Saturday, May 8, 2010

25K's and team races are what I like

I never took the time to see how many races I've run of various distances. This is my 5th year of running so my preferences of what I like to run are starting to show. Here's a list of what I've run:

1 mile - 2
2 mile - 3
5K - 1
8K/5M - 2
10K - 4
10 mile - 4
Half marathon - 4
25K - 4
Marathon - 4
50K - 2
Team relays - 9

I'll be running two more 25K races and a team race this year. That will put my 25K's up to 6 and team races (relays) up to 10. At this point in time 25Ks are my favorite distance but what I really like the most are team relay races. For my future race planning, no distance is out of the question but most of the races I'll be doing will be from 10 miles to Marathon distance.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Eau Claire Marathon 2010

A story, with a little racing thrown in.

It was going to work out best this year to pick and early marathon. How early? April would be great. Hmmm....the Boston Marathon fits but it's not going to work because I would need to qualify first. Next was the Eau Claire Marathon. It's close, early - May 2nd, and it's a small marathon. It was perfect for me and I signed up for it early.

Now all I needed to do was train for it and that's what I did throughout the Winter. I ran 3 or 4 days a week, not adhering to any plan but I managed to get in three 20-milers. The final one of those was smooth as silk and I felt good about the EC marathon.

The Ron Daws 25K was my see-what-my-speed-is race. Using the McMillan Running Calculator online it put me in the area of a 3:50 marathon. A little apples and oranges but it turned out not too far off from a good prediction. I ran a 3:37 in the perfect weather (for me) last year in the Twin Cities marathon so I had a Boston Qualifier of 3:35 in the back of my mind if I had a perfect+ day all around. I was expecting the EC Marathon would see me at the finish in 3:45 to 3:50.

One of my running partners, Brendan, was planning to run the EC marathon with me. Who's Brendan you may ask? Well, if you ran the team race at the Trail Mix in Bloomington this Spring, Brendan ran in his kilt. you remember. :-) Brendan left his kilt at home for this trip. We're going to Wisconsin for Pete's sake, not Scotland. Saturday afternoon Brendan stopped over at my house to pick me up for the drive to EC. I had the please of driving there in his 1973 Chevrolet Cheyenne pickup truck (61,000 miles) with a 454 engine and dual carbs. I offered to drive my small car but the Chevy won and the gas stations were smiling for the cash they were about to receive. I'm old enough to know, but it started sprinkling on the way and I had to ask Brendan how to turn on the lights and then how to dim them. I haven't used a floor dimmer switch since I drove my Dad's '66 Ford pickup. We made it to our hotel in EC with the help of a GPS and it still doesn't seem right that cell phones, Brendan's laptop, and GPS technology were all used in that truck on the drive out.

The expo was at the YMCA in town. It was nice as far as I'm concerned but all I ever need is my race packet and I like cotton gloves if anyone is giving them away but I didn't see any gloves there. My packet had my chip and my shirt and I noticed my shirt was a size Large. I wear an extra large but then I remembered that when I signed up for the race I was going to lose some weight over the winter. That didn't happen and in fact I gained some pounds. XL is what I needed and the nice person at packet pickup told me to check at the tent on race day to exchange my shirt. That's OK with me.

I wanted some Pasta for dinner and a school friend from my childhood just happens to run a couple of Italian restaurants in Eau Claire. I contacted her and we met her Saturday night at her casual restaurant. I hadn't seen her in 33 years but she looks the same. I was craving some of the red wine that Brendan had with his dinner but I stuck with water to not upset my race day. Dinner was great and I think I was asleep by 9:30.

I packed my only breakfast. It's what I stumbled on that works for me: 2/3 of a slice of wheat toast spread with creamy natural peanut butter. I set my alarm for 4:30 to have my small sandwich and water. Then I went back to bed until 6am when I was woken by a nightmare....I dreamed someone handed me a small glass of something to drink. I drank about a quarter of it and asked what it was. The voice said yogurt with yeast mixed in. In my dream I thought, "Great, now my stomach is really going to gurgle in the race.". At that point I was wide awake. All I needed was a stomach problem so I was happy it was just a dream/nightmare.

I got my race stuff together....18 shot bloks, 6 S!Caps, and some wet wipes in a plastic bag. You never know. My plan was to start taking 3 bloks every 4 miles starting at mile 8 and one S!Cap every 6 miles starting at mile 6. I would end up sticking to that plan. I would finish with 3 S!Caps (my spares) and 3 shot bloks left. note: After the finish, I took one more S!Cap right away and then another one 30 minutes later. I was very happy that I didn't have any cramps during or at any time after the marathon.

