Thought for the Day

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Long Beach Marathon 2003

I got up at 5:30 plenty of time to kill. I was naively thankful for the 8:15 start time. I took a shower and got some coffee, a doughnut, and an English muffin at the complementary continental breakfast in the motel lobby.
I planned to park in the convention center parking lot near the start. Even though it was $8, I thought it would be worth it to avoid hunting for a space, and it would be an easy walk to my car after the race. By the time I got downtown, however, it was doubtful that plan was going to work. Traffic toward the convention center was at a standstill, and I could see a lot of runners walking to the beach. I turned into the first parking lot I saw, which turned out to be $11, and started walking. On the way, I made a quick stop in the lobby of the Hilton to look for a restroom. They had put out "Cleaning" signs at the restroom entrances to try to fool runners into passing by, but it wasn't working.
When I made it down to the start the 5K was just starting. It was already getting warm. We were on a street with a view of the harbor in one direction and the beach inthe other. A chorus sang America the Beautiful and the Star Spangled Banner. Then they started the wheel chair competitors. Shortly after that, we had several late wheel chair arrivals come barreling through the crowd.
The MC told us about all of the elite runners, their names, where they were from, their PRs. I usually couldn't care less about the people up in the front.
The start was crowded, but not as bad as some I've been to. I was able to run my own pace, but as usual started a little fast. I was hoping for a flat course, but there were two steep bridges in the first three miles. I was thankful that I had my sunglasses on.
Although the forecast had been partly cloudy, it was clear and bright out, and it was already heating up. My blood sugar was 180 when I checked it at 5 miles, which is a little high, but fine to start with.
I didn't realize how hot it was until we approached the 8 mile mark, on a bike path on the beach, and there was an EMT crew loading a Kenyan into an ambulance. Is it evil to let the thought cross my mind that at least I was going to beat one Kenyan? Anyway, I felt a little guilty about it.
Shortly after passing mile nine, I felt a familiar tugging sting in my abdomen. It was my infusion set yanking out. I had intended to double tape it that morning, but somehow had forgotten. This probably hurt me as much as anything. I was running pretty well on my pace until then. Then I lost about two minutes, cursing and fiddling with it, trying to keep it partly in while uncurling the adhesive patch and trying to get it to stick. That was futile. I thought about my options while cursing some more, and decided I would go ahead and finish.
It's not such a big deal. I know diabetic runners who disconnect from their pumps when they go for a run. It's just not what I usually do.
I turn my pump down to a basal rate of 0.2 units per hour, so for 3 hours, being hooked up or not would only amount to a difference of about 0.6 units. I use about 1 unit per 15 grams of carbohydrates, about one slice of bread.
So it's not a big deal, but it meant that I couldn't eat any power gel and my blood sugar remained a little high through the whole race.
Having a high blood sugar increases dehydration, and drinking only water and not getting any electrolytes also doesn't help. So I know I was more affected by the heat than I would have been.
It was only after mile 10 in southern Long Beach that this course started to get really hilly. There were no big hills, just a lot of them. It was a much tougher course than I anticipated.
Projected high for the day was 75, but it got to 85. I'm sure it was in the 80s during the race.
As you may have noticed if you were checking the mileage mongers, I did enough long runs, but not enough mileage during the weekdays, so I probably didn't have it in me to run a 3:30 anyway. But on that day on that course after my infusion set pulled out, I was pretty well screwed.
Anyway, I struggled through, running and walking. Sometimes I would put in another effort to keep going, to keep running or to run faster, at least for a mile, then I'd get discouraged and drop my expectations to simply finishing again.
Near the finish I came across two guys I had passed and who had passed me several times during the day. They were suffering pretty near as badly as I was, but I was coming from behind and passing. One of them went with me and the other encouraged his friend to get me.
He just smiled and said it's not about competition any more. I smiled back and said if it made him feel better he should do it. We both sped up. After a few yards I was pulling away from him. Someone at the side said it was 200 yards, so I sped up a little more.
The announcer was calling out names as runners finished. He suddenly sounded a little more excited and said, "Uh, oh! Here comes a strong finisher." I smiled. It struck me as funny. Just then a woman flew past me on my right. That was funnier. I eased up a little more and the runner I had passed a few yards back came sprinting past and caught the woman right about at the finish line.
I finished, got the chip cut off my shoe, and gladly took my medal.
Then I had to immediately hurry back to my car, probably more than a mile away uphill, to get another infusion set in.
I looked up some news articles about the Long Beach Marathon yesterday. Over 300 people sought medical attention at the race. Two of the elite runners dropped out before mile 8, the Kenyan I saw, who was reportedly spitting up blood, and a Russian. Another Kenyan dropped out at mile 22. Joseph Kamau, who had won this race the previous two years and had said he was in 2:13 shape before the race, won in just under 2:22, and he was six minutes ahead of the nearest competition. Near mile 25 he snatched a Gatorade bottle from a half marathon runner as he was passing. He ran a few yards ahead, stopped and took a few gulps before continuing on. He said that on a day like that, water is like nothing, and he needs Gatorade.
The sports drink they had at the aid stations was Ultima. That probably contributed to the problems at the race, because a lot of runners won't drink it.
The rest of the day I could tell I was dehydrated. I was thirsty, and my pee, which should be the color of a pilsner, was like an amber bock, or iced tea.
I'm feeling fine now. Just ordinary soreness.
Anyway, that's 20 marathons in under 5 years. And a good learning experience. I've decided take care of it in Tucson on 12/7.

