Sunday, December 2, 2012

Running by the light of the silvery moon.

The following paragraph was a facebook post of mine this week.  But it was only part of the story so I thought I’d continue it in a blog post.
This morning before daylight I ran 'by the light of the silvery moon' and tried to remember the words to that song. There was sometimes a little haze around the moon and there were bright stars and some planets visible. It was cold and I counted about a dozen pieces of clothing I was wearing for warmth. I ran along an old railroad bed and past some horse stables. One horse was covered with a bright orange blanket - the same color as my shirt. It was dark but I wore a headlamp and ran on a nature trail through the woods along a stream and up a hill overlooking town. And I ran back down the trail and then along famliar streets toward home. I thought about family members and friends and my relationship with God. I felt healthy and strong and sometimes I ran faster. It was almost full light when I finished more than an hour after starting. It was a nice way to start my day.
In the first mile of my run near the end of a street another runner ran past on the cross street just ahead of me.  I wondered who he was, as if I should know everyone who would be running at that time.  I guessed I would catch up soon, but he was faster and pulled away.  At the end of that block, he stopped to walk and so I  guessed he was a new runner and had been running too fast.  But my route took me the other way.  Maybe he was just finishing his run.
Soon I ran under a bridge where a railroad line passes overhead.  I heard a different kind of sound from behind me – it seemed sort of like a jet plane kind of sound.  It wasn’t alarming just unusual.
A small pickup had come through the underpass and the curved shape of the bridge funneled the noise ahead of it. 

As I ran by the stables at the women’s college I waved to the driver of the security vehicle coming by in the other direction.  I see this vehicle on about half of my early runs through campus and wondered if the driver remembers seeing me.

On my way toward the nature trail I thought about how it is a secluded place where someone could be ambushed.  The next thought was what if I discover someone who has been killed there.  Would I be tempted to just look in a voyeur kind of way.  I had a cellphone with me and could call 911.  Do you call 911 if the person is clearly dead?  I prayed that God would keep me faithful in whatever situation I encounter anytime.  There were no such discoveries on the trail.

As I followed the path uphill a small bird flew out from just in front of my feet.  I wondered how well birds see in the dark and what kind of landing it would find.  The frosty leaves were a little slippery and I hoped I wouldn’t fall.  Near the top of the hill I could see the lights of a house that is normally hidden by the leaf cover.  On the return trip I saw more lights of other properties and wondered if they would be close to our church which seems like it could be in that direction.

I chose some less busy streets for the first part of the way toward home.  It just meant going a block out of the way.  Some of this route was slightly uphill and my running quickened in a pleasing way.  In a half mile I came to some more uphill, steeper this time, and it was nice running too.  Near the top I had to wait for some traffic then I could cross the street about 2 miles from home.  The next section is where the silvery moon thoughts came.  I tried to remember the tune but could only get part of a line.  It seems Dad would sing this when we were going somewhere in the car.  Later I googled the lyrics and discovered a much different song than I imagined.

In about a mile I was going through a newer development and passed a contractor kind of vehicle along the roadside – a garage door company I think.  In the next quarter mile this van came by twice apparently trying to find an address.

I remember seeing a car turning onto a street as I approached.  Since they turned toward me, I veered between parked cars and onto the sidewalk to avoid alarming the driver or getting pinched against the cars. It felt good to be aware and ready to react immediately to things like that.

I again took a slightly longer route toward home, this time so I could pass a house at the end of our block where we had seen extra cars, including a police car the previous evening.  Nothing interesting this time.  I turned off my headlamp as I turned the corner for home.
It was a nice way to start my day.

The next morning before daylight I ran again. The moon was covered by clouds. It was colder and I dressed about the same as before. I ran on the grass around a nearby school. I chose this run to strengthen my lower legs for trail races I want to do next year.  Each lap has a short and steep uphill section that challenges my commitment to run without walking.

Six laps, each about 3/4 mile. The heavy frost showed my footprints on each lap and I wondered if someone else would think several people ran there. Near the end of the first lap I saw a couple of silhouettes cross my path about 50 yards in front of me.  I wondered where they were going as they were heading toward the school building.  I couldn’t see where they went even with my headlamp.

One portion of these laps goes along some business properties.  On one lap a single car was parked at one of the businesses.  Later I noticed 3 cars, and eventually a fourth.  For some reason I think there is some kind of phone support at that place.

