Thursday, October 30, 2008

A run in LA

Lately, my runs have been either races where I talk about the courses, or a quick run in the friendly confines of my home in Salt Lake City which I have already described in great detail. It has been a while since I have been on a nice new training run.

However, this morning I got to get up at the crack of dawn and tackle a nice little 3.6 mile climb in the Santa Monica Mountains. If you know anything about my running, you may be aware I am NOT a morning runner. So when my hosts Jimmy and Kate asked me if I wanted to go on a trail run with a group of runners I was more than ready to go. Then they told me we were meeting at 6:15 AM. Ugh. But I am a trooper and can't miss an opportunity to meet new runners so I of course agreed.

So, LONG before the sun came over the mountains and showed the smog settling in the greater Los Angeles area, Jimmy, Kate and I were in the car driving up Sunset Blvd to our destination - Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park.

Meeting about 5 or so other people, some with headlights on to pierce the pitch blackness, we exchanged a few pleasantries and soon were underway. I knew the run was more or less 3.5 miles up hill and then turning around and heading back down the hill. Doing my best to not wake up until we got to the turn-around I silently fell in behind Jimmy and some of his friends. Poor Kate hit a little ditch in the darkness and lost her footing. But in spite of an ouchie on her hand, bounced back up and hit the trail.

Jon, owner of his own successful apparel company, is training for his first 50 miler. Lukas, a chap I met in June who himself is a Kona Ironman finisher, was running with him. When Jimmy and and another runner named Chad his some hillier sections, I said no thanks and stayed on the fireroad. No sense killing myself with a marathon in 72 hours!

We hit the top of the trail as the sun was fully cutting through the sky, illuminating the Nike Missile Tower in front of us (nope, not that Nike).

After a little pause to catch our breath and just enjoy the morning, we hiked up our shorts and headed back down. Normally one who loves to crush downhills, I kept the race this weekend in mind and just cruised on down. About an hour after we started, 7.3 miles later and a nice solid 1,000 plus feet of up and then back down, we were back where we started.

A few high fives on a job well done and away we went to start our days. Not a bad start to the morning.

I still like to run in the evenings.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Following Chad Ocho Cinco's lead...

...I might change my name to "the next non-Sanchez male finisher".

You see, I received the recap from the 12 Hour Race today and it was pleasant to be the only top 3 male or female finisher not to be listed by name.

The 12 hour was dominated by the Sanchez brothers – Juan, Federico, and David – on the men’s side. We’d already seen Juan several times this summer, most recently when he ran to a second place finish at the Headlands Hundred 50-miler in August, and we figured that his brothers were probably fast and tough, too, when we saw them all at check-in. Although this terrain was quite different, Juan excelled once again, leading for much of the day and staying in front to win, besting his brother, Federico, by 2 loops and finishing over 11 miles ahead of the next non-Sanchez male finisher.

For the women, Juli Aistars showed that recently moving into the 50s age group hasn’t slowed her down one bit, as she stayed focused all day and stuck with her predetermined run/walk strategy to take over and hold onto the top of the leader borad (sic). When 9:00 p.m. rolled around, Juli led Diana Rush and Heather VanNes to set a new course record 67.2 miles in the women’s 12 hour event.

I guess Rauschenberg is too hard to type.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

San Francisco One Day 12 Hour Race

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 19th Edition
437.5 miles raced in 2008
Race: San Francisco One Day 12 Hour Race
Place: San Francisco, CA
Miles from home: 738 miles
Weather: high 70s- low 80s; sunny

Going into this race I had mentioned I would be happy with 70 miles. However, my own personal goal was to shoot for 75 miles. I figured even with my racing in the past few months and a marathon the week after, I could eek out an easy 75. And then I saw the race day temperature forecast. Well, crap.

As it turned out, San Francisco has a near record-high temp of 82 degrees on the day of the 12-Hour race. I immediately revised my plans but still hoped that that mysterious and unpredictable San Francisco fog might roll in.

Setting up shop about 75 yards from the timing mat, I laid out a tarp on the grass, positioned a few bottles of Gatorade within easy reach and waited around for about 45 minutes after picking up my packet for the day. I had the pleasure of spending some time before the race with my friend Nattu who I have not seen since the last time I was doing a timed event, the Ultracentric 24-Hour event in Grapevine, TX. We joked that it looked like we were going to get more of the same warm temps that had hindered us (well me; Nattu thrives in hot weather running) in that race.
I also had the pleasure of meeting a fellow runner who I had conversed with previously on numerous occasions, Kent Roberts. With his own setup right across the path from mine, he generously offered any of his supplies to me to use during the race. He also offered his moral and vocal support even while racking up an extremely impressive 50.2 miles himself (nearly one per year of his life. Way to go Kent!)

As they made the countdown for the start of the race at 9 AM (I would definitely have started this race at 7 AM; or conversely, started the 12 Hour runners at 9 PM) I made one last pit stop. I ran into another runner with whom I had spent plenty of time speaking with previously, Catra Corbett. Easily recognizable by not only her tattoos and fun clothing but also her ability to kick butt in long distance-races, Catra was a really nice person to converse with. (She would go on to amass 100.3 miles in the 24 Hour run!)

First 3 Hours:

At the very beginning I saw the winner of last year's 24 Hour Race, Kermit Cuff who ran an impressive 125 miles. I knew he was running the 12 Hour version and would definitely be serious competition today. As such, I decided to both keep him in sight but also not try and race him. Today was all about running, not racing. However, in front of him were to other gentlemen who were cruising along as well. I hoped they were going out far faster than what they were going to finish in but kept them in sight as well.

After one hour, the race organizers began putting up the leaders' mileage. I was not in the top 4 when they listed them for the first time but was far from worried. I knew I had finished one lap right after an hour and therefore that lap had not yet counted. You see, this race is run such that only full laps count and if someone were to beat another runner to the timing mat, they will technically be "ahead" at that point regardless of what happens in the next uncompleted lap.

