Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Long Slow Distance

21.7 miles in 4:03 this morning, pace 11:12. That’s good enough for a 4:54 marathon if I could keep it up for another four and a half miles. Maybe. I’d like to run a 4:30 marathon, because that’s Boston qualifying time at my age, but it will be a push. Right now I’d need to find a downhill course.

I did have a couple of problems today though.

First: The skunk - smack in the middle of my favorite little two-rut dirt road alongside the railroad track. It was contentedly chewing away on vegetation between the ruts, more or less oblivious to the world. I stepped up on the track itself, walking slowly along the ends of the ties on the far side of the track, toward the skunk but as far as I could get from it without tumbling down the other bank. The skunk was facing the track, and spotted me just as I came opposite. The tail went up, but it was still facing me, maybe 10 feet away. I jogged away, bouncing from one tie to the next, and when I looked back, the skunk was running in the other direction. Mutual respect.

Second: The route that I had chosen for today is about 22 miles and goes through seven different municipalities including Oakdale, Pine Springs, Grant, Stillwater, and more. The railroad track would have taken me into Oakdale, where I would have switched to some paved trails. But the track goes under I-694 just before that point, and the passage under 694 was blocked. A hard-hatted worker came toward me and asked me not to proceed, explaining that they were doing "lead paint remediation" on the bridge. I could see a path through but he was blocking my way. I considered an end run around him, but gave in when he explained that his boss was watching so he really had to stop me.

There was no way around - only back the way I had come, costing quite a bit of distance. I figured out a detour which made the course about equal in distance to the original, but it bypassed two opportunities to refill my water bottle. Happily for me, Sunshine was available to bring a bottle just when I needed it. Totals: four Clif Shot gels, five packets of salt, and 40 ounces of water. That's not enough water - I should take about 2.5 ounces per mile, which would have been 54 ounces.

Perfect weather, the beginning of fall color, nothing hurts much. It’s a good run.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

MMRF Race for Research

Sunday, Sept 26, 2010:

Once a year, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) holds a fund-raising event at Phalen Park in St Paul, focused on a 5k race/walk. This year the event drew about 1000 people and raised about $150,000. Final figures are not in yet.

The course was a surprise though. Part of the usual course, a bridge, was totally blocked and the detour added about ½ mile to the total distance. We all ran about 3.6 miles. I finished in 29:59, so IF the distance was 3.6 then my pace was 8:20. That’s believable. It would correspond to an actual 5k time of 25:50. I’ll take it.

No pains or problems.

Saturday, Sept 25, 2010:

St Croix Valley Runners, 7:00 am Saturday, as always, at Stillwater’s Northland Tennis Courts. I ran with George, Mary, and Candy, until we spotted a pileated woodpecker attacking a telephone pole, when George and Mary stopped briefly for pictures. Candy and I finished the 5 miles in 44:12, which is under 9-minute miles and a good pace for me. No pains or problems.

Thursday, Sept 23, 2010:

Woodbury runners, who meet at Carver Lake Park at 6:00 pm every Thursday evening. We ran in the warm rain tonight. Rich and I took the short 5.1-mile route, finishing in about 56 minutes I think - I pushed the button in the watch, but apparently it didn’t start. Nice, easy run, no pains or problems.

Tuesday, Sept 21, 2010:

The grass trails in the park are soft now, because we have had a lot of rain lately. But today they were dry enough for running. I did 8 miles, running most of the way but, as usual, walking up most of the hills. Time 1:25:30, pace 10:41. No problems.

Pretty blue mushrooms in our lawn. Don't worry - we aren't going to eat them.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recovery Run

Recovery run: Woodbury Runners, 5.1 miles. I ran with Rich, a strong pace for him and fairly easy for me, most of the time. Two other guys, faster than us, ran the “usual” 6.2-mile route and we met up again about 1/4 mile from the finish. I left Rich at that point and ran with those two, enjoying a sprint (for me) to the finish.

This was a very good run! I enjoyed it a lot, both the 5-mile distance with Rich and the sprint at the end. Temperature was 55 with cloudy skies and no wind - perfect running weather. I love this time of year. Time 53:40, pace 10:31.

Dinner. That's canned salmon a la Sweet Pea:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Little Grand Canyon Marathon

The Little Grand Canyon Marathon is a small treasure. Several hundred runners in the full marathon and in the half, all headed mostly downhill to the finish in one of the most spectacular canyons I have ever seen.

My marathon:

  • I finished in 5:03:28, according to my own watch (official results are not up as I write.). That’s OK for a mile-high marathon on gravel roads.
  • Nothing hurts! Well, maybe the right ankle hurts a little. I’ll have to take that to a doctor someday, but s/he will just say “let’s immobilize that for six weeks” or some such. I’m not in the mood for that yet.
  • The temperature was about 35 at the start (!) but quickly rose to about 70 at my finish. The sun was brilliant throughout, and felt very good at the beginning.
  • I discarded a garbage bag after three miles, and a long-sleeved shirt and gloves after seven.
  • At one point I was seven minutes behind a 5-hour pace (according to my wristband), but picked up a few minutes later.
  • I took six Clif Shot “mocha” gels, each delivering caffeine (the remaining legal performance-enhancing drug), at miles 3, 7, 11, 15, 19, 21, and 25.
  • At the alternate water stops I took salt tablets.
  • NO CRAMPS! This is because I took enough water, and especially because of the salt.
  • The race is almost entirely on gravel roads, so I wore gaiters and didn’t get even a grain of sand in my shoes. The girls had the same delightful experience. See Dirty Girl Gaiters.
  • Hip flexors started to bother around mile 10, but quieted down and weren’t a problem during the remaining race.
  • I was unimpressed by the scenery in the first half of the marathon, but very impressed by the last 10 miles. The half marathon starts at the midway point of the marathon, and only runs that impressive part.
  • Finished: marathon number 46, state number 29.

