Sunday, September 30, 2007

211.7

Even with one of my lower weekly mileage totals all year (just 25 miles due to recovery from the Lake Relay and in my semi taper before the Steamtown Marathon in one week) I was able to cover the most mileage I have ever done in one month with a 6.5 mile jaunt Sunday evening.

In addition, I didn't run at all on Saturday as I took part in the Nation's Triathlon here in D.C.>, as a member of a relay. Unfortunately, the wetsuit gave me the most fierce of all burns on the back of my neck (picture to be added later) which is quite puzzling.

I will have a smallish recap up about the Triathlon as soon as they post the final results on the website. They posted no relay results on race day at the race and have not made any changes to the website in the past few days. Slightly disappointing given the chip timing system but perhaps I am a product of the instant-gratification genre of this generation.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lake Winnipesaukee 65.1 mile Relay Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 2; 28th Edition
463.33 miles raced in 2007
Race: Lake Winnipesaukee 65.1 mile Relay
Place: Lake Winnipesaukee, NH
Miles from home: 539
Course Difficulty: 8.5 out of 10
Course Enjoyability: 5 out of 10
Weather: Mid 70s, bright sunshine
Finisher's Medal: N/A

Surfing the internet a few months ago I came across the Lake Winnipesaukee Relay, which is a 65.1 mile relay located in and about Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire (aptly named, huh?) I looked over the website and got an idea in my head. Getting in touch with the race director, Mark Fontaine, I asked him if anyone had ever run the race solo. More accurately, I asked if I could do so. In addition, I asked if I was allowed, if it was possible if I could could possibly start early. Given the serious elevation loss and gain during the race I was not sure if I would be able to make the time limits. However, after a short discussion, unfortunately, because of permit restrictions, I would not be allowed to start early. They said I could start early, run "unofficially" and my time would not count. But honestly, that was not what I wanted to do.

So I began to ponder if I could do it by myself within the time limits. While doing so, I mentioned to a good friend how if I could convince a second person to run with me, I had no doubt we could finish it. This friend, Katie, said matter-of-factly: "I'll do it, if you want." I was floored. This might actually be perfect. Katie, one of MarathonGuide.com's Outstanding USA Marathoners of the Year (2006) is a powerpacked runner squeezed into 100 lbs of get-go. How cool was this going to be?!

I spoke to Mark again and presented my plan to run as a duo. He was all for it. "Let me know what I can do to help". So just like that, where teams of anywhere from 5-8 would be splitting up 8 separate legs, Katie and I decided to take them all on. Having both done our first relay event this past July at the Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage Relay, we were no longer wet under the collar. We had both been in constant communication with another of our NWPR relay teammates, Christine, who was a planner extraordinaire. Now, I cannot say any of this "planning" really rubbed off on Katie and I but we at least KNEW what we were NOT doing!

What we did know that running was going to be tough beyond the obvious fact that we were both going to have to run 30 some miles. Ahead of us what a daunting logistical task. Let me explain.

Leg 5 was going to be one of Katie's three legs. Unfortunately, this leg (for whatever reason) is one where no support vehicles are allowed. In addition, no support vehicles were allowed at the exchange point between the 4th and 5th legs. Furthermore, where the 5th legs exchanged to the 6th leg, there were also no support vehicles allowed. As you can see, this presented a little bit of a conundrum for a team of two. So this is what we decided to do:

1. I would run legs 3 and 4 consecutively.
2. At the end of leg 3, Katie would park our car and hop on the shuttle bus provided to runners to the start of leg 5.
3. I would hand off to Katie to start her leg and jump on that very same shuttle bus back to our parked car at the end of leg 3/start of leg 4.
4. I would then drive NEAR the end of Leg 5, hike half a mile to the exchange, take the baton from Katie and hand her the keys.
5. Katie would then hike half a mile to the car (after just running 10.8 miles) and then proceed as we had the rest of the race.

Lost yet? (Review it, there will be a test later).

To make it more interesting we needed a little luck from Maine. How so? Well, the inaugural Maine Coast Half-Marathon was being run the day after our relay in nearby (a little over an hour or so away) in York, Maine and we wanted to run it. The catch? This is an "Women's Only" race with one exception. One and only one registered male will be allowed in the race. The male runner will be the winner of a lottery system where male runners pay $10 towards the right to run in this race. All proceeds from the lottery to go to a local school scholarship to a deserving graduating runner.

Unfortunately, we found out just 3 weeks before the race, I was not that One Lucky Guy (who ended up being Eric Vermilya of New Haven CT). Of course, that meant Katie and I could concentrate on the relay instead. So, arriving on separate flights (natch, since Katie lives in North Carolina and I in Virginia) into Portland, Maine Friday for the Saturday race, Katie and I grabbed our rental car and headed to New Hampshire. Scoping out the beginning of the race a little bit (accidentally as it just so happened our hotel for the night was about on mile 2 of the first leg) we grabbed our pace packets and chatted up some of the locals. In typical runner-fashion, few refused to be impressed when we told them that "Yes, this IS our whole team". Ah, runners.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat right on the lake in a boardwalk pizza place. Katie indulged me wasting a few bucks in the arcade (I love video games) and soon it was time for bed.

Race Day
We woke up to a foggy morning which we hoped would stay that way as long as possible. Temperatures were planned to be in the high 70s and with both Katie and I despising running in heat, the fog would at least keep the direct sunlight off our backs. We milled around a little bit before the start and noticed there were a ton of people here for this race.

The past two years had produced over 100 finishing teams each year so we knew we would have plenty of company on the roads. Given our car hand-offs and the need to be at exact places at exact times with little help, any assistance on knowing where to go was definitely appreciated.

We posed for a quick photo at the start showing off our fancy running singlets (more on that later). Look at the fog!




Shortly thereafter, at 8 AM, Mark the RD gathered everyone to the starting line for the beginning of the race. I meandered towards the front and readied myself for the race.


A few quick words, a gun shot into the air and away we went.

Leg 1: 10.7 miles (Time: 1:11:52; 6:42 min/mile) (Click each map below for a bigger picture and also the total elevation change)


I did not want to get too far behind the runners in this first leg but I most assuredly did not want to go out too fast. So, after the first mile or so when I was in about 5th place and a group of runners passed me, I decided to simply hang back and run a nice crisp pace. As you can see from the map below, I had a few risers in the first 5 miles to contend with but it was the 500 foot rise from 6.5 to mile 9 that I had in mind.

From about mile 3 on, I hooked up a with a runner ("Jay") on the Silk City Striders who was also doing multiple legs. Injuries forced his hand; I told him desire forced ours. When he learned what we were doing, he immediately told his support team and we all of a sudden had a new cheering section. I could see that Katie was working the sidelines as well because every time I would see her on the side of the road asking me if I needed my energy drink, a few new people would be cheering for us.

After cresting the big hill, I thought I had further to go before the hand-off than I did. However, a cluster of cars and lots of people standing about told me it was time for the first exchange of the day. Katie handed me the keys as I handed her the baton and away she went.

Leg 2: 11 Miles (1:21:02; 7:22 min/mile)


As I didn't hear exactly where Katie had parked the car it took me a little while to find it. But before too long I tracked it down, rung out my shirt (I sweat as if it is my job) and changed into a dry one. Katie and I had come up with the great name of K&D: 270 lbs of Running Fury and had the same emblazoned on our running singlets (from Runningbanana.com). On the back Katie had a big "K" and I wore a "D". As if I did not already know her running style it was quite easy to pick her out of the crowd with a bright read "K" thrown across her back.

My map of Katie's run is a little off (her leg was actually 11 miles; I had to sort of guess exactly where the hand-offs were going just by directions given on the race website) but the elevation profile was true. This was by far the easiest leg of the entire course and I am glad Katie had it, as you will see later.

Looking just fine, I stopped a few times to give her some Gatorade and spread the word to spectators and other teams about how much butt she was kicking.