When my hostess for the weekend, Jenni, came down around 90 minutes into the race, and asked if I needed anything I was already a little perturbed that I had gone through an entire 32 oz of Gatorade. I asked her to bring me a few more if she could and in the meantime I would rely on the race's provisions. I was determined not to bonk in the sun.

By 3 Hours, I had somehow not only snuck into the top three but was leading with a total of 20.9 miles. I saw Kermit walking in a shirt that he had not been wearing when the race started and as he had completely dropped out of the top four, I assumed that maybe his day was done far earlier than he had hoped for. (This was confirmed later when he was declared to be injured at the awards ceremony after the race. I hope it was not serious.)

Any lingering cold in the air from the morning (of which there was precious little to begin with) was now gone. The day was underway. I had already traversed the perimeter of Crissy Field just south of the Golden Gate Bridge nearly 20 times.

Hours 3-6:The first time I really began to notice the time was in the 4th hour. Perhaps because I knew once I hit four hours I would be 1/ 3 of the way done with my running or because from noon to 1 pm, the sun was directly overhead and what very little shade had been provided by the hills or buildings in the distance had all but disappeared I was definitely clock watching.

During this stretch was the first time I took the time to read a few of the emails sent by so many of my friends (and many of them on several occasions!) the volunteers for the race kept everyone's "email" in a folder and when you finished a lap would say "Dane, you've Got mail!" As I stopped at the aid station for more than just 3 seconds to throw liquid down my throat, I told them I would look them over. "Good," they said. "The folder is getting full!" A few jokes, many kind words, and a notice that the webcast was not working at all (total bummer on that one) awaited me.

As the sun cruelly beat down from above, we had one wonderful saving grace: the northerly wind blowing in our faces as we finished the backside of every lap. Coming down the slightest bit of downhill, runners made an ankle-breaking 45 degree angle turn but got to at least enjoy the breeze.

With the race course completely open to the public, and the day being absolutely wonderful for everything else on the planet but what 125 of us were doing, we had company. Dogs, cyclists, other recreational runners, sight-seers, walkers, people carrying their kayaks and sculls, tourists on gigantic-seated bikes and just about everyone else you can imagine clogged a fair amount of the rather narrow path. Enjoying the day, blissfully ignorant to the people swearing at them under their breath as they had to swerve in and out of revelers walking 4 abreast (and on the surprising occasion, 3 or so racers doing the same thing!) this myriad of humanity at least gave us something to look at during our pain. The Golden Gate Bridge is lovely and Alcatraz ominously staring down at us definitely inspired us to walk a straight line (no jail time for me please!), but after 35 miles, even these beauties get old.

Hours 6-10:

At the halfway point, I had definitely slowed. However, if nothing else I was very pleased with how I was handling the heat and sun. Easing off when I could tell I was beginning to overheat, hydrating properly and taking the correct amount of supplements undoubtedly kept me from a huge crash and burn. I have been using an Electrolyte supplement for quite some time now called Prolytes. However, I had previously only used the supplement after a workout. Here I decided to try it during the race. A potentially risky move, given I was violating the rule of trying nothing new on race day, it worked perfectly. As warm and bright as it was, I continued to sweat. While the white lines of salt caked my Road ID jersey in such intricate patterns that they looked like part of the design, I never fully felt exhausted.

While crossing the timing mat one time, I did not hear the telltale chirp of my ankle bracelet signifying the end of a mile. I brought this to the attention of one of the race directors, Sarah. She assured me they would look into it and if there was a discrepancy in lap times, it would be remedied. I felt reassured.

As the leader pulled steadily away, I was still somewhat close to second place and seemingly far ahead of the 1st female and the 4th male. However, at the next update, I thought for sure I was further along than reported. No worries, I thought. I must have just missed making a mile before the hourly update.

However, over the next hour or so, my chip only notified my presence on about every other lap. After the third such instance, I leaned over to tell the gentlemen at the timing tent. Another runner was asking him where to get soup (a curious place to make a request to be sure as the food table was just about 20 feet away but hey, I have been FAR more delirious than that!) so I patiently waited. When the gentlemen looked at me, I made eye contact with him and said, "I am not sure my chip is recording every lap." To my utter surprise he said absolutely nothing and walked away with the runner to help him find soup (or something).

With no other choice but to continue and realize that my lap times would show the obvious difference, I went right back into my groove. At this point I had slowed my pace down to about 11-12 minutes per lap (which was roughly one mile). I would jog when I could, walk when I had to and then pick up a nice brisk pace to pass all those who had done so to me when I walked. I tried different patterns of jogging and running and all seem to produce the same time result. I was pleased with what was happening and in spite of a little bout of stomach uneasiness, thought I might still be able to catch 2nd place.

At the next update, something was clearly wrong. While I figured I may have mistakenly not hit my watch on a lap (or possibly two), the leader board showed me 4 miles behind where I thought I was. At one point Nattu and I were running together and he asked me what lap I was on. I told him what the leader board said and he replied, in a completely matter-of-fact way that is 100% Nattu (and actually made me laugh in my head): "That is not correct." I shrugged my shoulders and soldiered on.

Hours 10-12:

Around 6:30 PM, or with just 2:30 left in the race, the sun sunk behind the hills of the Presidio in the distance. The wind had completely changed directions and was cooling us on the front side of the loop rather than the back half. I contemplated donning long sleeves in the cool air but when the back half revealed itself to be completely without a cooling wind (it was currently at our backs, which, while appreciated, provided very little cooling effect) and I realized I would be sweating profusely half of each lap, I decided against it.

Almost immediately, I felt like a new man. After nearly 3 hours of 11-, 12-, and 13- minute laps, I took off like a shot. In the penultimate hour, I suddenly sped up and ran a 9:45.0, 9:29.5, 10:43.3 and 10:09.3 in four laps. As many others seemed to be showing the strain of the day I sped through the aid station grabbing only a glass of Coke and a few Pringles before taking off again.