The Little Grand Canyon Marathon Itself

The good:
  • It’s well organized. For example, the water stops are EXACTLY at miles 3, 5, 7, etc., and so are the porta-potties.
  • Registration was simple, and packet pickup was very quick.
  • The venue is exceptionally beautiful. We ran on a road surrounded by high cliffs, above ancient cuts made by prehistoric rivers, with a full spectrum of colors.
  • The cliffs and were so close that we could literally touch them, and in at least one case we ran UNDER a slanted cliff face.
  • Post-race food was great: Water melon and snow cones at the finish (and lots more), taco/bean salads at the post-race feast back at the start.
  • Although there are hills, most of them are DOWN, especially in the last 10 miles. It’s a point-to-point race, and runners get bused back up to the start.
  • There is no time limit - in fact, prospective runners are invited to walk! I think this is wonderful, especially with such enjoyable scenery.
  • Mile markers counted DOWN the miles, rather than up. E.g. 10 miles to the finish. I enjoyed this, even though it meant that the mile markers were off 0.2 miles from what they would have been.
  • Discarded race clothing, left at an aid station, was automatically brought back up to the start area where it could be reclaimed. I took advantage of that, recovering a long-sleeved shirt and gloves after the race.

The not-so good:
  • I can’t remember when I have eaten so much dust. Runners share the road with motor vehicles, and there were many, dozens, car after car, especially in my last 13 miles, each raising its own cloud of dust (cough, cough). To be honest, this detracted substantially from my enjoyment of the beautiful canyons. The problem is the runners themselves: many of them apparently had friends drive down the dusty road to the finish, pick them up, and drive them back up to the start, presumably so that they wouldn’t have to wait for a bus to take them back. In so doing, they blew TWO clouds of dust at each of the runners still on the course.
  • In a few places, the heavy automobile traffic itself was an issue because of the narrow roads. I did stop a couple of times, off of the road, to let cars pass.
  • We stood around at the START line for about 30 minutes, freezing, waiting for the race to start. I’ve never been so happy for a race to start.
  • As of Sunday morning, the day after the race, results were still not posted. Compare this with many modern marathons which post results as they happen. It’s a simple matter of uploading to onlineraceresults.com, which is free.

Bottom line:It’s a good marathon, and the organizers work hard to make it good. I recommend it. I had hoped that it would be one of my top favorites, but because of the traffic and dust it wasn’t.

Found in a local grocery store. The beer is actually pretty good:

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Cool Run

We jogged in the park again today, on the paved trails. Nice, cool afternoon run, windy with some sun, very fresh, about 60 degrees.

I tried to take it easy and did walk briefly several times, especially up hills. Nevertheless I ran the 3.6 miles in 34:15, for a pace of 9:31, plenty fast for a taper run. I feel good. Slight pain in the right ankle, but I will nurse that for the next several days.

Those cherries are from Rich's own tree, home-grown without the benefit of any pesticide sprays. Tangy and delicious. The blueberries are frozen "wild" blueberries, very tasty and hopefully nutritious.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Great Day of Racing

Saturday, September 4, 2010:

The Buckshot Races in Eau Claire support the Special Olympics. There are two races for adults, a 5-miler first, and then a 2-miler starting 90 minutes after the 2-mile start. A runner can run the doubleheader for a special price, actually only $25, getting both races but only one shirt (one is enough!). I ran the doubleheader, as I’ve done in most prior years.

5-Mile Race:

This was my fourth time running this race, finishing twice before in 37+ minutes, then last year (on cancer meds) in 41:59, and this time in 40:23 (one less cancer med). Better than a minute and a half faster than last year. I’m not back to speed yet, but there is some improvement. I like that!

I finished second of ten in my age group, number 161 of 589 runners overall. Even at my best I was rarely able to finish ahead of Doug, who was several minutes ahead of me here, and no chance now unless I can get my speed back.

What a beautiful morning - about 52 degrees at the start and it didn’t warm up a lot all day. That probably helped improve my time too.

Splits: 7:49, 8:15, 7:57, 16:24 (2 mi), overall pace 8:05 minutes per mile. Sounds good, except unfortunately this very popular race is not certified and may be almost a tenth of a mile short. If it is 4.9 miles, then the pace was 8:14. But that’s still not bad. Using the Running Times Race Equivalent Calculator, that 8:14 pace predicts a 5k time just under 25 minutes, and I’m hoping for that. I need to find a nice, flat, certified 5k race and go for it.

2-Mile Race:

Doug finished the 2-miler ahead of me again, probably always will. I was second of seven in 15:35, 91 of 839 overall, actually the fastest I’ve run this two miles since 2006. I can do better, but I’m happy with this race. Perfect weather, a feel-good race and I feel great.

Splits by my watch: 7:54, 7:44, total 15:38. They say 15:35 - I’ll take it, pace 7:48. Two good runs today.

Thursday, September 2, 2010:

Rich and I started with the Woodbury Runners, then took the 5.1-mile route rather than their normal 6.2-mile route. We ran rather slowly, which was fine with me because I was looking ahead to two races on Saturday, just two days ahead.

5.1 miles in 54 minutes, pace about 10:35 or so - I didn’t record the time exactly. No pains, no problems.

Pancake for breakfast. Gluten-free pancakes are just as scrumptious as "regular" ones. Here's a pancake with fruit:
Pancake for breakfast