Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon, 25 Oct 2009

Well...I ran my first marathon since breaking my leg over a year ago and I was thrilled with being able to do it.

To catch you up since my last post...many months ago...I have been running an occasional race during my training build up. After running my first half marathon in February I was a little disappointed in my fitness and endurance level as well as the discomfort to my leg during and after the races so I thought it would be good to back off a bit and slow down my rehab and training. My next race was the Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon in April and finished with a time of 1:48:31...a three minute improvement from the Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half but 21 minutes slower than last year...but it was an improvement. The next race was another half...the Marine Corps Historic Half...in the rain...with a finish time of 1:42:48...almost a six minute improvement. I felt really good during and after this race and everything seemed to be coming together so I decided to do the Elizabeth River Run 10K a couple of weeks later with a disappointing time of 50:16...about four minutes slower than my 10K split during the MCHH. I just ran out of gas about three miles in...no idea why. Also my good leg calf started hurting after the 10K so I again backed off my training even though my long runs had progressed to 16 miles. I stopped running for 10 days until the pain went away and then restarted my training plan slowly again. My next race was the ASYMCA 8K Mud Run...yes the very race where I broke my leg last year. I just had to do it. I didn't expect to go fast but I expected to finish running across the finish line this time. I joined a team for this one to ensure that I would take it easy since we all had to finish together...we made it all together in 1:24:20...Oh...Our team name??? Someone thought it would be fitting to be called the "Help! I've Fallen & Can't Get Up!"...but we all had a great time! I caught a bad cold or flu a few days after the race and again didn't run for over a week and then again, slowly started up my training. Next up was the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half where again I found my energy and endurance lacking and finished in 1:49:21...seven minutes slower than the MCHH...it was very disappointing to be going backwards and I was seriously considering deferring the Marine Corps Marathon. The latest I could defer was 27 Sept...my longest run had been around 16 miles back in May and there was no way I could get in shape to do a full marathon when just the half was kicking my ass. I was wishing the deferment date would have been after the Army 10 Miler on the 4th of October, which I was a member of my company's team, so I could better asses my training and fitness. As I went to the website on the last day to defer, there was this message that said the deferment date had been move to the 7th of October! It was like they heard me! I ran the ATM in 1:11:02 which I was very happy with because all through the 10 miles I felt strong. The time was about six minutes slower than my fastest 10 mile time but I knew considering everything that I had gone through, it was a great time for me. Even though I only had three weeks to get ready for the MCM and with only the half and 10 miler as my long runs for the last four weeks, I decided to step up the training so that I would build up to the marathon. The week after the ATM, I ran an 18 mile long run...I had only planned on 16.5 but I met up with my lady gym friends and ran the extra with them. The week after and only a week before the MCM, I wanted to run at least a 20 miler and ended up doing 22 in under 3 hrs. Everything felt good, endurance was coming back and I was beginning to think that not only finishing but finishing with a decent time in the MCM was very possible. I got ambitious and started dreaming of a BQ finish. Foolish Me! I tapered the rest of the week doing two easy five milers in the six days left and then it was marathon time!

Drove the three and a half hours to DC on Saturday, went to the Expo and was surprised to see Paul manning his booth for "Hope for the Warriors". It was great to visit with him for awhile. Then I checked into the motel and finally enjoyed a great dinner with a bunch of MCM forum members. Went back to the motel to get everything ready and laid down to a sleepless night. I can never get a good nights sleep the day before a marathon for some reason. I got up at 5:00, ate breakfast as I looked at the weather forecast...49-61F, sunny with a bit of wind...almost perfect weather! Took my shower and put on my race stuff along with a hoodie and drove to the Pentagon City mall, parked and took the Metro to the Pentagon. We walked the mile or so to the staging area and waiting in one of the tents to keep out of the cold wind. At 7:15 I checked my hoodie and extra stuff and started the walk to the starting line. Staged myself near the 3:30 flags and tried to get into the middle of the crowd of runners to keep warm and keep the wind off. But a few minutes before start time I had to make a nature call and went down the hill to the trees where everyone else was doing it too. Got back in the corral and the starting gun fired and we were off.

