Monday, December 03, 2007

West Palm Half Marathon December 2007

Running buddy John and I were set to do the half. I had decided to support a running buddy, Jen Jones by pacing her at 8 minute miles to give her a shot at a 3:30 in the full. Jen had followed the Pfitzinger 70/18 program and was well prepared for her effort having run six 20 milers (more than I've ever done). She had run good races recently from 5K to the half marathon distance. The question was, with temps expected to hit 75 by 10 AM, what pace could Jen reasonably expect to run and what would be her fall-back goals?

Race morning as I got in my car to drive up to West Palm Beach, my car thermometer read 75. This was at 4 AM, prior to the sun raising above the horizon. Oh, well. We'd make the best of it. Jen & I lined up near our pace leader, Eric, who seemed like a level headed runner. John was supposed to pace another buddy, Victor, in the half, but they never hooked up. Jen's husband Matt was to try to pace long the course on a bike in support.

Jen & I paced off Eric the first mile and found he went out a little fast. We decided to adjust our pace to true 8 minute miles regardless of what Eric did. We found some early miles he got a little ahead of us, but from about mile 4 to mile 10 he lagged behind. We just stuck to our pace. Between mile 10 and 11, I started to fall slightly off pace. Fortunately, Eric, our surging pacer, came by and I handed Jen off.

I finished the half in just under 1:46. John came in at 1:51; a stunning time given he was coming off a calf stress and probably shouldn't have been running. Buddy Victor came in at a PR of 2:05 and his friend Julie did a 2:10 for her first half. Jen's finish time for the full was 3:32:42, barely off of her ideal goal pace.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Philly Distance Classic September 2007

Salome & I ran the Philly Distance Classic (a1/2 marathon) on Sunday. A cold front gave us temps in the mid 50s at the start. A nice tour of Philly with a riverside run the second half. Very beautiful. I ran a 1:41 and Salome ran 2:04.

Monday, August 06, 2007

NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Here is my NYC Half Marathon report. It was hot, hot, hot on Friday and Saturday, but it cooled down Saturday Night. Salome, son John & I got into the city about 3 PM on Friday. We stayed near central park on 57th Street & 6th Ave. We hit the Nike store which was nearby for the number pickup and of course gear shopping. Some nice shirts and hats. John & I did the Empire State Building while Salome shopped at Macy's. That night we got tickets to see "Avenue Q"---very funny.

Saturday morning we walked a bit in Central Park and walked within feet of Sting and his wife strolling in the park. Then, we took a tour of Lincoln Center. After that, John made me take him for a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Very hot. I kept buying Gatorade from vendors to keep hydrated for Sunday's race. The subways were so hot, I joked that we could bake cookies just by holding cookie dough in our hands.

We did the Pasta feed which was at BB King's House of Blues on 42nd Street. Not too fancy, but its always nice to eat with other runners.

It was about 70 on Sunday Morning. The first 7 miles were in Central Park, so it kept it nice and cool. About 10,000 ran, so the first mile or two were congested and kept me from going out too fast. I picked it up in the 2nd 5K to come in at just over 50 minutes for the 10 mark. The run down 7th Avenue into Times Square was surreal. They had the race broadcast playing in Times Square, so you could see runners running in Times Square as you ran. Too cool for words. We turned west on 42nd Street and ran over to the West Side Highway. From there it was South to Battery Park. Fortunately, the course was mostly shaded from buildings in the early morning hours. I crossed the finish in 1:44:32. Salome, who was fighting a bit of a stomach virus, bonked about mile 11, but still finished in a respectable 2:24. It was neat sitting on benches in Battery Park recovering and looking out to the Statue of Liberty. Overall, a great experience that I can recommend if ever you want to do this race.

After we ate a brunch and showered, we took the studio tour of NBC Studios. Later, we did a museum visit at the MoMA. The new building is spectacular and I wanted John to see the collection of Impressionists, the Picasso's, and the Andy Warhol's. We ate at a Greek restaurant near our hotel and flew out at 9:30 PM.

All in all, a great time. Yes, August in NYC is a bit of a gamble, but I was glad we did it. Now, we are off the race circuit until mid September when we run the another half on Sept. 16th: The Philly Distance Classic. After that, we'll step up the distances for our training for Dublin.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Boston Marathon 2007

Prior to this year I've run the Boston Marathon course twice. I considered myself 0-2 with Boston beating me handily both times. I've run several sub 4 marathons, but was way over 4 hours in each prior Boston. I've always had real ham and quad cramping issues in the Newton Hills.

Why did I come back for more? Because its Boston. I love the history, the tradition, the excitement of the expo. This year I had convinced my friend Wayne Crayton from Anchorage, Alaska to run it as a charity fund raiser. He was a solid 4:15 to 4:30 marathoner, so it looked like he might not hit that qualifier until he got much older.

Being a cancer survivor, he chose the Dana Farber Cancer institute as his charity. Having lost my brother, my father-in-law, and most recently a good friend to cancer, I had no choice but to donate my time and money to support this noble cause. I also agreed to run as his photographer to document his run.

Wayne posted a fund raising goal of $8,000.00. I told him I thought he was setting the bar pretty high. He was a little nervous too about such a high commitment. However, with $25 and $100 donations from family and friends, Wayne soon started moving towards the $4,000.00 level. Some buddies of his in Mexico held a golf tournament on his behalf and they raised another $2,000.00. Before he knew it, Wayne had surpassed his goal and has exceeded $10,000.00.