Jenni appeared on my last lap before the final hour in shorts and running shoes. After already putting in 13 plus miles earlier in the day with her running group she was here to do a few laps with me. I told her to wait one last lap as I wanted to do it solo. She immediately understood and patiently waited for me to finish the lap.

With one hour left, I appeared to have a one mile lead over the next guy behind me, at least according to the leader board. I knew it wasn't correct but had neither the energy nor the desire to dispute it. I told Jenni I was more or less going to walk the last hour and enjoy the beautiful night we had before us. Jogging the shorter portions of the loop and walking the longer portions I was doing a strategy completely different than most.

With each lap I was that much closer to being done with the day. Feeling rather refreshed, I was still quite pleased to be done. The day had been a long one indeed. I was excited to get texts messages about Penn State winning in Ohio State for the first time ever as a member of the Big Ten and began to cheer on every person I passed or those who passed me. In our semi-delirious states, in now mostly pitch-blackness, everyone said thank you or waved their hand without once looking to see if they actually knew the person cheering for them!

I planned the last 4 loops perfectly, expecting to finish RIGHT at 11:59:59 of running. However, about 50 yards from the finish, I glanced over my shoulder and hard-charging out of the darkness was the guy who had been one mile behind me just an hour ago. He seemed to experience the same rejuvenation from the sun's setting and was about to crash my little party. So I took off in a cloud of dust and made my final right-hand turn before crossing the finish line with 11 seconds to spare at 65.1 miles. George, the guy behind me, finished just 4 seconds back. What an awesome finishing kick for George!

Awards Ceremony:

After throwing on a fleece to protect myself from the almost inevitable teeth-chattering coolness which would set in, I tried to find George to congratulate him. However, my movement was limited and I assumed his was as well. So I just decided to wait until the awards. I could not remember how the awards were going to be given but I fully intended to ask if there was a possibility that George and I could share the 3rd place award. Well, it didn't matter.

As it ends up there were only overall award winners and age group award winners. George ending up winning his age group, and with the 2nd male overall being in my age group I ended up empty-handed. Jenni and I laughed out loud at, not only at the crazy nature of racing and how you can be third male and 2nd in your age group quite easily and not get an award, but also the way in which the Race Director (the one who ignored me at the timing table) seemed to almost contemptuously spit out my name in such a way that not a single person knew what to do. Jenni said "We cheered for every single person but you!" The woman next to me, Diana Rush (a 48 year old who ran an astounding 63 miles) said, "Aren't you the third male?" I nodded my head and said, "I think so."

When I looked over some of the results the next day with split times included (which I had to search over hill and dale to find) I was quite happy to see I had not gone crazy. Right before my chip did not beep, I had run laps of 11:33.8, 14:21.2, and 10:43.5. Then on three straight trips, the chip clocked me at 27:54.5, 25:18.6 and 25:01.6. Right after that I had another stretch of 11:51.3, 12:41.4 and 12:51.5. It had indeed missed three of my miles at least. While it made very little difference overall, I was happy to know I had not imagined the discrepancy.

All told two gentlemen with the surname of Sanchez (but I think who were unrelated) dueled it out for 76.8 and 74.7 miles. The first overall woman, one Juli Aistars had one helluva day in legging 67.2 miles!
I just wanted to take a second to thank all my friends (and a few people I haven't heard from in ages!) for taking the time to drop me an email. Without a doubt your kind words were not unappreciated. It is the little things that make life great and it is amazing how often those "little things" end up being huge. Thanks!

Addendum: When irked, I call a spade a spade. I also dole out compliments and praise when necessary.

As such, I would like to point out that I recently received information for the San Francisco 12 Hour Race that they corrected my mileage and (more or less) apologized for the error on race day, saying that anxiety of not knowing whether laps counted must have been high.

So, for those who read my report where I talked about this lack of course management, I wanted to point out that a correction was made.

That said, and I make this edit many years later, it came to my attention that said race director, Sara Spelt, spent no time trying to disparage my name in her running circles for - actually I am not sure.  I guess for trying to make sure they ran their race correctly and I got credit for what I did. *shoulder shrug*

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

San Francisco One Day

Back in 2003 I did my first and only 12 Hour Run at the Presque Isle Endurance Classic. Running 84 miles in 12 hours, I could not have possibly fathomed where I would be in running today. At the time, I wasn't even particularly impressed with the distance I ran. I knew I broke the course record but figured it was something that was easily broken. Heck, it was only in Erie, PA.

Since then I have learned that I must have had what runners call a "perfect day". I remember while running the race how easily everything felt. At the time I had a personal best in the marathon of 3:29 minutes, set barely a month before at the Erie Marathon at Presque Isle. While that day had been a 43 minute improvement over my first marathon in Harrisburg, I was far from pleased. (Probably because of my ridiculous running attire.)

So when I went through the first 26 miles of the 12 hour race in about 3:33 I naively thought that that was good pace. I was 4 minutes lower than my marathon so that was good, right? I can only shake my head and laugh thinking about how wrong that was. Yet, the day progressed and I kept running loops. Over and over again. 84 of those loops later and I finally stopped. with some 13 minutes to spare. Below is a map with Erie in the center. the circle shows how far 84 miles is in every direction. In theory, running a straight line, I could have made it to Cleveland, Buffalo, or good old Butler, PA.

As the years passed, I said I would never run a 12 Hour race again. Or at least until someone broke my 84 mile record at Erie. Fortunately for me, the following shows the winner each of the past 5 years:

2004: Sue Albert - 70 miles

2005: Gary Rarer - 72 miles

2006: Llyod Thomas - 76 miles

2007: Kurt Osadchuk - 57 miles

2008: Bob Pokorny - 75 miles

So I did not have to do it again. But then fate intervened. When my entry form for the San Francisco One Day Race did not, for whatever reason, make it to the Race Director in time for the cutoff, I was left in a bind. With accommodations already worked out, a plane ticket already purchased, and a weekend already planned, I only have one viable option: Run the 12 Hour race instead.

