Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 Bayshore Marathon

Above: Shannon, Me and my sister Monique.

May 29, 2004
In honor of my 2004 race

“Could I have some of that cake you’re eating?” I asked the volunteers at the water stop. It was 5 years ago, and I was at mile 18 of the Bayshore Marathon, and I was really, really hungry. That year the course featured a zero calorie sports drink (apparently for people concerned about gaining weight while running marathons) so I was really craving some sugar.
“Um”, they looked at each other, “sure”. They handed me 3 big pieces of crumb cake. I walked for a while, eating the cake out of water cups. Eventually I got enough energy to run the last few miles, finishing in 4:03.

May 23, 2009
5 years and 10 marathons later I was back in Traverse City, MI attempting to run Bayshore again, only this time 48 minutes faster to qualify for Boston with a 3:15. I was running it with Shannon and my sister Monique.

My training for this race was somewhat unconventional. In the 10 weeks prior to this marathon:
  • Number of long runs: 1 (17 miles)
  • Number of races: 9 (three 5Ks, 10K, 4 miler, 10 miler, 15K, and 2 half marathons)
  • Number of times I was at work and contemplated sleeping under my desk: 31
My sister Monique's training consisted of a stress fracture in her foot and not running for the last 3 weeks. Her goal was to just see if she could run at all on her broken foot.

Shannon's training went very well because I gave her my advice and she carefully followed none of it. Her goal was also to qualify for Boston, which is a 3:45 for her, but she was really hoping to run under a 3:30.
My favorite shirt. "Road racing is for wimps",
explaining why I was at this nice flat road race.

At the start it was absolutely perfect weather. About 55 degrees, cloudy and no wind. I had with me 600 calories of eGel, which is like 6 Gu packets, so I wasn't going to get hungry this time. It is a small race with 1400 people, so we got up close to the front of the pack. At 7 am the race started and the crowd broke up very quickly. I settled into a comfortable, relaxed pace and looked at my Garmin. I needed to run about a 7:20 pace, and it said 7:18. I couldn't believe I could run that fast and have it feel that easy.

The course was relatively flat and my pace remained constant. Remarkably the Garmin was dead on for most of the race hitting the mile markers exactly. I tried talking with some folks but no one seemed to be going exactly my pace so I just relaxed at looked out over the bay that the road ran along.

After the turn around I saw Shannon and Monique running together, not far behind me. I managed to keep the 7:18 pace, but slowly things started to hurt. First my hamstrings at mile 15. My hip at 16. Shins at 17. These we safely ignored. Around mile 20, a guy pacing a girl shouted out "any one who wants to break 3:10 follow us!". I tried to follow them but my body protested. My calves started to quiver, threatening to seize up at any moment, so I backed off.

Monique cruising along

It wasn't until mile 25 that I started to struggle, with my calves really quaking. About a quarter mile from the finish a women spectator I didn't know looked right at me and said "congratulations! your going to Boston!" I jumped up to celebrate and my calves cramped up. I managed to hobble around the track to the finish in 3:12. A PR by 14 minutes!

I scarfed down a couple of yogurts and walked off the cramps. Shannon came in at 3:27, a huge PR for her. Amazingly Monique managed to finish in 3:31 on a broken foot.

The bay

Saturday, May 16, 2009

2009 Highcroft Hurricanes 5K

"Hey, I could win this thing."
This is what I thought when I looked at the results for this race from last year, and saw that the winner did it in 19:07. Coincidentally, Paul P. thought the exact same thing, and his reaction was to seek out a more competitive 5K. My winning strategy involves avoiding competition at all costs, so I headed right over there.

"No more racing for 3 weeks"
This is what I vowed 2 weeks ago after doing both Bobbie Boney and Philosopher's Way the same weekend and feeling like I was run over by a truck. We have the Bayshore Marathon on May 23, so I really needed to rest and recover. But like other runners, "tapering" makes me crazy. Shannon was in NY, so she was not here to keep me straight. So here I was, like an addict sneaking off for a quick 5K fix.

This is what my car dashboard said about how many miles I had left in my gas tank. It says this when it's too low to register. It was 20 minutes to the start, so I would have to get gas after the race.

"I have no money"
I told the nice lady at the registration table, with a great big apologetic grin. I had left my wallet at home. Now I really felt like an addict, out of cash, trying to sweet talk my way to a score, "I swear I'll pay you later". She was very nice and gave my a bib.

"He's looking back! He's getting tired! Go get him!"
shouted someone on the sidelines. The guy in the lead wearing a NCRC singlet kept looking back. I was about 25 feet behind him but couldn't keep up the pace. A young kid ran by me and almost caught him. I ended up 3rd overall with a slow 19:16. Still, it was only 9 seconds off my PR so I wasn't as bad as I had felt lately, and I had gotten my fix.

"Clunk, Clunk, Clunk"
This was the sound my left front tire was making as I was trying to hurry home to get my wallet so I could pay the nice lady who had trusted me. I got out of my car and found this clip stuck in my tire. Great. Out of gas, flat tire, no wallet. I closed my eyes and I slowly pulled out the clip, like the pin out of hand grenade. I was expecting it to pop out like a cork, or the tire to start hissing leaking air, but it didn't come. Whew.

Drove home, expecting to run out of gas at any moment. Somehow I made it. Good to know I can go 20 miles after my car says I have no gas. Got my wallet, drove back in Shannon's car.

"Clap, Clap, Clap"
Yea! Validation! I won an award! First in my age group, I got a $20 gift card to Dicks Sporting goods. It only cost me $30, and half a tank of gas. The overall winners actually got trophies.
If I put forth a lot of effort, maybe in the future I can find a 5K with even less competition.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Boston Marathon Smackdown

On my post about marathon elevation profiles, I got this anonymous comment:

"You're foolish to blow off Boston like you did, which is why it turns "tough" course runners into mints meat EVERY year-don't be fooled by it's profle! Even Ryan Hall who ran it in practice, trained for it after, still said aftward, "It's much harder a course than I thought." It's harder on your legs to run down hill than up, especially at the marathon distance."

