conversation with a fellow who had already run 16 or so marathons but none since 2002. He had been training with Chuckit out at Green Lake and was very happy with his preparation. Quite a talkative and happy fellow. In fact, the bus driver misconstrued something he said about being "faster" to mean a critique of her driving (she was obviously NOT in the best of moods). I saw a few folks from my neighborhood out on the streets and in the Expo and PT saw a lord high mucky muck from her work. Wonder if he is going to be running?

Yummy Pho for lunch. Followed by Cow Chips. :-)

How am I feeling besides being excited?

Pretty good. I've been trying to sleep, eat, and hydrate as much as I can to build up my race-day energy. I did make a change to my running schedule for the week because my Tuesday run, 8.44 miles on concrete, did not feel good. The Brooks really don't do it for me and they'll be going back after two or three runs. Took the past two days off and will have one final short and easy run tomorrow morning just to get my legs going. Lots of self-massage, stretching, rolling, and yoga.

Tapering is the worst part of all this. Over the past few months I've become addicted to the miles and, as challenging (and tiring) as it has been, the reduction has been even worse. My legs are stiff, feel as if they are moving through treacle, and there is a random soreness that moves from place to place. All of this goes away when I run, which makes it hard to listen to "That Little Voice Inside Your Twinge". One more day and then it is go time.

I'll watch one of my favorite films to get me amped up, Lola Rennt (1998).

Looking forward to the weather too. It is supposed to be spectacular. :-)

Spaghetti tonight!

Oh, and, bought tickets for the Sounders-Chelsea game next month. All kinds of exciting!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Other Sports | Ethiopia's Berhane Adere added to Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon | Seattle Times Newspaper

The inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon just got a little faster . . .

Other Sports | Ethiopia's Berhane Adere added to Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon | Seattle Times Newspaper

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Other Sports | Ready to roll? Answers to burning Rock 'n' Roll Marathon questions | Seattle Times Newspaper

The inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon & Half Marathon hits town on Saturday, with 25,000 runners, along with 46 live bands, and numerous cheer squads lining a route starting in Tukwila, heading up to Lake Washington and the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and finishing at Qwest Field. It's the biggest such race Seattle has ever hosted, which means you're going to feel the effects, whether you're running or not.

Here are some questions and answers heading into Saturday's race:

Other Sports | Ready to roll? Answers to burning Rock 'n' Roll Marathon questions | Seattle Times Newspaper

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Last Week . . .

Yesterday, while driving with PuddleThumper and Sj out to the group run at Wallace Falls, it hit me that The Marathon is only a week away. It felt odd to think this.

This past week I started tapering, roughly 25 miles, and this will continue up to the race:
  • Sunday 4 or 5 easy
  • Monday off
  • Tuesday Trail Run (not sure how long or how intense this will be, Exit 47 off of I-90 is a Long Way Out There, Talapus Lake)
  • Wednesday off
  • Thursday 3-4 Marathon Pace or maybe easy
  • Friday 3-4 easy
  • Saturday 26.2
Not running every day is driving me nuts!!

So is restraining myself. I so want to just cut loose and go.

Is this an indication that I am ready? Hope so. But, honestly, I've been feeling a bit under trained and a little less sharp than I did going into Portland in 2006. Less sharp in terms of speed. My goal marathon pace when I started was 9:30 but looking over my records I see that my average weekly pace was really in the 10's, what my body was just naturally wanting to do. This is the difference between doing things on your own or having the benefit of coaching I suppose. Never-the-less, it was important for me to be able to train on my own, to put together and run my own long runs, and to make my own mistakes. Next time I'll be much better about speed work (just found a nice track at the middle school about .5 miles from my house).

I am not nervous either. I was a bit last week but now I am feeling really calm, much calmer than I was in 2006 at about this time. This might change over the course of this coming week but it might not. We'll just have to see. (Of course this could also be the effect of a lazy Sunday morning spent listening to Gondwanaland.)

Meanwhile, there is so much to do to get ready for the Summer Term and the UW. And, of course, figuring out how to get down to the start in Tukwilla on time for a 7:00 AM start, finding start corral 18.

I'll be wearing 18187 and trying to beat my 2006 time of 04:20:xx.

Some decisions too. Should I wear my running pack with water bladder or rely on the aid stations? All of my long runs have been done in the pack and I've gotten used to the weight and also the convenience of drinking when needed and for carrying my gels. But I also have shorts with plenty of pockets for gels that I can use too. Still open on the pack question. It is not like I'll be out back-a-beyond now is it. Plenty of people and course support to go along. Still, I am used to being self-sufficient. But do I really want to carry the weight?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Running in the Rift

Wouldn't this be cool?