And there you have it! Completely out of the blue, I find myself doing a race I thought I might never do it again. And while I am a far better runner now than I was in 2003, unlike then, I did not have a marathon a week later to run. So I have more modest goals in mind for this race.

If I can get 70 miles, I will be a happy camper. If I do more than that, or am in competition for the win, then that is just gravy on the potatoes. (There will be some stiff competition at this race so we will just have to see what the day has in store).

A few nice features about this race I would like to mention:

*a live Webcast, which can be found HERE. Bear in mind the race starts at 9 AM PACIFIC time on Saturday morning, so all my wonderful friends on the East Coast will have to wait until lunch time to take a peak.

* in addition, emails can be sent via this form HERE. The Race Directors will print them out and hand them to the runners for inspiration during the day. I'd be lying if I said I would mind having a few coming to me throughout the day!

It will be pretty easy to spot me during the run. Besides looking like the guy at the top of this blog, I will be sporting my ROAD ID jersey. You have all heard me speak about how imperative it is to safely run with identification, so it is with great pleasure that I will wear the ROAD ID jersey on race day.

On top of all of that, I will be handing out free ROAD ID gift certificates to runners of the races, courtesy of ROAD ID itself. Without a doubt, most ultra runners stray off the beaten path more often than casual runners so they are extremely susceptible to the uncertainty of trail running and other unforeseen events which befall runners. That is why I am helping give these ROAD ID certificates to the runners in this race, in hopes that they will make sure they are all safely protected. If not for themselves, they should think about their loved ones back at home who are always happy to see them return.

Having said all of that, if you are in the area of Crissy Field on Saturday in San Francisco, come say hi. I will be running loops around a 1.067 mile track and would love to see you out there! Good luck to all the runners and to all my friends at various marathons this weekend!

Charity Chaser commercial in Baltimore

For those who have asked me if the Charity Chaser commercial from the Baltimore Marathon was on youtube, I can finally say yes! Also, feel free to soak it in below!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Des Moines Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 18th Edition
369.2 miles raced in 2008
Race: Des Moines Half Marathon
Place: Des Moines, IA
Miles from home: 1063 miles
Weather: 40s-50s; sunny

I have very fond memories of the Des Moines Marathon. First and foremost, performance-wise, the Des Moines Marathon was a catalyst during my 52 marathons in 2006 which spurred me on to completely unforeseen results.

To set the stage, during Fiddy2, after nearly 4 months of having the same best time of the year, I was able to finally better the time by a few seconds in Albuquerque in early September. I then shocked myself by besting that time by three minutes and running a 3:10 at Erie for my first Boston qualifier of the year. Three marathons after that I not only ran my fastest time of the year but my fastest time ever to that point in Johnstown in 3:05. The next weekend had me running what I knew was going to be a difficult marathon in South Dakota where I placed third. After that, came Des Moines.

Walking around the expo the day before the race I noticed that there was a pace group booth. Speaking with Tara Thomas, the pace group organizer, I noticed that there was no 3:10 pacer listed. Upon finding out that the 3:10 guy had pulled up with an injury prior to the race, I pondered whether I should dare try and be a pacer for this time. Des Moines would be my 41st marathon of the year. I had only run 3:10 or better 7 times in my entire life. Most importantly, people really rely on pacers. I did not want to let these people down. But I weighed my options and knowing I had it in me, chose to be their pacer.

Well, fortune shined on me as I ran a 3:10:12 and was able to usher one young runner, Seth Thorson, to a Boston Qualifying time. Slowing down in the final yards, I let Seth pull ahead to enjoy the moment all by himself and I ran across the finish line solo (and with apparently a really ugly face).

I felt good about my effort. So good in fact that I changed my goal for the next week in Niagara Falls. Originally intending to just run a new PR, I decided to see what the day had in store for me and try to set a previously unthinkable goal of running my first sub-3 marathon ever. Well, everything worked out wonderfully that next weekend and a 2:59:48 was the end result.

Without a doubt, my effort in Des Moines was what gave me the confidence to do that.

Obviously when you do well at a race in terms of time performance, you tend to remember the race fondly. However, Des Moines could have been easily overshadowed by Niagara Falls because of such a personal landmark moment being established there. But that is assuredly not the case and I'd like to sing the praises of this race in two other ways: its course and its people.

First, the course is a very forgiving one that you can read all about in various other places in greater detail. It is far from "easy" but no one can really call it a difficult race whatsoever. Moreover, amongst a plethora of nice touches, this race includes running a lap along the famous Drake University track, home of the scintillating Drake Relays. Runners are treated to their smiling faces on the big screen of the stadium from a camera set at the entrance of the stadium Later a loop around both the WaterWorks Park and Gray's Lake areas add to the scenic beauty of the course. Grays Lake alone has this gorgeous boardwalk bridge that is lit in many different fashions at varying points of the year.

As for the people, well, to put it this way, if I have my druthers, I will be coming back to Des Moines every year that I am still running races. With friendly fans, a race staff that really wants nothing but each runner to have a fantastic time and a dedicated sponsor, it is hard to ask for more.

So when I was asked to run the 1:30 pace group for the Half Marathon I was more than happy to do so. Moreover, this presented me with a great opportunity to speak at the pasta dinner to tell others why I so very much love this town and its race. When the CEO of IMT, the title sponsor of this race, asked a trivia question and presented a $50 bill out of his own wallet to the person who correctly identified what "IMT" stood for, I realized I had very little convincing to do. Moreover, the CEO himself was running the 5k himself. Got to love that!

If you need any further proof, remember the chap I helped qualify for Boston two years ago? Well, his mother heard I was coming back to Des Moines and took the time to pen me the sweetest email. For her to see I was coming to town and go out of her way to be so kind in stating how she hoped our paths would cross really touched me.

I also had the pleasure of meeting a young gentleman after my speech who really touched me. After speaking with a few people who wanted to simply pass along words of congratulations or ask a brief question I noticed one young slight man, standing patiently by. He too passed along very complimentary words but also had a story to tell me. I wanted to take the time to share it with you. If you read nothing else in this recap, please read this.

