Monday, June 21, 2010

Grandma's Marathon

Grandma’s Marathon finally caught a break on the weather! It wasn’t wonderful, but it was OK and certainly better than any of the previous three years. The temperature was 65 at the 7:30 am start and 68 at my 12:20 finish, mostly cloudy (thank you!), low humidity, with a gusty wind in our faces. The wind made the running a little more difficult, but it did help keep us cool.

My Marathon:

I had a good run, gaining about seven minutes on my goal 5:00 hour pace in the first half, and able to maintain those seven minutes in the second half, for a finish of 4:53:19. Nothing hurt enough to slow me down. I started leaning to the left at about mile 17, but that problem went away. Huh. The right ankle had been a little sore going in, and it squawked a little but didn’t get worse. Then toward the end the left foot got sore too, one of the bones connecting to the fourth toe I think, back inside the foot. It’s even more sore today, two days after the race - I’m a little concerned about it, hope it doesn’t amount to anything. Nothing seems broken - probably just a ligament that got overused a little with the 21,000 operations demanded by a marathon. And I might have stepped on it crooked - I did step off the edge of the pavement once.

I took gels with caffeine at miles 3, 7, 11, 15, 19, & 23; salt at 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, & 25. No cramps! Not even afterward. I took at least 5 ounces of water at every water stop, often dumping another cupful on my head. I used good Mayo Clinic sunscreen and had no sunburn, though my face was hot hours later at bedtime, which we think was probably windburn. Or the beer?

Between miles 21 and 22, I caught up to a woman who was running with a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training (TNT) shirt. After thanking her for raising money for myeloma research, I left her behind. A few minutes later though, she caught up and we chatted some more. This happened several times, until we finally crossed the finish together, strangers sharing a common interest in a cure for blood cancers. And I’m still impressed by the guts it took for her to keep catching up.

Grandma’s Marathon:

This was the 34th running of Grandma’s, my eighth. They have it pretty well figured out now. I was especially impressed this time by the aid stations. They went on and on, giving even the least-attentive runner (me) every chance at the fluid of his/her choice, with tall signs clearly indicating which fluid was which. Ice and sponges too. I wish every race did it that well.

Porta-potties were in short supply right after the race start, though. I saw a line of eight runners (standers) waiting for two porta potties even at mile 8, and that was typical. I think two is pretty stingy for a race the size and caliber of Grandma’s, and if the problem is a shortage of porta-potties in the Twin Ports area, I have a suggestion: There must be a hundred of them at the start of the half marathon. So, the minute that the last half-marathoner crosses the start line, load a couple dozen porta potties from that area onto a couple of trucks and move them further up the road. There is more than an hour to get that done, and your runners will be happier, with far fewer diving for the woods.

Splits: 10:06, 9:51, 10:04, 10:21. 21:16 (2 mi), 33:38 (3 mi), 10:12, 11:15, 11:33, 12:47 (potty stop, 13-mile split 2:21:05, half mar 2:23:05), 11:53 (Hi David), 11:21, 11:10, 11:57, 11:36, 11:21, 12:03, 11:39, 10:59, 11:43, 11:27, 23:14 (2 mi), 1:53 (0.22 mi), total 4:53:24. Their clock shows me finishing in five seconds less - I’ll take it. Pace for first half 10:55, second half 11:27, overall 11:11.

Deer have taken over the yards and gardens in suburban Duluth:
Deer in the Suburbs

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bad Run, Good Run

Saturday, June 12, 2010:

After Tuesday’s poor run (below) I expected to run a few miles on Thursday and then the usual five miles with the St Croix Valley Runners on Saturday. But Thursday’s weather was poor, and we never got to the club to run. So Saturday’s run was the first in four days - an unusually long respite. I was actually a little apprehensive about how well this old body would do the job, considering Tuesday’s struggle.

But it was a good run. I started out with Steve, who is much faster than me but was content with my pace after running a marathon two weeks before. Lisa caught up to us after about a mile, a fast runner, winning her age group in the recent Stillwater Half Marathon. We three bounced along at my pace for most of the rest of the way, and I probably ran a little faster than I would have run alone - I was breathing pretty hard. They went ahead with about a half mile to go, but I finished not far behind in 43:58, which is a pace of 8:48 and a pretty good time for me on this route.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010:

Raining today, so we three ran at the club. It was my worst run in a long time. I can normally cruise around the elevated track at nine-minute miles, at least for six miles or so, but today was different. I felt fine for the first three, and then the fourth mile seemed to be more work, the fifth was difficult and I missed the 9-minute goal, and finally in the sixth mile I even got a little lightheaded - it was a struggle to finish it at any running pace.

