Monday, October 31, 2005

it's late and i'm still awake

The pictures from the Nike Marathon are up!

Me and Coach Katie at mile 25

I love the picture above Coach Katie and I. I had just passed the 25th mile and took one, last, short walkbreak for a sip of Gatorade. I just look so exhausted. Katie was a tremendous help. She got me to the finish line faster than I probably would have on my own.


Compared to the first picture, I look fresh and strong on this picture. This was mile 6, ascending the big hill. I wish I was like this the whole race.

Nike Women's Marathon 1

At least I had enough left to sprint to the finish.

I took all of last week off from running. I finally ran again Saturday morning, an easy 3-miler with the spring team. There's no rest for the weary. I'm transitioning from one season to the next training for the LA Marathon in March 2006. I took the run easily. I don't want to injure anything. Jimmy actually told us to walk 3 miles, but I didn't hear it, or at least chose not to hear it. I may hike the Claremont trail this week instead of running it. I'm growing listless not running.

On an unrelated, non-running note, I went to see Jens Lekman at Spaceland on Friday night. Great show, plus I had three pints of Newcastle, something I've had a thirst for a while.

Tomorrow I have to lead class discussion on Moby-Dick. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Nike Marathon Splits

Per my trusty Timex IronMan watch, here were my split times from this weekend's Nike Women's Marathon:

Mile 1: 10:32.25
Mile 2: 10:34.11
Mile 3: 9:18.91
Mile 4: 10:39.77
Mile 5: 12:44.16*
Mile 6: 5:43.31*
Mile 7: 10:25.07
Mile 8: 8:47.84 fastest mile
Mile 9: 10:01.97
Mile 10: 9:33.33
Mile 11: 9:21.88
Mile 12: 9:25.55
Mile 13: 10:01.68
1st HALF: 2:07:09

Mile 14: 9:09.00
Mile 15: 9:11.42
Mile 16: 9:35.34
Mile 17: 9:21.37
Mile 18: 9:38.65
Mile 19: 10:36.67 the beginning of my slow decline around Lake Merced
Mile 20: 10:20.98
Mile 21: 10:34.47
Mile 22: 10:52.46
Mile 23: 11:23.31 slowest mile
Mile 24: 11:21.41
Mile 25: 10:30.93 Coach Katie was running with me at this point, and she helped me pick up my pace a bit.
Mile 26.2: 11:16.95
2nd HALF: 2:13:51

TOTAL TIME: 4:21:02

*Note: The mile 5 marker was incorrectly placed. As such, I don't have a precise split time for miles 5 and 6. On average, though, it looked like I was running a 9:15 pace, which sounds right.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I am a runner (and I am my father's son)

Some notes from the marathon:

1. Apart from meeting my time goal, I also met my goal of not having to go to the bathroom during the run. That was almost in jeopardy when I did not have a satisfactory movement prior to heading downstairs. Luckily, I had a couple of hours. I drank a cup of coffee and an hour later I had a decent one.


2. I pretty much made up my mind that when I finish up grad school next year, I'm going to move up north. I need a change of pace.

3. I like my Gatorade strong. Nike got that part right.

4. The Starbucks at Union Square served apple fritters. The Starbucks here in SoCal ought to do the same.

5. Marathon euphoria apparently lasts up to four days after a race.

6. After reading other blogs, apparently I'm not the only one who cries after a marathon. It can't be a good marathon without a good cry.

7. I need to strengthen my shins. Kate said so.

8. My bib number at the Nike Run Hit Wonder last month was 1697. My bib number for the Nike Women's Marathon was 1797. Coincidence?

Race report

I think what I like about races is that it feels like a test. I do well in tests. Of course I panic prior to the big event, but once it's here I collect myself and just work in completing the damn thing as best I can.

Sunday's marathon was no different. I was extremely nervous and anxious the night before, so much so that I actually sat down and read Moby Dick before going to bed. That helped settle me down for a good night's sleep.