I was also quite shocked to learn we were somewhere in the top 15 or so. Uh-oh. Had we gone out too fast? I drove ahead to the next exchange and got ready for my back-to-back legs.

Leg 3: 9.3 Miles (1:06:41; 7:10 min/mile)


If read properly, elevation profiles do not lie. Often what looks like a big hill is just a skewed picture of a bump in the road made to look like a mountain by the small scale of feet on the side of the graph. This, however, was not the case with the third leg. As you can see above, in a no more than 1/4 a mile, runners had to climb over 300 feet. I think I actually laughed out loud when I turned the corner after taking the hand-off and saw what looked like a hill set on a right-angle in front of me.

I'd like to say I ran the hill but I have no idea if what I did could be considered "running". However, before too long after cresting the hill and heading down the highway (a vast majority of this third leg was run with cars screaming by) I claimed my first "roadkill" (passed runner) of the day. I did not count anyone from the first leg because of the fact that I could not remember who had been in front of me and who had been behind me during that initial sprint downhill. Before too much longer I claimed what I thought were two more runners but it ended up it was one and what appeared to be some sort of a pacer. After that it was less than a mile before I notched another on my belt. Was I going too fast? I surely wasn't trying to but I felt great.

Unfortunately, you can see this leg was a series of uphills and downhills. Even more so, exposed to the elements, the sun which had flirted with clouds all morning long had apparently scared them all off and began to beat down from above. There was a nice breeze and it wasn't terribly humid but my tan lines from the day let me know I was not imagining its influence.

Feeling well-hydrated and knowing Katie needed to go start the car merry-go-round I waved her on ahead. This was unfortunate as for the last 4 miles of this leg there was no liquid to be had. My only drink came when Jay and his team stopped and offered me a glass of Gatorade. Total class acts from guys I was competing with. I would have been in bad shape if not for this kind gesture.

Leg 4: 4.4 Miles (28:44; 6:31 min/mile)


When I rolled into the relay exchange, everyone started looking around to see who was going to take my hand-off. With no one in the chutes you could sort of see a slight look of concern on other racers faces which sort of gave off the feeling of "Uh-oh. His team isn't ready!" As I blew through the flagged cones marking where I should have exchanged the baton (there was no water at this exchange set-up when I went through which is the only reason why I would have stopped) a ripple of realization crested and grew through the crowd and a big cheer went up. I wanted to yell back "Do the same thing for Katie!" but I have a feeling the Doppler Effect would have left my supporters with a muffled "Aye, Aye Matey!" so I refrained.

After a split time for my first leg that seemed way too fast, I was happy that for my 2nd shorter leg I had brought my time back down to where I thought I was not burning too much energy. Then I remembered how the second leg had been much more difficult than the first and felt a little fear. I SHOULD have been slower. Was I STILL going out too fast? I decided to dial it back down a smidgen for the second part of my second leg.

That said, having passed three teams in the last leg, I was hungry to knock another one off before I handed off to Katie. I think it was this desire that made me run the next 4.4 miles FAR faster than expected. In addition, I saw absolutely no runners in front of me and none behind me (when I looked as I turned a corner or something akin to that) and I had very little to base my time on to know if I was going too fast. The mile markers Katie had experienced in her first leg were never present on any of my runs. So you can imagine how shocked I was when I rolled through the 4 miles here (after running 9 plus) in a 6:31 clip.

I turned down a desolate road, saw Katie waiting and handed the baton off to her. Before the start of the race we realized that carrying this baton might get a little annoying. While other teams would only hold onto it for a few miles per runner, we were going to be clutching the darn thing for about 4 hours each. As such, I came upon an idea to use my ROAD ID ankle bracelets to hold the baton in place in our hands. As such, we would not be so inclined to grip the baton and tire out our arms even more. It worked brilliantly and we were both glad we had done so afterward (Katie used my spare ROAD ID for her hand as her own ROAD ID is one that attached to her shoe). But I digress.

I had the lucky foresight to ask Katie to leave me a drink for my bus ride back to the car and I jumped right on the first liquid I had in 8 miles. Right then a bus started to pull by to take runners back and I hopped on. No one else was on it. My own private chauffeur took me back to my car at a snail's pace as I took in as much fluid as I could. Once there I gingerly got off the bus and realized my legs were cramping. I most assuredly needed to get water in me and soon. I also needed food. Luckily, while we did not prep the way Christine would have done, we did have a few sugary confections which would tide us over for the remainder of the race. While I drank some Propel I also scarfed down a sticky cinnamon roll and almost instantly felt better.

I then hopped in the car and began the 15 mile trek to the next leg.

Leg 5: 10.8 miles (1:29:49; 8:18 min/mile)


I know nothing about this leg other than what Katie briefly told me after the race. She said there were some great downhills but without a doubt you paid for them by quickly going back up another up hill. In addition, she mostly ran alone except where a few fresh runners runners had been able to overtake her. While I waited for the hand-off, I was able to put the numbers together and find out that we had been either 9th or 10th going into the leg. When Katie barreled down the last 100 yard hill to the exchange and passed the baton to me to a flurry of cheering spectators (who all seemed to know we were doing this race as a duo by now) we were still in 12th place.

This was the first time that it started to hit me how much butt we were kicking. Sure, we wanted to run hard but our goal was to be in the top 50. We definitely did not expect to be battling for a top 10 spot! I couldn't believe we only had ~20 miles left.

Leg 6: 6.4 miles (46:33; 7:16 min/mile)

To the cheers of many, I took off on my penultimate leg. I made sure everyone knew Katie was the one who deserved the cheers as well, told her where I had parked the car (remember, it was half a mile away! Poor girl!) and began motoring. Immediately I began to think about how tough Katie's part of the relay was. She just finished 10.8 miles and only had about 3/4 of an hour to rest until she had to crank out another 8.5 over what was going to be a very warm and very difficult part of the course. The logistics of the race could, without a doubt, lay waste to many a solid stout runner. I could only hope she had enough in her to tough through one last leg.

About halfway into my leg I heard footsteps. Damn it. Without much fanfare a chap named Barry flew passed me. I told him good luck and he shouted over his shoulder that his team (MRC - Mixed Open; 10th place overall) was so impressed with us. Soon thereafter, part of his team pulled passed us and jumped out with a drink for him to take in. The weather was still warm and the sun was relentless. I had told Katie to get to the end as quickly as she could and not worry about me. With just barely a 10k to run and fully hydrated, I wanted her to rest as much as possible before her final leg. That said, when his team hopped back into their car, drove 100 yards and hopped back out, simply to hand me a glass of water, I cannot say how thankful I was they had done so. This was also the first time I realized this team was one that had contained a female a vast majority of runners had been behind in the very first leg.

After the next exchange, I had mention she was easy to identify by her pink, camouflage running skirt. As we walked to our cars to move on down the road, I also mentioned that if she ran again, she may be able to avoid having so many men running directly behind her if she made sure he skirt hadn't slipped a bit in the back revealing a nice little tushie. She immediately burst into laughter and said: "I knew I could feel it falling!" and her teammates began to rib her mercilessly. Just doing my part.

Also during this leg, a group of girls (Squash Grandmas; 13th place overall) who had been cheering for us all day long, also jumped out and gave me a glass of water. There are few sports where you will see such camaraderie amongst competing teams. It was just really wonderful.

I had a small misstep as I raced down the final stretch of this leg but nothing major. I had seen some painted lines on the road and a cone or two and for a second had followed it into someone's yard. Almost every exchange point ventured into a school parking lot or off the main road and I thought perhaps this was one of those spots. However, I soon figured out it was not the right way to go and only lost a few seconds. What exactly it was I have no idea and neither did the Race Directors I spoke to after the race.

As I gave Katie the baton for her last leg, I steeled myself for the toughest part of the course for both of us.