On a later lap I saw a rabbit, and on another lap a dog barked at me. I heard it’s chain on the sidewalk and wondered if it would try to cross the street.  It didn’t seem to try.  Part of the lap is along a highway and I run facing the same way the traffic flows.  I wonder how many drivers catch a glimpse of me and question whether they really saw someone running in the dark.

My legs and back felt sore and tight. My left leg was achey. The ground seemed to be freezing, getting harder and more lumpy during the run. I thought about yesterday's run and story. I gradually ran faster. I got home 5 minutes later than planned. Some runs are almost poetic, others are more work.

It was again a good way to start the day.

Mostly this is what my runs are like.  I don’t prefer to run alone.  I like to have company for the run.  But even when running alone and in the dark I don’t get bored.  There are lots of things to see, sometimes animals or people to observe, and always something going on in my head to think about.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Father and Son Run the Marine Corps Marathon

I registered for the Marine Corps Marathon at the request of my son Matt.  His idea was that we would run the race as something to do together.  It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, even though I had not planned to train for or run any races for most of the year.  Enough of us runners have our sanity questioned by family and friends, so when Matt wanted to do something with me like this, I was all in.  We did most of our training separately but did a few longer training runs of 15 to 18 miles together at a pace of about 10:30 per mile.  It seemed that a 4 and a half to 5 hour finish time was likely. 

The weather conditions included low to mid 50 degree temps and breezy.  The race day forecast looked like rain from hurricane Sandy would not start until after our race.  We wore shorts and short sleeved shirts.  Before start time it was breezy enough that we were getting chilly.  On the way to the start area we heard the national anthem and watched a fly-over by two V-22 Osprey aircraft.
Matt and I positioned ourselves in the start area somewhat behind the 4:30 pace group, in the back half of something like 25,000 runners.  The race announcer counted down to the start signal which was sounded by a howitzer blast.  And we waited for the crowd in front of us to start moving.  We started shuffling, then stopped, then walked and gradually worked up to a slow jog by the time we crossed the start line about 13 minutes after the start signal. And we were off - moving wherever and however the crowd permitted or forced us.  It was somewhat like being in a crowd of Christmas shoppers on the worst shopping day, or like being swept along by the crowd when leaving a big concert.

Our first couple miles through city streets were at 10:40 to low 11 minute pace.  Always someone was too close in front of and beside us.  We didn't really need to run faster but the desire for more space seemed to get us moving around and through the crowd to find some running room.  At least once this caused Matt to turn his ankle as we were passing on the curbside.  The first hill section ended about mile 3 and was followed by a downhill to flat stretch that was in a more park type setting with some woods along the road.  We ran onto the Francis Scott Key Bridge and toward Georgetown.  The water station here, like all others was staffed by Marines in uniform.
Over these first miles there were gloves, hats, shirts on the road that were dropped by runners who were warm enough without them.  After we crossed the Potomac River to the DC side, we ran along the C & O Canal National Park.  There were dozens of runners who stopped along here to pee in the bushes – eventually I was one of them.  The crowd was starting to spread out.  Then another uphill came along about mile 6 or 7.  This section of road was narrower and we were again more restricted / frustrated.  The course went through a residential neighborhood.  Our run plan was to keep to our familiar training pace and walk through the water stops, filling our water bottles and getting some sport drink to supplement our shot block nutrition - one block every 15 minutes.

By mile 9 or 10 our pace had picked up enough that our overall average pace dropped to about 10:30 per mile.  We had been keeping pace with a couple guys carrying flags, so it gave us a little motivation to keep them in sight.  We began discussing where our support team might be - right side of the road, or left.  Rose, Kim, Andrew, Lindsey, Kristal were to be along the course at about miles 10 and 16.  Eventually Matt spotted them and we moved to the right side to stop for a quick visit. There was nothing to resupply or exchange and soon we were running again.  (I did make a request for some coffee the next time we would see them.)  Matt is quite familiar with the sights around Washington so he pointed out where we were and what was coming up.  I would have been just following the crowd.  As we neared the halfway mark we both commented our feet were getting sore/tired.  This was also where we came alongside Missy, a Chambersburg running friend of mine.  We ran with her and chatted for several minutes.  Soon Matt and I took our first walk break separate from a water stop.  For the rest of the course we would walk for about a minute per mile.