The following is my account, as best I remember, of the race. Considering I don't run with an iPod, I would expect to remember more of the race than I do. I remember flashes of every mile, but I can't pinpoint what I was thinking for most of the race. Most likely I was focused on the race. Heck, I missed the Golden Gate Bridge and the bison roaming the San Francisco Zoo. I did catch the large waves hurling themselves against the shore.

I placed myself in the back of the 9:00-10:00 min pack. I was going to force myself to slow down the first few miles for fear that I was going to hit the wall if I didn't. I wave at Darin, Anita, and Kate as I cross the start line and head off for a relaxing 26.2 mile run.

The start is always the worst part. It's so crowded and you can't establish a good rhythm. I resisted the urge to weave through the crowds. I maintained a steady pace and waited for others to clear a path before me. The start was slightly downhill and the runners were still giddy and gung-ho about the whole thing, but I was intent on staying calm and conserving my energy for when I needed it. I ran the first mile in about 10:30.

Gosh, I don't remember anything about the second mile. Where was it? I think it was before the Embarcadero. I remember hearing "Hot Hot Hot" but that's about it. It was probably still crowded, and by this time people were taking their walk breaks. I decided to not take a walk break until about four miles into the race, and with my 10 minute pace, I really wasn't going to need it for a while. I hate taking a walk break in crowded races because I worry someone's going to run into me and it takes too much effort to run over to the side and stop. As such, I skipped the first aid station as well. I carried a 20 oz. Gatorade with me, something I've been doing in my training runs, so it was little bother. In fact, I think it worked out perfectly. I only stopped at the aid station three times during the race to replenish my bottle. I took a couple of other breaks to Vaseline my chafed nipples, but I think I kept the breaks to a minimum. In all, I think the breaks only cost me a minute or so.

In mile 3 I run into Coach Katie. She runs with me for the better part of the mile. I tell her that I haven't taken a walk break yet and she suggests that I take one at least every mile just to keep my legs fresh. Following orders I take a break after four miles.

The race organizers messed up the mile 5 marker. At this point in the race I was running sub 10 minute miles, so I was shocked when I crossed the mile marker with a lap time of 12 minutes. There was no way that I ran that slow. As it turned out, I was right. The mile 5 marker was placed too far back. When I crossed the 6 mile marker my watch indicated a lap time of under six minutes. I wasn't slow, but I wasn't that fast neither.

Immediately after the mile 6 marker came the big hill of the course. This was the point where I could have seen the Golden Gate Bridge. I think the fog was too thick to see the bridge because I think I would have seen it otherwise. Oh well. I've seen it before. I'm sure it still looks the same.

The hill itself was challenging, but I think I had expected too much. It wasn't as bad as I expected. It wasn't exceedingly steep, nothing I hadn't done before in hill training. I maintained my pace and chugged the hill at about a 10:30 pace. I ran into Jimmy during the hill and he insisted I take a walk break. I had set my watch for a 3:1 interval, but I wasn't following it. I stuck with Coach Katie's suggestion of every mile, but since I was running up hill, it wouldn't hurt to take an additional walk break.

The best part about running uphill is that at some point you start going downhill. There was an oxygen bar up at the summit, but I didn't need it. That hill wasn't so tough. I recovered quickly from the exertion and ran up the next hill after mile 8 without a problem. Mile 9-11 were probably my favorite of the race. I was cruising at this point, weaving through beautiful neighborhoods, and catching a breathtaking view of the ocean just past mile 10. I grabbed a whole banana at the Jamba Juice stop (the Nike Women's Marathon is, if anything, well supplied) and I ate it as I ran. I was going to avoid the cramps as best I can.

By mile 12 I can feel my nipples starting to get raw. Coach Jimmy didn't have Nip-Gards this time and I didn't put on the Body Glide since I rarely need it, but I needed it then. I resolved to run shirtless should the chafing get worse. The heck with my flabby stomach. At the next medical station, I grab a stickful of Vaseline and lather it onto my sensitive nipples. They'll have to hold at least for a couple of miles until I can reapply.