Randy Sturm is his name and he had been afflicted with epileptic seizures since birth. Unfortunately, as his seizures could not be effectively controlled by medication, he was unable to do many things most of us take for granted. Sports were completely out of the question. So, as a twelve year old he opted to have brain surgery to put an end to the seizures. He knew that the surgery would effect his learning and speaking abilities but opted to do it nonetheless.

Well, the surgery was successful and now for nearly 20 years he has been both seizure-free. More importantly he has not only been able to be completely taken off of medication but he has also been able to participate in sports. While he openly admitted his speech pattern is a little slower than he would like and sometimes it takes a few seconds to formulate an idea, he could not be more happy with the result. His goal for the race? Well, his PR at the time is a 3:20 (which in and of itself is just amazing). He was using Des Moines as a springboard to a fall marathon next year which would be the 20th anniversary of his surgery. He was hoping to get his time down below 3:20 here in Des Moines to make a run at a Boston Qualifying time next year.

I will not keep you in suspense. Randy found me after the marathon and let me know he is on his way. Dropping nearly four minutes from his personal best, he ran a 3:16! I know whose progress I will be following for the years to come!

So, as you can see, it was a wonderful weekend even before the race started. Now all I had to do was settle down and go to bed.

Race Day:

After just making the pace team photo (and I mean "just") I got ready to take on the pacing duties. While a 1:30 half marathon is relatively easy for me, every pacing effort carries with it a great responsibility. Even more than that is the personal satisfaction you receive in helping people achieve goals. I knew that those shooting for 1:30 were obviously talented runners who would not need much encouragement. However, there always is a good story (if not more than one) waiting to erupt. Right before the start, the gentleman who picked me up at the airport tow years prior came up to say hello. John Urban was his name and he introduced me to a co-worker of his, Jenny, who would be shadowing me on race day. With a half PR was a 1:30:30 or so, she said she wanted very much to go under 1:30. I told her if she stuck with me we would make it happen together.

First 3 miles:

We knew that the first 3 miles were run along the same course of the Marathon before we split from those doing the full 26.2. A gorgeous backdrop awaited runners for the first half mile as we ran directly towards the Capitol Building.

We followed right behind the large pack hoping to run a 3:00 marathon in order to not get swept up in the excitement. A 6:39, 6:57, and 6:51 miles put those of running the half almost exactly on pace (a 1:30 half marathon equates to a 6:52 minute mile). Crowds lined the streets and cheered loudly not only for the 3:00 pace group (which included some great people who I had met the day prior) but our motley crew of 1:30 hopefuls as well. We soon bid the marathoner farewell as they started up a small hill and turned south towards Water Works Park.

Water Works Park:

This section of the course is not only extremely pretty but one of the most populated spectator portions of the course. With every cheer from the crowd I could feel my runners surge. I did my best to hold them back (and myself as well!) as we tried to hold on to the energy in our legs for the end. Along a roughly 5 mile loop, this is where a bulk of those of us in the front of the pack get to see the middle and back of the packers entering when we are exiting. I spent more energy than needed here cheering on all those coming at us but it was energy well-spent. I had it to spare and it was only fair as they were madly cheering for my group as well. Even with this cheering (or perhaps because of it - I feed off of crowds) we ran a 6:42, 6:45, 6:51, 6:47, 6:55, and 6:41 for the 5 miles in the park.

Gray's Lake:

This is the section where I picked up Seth two years ago and was hoping very much to bring everyone with me to the finish. I had a pack that had included around 9 or ten runners all day, even though who was in that pack changed often. Jenny was running great and I was excited. As mile 10 was run in a 6:45 and mile 11 in 6:55, all of a sudden the pack was down to 5. No! I thought I looked behind me and almost immediately Jenny had dropped about 10 yards back.

The Final Push:

I knew as much as I wanted Jenny to finish under 1:30 I had to keep my pace. In a little section that included a half block out-and-back right before the last mile, I could see that Jenny had not fallen that far back at all. With the mile 12 marker just ahead, I shouted out to her to keep it up! I was now down to just two runners who were beginning to pull me ahead a little faster than I wanted to. However, my desire to finish with runners around me did not override my duties as a pacer. With a little over 1.5 miles left, I told them I was going to fall back and try to get as many people right on time as possible.

As the finall straightaway gave way to one last turn, we joined a lot of 5k runners enjoying the beautiful day as well. Windy at times, the temperatures were low and the sunshine bright. I looked over my shoulder and saw Jenny was closing in. One guy was between her and I and I motioned for him to "come on!" With the finish line in sight, we crossed mile 13 in 7:00 exactly.

I looked over my shoulder one last time but lost Jenny. Mingling amongst the 5k runners I could not see her. So I ran step for step with this one final guy and crossed the finish line in 1:29:32, a little faster than I had meant to. The guy thanked me for cheering him on and I handed him the 1:30 pace group sign which I had carried the whole way. I then turned and fervently searched for Jenny.

At 1:29:44 Jenny crossed the line. For her efforts she got not only a brand new PR but a super sweaty hug from Dane. I guess she'll accept the yucky with the good. Go Jenny!

With my hotel less than a block away from the finish, I was able to shower quickly and get out amongst the runners. I then spent the rest of the day helping the announcer hand out awards to runners and enjoying what was yet another wonderful day in Iowa.

It helps Penn State ended a 12-year drought against Michigan by shellacking the Wolverines at home. :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Baltimore Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 17th Edition
356.1 miles raced in 2008
Race: Baltimore Marathon
Place: Baltimore, MD
Miles from home: 2080 miles
Weather: 60s; sunny

After last week's run with Bill at the Brooksie Way Half-Marathon, I knew I was in for an inevitable letdown. Fortunately, being the Charity Chaser at Baltimore Marathon was the way to combat this and keep the high going. Having been fortunate enough to do the same thing at the Frederick Marathon in 2007, I knew what to expect. However, this time, with Baltimore being a larger race, I also knew I was going to be bobbing and weaving for miles and miles. I almost thought about wearing a GPS just to see how far I actually would run but decided against it.

