Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Race Report

The race was scheduled for a 7:00 AM, and I had to catch the shuttle bus to the start by 5:30 AM. I was up at 4:00 AM, had a light breakfast, and Sue dropped me off at Quest Field, and I boarded a yellow school bus, headed to the start in Tukwila, about 8 miles south of the city. It was a chilly morning, so I wore an old Turkey Trot long-sleeved T-shirt. I had about an hour and a half to kill, so I walked around and tried to stay warm. I was surprised at the number of runners. I learned after the race that there were 21,000 combined half and full marathon runners. A few minutes before the start, I pitched the shirt, then I heard someone from behind shout, "Hey Frank". I turned and a guy whom I didn't know introduced himself. Steve. He was a friend of Kurt Molter, and Kurt told him that I would be running Seattle. He recognized me by my SERC racing shirt. We talked a little, and found that we were both going for a little below 3 hours, so we thought we might run some of the course together.

They didn't do me any favors when they started the
elite and first corral together, eight minutes ahead of the rest of the field. Unless you are an elite runner, keeping pace with the elite runners for the first few miles of a marathon is likely to ruin your day. My first two miles were 6:16 and 6:26, so clearly I was allowing them to pull me along. By the time I reached the western shore of Lake Washington at the end of mile four, I had come to my senses and taken my pace closer to 6:40. We were out of the industrial and commercial district, and running in a beautiful residential neighborhood. The sky was cloudless, and the sun was warming the air, so the morning chill was gone. It was nearly ideal running weather. The course turned north along the western shore of the lake through mile 9, the flattest part of the course. I settled in and ran these at an average right around 6:50.

Miles 10 and 11 are east across the I-90 floating bridge then back west again. Floating bridge sounds about a flat as a couple of miles could be, right? No exactly, as the ramp down and then back up is about 100 foot climb. At this point, I was really beginning to work. We ran through the tunnel, westward into the south part of the city, then turned north past Safeco and Quest Fields. Miles 11 through 13 are mostly uphill, so my pace dipped a bit through this stretch. When I crossed the half, the clock said 1:29:48. In light of my 6:16 and 6:26 first two miles, I was happy that I was able to take get it back in the target range, but I knew that the big hills were in the second half.
There is a nice down hill at the end of mile 13, then it is all uphill through mile 20. As we head north through the city, the grade is moderate and very runnable through the 14th and 15th miles and I averaged 6:39 for these. The grade gets much steeper in miles 16 through 20, and it was here that I lost track of Steve. I decided to let him go and run my own race. His pace seemed too aggressive for the four miles of steep hills ahead. I kept my pace right in the low 6:50's for this leg, trying not to burn up everything in the hills.
When we finally made the turn at the top of the last hill, I was feeling every mile of it. I did a quick assessment and decided it was unlikely that I had enough left to finish strong, but I could still make my sub-3 if I ran smart. I knew the next mile was the steepest down hill of the race, and I wanted to take full advantage of it, so I cut it loose and ran it in 6:29. After that, the grade softened, and it was a struggle. The next four miles were 6:39, 6:42, 6:51, 6:57. I passed Steve who was paying the price for running the hills too fast. I wished him well, and was on my way. Most of that was run on the elevated highway running along the bay. I was hurting for most of it. I felt twinges of cramps beginning in mile 24. Thankfully, the first actual cramp didn't grab hold until the last half mile, I stopped a couple of times to stretch, but I was not going to repeat my Boston mistake. I knew I had a sub-3 finish with about a minute to spare, but stopping to stretch cramps could eat that up easily. I kept the stretches to no more than 15 seconds. When I made the turn toward the finish west of Quest Field, I heard Sue shouting, and I waved and smiled. There was a fence so no way for me to get to her. The last cramp struck about 50 yards from the finish, but I just ran, or more accurately, gimped, through it.

After the race, I met up with Sue,Alex, and Kalena. We went out for lunch and a beer (my first beer in a week.) I was great.
My lil'sis Georgeann called to tell me she saw me cross the finish line on the streaming video on line. She also said the website listed me as age group winner, which I immediately dismissed as an error. Based on the times I had seen in other Seattle marathons, I was sure that it not possible to win my age group with anything over 2:55. Regardless, given the tough hills on this course, finishing under 3 hours was all I wanted. The pain of the last six miles were a steep price to pay, but I made it. Winning my age group was actually less important to me, not that I will turn down the award. ;-)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Flying to Seattle

Nothing left but to run it. If all goes as planned, by Thursday afternoon, Sue and I will be having lunch with my son and his girlfriend Kalena at one of the fine seafood restaurants in or near Pike's Place, then off to the Expo to pick up my race packet and look for bargains. (That's a photo of Alex and I taken when we visited him in Seattle last year.) We'll find something touristy to do on Friday (I am thinking about riding one of the ferries), and try to avoid too much walking to give my legs a rest. Once the marathon is done, we'll probably head to Pike's brewery pub, which is right in Pikes Place Market. We don't leave Wednesday, so there will be plenty of time to spend with Alex and Kalena, and see more of the city.

