Thursday, March 31, 2011

Boston and marathons

When I first started running I didn't know anything about marathons or even about Boston. Dad was a runner and he only ran one marathon, the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama. That's the same course I eventually ran my Boston qualifying time. It was my second time on that course and about my 13th or so marathon.

SeanV2 has been soliciting runners input for a Boston questionnaire on for those who have qualified for Boston. Check it out. Boston is still one of those marathons that has to be run to be appreciated. I've blogged about it plenty.

Marathon pacing

Boston, more than a feeling

Marathon excuse list

Marathon observations

Boston 2005

The Boston Jacket not written by me. Mark Collis is the author.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

done with marathons

swiped from the web. Holler and I'll take it off.

Blah. Wind, cold, hills. They all combined to kick my rear end today. Big expectations leading into the Greenway Marathon in Nashville, TN. It was going to be the sub 3:00 that didn't happen due to the DNF in Albany, 3 weeks ago.

Let's talk about the wind first. It wasn't that bad, only about 11 or 12 mph hour. But, when the temperature is around 39-40 degrees it's kinda chilly. Lot's of the course was sheltered from the wind or it was at our back. But, the wind chilled my legs more than I envisioned. Should have gone with the calf sleeves at a minimum or even tights. Damn. Really thought I'd be running quick enough that I'd be over heated with the calf sleeves and certainly with the tights.

Downhill start from the top of the Percy Priest Dam. Nice conservative start, I was the fourth runner back for the first mile or two. Eased up behind the 2nd place runner but he was going just a touch to quick, so I backed down a smidgen. Then the freakin' hills started. Jeez, I knew we had some rollers before we crossed the bridge over the Cumberland, but I must have mentally blocked their steepness. They weren't that long, but the sure sucked the life out of me. Took what the course gave me and realized real quickly at about 9 miles that a 3:00 wasn't happening today. I was on pace for a 3:05.

Ok, no big deal. I can get back on pace on the flat section along the river, roughly 9 miles worth of flat. It just wasn't happening. I couldn't get on pace. I got a side stitch. What the hell, I never get side stitches, except maybe on shorter races with a whole lot more effort. Bejessus, what the freak is going on. Calves start to tighten up. Can't blame it on the hydration. I carried a bottle from the start. I was taking my Suceeed Caps on schedule, powergels as well. I was ready to call it a day before I even hit the half way point. Gave up third place and then a whole lot more places.

Stopped at the aid station that Chuck was working. Felt like crap. Ready to go home and be done, but I was almost at the most distant point of the course. At least until I got my sorry rear going again around the loop and the turn around point. Still giving up spots when Bill M. and ? passed me. Ok, no sweat, I'll tuck in behind them and ride my way home to a 3:30. That lasted all of about a mile, maybe two.

At this point I couldn't really decide if it's the cold slowing me down, my sore foot or what. At 18 miles when the Monkey crew passed me, hell bent on a 3:45 I decide I'm pretty much toast. I'd been doing the ultra shuffle for the last several miles. I walked up the hill to the top of the bridge and didn't stop walking all the way home.

It wasn't all bad. Annette caught up with me at some point and walked me home. She's a 50 stater from Chicago. What can I say runners are good folks.

I won't talk about the time, it was my slowest marathon ever. But, that's to be expected, I walked it home from 18 miles out.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Eve of the race

This will be the second time I've raced a marathon following a failed attempt. The first time was when I ran my Boston marathon qualifying time in 2004 at the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama with a 3:17. The failed attempt was 30 days earlier at the Mid-South Championship Marathon,in Wynne, Arkansas. I ran a 3:37 and needed a 3:20. The problem that day was dehydration. I didn't take in enough fluids and the warm weather didn't help either. Warm weather for me, being anything above 60 degrees for the marathon distance.

Weather for tomorrow is about ideal, temperature wise, low 40's to low 50's. Little chance of rain, 10%. I could do without the 12 mph north wind. It shouldn't be enough to slow the pace, only annoying. Perhaps the trees along the greenway will shelter most of it. I know the bridge across the Cumberland river will be especially windy, though we'll only have to deal with it twice.

This is going to be the smallest marathon I've ever run. 34 people signed up as of yesterday. That's not a concern. I don't need the big crowds of the major marathons. If anything that complicates race day. The smaller marathons work out better for race day logistics. The DNF at Snickers was about the perfect size marathon. Maybe 1,500 total runners combined for the marathon and half marathon. We were able to park within 100 yards of the starting line and maybe a quarter mile from the finish line. No buses, no lines, no crowds.

My only real concern with this race is the aid stations. Especially the distance between them. Most are about 3 miles apart, that's adequate. When I run marathons I make a point of taking water at every aid station, usually about 2 miles apart. Gatorade, no thank you. (my belly doesn't tolerate it) Dehydration has always been one of my weakness's. Tomorrow, I may carry a bottle just because of the 5 miles between the mile 18 and mile 23 stations. I've never raced carrying a bottle the total distance, though I usually do in my long runs and for 50k's.