Miles 12 through 16 are disheartening because you glimpse not only the frontrunners who are miles ahead of you, but you also get a glimpse of the finish at mile 16 only to realize that you have to run 8 more miles before you can properly cross it. By mile 16 my legs are feeling heavy. Then I feel it. A knot on my left calf. Remembering my problems from last time I worry that this will greatly slow me down. But I also learned my lesson. I don't stop. I keep moving. I vary my stride to lessen the impact on the calves. It worked. The cramps stay with me for most of the mile, but it goes away soon enough, not to come back for another 5 miles. It does slow me down, but I found a guy who was moving at a nice, even pace and I run with him for a bit so I don't fall too far behind my pace.

The four miles around Lake Merced are the worst of the race. It's mostly uphill, albeit gradual. In fact, I hated this part more than I did the big hill at mile 6. By this point my legs are dragging. The rest of my body felt fine, and my breathing was perfect. Yet the body was saying no. Lake Merced just felt like it wasn't going to end. My stride gets shorter and choppier and the mile markers felt so far away from each other. I didn't hit the wall during the race, but I came close around Lake Merced.

The run around the lake took so much out of me that the downhill trajectory of mile 23 to the finish did nothing to speed me up. In fact, I slowed down even more. In mile 23 my calf cramp returned and doesn't go away until I had crossed the finish. I take a third salt packet, but it doesn't help. I tried to tell myself that I just had a 5K left to run. One lap around the Rose Bowl. That's it. Much good positive thinking did me. I am hobbling and longed to stop running.

Then an angel came to guide me to the finish. Coach Katie emerged at mile 24 and ran with me. She took my Gatorade bottle from off my hand and paces me for the next two miles. She kept me from surrendering to my weaker senses. I follow her the rest of the way. I take a short walk break at the mile 25 marker and Katie has me moving once more. Kate joined in at this point and runs with me for a bit, pepping me up, telling me how proud she was of me. It was great seeing the support out there, and I felt like a prick that I couldn't say anthing back. I was just too damn tired and in pain to utter a reply. Jimmy met up with me somewhere near the end and tells me how many more stoplights I have to cross. Isn't that a Dylan lyric? How many stoplights must a man have to cross before you can call him a man?. If it's not then it ought to be. Kate pointed at the distance and tells me that the white tent in the distance is the finish. If I had the energy to talk I would have said, "God damn! That's far!" Sometimes people mean well when you're running. So when they tell you that "You're almost there" when there's still 10 miles to go, I'm sure they mean it in a good way. Sometimes, however, hearing "You're almost there" is the worst thing anyone can tell you, especially when you're dead tired. Yes, I may almost be there, but the fact is I'm not there yet. So telling me that I'm almost there isn't going to make me feel better when I'm feeling like crap.

Somehow or another, I make it past the 26 mile marker and fifty feet more I can finally see the finish. Seeing the finish was all the motivation I needed. Coach Katie leaves at this point and runs away with my Gatorade. I almost wanted to yell back at her that I'll need that for after the race. I sprint, or at least I run faster than I had been running. I pick out a couple of people way ahead of me and I start picking them off. As I cross the finish line, I throw my arms up in the air. I stop running. All I wanted to do for the last hour was to stop running and finally I did. I snatch a Tiffany box from a tuxedoed man and I am wrapped in Saran wrap, which I promptly take off when it makes me too hot. I grab a bagel and start eating, two Fig Newtons, and six shots of a green tea concoction from Jamba Juice and I'm good to go. Another marathon down. This one with a time of 4:21:02, 33 minutes faster than my first marathon.

I fully expected to break down after this marathon, but I think I was too tired. I sobbed in LA three different times. I don't know why, but it felt good to do so. It wasn't a couple of hours later, as I'm sitting two hundred yards from the finish taking pictures of fellow TnTers as they were finishing that I finally cried. I was watching Coach Katie and Jimmy run back and forth ushering my teammates to the finish and the magnitude of what I had done and what the coaches were doing hit me. I sobbed. I tried to hold it back, but it came out anyway. Again, there was no better feeling in the world than to let out all that pent up emotion. It's another triumph, and I deserve to let it go if only for a little while.

It's two days later and I'm surprisingly soreness-free. I ache a little, but not more so than after a 14 miler. I can run, even. I'm trying to pamper myself this week, but in the back of my mind I know that I have to turn around and start training for L.A. again.