 We continued on as had become routine.  Easy pace, look around at the sights/runners/spectators, eat a shot block on schedule, walk the water stops and refill bottles/drink sport drink, resume running as we joined up at the end of the water stop.  We came onto our crew as expected at what seemed to be the same area where they met me last year.  Rose had coffee for me and I drank about half of it.  Matt dropped off the belt pack he had used to carry his packs of shot blocks.  Then we moved on.  Matt told me they were planning to meet us again at the end of the loop on the DC side before we crossed the bridge toward Crystal City.  That gave us something pleasant to look forward to.

Before this next meet-up with our support crew, I needed to pee again (thanks to the coffee?).  We were watching for porta-potties for what seemed much too long.  Finally we came to a set of 6 or 8 potties and I got into line - maybe 10th in line to wait my turn.  Matt would walk till I caught up.  My "pit stop" took about 3 minutes and then we were back together running and looking for our next crew meet-up.  We didn't need anything at this stop and ran by without stopping.  And on we went.  We were now beyond the longest distance Matt had ever run.  Our overall pace was slowing due to extra walk breaks and slower run pace.
Soon we were on "the bridge".  Mile 21+. This is a long stretch with few spectators.  More and more runners can be seen taking walk breaks or stopping to stretch sore or cramping muscles.  By this point I was pretty sure I could hear Matt's breathing and he confirmed it.  This was different from the previous miles.  It isn't unusual that keeping the same or even a slower pace takes more effort by this point in a marathon.  We were clearly into the place where feet and legs are hurting from the pounding and multi-hour effort.  We talked about how our finish time was looking.  Not much else to talk about and not much in the sight-seeing category.  Just keep going.  Coming off the bridge we entered Crystal City with lots of spectators making friendly noise and energy to keep us moving.  We discussed whether a 4:45 finish time was within reach and what pace increase it would take.
The remaining miles were slowly ticking by and we left Crystal City for the last couple miles.  With less than 2 miles remaining, Matt started to pick up the pace.  We passed more people than passed us.  Not much else changed.  We looked ahead for signs of the final turn to “charge” the hill with the finish lines in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial.  Uniformed Marines stood along the road up Iwo Hill and encouraged runners toward the finish.  Some runners exchanged high fives with them.  Matt’s quickened pace meant more weaving around other runners and I pushed to stay alongside him.  The final stretch up that hill is narrower and more crowded, making passing more challenging.  And we crossed the finish line at 4:51:07.
We got in line to receive finisher medals from young Marine officers who placed the medal around your neck, salute you, and shake your hand.  And they told me “God Bless you sir.”


Friday, April 20, 2012

Boston Marathon Memories

Boston Marathon 2012
Three other 'YRats' (running friends who met through our YMCA bootcamp and still meet at the Y for morning runs) were running the marathon and Nikki was volunteering, so we shared the weekend by travelling together with spouses and kids.  Rose and Matt came with me and Keith lives in the Boston area so he met us there.  Brenda brought Tom and daughters Trisha and Faith.  Jill's husband Mike came, and Kristal brought Danny and Lindsey.  Two vans, 4 hotel rooms, eating out together, plus other Boston and marathon activities.  Two special activities were the Marathon Expo and painting pottery at the Clayroom.  It was fun seeing all the people wearing Boston Marathon jackets.  We could all feel like we were on the same team.

Kristal, Jill, Chuck, Brenda in our Official Boston Jackets

On race day, Mike drove Nikki to her volunteer duty starting at 6 am.  Then he returned and joined others to take up a place on the course.  Nikki later was able to join Brenda and run with her almost to the finish.  Matt and Lindsey drove the runners (Brenda, Kristal, Jill, and me) to meet a shuttle bus at Hopkinton State Park.  We all rode the bus together into downtown Hopkinton and the runners walked up to the athletes village.  Matt and Lindsey walked over to watch the start before heading back to get to a place later on the course.

The athletes village was of course full of activity and about 20 thousand runners.  After posing for photos, We found a place under one of the big tents, chatted, rested, and began our preparations.  There were some trips to the porta potties and finally we dropped our bags and walked to the start.  Jill left first for wave 2 corral 3, then me wave 2 corral 7, and Brenda and Kristal a little later for wave 3.  Hugs and well wishes with each departure.

It was about a 10 minute walk to the start area and for me included stopping one more time to visit the porta potties.  I got to my corral about one minute before the start, but we didn't start moving for a couple more minutes.  I passed the start line 5 minutes after the start signal, already jogging near my goal pace.  Almost immediately most runners were running faster than me and I was wondering what they were thinking by going so fast.  Since the day was sunny, it was important to find shade when possible.  This meant mainly running toward the right side of the road.  We would be in the heat for a long time.

