Monday, May 20, 2013

Such a runner

Marathon training is done.  Phew.  Time to switch it up and do some different stuff.  What you say? Work will comp my entry into a local race?  OK!

I've run Beat the Bridge 3 times before.  It was one of my first races way back in 2003. An 8k (just under five miles) at that time was not much longer than my long run at the time.  I vaguely remember it seeming very long! Fast forward a few years and I've become a much different runner.  I set a very big PR at this race at what I (still) consider a fast pace and shortly after this race in 2007, i set my lifetime half PR.  I was in great shape and didn't even really know it.

Now?  Hey I"m three weeks out from a marathon and have another event planned in a couple weeks.  Free entry into a fun race?  Sure!  I do donate to the admirable cause this race supports and I do love how there are so many very large teams both corporate and private.  I'd like to get in a hard workout and start working back to short distance speed so I'm ready for Ragnar.

This race?  Well it can be a big ol' mess.  Beat the Bridge.  Twenty minutes after the LAST runner crosses the start line, a bridge two miles away opens stopping runners in the middle of their race.  It's part of the fun and they have a band there plus they give away prizes.  Not everyone is going to make it and many even plan for that.  But for most, it makes them crazy!

So picture 5000 people all wanting to start first.  Oy. I enjoy the course, i like the cause, i wanted to race and many friends (plus K) were also racing.  OK. I'll do it even though i always curse the start.  

K, RPD and I parked a good mile away and jogged in for a warm up and to meet up for my work's team photo.  Off to baggage check and indoor bathrooms (WIN!) and i went off to continue warming up in plenty of time to line up.  I knew it would be crowded.  I wasn't sure what to aim for with this race either.  I'd done a short easy track workout on Thursday and realized the next day that I hadn't run those sorts of paces in quite a while.  My quads thought evil thoughts at me randomly throughout the day. 

I lined up just ahead of the 7-8 minute pace thinking that would be good. I didn't mind getting pulled out a bit fast.  I'd go out a bit faster than i expected and it would be fine if i died a bit the last mile (or two, gulp).  Even with such a large field, this event starteed right on time.  And i vaguely moved toward the start line with a bazillion other people.  D'oh!

I dodged and weaved and cursed.  By mile 1, i was on pace (7:30) but now think i should've just cooled my jets a bit.  How fast did i run that second half mile?  Probably better not to know. The second mile is flat and I was feeling pretty good (7:35).  I knew mile 3 would be slower because i'd crossed THAT bridge and you climb plus make some turns (7:55).  Hmm.  Not that slow!  Mile 4 is gradually downhill. I worked to make sure to run the tangents and was happy to see 7:36.  I'd hoped to keep up the pressure that last mile but my quads just started laughing at me.  They would have none of that!

Train for distance? Haha! We'll show you what that does to speed.    I felt like I was running through mud and started getting passed by a lot of people.  I kept telling myself that it isn't even a mile and just be done!  

37:47 according to race results for 7:37 pace. I think the course was maybe just a touch short (construction of the UW stadium necessitated some changes) so my garmin read 7:41 pace.  This is 30 seconds off of my 8k all time PR.  Not bad at all!

I got what I wanted. It was a fun run, I saw lots of friends, had a solid, hard race effort and ran pretty well for a pretty good time.  And i ran home so totaled just over 14 miles for the day.

I saw a friend at work the next day.  He placed first in his age group at this race.  he is one speedy dude.  And what does he say?  oh it was a terrible race. he'd raced a 5k the day before and felt horrible.  He was so slow on this 8k (where he was first in his AG) and no one fast showed up anyway. it was so crowded.  complain, complain, complain. 

I just rolled my eyes at him and congratulated on the Age Group win anyway.  Such a runner.  There is always a reason why the race wasn't quite what you wanted.  A good lesson for me to remember. Yes, i learned something new in a race just like always but I got from this race exactly what I wanted and had a lot of fun besides that. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Devil's Elbow Beach - Heceta Lighthouse
90 - the high temperature of Eugene one week after the marathon.
5 - official marathons completed (6 total - 1 is unofficial)
4 - scoops of carbo-pro consumed on course. i like this stuff.  No taste and you can customize it to how much water you want.
3 - gels consumed on course. I had one gel in desperation to see if it would help legs (nope) but it probably helped keep brain in the game.
2 - electrolyte capsules
1 - master's PR. Hey, i think this counts and it is a 30+ minute PR which is excellent.