Time Split
1: 00:07:24 07:24
2: 00:15:12 07:48
3: 00:22:55 07:43
4: 00:30:52 07:58
5: 00:38:33 07:40
6: 00:46:19 07:46
7: 00:54:07 07:48
8: 01:02:02 07:55
9: 01:09:54 07:53
10: 01:18:10 09:02
11: 01:27:28 08:32
12: 01:35:23 07:55
13: 01:44:08 08:44
14: 01:53:14 09:06
15: 02:02:37 09:23
16: 02:12:23 09:47
17: 02:22:37 10:14
18: 02:33:18 10:49
19: 02:45:39 12:13
20: 03:00:22 14:43
21: 03:12:49 12:27
22: 03:22:18 09:29
23: 03:40:38 18:20
24: 03:53:45 13:07
25: 04:08:08 14:38
26.2: 04:21:32 13:24

Thursday, October 2, 2003

Interesting Run

The entry in my log book for today says:

Course: Canal by Scottsdale Running Co.
Distance: 4 miles
Notes: Quick. Ran the first 2 mi a step ahead of Mark Allen.

Sure it was that Mark Allen, the one who won IronMan Hawaii 6 times. He came out and ran a four miler with folks at the Scottsdale Running Company, showed a video and gave a very interesting and inspirational talk.
On the run of course he was just jogging and chatting with folks. He sped up a little at the turnaround, and I had the choice of either huffing and panting trying to keep up, or just going my own pace and being comfortable for the talk after the run.
It was great to hear his stories about competing at the highest level in one of the most grueling sports. And yet he never sounded like he didn't think of himself as just another one of us. He's a great guy.
Got me thinking about going into the pool...

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Down Memory Lane

I have PRs recorded, but I've told you guys that I used to run faster, but didn't write anything down. Well, after moving to Phoenix, I found a lot of old stuff I had stashed away. One thing that turned up is an annual race schedule printed by the Santa Cruz County Distance Runners for the year of 1979.
In it, I had written in my times and finishes in several of the races. I had written in a couple of races that weren't on the schedule in the margins.
Below are some of what I consider the highlights. This doesn't get me any closer to knowing what my real, lifetime PRs are, because this is just from one year, and probably not my best year. I didn't make a note on any of these races indicating what I thought about my times, and I wasn't really paying attention to PRs.

5/5/79 The Corralitos 20K
32nd overall in 1:20:34
That stands out in my memory as one of my best races. It was the longest race I had done, I felt great through almost all of it, and I was thrilled with my finish time. About a half mile from the finish, my calves decided to knot up, first one, crunch, then the other, scrunch. I hobbled in trying to look like I was running.

7/4/79 Bluegrass 10,000, Lexington, Kentucky
185th overall in 40:54
A very good finish in a pretty big race on a hot, humid day. I had hardly been running at all because I was in Kentucky for the summer working for my Uncle Tom's construction company. It was hot and humid all the time, and I was spending my work days doing manual labor. On the couple of mornings or evenings that I went for a run, I couldn't get dry after taking a shower because the sweat wouldn't stop pouring out of me.

9/23/79 Nisene Marks Park Run to the Creek 10K
I don't have my finish place for this. My time was 39:17
I must have been back from Kentucky for a couple of weeks when I ran this. This park was, and still is, one of my favorite places to run. This was on trails and a dirt road through a redwood forest.

I'm sure it wasn't as much fun for you as it was for me, but I hope you enjoyed this trip back through time with me.

Monday, September 15, 2003

I Did-A-Run 10K 2003

I decided to do the I Did-A-Run 10K yesterday, basically because registration was free for members of the Arizona Road Racers. I've been a member for a while now, although I haven't done many group runs with them.
There were no mile markers, so I have no splits. It was a nice race on horse trails in the desert. No hills, just a few places were you ran down into a gully and out the other side. I had an unremarkable time, 45:16, 1:35 slower than my PR, but I am thrilled with it.
It was a trail run, which should be expected to be slower than a road race, but the main reason I'm happy with this time is what I did the day before. I ran twenty hilly miles in South Mountain Park the previous morning. I did what we call Double Dobbins, twice up Summit Rd. to Dobbins Lookout, about 2,000 ft. in 5 miles, and back down again.
It probably was tempting fate to try a race the next day, but I felt fine, and I told myself there was no pressure to perform. If I felt any reason to slack off, I would.
I felt fine the whole way. I think I slowed down around three miles, but put on a push in the last couple of miles.
I had my doubts about how ready I was going to be for the Long Beach Marathon on 10/12. Now I'm sure it will be all right.