On the course there was very good race support with water and gatorade every mile beginning at the end of mile 2.  There was an equal or greater unofficial support effort by spectators all along the course.  People seemed to be in front of their homes, businesses, other places offering whatever they thought would help the runners overcome the challenges of the course and the high temperatures.  Water, ice, orange slices, bananas, candy, paper towels (sometimes wet with cold water) for wiping away the sweat.

Many places someone would be standing at the edge of the road holding a garden hose with water spraying onto the road.  Runners were able to run through the spray for help keeping cool. Probably more than 100 people were giving this kind of help over the marathon course.

The Boston Marathon spectators are great supporters of the runners.  They look at runners to find a way to cheer for them.  Runners wearing their name will be cheered for by name.  Otherwise they cheer for you by number or the color or words on your shirt.  "Go for it Denmark".  "Looking good red shirt".  "You can do this Rats".  I heard that one several times.  Even with my name on my race bib, some people noticed my YRats shirt and cheered for me accordingly.  Someone even urged me to run it for the hamster!

The crowd of spectators included many, many families like is common along a parade route.  It must have been some parade.  By the end there were so many desperate looking runners who were reduced to walking.  It would take hours for all  runners to pass some of the later places on the course, so these supporters really showed commitment by being there cheering and helping.  It was so touching to see children along the way standing with their hands out offering refreshment or waiting for a high-five from runners.  Sometimes these little ones would be 3 or 4 in a row and I could give a hand slap to them all in one waving motion. 

Around the 5 or 6 mile mark there was a tent and sign in front of a Dairy Queen that proclaimed a 'quit early' spot and offering free ice cream to anyone dropping out there.  I thought "no way am I stopping now".

Water stops were a series of tables first offering gatorade and then followed by another set of tables offering water.  The usual water table practice in races is to slow enough to take a cup from a volunteer and continue past the table before stopping if stopping is one's intention.  This time the practice devolved into a stop and shop kind of approach.  Most people around me and including me were walking into the table area and picking up one or more cups.  Often even standing until we had gotten what we needed.  Volunteers were mostly busy trying to fill the cups quickly enough; runners were in self serve mode.  And the ground was covered with empty cups.  Near the gatorade the road ws sticky, then by the water tables is was wet enough to rinse off the stickiness.

Many places provided musical support.  Some live, others recorded.  Styles included a blue grass/country band, rock music at the biker bar, a drum group.  I remember hearing the theme from the Rocky movies. 

And the college students.  Wellesley and the scream tunnel with the female students holding posters, offering/requesting kisses.  Boston College was really loud and boisterous, with students standing several people deep along the edge of the road.  Their version of support included handing out beer.

It seemed that further along the course the crowds were thicker and louder.  The final blocks were just an amazing place with thousands of people between the buildings of downtown Boston. The sound in this area seemed like something from a professional sporting event and it was uplifting that they were cheering for me.  I could feel like and Olympian or a rock star.

After the race we had a prearranged spot to meet.  The walk to that place seemed to take forever.  After finishing I trudged along through the finish area, receiving a finishers medal, drinks and food, a reflective heat sheet, and my checked bag.  There were photographers taking finisher photos and I posed for one of those.  Eventually at the meeting place I met up with Jill and Kristal, who finished before me, and with Matt and Lindsey who were there to meet us. 

Jill, Chuck, Kristal, Brenda

Soon I was lying on the ground resting and taking some food and drink for recovery.  It took a while but I eventually felt revived and went to change into dry clothes and shoes.  Brenda and Nikki arrived.  Then Rose, Keith, Mike, Danny.  We swapped some stories, posed for pictures, and began making our way to the subway to start back to the hotel. 

During the subway ride I started feeling too hot again and then weak.  I asked to sit down.  This was a scare none of us wanted.  It seemed our whole group switched into emergency services mode.  I was given things to drink and eat to get calories into my system.  Some were fanning me to help me cool down.  I even had help taking my long sleeve shirt off.  When we got to our station, they made me lay down on a  bench and did more things to cool me off.  A metro station worker came over and asked whether to call 911.  In a little while I felt better and walked out of the station to the waiting van.  I still am unclear whether this was a heat issue or a blood sugar problem.  I think I was always clear enough mentally though this, but maybe that was a hallucination!