Leg 7: 8.5 miles (1:19:19; 9:19 min/mile)


This leg, in and of itself, is hardly a devastator. There are definitely some hills to contend with and the last one, as you can see, is a doozy. But for all the reasons I mentioned before, I knew it was going to give Katie trouble. I was only hoping she would hold on to finish strong and not run so far as to hurt herself.

I stopped a few times during her run to provide her with beverages and also pour some cold water on her. She was definitely overheating as she was stuck right out in the middle of the highway under the warm 3 o'clock sun. I saw a few runners had passed her but as it stood we were still in about 15th place. I knew she was bothered by anyone beating her but I kept reminding her that these people were fresh and we were still doing far better than we could have hoped to have done. I think my words helped.

As I parked my car and waited for her to run in, I began to prep myself. I only had 4.4 miles to go. I knew the hills were supposed to be tough but I felt absolutely fine. I was properly hydrated and I was ready to kick some butt. As a runner or two more came through than I expected before Katie made her appearance I think I got too jacked up on adrenaline. When she gave me the baton to start the final leg, I took off like a shot.

Leg 8: 4.4 miles (36:01; 8:11 min/mile)

Again, pay special attention to the elevation scale on this last leg. While I do not envy Katie's legs on this day because of the length of each individual run and the close proximity of her 2nd and 3rd runs, I would not wish this final leg on anyone.

To begin with, the adrenaline I had pumping through my veins made me shoot out of the exchange corral as if I was flying from a cannon. However, almost immediately I began having chest pains as I soared down the first hill. I could see one runner in sight and another way off in the distance. I figured I could get these two and be close to taking 15th place with a kick at the end. Yet, my energy level and the hills to come had other ideas.

As soon as I finished the downhill portion, my chest began to hurt even more and the uphill looked like Everest. I see now this first "hill" was over 350 feet in a mile. It just wrecked me. Forced to a walk a few times (as were some other runners in front of me who were "fresh"; this made me feel very good) I just wanted to be done suddenly, more than anything else in the world. I was able to pass one runner but shortly thereafter a runner passed me from behind. Pressing on, half-walking, half-jogging, fully wanting to die, I go to the top of the biggest hill. I could hear another team cheering for another runner behind me. Damn it. Well, buddy, you are going to have to work for it.

Working as hard as I could on the downhill, it was not until the absolute bottom of the hill that the other runner finally passed me. I had given it all I could. Energy sapped, I actually walked going downhill. Not good. Not good at all. Hands over my head in an effort to relieve my side-stitch I pressed on. Slowly making it to the top of the next hill, I knew I just had one more mile to go. Another runner passed me. I had lost count. I could not figure out where we were in the pecking order. More than anything this uncertainty was killing me. I tried following the pace set by this runner but soon he was pulling away from me. I could not make up any ground on the downhill. The finally uphill loomed ahead and it was all I could do to keep my eyes from visually scaling its peak.

The culmination of an around the lake race was just a few hundred yards ahead but it felt like 10 miles. I looked behind me and saw a runner approaching.

With everything I had, I pushed forward. I dug up every last bit of energy I had left. How could I have possibly felt so good just 3 plus miles ago and feel on death's door here right now? Why did I think this was a good idea? Were there indigenous cats on Melmac or did ALF acquire a taste for them AFTER he landed on Earth?


Cheers erupted from the crowd as I hit the cutes. Twenty yards to go. Am I going to break 8:20? Are they stringing a winner's tape across the finish line? Am I going to have enough energy to actually break the tape?

I hit the mat, weakly raised my arms nailed an official time of 8:20, took ten steps to get out of the way and immediately laid down on the ground.


People swarmed over me. I insisted I was absolutely fine but had absolutely no energy left for anything. No glass of water could be held by my exhausted digits. I couldn't possibly chew anything now to save my life. I most assuredly did not want to get back up as "down" would be where I would quickly be going if I tried standing.

Katie materialized and asked me if I was ok. I got one word out: "Tired." she totally understood. "He's fine. Just a little beat," she said to everyone. After a few seconds, two guys offered me their hands and I stood up. More cheers. I pointed to Katie. Even more cheers. I waved my hand feebly in the air and got over to a picnic table as quickly as possible.

"How'd we place?" I asked Katie. "I am not exactly sure. Let me find out". As it turns out, when the final results were tallied we finished exactly 20th. Out of 86 team that finished the race. We averaged a 7:41 mile pace for 65 miles of extremely hilly terrain.

I have been happy with a handful, if that of races in my life, where I was actually proud of my achievement and felt I have given that race everything I had. We can now add the Lake Winnepesaukee Relay to that short list. How Katie and I beat nearly 70 teams is beyond me. But I am so proud of her and of us as a team. I cannot wait to relive this over and over in my mind for many years to come. We far exceeded anything I could have possibly hoped for and made many friends and admirers along the way. And if we inspired a single person to do something because they can see that much is possible if you put your mind to it, then that is even that much better.

Aftermath
As for the race itself, I have very few complaints at all. Katie and I both thought long and hard and could think of very few, if any, negatives about the race. The only thing that came to mind was the race could have used some more aid stations. Granted, the vast majority of people running this race were doing just one leg and therefore either didn't need any aid or were supported by their crew. However, given the heat of the day and the exposure to the elements (in this case, direct sunlight) one more aid station on each leg would have been just about perfect.

And honestly, that is about it. I have thought really hard but haven't even been able to make up negatives. I mean, the website could have had a better representation of the hills (the elevation charts were a little hard to read) but I figured that out on my own. And in today's internet age, everyone can do that.

Sure, the course was hilly and very tough at points but that is part of the challenge of it. Conquering obstacles such as this is what runners crave. And what a beautiful part of the country. The Lake itself and the small towns that dotted its beaches were reminiscent of those good old-fashioned old-style towns that time has forgotten. In fact, while set in Maine, "On Golden Pond" was filmed in and around the area where we spent 8 hours running. So, if you want to see the splendor we witnessed, check out that movie (or wait for a few of my pictures to be posted here soon!)

The race organizers were so friendly (Mark grabbed me at every exchange and asked if there was anything he could do to help) and as I have pointed out, not only were the runners friendly but may locals cheered for the runners too as they went about their daily business. I have a feeling many probably did not even knowing what was going on (the course was not closed to traffic which was a little bit of a pain but not much) but that didn't stop them from cheering or being friendly. Well, if you don't count some lady in a Lexus who on my last leg, pulled out of a parking lot and damn near hit me and then went 50 yards up the hill and pulled back into another parking lot and damn near hit me again! Then again, she had Florida plates so I think the Granite State people don't deserve the blame.

Top to bottom it was a wonderful experience. People asked if we were going to get 6 other friends and do it again the next year. Honestly, as fun as it would be to try and win the thing, if I were to do it again, I would definitely want to race as just a team of two. It was exhilarating to push ourselves so far and see if it was even possible. Then to do as well as we had, well, I cannot even explain the elation.

So, if I am signing up again next year, chances are it will be as a duo. I am sure Katie will join me. We might go for the top 10.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tidal Basin 3k

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 2; 27th Edition
428.53 miles raced in 2007
Race: Tidal Basin 3k
Place: Washington, DC
Miles from home: 5
Course Difficulty: 2 out of 10
Course Enjoyability: 4 out of 10
Weather: Mid 70s, bright sunshine
Finisher's Medal: N/A

I knew I was going to set a personal best in this race.

I have been feeling absolutely great lately. I ran a high mileage total last week (as I reported in an earlier blog). I ran a semi-fast marathon. In spite of nagging leg injuries I have been cranking out some fast times on some training runs lately. I am feeling a little lighter and have a bounce in my step. Were any of these the reason for my confidence? Nope.

