Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Six Little Runs

In the Lost Dutchman Marathon I had a little trouble with my left hip.  At the time I thought it was hip flexors, which do give trouble from time to time but are never a limiting factor, and they always clear up soon after the marathon.  Not so this time.

Since the marathon we've run three times in the local soccer dome, once each in two different YMCA's, and once at Snap Fitness.  Each time I intended to run three miles, but in five of the six runs I stopped after two miles because of the hip pain.  It's not severe enough to stop me from running, but it shouldn't keep happening and suggests an actual injury, not just some stressed ligaments, so I stop.

The one time I didn't stop at two miles I ran very slowly, using a run/walk ratio of about 1 to 4 in distance, or 2 to 11 in paces, resulting in an actual speed of about 13:35 min/mi.  At that pace the pain showed up briefly and then subsided.  If sustained, the pace would bring a 6-hour marathon finish, but without any time for bathroom breaks or anything else.

That was yesterday.  Today I increased the running to a ratio of about 2 to 3 in distance, or 1 to 2 in paces, resulting in an actual speed of 12:40, which extrapolates out to a marathon of about 5:32, thus allowing sufficient breaks for a 6-hour finish.  Unfortunately, though, the hip pain showed up enough that I stopped after two miles again.

I need to take two or three days off for healing, maybe more.  But there's another marathon coming up pretty soon  ...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lost Dutchman Marathon Review 2015

February 15, 2015:

My Race:

I had a good race, considering all.  I haven't been training as much as I should - my longest run since the Vancouver Marathon last November was 12 miles, and I may have used the wrong race strategy.

Because hot weather was forecast for today I ran faster than I normally would in the first half of the marathon, knowing that I would have to slow quite a lot in the second half.  In fact that strategy worked in a way - I finished the first half in 2:49, but I wonder if I should have done it.  I finished the full race in 6:14:54, second of three in my 70-74 age group (I'm 74), but had to walk in from about Mile 17 - when I tried to run, my calves would cramp up and stop me.  If I had run slower in the first half, though, I might not have cramped up as much later - I did have enough energy to go faster.  Nevertheless my 86th marathon is in the books.  Whew.

Despite the forecasts we were blessed with cloudy skies for the first 15 miles, and the temperature remained cooler than predicted.  After the clouds disappeared the temperature rose to the mid-70's, but not more.  That should be a manageable temperature - I'll have to find something else to blame for the cramps in my calves, such as my too-fast start or lack of proper training.  Hills don't help either, and the race was slightly "challenging."

Cloudy skies are actually a mixed blessing in this race, because the first six miles are spectacularly scenic, and the sun is required to get full advantage of that view.  Happily, we had driven those same six miles the day before the race and we got our photos in full sun.


  • (1) I did a run/walk of 20/20 at first, then 20/30, then 15/30, then went to a complete walk; 
  • (2) I got stung on the jaw by a wasp or bee near the end of the race.  A nurse in the medical tent at the finish gave me a Benadryl - that might have helped.  I carry Benadryl when running anyway, but I preferred using hers with its fresher expiration date.  The sting still hurts when I touch it, so I try not to do that. 
  • (3) For the first time in 86 marathons, I texted real-time selfie photos to the eRaceCancer Campaign and to my sweeties, showing me with the mile marker at miles 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24, then finally a shot after the finish.  Since my phone is an ancient stupid one, and the sky was bright much of the time, I had difficulty seeing the screen, so texting the photos took far too long.  I suppose that probably cost me 10 to 15 minutes overall.  I've eschewed the larger, smarter phones because this simple one fits in the back pocket of my running shorts, but maybe it's time to figure out a way to carry a larger phone.  Do they have an app for that?
  • (4) As we ran down the first six miles we encountered a much-photographed longhorn beef animal grazing by the road and staring at us, appearing to appreciate our quiet parade just as we appreciated seeing him.  He seemed quite alone otherwise. 
  • (5) I hadn't been able to find my gaiters before we left, and on arrival it appeared that I might need them in the first six miles of the race, so I bought a little roll of duct tape to seal all of the places where one shoe might drop a pebble into the other.  That actually worked very well, and of course I got rid of those disposable "gaiters" immediately after finishing the six gravel miles.
  • (6) Running through one neighborhood I saw a coyote loping along between the houses and off into a dry creek bed.  Long body, long tail - one of the locals saw it too and confirmed my sighting.  We have coyotes in Minnesota now too, even the occasional wolf, but they mostly snooze in the daytime and do their work at night.  Don't see as many raccoons these days ... 
  • (7) On the second day after the marathon I see significant bruising, black-and-blue, on the skin at the bottom of one of the calf muscles.  Since I don't recall any impact there, I guess it's the result of the cramping.  
  • (8) I did try a different brand of salt capsules this time, because I couldn't find my usual Thermotabs, but the dosage per capsule seems about the same as the tablets and I took about the same number of pills as usual, so that probably wasn't the problem.  Anyway I'm going back to my Thermotabs just in case.