Back to the hotel, showers, and out to dinner.  We encountered some other marathon runners and enjoyed the camaraderie of Boston Marathon finishers.  Wearing the jacket or shirt seems like membership in an exclusive club.  And it's just fun to be part of something special.

Bedtime about 11:30.  Then Keith called because of a health crisis with his cat Michaux.  Rose and I got up about 2 am and spent the rest of the night with him.

Boston Marathon 2012 Race Report

April 16 , 2012 - the day was too hot for racing, sunny and 70's at the start, rising into the upper 80's.
During training my goal time for this race was 3:30 - requiring an average pace of 8 minutes per mile.  I finished with 4:30:29, 45 minutes slower than in 2011.
There were many warnings from the BAA about the hot weather.  They recommended only highly trained runners participate and to abandon time goals.  And they offered deferment/guaranteed entry for next year.
Considering the hot conditions I decided to start at 8:30 pace and adjust as needed.  By 5k I realized that pace would not work, so I purposely slowed by taking more time at water stops.  I had to continue slowing throughout the race. I added walking some between stops and then walking whenever I was too hot. Each mile took longer and was becoming more uncomfortable for me.  There were fluid stations every mile with gatorade and water.  As the day went on and got hotter, the drinks got warmer.  I was soon 2 or 3 cupping every water table - dump a cup of water, drink a cup of something, dump another cup of water over my head and upper body for cooling.  One time the "water" running down my face tasted like gatorade.  Oops!  My first thought was whether anyone noticed what I did.  I quickly used a couple extra waters to rinse.
Runners also had several opportunities to run through misting tents and fire hydrant sprayers to help keep cool.
By midway my quads were hurting and any slight downhill stretch was painful. The Newton hills from miles 17 to 21 tired and slowed me even more.  About mile 20 it seemed I was no longer sweating.  Before arriving at each water stop my arms would be dry.  But I felt ok to continue.  No headaches, dizziness, shaking.  No serious cramping.  My skin recovered from a pinch test for dehydration.  I considered checking at a medical tent but didn't want to risk them taking me off the course.  I had invested a lot of effort to get this far and didn't want to leave without finishing and getting the medal.  It seems foolish now as I put these stubborn thoughts into words.

Walking again, thinking constant forward progress.

For a long time I had been looking forward to the end of the hills where family and friends were watching.  I made sure I was running as I approached the spot in case there was a camera was ready for pictures.  Finally I arrived, found them near where I expected at mile 22 and stopped to talk with Rose and Keith and the others.  Rose offered water to pour over my head - I suppose I didn't look so fresh.  And then I went on to face the last 4-something miles.
More run-walk effort made slow progress. I realized if I could or would run more, I'd get done sooner.  At last I reached the final mile with only 2 turns before I could see the finish a few blocks away.  I managed to run without walking from the end of Boyleston the last whatever that is (half mile?) at a little under 9 minute pace.  I felt some emotion welling up as I ran along this last stretch in front of big crowds making big noise.  Crossing the finish gave simply a feeling of relief.
This marathon was difficult in such a different way than others I've run.  The conditions were the biggest challenge, not the distance or a time goal.  Early on when I realized I had to slow down to manage the heat, I surrendered any time goal.  When I checked my watch it was either to see what the total distance was or out of curiosity over my ever slowing pace.  My goal was only to finish safely.  Even that was not easy.

Even with this year's challenges, I am still very glad to have done the Boston Marathon. There was awesome support over the entire course from race workers and spectators acting as unofficial volunteers!


5k splits recorded by BAA:
0:26:21, 0:54:07, 1:22:21, 1:52:50, 1:59:12, 2:25:18, 3:00:31, 3:38:49, 4:15:58
mile splits from my watch:
  829,   828,    824,     821,     844,     858,     916,    917,     904,     900,     944,    1001,     942,
1007, 1103,  1012,   1149,   1130,   1123,   1142,  1305,   1142,   1239,   1147,    1108,   1103,  348 (828 pace for 0.45mi)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Holiday Lake 50K++ February 11, 2012

Training Context: I entered the race for a fun extra long run in the middle of training for Boston in April. It would be my 3rd time at Holiday Lake.  Ten local running friends were doing this race so it was a fun road trip driving together, staying at the camp, etc.  In late December I developed heel pain that increased till it interrupted my training plan and sent me to a doctor.  Big cutback in miles including 7 days straight of no running.  Adjusted goals to finish upcoming races rather than PR.

