Well, here it is mid-September and I've been signed up for the MCM since June and only started traning in earnest in the past few weeks. I must be crazy! But it's just been to darned hot here in DC to run much this summer. I managed to keep it up at about a 20-mile per week rate, but always shorter (6-mile) runs. So once we got the first break in the heat and humidity (which would have been late August), I jumped back in at 14 miles. Biy was that brutal. And still warm - upper-80s. Since then, adding 2 miles per week so that this wee I'm at 18 and feeling like I might just make this! I'm running well, though slowly, and trying hard not get an injury.
So the plan for the next four weeks is another 18, then a drop-back/recovery, then two weeks of 22 milers. Oh, and speed work too.
This is always a good race and I look forward to it every year. This was no exception. And my RB ran it with me, making it less lonely in the outer stretches, like from miles 14 on :-) But the main event this year was the incredible weather. After months of cold and snow, it warmed up a bit making this a perfect day for a run. Temps were in the 40s for most of the day and there was a little wind from the north, but not problematic.
We started out before the race trying to figure out what to wear. Decided on shorts and two shorts - the idea being to peel one off once we warmed up. Which we did.
The starting area was crowded, as always, making for about a minute to cross the starting line. I'm always amazed at the number of 50-staters at this marathon. Although maybe they are at every one and I just haven't noticed?
Although there was snow on the side of the trail, the trail itself was clear. Very smooth running.
The half marathoners turn left towards the finish here, which is cool, but it gets lonely after this point. about 700 runners end at the haf and only about 300 go on for the full.
There are always a lot of characters at the water stops.
Always a highlight of this race - the final turnaround - about the 19 mile point. At this spot, we turn around and so, no matter how tired I am, I know I will finish!
I had a good, but not great race. No PR this time, though my RB did have one. I ran solidly and steadily through mile 24. At that point, my calfs on both legs cramped hard and I had to stop and massage/stretch them. After that, I couldn't run so I walked to the next water stop, took some electrolytes and gatorade and water, and walked some more until I could feel the calfs loosening. After that, I was back at pace again, but I lost a good 7-8 minutes. Ah well. Final time was 4:46, and my 10th marathon is in the books.
So, the B&A Trial Marathon is in 5 days - 3/7/2010. Down to the last few days of tapering - a few short easy runs to keep the legs alive.
I must say, training in the snowy DC area has been a challenge. We rose to it, but not without difficulty. OTOH, running last week, the poor foxes of Hains Point were easy to see and running across the road directly in front of us - very cool though I think they didn't like being sdo exposed.
Well, my RB & I managed a 21 mile LSD in DC on Thursday 2/18. For those in the areaa, you'll know this was no mean feat (feet) - we're still blanketed in snow. None of our regular or rave routes are open. So we decided to try and craft a route around Haines Point which makes for a nice loop sticking out into the Potomac river. But we discovered where DC is putting some of the snow from the streets - the tip of Haines Point is a veritable mountain! So we ran a weird course down and back on each side. The "story" was heading down the east side of the park to find a huge tour bus that didn't know the road was closed and got all the way down to the point and the snow mountain, couldn't proceed and couldn't turn around. Was slowly backing out about a mile.
But we managed to get 21 miles in. Final LSD before the B&A. Question now is, will that race actually get run? There's more snow there than in DC!
A proper poser. The B&A Trail marathon is March 7. Today is February 9. I've got two long runs planned before the marathon, leaving a couple of weeks of taper time. I usually run the LSDs mid-week in the afternoons. So today is supposede to be a 20-22 miler, as is next week. Problem is, living in the Annapolis MD area, we just got a couple of feet of snow and more (another foot or so) expected tonight and tomorrow. So how do I get the LSDs in? The usual running routes are deep in powder. Don't have X-Country skis. Don't have a gym membership (though I guess I could piggy-back on someone elses). Thinking about running a loop around my neighborhood about 20 times! Sigh. I don't think I've ever seen so much white stuff.
We had a decent 18 mile LSD Tuesday. But since we're between snowstorms, the usual trails we run are covered in snow, slush and ice. Makes for a difficult run, especially as the distance grows. So we decided instead to make a few (4) loops around Haines Point. This little penninsula in DC that sticks out into the Potomac river is very flat and usually numbingly boring after one loop. A lot of the MCM runners complain about it. And we did 4 loops.
