Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mesquite Half-Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 36th Edition 
931.6 miles raced; 350 yards swam and 9 miles biked in 2010
Race: Mesquite Half-Marathon
Place: Mesquite, NV
Miles from home: 340 miles
Weather: WINDY 

The temperature doesn't really matter.  The cloud cover doesn't really matter.  All you need to know about this Mesquite Half Marathon is that for ~11.8 miles of the 13.1 we had sustained winds of 35 mph with gusts over 50 directly in our face. Oof.

The morning of the race broke fairly nice. I could see from my car that it had rained recently but the ground was dry.  I hoped that this would stay that way the rest of the race and any rain would have simply cooled the course a bit.  The temperature was just about perfect for racing and the slightly overcast skies also would have lent to a perfect weather combination if not for the wind.  However, while waiting for the buses to take us to the start, the wind wasn’t nearly as noticeable.  A breeze here and there but nothing that foretold of the oncoming blast fan we would be running into once we started.

We boarded the bus and began the drive out to the start.  I was on one of the very last buses to the start so I did not have to stand around very long.  The races do not post a specific start time as they say they will start when all runners get out there.  However, you can more or less figure out when the gun will fire (or in this case, the truck horn will honk.)  When one of the RDs said we would start in about 15 minutes there was some grumbling, presumably from the people who had gotten on the very first bus.  However, there could not have been all that much time between them arriving and me as I saw their bus leave when I was in line.  Nevertheless, people will complain about anything if you give them enough time.

I could see no less than 5 guys who looked in prime racing shape.  Any possibly inkling I had of winning the race and claiming the first place prize of $1,000 was gone.  This was slightly disheartening but also a relief.  I could just concentrate on running a fast time all for myself. I saw last year’s female winner and a few other top notch looking females. I could tell the prize money and the Runner’s World magazine article had helped swell the numbers and the competition as well.

As we got ready to go, I had positioned myself a few rows back in deference to what was obviously some stellar competition.  Even then I felt the wind but thought nothing of it.  Boy would I be wrong.  Away we went.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mesquite Half-Marathon

Running amongst the mesas in Grand Junction.
Every years since I moved to SLC, I have participated in a race put on by the Mammoth Marathons people.  This year has been no different as in May the first race I did after my 202 miler was a half-marathon in Grand Junction, CO.  Later in the summer I took on the Crandall Canyon Memorial Run, another half-marathon. This weekend, I will be taking part in my third Mamamoth Marathons race for the year, yet another half-marathon (bringing my total for the year to 15 when I had only run 11 half-marathon in my life previously!) at the Mesquite Marathon in Nevada.

The course records I held for the Little Grand Canyon Marathon (ran in 2008) and Little Grand Canyon Half-Marathon (ran in 2009) both fell by the wayside this year (*Dane shakes his fist like a bad guy character in a Scooby Doo cartoon*), which is always a little bittersweet.  But while I missed the chance to take place in either of those races this year, I will be returning to the Mesquite Marathon and giving the little brother race a shot this weekend.

Pushing for a PR at Mesquite in 2009.
My original plan was to do nothing this weekend race-wise.  Having two consecutive weekends off from racing sounded like a good idea.  However, as I had a bad race last year in the full-marathon, I guess I had some personal demons I wanted to exorcise. The clincher was when I saw an article in Runner's World magazine about how this race was their race of the month. I was shocked.  Not that the race did not deserve it but that a race with just one year of history, run by guys I consider to be friends was getting recognition I felt it deserved.  I knew I had to go back even if I wasn't in shape to try for a marathon personal best (as I had been attempting last year.) 

I wish the prize money was split up a little differently (it is a winner take all purse which means that just one uber-fast fella needs to show up, like last year's 1:12 winner, for the rest of us to go home empty-handed) but I don't think I have ever run a race thinking I will prize money.  I simply am not that fast.  But I do like to run races that give me a chance to do something a little different.  In the Mesquite Marathon, runners get to cross three different states as the go from Utah to Arizona and then finish in Nevada. given the shorter distance the half-marathon only goes through two states but is pretty darn scenic as well.

I don't think I am quite in shape to get a new personal best in this half but I am not afraid to say I will be shooting for the fastest I have run all year, beating the 1:23 I ran at the Chicago Half back in September.  The weather conditions look pretty perfect. Time to give it a go.  I hope to see many of you down there as well!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mother Road 100 rundown

This past weekend I was in Wichita visiting some friends and making a reunion of sorts with runners.  While we caught up, many were glued to my friend Hannah's cellphone as she was getting updates on another friend's attempt to crush is PR in a 100 mile race.  Long story short, that friend - Scott Hill -crushed his 100 mile PR by nearly 2 hours and took second place overall by less than 12 minutes finishing in 15 hours and 46 minutes in the Mother Road 100.  Fantastic work! (His running - not the website, which leaves a great deal to be desired.)  This followed up Scott's 2008 accomplishment of running a marathon distance or longer every week!

Me, 1st place, Mark
I then noticed that I knew the 3rd place finisher as well, one Mark Ott.  Mark and I met at the Running with the Horses Marathon in 2008 where he took second and I took third.  I laughed because the article listed Mark from Jackson, Mississippi - a mistake I had made as well once.  Mark is actually form Jackson, Michigan.  I wonder how many times that has happened to him.

Juli at the exceptionally hot 12 Hour SF One Day
Finally, I see that Juli Aistars, a pleasant woman I met at the 12 Hour Run in San Francisco two years ago was crowned "Queen of the Road" for being the fastest female to finish all three Mother Road 100 races so far. Apparently, if I met you in 2008 or you did something really cool in that year, you had to run this race.