I have never run a 3k before. Voila. Instant PR. :)

Cheap? Sure, but oh well. I have always heard about the Tidal Basin 3ks as they are run once a month by the DC Road Runners club. But given I worked in Chevy Chase, MD I was never able to make it down there. As I no longer am working where I used to, the opportunity presented itself to take advantage of one of these 3Ks before my schedule filled again.

I expected a few people to be there (maybe 10) but was quite shocked when right before the race there were a good number milling around, taking their lunch break to run a registration fee-free low-key race in our Nation's Capitol. (Where do they all shower afterward, I wonder?) In fact, it ends up 60 people exactly ran this month's edition of the Tidal Basin 3k. I was stoked at the turn-out.

Amongst others I saw my new friendly rival Charlie Mercer, local mega-racer Ted Poulos, a chap I met at the International Peace Half-Marathon, Greg Ashe and a slew of others.

I knew Ted would be one of the front runners and would find out soon from a chap I just met (Dan Murphy) that the ordained favorite was Steve Kartalia. When asked my goal, I said a sub 10 would be great but two things kept me from knowing if I would achieve that.
1. I have a 65 mile Relay coming up in less than 72 hours which took precedent over anything else I did this week.
2. I have never run a 3k.

The latter evoked a "Never?" from Dan. I nodded. "Yep, never."

We lined up for the start and one nice gentlemen who had came down to run but instead volunteered as we were one volunteer short, started us off. Always a little bit of a fast starter, I jumped out ahead as I knew I was not 100% sure what the course was but doubted there would be much room to pass if necessary. I was right.

In front of me was Steve Kartalia who quickly made me realize there was no way I was winning this race. After a few hundred meters Dan Murphy passed me as we looped out of FDR Memorial Park and onto a DC street.

As we passed over a bridge and the Tidal Basin came into full view to our right, and the Jefferson Memorial erupted gorgeously into our view, Ted passed me as well. " Do NOT race them" I told myself over and over. Stay with them, maybe make a move at the end but you have a much more important race soon.

Around behind the Jefferson Memorial we went where taller runners like myself had to duck under the Cherry Tree Blossom branches which dotted the path we raced on. I long ago learned to not simply follow whether other runners ducked or not as being 6'1'' means most runners aren't my height and don't have to duck. Ergo, I take a branch to the head.

Quickly we passed the Memorial and I heard a few footsteps behind me. Sure enough Charlie has pulled up beside me. A few more meters and he pulled ahead. "Let him go" I told myself.

Past the little-known George Mason Memorial we trotted and Steve was long gone. Dan, who made it perfectly clear before the race he wanted to beat Ted has a slight edge over him and seemed to be in command. We passed over another bridge to begin the final long straightaway to home and Charlie lost one step. I leaped on this and soon was right next to him. We ran stride for stride for about 25 meters and I thought we had about half a mile to go. Charlie surged and I let him go unchallenged. I saw the Tourmobile Pagoda ahead which I thought signified the end of the race and figured I would hang back and if it did not hurt too much would make a charge.

However, I soon saw Steve stop running and realized the finish was a good 100 meters sooner than I had thought. Well, crap. I thought about a last minute surge but knew that last minute surges for no reason often end up in pulled hamstrings. So I lowered the gear, let Charlie sail away and came in 5th in a time of 10:16 (official results later say I was 10:18 but there is no way that is the case.)

Regardless it was a real fun race (Top 10 results below). This is definitely a distance I could run a 9:50 in or better and next month I may just do that (barring some events I am planning right now if they go through).

In an email exchange with Charlie later, I realized that he had set a PR at this distance, one he has run close to 10 times, by over 30 seconds! His words: "You pushed me to a P.R. for that course, by 30 seconds. I could only muster between a 5:40 to 6:00 pace the other 7 or 8 times I’ve run it, but today I was trying so hard to keep up with you that we finished under a 5:30 pace. " Makes me happy to help a fellow runner. So the unofficial Charlie-Dane tally stands at 3-1 in his favor. (I am unsure if we have ever run any other races other than the few we have done this summer. Will have to do some research).

After the race, some friends of Greg came over and asked if they could have their picture taken with me. Flattered they would ask, I graciously accepted. One of them mentioned how we were on a run with Dean Karnazes last year and I took a header into the road because, in the dark, I had stumbled over a root. I totally remembered this pratfall and reminded him how quickly I bounced back up!

So kudos to all who ran on a lovely day. Hopefully I will see you all again in a month!

Results:
1 Steve Kartalia 9:26
2 Dan Murphy 9:45
3 Ted Poulos 10:04
4 Charlie Mercer 10:11
5 Dane Rauschenberg 10:18
6 Patrick Walker 10:30
7 Tom Matzke 10:37
8 Gregory Ashe 10:56
9 Juan Calvo 10:59
10 Chris Miller 11:03

Media about Dane

I have received a few requests to hear/see some of the audio/video interviews I gave last year. SO, thinking perhaps others would like to see them as well I have decided to put links to most of them here:

Audio:

My first radio interview with the Elliot in the Morning show.

Standing in line to pick up my packet at the first marathon of Fiddy2 I spoke to the Free Beer and Hot Wings show.

THIS is my interview with Alex Cohen's NPR.

Here is the final interview I gave about Fiddy2 to BBC Radio.

Video:

Park City TV.

MichiganRunner TV (First sub-3).

KY3 News in Springfield, Missouri.

And, as always, feel free to check out the "press" page on Fiddy2 for any other info you'd like to see!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NorthFace 50k photos/video

Courtesy of my friend Christine (gearing up for a PR at the Steamtown Marathon in 2 weeks) I have photos proving that yes, indeed, the 50k I ran knocked the living crap out of me.

Close to the finish but still feeling miles away.


One more turn to go.



Me after the race, prior to intense vomiting.




Trying to get cool.



Post-purging, chilling (not literally) with Dean.



Also, check out the video TNF put on their website HERE: I am interviewed about half-way through.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Adventures for the Cure




Q: What is Adventures for the Cure?

A: Adventures for the Cure is an endeavor organized by two gentlemen I met last year (Adam Driscoll and Patrick Blair) during the middle of Fiddy2. All last year, they biked across the country to raise funds and awareness for the American Diabetes Association and Kupenda for the Children, an organization that provides support for children with disabilities in Africa. One of the members of the group, Adam Driscoll, is a Type I diabetic and this is their way of fighting back against diabetes!

Having completed their goal, the AFC group is showing a documentary which chronicles their year of raising money and riding through this country on October 20th from 3-7PM at The Senator Theater in Baltimore.
AFC will be visiting with Greg Lemond on October 3rd to do the narration for the film.

All details for the Documentary Premiere Event are as follows:
3pm-7pm
October, 20 2007
Senator Theater
5904 York Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21212
Dress to Impress!

RESERVE YOUR TICKETS NOW!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Devon rocks the house

While Japan swept the Sweeps the 100k World Championships this past weekend (Shinichi Watanabe (6:23:21) and Norimi Sakuri (7:00:27, a new world record) lead the Japanese team to sweep both the Men's and Women's division) outstanding performances were had by many USA runners. Amongst them were Howard Nippert (8th), Greg Crowther (11th), Chad Ricklefs (17th), Kami Semick (9th), and Julie Udchachon (16th). Six of nine US runners clocked PRs, and the US Men's brought home the bronze!

However, my good friend , Devon Crosby-Helms, who makes me write about her every time she races by the sheer fact that she is just that good came in 15th overall. SO I just wanted to pass along kudos to Devon and also point you to her report here.




Enjoy and way to go Devon!

Weekly Mileage

I have never been much of a cumulative mileage guy. Most of you know the story as to why.
* I didn't run much until 2004.
* I quickly got into marathons
* Soon thereafter I planed Fiddy2 and trained for it by racing often
* I did Fiddy2
* *Bam* it is 2007.