First and foremost the Baltimore Marathon is doing everything right in becoming a great mid-sized marathon in a large town. Baltimore itself has a nice feel to it, and even though it is just 45 minutes or so from Washington DC, has a completely different vibe to it entirely. Even though I was so close to where I was staying for the weekend at my best friend's in DC, it felt like we were hours away.

Prior to the race, I had a chance to meet up with the United Way people, for whom the money I raised with my legs would be benefiting. they were very happy to have me running for them and I was more than pleased to be running for such a great cause. At the expo on the day before the race, I worked the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) booth. I saw old friends and made new ones as we let everyone know why there would be a guy standing around near the start, not moving, when the starting gun was fired. Just in case you weren't aware, my task for the day was to be the absolute last runner to take off at the marathon. For each person that I ended up beating to the finish, RBC would make a $2 donation to the United Way. Pretty cool!

With that, knowing I would be running with purpose the next day, I hit the bed as early as I possibly could.

Race Day

A beautiful day is what greeted runners and spectators on race morning. Unfortunately, as we all know, beautiful mornings often make for tough race conditions. While I knew it could be much worse, I was hoping the bright sun and the predicted high 60s temperatures would not be too detrimental.

The race gun was fired and thousands of people began to stream by. And by. And by. I stood and watched as I tried to think about the best plan of attack for passing everyone. I wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible as I passed the runners (because, it is their race too and they do not deserve to be impeded) but I assuredly did not want to run on the outside of every single turn and curve. Luckily my singlet stated "charity Chaser" and See Dane Run on the back of a very bright blue background.

As the crowd thinned, the announcer let the crowd know what I was doing and they cheered wildly. I acknowledged their enthusiasm and smiled inwardly. It is still rather difficult to realize that random people are cheering specifically for me!

Finally a few stragglers made their way across the starting line. Soon thereafter, about 5 minutes or so after the gun went off to start the race, I took off myself.

First 10k:

When I had ran the Frederick Marathon Charity Chaser in 2007, the crowds had thinned by 3-4 miles. With many more runners here, I knew it was going to take longer to weave through the masses. I had been assigned a cyclist (Paul) who was radioing back information about my whereabouts to those at the finish. If I think I had it bad, this poor guy had to try and keep up with me as I jumped in and out of the sidewalk to the road and then back again. I knew my best chance to pass the biggest amount of people would be in the first 3 miles. With an uphill start, I would be able to use the elevation gain to my advantage and pass as many people as possible.

I kept missing mile markers as my eyes were on the road in front of me or runners around me (or the inadvertent elbow I took to the face from one gentlemen who then told me to watch where I was going. Both Paul and I laughed as I assured this man I most definitely had not intended to ram my face into his elbow). with an unstated goal of trying to run a sub-3 hour marathon I knew pacing was going to be crucial. However, with the extemporaneous stimulation of runners around me who I was passing with ease, it gave me the impression I was running far faster than I was. as such, missing mile markers became a problem. Soon however, I did settle into a groove but mile after mile still have hundreds of runners in front of me. I t was so neat to see the back of the packers and shout encouragement as I ran by. I looked for many friends who I knew were running the race but found it very difficult to pick people out from behind in the crowd. Luckily for me, I was easier to pick out and many of my friends shouted out to me, as did those who had simple seen the commercial on the local TV station telling all what I was doing for the United Way.

With the crowds thinning ever so slightly as I approached the 10k mark, I was happy to see I was on pace and feeling good. the sun was indeed out and it was getting warmer but much shade was providing by the buildings we ran through and the trees lining the streets. Baltimore is a pretty town!

To the Halfway Point

The city was really out to support the runners but what was even better than that were the thousands of relay runners waiting for their runner to pass the figurative baton. As runners would go through these areas, teeming bodies of nervous energy would cheer and shout for those they knew or the occasional loud-mouth guy saying "Let's Hear it! (i.e. Me).

After a trio around Ft. McHenry and the Northwest Harbor area of Baltimore, I finally caught the 3:10 pace group. Since I wanted to run 3:00 or under and had a five minute deficit, meeting this group around mile 10 or so was a good sign. Nearing the halfway point, I looked to be right on schedule and hit the half with a little to spare in the tank in a 1:28:20.

On to Lake Montebello (Mile 20)

I told Paul that after the halfway point, I begin to play tons of mind games with myself to stay focused. To me, mile 14 is huge. After the big emotions that come with passing the halfway point, I almost invariably have a slow mile 14. In order to average a 3:00 marathon, one must run an average of 6:52 per mile. When 14 was a 6:48, I was pleasantly surprised, especially when I had 80 seconds to spare. I knew the next three or four miles would really tell the tale as this is where the race began its uphill ascent once again. But a 6:59, 6:57, 6:58, 6:52, 7:00 had me feeling great. I knew that mile 20 and the loop around pleasant Lake Montebello was going to be a flat reprieve before the last up hills of the race.

The Final Hills

I figured that this flat section would be where I could bank a few seconds per mile, rest up and prepare for the final push. However, a 6:56 and then an almost unexplainable 7:04 followed as I traversed the circumference of the lake. Knowing that I had a solid hill left before a nice steady downhill had me worries a bit. I told Paul how quickly a nice little reserved can be lost as soon as you had one bad mile. I was determined to not have a bad mile but was unsure what would happened once I left the lake.

Almost immediately we began a climb through a mercifully tree-lined section. I happened to look down at my royal blue RBS singlet and notice it was completely caked it white salt. Crap. The sun had snuck up on me and was depleting me without me even knowing it. I pushed hard to the next aid station to take in some fluid asap. Two full glasses of water, one glass of Gatorade and a surprisingly fast (for an uphill) 7:04 mile had me feeling good. The slight downhill miles began and I was hoping I was ready for them. However, try as I might I could not get the legs to turnover. Even on a (mostly downhill grade) all I could muster was a 7:08 and 7:14 for the next two miles.