What an adventure that could be.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Help a Barista Swim, Bike, Run . . .

One of the baristas at my local coffee hangout has been training for the Pacific Crest Triathlon, 6/28/09. It has been fun comparing notes as her training has been running along side mine for some time now. Lots of circles under the eyes and dragging butts, especially after long-run days for me.

Any way. She needs help raising money for her Team In Training commitment.

Can you help?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Well: Is Your Ab Workout Hurting Your Back?

Well: Is Your Ab Workout Hurting Your Back?
Published: June 17, 2009
There’s growing dissent among sports scientists about whether paying attention to deep abdominal muscles actually gives you a more powerful core and a stronger back and whether it’s even safe.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Health | Marathons attract fundraisers, but are amateurs fit to run? | Seattle Times Newspaper

Health | Marathons attract fundraisers, but are amateurs fit to run? | Seattle Times Newspaper

Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — If a popular marathon is sold-out, procrastinators can still finagle their way into the race. And no, we don't mean sneaking onto the course.

The secret is joining one of the dozens of charity groups that still have some coveted late-entry forms. Simply commit to their cause — raise some money — and you'll be at the starting line with 45,000 other runners, hobby joggers and walkers, regardless of your experience or ability.

But while marathons can be rewarding and life changing, they can also be grueling, unpleasant events, especially if you're new to the sport. If you're also fundraising — no easy feat — you might feel pressured to keep pushing with training when you shouldn't. And some running coaches worry that the charities are more interested in raising money than in the health of the runners, a charge the charities deny.

. . . .

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Summer Eating

Ahhh, summer eating.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with fresh heirloom tomatoes, local lettuce with raisin-carrot salad at twighlight. Fresh strawberries for dessert.

Can you beat that?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rambling in the Brambles

Actually, thanks to the maintenance crews out at Cougar Mountain Regional Park, there were no brambles or nettles to catch upon during SRC's 7.8-mile race this morning. Here is the quick report:

Number: 7
Age Group Place (Males 40-49): 28/33
Overall Place: 99/190
Official Finish Time: 1:24:28
Distance: 7.94 miles (according to Motionbased)
Time: 1:23:49
Overall Pace: 10:33
Number of gels consumed: 1
Number of cups of water: 2
Blood: Yes!
Number of Time Thinking I would be DFL: 1

And here is the slow report:

Fourteen Days to the Marathon and I don't want to do anything to get hurt. But I also need to sharpen my speed a bit in the remaining workouts. As ever, my intent was simply to run this race as a training run but, put a number on me and surround me with a bunch of sweaty people huffing up and down the hills and I just have to go. It is, as ever, as PuddleThumper predicted. I can't NOT race.

Last year 230 people finished this race but his year it seemed less crowded, something I noticed during my warm-up mile, an easy plonk down Old Man Trail to the Quarry Road and down to the main park gate and back (thanks to all the volunteers out there directing traffic, and especially to the guy at the main gate who wished me luck). Of course, I started wondering if I would be DFL until PuddleThumper told me that she had overheard some other runners asking the same thing AND that there was no way I was as slow as them. :-P Spent some time stretching and then listening to the RD's course briefing and it was time to go.

PT and I lined up mid-pack, behind a guy with an unusual tape-job behind his knee. He was talking to the guy next to him about what pace he was going to run, something between 9 or 10 per mile. The RD yelled GO and off we went out to the main road. I was running easily, somewhere between 8 and 9, waiting for my legs to work themselves in. Lots of people passed me and I passed some, the usual and then the traffic jam onto the trail.

I trotted along in the middle of a pack until the trail got a little wider and passed to the front and just kept the end of the lead pack in sight. The sounds of the other runners receded and soon it was just like any other trail run out there, all alone with my thoughts, breathing, and footfalls. It was nice and I was running smoothly and deliberately.

Lost Beagle didn't seem to hard this year, probably because of a distinct lack of runners. I just dug in and started ascending and even missed hitting the two trees that I ALWAYS hit no matter the direction. Pretty soon I started catching people in the group ahead and passed them. People were pretty encouraging, "good job!" as I went past and returned the compliment. The descent down Anti-Aircraft began in short order and then things started getting a bit strange.