Goals/expectations: run comfortably, manage heel pain, enjoy the day, finish (or drop out) without further injury.  Run as much as possible on downhills and flats, walk uphills to avoid stressing the plantar fascia tendon that connects to where my heel hurts.

Race day: Dressed for running in low to mid 30 degree temperatures without rain or snow.  Bio-freeze on sore foot, tylenol and more bio-freeze in belt pack.  Inov8 Roclite 295 trail shoes with heel pads (modified to give more room for sore spot).

Looking ok around mile 12 - I have number 341 on my YRat shirt.
Race summary: I managed to run mostly normal effort for a long run, following the run/walk plan above.  Took 2 tylenol tablets at 3 times at about 1 hour 30 minutes intervals.  Reapplied bio-freeze at about 20 miles.  Ate a mix of sweet and salty at aid stations.  Mostly drank my own sportdrink, water, coke.  Was into the halfway / turnaround at 3 hours.  Felt stronger in the middle of the second loop and my heel never got too painful or got to the point of setting off some other problem due to compensation.  Leg muscles definitely felt the extra miles and hills but everything kept working. At the 2nd stream crossing around 26 miles, I stood in the stream for about 30 extra seconds to get a little icing effect for my foot. With about 5 miles to go I caught up to Janice who was in the same cabin as the ladies I travelled with.  We ran together chatting away the rest of the run to ignore the fatigue and discomfort.  Finish time 6 hours 12 minutes and 12 seconds, far better than I anticipated.  Yay! 

Race details:
At the 6:30 am start in the dark, I was with Brenda, Nikki, Anna who are my most frequent training partners and told them "don't wait for me when I slow down".  We were mid pack on the uphill to where the course leaves pavement to get on the trail, waiting as the crowd had to thin down to the single track trail.  I immediately stepped in a hole but thankfully didn't roll my ankle.  Soon I was running my own pace but separated from my friends wondering how soon till I had trouble and they would catch and pass me. 

In only 15 or 20 minutes I put my small flashlight away as daylight arrived.  I was carrying my own homemade sportdrink in a bottle belt arrangement.  I bypassed the 1st aid station at about 50 minutes, too soon to need food or a drink refill.  Traffic was easier by now and I watched a while for a place with enough cover for a semi private pee break.  Upon reentering the trail I heard some lady runners bemoaning the unfairness of how easy pee breaks are for the guys.  It made me smile.  Soon I arrived at the stream crossing and sloshed through, passing a couple of runners tiptoeing across rocks in the shallowest part.  This was at about 7 miles and I realized I had only a marathon still ahead of me.  I considered whether this was encouraging or depressing information.  My heel had been sore for some so I took 2 tylenol tabs and looked forward to the aid station about midway on the first loop.  On this stretch a lady runner emerged from the woods and said something about girls not having it easy as "you guys".  Her bright blue top and socks matched nicely with my gloves and I told her so.  Several times through the race she or I would pass the other and somehow it always brought a friendly feeling to see "Bright-Blue lady" again.

At the aid station I filled a sandwich bag with chips, pretzels, cookies; refilled my bottle with water; left there eating on the walk/run.  Things continued similarly lowkey to the next aid station.  One of our local group, Mike, was crewing for us at this station and it was good to see him here.  He helped me do another quick in and out baggie/bottle refill.  Almost immediately I encountered the race leader coming back on his second loop.  It suprised me at how soon this happened, maybe a mile sooner than last year. I interpretted that to mean he was on pace for a new course record, not that I was slower than last year (the truth). 

I tried keeping count of runners on their second loop to see how far back I was when I reached the halfway mark.  Seeing all of the runners' faces seemed to give me more energy.  Along the way I saw and exchanged greetings with local friends Jill, Johna, Monique. They all looked to be going strong.  Near the end of my first loop a lady runner was down on the trail, crying out in pain with a cramping calf.  I stopped for a minute or so to help by stretching and massaging the tight muscle for her, then finished my first loop.  My count showed me to be behind a little more than 200 others.  I came in right at 3 hours - about 5 minutes behind last year's halfway time.  I grabbed some snacks, refilled my sportdrink, took 2 more tylenol and started loop 2 in the other direction.  Soon I saw my other local friends: Nikki, Brenda, Angie, Brian, Anna.  Seeing each one brightened my spirits.