But it turned out to be a very nice run. On each side of the loop we got very close to a fox who played coy with us when I tried to get his picture:
And also a pair of Bald Eagles, waiting for dinner. I suppose that would be us in a few more loops!
Although wildlife is nothing new on this run, the fox and the Eagles were a special treat.
Some things are somewhat predictable. One of them is that if I don't get enough miles in, I'll do poorly when I run a marathon. Winner takes all. And I had a tough day.
Over the summer and into the fall, I was plagued by various ailments and these kept me from getting the training done. By the time we headed to Harrisburg, I had managed only a couple of LLSDs (18+ miles) and they were ugly. So I got there with very low expectations. And I wasn't disappointed :-)
I drove from Annapolis to Harrisburg with another runner/sailing friend and we did the usual packet pickup deal. There was no expo that I could see and that was probably a good thing - saved me a few bucks. Then we went out and drove the course, tryng to get a feel for the lay of the land, so to speak. And it looked good - a few hills, but nothing to write home about. We couldn't drive back into the lakewood area because it's all park trails, but from the road, it didn't look too rough. So back to the hotel, met up with my regular RB and his wife, dinner and hit they sack by about 10pm.
Sunday morning, up and dressed about 7. 8:30 start is late which was kind of nice - I wasn't the groggy-eyed slob I usually am on race mornings. Got a bagel and banana at the Hampton Inn buffet and then headed over to the starting area. Question of the morning was "how do I dress"? It was chilly, but no wind to speak of. So I opted for my race-ready shorts, a green T (from the 07 B&A marathon, my first - and more on that later!), and a running vest. Parking was easy and we had time to queue up at the porta-pot for some last-minute.weight-loss. I put gels, electrolyte caps, my mini-first-aid kit and my camera in my pockets and then wandered around taking pictures and staying warm. Hooked up with Spencer and wandered up to the starting area on the bridge.
There were a lot of folks at the starting area - more than I expected! Last I had looked at the registrations, there were only a few hundred runners, but the starting area was pretty filled up! The picture shows that we were all a bit conflivted about clothes - it was chilly prior to the start - the car thermo read 37 degrees.
Soon enough, the starting gun fired and we were off, turtles that we are. Spencer was hoping to get his time under 4:39:13 and since I didn't expect to do particularly well, I planned to help him keep the pace through the early miles and we would do our own thing whenever that happened. The start took us over the market street bridge and into the south-east area of Harrisburg. Old industry and houses in want of TLC, mostly flat. We saw these signs all over the place that there were runners ahead of us, but being tutles, that's always a given!
Then a nice return to the waterfront of the Susquehanna river via a railroad park trail. Great running, warmed up and moving well. Starting to get warm.
Coming back into the river area was just beautiful! It was so pretty running along there, with parks and the river and the fall foliage. It was just fantastic. One of the prettier 'thons I've run.
The houses were all old victorians, many keptbeautifully, others in need of repair. The day was definately warming up! We were warned by the race management at a couple of points to drink lots - that the day was going to be a warm one. Spencer changed his short (nice to have spectator support!) to a light-white one. We ran along the waterfront for quite a ways, finally turning off toward the lake park area. At first, this was still residential, and then we turned out towards the industrial section. Not so pretty, though not too long either so it was easy to just ignore and keep running. Shortly after, we came to the Harrisburg community college campus and things got nice again. Well, except for me! I started to seriously fade. I crossed the 15 mile mark and had to stop and walk for a while.I walked to about Mile 16 and then shuffled along until in the park area. Now that's a very pretty running area.
But I was seriously tired. I was trying to continue a run-walk but it was more of a run/shuffle. And it was getting warmer. Oh - and it turns out, there are real hills in that park! One long and quite steep one leading up to mile 18 - and I just walked it. But as I was heading p that hill, I heard my name and saw Ed Peters, a 50-stater whom I met a year earlier at the Rehoboth marathon coming back down towards me! What a surprise to see him again.
After that monster hill, we were rolling up and down hills that would have seemeed normal and okay if I was doing better, but I wasn't going to push - I knew I wasn't going to finish well, so I decided to just enjoy the scenery and the other runners around me and chat and push forward, walking whenever I felt the need.