Saturday, February 8, 2003

Chinese New Year 5K

Well, I did manage to get up in time to run the Chinese New Year 5K this morning. That's not really impressive since it started at 9.
I was able to do something that I've known for a long time would help me improve my 5K time, but I've been failing to do. I was able to get there in time to run over the course as a warm up. It's not that the course was complicated or anything. It was just a big, flat, square lap on some streets west of downtown Phoenix.
Last night after work, I got the distinct smell of mud, which means it's raining somewhere in the area in Phoenix, but there were just a few scattered clouds. The clouds were thicker this morning, and it sprinkled while I was running my warmup lap. I hit the porta-john with about 10 minutes to spare, and was all set to go when the race started.
It was a crouded start, and I was a little boxed in at first, but it loosened up within a half mile, and I was able to run at my own pace. I hit one mile in 6:22.
I was feeling good, and I thought I probably wasn't totally out of the running for race junk, but I lost ground to the runners around me in the second mile. 7:11. I think maybe the mark for the second mile was misplaced, but I'm sure I could have done better.
I ran better in the last mile, I passed a couple of people, but I also got passed, by about four men who looked like they might be in my division. My mile split was 6:35.
I found myself in a battle at the finish. I was catching up with one guy who had passed me a minute before, so I poured it on. At the same time I heard another runner gaining on me, which put more pressure on. In the end, we finished in a bunch, but in the same order, me in the middle.
Final time was 20:39.
A new over 40 PR for this distance!
One of my objectives for this year is to get under 20 minutes in the 5K. I'm pretty sure now that if I get my weekly mileage back up above 40 and do one track workout a week, I can easily find the 40 seconds I need.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Lost Dutchman Marathon

Sorry this is so late, I was lost in the desert for the past week.
I rate this as a great course and a well run marathon. But if you look at the times that won it this year, with about 350 runners, prize money for first place male and female with a bonus for setting a new course record (which was almost certain for whoever came in first) you can see it is not an easy course. The winning time for a man was 2:45. and the winning woman ran a 3:10.
We were bussed out into the desert by about 7:20 AM, for a 7:45 AM start. It was a narrow dirt road, but the drivers seemed to be very experienced and comfortable zipping over the gullies and washes and around the turns, sometimes passing each other, in these big, yellow school buses.
At the starting area, we were under a huge, strange-looking rock formation. We could see the approaching sunrise by watching the edge of the sunlight crawl down the rock face. There were campfires for the runners to warm themselves by. It was nice to have them there, a good idea, but it was a mild enough morning that we would have been all right without them.
I had gloves and a long sleeve shirt, but I tossed them into my sweats bag before the start. The sheriff was there to start the race with a shogun blast, but when he went to fire, he must have had the safety on or something. Anyway, we heard it go off behind us when we were a hundred yards away.
As I told Edward, the downhill part at the beginning was not all downhill, but it was enough to make it pretty easy. And we were starting on that dirt road, which was a nice running surface, for the first six miles.

1. 7:36
2. 7:25 15:01
3. 7:41 22:43
4. 7:49 30:32
5. 9:03 39:36
6. 8:04 47:40

Mile 4-5 I checked my blood sugar, and it had dropped to 63. I think part of being out of shape is that I burn glucose out of my blood more rapidly. I gobbled a Carb BOOM and started to feel better. The course goes onto streets at this point, and levels out somewhat.

7. 8:32 56:13
8. 8:14 1:04:27
9. 8:24 1:12:52
10. 8:28 1:21:20
11. 8:09 1:29:29
12. 8:31 1:38:12
13. 8:04 1:46:04
1/2 M 1:46:52
14. 7:58 1:54:03

The differences in paces in those miles generally match differences in slope. When I passed the volunteers at the half marathon point, I actually told them, "Awesome marathon!" and that's how I felt at that point. The desert mountain scenery was pretty spectacular, and there was nothing I could find fault with in
the race management.

15. 8:23 2:02:26
16. 8:44 2:11:11
17. 9:52 2:21:02

There were more hills here, and I thought they were pretty mild, but as Alan has described it, "the wheels were coming off."

18. 10:10 2:31:12
19. 10:08 2:41:20
20. 10:52 2:52:13
21. 11:05 3:03:18

I was broken and hanging on at this point. A totally predictable result given my preparation. Someone on the sidelines asked, "Is it too soon to say don't leave anything in the tank?"
I thought to myself, "The tank is empty and the tires are flat."

22. 11:16 3:14:34
24. 25:53 3:40:27 ( 12:56 average for two miles)
25. 11:59 3:52:26
M 15:59 4:08:26 (officially 4:08:19)

Right after the 22 mile mark is a short, steep hill called the "Dutchman's Revenge." I started walking as I approached the aid station at the bottom, but after I got my water, I decided I would go ahead and run up it. There were a lot of others, probably smarter than me, who were walking. A woman who started running with me, stopped and said, "I'll run at the top."
I ran over the top, but I didn't speed up after that, and I think everyone I passed there eventually passed me.
But I kept moving to the finish.
A few more canopies to get exhausted runners out of the sun after the finish is the only way I could improve on this marathon.
Oh yeah, and it would be nice to have some beer there, too, but I think it was against park rules.
Anyway, I would recommend this run as an adventure to anyone who's interested.