I have looked back at my weekly mileage (and I count a week being from Sunday to Saturday; not quite sure I understand the other methods people utilize) and I have never topped 60 miles in a week. EVER. (Unless you count the week where I ran the OD 100 miler. Even after aborting at mile 86 that week was 117.57 miles total).

I did not expect to have many miles this week. I ran a marathon on Sunday and then I turned my life upside down and have been looking for a new job this entire week. Waiting to find that perfect occupation I have filled the time this week going on job interviews and putting every feeler out I can. So when I went on a relatively light 7.5 miler this morning I did not expect to have a weekly total of 57 miles. Technically that is the longest I have ever run.

One of the online running groups I am part of has a "mileage game" wherein groups have been put together and report their weekly mileage. Some of the usual leaders in my group routinely put up 80 or more miles. I often wonder how the hell they can put in all those miles and carry a regular job. Then again, I don't even know if they have regular jobs so I guess I shouldn't assume.

The next question I have is how "quality" those miles are. I am not saying my miles are always the high-quality type. I am simply a curious chap. It would be interesting to see how many runs per week they are going on, what the pace is and what the terrain is. I am always trying to better myself and am wondering if I need to up to 60, then 70 or 80 plus miles. These are all things I will be able to learn next year when I plan to actually train more and race far, far less. (keyword is "plan").

But I am ahead of my modest mileage pace for the year (to run 2007 miles in 2007) as you can see by my handy-dandy running log which is stat lover's dream! (see below)



Addendum: Too much on my mind made me go for another 5 mile run. So the total is now 62 for this week.

Friday, September 14, 2007

It keeps gettting better.

My second marathon was the Presque Isle Marathon in 2003. I am going to be 100% honest. I think that Finisher's Medal that year is one of the ugliest in my collection. I know others have told me I have worse ones but to me, that puppy is right up there on the list.

Decide for yourself (For some reason I could not get my scanner to scan this in color, which added to its ugliness):



However, when I ran the race in 2006 as part of Fiddy2, I was pleasantly surprised to see the medal had undergone a significant upgrade. Keeping with the Lighthouse theme (which is located on Presque Isle) you can see how nice this looks.



Even more so were the personalized Age Group awards (presented at the race, even) that were pictures of said Lighthouse. (No Picture of this one. Given the sentimental value , this award sits on a shelf in my parents' living room).

So, 2007 rolls around. And The Erie Runners Club outdoes themselves again with the hand-carved Finisher's Medal below:



Then in the mail I received this:




Wow. I am just so impressed with the ERC. No, medals do not make a race great. But when you have a race which has grow from 185 finishers in 2000 to 456 this year, with finishers breaking 2:30 you already have a good race adding hardware worthy of a great race can do nothing but bring more runners to the race.

Looking for a good race next fall? Try Erie.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It only took 5 months...

...and a random email from one of the other Hangang Marathoners to put me in touch with pictures from the Hangang Marathon but I finally have some pictures.

On a side note, I am going to come out and personally state how disappointed I am with the communication I have had with some of my Asian running contacts. Ever since I returned form Korea (April 30th) I have not received one single response to my emails requesting information about my official time, the number of participants or anything else with regards to the race.

Similarly, after being invited to run in China I have experienced just about the same thing. And I am not alone. I know we in America are used to, and demand, instant gratification when it comes to just about anything but the point of email is that it is instantaneous. No licking of stamps, no searching for envelopes, no charges to make a long distance call. It is bad enough when friends don't reply quickly who you can actually drive over to their house but when you are ignored on a grand scale across an ocean it is extremely infuriating.


So here are a few pictures from the Hangang Marathon that had me on a 2:47 pace until heat,hills and hallucination took over (feel free to read that recap HERE).

Was looking and feeling strong for the first 15k (Wearing completely brand new everything but watch, sunglasses and Road ID. Damn right I had my Road ID on!)




Fighting the wind on the way back.



Not the only one dying.



"It's cool if I go die now, right?"

Monday, September 10, 2007

Presque Isle Marathon at Erie Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 2; 26th Edition
426.73 miles raced in 2007
Race: Presque Isle Marathon at Erie
Place: Erie, PA
Miles from home: 357.9 (or 44 from my parents’ house)
Course Difficulty: 2 out of 10
Course Enjoyability: 7 out of 10
Weather: Mid 70s, slightly humid, constant rain.
Finisher's Medal: 8.5 out of 10 (It just keeps getting better each year).

There are so many stories from this weekend I am unsure where to start (and I am apologizing beforehand as this is going to get long!). Chronological order suits my memory best so that is where I will begin. 

As I mentioned in a previous posting (HERE), I was asked to speak a local elementary school when I was home this past weekend by my former high school principal and 11th grade swim coach, Mr. Terry Funk. Mr. Funk, and his family are some of the nicest mot loving and caring people I have ever had the luxury to come across in my 31 years on this planet. Why they like me is beyond my comprehension. I think it is the Penn State ties (I might have to write an entire other blog about that Notre Dame game).

Nevertheless, I was not quite sure what Mr. Funk wanted me to say to the kids at the school on Friday so I simply followed his lead. After a glowing praise of me and what I had done last year (Mr. Funk could make a wad of bubble gum get a chorus of Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” from anyone) I simply kept my speech short. I wanted these kids from 1st to 5th grade to know that just because they were from a small town does not mean they should not dream big. That was it. That was the gist. After a few Q&As which Mr. Funk had to direct away from humorous but non sequitur topics, I wrapped up the speech, presented Mr. Funk with a copy of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not book I was most recently featured in as a gift to their library and sat down. 

After the children were dismissed a few teachers came up to me to say they were impressed or proud a Titusville native was making an impact on the world or something akin to that (most of which I brushed off with a wave of the hand but thanked them nonetheless) one young teacher told me that her husband, Adam Peterson had heard about what I had done last year and was motivated to attempt his first half-marathon as a result. As fate would have it, it was the Erie half marathon the same day as I was running the full. Unfortunately, I did not get to meet Adam but a check of the results show that in his first half marathon ever he ran a 1:41:55. That is a GREAT time for a first half marathon. Way to go Adam!

The rest of the weekend was spent milling around my hometown and marveling how different it is then the greater DC area. I came to the realization that Titusville is exactly like important parts of town in Hollywood movies which help to enhance the plot. How is that? Have you ever noticed that no matter where the main actor has to go in downtown LA or NYC that he is always able to pull up in front of the building and park? No parallel parking, no searching for a spot. No, he simply pulls up and parks as there are no car in front or in back of where he needs to go. THAT is Titusville. All the time. Where do you need to go? At what time? On what day? Yep. There is a parking space. I love it (Not as much as the sign I saw in the window of a local town that looked like something akin to a Bed & breakfast or perhaps a historical Museum which signified that it would be allowing people to enter its doorways on this day not by saying that it was “Closed” But rather, in a beautiful wooden hand-carved sign it simply said “SHUT”. And don’t get me started on the vegetable stand, sitting on the side of the road, unattended with a sign that said “Leave Money for Corn” above a red metal box, which may or may not have been even locked. Big Jim the Corn Man [actual title on the Veggie Stand] is a trusting fella).

The marathon on Sunday is a little over an hour from my hometown. I had a few hours to kill on Saturday so, as much as I hate wasting gas, decided I would make the trip up to get both my timing chip and my bib number to save myself the hassle of doing so the next morning. This, as you will read, was quite fortuitous on my part.

At the expo, I ran into one of the Drake Well Marathon participants and second place overall finisher Eric Semeret and his newly engaged fiancĂ©e Sonia (congrats to both of you!). Eric had proposed after finishing his 5th Leadville 100 mile race just a few weeks previously. (I would love to hear that story). Continuing with the many ties that would bind this weekend, Sonia first heard about the Drake Well Marathon, as she is a Titusville native. Her father had been my 7th grade shop teacher (I am sure it is called Woodworking and Fine Hand Arts by now. We called it “shop” and liked it.) upon investigation, Eric and I found that we had actually run the Estes Park Marathon against each other during Fiddy2 (this is a rather important point as you will see later). Eric had won that day. I beat him at Drake Well. So now we are tied. Eric mentioned he was not expecting to go too fast given his recent finish at Leadville and I playfully told him I didn’t expect to go fast in my 51st marathon of the year but I still beat him. 