As I got in the corral, I noticed the 3:30 pace group balloons about 50 feet in front whom I wanted to run with to ensure I didn't start off too fast. I couldn't get any closer to them because of so many runners all around but around the first mile, I finally caught up with them and the first mile was in 7:52. I kept just in back of the pace group for the first four miles but had to make another urgent pit stop. Off to the side of the road to water the bushes and back on course and I see the balloons are about a minute up the road. We go across the bridge to Georgetown and I'm only about 30 minutes back. We start the final climb in Georgetown and I catch up to the pace group and stay with them as they maintain a steady 8 min/mile pace. The 10K mat comes in at 48:53. It feels easy and I think I can go all day at this pace. On the downhill I leave the pace group and slowly pull ahead. We go into Hains Point and the 20K mat reads 1:36:24 and I'm still on pace and still feeling good and the half comes in at 1:42:04...faster than my MCHH time! My stomach starts rumbling the last couple of miles and now I feel something knock at the back door...wanting out. As we get to the far end of Hains Pt I see a wonder sight of half a dozen port-a-lets...but when I stop they are all full! I wait a few seconds...which seems like an eternity and finally one becomes available. I go in and do my business and a minute or so later I'm back out running. I was about three minutes ahead of the pace group and by the time I get back on the course they are only about a minute back...no worries...still on pace. We finish Hains Pt and do the Capital loop and cross the 30K mat in 2:28:46...still on pace and feeling good. Then comes the 14th Street Bridge! That thing seemed to go on for miles and my energy starts to wane. The 3:30 pace group passes me and I try to hang on to the group but they slowly get further ahead...no worries...I can still finish between 3:30 and 3:36 and still BQ. We finally go down into Crystal City and cross the 35K mat in 2:55:08...and it's less than 10K to go! The crowds are cheering and clapping and should be giving me energy but I start to feel some twinges in my calves and hams. Oh No...my dreaded muscle cramps...Please stay away for a few more miles! I try to vary my stride. We make the turn at the end of the Crystal City loop and head back towards the Pentagon and the finish line. I see the 23 mile marker a few yards ahead and the first big leg cramp hits and brings me to a walk as I try to stretch and massage the cramp out. I start running again and about a minute later both legs are cramping bringing me to a stop. I try to stretch and massage and walk some and then start running again. I cross the 40K mat in 3:30:30...the time I was suppose to cross the finish line in...how disappointing it was. I kept walking and running trying to massage out the cramps when they occurred. There's the final turn going up the small hill to the finish line and I am determined to run up the hill and cross the finish line in 3:49:09. Not the time I was hoping for but I was still happy considering that this was the first marathon in almost one and a half years. Besides the cramps the rest of the body was feeling good except for one blister on my right foot, which I felt forming around mile 11. I got my wonderful MCM medal, got my picture took, got my goodie bag and went to retrieve my hoodie and phone from the UPS trucks that seemed to be a mile away...but the walking help calm my leg cramps down. I went back to the finish area to wait the others to finish. I cheer and yell as I see Paul rounding the final turn and into the finish and a few minutes later my two gym ladies triumphantly make the turn and finish...one the lady's first marathon.

I met up with my ladies near the UPS trucks and we make our way to the Rosslyn Metro. When we get there, we see a line of people two blocks long waiting for the Metro. We see the buses even further down the road but there is also a long line of people waiting. We decide to take a cab to the next nearest Metro and there's a long line for that! I ask a sheriff directing traffic where the next nearest Metro is and he says it's about six blocks up the hill. After what seemed like about a mile and a half up the hill we finally find the Metro and make our way back to our cars and motel. I think all the walking did us good because we all felt pretty good. So...I got home and signed up for the Richmond marathon which is on 14 Nov.

Race Results:
There were 1064 finishers in the Male 50-54 age group and 21176 total finishers
Overall finish place was 3131 of 21176
Age group finish place was 141 of 1064
Time: 3:49:09 for an overall pace of 8:45 per mile

Happy Racing You All!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Second Race in Second Week

Well, I ran another one. I had a choice of running Saturday in the 20K/30K of the Strider's Distance Series...the last in the three race series, or run in Sunday's Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half Marathon…a half that I ran last year and remembered having fun doing it, even if it doesn’t hand out Bling. But why race two weeks in a row when I’m suppose to be recuperating? My plan for this week called for a 10 mile long run and I figured running 20K or 13.1 miles would fit kind-a-sorta. What’s three more miles? I decided on the Half.

I should have picked the 20K because Saturday was absolutely gorgeous…sunny skies and cool temps, where as Sunday turned out to be a dismal cold drizzly day. But, I drove up there…got lost a few times…registered and waited around for the 1:00 pm start. I was surprised to see Steve there ready to run…he had just ran the 30K yesterday and was here today to do the half! He is an amazing runner! The start line is about half a mile from the finish, so I ran my warm up jog to the start line and waited around under the overhang of some large trees to keep out of the drizzling rain.

