Saturday, October 25, 2008

Running With Groups

Saturday, Oct 25:

St Croix Valley Runners. When we arrived at Northland Tennis Courts about two minutes before 7:00 am we were only the second car there. Then three more cars showed up, all just in time. Dave, Dave, Tom, & Roy all went out ahead of me, but I caught up to Dave & Roy at about the halfway point. Breathing was three footfalls per full breath, which is a race pace for me, and that continued through to the finish.

Five miles in 43:00, pace 8:36. I couldn’t have gone much faster, but that’s what I like to do the weekend before a marathon - a hard 5k, 8k, or 10k. Dark at the start, just the faint glow of sunrise 45 minutes away. That will improve after we switch back to standard time next Saturday evening, then it will gradually get darker again until December 21.

43 degrees again, no significant wind. I wore exactly the same running gear as last Wednesday evening. It was fine - a little too much if anything. Brooks Ghost shoes again.

Wednesday, Oct 22:

Woodbury Runners 5.2 miles in 57:27. I ran with Rich, well behind the larger group of faster runners. We took a shortcut again, running 5.2 miles to their 6.2, but finished after them anyway. Three days after a marathon, though, this was plenty fast and far enough. Pace 11:03. We did walk briefly in a couple of places where there were wet leaves on the dark trail.

43 degrees. I wore knee protectors (foam rubber sleeves), shorts, a long-sleeved shirt, a wind jacket, and gloves.

I tried the Brooks Ghost shoes again - they seemed better, with less foot-slap than I remembered, though still much more than the Burns have. They won’t become my new shoe of choice, but I probably will at least use up this one pair that I already have. 300 miles and out. Then what - I don’t know. Start trying out other brands I guess. Brooks has let me down, dropping the Burn with no replacement after I’ve bought 18 pairs and run 31 marathons and hundreds of other races in them. Sunshine and Sweet Pea have each bought almost as many pairs. Brooks certainly doesn’t deserve any loyalty.

Click to enlarge, then BACK to return here
This key ring just arrived in the mail today. Kinda cute. I think the organizers of the Lewis & Clark Marathon are trying to make it up to us for cancelling the marathon in mid-run.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Des Moines Marathon

The Des Moines Marathon is in the bag, another state, now 31 marathons in 18 states. I did not qualify for Boston, but I did finish in 4:28, which happened to be good enough for third of twelve in my 65-69 age group and ten minutes faster than I ran TCM two weeks ago. I collected a nice-looking aluminum water bottle for the effort.

Starting out, I wasn’t too impressed with this marathon. The runners’ instructions seemed to be designed for people who already knew what to do. They even say that a runner is responsible for knowing the race course, which is difficult at best for a visitor. I tried to find out where race gels might be handed out, so I could start with the right number, but didn’t find that information, though it could have been there. Two places, it turned out. The start was skimpy on spectators, and the few I saw were looking a bit glum at eight in the morning. Water stops were disorganized - sometimes the Gatorade was first, and sometimes the water. Sometimes the Gatorade was dispensed in the cups normally used for water. You really did have to ask.

But the positives FAR outweighed the negatives. After the half-marathoners split off, the spectators seemed to get with the program. As usual I wore my name on my shirt, and GO DON was a frequent greeting. Porta-johns were plentiful right from the beginning - you gotta love that. The race has an early start, so people who need more than seven hours can run it. Volunteers were everywhere - on bikes, on foot, in vehicles, and especially at every turn. Lots and lots of cheerful Iowa volunteers. Best example: A cheerful volunteer named Julie traveled on a bike with my sweeties all the way from mile 23 to the finish, just to be sure that they had water and anything else that was needed. This was especially comforting, because some of the earlier water stops had closed by the time my sweeties passed by. Thanks Julie!

Weather was excellent, almost perfect. 50 degrees at the start, 69 at my finish, with a brisk wind that actually felt quite good most of the time. And for some reason it seemed to come from behind more often than from the front - when does THAT happen? It’s not an "easy" marathon - there are some significant hills in the first 18 miles, but from that point on it is mostly flat.

I discarded a garbage bag almost immediately after the start, a long-sleeved shirt after about five miles, also improvised gloves and ear covers, finishing in a short-sleeved technical shirt, shorts, knee covers, and of course my Brooks Burn shoes.


  • Just before mile 13 we ran one loop of the marvelous 400-meter outdoor track at Drake University. Very cool.
  • Team In Training was there, raising money for blood cancers like mine, and I got the opportunity to thank several of them.
  • I started with the 4:15 pace team, but they went out too fast and I lost them.
  • I finished with the 4:30 pace team. For a while I fell behind them too, but I caught up again just before the finish line.
  • At about mile 22 a man who might have been my age passed me looking as if he was going exactly the pace he wanted to run. I tried to keep up but couldn’t.
  • Lots of runners saw "Minnesota Don" on my back and commented. Many were from Minnesota themselves.
  • I ran a Galloway-like system, run a mile walk a minute. I also walked up hills, and late in the race I walked more.
  • Most of the runners I talked to along the way were from Iowa, and mostly from Des Moines, but several were from Minnesota.
  • In fact, as the awards were announced, I heard Minnesota mentioned more than once.
  • The race route had some out-and-back sections, and I enjoyed seeing the other runners face on.
  • I did a lot of walk-run late in the race, and there were a few runners that I passed dozens of times. But that works for me.
All in all a nice marathon. I enjoyed it and recommend it.