Paul radioed ahead and told them I was going to be pretty close to sub-3. I think this helped me pull a 7:02 mile out of what felt like a 7:30. With 2.2 miles left I was praying to hit one more downhill to roll into Camden Yards with a sub-3.

Unfortunately, I got an uphill (not much but one nonetheless) and I was sapped. I knew, if this were, say my first attempt at sub-3 and I did not mind collapsing at the finish, that I could have given everything I had and made that push. But it wasn't my first, there were no runners that were within passable distance in my sights and the sacrifice was just not worth it. I could only hurt myself (with a half marathon, a 12 hour race and a full marathon in the next 21 days) and gain nothing more for the United Way. So I settled into what the hill was going to give me, prayed my watch would surprise me but gritted my teeth when I saw a 7:45.

The last mile had me trying to do calculations in my head to see how much I was going to miss sub-3 by. One of my goals is to not repeat same minutes. I have run a 3:01 (in the first of my two Bostons marathons on the same day earlier this year) but never a 3:00. In fact, I never want to run a 3:00. It is too close to 2:59! But as I hit the last .2 with Camden yards to my right, I could not do the math quick enough in my head to realize where I would finish. And, as I drew closer I could see the camera and microphone waiting to interview me at the end. All I could picture was a sprint to the finish to break some arbitrary goal of mine and then an "Agony of Defeat"-like crash at the end. I decided to simply cruise in and accept whatever time I had.

3:01:08. Well, damn it, if I knew it was only 8 seconds I would have run faster!

Regardless, I finished 77th overall out of 3114 pure marathon starters. I am unsure how many marathon relay people I passed but I know about 5 teams passed me in the last mile or so. Nothing kills the ole ego faster than some fresh-legged runner sprinting past you in the final mile of a marathon. Nevertheless, by my estimate I will have passed a total of 6,000 people. As such, the United Way will get roughly $12,000 from RBC.

That should make for a nice Columbus Day present!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Brooksie Way Half Marathon - My Run With Boston Billy

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 16th Edition
329.9 miles raced in 2008
Race: Brooksie Way Half Marathon
Place: Rochester, MI
Miles from home: 1679 miles
Weather: 40s; sunny

I wrote about this race earlier in the week, an inaugural event put on by the same wonderful people who run the Crim Festival of Races HERE. I was eager to both speak at the expo and run the race. Nothing about the weekend disappointed.

In giving three speeches at the expo I made many new friends and once again realized how small the racing world is. One example is that one woman heard me speak at Akron last weekend was running this race this weekend. While she was unable to stay around to hear my speech this time she let me know how much she had enjoyed my talk in Akron. Hearing things like are the reasons why I travel this country to spread my love of running.

Another reason is the subtitle of this blog. While taking some time to help educate people on the wonderful product The Stick, I noticed that right next to their booth, Bill Rodgers was signing books. Yep, that Bill Rodgers. Four-time winner of both the NYC Marathon and the Boston Marathons. Owner of a 2:09:27 marathon personal-best. The man who, in 1977 won the Fukoka Marathon making him the only runner ever to hold the championship of all three major marathons at the same time. Boston Billy. Any runner who is a runner would be happy to meet him.

I was lucky enough to meet Bill at the Dallas White Rock Marathon in 2006. The man must meaning 10,000 beaming fans a year. I knew there was no way he would remember and I was not expecting him to do so. Therefore, when I got in line, purchased his "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jogging and Running" for signature, I only introduced myself as "Dane Rauschenberg". Bill's eyes showed a look of recongnition and he said "The speaker who did 52 marathons in one year?"

Needless to say my jaw dropped. I picked it off the ground and affirmed what he had said. We then spoke at length on a number of topics before I realized I was holding up the line. He then asked me if I was running the next day in the half and I said I was. We talked a bit more about pacing for the race and it ended up he planned to run what I was running unofficially for the Running Gear store: 1:35. Bill then said "Care to run together?" A phrase that was akin to what a bear does in the woods almost came out of my mouth but I think I just nodded like an idiot. Next thing I know, this cloud with the number "9" on it slid under my feet and carried me to my next speaking engagement.

The rest of the day flew by and in spite of a lingering head cold which had kept me awake the past few nights, I was soon sound asleep.

Race Day:
When I left Salt Lake City to come to Michigan, it was 85 degrees. Race morning I woke up and it was 36 degrees. Brrr. I usually prepare for all weather but for some reason wasn't fully ready for this huge drop in temperature. Fortunately for me, I had received in the mail a shirt from ROAD ID to wear in my upcoming 12 Hour run in San Francisco. (In case you missed my update, I had to downgrade from the 24-Hour option due to a foul-up with my registration.) Usually I wear sleeveless shirts until the temperatures get ridiculously cold, so I was extremely lucky to have this shirt on hand. As such, in the cold of the morning, I sought out Boston Billy at the start.
With his ever-present smile and tussled hair, I found Bill just a few minutes from guntime.

"Hey Dane! Ready to run?" he said. "Sure am!" I replied. We were then treated to two separate singings of the National Anthem ( I am not exactly sure why but I didn't complain). While we awaited the start of the race (delayed slightly - the only slight negative of the entire race) a perky woman in pink chatted both Bill and I up, with no idea who Bill was. I told her even if it was her first half (it was) she needed to go home and do some research as she was standing next to a legend. Michelle was her name and when she found out what we were running told us she was going to stick with us. Flanked by Bill Rodgers on one side and a pretty woman on the other, I was having a good day.

First Six Miles:

I had, as always, mapped out the course prior to the race and was surprised how similar it was to the Akron Marathon's race course. As such I knew the first 5ish miles were mostly downhill. We told Michelle that she needed to take these miles easy as the remainder of the course was going to be more challenging.
She listened to our advice and 44:13 later we finished the downhill and began the first uphill section at mile 6. Cheers from random spectators of "Go Bill!" echoed the sentiments of runner who we passed "Thanks for coming out to the race, Bill!"as Michelle said "He is famous, isn't he?"