Back home, I watched the Penn State dismantling of the Rolling Over and Playin’ Dead Irish and went to bed. My alarm went of, I gathered my mom up into my little car and away we went to Erie. Almost to the peninsula known as Presque Isle (the namesake of the marathon and upon which the marathon is run), my mom and I popped into McDonald’s since we had made such good time on our drive, her for a coffee; me to use a real bathroom. One the quirks of this particular McDonald’s and I swear to all things holy that I am not making this up is, across the street there is a cemetery and one of the headstones facing the McDonald’s has the surname “Hamburger”. You cannot make this stuff up!

Upon entering the Peninsula I expected a little traffic, as half of the road would be blocked for the marathon to begin but I did not expect the back-up we faced. It took us nearly 20 minutes to go 3 miles. When we parked, I realized it was already 6:50 and we were not near as close to the start as we had been the previous year. It appears those lots had already long since been filled. Given the massive line of cars behind us I figured we were safe and the race might start 15 minutes late or something so my mother and I began walking to the starting line. At 6:55 I told her I was going to jog on up ahead just to be safe.

As I rounded one corner, I almost got mowed down by a wheelchair racer and thought, “Man, he is warming up FAST!” Then in the distance I heard the middle strains of the Star-Spangled Banner. Uh-oh. He wasn’t warming up. He had started! I sprinted around another bend and saw hordes of people standing at the staring line hands on watches and looking tense. I made it around the timing mat with just about enough time to spare to catch my breath before the started the race. In that quick second I wads able to find my good friend and last year’s winner Mike Aldrink. This is not exceptionally hard as mike is 6’2’’ and was wearing the number “1” signifying his position last year. A quick hug and well wishes were exchanged which is all we had time for. Mike is trying to qualify for the Olympics and was using this race as a warm-up for Chicago one month from now.

A poke on my shoulder revealed another chap I had met at last year’s race, Nathan Echols. Nathan and I share another distinction as well. While I dropped out of the Old dominion 100 race in June to preserve my health and legs for an upcoming race (even more foreshadowing), when I did so I was in second place to a fellow named Keith Knipling. (Feel free to read my recap of that race HERE.) Unlike me, however, Nathan, who has run 3 100 milers this year (!), did not drop out and instead took second place behind Keith at the race the week before. Nathan said he was feeling quite spent and was going to try and leg this out (no slouch in the “shorter” distances Nathan took 5th last year in a 2:57).

In this quick bustle I did not get to meet up with my former boss, the Honorable John J. Trucilla. Racing the half, he expected to finish around the same time as I would for the first half of my full (his pace for the half being what I was hoping to do pace-wise for the full). However, I would see him not too long after the start and almost always had him in sight. (His 10k was a 41:26; mine was a 42:06. His finish of the half was 1:28:04 and I was there in the back at 1:29:01). But I could not catch him. Nor did I want to after too long.

So the race was under way. Quickly I was running side by side with another friend of mine Rich Lavene. Last year Rich ran his first Boston Qualifying time ever at the Erie Marathon and I am taking partial claim for it. You see, Rich was in front of me until mile 23 or so. Catching him and letting him know we were not going to make a 3:10 unless we turned it on, he held on tightly to my pace-setting and then left me in the dust from 26 on in. Rich is one of the rare people who actually have run their best time at Boston. We both wanted to go out at around a 2:57 or so. Rich was using his GPS on his arm to set his pace; I was using my inner metronome.

With that as an intro, let me get to the actual race, brought to you again, mile-by-mile.

Mile 1&2: 13:36
I missed hitting my watch on the very first mile marker; mostly because I was shocked it took us so long to get to it. Looking at my watch it said 6:55, which I knew was not right. I was not running that slow even though I was trying to be conservative. I picked it up on the second mile just to be sure and got an average of 6:48 for the first two. Not too shabby. During this first section I was joined by a runner who I often competed against in Erie when I ran - Kevin Slagle. I have mentioned Kevin previously and how we would trade victories against each other in random distances with no rhyme or reason as to why one would win and the other would not (he was my Pennsylvania version of Karsten Brown!) Kevin was hoping to qualify for Boston in his 2nd attempt having run a 3:22 (or so) in Columbus earlier. All around runners told him he needed to slow down a bit, as he was WAY ahead of that pace. I think after a bit he may have listened as he fell back and seemed to find his own groove.

Mile 3: 6:43
Leaving both Nathan and Kevin behind I caught up to Rich who had pulled away. I was surprised that it was taken as much effort to hit the pace I wanted to but chalked it all up to nerves.
You see, this marathon and this day hold special meaning to me. Four years ago in only my second marathon attempt, I dropped 43 minutes from my first marathon ever. However, I was not where I wanted to be with regards to time as I was hoping to qualify for Boston to honor my grandmother who passed away on the day of my very first marathon ever. Moreover, in a very emotional Erie Marathon last year I ran my first Boston Qualifying time of the year in front of all my relatives (who rarely get to see me run) and did so on Grandparents’ Day (I go into this in greater detail in See Dane Run. I was therefore hoping that the motional lift I would receive from both grandparents (my grandfather has since passed away as well) would be enough to battle the string of bad luck and bad health I have had in 2007.

Mile 4: 6:44
Here I let Rich pull away from me a bit. He seemed to be cruising along quite well and I wanted him to run his own race without thinking about pacing me.

Mile 5: 6:48
I felt my first twinge of slight uncomfortableness in my left leg during this mile. As I alluded to earlier, I sustained an injury in the Estes Park Marathon last year that I ran with Eric Semeret and exacerbated it in July at the Leadville Marathon. Both my adductor muscle and some other muscle I know only my physical therapist can name in my calf have bothered me since. For the most part they stay dormant and only ache but sometimes they flare up and make things not so comfy. I was hoping it would be the former.

Mile 6: 6:45
Another mile down and I am about on pace where I wanted to be. I see my mom for the first time, bright orange pants and all hiding like others behind a gigantic umbrella as the rain poured down. Did I forget to mention the rain? Well, it was both a blessing and a curse. Surprisingly warm for NW PA in September, especially with constant rain, we were running in low to mi 70-degree weather. The rain was keeping things cool but was also making conditions sloppy and raising the humidity some. I could not decide if I was happy or disgruntled that I was saturated through and through by the watery sky.

Mile 7: 6:49
Disgruntled. I have had enough.

Mile 8: 6:54
Yep, still not happy. I caught up to Rich and we ran together for a bit before I passed him going around a turn. Before doing so we passed one of the wheelchair racers. As Rich and I passed her (man I cannot imagine doing that. She constantly was cranking away on the wheels and then needing to grab her front wheel to wretch it back into place to keep her straight), I had a hunch: “Holly?” I said. He head popped up: “Hi Dane!” I have met Holly Koester at many races and a happier person you will never find. Even though she had never run a marathon until an accident in the army made her lose use of her legs she has since done (and I know I am going to get this wrong) over 80 some marathons. More inspiration in a tiny little package you will not find on this planet my dear readers.

We bid Holly adieu and passed on. I smiled for probably a good half-mile.

Mile 9: 6:41
Trying not to kick too early I saw Mark Courtney ahead. Mark, whose timing company not only was doing this race but had also done the Drake Well Marathon is all of 51 but can routinely churns out sub 3 marathons. Heck of a runner. I think I passed him solely on the adrenaline left over from seeing Holly!

Mile 10: 6:50
Somehow on a slower mile I passed Mark. I told him I was shooting for 2:57ish and he told me I had to run even splits to do so. I told him that was the plan. I also mentioned I hoped that I would not but I had a feeling I would see him again.