We were off to Carson Park and I exchanged my shirt for an XL and got in the line for the restroom. With 15 minutes to spare I walked to the start and Brendan and I met a guy, Tom, that recently broke at least one and up to three toes. Ouch. He changed this race into a training run. I think I would have sat this one out. The start for the marathon was combined with the half marathon start. The course was to be shared for the first 5 miles. I liked that as there would be more people to pace with right away. The danger was that it might pull me out too fast. I lined up between the 8:00 and 9:00 pace markers. There were a lot of people in front of me and even more behind.

The horn sounded and off we went. I have a Garmin and remembered to hit the start with the mat so all was good. The first thing I noticed was that my shorts were dragging to low. All the Shot Bloks were weighing them down and I had to keep pulling them up. I thought, Man, this is going to be a long race. Thankfully after about a mile I think my skin turned a little sweaty and the shorts held tight otherwise it was going to turn into the butt crack run of 2010. Whew. I kept a nice and easy pace that I wanted to hold until mile 5 and then start picking it up after the half marathoners were gone. My heart rate was low (ignore the initial heart rate readings if you see my Garmin chart later) and things were going well. The temp was somewhere around 52 degrees at the start and we were in full sun. I don't like the sun for racing but I felt fine.

I caught up to a young guy around mile 6 and asked him his goal. He said 4 to 4:30. I said 3:45 to 3:50 and we stayed together for a few minutes and I moved ahead. I was racing with effort. Nothing had clicked-in yet and I was not just cruising along. It was like a long run that takes more work that you think it should. My TCM 2009 was near effortless as was my last 20 mile long run. I could not run like that in the ECM. So, I ran what I could run without going over. My average pace was about 8:35 at this time and I new I needed to get it down towards 8:00 to have a really good race. I tried picking it up to around a 8:05 pace and my heart rate would just tick, tick, tick up. Darn, I had to back off. I also knew that I 'should' be able to hold around a 154 average heart rate for a marathon. What happened now is that I was running by feel while keeping tabs on my heart rate. This also meant that I was locking in to a 8:30-ish pace. Fine. Around mile 9 I ran up along side of Tom (the broken toe guy) and we talked for a while. Tom wasn't doing the best. On a good day he should have been cruising at 7:45's by now. He was in the 8:30's with me. A mile or so later I moved ahead. There was a large hill around mile 11 or so and then the course was going to be mostly flat until the hill at mile 26. You can see the course and my paces in my Garmin data.

Half way up the sizable mile 11/12 hill I ran up to a young woman running with an older man. The older man was talking constantly. I would not have been able to handle it. She seemed to be captive only due to pace and I wondered how she was going to lose him. I don't mind talking a small amount in a race but not long conversations. I noticed that he was doing 90% of the talking. I moved ahead and up the hill onto the plateau near the airport. Here is was just as sunny as everywhere else but we also had the wind to deal with. I'm sure the wind slowed my down a small amount but the breeze felt good.

Water stops were good at about every 2 miles, the volunteers were very supportive of us runners and there were more than enough spectators out considering the size of the race. Everyone was very supportive. I've found I need to drink quite a bit so at every water stop I'd have two cups of water. They were never full but two seemed enough except one time I took three. I didn't drink these on the run. I'd always stop for the approx 5 or 7 seconds it took to down the water.

I felt good later in the race but I still never fell into a good smooth race pace. On the plus side, I wasn't crashing and burning and I didn't really hit a hard wall. My pace slowed more after mile 16 but I was still had a 9:xx pace going so it was more of a gentle wall. Brendan found me around mile 19. He was riding his bike and then rode near me most of the way in. Here's a pic of me on one of the numerous river crossings late in the race.

Somewhere near mile 22 I encountered the older man who loves to talk that I first heard on the mile 11/12 hill. He started talking to me now too and I kind of wanted to shake him. As he was passing me, I asked him if he was in his 50's. He said no, 62. I said great, we are in different age groups. We would cross paths a time or two more before the finish. I would not know until after the results were posted that he was my high school chemistry teacher from around 1975 until 1977 when I graduated. I don't remember him talking that much back then. I really wish I would have known it was him and I would have endured the talking just to catch up on things. I ended up going into engineering partly due to his teaching abilities. Small world.

In the end, my old chemistry teacher kicked my butt and I had a nice 3:56 finishing time according to the results. I didn't injure anything but of course still have a significantly-sore body one day later. Oh yeah, Tom (broken toes) finished a bit behind me and had significant foot pain. I hope he doesn't regret running the race.

Back to the marathon...I liked it very much and could see myself running it again some year. For 2010 though, the Eau Claire marathon was my first and last this year. Next up is the Afton 25K Trail Run on July 3rd.