To Mile 10:
Even as we began the climb up the hardest part of the course I was still ecstatic. I had been peppering Bill with questions about the past and he seemed more than happy to share his stories. Michelle was asking for more immediate advice on how to run the race at hand. I laughed inwardly how I was trying to plumb the depths of Bill's mind while Michelle was trying to scrape my vastlessly less-impressive bucket of running knowledge.

Bill liked to run on the grass on the side of the roads so I found myself shadowing him from side to side as we sought out the softer running surface. I realized that Bill must have tens of thousands of miles on his legs and anything he could do to keep his legs in better condition was worth it. Plus, hell, he IS 60 years old!

As we started to crest the worst part of the hill's Michelle was running perfectly and I could tell Bill definitely wanted to pick up. We had run nearly perfect pacing through the first half and were somehow still keeping the pace even as the road rose in front of us.

Final 3.1 miles
Finally hitting some downhill, we convinced Michelle to run her own race and leave us behind if she felt she could. Bill and I ran stride for stride passing a few runners every little bit as Bill hung to the grass on either side.

Finishing on the beautiful campus of Oakland University just a short trot from where the race started, we could see Meadowbrook Hall in the distance.

Cruising down a gorgeous expanse of green on either side of the road, we passed by some bleachers and prepared for the final few hundred yards of the race. In a canopy of trees up ahead we saw the clock. Counting mercilessly upward, Bill and I eyed it as we ran in step for step. bursting through the trees and into the sunshine in the courtyard of Meadowbrook Hall, you can see below what we saw.

Our time? 1:35:29 and a negative split for the race.

Bill smiled broadly, shook my hand and gave me a pat on the back. Words can't describe my happiness. As we exited the circle and a few friends surrounded Bill, I prepared to leave him alone. Before I left however, Bill not only reminded me that I had to tell him when my book was coiming out as he wanted to sell it from his store in Boston (!) and also introduced me to his friend standing nearby: Greg Meyer. Besides winning River Bank Run in his home town of Grand Rapids, MI seven times over, Greg is most notably remembered as the last American Male to win the Boston Marathon.

It is going to take a solid week to wipe the smile off my face.

As for the race itself, the Crim people did a wonderful job. Plentiful water stops, volunteers who directed runners everywhere they needed to go, gorgeous finisher's medals and a great mixture of roads and trails, it is obvious that while this is the first Brooksie Way race, it is not the first race the Crim people have put together.

Two thumbs up from me and everyone I spoke to about this race. In a personal note, my friend Leah set a five-minute personal best taking 6th female overall and her guy friend Leo, placed 5th overall in the race, only getting to the finishline after the speedsters of the Brooks Hanson Distance Project. It gets more difficult each weekend for my enjoyment to be topped, but somehow it does.

Let's hope that trend continues in Baltimore in just 5 days!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Getting beat by a girl

I was talking with a friend recently about the only female who beat me at the Boulder Marathon a few weeks ago. I jokingly mentioned that while she looked familiar, all fit women who are kicking my butt look the same from behind.

Then I was trying to recall her name (I have a tendency to remember the names of the females that beat me) beacuse they are usually ones that show up at many races and you see all over. But I could not make it come into my mind. So I looked up the results and stared at them for a full five seconds.

Naoko Takahashi.

I then realized she was none other than the first female to EVER run under 2:20 for a marathon and the 2000 OLYMPIC MARATHON CHAMP! How the hell did I not put that together before?!?

I was so extremely disappointed in myself in not recognizing her name. I would have loved to have gotten her autograph. I did talk to her very briefly after the race and congratulated her on her win. Now I feel like a schmo saying "Way to go" to a person with a 2:19 PR who once held the World Record.

While her times have slipped as of late (a 2:44 is what she ran at the Nagoya Marathon in March of this year), there is something extremely satisyfing to know that she too did not run all THAT fast at Boulder!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brooksie Way Half-Marathon

This weekend takes me away from my planned potential-low 2:40 marathon attempt at St. George. Something must be pretty nice to do that, right? Well, I think I found a great alternative. Come Sunday, I will be in Rochester Hills for the Inaugural Brooksie Way Half-Marathon and 5k.

Taken from the website:

"The Brooksie Way races are named in memory of Brooks Stuart Patterson, the 28-year-old son of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. Brooksie, as he was known to his family and friends, died in 2007 after a tragic snowmobile accident. Ironically, his death came just days after his father's State of the County address in which plans were announced for a county-sponsored half marathon as part of a wellness initiative for county residents.

A businessman, entrepreneur, husband and father, Brooksie left behind a wife and three children.

Brooks Stuart Patterson's lasting legacy is the exuberance with which he lived his life, the passion he had for family and friends and his dreams for the future. That's why we named the race in his memory, "The Brooksie Way."

I was turned onto this race by my friend Leah and could not be more happy top be part of the weekend's events. With speeches planned at 11 a.m. , 1 p.m. and 3 p.m I hope to continue to bring both insight and levity to another batch of runners.
As the Brooksie Way races are put on, at least in part, by the same people who are involved with the nationally known Crim Festival of Races, I know I am in good hands. Rumor has it that Olympic Marathon qualifier Brian Sell will be on hand to run this race.

Sell, know for his wild mustache and sideburns renditions is beloved by many for his workmanlike attitude towards running. While he claims to have only been mediocre in high school (and therefore making us who really WERE mediocre laugh), it is easy to understand where Brain comes from in the relative sense of the word. I hope I have a chance to meet with him and let him know how many of us out there appreciate how he puts such a good face and soul on the sport.

I will also be representing the Runnin' Gear store in one capacity or another on race day. Exactly how is yet to be determined but owner Paul Coughlin has been wonderfully receptive to the idea of working together and you can really tell he cares about the sport.

It should be a great weekend and I hope to see you there!