So 16+ more miles.  Would my foot allow me to run when the terrain was favorable?  Before long I felt the heel pad in my right shoe (the problem foot) working to the side.  So I made a plan to sit down at the next aid station, fix my shoe, apply bio-freeze to my arch through my sock.  Coming into this stop was somehow emotional for me and I thought I might cry when I saw Mike ready to snap my picture. While I did my foot/shoe maintence Mike refilled my bottle and snack bag.  Then I walked up the hill from this point, eating and drinking till the course flattened again. 

A couple miles later there is another long uphill approaching the next aid station and on this stretch I almost caught up to the Bright-Blue lady.  But she jogged the hill and I walked it so she added to the gap.  I checked the time and realized a 6 hour finished was out of the question as I would have to finish by running the last 8 miles faster than I had run all day.  Soon after the refills here at the halfway mark of the second loop (and a visit to the bushes for her) I passed Bright-Blue.  She would pass me once more and finish ahead of me.  I took two more tylenol and rubbed some bio-freeze on my quads and hip flexors that were aching from the day's work.  The next mile was all runnable and then the stream crossing.  I walked into the water to mid calf and stood for about 30 seconds to try to help my foot.

This next section was rather empty of runners, but as I kept on I passed a few.  Then with about 5 miles to go one lady looked familiar.  It was Janice who was in the same cabin with the ladies from our local group.  We ran together for the rest of the race, telling stories and swapping training experiences.  It was a good place to have company as the last miles are the hardest for me to keep focused mentally and to not compromise on the effort it takes to continue.  We finished together in 6:12:12. 

Mike was at the finish taking pictures.  Soon I was sharing experiences with him and with Jill, Johna, and Monique who finished before me.  And watching for our other runners still out.  Angie and Brian finished next, then Anna, then Nikki and Brenda (who was injured by some bad falls, causing a big slowdown).

This finish time was far better than I had hoped for considering my foot problems and the big interruption they have caused in my training.  I was expecting to have to walk and hobble to the finish or maybe even drop out.  Amazingly everything kept working.  I am so glad to have rested so I could have a chance to run, then started the race so I could find out what was possible.

All of our group got medals and most of us showed them off to Dr Horton.
Thanks to Brenda (wearing purple) for the medals!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Where have I been and where am I going? First post of 2012

Hmm... where have I been?  Regarding blogging, I have been reading but not posting since October.  Sorrry, it seemed like I was too busy to put out the effort.  Nothing needed saying either, but that might still be true.

Regarding last year, where have I been in 2011?  I can make a list for that.

Running related things first.
  • Marathons: ran 2 - Boston and Bob Potts, raced and PR'd 2 - Lehigh Valley and Marine Corps.  My PR improved almost 10 minutes over 2010.
  • Half Marathons: ran Chambersburg Half and raced Wineglass.  New PR at Wineglass by about 4 minutes (raced 2)
  • Ran 1 ultra - Holiday Lake 50k++ at not quite race effort and finished just under 6 hours and enjoyed it.
  • Ran a 5k and raced 2 10ks.  No true PRs at the 10k distance where both races seemed longer and my watch showed a PR pace.
  • Boston Marathon was a real fun experience overall and amazing in many ways.
  • I finished the year with 2116.3 miles, an average of about 40 miles per week. 
  • I paced friends in 3 of the above races rather than racing them myself and we met our goal on 2 of them.  One of the 10k races was a fundraiser for breast cancer research and I wore a pink shirt with ribbons!
  • I have been making progress on a bathroom project at home and have only about 10% still to do.
  • At church I have been teaching teens on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.  I continue as assistant treasurer.  I was appointed as an Elder near the end of the year.
  • Rose and I celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary in July with a visit to Baladerry Inn near Gettysburg.  Our honeymoon included some time in the same town.
Looking ahead for 2012
  • I plan to do less running after a couple of key races - Holiday Lake 50k++ and Boston Marathon. My plan was to go for a big PR at Boston, but plantar fasciitis is interrupting my training.  I will be happy to finish both races without looking or being disabled. 
  • I will switch to working out with Rose and helping her reach fitness goals that she will set.
  • Church leadership responsibilities will take some more priority and probably stretch my comfort zone. 
  • Summer time should include a family reunion trip to Kansas.
  • In the bathroom there is some wall space to finish/paint and the tub to reglaze.  More home projects await after the bathroom is 100%.