Oh, and my freakin' foot. Never have really figured out what's going on with it. The outside of my heel was super tender/sore/swollen 2 weeks out from the DNF. I did manage to loosen it up with some trigger point massage. But, ever since then its taken a couple of miles for it to loosen up. Thought at one point it was Haglund's deformity. It's in the exact spot where my heel rests on the floor of my car every morning in the commute to Nashville.

Friday, March 18, 2011

10 days out

Yesterday's workout was 10 days out from the next sub 3:00 marathon attempt at the Greenway Marathon on March 27th. Did a progression run. That was the intent anyway. Plus, I wanted to give my marathon shoes one more try. Did a little surgery to try and loosen up the toebox. Not the first time I've tried to get a pair of shoes that didn't quite fit right, to work. One of the main reasons for buying these shoes was because they weren't as wide in the toebox as the Mizuno's I've been wearing for the last couple of years. Surprised that it's almost a quarter of an inch narrower, at a minimum.

Never again will I buy Nike's. It's been 10 years since I last wore any and that was a free pair that I got as a "Nike tester" or some sort of program. (it was a pair with the shock heel) Complete sillyness for a runner like me whose heel never touches the ground. Prior to that I'd sworn off Nike's because they discontinued the model I'd been wearing, the Pegasus. (it's back now I believe) That's the one thing that drives me nuts about shoe companies, changing the model every year. At least with the Asics, it was mainly just a color change. The shoes remained the same.

The progression run started out well enough. I wanted a couple of miles of warmup and then 3 miles at 7:10 pace, followed by 3 miles of marathon pace, 6:49 and then finish with 3 miles at 6:30 pace. The new shoes felt great in the early miles, the "running on clouds" kind of cushy feeling that stays around for the first few runs in a new pair of shoes. This would be the 4th or maybe even 5th run in these shoes in total but first since the DNF at Snickers. The three miles at 7:10 miles were easy, and the marathon pace was as well. Started to notice how tight the toebox was with the marathon pace miles. This time the rubbing was on the outer pad of the forefoot. It didn't affect my pace, but was noticeable with each foot strike. I bailed on the 3rd marathon pace mile, about 2/3rds of the way into that mile. I was afraid to kick it up to 6:30 pace for 3 more miles with my foot rubbing. Slogged it back home.

Ten miles on the day, with a few miles of marathon pace. More importantly, determined the shoes were indeed the reason for the blister at the Snickers Marathon. Question now, which shoes to wear for the marathon? Probably back to the tried and true Mizuno's.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Back to the training, well at least running anyway. After the DNF last Saturday, I skipped Sundays run. Did start back again on Monday. Lots of slow miles, until Friday's 45 minute marathon pace run with the Wich brothers which went pretty well. After deciding to make another sub 3:00 attempt at the Greenway Marathon on March 27th, its right back into training mode.

This mornings workout should have been a 18 mile run with 8 miles of fast finish. Half the guys wanted to start at 7 am, I wanted to start at 6 am. Surprisingly, the fast master was willing to go at 6 am as well. Hard to believe he's actually out running 14 miles a week out from running a fast marathon. He raced with compression socks and believes like I do that they tremendously aid in recovery, post long run and speed workouts. (have mine on as I'm typing) I started a little early to get 4 miles, but only able to get 3.5 done before 6 am.

Fastest mile this morning was the race back to the car to meet the fast master during my warmup. Kinda nice that he was willing to slog along with me this morning. He had ridden the bike the day before so that may have been part of it. Plus, still only a week out from a hard marathon effort the legs still have to have a little fatigue. Pretty darn cold out this morning for what I thought we'd have. When I checked the weather, I saw 48 degrees. After sunup, I was thinking mid 50's. Well, with the time change, we didn't get to 50 degrees until maybe the last 2 miles home. It was a cool 42 degrees to start, I even wore my gloves. So ready for the cold to be gone.

I decided before even starting this mornings run, that I was not going to attempt the fast finish. Number one this course starts and finishes with pretty long climb. Plus, the course is rolling the entire way. I figured the hills would be enough of a workout without trying to do any kind of pace work. Worked out well, nice to be able to get a long run in without beating myself up with a workout. We met the other guys on the bottom of Wilson hill, they had just come off the hill with 11 more miles to go. We only had 3 miles home, and it looked like the rain was starting to roll in.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Post shower and second lancing.

Pace band, pre-race

Fast master, exit left

Sad when one of the race officials doesn't know what that means. Think she called it a DNQ. Nope, Did Not Finish. Different from DNS, Did Not Start. Up until 5 minutes before the awards ceremony I was listed as the masters winner in a time of 2:33. Wow, I smoked everyone. Sounds about right, I took the sweep van back to the start area, put on my sweats and grabbed the fast masters sweats and hobbled over to the finish line. I stood right next to the line and asked one of the volunteers about the winning time and how many marathoners had been across. Yelled across to the score keeper that I was a DNF and I that my bib which I still had on would register and he agreed.

