Saturday, October 30, 2010

2010 Paws For Life 5K

I had come to this 5K with thoughts about running fast and competing.
But after I picked up my bib, I was scornfully reminded that this event is not really about that.
It is about dogs.

The reminder came in the form of a huge pile fresh dog poo that I stepped in.

In any case, the "Red Shoe Theory" held true. The guy with the flashiest shoes, a florescent yellow, ran away with the win.

Me, my black shoes, and my newly acquired canine feces struggled to a fortunate third place.
Like all of my races this fall, I was exactly 2% faster than last year, and the consistency is comforting.

Anyway, on to the important stuff. Dogs in costumes!

Thing #1 and Thing #2

There was a 1 mile dog walk.

They didn't let dogs run the 5K, otherwise
I would have brought Dooright or Jeffery

Very cool Paw themed awards

Red Shoe Theory test

Well, it was a year ago that I first put the "Red Shoe Theory" to the test with my red Brooks Launch. Those shoes delivered two improbable and undeserved wins to this mediocre runner.

But they have long since fallen apart, and Brooks has changed the color of the Launch to be black.

So this morning I will return to the same 5K, with same course. I'll have the same shoes but this time they are black instead of red.

I am slightly faster than last year, but that shouldn't matter. Let's see what happens...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shut out of Boston?

As I'm sure you have heard, entry to the 2011 Boston Marathon filled to capacity in just 8 hours!

Why is Boston so popular? Does it have a scenic course? Bargain pricing? Fast times? Convenient location?.


It's because it is exclusive. They don't let just anyone in, you have to qualify. Either by running fast times or spending/raising thousands of dollars for a charity slot.

Did you spend years training and running pedestrian marathons to get your qualifying time, only to be shut out of Boston for 2011?

Well, we at Tigram have good news for you!

The 214th running of
The Tigram® Triangle Marathon.
It is a common misconception that Boston is the oldest and most exclusive marathon in the world.

Not true!

The Tigram® Triangle Marathon(TTM) dates back to 1796, much older than Boston.
And the TTM is also far more exclusive! How exclusive? Well, have you every heard of it? No?

Qualifying Times
For most of it's storied history, the TTM has set a lofty qualifying time of 2:00:59, for men and women of all ages. Absolutely no one has been good enough to qualify for this prestigious event.

However, because of the unexpected fill up of Boston, we at Tigram are making an unprecedented exception in order to accommodate the many thousands of disappointed Boston hopefuls.

For 2011, the qualifying times for the TTM have been adjusted to match those for Boston.
So here is your chance to run THE single most exclusive marathon in the world!

 To those "in the know" the TTM route is legendary. A rolling course which culminates in the fabled "Resentment Ridge" at mile 21.

Crowd support makes the TTM journey unforgettable. Especially at mile 13, where the girls of Wesley's College of Sensual Massage and Exotic Dancing are cheering from the sidelines. Be sure to stop and get a kiss from one of the girls, and then a massage or maybe a lap dance. Remember to bring cash for a tip.

Entry Fee
In keeping with the exclusivity of the race, we put the entry fee at a premium level.

Standard: $900
VIP:        $3000

The VIP entry will make you feel extra special because you are paying much, much more.

Time and Location
The TTM is held near Raleigh, NC. We do not release the exact location and start time to the general public. This is to prevent any "unqualified" runners showing up and ruining your experience.

Charity Entries
For those that are not speedy, but are still dying to run this coveted race, we are offering charity slots.
The official charity of the 2011 TTM will be The Rake-A-Leaf Fund, which benefits middle-aged white men who are overburdened with tedious yard maintenance. A minimum donation of $10000 will be required.

Registration is invite only.
Capacity is capped at 5 runners, though we will be accepting non-refundable entries for up to 100,000 wait-list applicants.
Leave a comment if you feel you have what it takes to run the best marathon in the world.
If you are deemed worthy, you will receive a special invite.

Don't delay! The registration is expected to fill in minutes!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2010 Detroit Marathon

2010 Detroit Marathon start

Mile 25
"OH, COME ON!" I shouted out loud, pleading with my calf.
"Really? You're going to cramp up now?”

The guy running next to me glanced over, and then slowly veered away.

“Now. At mile 25. Are you kidding me? "
My left calf responded with the sound of a pot of pasta about to boil over.

