Thought for the Day

Sunday, May 30, 2004

ARR Summer Series 5K #1 2004

I ran the first of the five Arizona Road Racers Summer Series 5K races.
It was held in beautiful but weird Papago Park, on a very nice morning for Phoenix. It was 68 F when I left the house at 5 am, and only in the 80s by the time the race was over.
I had agreed to help out at this race, so I ended up being used as a runner, running batches of filled out race entries from the registration tables to the timing table where the timer was doing his level best to get them all entered into the computer. It was interesting, and kept me warmed up and occupied while waiting for the race to start.
This race is especially complicated because it is age and gender handicapped.
Each person is given a starting time based on how old they are and whether they are male or female. As a 45 year old male, my starting time was 12:19 after the gun.
This starting procedure, and the popularity of this race, and the fact that the course doubles back on itself, makes for a very crowded race from start to finish. You are always weaving through slower people who started ahead of you. Then, near the turnaround, there are runners in both directions. there is no clear marking of which side runners should stick to, so there was a lot of dodging and stutter-stepping.

Still, it's a very fun race. Because of the crowding, the rolling hills, and the loose dirt on part of the course, it is not a place to run a PR. but I didn't race really well. I ran a 21:37.
That was much better than I did last year, though. I can't believe I've been in Phoenix that long.
So the result of this handicapped start was that a 14 year old boy won, a 41 year old woman finished second, and a 53 year old man came in third.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Sara Courtney Memorial 10K/Scottsdale Night Run for the Arts 8K

Sara Courtney Memorial 10K

The sun was just coming over the mountains when I got to Sabino Canyon Saturday morning. I had enough time to get registered and loosen up a bit. Someone gave a speech about how this event would benefit the community, and a woman with a very nice voice sang the Star Spangled Banner a capella with no amplification. It was very impressive and moving. I later heard there were more than 600 participants, so there was a pretty good crowd at the start, and she reached us all.
The start was tame. I knew it would be hilly, and some of the front runners were folks who had been talking before the start about how often they ran this road. So I thought I should let them set the pace. It was slow enough so that if I had wanted, I could have taken the lead for a few hundred yards.
We hit a marker that said "5 miles" at about 3:30 into the race. It may have been the half mile mark. There were markers later in the race set half a mile apart. The uphill at the start was gradual, but it seemed that the lead group had just been warming up earlier, and they sped up as it got steeper.
I saw no marker for the first mile. I was still close to the leaders when the first 5 K runner came back past me. He was the only person I saw in the 5 K until later in the race. I found out at the end that I could have easily taken second overall in that race, just running the same pace I ran in the 10 K. I passed a couple of runners who had gone out too fast, and I was pretty much alone when I got to mile 2 in 14:59.
The next marker said "3 miles 10K turnaround," which makes me doubt the accuracy of the measurement of these distances. My time at the turnaround was 23:13, an 8:14 mile, or 1.2 miles.
Back to mile 4 was downhill, still running alone. 29:55 and the same 1 or 1.2 in 6:42.

4.5 (The 5K turnaround) 33:18
5.0 (A different 5 mile marker) 36:54, 6:58 from the 4 mile marker.

It had been cool at the start, and it was shady through most of the canyon. But coming out of the canyon, after the sun had been up for a while, and I was getting out of the shelter of the canyon walls, it was hot.
There was one steep hill right after the 5 mile point, and as I was chugging up it, I was caught from behind. The other runner gave me a word of encouragement, and I had to ask him, "How old are you?"
He said he was 32 and asked if that made me feel better. It did, and I told him so.
I reached the finish in 43:56, 7:02 from the 5 mile mark.

That was good enough for 8th overall, but I don't know how I did in my age group. At least one, and probably more of the runners ahead of me were in the same group.
Even though the web site had said that there would be awards for the first three in "different ages," there was no apparently no effort made to do that.
They gave awards to the top three men and women in each of the two races, and that was it.
But they apparently raised about $50K for diabetes research and education at U of A.