The marathon starts on on Saturday at 7:00 AM Pacific Time. It is a point to point race, so I'll have to catch a shuttle bus around 5:00 AM to Tukwila, south of Seattle. In contrast to the Boston and Cleveland courses, this one has some early uphills. Between miles 9 and 10 though, there is a nice break as we go out and back across the Mercer Island floating bridge, which has a long flat stretch in the middle. From there, we go right through downtown, then head north. Real hills between miles 15 and 20 will make this the toughest part of the race, and should be a nice filter, dropping the runners who went out too fast. Good news after mile 20, the rest of the race is downhill or flat. Assuming I have run a smart race, taken care of my hydration and nutrition, I have enough left to take advantage of that and run a fast last six miles.

Training Week Review
It wasn't a big taper week, with total mileage at 59. I did have some really fun trail runs. After work on Wednesday, I went to Jaite Wayside and ran the leg of the Buckeye Trail from there to the Boston store and back. About a mile into the run, the sky turned dark and rain began falling hard. It did not let up until the end of the run. It did not take long for the trails to be filled with run-off from the hills. Running was tricky because I could not see the roots, stumps, and rocks that the water was hiding. It was exhilirating to be in the woods, running alone, with the storm crashing down. After about four miles, the insoles of my Humaras began bunch-up, so I took them our of the shoes. It turned out to be a good idea, necause I immediately noticed that I was much more naturally inclined to mid-foot strike. It was a great fun run.
On Thursday, I meet up with the group from Vertical Runner and we did about 8 miles, the first three just Steve Hawthorne and me. We ran a loop following a horse path, and with all the rain we had, this was about as muddy a course as I have ever run. The mud was soft and deep, so we were really working. By the end of the run, I was caked with mud. Another great fun run.
On Sunday, I ran with the SERC group, just the basic 12 mile route. At mile three, Kam came up from behind and flew past us. At first, I let him go, but then I thought it would be good to run a few miles at marathon pace, so I took off after him. I ran the next three miles at 6:17, 6:18, and 6:20 and did catch him at the water stop. From there, we fell back to a 7:30 pace for the rest of the run.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A VERY Quiet Week

My running shoes were collecting dust most of this week. I did not run Monday through Friday, trying to let my left foot heal from whatever was causing it to swell. An MRI did not reveal a stress fracture, which was my biggest concern. I made a little video of the MRI, which moves through my foot from bottom to top. Have a look.

The doctor recommended a week of rest and ice to reduce the swelling. By the end of the week, the there was very little swelling, so I decided to give it a trial on the trails.
I got to Lock 29 a little early, so I could run a few miles without the group to see how it felt. That went well, so I joined the group and we frolicked through the forest for a few hours. With Steve G. off running with another group, Mark G. not around, and Paul R. out with an injury, Steve H. and I had to pick the course. It turned out to be a good run. My foot didn't complain much until the last few miles, which we ran much too fast (6:30 and 6:08.) A group of us went to breakfast at Yours Truly in Hudson, then I went home and tried to keep my foot iced for much of he rest of the day. I think that helped, because by the end of the day, there was virtually no swelling.
On Sunday morning, I decided to stay off the roads and on the trails, so I met-up with a group from VR that was doing a familiarization run for Buckeye Trail 5ok. We had a good run through from Jaite trailhead south on the BT to Initiation Hill (although I never heard it called that before) and back, about 17 miles. It was another beautiful, sunny, warm morning. I tried to pick it up for the last few miles but for the most part, we kept an easy pace.

With only two days of running, the total miles for the week was only 31. I did do some biking but I didn't really keep track of the mileage. Only 12 days until the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon.


My fellow blogger and all around very funny guy, Steve in a Speedo, is hosting a contest to win a $75 gift certificate from onlineshoes.com. Go to his blog for details.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

19 Days Until Seattle

This was an uneventful week. I have been feeling the effects of the racing and training, so on the advice of some fellow runners, I took Wednesday off. It might have helped; I am not sure. Just to mix it up, I swapped my Thursday lunch road run for an evening trail run with the group from Vertical Runner. That was fun. It was a big group, probably 15 or more, and we did not exactly stay together because of the different levels of runners. On Saturday, I ran with the usual Lock 29 crew on a great morning. Sunday was the Solon run with the SERC crew. I did four slow miles before the group started at 8:00 AM, then the rest of the run averaged around 7:30 pace. Total miles for the week: 71.3 miles. Not where it should taking a day off kept me under 80 miles. Next week, I will begin tapering, so the miles will be reduced.


Foot pain and swelling: About two weeks ago, I noticed soreness on the top of my left foot, right in the area of the third metatarsal. That is the long bone right in the middle. I continued to run because the pain was not too intense. It did not seem to be getting any worse, but also has not been getting any better. After the trail run on Thursday, I noticed that the slight swelling had become a bit more swelling. Again, the pain was not too bad, so I went for a slow Friday run with no real problems. The trail run in Saturday was more of a work-out for my foot. Toward the end of that run, the feeling was noticeably less comfortable. By Sunday morning, I did not feel too bad, so I went on my run as usual. After that one, in the shower I noticed the swelling had worsened, with some puffiness in my toes. By Sunday evening, I was having a little pain when walking, especially after sitting for a while, and the swelling had not gone down. I got an ice-pack and wrapped in around my foot. (I know...I probably should have been doing this from when I first noticed the swelling.) I have no idea if this will turn out to be nothing, but it definitely has moved beyond the 'ignore it and it will go away' stage.