The Lost Dutchman Marathon:

One of the best features is the start.  The start line committee comes up to the start area and camps there, apparently for two nights, and by the time we runners arrive by bus on race morning the committee has prepared dozens of little campfires and supplied rugs to sit on.  Runners chat with each other and the time disappears quickly.  There is food, coffee, water, lights, and enough porta-potties.

Finally we all, almost reluctantly, trudge a few yards to the start line and off we go, the nearby cliffs and mountains gleaming in the breaking sunrise.  Lovely - wish I'd seen it.  We didn't actually get the sunlight this year, because the morning was cloudy, but it's Arizona, so the chance of a sunrise next year or any year is quite high.

Another best feature is the people - the volunteers.  Everyone was wonderful.  At the expo some of the volunteers had brought fresh grapefruit and oranges right off their own trees for the runners to enjoy.  I took a nice big grapefruit back to the hotel, chilled it, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

By far the best part of the course itself is the first six miles, with the spectacular seemingly-unspoiled desert extending outward and upward toward Superstition Mountain, which reaches abruptly 3000 feet into the sky.  Unfortunately the roads through this wilderness are not paved, so a runner has to be careful not to step on a rock the wrong way in those same six miles.

There is a nice loop through a Gold Canyon neighborhood, with its expensive houses and great view of the mountains, but otherwise the rest of the course seemed quite ordinary to me, mostly on roads with cones separating runners from vehicle traffic.

The True Story:

The Dutchman was never lost - everyone else is.  Jacob Waltz was also not Dutch - he was German, spelled "Deutsch" and pronounced "doytch" in his native language. He discovered a rich deposit of gold and profited mightily, but never told anyone where the mine was.  People have been searching for it ever since his death in 1891.  I guess technically it's the Lost Dutchman Mine - the mine is lost, not the Dutchman / Deutsch man.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Six Days Without Running

And on the seventh day he ran five miles.  35 degrees and sunny today, so I put on the tights and took off for a wonderful, cool, run through the neighborhoods, starting and ending right at our new home.

I did a 1 to 1 run/walk, 5.48 miles in 1:01:45, for a pace of 11:16, better than I thought.  I wonder if I have the mileage correct.  Oh well, I'll take it and run, so to speak.  I'll have plenty of time to compute new running routes from the new place.

Twelve Mile Long Run

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Well, it's as long as I'm going to get with only two weeks to go before the next marathon.  We ran on the square running/walking track at the YMCA.  Because of the hundreds of corners in a 12-mile run on that track, all the same direction, I tried to mix in some running on a treadmill, but quickly gave up on that because it's not very compatible with my run/walk pace.

I brought water and took that at irregular intervals - whenever I was thirsty.  Overall time for the 12-mile distance was 2:22:44, for a pace of 11:54, which is a 5:12 marathon pace.  I'd be quite happy with that, really, but today's run was less than half the distance of a marathon.