What had started as a tiny tweak in the muscle at mile 22 had evolved into squirming and thrashing, like a litter of baby raccoons trapped under my skin.

This has happened before. My calf was telling me that it had taken enough abuse and if I didn't slow down immediately, it would pop off and scurry away into an alley somewhere.

I looked at my watch, which showed the exact 6:52/mi average pace I needed for an otherworldly "sub-3:00 marathon", I just needed to hold on for a little longer...
Runners approach the Ambassador Bridge to Canada

Sub Three
In the spring, we signed up for Detroit so that Shannon could redeem herself from a bad experience in Boston.
I was ecstatic with my 3:05 in Boston, and felt no need to improve upon it. Still, I needed a goal, and the arbitrary but numerically pleasing 2:59 loomed out there.

But it was only 3 years ago that I had done my first 5K at a 7:00 pace. I will always regard that as being "really fast", so the idea of running an entire marathon at a faster clip remains incomprehensible to me.

To everyone else, a "sub 3:00" was no big deal. "You can easily do a 2:59!" Shannon told me, "You already did 3:05. It's only 5 minutes." Several others, including some sub-3 freaks of nature (you know who you are) dismissed it as well. "You got it. No problem.”

But I knew better, because I am a running geek, and love to crunch numbers. Forget the McMillan running calculator, it is full of shit when it comes to marathons. I have my own calculator, and it’s the Salem Lake 30K, which has been my benchmark race every year.
It said I am roughly 2% faster than 2009, when I did the Detroit Marathon in 3:06:31.

So, the simple calculation predicts:

3:06:31 (2009 Detroit)  –  2.13% faster = 3:02:34 (2010 Detroit)

Even this was doubtful for me, because my training this summer was derailed by excessive heat, too many races and several minor injuries. I only managed to average 40 miles a week, and maxed out at 51 miles.

Magic Juice
So I wasn't going to get a 2:59 from my training. I needed some supernatural help, some ridiculous gimmick to pull me through.
That's when I heard about beetroot  juice. The article promises:
... an approximate 2% reduction in the time taken to cover a set distance
Yes! That's the ticket to sub-3! I didn't bother reading the rest of the article. Instead, Shannon bought me a bottle and I guzzled it on Friday before we left for Detroit.

I drove down into Detroit with Shannon, my sister Monique, and her friend Laura.
Despite the nearly 20,000 runners, we managed to park fairly close to the start and squeeze in two trips to the porta-potties. The weather was perfect, in the mid 50's.

I said good luck to the others, and wiggled my way into the first corral. Every second counted, and I was afraid of getting slowed down in a bottle neck at the Ambassador bridge.  At 7:00 am, the horn sounded and I settled into my 6:52 pace. My legs felt old and battered, and there was no threat of me going out too fast.  

The bridge looms ahead at mile 2.
Shannon and Monique started together, going out fast to beat the crowd to the bridge.  Shannon was taking pictures the whole way, more than 300 during the race. As Bubbles noted, that is 11.5 pictures per mile! Which is a photo/mile PR for Shannon.

She managed to narrow them down to 39, and they are here.

Canadian hero Dudley Do-Right, my dogs namesake
The race goes over the bridge into Canada for a few miles. The crowds were lively there and I slapped a few hands. Then it heads back through a tunnel under the Detroit River.
My sister Monique,  poses at the border
Notice the Godiva shirt
Tick Tock
Most of the race was a mind-numbing experience, just an intense focus on staying on pace. Constantly looking at my watch, making sure I hit the mile markers on target. Every aid station I took a sip of gu from my bottles and a half cup of water. No stopping, no slowing down, no speeding up, all while trying to stay relaxed.

With every mile, I had to exert slightly more effort to maintain the pace but things were going well up to mile 22.

The bridge to Belle Isle

Belle Isle
Coming off Belle Isle I saw my sister Monique coming across the bridge, followed by Shannon.
"Whoooop!" I called to her. But just as I did that I felt a twinge in my left calf.
Joe, a friend of my sister's, was out on his bike to pace her through the last miles. He pulled up along side of me.
"How you feeling?" he asked.
"Well, my calf might be cramping..."
"Don't talk!" he was giving me some coaching, "Save your energy. How's your hydration? Are you good?"
"Well I..."
"Don't talk! Good luck. See you later."