The above doesn't quite convey they steepness of the hills!
We finally had to leave the park. As you can see from the clock, I was waaaay off pace - I'm usually able to get to this point in under 3:30. But not this day. So we headed out and back to the riverfront, staying in the very pretty scenery, which was getting harder to see. I ran for a few miles with Lou, (in the picture above) - a very nice gentleman.
From, there on to the end was numbing, but flat. Until the very end, when we had to ascend up onto the railroad bridge and cross that to the finish area.
At the very end, I was neck-and-neck with another runner to the gate. A fun way to sprint into the finish, even though we were all suffering out on the course! At the finish area, I met up with Bruce, Spencer and Ed Peters to drink and eat some and chat about the course. None of us did as well as we'd hoped though perhaps Spencer had the biggest disappointment of us all - he missed a PR by about 30 seconds. Bruce was about 30 minutes off (at around 4:30) and I had a dismal 5:13 (second worst time ever for me). But, I now have 9 in the books.
Below are a couple of shots taken by my RB's wife - my neck-and-neck sprint to the finish, and Spence, Bruce, Me and Ed Peters after finishing.
I liked this marathon a lot even though I did very poorly. It seemed very well run. Also, it seemed like the the race officials added more water stops in the last miles that weren't there when were heading out - I'm guessing they knew it was getting hot out. And that was both very welcome and very smart on their part. It also seemed like there were lots of volunteers on the course - more than on any other I can remember running. And, the crowd support was better than I expected for a small marathon - there were folks cheering us on, even late in the race in most of the neighborhoods. It was great.
In retrospect, I got bitten by three things. I didn't get enough miles, and especially enough hills in before the race. I was surprised by the challenge of the hills. And it was warmer than I was ready for. After the finish, we read 74 degrees on the car thrmometer. That's pretty warm for a marathon, especially in bright sun. I was hot for the entire second half, and perhaps dehydrated too (though I made a point of drinking a lot). I'm guessing that my green T was too warm - should have opted for a white one (which I had in my bag, but didn't wear). Looking back, my two hardest marathons were run in that same green T - maybe I should retire it :-)
But, no complaints - and a special thanks to the race volunteers and the town of Harrisburg for hosting this great event. Thanks also to my running partner Spencer who puts up with my inconsistent training patterns. And especially to my wife for not only putting up with, but encouraging my foibles.
So, last night I finally had a good LSD -- 16 miles mind you - not the long LSD I needed to get before Harrisburg (which is 9 days away). But, being only 9 days away, I'm supposed to be tapering, not running distances, so this was a compromise. But I needed the psychological lift. Way down in my mind about how porrly prepared I am for this 'thon. So this week, I've put in about 30 miles and will get some more before the weekend is over. Hydration and fuel seem to be working again. But I'll definately be relying on the large base of miles and marathons I've build over the past 30 months for this one.
After this, a couple weeks recovery and then start training for spring.
It's been a while since I wrote - have not had a good training season this summer for a bunch of reasons. I sprained my right ankle in May (after the Frederick Marathon) and had to take about 6 weeks off of any serious running for that. Also developed a sinus infection that slowed me down a bunch even after I got back into it. And work heated up a lot. Oh - and I got a new toy - a 35' sailboat. That has taken some of my time and interest! And travel and vacations, etc.
So I'm very late getting ready from Harrisburg. I got one 20-mile LSD in a week ago. Will attempt a second tomorrow (Saturday). But I'm way off my game. So I'm heading to Harrisburg in 2 weeks+ with no more expectation that to just finish. And then get started over the winter, training in earnest again.
After the ankle injury I dropped almost all the speedwork out of my training. Not sure if this was smart, but I was scared of a reinjury. So I am doing some speedwork now, but it's too close to the event to do anything major. Have to start back on that after recovery!
Okay, I've done two decent runs - one tempo and one easy this week and my ankle is okay. A little tired, and somewhat achy, but no sharp pains or anything. So I'm cool (well, hot this time of year) and starting back into the training. I've lost some time - I should be about at the 16-mile LSD point (and about 7x800 intervals) and I'm not there on either. I'll shoot for a 14 mile LSD this weekend and see how bad off I am.
But if all goes well, I'm hoping to do the Marine Corp again this fall.