Got to see the number 4 marathoner come across and then the first female. Lots of half marathoners were still streaming across the line. I waited until the fast masters projected time and only 2 more marathoners finished in front of him. He missed his target but still was the masters winner and the 7th male across the line. He looked good coming to the line but said his stomach was upset and he needed to hurl. The score keeper came running through the finishing chute wanting my bib number, which I gave to him for the second time. He even wrote it down on the timing tape. Gave the fast master his distance and we headed back to the car. He dry hurled a few times and then he decided to sit down. I wisely sat about 10 feet away. The Exorcist director would have been proud. Projectile and green and volume to match. YUCK.

Back to the hotel to shower and then back to the finish area for the awards ceremony. Second time I've been in a marathon with the fast master and the second time his results have been screwed up. We found a race official to let them know that I shouldn't be listed as finishing and it looked like they'd even scored one of the Kenyans that had ridden with me in the sweep van as finishing as well. That wasn't the case. I forgot about one runner that crossed in earlier. They got everything corrected and he got his award. A back pack with "First Place Masters Male" and some other swag.

My race started out great. The Snickers Marathon had about 600 runners and the half about 800 runners. Common start for the first quarter mile, we turned right for a 4 mile loop through a college campus and they turned left and headed out the same direction we would be at around mile 4. Hit my fist split right on, but really had to put on the brakes. Lots of folks going out way to fast. Passed a female Atlanta runner that we'd spoken to the night before, when I was trying to back off from about a 6:30 pace, so I knew she was going out way quicker than she'd talked about.

We'd driven the course the day before, which I really think is a great idea. Nice to know what's coming up. Early miles went by really easy and had to really put on the brakes a few times to stay close to pace. We started catching the half marathoners around mile 6 for the walkers. They really got thick around mile 7 right before they split off to head home before mile 8. That was one of my fastest miles, 'cause I got pissed because they were taking up the whole road. (one lane coned off for runners)Settled back down and got back in to my groove when they split off. At this point my average pace was still around 6:42 versus a planned 6:50. Fluid intake was good, water at every aid station, roughly every 2 miles. This was important because I tend to cramp up when the temps get close to 60 degrees. It was about 57 degrees and overcast. Gels and succeed caps were right on schedule according to my handy pace band. (which I admit does look pretty silly on the front of the line)

Runners really thinned out after the half marathoners split off. I had surged a couple times to shake someone who insisted on running on my heels. Runners in front of me started to separate as well, they were going about a 6:30 pace or so. This section of road was the straightest section of the course for about 2 miles. We thought we'd have southeast winds and the wind would be at our back for this section. Turned out the rain started and the wind was in our face. Nothing to bad, light drizzle just enough to cover the glasses, but not enough to get you wet. Wind wasn't really strong enough to affect pace and I was clicking off my most consistent miles, 6:49's.

Mile 10 was time to take another powergel. Used a hammergel I grabbed at the last aid station. This was where I started to notice a hot spot on my forefoot right behind my big toe. No worry, everything was going great. Tried to concentrate on the task at hand. Pace was still good, calves where good, breathing great. Rain had stopped. Came into a country club sub-division and the turns started. This was also where the only true hill of the race was located. Started to alter my foot strike to quiet the foot. The uphills aggravated it, the downhills gave me relief, but only because my heel was slapping the ground. Damn foot just wouldn't shut up.

Passed the half marathon point with about a minute and a half in the bank for my sub 3:00. Lost sight of the runner in front of me and didn't dare look back to see if anyone was catching me as my pace was slowing with the altered foot strike. Kinda like a limp shuffle, pace was still about 7:20, but it was tough to maintain. Stopped before mile 16 to lance the blister on my foot. Really thought about getting back up and continuing on. But, one of the course officials came by in a golf cart and I called it a day. He gave me a ride to a water stop before mile 16. Pretty damn humbling to be sprawled out on the grass in someones front yard with a blister, while everyone else soldiers on.

First aid truck came by and I got in. That wasn't the sweep wagon, though. Waited around and watched the 3:20 pace group caterpillar by with about 20 or so followers and then the stranglers trying to keep them in sight. Sweep van pulled up and I was the 4th runner to be picked up. Two Kenyans, who "got lost". That's about all they would say. The other runner was the female from Atlanta she was already over the DNF and we talked the whole way back to the start.

Decided on the walk back to the car after the awards ceremony, "I'm retiring from marathons." But, there is a half marathon next weekend and then a marathon in a couple of weeks............................

Splits for grins
1 6:49
2 6:45
3 6:44
4 6:36 back by the start and crowds
5 6:41
6 6:42
7 6:39
8 6:35 half marathon gaggle
9 6:49
10 6:49
11 6:49
12 6:56
13 6:54
14 6:56
15 7:09
16 turn off the *&^%%$! Garmin