It's official: I am hooked.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Another marathon down

I wanted to write a long post about the Nike [Women's] Marathon, but now I'm too sleepy to do so. So here's the nitty gritty.

TIME: 4:21:02
Bib number: 1797
PACE: 9:57/mile
PLACEMENT: 814 out of 4688 marathon finishers
GENDER: 124/409 male runners
AGE DIVISION (M 25-29): 28/77

I made my goal of finishing under 4:30, but quite a way from my very optimistic wish of finishing in four hours. I realized that was out of the question early on and concentrated on finishing under 10 min/mile. That almost didn't happen as I started slowing down at about mile 19. Cramps on my calves came on in mile 16 and went away after mile 17 only to come back in mile 22 accompanied by additional cramping on the muscle above my right knee and shot up to the inside of that leg up to my groin. The fact that I kept the pace to under 12 min/mile for the rest of race and ran the last 1.2 miles in 11:15 was a good thing.

A longer post to follow with pictures. I promise.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I Must Sleep Well!

I thought that last post was going to be my last prior to the marathon, but here's one more.

I spent a few minutes tonight looking at the course map of the race on the Nike Marathon website. After studying it for a bit, it seems a little less daunting. The worst hills appear to be early in the race, between miles six and seven and between eight and nine. The first hill is an almost 200-foot climb. I guess I'll find out how hard it is on Sunday. The main thing is to recover on the downhills. I think the fact that I've been running the Claremont Wilderness Park will help me out. I haven't mastered that course yet, but I think I'm smarter and more aggressive because of it.

While driving from work this evening I thought about the race and what significance this second race holds. The first was momentous. The first! I think this one is a race for pride. I want to be able to hold my head up and say I ran a hell of a race. The next race will just be for shits and giggles. I'm still going to give it my all, but it won't have the baggage the first had. However, that is only true if I run a strong race this weekend. If I pull up lame again, then I'll have to pull a Michelle Kwan and try, try again.

Here's to pulling a Tara Lipinski.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

nothing left but the marathon

I ran my last workout before the Nike Marathon yesterday. I ran the Claremont trails one last time, and it felt good. I think I ran it in my fastest time yet, 48:29. I'll have to verify that. On Monday I ran 6.25 miles late at night at the gym, an hour. I felt strangely fine yesterday during my run. Nothing ached. My legs did not feel heavy. It might have been the massage from the day before, or the fact that I've rested up for the last couple of weeks. I hope it translates into a good run for Sunday. I checked the weather for Sunday in SF and it looks to be a good day, high of 67 degrees and partly cloudy. It will probably be in the low 60's during the run. Perfect. Hopefully I haven't jinxed anything.

This will probably be my last post until after the marathon. Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

10.16.2005: Long Beach Marathon

Chad, Margaret, Scott, and Scott's daughter

I have been neglecting this training blog of mine. Just too busy, you know? I haven't talked about my terrific 19 miler two weeks ago, the runs at the wilderness park, the week I took off because of papers and presentations to prepare, and my decision to do (yet) another season of Team in Training as a mentor. I will be a mentor with the spring team, and I will be training again for the LA Marathon. The first practice was yesterday, so right now I'm overlapping with fall. I'll miss their 4-miler next week because I'll be up in San Francisco for the Nike Marathon.

Today was the Long Beach Marathon. I woke up early (albeit later than I had planned) and drove to the I-605 Metro station in Norwalk to catch the Green Line and then the Blue Line to Long Beach. Interesting folks on the train.

Seeing the team do exceedingly well at the race energized me for my own race next weekend, but it also got me nervous. 26.2 miles is quite a long way. Do I really want to put myself through the agony again? Seeing the triumph on the faces of today's participants reminded me of how great a feeling it is to accomplish something that requires a lot of work and discipline. Sure, I'll be in pain for a couple of hours, but the elation will last far longer.

I'll be leaving for SF on Saturday morning. From now until then, I hope to get in a couple of runs, perhaps the wilderness park one more time. Then, rest.

The following week it's back to training for LA. Woo Hoo!