Splits: 9:13, 9:02, 9:42, 19:33 (2 mi), 9:33, 9:58, 12:40 (major potty stop), 9:17, 9:21, 9:48, 9:30, 10:48, 11:24 (minor potty stop), 10:09, 9:28, 9:44, 10:20, 11:05, 10:55, 10:32, 10:49, 23:10 (2 mi), 11:04, 9:56, 1:59, total 4:28:58, pace 10:15. I can do better, so many marathons, so little time :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Marathon Recovery

Saturday, Oct 11:

"Tour de North St Paul" 5k race, benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. They also fund myeloma research, so I’m delighted to support LLS because they support me. A very nice little race through North St Paul, including a short piece of the Gateway Trail.

57 degrees, time 27:02, pace 8:43. I could have run a 5k faster than this if I hadn’t just finished five miles with my Saturday group. Good enough for today. No pains - those were apparently worked out in the earlier five miles. Nice semi-sprint at the end.

Saturday, Oct 11:

St Croix Valley Runners, 7:00 am at Northland Tennis Courts, five miles as always, nice run with George and Wayne. Lots of other people showed up today too, several of them walking because of injuries from TCM. Lucky me - no injuries this time at TCM.

56 degrees, just a long-sleeved shirt & shorts, no knee cover. My right knee did send a little hint that it likes the knee warmers, so I will wear them in the foreseeable future. The hip flexors hurt a little too, but they calmed down after a few miles. Oh, to be young again. Time 45:30, pace 9:06. I thought we were going slower, actually. But breathing was easy all the way.

Friday, Oct 10:

Same as Wednesday, just a nice jog to keep things working. Almost the same times as Wednesday, too. Hilly route.

49 degrees, wore knee warmers. No pains. Splits: 9:10, 13:07 (1.5 mi), total 22:17, pace 8:55.

Wednesday, Oct 8:

First run since Sunday's Marathon. I like to wait until the third day afterward. Local roads for 2.5 miles, no particular hurry, just keeping the body parts working after TCM and for the next upcoming marathon. I wonder if I can run 4:15 there? That’s a Boston qualifying time for me, but it seems out of reach right now. Maybe if I lose a few pounds.

44 degrees, I wore tights and knee warmers. No pains. Splits: 9:18, 13:16 (1.5 mi), total 22:33, pace 9:01.

I was mighty disappointed to drive 1100 miles to St Charles Missouri and NOT run a marathon. Blog posts here and here. But this is a touch of class from the organizers. Nice plaque, plastic on wood.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Twin Cities Marathon

The most beautiful urban marathon in America. Usually. Today it was OK, but not so beautiful in the rain and mist. Fifty degrees with a facing breeze for most of the race and, for a while, a heavy rain. Nevertheless, the weather was WAY better than last year’s 85-degree scorcher, and no problem at all compared with the rain and wind we experienced at the Lewis & Clark Marathon three weeks ago, courtesy of hurricane Ike. No apparent danger, today, of the race course being flooded out. This rain was quite a bit colder though - my hands were reluctant to open the Clif Shot packs and my feet felt like stumps, but after getting out of the wet shoes and taking a warm shower I could feel my feet again. My 30th marathon is finished, and all is well.

Time: 4:38:44, pace 10:38, number 14 of 35 in my age group. Plenty good enough. Four minutes faster than Grandma’s Marathon, and this is a more-difficult course, but then Grandma’s was a warm race. Not quite comparable.

Complaints: Knees were FINE! Yay! The left calf threatened to cramp up much of the way, but it never did and finally it gave up and acted normal. Hip flexors were a problem - they started to hurt somewhere after the half, and just got worse as the miles rumbled by, eventually slowing me because it helped to walk a little. Toward the end I walked often. The hip flexors have bothered before, but they haven’t stopped the show. I was tired, too, and the walks were welcome.

Splits: 9:46, 9:49, 9:36, 10:09, 9:37, 9:38, 10:14, 9:17, 9:49, 12:50 (porta-potty), 9:39, 10:30, 9:49, 10:38, 10:17, 11:08, 10:12, 10:59, 10:52, 11:18, 11:35, 12:34, 12:27, 11:17, 11:46, 11:00, 1:57, total 4:38:44. I ran a Galloway-inspired "run a mile and walk a minute" system. That worked fine, and partly because of it, for the first time in 30 marathons I managed to click my watch at every single mile marker without missing one, because I looked forward to each mile with a little extra anticipation. I see that most of the miles up to 13 were under 10 minutes, and all of the miles after 13 were over. No surprise - I certainly could have been better trained. Caffeine gels every four miles and salt twice. I think the salt may have helped with the potential calf cramp.

Saturday, Oct 4:

Easy 3 miles or so with the SCV Runners, most of whom walked . But I prefer to run a few miles on the day before a marathon, or the day before that. No time or exact distance. Ready for the marathon. Or not, we’ll see.

Thursday, Oct 2:

Three plus miles on hilly local streets, no problems at all. I feel great! Early-morning runs are so enjoyable in the fall. Splits: 8:57, 8:47, 9:24 (1.1 mi), 1:46 (0.2 mi), total 28:54, overall pace 8:45.

Fruity breakfast
Recent fruity breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with organic flame raisins and dried cranberries, mango, kiwi, organic apricot, organic pecans, nonfat organic milk.