Mile 11: 6:47
Happy to get back down below 6:50 again but angry that my left leg’s pain had not gone away I was just doing my best to keep moving forward. I could see my Judge in front of me and I just wanted to keep him the same distance ahead.

Mile 12: 6:46
Another good mile as we turned onto the beach and headed for the half-marathon finish.

Mile 13: 6:49
A little slower than expected but nothing to worry about. I was beginning to revise my battle plan for the run with the growing leg pain but hadn’t quite yet thrown in the towel.

Mile 14: 7:01
After passing through the halfway point I heard a few people cheer my name. My Judge, having just finished his race let out a throaty “Go Dane!” My Aunt Monica took a quick picture of me (I am pretty sure I had the goofiest face in the world plastered on my grill) and away I went. I knew this first mile was a little long so I was not too worried about my time.

Mile 15: 6:55
Earlier in the race a local runner named Matt Roth had ran up behind Rich and I and asked if we were running for a sub-3. I told him that was the plan. He asked if he could pace off of us and we said sure thing. Odd that someone with such speed would need to pace off of others we asked him how many marathons he had run “This is my first” was his reply. Dang. I told him best of luck. Well, he passed me here. He must have been hanging right off of my shoulder and he looked strong. Good for him.

Mile 16: 7:01
Crap. I definitely did not want any more of these 7-minute miles. My leg was really starting to bother me and I figured if I could just run 6:59s the rest of the way I would set a Personal best, even if it was not the time I was hoping for.

Mile 17: 7:10
Double crap. The back up plan I had in mind was to realize that like those who were put forth before Caesar to remember “thou art mortal”. I was really feeling my adductor stiffen and with a full fall of races the last thing I needed to do was get injured. Let’s see what the next mile held for me. Sonia’s father Max, my old shop teacher, popped out from beneath a hooded jacket and gave me a big thumbs up. I smiled for the first time in miles and felt perhaps I still had this thing.

Mile 18: 7:01
Excellent! Positive thinking helps all the time! 

Mile 19: 7:26
No, not always. My Aunt was waiting for me in the 18th mile with a Propel. I love Propel. How I have not been able to get a sponsorship with this stuff yet is beyond me! Nevertheless, in spite of the rain (which had never stopped once mind you, waterlogging me to my bones) I was dying of thirst. It is the ultimate curse to be soaking wet and thirsty at the same time. I came to a stop just for a few seconds so I could down a big mouthful. I took a few more steps, downed another mouthful and took off again, dropping the bottle behind for my aunt.

Mile 20: 7:25
Even with the stop I had equaled the last mile’s time. But I knew my day was over. My leg was shot and my energy, as a result, was ebbing. It was time to mail it in

Mile 21: 7:47
As predicted, Mark Courtney passed me. I told him good luck as I once again stopped at the aid station to fill my belly and acquiesce to the fact that I was not going to be able to meet the goal that I had set to honor my grandparents. Then again, I figured Heaven probably has some really sunny golf course so they are probably beating the pants off of Bob Hope right now.

Mile 22: 7:43
That thought game me four more seconds of energy.

Mile 23: 7:38
Smiling still inside I knocked off 5 more.

Mile 24: 7:43
My Aunt game me my Propel one last time. I stopped to down the bottle and still didn’t have that bad of a mile.
Up ahead I saw Matt Roth. He was slowing for sure. He hit the ROTC aid station and walked. God bless the kid. It was his first marathon. But damn it if I was going to let him beat me.

Mile 25: 7:43
My mile time was equal to the previous one but no one else around me was running the same. I passed a few runners and kept Matt in my sights.

Mile 26: 7:19
Just then a rather fit fella sprinted past me like he had just started the race. Good for him! I passed Matt and told him to keep it up. He was going to crush a Boston Qualifying time!

Last .2: 1:30

Making sure no one else passed me (I had heard I was in the top 20 and wanted to keep it that way) I finished the marathon. Very disappointed to have not been able to fulfill my side of the bargain I was happy I had run wisely. Like the Old Dominion 100, I knew my decision would gnaw at me but was well aware it was the right one at the time.
Crossing the line in 3:05:41, I had run my 5th fastest marathon ever, placed 18th overall and won my age group. Ironically, Matt Roth had been in my age group. That little push at the end had snared me 1st.
In the pouring down rain Mike Aldrink had been unable to repeat as champion but had run an amazing 2:31:23 to finish 2nd overall, well ahead of anyone else. Proud to say I have shared a Korean hotel room with that sort of speed.
*Rich was able to pull through on a tough day by hitting a very respectable 3:16. Excellent work Rich!
*Matt Roth ran his first marathon in an extremely enviable 3:06:05. I hope he is very proud of his efforts.
* Eric Semeret had a very impressive 3:26:48 just weeks after a 100-mile race. Way to go Eric!
*Nathan and Kevin had both dropped out for reasons I am guessing were either weather-related or a combination of weather and tiring racing schedules.
*Mark held off my furious charge well and finished about a minute ahead of me in 3:04:20
All things said, it was a good day. I was surprised that so many people were having difficulty getting onto the peninsula and can only hope that did not affect anyone’s time. I have yet to race a Erie Marathon when the sun was shining but as most marathoners will tell you, that is a good thing. Although, to tell you the truth, I could have done without the constant showers. Besides toes that looked like prunes when I was finished, the extra water and chafing were not fan favorites.
I am pleased I ran wisely. If this was the last race of the season I could have pushed it harder. When I decided it was all over at mile 20 I lost well over 5 minutes off the pace I could have kept. But at what expense? With both a 65-mile relay in 2 weeks and two more marathons in the next six (followed by that 24 hour attempt) I sucked up the fact that my best efforts would not be my best choice on this particular day.
I guess running 70 marathons teaches you something after all, huh?
Full results can be found here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Track workout/ Recovery Drink

With my marathon rapidly approaching I was pleased to see that my club's suggested track workout last night was 6x600m with 200 rest. I figured this would be a nice way to stretch out the legs (which were a little achy in new places after the half-marathon; I think because of the newer shoes I just purchased) and see a few running friends I only get to see at the track.

My intention was to run them all on 2:00 (or :40 200 meter splits). My other runner friends (Dan, Naoko, Will, and Lance) thought they might start around there and get faster. I steadfastly held to my desire not to push them too hard.

The first was 1:56. I and Naoko led this one. Naoko is a very fast and very slight little runner who can totally motor. We both realized we went out too fast on this one. Having never run a 600m before I blamed her. :)

The next three were 1:59, then 2:01, then 1:59 again. I kept waiting for my friends to stat running faster but they stayed right with me except for one where Naoko and Dan finished a few seconds ahead.

Then Dan, on the 5th one started to pull away. Dan is an excellent runner who is shooting for his first sub-3 at Chicago this year. recently turned 40 but looking about 29 he is quite fit and more importantly is just a really nice guy. That said, we have a little friendly rivalry going on. You see, Dan and I have only run one marathon together: Boston in 2005 where we both ran times we were not happy with (3:24:56 for me and a 3:22:30 for him). However, I had a 3:07 marathon PR which trumped his. so playful teasing went back and forth. then he ran a 3:06 at Chicago later that year and now had beaten me head-to-head and also had a better PR. double win for Dan.

When, during Fiddy2, I set a new PR of 3:05:10 at the Johnstown Marathon on the first week of October, I took over the better PR from him. Not to be outdone, Dan ran a 3:01:33 at Chicago. unfortunately for him, on the same day and an hour beforehand, I finished the Niagara Falls Marathon in 2:59:48. (Of course, age grading gives him the edge because he is very very very old. Looks grading gives me the edge because I am very handsome).