Finally the race starts and we are off on the rolling hills course…rolling hills that I didn’t notice very much last year but this year was very apparent. I noticed that going uphill was okay but going downhill put a lot of stress on my recovering leg. My goal for the race was to treat it as a training run for the upcoming Shamrock Marathon in mid-March. I wanted to see if I could maintain a 7:30 pace which would bring me in around 1:40. The first three miles wasn’t bad and I was almost spot on with a 22:09…the first mile was faster than I wanted, but then the wheels starting falling off with the downhills really taking a toll on my leg and was affecting my stride. So I decided to pull it back a bit especially on the downhills. By the turnaround at mile 6 I had slowed quite a bit and it wasn’t fun anymore. I was just counting down the miles…I would be slow but I was determined to run the whole way…no stopping or walking even the downhills. We finally arrive at the front of Kaplan Hall…the finish is around the back, up a ramp and inside…and I kick it in a bit around the turns, up the ramp and across the finish in 1:51:37. Not the time I envisioned but it was done and I had run all of it. But it did give me a realization that I still had a long way to go before I was even ready for a marathon, so I deferred my Shamrock marathon registration to next year. No marathons this spring but by the fall I expect to be ready. In the mean time I will work on my long runs, endurance and speed with a few races sprinkled here and there to check my progress.

Race Results:
There were 62 finishers in the Male 50-54 age group and 735 total finishers
Overall finish place was 318 of 735
Age group finish place was 30 of 62
Time: 1:51:37 for an overall pace of 8:29 per mile

Happy running every one!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Valentine's Day Running!

Well, I did it...the first race since a little over six months ago! I ran the Virginia is for Lovers 14K, which was run on Valentine's Day. I had been trying to find a first race to run in since the beginning of the year, but each race up to this point was either too soon or too long. In January, I was still building up my running minutes, progressing from my walk/run program to finally being able to run at least 30 minutes continuously by mid month and to finally being able to run a whole hour by the end of the month. So 14K on the 14th sounded very doable. This was an inaugural 14K and there was Bling…a shirt and a medal! So yes…I did this one for the Bling! I kept reminding myself that if I was to do this, I couldn’t go out there expecting to run it the fastest that I can but to try to start off slowly and then get to and maintain a nice easy pace. So, the goals was a nice, slow 9-10 minute first mile, gradually build up to 8 minute miles and maintain till the end…hopefully finishing around 1:10.

The race is run in Virginia Beach around and about the Virginia Beach Amphitheater and Sportsplex, a flat looping course with.

The morning was cold but hardly any wind and after picking up my bib and timing chip I met up with a couple of my gym ladies and we waited in the warm tent until they called the runners to the start line. We mingled into the middle of the runners and waited for the starting gun. The race was delayed about 15 minutes because of traffic and runners arriving late but finally we were off. We had to walk towards the starting line which took us about a full minute before everyone started jogging as they crossed the start line. It was really crowded the first mile with hardly any room to get a good tempo going because of being jostled and all the stop and goes as well as trying to weave around groups of slower runners. The first mile was around the amphitheater and when I looked at my watch realized it hadn’t started when I pushed the button at the start so no splits. By this time I lost contact with my gym ladies and was still weaving around slower groups of runners. At the beginnings of a different loop in the course I was happy to see fellow blogger Steve heading back from the loop…he’s an amazing runner who has always been fast but has been getting faster and has been regularly finishing up in the top three of the Open class…and he looked strong with smooth strides. After this loop we hit a gravel parking area loop which I was leery of because of the loose surface and I for sure didn’t want to misstep and twist something so I tried to be careful where I stepped. We came to the first of two water stops…mile 3…and I took a cup just because although I really didn’t need it. We finally got back on hardtop and I concentrated on a nice easy pace again hoping it was around the 8 minutes miles that I had planned but I seemed to miss most of the mile markers so couldn’t really gage what my pace was. We looped around one of the main roads towards a mid point of the race named Cupid’s Corner, which was where those that were running the two person relay changed runners. Half way point and everything felt good…it felt sooo good to be out there running a race. I picked it up a little bit and started concentrating on picking off runners and in no time we were at the six mile water stop in front of the Sportsplex. One final loop around Damneck Rd and we’re headed for the finish. Around the eight mile mark there was a group of high-schoolers lined up, cheering us on. I high fived every one of them and about a minute later made the final turn to the finish. With visions of what happened in my last race in August there was no sprint to the finish…just a nice pace to enjoy the cheering of all the people near the finish line. And the clock read 1:09:55, chiptime: 1:08:50. Got my Bling and a banana and went back out to find and run with my gym ladies.

Race Results:
There were 46 finishers in the Male 50-54 age group and 1308 total finishers
Overall finish place was 268 of 1308
Age group finish place was 12 of 46
Time: 1:08:50 for an overall pace of 7:56 per mile

It felt good...Really Good!

Happy running you all!