What happened? I ran a marathon ten days ago - OK I should be back to form by now, in fact I should be stronger than before the marathon. I did eat a full lunch four hours before this run, and I felt that heaviness in my stomach, but that doesn’t usually make me lightheaded. Also, I started out a bit fast, but I’ve done that before recently too. Is the myeloma catching up to me? I’m hoping it’s just a bad day, and not a sign of anything to come. I could never have finished a marathon, at least not with that "fast" start.

Splits: 8:52, 8:45, 8:48, 8:52, 9:11, 9:38, total 54:06. Pace 9:01, but I didn’t click the watch after the last lap and may not be remembering the time correctly.

Friday June 4 and Sunday June 6, 2010:

Nice jogs along the Lakewalk and Riverwalk trails in Chicago. No time, but distance was probably about eight miles total for the two runs. Those trails are VERY popular with runners - lots of others running.

Organic strawberries are in season :-)
Breakfast today, June 13

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Coeur d'Alene Idaho Marathon

Coeur d’Alene Idaho has a marathon with a 33-year tradition. It’s a good marathon - I recommend it. My own race could have been better, but only six minutes slower than Abilene in April and I’m not unhappy with it. 43rd marathon, 27th state, second of two in my age group. I don’t like finishing last, but the other guy beat me fair and square.

The weather in Coeur d’Alene was almost perfect for a race, with cloudy skies and temperatures rising slowly from 50 to 57. A little less wind would have made it even better, and in fact I wore a singlet under a throwaway shirt which I never threw away because it felt good in that wind.

My right foot hurt. The outside of the foot seems slightly injured at the ankle, probably from running trails so much. I guess I can no longer brag that the Brooks Launch shoes have kept me injury-free, though I probably should use shoes with more ankle support for trail running. The middle toe on the right foot really raised a ruckus too - not uncommon but more painful than usual - made me yelp a couple of times. I had no other pains during the run. Afterward both calves cramped severely, each just once, one at a time, and I could do little but wait for the pain to subside. I had taken five salt packets during the race - maybe I needed more? For sure I should have done more stretching immediately after the race to try to prevent that post-race cramping.

The Coeur d’Alene Marathon route seems rather helter-skelter - we never did find a map good enough to guide us through it before the race, though the volunteers made navigation easy on race morning. A good part of the course is on roads and trails right along the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene, affording a spectacular view, with mountains looming behind the enormous blue lake. It’s a bit hilly, not the best for a PR or a Boston qualifier, but certainly not the hilliest course I’ve run, not even as hilly as the trails that I run regularly near home. It was 100% paved, the road shared with cars (coned off) in a few places, but that was never a problem.

It seemed that the marathon was a little short on aid stations. I took either a Clif Shot gel or a salt packet at every aid station except the first one, and ended up using only five of each. The busses for the race course tour, the day before the race, were hopelessly oversubscribed. And the web site was out of date, displaying last year’s location for the packet pickup. Otherwise the race seemed to be organized well. The course is open for 7 1/2 hours, enough for all but the slowest runners. 403 souls ran the full marathon, 1228 the half, and 52 the early-start marathon (5:30 start versus 7:00 am).

My splits: 9:41, 9:43, 9:23, 9:49, 9:06, 10:18, 21:07 (2 mi), 10:03, 10:10, 10:46, 12:49 (uphill), 9:28 (back down), 25:03 (2 mi & potty stop), 13:02, 10:28, 24:16 (2 mi), 11:26, 11:15, 11:21, 12:16, 11:59, 11:54, 13:39 (1.22 mi), total 4:50:02, pace 11:04.

We drove to this marathon, from Minnesota to Idaho and back, especially enjoying the drive back. In a single day on I-90 and I-94 we saw:

  • Antelope, bison, mule deer, magpies, and many other creatures that we don’t see in Minnesota;
  • Snow-capped Montana mountains on one side of the highway, or both sides, for hundreds of miles, hour after hour, constantly changing and always fresh;
  • A full rainbow directly ahead of us, though we never drove in much rain that day;
  • The North Dakota badlands in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (Medora, ND), including
    • Scenery more colorful than the South Dakota badlands,
    • A prairie-dog village right at the edge of the road, and
    • The North Dakota Painted Canyon;
  • A spectacular, unforgettable after-dark light show which we watched for 100 miles, as a thunderstorm crossed our path ahead of us in Minnesota; and finally
  • The three-quarter moon rising like a huge, orange, lopsided welcome sign right in front of us as we approached the Twin Cities at midnight.
It was a magical day. And to our surprise, traffic on I-90 and I-94 was light this Memorial Day weekend. I’m so glad we didn’t fly this time.