On a weekend where I did no race of any sort whatsoever, it was nice to be able to sit back and watch those I know do so very well.  Kudos to all!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Santa Barbara Half-Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 35th Edition 
920.5 miles raced; 350 yards swam and 9 miles biked in 2010
Race: Santa Barbara Half-Marathon
Place: Santa Barbara, CA
Miles from home: 777 miles
Weather: 60s; Overcast; windy

More pictures to come when I get them!

Me and Christy at the San Fran Half
At the Marine Corps Marathon expo last weekend, I crossed paths with one of my favorite twins, Cindy of Running Skirts.  In our conversation we found we would both be at the Santa Barbara Marathon expo- each running the half-marathon.  Cindy mentioned her twin Christy would be running the half as well and would be shooting for a time around 1:30.  I told her I would be happy to pace Christy in the race if she felt so inclined.  And just like that, I had something to do at a race where I was just going to go for a nice jog anyway.

My weekend, a few months ago, looked completely different but one must roll with the punches and make do.  As such, I was pleased to spend some time with my friend Barb even though it looked like she might not be able to do the race at all because of a lingering foot problem.  At the expo, I spent some time trying some new products and am looking forward to see if they affect my training in the future.  Having run the full marathon last year, I knew the half more or less consisted of the second half of the race course and some minor changes would not add much of anything new to the race itself.  As such, I knew I would be able to give Christy all the info I had in her attempt to run fast.  I was aware a long drive from Running Skirt HQ in San Diego the day before the race and then a long day at the expo itself would make the race the next day a little difficult for her but we would give it a go.  That really is all one can do at every race, really.

We had a slight delay to start the race, which in hindsight was quite helpful.  But before the sun had even thought about breaking through the clouds, we were underway.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Off to Santa Barbara

Last year I was fortunate enough to get in on the revised Santa Barbara Marathon and experience what was a very well-put together race.  In the weeks that followed, I was flattered to see that my quote made the billboards and postcards that the race put out to promote itself.  When the race decided to combine with an existing half-marathon and move its date, I was not sure whether I would be available to take part.  I had some potential plans to attend the NYC Marathon but when they did not come to fruition, I immediately went back to where I had thoroughly enjoyed myself previously.  I had given thoughts to making this a double race weekend and heading up to Fresno to do a race there but sometimes promises are empty.  You learn that a lot in this world.

Regardless, I am quite happy to be back in gorgeous Santa Barbara and am very curious to see how the town takes to the race in its second year.  And, like last year where I was able to help a runner set a new personal best, I may be doing the same again this year.  Last year's was unintentional and unplanned until race time but chances are good that Christy, one of the two sister owners of Running Skirts, may employ my pacing services to get her a nice new personal best.  As a good friend, I can think of few better ways I could spend a Saturday morning than lending a hand to help a runner get something they are striving for.

As I will also be at the expo all Friday signing books, I may jump up and give a speech to those in attendance as well.  It should be a fun weekend in Southern California and I hope to see many of you there!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Marine Corps Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 34th Edition 
907.4 miles raced; 350 yards swam and 9 miles biked in 2010
Race: Marine Corps Marathon
Place: Arlington, VA
Miles from home: 2079 miles
Weather: 60-70s; Bright sunshine; windy

The Marine Corps Marathon has always been a race that has been rather significant to me.  In 2004, it represented a marathon that almost was my last ever as I ran a rather disappointing race and thought maybe marathoning was not my thing.  The next year, it was the last marathon before my taking on 52 Marathons in consecutive weekends and also, a new personal best.  In 2006, it was the second fastest marathon of the 52 (and my life at the time) and showed me the previous race (the actual fastest of the year) wasn’t a fluke.  In 2007, it was my last marathon as a resident of Virginia and again a new personal best.  After a two year hiatus (I did run the first 9 miles last year with a law school classmate before stopping and cheering runners until the last one passed me in Georgetown), this year would be the first time I would go into the Marine Corps Marathon knowing beforehand I would not be going for my fastest time ever.  However, I was hoping to run a 3:02 this year, and if I did, I would have run every time between 3:00 and 3:30.  Not as significant as in previous years but still fun nonetheless.

As I had previously lived in Virginia when I had run the MCM (and right at the mile 2.2 point) I would simply walk from my apartment to the start. Simple as pie.  This year, staying in Alexandria, I knew it would be a little more complicated.  I thought I had it solved.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  With the morning breaking a little chilly (47 degrees) I decided I would wear a jacket to the start and for the first time ever use the drop-bag situation.  So after driving to a metro station, parking my car and riding the train to the area from which I always walked passed on my way to the start, I began searching for the drop bag station.  As time ticked down to the start, I simply could not find it.  After getting wrong answers from a few people, one Marine manning an aid station definitely told me where the UPS trucks holding the bags were located.  Great!  However, with 10 minutes until the start, they were 1.2 miles away from where I was standing.  Not so great.

I began sprinting toward the trucks.  If this was any other marathon, I would have stashed my bag behind a tree and hoped for the best.  But with so many people around and knowing that you just don’t leave unmarked bags near the race course lest they get thrown away as looking suspicious, I knew I had to get to the trucks.  Finally, after weaving my way through approximately 25,000 people I saw the trucks.  Based on my bib number, I was in truck 00.  The trucks, lined up next to each other were in numerical order.  The first truck was number 34.  Frick.  Sprinting to the last truck, I threw the bag down, thanked the volunteers and began praying that somehow I would make it back to the start before the howitzer fired to start the race.  At top speed, in and out of runners I headed. No where near the start, I heard the big ole gun fire.  Normally, in a chip-timed race this wouldn’t matter. However with thousands of runners between me and the start, I knew I had to try and get as far forward as possible before crossing the starting line. Otherwise I would spend miles upon miles stuck behind hordes of people.