About a month ago, I developed a sharp pain in my right ankle. I stayed off it, used ice for a bit and then went to the Dr. I was concerned that it might be a stress fracture. I've only run once since the pain started - about 4.5 miles very easy and it hurt. The doc did an xray and said it isn't a stress fracture, but an injury from about 15 years ago (basketball) that hadn't healed properly. A bit of weak cartilage had broken off and was twisting into the ankle joint, causing the pain. He gave me some stretching and strengthening exercises. Told me it was okay to run, but to use the pain as my guide - don't run if it hurts. And he has me scheduled for surgery in late August. His thinking is that it will likely remediate by then if I do the exercises, but that it takes 6-8 weeks to get onto the surgery calendar. This way, I'm scheduled and I can cancel if the problem goes away.
So I've been doing the exercises (not religiously, but fairly regularly) and they do seem to help. I'm going for an easy run this evening - hopefully with good result.
Well, nothing is as inexorible as time and the fall marathons will be here soon enough, whether I'm trained or not. I'm still a bit undecided about which 'thons to run. I've signed up for the Harrisburg PA marathon November 8. I'm thinking about either the Marine Corp (again) or Baltimore (again). The MCM is only two weeks before Harrisburg, so Balto may make more sense. But I have a hankering to run the MCM again (oh -- and I didn't sign up before it closed, so I have to beg/steal/borrow a bib). But no matter which I end up running, it's time to get back to the training program. Which means LSDs. In the summer. With Heat. And humidity.
So Wednesday evening, my interpid RB and I headed out for the first (of many) LSDs of the summer. This one, relatively short at 16 miles. From Crystal City up to the Zoo and back. Slow. Painful. Welcome back!
I am trying something new this summer. I always seem to have issues starting at about mile 21 and going thru about mile 24 of a full marathon. I know, it's the wall. But how to train for it? This summer, I'm trying runs two days in a row that put me well into that milage. So on Tuesday evening, I ran a 6.5 mile tempo run. Then Wednesday I ran a 16 mile LSD. Sure enough, at about mile 14 of the LSD, I started to feel wiped out. So this might work -- get some solid, simulated training in those late-miles. I'll write more on it as the program progresses.
I had an interesting thing happen during a tempo run last week. My RB and I headed out for a short (ish) tempo run of 6.2 miles. It was fairly warm and humid, and I know I was not acclimated to that, and perhaps a bit dehydrated even before starting. At about mile 3.5, I started to feel very tired, heavy legs. I slowed a bit and walked some, hen started running (slower) again. At about mile 4.5, I developed cramps, especially in my left calf. Walked some more. Started running again at about mile 5 and then was fine from there to the end - no more cramping or tired feeling.
Now, I've had cramps running before - that's not new. Nor is the heavy-feeling of tired legs (oh yeah - I ran intervals the day before too). So all that was "normal" in the sense that I could easily ascribe it to not enough recovery, too hot and humid, and not enought water/electrolytes. What I can't figure out is this: why did I feel fine after walking for a bit? What made the cramping go away? I didn't drink anything, didn't take any electrolytes, didn't do anything but walk a little. All I can think is that I was a little too warm and needed to cool off a bit. But I didn't feel overly warm - it wasn't that hot out.
I discovered RaceReady shorts about 2 years ago when training for the Marine Corp Marathon in 2007. And I love them, especially the LD-6 shorts which are a little longer. They're light and very comfortable and the pockets are; well, I carry a lot of **** so pockets are a must. Did I say that I love these shorts? One of my disappointments has always been that the local running stores (Annapolis anyway) don't really carry them, or at least not a variety of them. So I always mail order them. But that's okay too.
So I was visiting a new running shop near me (Charm City Running, Parole, MD), and happened to ask if they stocked these shorts. And they responded that they didn't, but that there is a new pocket-ready short from Asics. Interesting - I guess I had assumed that this was a small enough market that no one (besides RaceReady) would want to play. So I bought a pair.
I wore them on several LSDs and also in the Frederick Marathon this year. I have to say, I prefer the RaceReady shorts. Though the pockets are about the same, The Asics are heavier and bind a bit too much in the liner. Not a big deal, but they are also $10 more expensive. So, for me at least, the RaceReady shorts are better.