I really enjoy the history of the Boston Marathon. I got Wayne pumped up with Clarence DeMar's book, Marathon. I followed that up with Hal Higdon's excellent coffee table book that was published on the 100 year anniversary of Boston, and finally, Duel in the Sun. A couple of weeks before the race, I sent him Saint Ralph. Needless to say, he was primed for Boston.

The expo did not disappoint. We bought our shirts, jackets, and some weather gear, then headed for the Runner's World Seminars. Man, it was like going to a Hall of Fame, but with your hero's right there in front of you. I'd given Wayne my spare copy of the Boston edition of Marathon and Beyond from last year's race, which he promptly had all the running heros and heroines sign. It made for a great autograph book. The advice all these guys gave was, forget about time goals tomorrow, try to survive the conditions.

In any event, I ran at his pace which allowed me to survive this race without cramping for the first time. I simply enjoyed the sights and sounds of the journey.

My comment to a running buddy at the finish who failed to hit his race goal was: "Its Boston. What can we expect?" The race that humbled the likes of both John Kellys and Bill Rodgers, humbled me each time I've run it.

As I thought about it later, I decided that perhaps its tempting fate to think that we should try for a PR in any marathon. Perhaps the better approach is to follow that good training program and when the PRs come, they will come. Our task is simply to keep on the road of good health and good cheer.

These events are festivals of a sort. I've often described them as a moving party of good people who are living their dreams of good health and social bonding with like minded people. The trick in this game is to stay motivated and involved.

The first time I ran Boston, my parents accompanied my brother, his wife and I to the race. After the race and showers, we were walking past the food court in the Prudential Center. Two older runners who looked to be in their late 60s or older were sitting at a table closest to the hallway. They were still in their running gear with mylar blankets draped over their shoulders. I congratulated them and shook their hands. One of them nodded his head and told me to ask his buddy how many marathons he had run. It was something over 100. When I didn't ask him the same question he elbowed me and said, "Aren't you going to ask me how many I've run?" It was something like 150. Now, I don't think I'll run near as many as either of those two guys, but I hope and dream that I'll still be interested and able when I approach their ages.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Around the Bay 30 K Race Report

Here is my race report of my running of the 113th Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, Ontario this last Sunday, March 25, 2007. I had seen the film Saint Ralph, a fictional story of a 14 year old boy who runs the Boston Marathon in hopes of performing a miracle to help bring his mother out of a coma. A truly funny and inspiring story that I recommend to anyone looking for inspiration in running Boston or any other marathon. In any event, the film takes place in Hamilton, Ontario and young Ralph runs wins the Around the Bay race in race in preparation for his Boston attempt. I was curious as to whether this was an actual event and Googled the race. Sure enough, this race exists and has a storied past, very much like Boston. I had decided to do the race as a hair-brained scheme to avoid doing my scheduled 20 milers before tapering the next 3 weeks. A running buddy also liked the idea, so we booked flights from sunny Ft. Lauderdale to Buffalo, NY and drove up to Hamilton.

It turns out the event pre-dates Boston by a couple of years. In the early years of the Boston Marathon, the Canadian runners would run this event as a lead up to Boston. Several of the winners of this race went on to win Boston. The course is a considered a miniature version of Boston in that it has a series of hills from 19K to 26K culminating in a steep hill named “Heartbreak Hill” after its Boston namesake. At the pasta dinner on Saturday night, John Stanton, the owner of the Running Room (a Canadian running store), advised to treat the course as a 20K training run, followed by a 10K race. In other words, don’t push it too hard until you get to the hills. Much like you and John advised for Boston in your pod-cast.

The main speaker at the pasta feed was Jacqueline Gareau, the real winner of the women’s 1980 Boston Marathon. You know, the one where Rosie Ruiz claimed victory, but was later exposed as a cheat. Jacqueline was a gracious speaker. It was nice to hear the story from her point of view.

Race morning was in the mid 30s. My running buddy, John and I kept our sweats on until just before the race. I ended up keeping my sweat pants until the hills. We started off with a couple of 7:50 miles, but soon cut back to about 8:05s not wanting to burn out. I have a history of going out too hard in races and paying for it in the later portions of races. Buddy John stayed a few strides in back of me, keeping me from picking up the pace. I started to call him “Governor,” but thanked him for keeping it smart. Of course, we did start to get passed by more eager runners that pushed the pace during the second 10K.

At about the 15K mark, John started to tell me that I was looking strong and to go ahead of him. “No,” I said, “this is a training run for Boston. We’ll do this together.” So we kept it at marathon tempo as opposed to race pace. He repeated his suggestion a couple of more times, so when we got to the hills, I figured I had permission to run how I felt. Having not pushed too hard getting to the hills, I felt good. I started to push my pace, passing many of those that had previously passed us. I kept feeling good and kept pushing up and down the rolling hills. Heartbreak Hill was tough, but I managed to keep a good pace. Having blown up in the Newton Hills in Boston the last two years, this felt great.

The last 4K was a general downward slope back into downtown Hamilton. The finish was in the Copps Center, a hockey arena. They had a track down the middle of the floor of the arena with a camera projecting the outside approach to the arena and the finish line. A nice set up. My finish time was 2:37, which I was very happy with.

I think what please me most was following the strategy of taking it easy before the hills, and giving it a go in the hills. It pretty much is exactly what is advised for Boston. It nice to have this mini-Boston under my belt leading up to April 16th. I’m now looking forward to Boston instead of fearing it. I’m going to be pacing another running buddy, Wayne Crayton, from Anchorage, Alaska, who is running it as a Dana Farber Fund Raiser.