Yeah, i'm feeling much better. Recovery was great! I had no desire to run for a few days which worked out because we were on vacation on the Oregon Coast.  And it was gorgeous.  i could spend all day exploring tidal pools and beaches and we did.

We were just staying a quick drive from Cape Perpetua. This is part of a national forest which was by far my favorite place and even though it is a fairly small area with Highway 101 going through it, there was a lot to see.  We took in the view from the top trail which a marvelous view of the pacific and the cliffs along the coast for miles. The waves pound into a small area called The Devil's Churn which was quite spectacular.  Never turn your back on the Ocean!  We came back the next day to explore some other trails and go out onto the tidal pools. 

It was the perfect mix of vacation. Fun run event with friends and then a kick back relax and explore vacation.  Even better, then we came home and I had a stay-cation for a couple days.  The garden is in much better shape now and it is nice to catch up a bit with things. Marathon training DOES get grueling towards the end. 

Snap peas, lettuce, spinach, russian kale, zuchini, and cucumber all planted.  I broke down and bought a tomato plant too so we'll see if that one does anything.  We have volunteer arugula, chard and dinosaur kale coming up in the yard so those have gotten moved about.  The first rhubarb of the season was harvested and we had a delicious rhubarb strawberry dessert and invited the neighbors over to share.  It's been good!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Eugene Marathon 2013

It's been about a week since I finished the Eugene Marathon and I'm still feeling a very strange mix of disappointment, relief and happiness.  it was not the race i wanted but it was a better finish (kinda, sorta) than I've had the last couple marathons. I wrote the report below the evening directly after the marathon and it reads rather glum and frustrated which are valid feelings for this race. A week later, I'm satisfied I ran my best for that day and (very important for me) I feel like I'm recovering well mentally and physically.  Onward!

Why do I think I can run marathons? I set huge PRs at a 2  mile and 5k distance in February with no speedwork other than 2 mile races and just very slow easy runs on pavement and on trails. Huge lifetime PRs.  22:03 in the 5k was a 50 second PR. I was delighted.  Those PRs plugged into various race predictors made me hoot with laughter.  The range was 3:36 (for 5k) to 3:45 (for 10k last fall).  I’ve not raced a half in a couple years but even recent times predicted 3:45.  That’s not my marathon pace.

And yet I really want to run one more solid marathon. My first marathon in 2006 is my fastest (3:53) and I have no idea how I did it. I was much slower in the shorter distances then, didn’t run any more miles than I do now overall and am just a stronger runner overall now.  So? How do I train for a marathon then? What pace do I set as goal pace/training pace with this huge range? 

I’ve liked the hanson plans because they do not beat me up. You run marathon pace (what marathon pace would that be based on?) on tired legs with a lot more solid midweek running. With my coach’s help, I did modify this plan and ran 3 18 milers in solid long run pace . I hit hilly marathon pace workouts trained faster (8:35) with no problems.  Everything was pointing the right way and my goal even a couple weeks ago was 8:45.

And then I tapered and felt like crap just like usual.  8:45 didn’t seem so very reasonable and really what was my goal? I’d love to BQ which is 3:55 for me in 2014. Even that was feeling out of reach.  Main goal? Just finish the fucking marathon without a death march and with a solid long run pace. 

It was a great weekend. Eugene is really beautiful and I say that coming from Seattle which is just as beautiful.  Met up with indie, slowstarter, rob and david (can’t remember forum he’s been off the forum for a while I think) for a very tasty, chatty dinner.

I slept pretty well although woke up early again for the third morning in a row very nervous. The weather was excellent. It 50 at the start and overcast and temps would probably rise 10 degrees or so over the course of the race. It’s the first marathon I’ve lined up for in a while where I felt a little chilled. Found rob and indie and nagesh and chatted until portopotty lines called. Dh was running the half and went off to run a short warm up.