My sister ended up running next to a guy who needed a 3:20:59 to qualify for Boston.
She talked his ear off while he seemed to be struggling. Joe pulled up on the other side and they ended up bickering.
"If he's going to qualify you need to pick up the pace!" Joe yelled
"What are you yelling at me for?" she replied.
 The poor guy must have thought they were crazy, and he went ahead, getting his qualifying time.

Even though she was injured a good part of the summer, my sister set a PR with a 3:21, finishing 25th out 1161 women. Not bad for a 42 year old!

My sisters friend Laura finished second in her age group. Amazing.

Despite starting out too fast and stopping and taking pictures, Shannon finished in 3:23:07. More than a 4 minute PR! Of course, she immediately started thinking about her next marathon.

Sub Super-Three 
I was right. I was not capable of the illustrious "sub 3:00".
With my calf muscle about to pop off, I had to slow down at mile 25. I guess beetroot juice doesn't help with uncooperative calves. I was able to keep running though, and ended up with a 3:02:09. Pretty close to what the 30K predicted.

I don't know when I will try again. Right now I have a more worthwhile and insane goal:  The Uwharrie "Organ Donors Club"

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Detroit Bonk City

I feel uptight on a Saturday night...

Shannon and I will be running The Detroit Marathon tomorrow.

We both planning on running way faster than we are capable of, so maybe some entertaining bonk stories will come of it.

Everyone except me seems to think I am capable of running under 3 hours. So I will try just to prove them wrong.

Gratuitous Expo panoramic

Detroit looks nice, from 20,000 feet

 I think there is an 85% chance that the rusty Ambassador bridge
will not collapse into the the Detroit river as I run across it

Inside the "Under Water mile". Notice how much cleaner and
friendlier the Canadian side looks.

At the expo with my sister Monique, Me, and My Evil Twin brother, Chris. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Trophy wife - part 2

I thought about building a shelf right by the front door to hold Shannon's enormous second place trophy.
But that simply would not be ostentatious enough. We don't want anyone to miss out on the golden plastic glimmer of her runner-up status.

Then I had this great idea.

We will be pulling up to the next race in style.

Loblolly Trail

We ran into lots of Godiva folks in the parking lot

We are supposed to be tapering for the Detroit Marathon next Sunday, so we decided to do an "easy" run yesterday. We had not been on Loblolly trail in a very long time, so we drove up the Harrison entrance at Umstead. I brought my camera to stop and take pictures, and make a relaxing run out of it.

So here is a photo tour of about 4 miles of the Loblolly trail.

A group of shirtless vagrants camped out in the park. So young, what a shame.
They are are so skinny they must be starving.

Bob Nelson. Race director of the Umstead Marathon, best race anywhere.
Also the mad creator of our Blue Ridge Relay team. 

Start of Loblolly trail in Umstead.

And we are off! Trail starts off very smoth and easy.
You cross a paved road in about a quarter mile.

The first big bridge

One of the many streams that wind through Umstead

Loblolly is marked with blue square blazes

Another big bridge

Loblolly has lots of roots. Watch your step

I used to think these were mile markers, but they are only .75 miles apart.
Maybe they are supposed to be kilometer markers?

Crossing Reedy Creek B&B trail

Beautiful little pond hidden in the woods

Turtles warming themselves in the pnd

One of the few rocky sections

Shannon cruising the downhill. 

You are here

Next we cross South Turkey Creek

The #3 marker, about 2.5 miles out.

Here we leave Umstead and Loblolly continues on the Raleigh trail system

Turn right

This locked, barbed wire gate might seem to be the end, but it's not.
Just hop over it

Or squeeze around it

Notice the left turn sign. Shannon did not.

Here is a small lake and some wide open fields.
It is our little secret spot to bring the dogs so they can swim and run around.
Don't tell anyone 

Another fence with barbed wire. 

Just climb under

You will see a wide variety of fake wildlife

Climbing the steps to Reedy Creek Road

When you get to the road turn right down the green way.
There is no sign. Then make a left across the road

And into Shank Forest, at about 3.5 miles 
We did not make it to the end of Loblolly, which reportedly is 6 miles and ends somewhere near the RBC center.
Here we got hungry, thirsty and tired and turned around and went home. Maybe someday I'll make it the whole way.

This was less than 8 miles and took over an hour and a half, about 12 min miles. It felt excruciatingly hard. Not a good sign for the marathon.

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