I got passed twice on Anti-Aircraft, one guy I had passed on the ascent and the other came out of nowhere. That is fine. I was still going along. Then I noticed both of them walking up a steep section of the trail and I pushed on past. I would see both of these guys again as they passed me again on an downhill section but then I caught and passed them finally over near Shy Bear. I was in the lead along Cougar Pass Trail to the water stop (at "3.04" according to the RD) where I stopped and ate a GU and drank two small cups of water and one cup of Nuum. It was pretty warm and humid and, as I was just schvitzing (this was beyond sweating), staying hydrated for the next 4-ish miles was going to be important. By this time the pack that I had passed earlier was emerging from the woods and coming down Clay Pit Road. I took off and had a bit of a time re-establishing my rhythm. The trail here was climbing but it was also pretty smooth compared to the previous section where I had had to jump logs and dodge rocks and roots on pretty uneven ground. This is one of my favorite sections of the run actually, as Mine Shaft gives way to East Fork Trail which has a fairly fast and slight downhill to Fred's Railroad. Still running basically alone I came up behind a woman who has stopped running and is sort of walking bent over. I asked after her but she was wearing headphones and didn't respond. My guess is that she went out WAY TOO hard and just blew up (saw her at the finish as she was expressing amazement at how hard this was and how different from a 5K she had just run).

The action heated up as more and more people came blasting up behind me and passed me as we turned on Fred's Railroad. I had rabbits, some people to chase. :-)

After Fred's Railroad, a relatively wide trail, Shy Bear comes as something of a shock. It is narrow, rooted, and pretty hilly. I love it actually, especially since I knew we got to skip Wilderness Peak, this time round, and found my crazy legs again as we went along. Started catching people including "came out of nowhere guy" who was walking slowly again. Began to see hikers as well. In fact, the further into the race we got the more hikers there were and the more harassed they seemed to look.

Heading down into the aptly named Deceiver Loop along Long View Trail I started remembering how hard this section was for me last year during the 7 and 10 mile races. Up! Down! Up! Down! Around! Around! Up! Down! Up! Down! Around! Just when you think you are done you turn a corner and find that you are not. Steep too. I tried keeping a fairly steady running pace on the uphills and downhills (there are precious few flats) and found that I was catching up to the runners who had blown past me on Fred's Railroad. One woman (Pixie-ish Runner Woman), who kept passing me on the downhills (with a breathing pattern that sounded, well, pixie-ish) and who I passed on the uphills, mentioned something about the deceptive hilliness and asked if we were at the last climb. No, I said, we've a way to go. The climb out of Shy Bear Marsh got interesting as I joined a "marching pack" going up the hills. I kept running here too and noted people stopping. Good for me as I was able to move up. Got stuck behind someone wearing headphones which was a bit frustrating as they simply could not hear me. Another runner and I bulled past the blocker and then up onto Fred's Railroad for the last 1.1 miles, a short gradual climb and then a mostly downhill after the East Fork intersection. I picked up the pace here, as did pretty much everyone else, and the race was really on.

I was in the lead of a few people going past the East Fork intersection. The RD was there and I heard him say "Ouch!" as I went past. Didn't think anything of it actually. Perhaps one of the people behind me had fallen and skinned a knee, a few people did. Just kept going and passed a runner wearing long black pants, a long sleeved black top, and loud headphones. She didn't like getting passed and stayed on me as we went down Bypass towards Old Man's Trail and the finish at Sky Country. This is curvy, steep in parts, where is used to be possible to really blast and run on the rims of the trails (think race track banked turns) but not anymore as they have smoothed the trails out and put down pea gravel (I hate this). I picked up the pace though and then happened to look down and saw the reason why the RD had said "Ouch!"—my nipples were bleeding and the blood was starting its way down the front of my shirt. Well, that was distracting! Not enough Body Glide and I knew then that I had chosen the wrong shirt. That was enough for Long Pants Woman (LPW) to pass me and go into the lead. But she started flagging as we bottomed out and turned from Bypass into the gradual climb up to Old Man's. I pushed and caught her and then sprinted past her running between 7:00 and 6:30 through to the finish line (she had made her move too early). I think I heard "99" as I went through. LPW didn't look too happy.

Came across the line feeling very happy and calm actually. Not at all out of control as I had last year. I was, however, really self-conscious about my nipples which, now that I knew about them, were beginning to throb. Spent some time stretching and went down to the car to change my shirt and to suck down a chocolate almond milk. PuddleThumper was out running her cool down so I got some of the best lemonade and went to stretch some more. She turned looking very happy and we watched the awards (including the youngster male and female winners who were, shall we say, amusingly unsure of themselves).

Great run! Not as fast as last years race (1:17 and change) but certainly stronger and steadier. I am also not anywhere near as beaten up as I was last year. This bodes well for the Marathon, doesn't it?

I wonder where "Bumblebee Man" and "Jingly Keys Woman" from last year were. Hiking Pole Man was missing too. But today I met "Came from out of nowhere guy", "Strange Knee Taping Guy", and "Pixie-ish Runner Woman" who floats the uphills. What a crew!

Can't wait for the 10-miler but first, the marathon. :-)