The short speech and moment of silence for Boston was touching. It would’ve helped if they’d been able to turn off the music though.

So goal was just under 9:00 miles and keep running dammit. My last two marathons (seattle 2011 & Dallas 2012) were horrific death marches where I came in an hour over goal time. 3:55 was the dream goal but I was going to be delighted with a time under 4:00 and happy with anything between 4 & 4:15.  NO death march. 

1st 5k – 27:42 – 8:56 pace  I didn’t worry about how crowded it felt. I just tried to stay relaxed and enjoy the chitter chatter of people around me. It felt easy but I didn’t feel good.
10k – 54:58 – 8:51. There’s a little uphill section right at mile 4 and then a nice downhill. I figured that IF 3:55 were going to be possible, I’d try picking it up here.  Again, this felt easy but wasn’t feeling great. 
Half – 1:56:59 – 8:56 I was happy with this and really just focused on going for that sub 4 overall time.  Any downhill, I’d try switching up my stride to stretch a bit as everything was so tight and I just wasn’t feeling very good.  I figured I’d feel very poorly from about mile 10 – 16 and just put it out of my head and ignored it. 

I made it to 18 right on pace. I wasn’t happy about anything in general but just working through and trying to trust my training, staying focused on form and moving.  I gave myself permission to walk and (probably) use an inhaler sometime between mile 18 and 20 and to get just water and a gel. I’d been monitoring breathing and could feel lungs starting to tighten.  It came sooner than I expected at 18.4  and as I grabbed some water at an aid station, took a gel and got out my inhaler, I realized my hips (ie the butt muscles) were aching and almost cramping with random shooting stabs. Ooh. That’s not so good. 

20 miles – 3:02:07 9:07 pace

I started running again after using inhaler (better!) and worked on changing up my stride. And it didn’t work.  That was it, the hips shut down and I was reduced to using all hip flexors/quads to move my legs.  Calves started twinging  and it must change my form enough so that then my feet started killing me.  Ugh.  I nearly bailed right there.  Really? You can’t run another 6 miles? I think I should just be able to power through but no, I cannot.  I was reduced to quick walk breaks and running but barely moving when when I was running. 

So quick. Just like that.  But I knew that I was close enough that if I just kept at it, I could still come in under 4:30 and maybe before 4:15.  I was barely catching up to people who were walking but it was still a bit faster to “run” and I did my best.  Any little dip or bump in the road was a major issue as I felt like I was going to fall right over.  I laughed because I’m a very good trail runner and prefer single track with lots of rocks/roots and even downed trees to leap over but the path we were running on couldn’t have been smoother and I was having issues. 

4:14:07 overall 9:42

So I made that under 4:15 time and had a solid marathon at basically my long run pace.  Truly that was my most basic goal and I burst into tears just as soon as I finished in relief. Whatever happens with hips, well, I can’t quite imagine I can do anything differently.  I’ve been able to run better than ever at shorter race distances and trails and that will be my focus going forward.  I have one more marathon scheduled soon but that race may or may not happen for various reasons and that is ok either way. 

I happened to run into indie and slowstarter who were just leaving the finish area.  They had great races as I knew they would.  Rob of course knocked off another state in style. K saw him finish looking like it was easy as pie. Rob was probably chatting.  K had had a tough day as well but still ran a very solid half marathon.  We met up for some very tasty food and drinks after the race.  Great weekend overall as I knew it would be.  

Eugene itself is a wonderful event. Eugene, the town, has a lot to offer with easy access to the Oregon Coast, Willammette Valley, Portland etc. it's a really nice size race. Not too small and not too large. when the half marathoners turned off, I was happy that there were still many marathoners around me. The city turns out and supports it's event and they are knowledgeable. The course is a little tougher than what I expected.  A sneaky uphill start for a while which if you aren't controlling for that can take it out of you. You then follow the river for a long portion of the event.  Nice when you are going downstream but the turn to come back puts you upstreat (ie subtly uphill) for the last miles of the race.  Tough.  The weather was perfect (that is saying something amazing) and if it gets sunny or warmer than expected, the course can get hot the last miles as it is exposed. I'd do this event again in a heartbeat.