First of all, my dissing Boston was somewhat of a joke, because I haven't even qualified for it let alone run it. However, I am irritated by people who regard Boston with such reverence, and I'm delighted that I have pissed one of them off. "Oh! It's so hard! It's downhill!"

I would really love to bash these Boston weenies even more, but I feel that I am not qualified to do that until I have run Boston myself. So Mr. Anonymous Boston weenie, I tell you what I am going to do.

This year I will run a marathon to qualify for Boston. Then next year, I will pay for a flight and hotel, and run the Boston marathon. Having never done a race like Pikes Peek I would not call myself a "tough course" runner, but it will be interesting to see if Boston turns me into "mints meat" as you suggest (not sure what that is. A minty fresh steak?)

Instead, I predict that I will run a PR in Boston. Afterwards, because my legs will feel so good, I will go back to the hotel and run up and down 12 flights of stairs screaming "Ryan Hall is a weenie!".

All that just to prove some anonymous commenter wrong. Am I overacting?

(Nah. I was going to run Boston with my sister Monique anyway)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

2009 Bobbie H Boney 10 miler

Start of the Bobbie Boney 10 miler. Photo by Shannon Johnstone.

I had been looking forward to the 2009 Bobbie H Boney 10 miler for a while, because of the great course through the rolling hills of Turkey Creek in Umstead Park. A week before, I saw that only 14 people had signed up, and I thought I might have a chance to win it. That is, until I saw that Paul Potorti was running it. Paul Potorti (pronounced "pah-twat-ee", make sure you say it right if you see him) is really fast for an old guy (I think he's like 60 or something) so I had to set my sights on 2nd place.

Paul Potorti is very modest and queit guy
The day before, I had run the Philosopher's Way 15K, and had acquired 2 things:

1. A lesson on not starting out too fast.
2. A tweaked left hamstring

At the start, I chose to ignore both of those things and took off as fast as I could. Paul took the lead as expected and was out of sight after a couple miles. I was in second place, but at the turn-around I saw that Danielle Rowland and couple of guys were not far behind. So on the way back I tried to pick up the pace as much as I could until:
"Wait! Hold on!", Shannon was running by with her camera and wanted me to pose for a picture.
I tried to explain I was running a race, but I was out of breath, so I just kept going.
It was really hot, and at the next station I dumped water on my head which went directly into my shoes. "Squish. Squish. Squish". My feet felt like they weighed 20 pounds each. I struggled the last mile up hill and as I approached the finish, Paul greeted me with "Congratulations, First Female!". Mr. Funny Guy continued with the trash talk, so I told him I would beat him in the race next year. That seems kind of far fetched, but I need an another impossible goal after getting my plaque in the Umstead Marathon.

At the awards ceremony, everybody got an award as well as cool door prizes. Paul tried to steal Mel Levin's door prize "I thought she said Male 11". Uh huh. Shannon and I made off with many gift cards including $50 to the mellow mushroom for a door prize. This is a good race to do.

Shannon took a bunch of pictures which are here.

As we were leaving, I heard "I even have a nicer car than you!"
Wait till next year...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

2009 Philosopher's Way 15K Trail Run

Shannon proudly displays her "Trail Love"

I love trail races, so I signed for both the Philosopher's Way 15K and the Bobbie Boney 10 miler the same weekend. I also like to go to First Friday in Raleigh, so the Friday night before we headed downtown and ate at the Remedy Diner. There is some really bad art on these "Art Walks" so I usually have a few beers to help me tolerate it, but I think I had a few too many PBRs at the diner. At $1.50 each, it's hard to resist. I had drank the night before the my 10K PR so I figured it wouldn't hurt me for the race the next morning.

World famous drummer
Taylor Traversari of the band
Airiel Down, with his girlfriend.
Both ran the 15K
The Philosopher's Way is put on by the TrailHeads in Chapel Hill. We drove out there Saturday morning, and I was feeling a little hung over, and I didn't really get a chance to warm up.

Once again, I took off way too fast at the start, racing down a gravel road and onto the trail in the lead. Right there I tweaked my left hamstring, probably because I didn't warm up. It hurt, but it didn't effect my stride so I kept going. The trail was mostly flat, but with an endless series of switchbacks, so it seemed you never took more than 5 steps in a straight line. It was a lot of fun zig-zagging back and forth, but hard to gage the pace, and I wore out pretty quickly. The eventual winner Patrick caught up to me after about 25 minutes, and after some smalltalk I let him pass. A few minutes after another guy passed me I was suddenly struck down by a vicious side cramp.

For at least a minute I was doubled over in pain, unable to even walk. I guess the beer finally caught up with me. I was waiting for someone to run by and ask me what was wrong, so I could say "PBR", but amazingly there was no one in sight and no one else passed me. The cramp went away as quickly as it came and I managed to finish pretty strong, in third place overall.

Shannon had a bad race. She fell and got some "Trail Love" and also turned her ankle. She still managed to finish 4th female. When she finished she was bleeding and covered with dirt. I tried to clean her off, but she said "No, leave it. I want to win the Trail Love award." But we decided to leave before the awards were handed out.

Overall it was a good race, and I will be there next year, minus the PBR hangover.

I shamelessly stole these great photos from someone named "EvilKatz" on smugmug.com. Shannon finished the race despite suffering a bad fall and a twisted ankle early on. I ran with my shirt off, so I had to censor that photo. Wouldn't want to excite anyone with my amazing breasts