So on the fifth 600, when Dan edged past me after the first 200 meters I wasn't about to let him beat me. Not that we were racing. :) So Dan and I ran the 5th in 1:55 and the 6th in 1:56, pretty much neck and neck at the finish. Doesn't matter who beat the other one. ;)

But good job to Will and Lance too. Will just PRd this weekend in a 5k by close to 20 seconds (maybe more).

Afterward I was really dying of thirst and took in some Accelerade. I had been given some of this product last year in the powder form and had not particularly cared for the taste. Perhaps it was my mixing ability. So when Accelerade came out with a new premixed bottled drink I thought I would give it another try. Pretty darn good stuff I must say. Whatever change they made definitely was for the better.

Fully refueled and rehydrated I went home and calculated my marathon pace on a McMillan calculator given my 600 meter pace (I had to use the 500 meter setting). Uh-oh. Looks like I am running a 3:30 on Sunday.

Monday, September 3, 2007

International Peace Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 2; 25th Edition
400.53 miles raced in 2007
Race: International Peace Half Marathon
Place: Alexandria, VA
Miles from home: 8
Course Difficulty: 4.5
Course Enjoyability: 5.5 out of 10
Weather: 80 degrees; humid

On Sunday, the day before this race, I ran a sluggish 10 miles with my running club. Surprised anyone was even here with the Virginia Beach Half marathon going on down south and it being Labor Day and all, I still kept myself to 10 miles. I knew I would be cycling 16 miles later on in the afternoon as I am trying to make use of the bike I got on my birthday back in May. It is ironic to me that I am a little wary of riding it, only because I am trying to protect myself from getting injured by riding it, to protect the "investment" I have made in becoming a runner in the past year or so.

Nevertheless, I have well-documented how my races have, for the most part this year, left me a little flat. Too high expectations or bad luck or bad weather, the reasons do not matter. Only the results. So my goal for the Erie Marathon this upcoming Sunday was to run a 2:54 which would be a 5 minute PR at the distance. As many runners can attest about a certain time, I feel a 2:54 is what I should HAVE right now, not a time I am shooting for. But I feel I have not tested myself lately using a longer speed workout. Therefore, in the middle of my ride, which coincidentally was on the exact course of the International Peace Half Marathon, I decided I would use the half-marathon the next day as a training run. I would go out at projected marathon pace and see if I could hold it.

Getting a decent night’s sleep I awoke at 7 AM glad it was a later start so I could sleep in but wary of what the temperature might be. When I walked outside at 8 AM to 71 degrees and a slight breeze I was very pleasantly surprised. But remembering how that is still not a “good” temperature for me I kept my smile in check.

I drove down to Alexandria on the George Washington Parkway and took in the morning. This was made easier by the fact that all the traffic lights in Old Town were still seemingly on rush hour timing so I sat needlessly at about 4 lights waiting for them to change. I quickly paid my fee and strapped on my number. A quick jog to the bathroom and it was soon time to start the race.

Beginning in the Belle Vernon area south of Alexandria, the course is shady and paved as it winds its way through forest alongside Potomac River and George Washington Memorial Parkway. The course lends itself to being crowded because it is not closed to the normal runners and cyclists who use the path for exercise but for the most part this is not a problem. There are however a few hills to contend with and being that is it a straight out-and-back course, you find on your way home that hills you were not even aware you were running down, poke their evil little heads out on the return trip.

I started the race off by pushing past a few people in the first hundred meters who were very fit but were obviously not going to do well on this race. I knew it was going to be tough to keep myself in check, but my goal was to see where I was fitness wise in order to ascertain my shots at a 2:54 in Erie. In order to do so, I wanted to keep myself at a pace of 6:40 per mile. Give or take. If I saw I was going to be in the top 5 (which afforded generous prize money for a race of this not so abundant size) I told myself I would allow my legs to kick in at the end.

Mile 1: 6:34

Immediately I could see that two African runners were going to take one and two. Local runner Mike Wardian (3rd place)was right behind them and also another speedy Washington guy, Max Lockwood (4th place; although only out for training run) made me know I was finishing in 5th place at the bare minimum. I quickly realized that with a few others between them and me, I was not in ANY money today.

Mile 2: 6:26

While the first mile felt pressing a little bit and made me wonder if I could even do just 6:40s today, the second mile felt much better. A few other runners passed me and left me in the 10-15th place range

Mile 3: 6:32

Now I am nearly 30 seconds under my goal pace, in no way feel like I am pushing too hard and feeling good. I am running almost step for step with two other runners and we are feeding off of each other.

Mile 4: 6:27

Another 13 seconds below my pace tells me I need to slow a bit. This is made easier by laughter as one trying-to-be-helpful spectator tells us we are only 3 plus minutes behind the leaders. At 4 miles! My two running companions share in my laughter and we trade names. Greg Ashe (10th place) is trying to go sub-3 for the first time at an upcoming marathon and John Hannan is putting in some road miles in preparation for an Ironman in Florida. Greg had heard of what I had done last year and mentioned how fun the Drake Well Marathon sounded and how all the participants had written such wonderful things on marathonguide.com I beamed a little bit but had to tell Greg I was not running it again this year.

Mile 5 and Mile 6: 13:09 (6:35 avg)

Greg wanted to run 6:30s so I told him to go ahead. I must have missed the 5th mile marker so I clicked my watch at 6 miles and see I am 55 seconds ahead of pace. Still feeling good. A young female runner passes me and does so with ease. I can tell I will not see much of her the rest of the race. As I turned around to run home I saw my friendly rival Karsten Brown (15th place)


Mile 7: 8:03

I could tell by the placement of this marker that it was off before I even got to it. Heading out I would see a mile marker and then 30 seconds later I would see a marker for another mile going home on the other side of the path. Mile 7 was located almost directly across from mile 6. Nothing too bothersome but enough to throw me off just a bit.

Mile 8: 6:43

That’s better. I knew I might go over my goal pace but I had plenty of seconds to give thanks to running well in the first half.

Mile 9: 6:33

With a nice big downhill I passed John and felt good about my chances of possibly running a low 1:26.

Mile 10: 6:51

Giving back 11 seconds made me realize that I would be in the 1:26s but it might be closer to 1:27. No problem. A 6:40 pace leaves me with a 1:27:30 so I would be pleased to be in the 1:26s.

Mile 11: 6:46

Still not where I wanted to be but again I only lost 6 second out of my bank. Is that John coming up behind me? I hear slapping of feet I think.

Mile 12: 6:47

Still can’t tell if it is John per se but I know that I am listening to the sound of my shirt slap on my back. The weather has quickly gotten much warm and much more humid. I had been feeling it get this way for about 3 miles. Only one mile to go.

Mile 13: 6:35

Well, I am happy with that mail but where is the finish line? Kicking it in well would only take me 36 seconds but I cannot see where I will end.

Last .1: 0:54

Certified or not, and I have no reason to believe it isn’t, this marking was not properly placed. There is no way it took me nearly a minute to run the last .1 of a mile. Oh well.

Harder than I was hoping it would be I finished in 1:28:26 which was good enough for first place in my age group and 11th overall. A few seconds behind me John came in. He may not have been the feet I hard behind me but he was close enough to make it interesting.

Moreover, I realized I may just have to restructure my goals for the Erie Marathon next weekend. Instead of shooting for a 2:54, I am instead going for a 2:57 or so. I will give everything I have to set a personal best and if it feels good in the second half will go for a 2:54 but it appears with how I feel, I may need those extra few minutes.

Some will undoubtedly think that my decision to moderately race a half just 6 days before a full was foolish but I honestly believe it was a very wise decision. This race afforded me the opportunity to reassess my goals so I do not crash hard in Erie. While they are not adequately spaced apart and I have other races in between, I do have 2 other marathons planned for this fall. Both afford me a cushion to set new and better PRs if I do not do so in Erie. Ergo, I am pleased I ran today.

Full results, when posted, can be found here.

Video of my finish can be found HERE