I made a point of wearing my Team Diabetes racing singlet for this race, but I was surprised not to see any other Team D shirts, or anything anyone was wearing that related to diabetes.
Oh, well.
I had driven down that morning starting at 4:15. My car was all right on the way down, but the radiator gave out on the way back. I stopped to refill it on the way back, but it was overheating again by the time I got home.

Scottsdale Night Run for the Arts 8K

The Night Run for the Arts was a great event, but the crowd was a little too much at the start of the race.
Here's why I say it's a great event:

Night race through Scottsdale, galleries, museums, nightclubs, bars, parks, suburbs.
Live entertainment, a very good cover band playing 80s/90s hits.
Results scrolling on a large projection screen.

I went into too much detail in the previous race, so I'll just give the vitals on this one.

2.0 13:48 (6:54)
3.0 21:01 7:13
4.0 28:25 7:23
4.96 35:29 7:04 (7:09 pace)

I think I was 50th overall. I can't remember. I was definitely 5th in my age group.
In both of these races I was extremely overheated, feeling like my car, when I finished. I struggled to get some water, but I don't drink very well during these shorter races.
Anyway, I think I put in two fair races and got some good speed work done.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Whiskey Row Half Marathon 2004

I had toyed with the idea of running the Whiskey Row Marathon this weekend, in spite of not having trained for it. Some time in the past couple of weeks I decided just to do the half. The Whiskey Row Marathon was included in a Runners world list of the toughest five marathons in the country.
The Half would be a challenging run, but I was sure that it wouldn't kill me. I decided to "train through it" more or less. I didn't do anything especially tough the past week, but I did my doctorvals on Tuesday and a six mile tempo run on Thursday.
Saturday I got up at 3:15 am, had a little breakfast and some coffee, and drove the 120 miles North to Prescott. Prescott, AZ is at an elevation of about 5200 feet, and the marathon climbs to 7000. The elevation reached by the half isn't much less. The marathon goes over the top of the mountain, down the other side, then back over again. The half just goes up almost to the top.
The weather was beautiful. It was chilly in the early morning, but not so I had to wear more than a tee shirt and shorts, and I don't think it got up to 60 F all morning. The course gets out of town very quickly, and goes into the forested mountain roads, so there is more shade than for most of the local Phoenix races.
There was no chip timing, so I started pretty close to the front, but I managed to contain my enthusiasm, running it as if it was just a long traing run, and hit the first mile in 8:02. Those first couple of miles were just gently rolling, as much down as up.
I thought to myself that as soon as I started having to work hard, and I got a feeling of how the altitude and lack of real preparation was going to affect me, I could decide if I wanted to really race, or just take it as a training run.
We hit the first steep climb at about 2.5 miles, and I started to chug up it.
About five people passed me, and I started to think, "Training run..."
But after that, most of the climbing was more gradual. I passed more people than passed me. I was feeling as good as could be expected, and I didn't see anyone doing any better. I was racing it.
Right before mile 5 it got very steep again, and stayed that way. But I knew we were close to the turnaround, and it would be all gravy after that.
These were my first half splits:

1. 8:02
2. 7:36 15:38
3. 8:22 24:00
4. 8:10 32:10
5. 9:14 41:24
6. 9:38 51:02

halfway 56 something

On the way back, I was just cruising downhill, trying to let gravity do all of the work. I passed the 6 mile mark going in the other direction before I realized that the only mile markers on the way back were the same ones we had on the way out.
The mile from 5 miles left to 4 miles left I did in 7:02. The one from 6 to 5 was steeper, and I'm sure it was faster, but I didn't get that split. Here's how it went downhill:

5 miles left - 8.1 miles out: 16:07 1:07:09 (7:40 pace from 6 to 8.1)
4 - 9.1: 7:02 1:14:11
3 -10.1: 7:31 1:21:42
2 -11.1: 7:33 1:29:15
1 -12.1: 7:27 1:36:42
0 -13.1: 8:19 1:45:01

I was 5th in my age group, but 1st and second in that age group were 4th and 5th overall. I was 36th overall out of 353 runners. That was a very respectable time for that course, and I'm very pleased with my race.