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May 17, 2010

unmiserable cleveland

note; this post title comes from my friend's friend's facebook page called, obviously, Unmiserable Cleveland. That name is just beautiful.

Short Story:
gun 3:11:25, chip 3:11:10
20s PR, which (in a marathon) really doesn't count for much :-)
15th woman, 3rd masters
first repeat marathon
first-ever negative split (by about 45s, which - again - doesn't really count)
GPS says 26.45 miles at 7:15 pace

Longer Story:

My goal was 3:10. The plan was to go out conservatively, around 7:30 for the first mile, then hold close to goal pace until 18 or so, then try for low 7s to the end. Didn't quite work out that way, but closer than I've ever come.

Rough spots: annoying headwind miles 9-17 (really mostly after 13, though); ambulance came though around 17 and forced us off the bike path we were running on. The last 2 miles hurt a good bit. Otherwise nothing too terrible. It was really helpful to have run the course before, because I knew what was coming and where I could try to make up any time.

The starting line of the completely sold-out race was crowded with halfers and marathoners alike. I had the presence of mind to hit my watch at the gun and then as I crossed the line about 15s later (unfortunately, I forgot about this gap immediately and didn't remember until about 20min after the race). I started slow, let the 3:10 pace group go, let a lot of people go. Tried to stay just under 7:20 and not get caught up in any competition with other women just yet. Passed some, hung with some, some passed me, but I just tried to run my own race.

Once we turned into the wind (and especially after we dropped the half-marathoners after 12 miles) I tried to maintain a reasonable pace without wearing myself out. I knew we would turn out of the wind after 17, and I wanted to avoid last year's Wall at 21 miles. Salty appeared out of the ether sometime after 11 miles, and seeing her was a nice morale-booster. During this otherwise-crummy stretch I tried to drag myself along with anyone who looked strong. Passed a few women but not in any competitive way; I was still running my own race. The course goes through a windy, kind of desolate waterfront park, and we ran on a bike path. Around the 17-mile mark, an ambulance came barrelling down the bike path, lights and siren going. It caught up with me at a really bad spot - just past a water stop, after a 90-degree turn, and at the bottom of a hill. I didn't actually stop, just slowed way down, but it took some wind out of my sails. Others weren't so lucky.

We finally turned out of the wind and up a big hill, and I felt good enough to pick it up. Passed 2 women I'd been following for miles. Saw a guy up ahead who appeared so relaxed it looked like he was jogging, and I caught and somehow passed him. In fact, I spent the whole last 9 miles passing people. This come-from-behind strategy really seems to work for me, all thanks to Coach Roger :-)

After 20 miles we turned into another long stretch of tailwind. There was no Wall waiting for me at mile 21, so I decided to milk that tailwind for all it was worth. Salty appeared again between 21 and 22, and more morale-boosting ensued. I have always wanted to run a 6-something mile somewhere in the last 6 miles of a marathon, and mile 23 seemed as good a place as any, so I pushed a bit and managed a 6:53. I passed a lot of people, including a woman running with a guy; as I approached, I heard her chatting to him, saying "only 3 more miles, I can deal with this," and then, as I passed, "I went out too fast."

The Vanity Mile was fun, but maybe a bit too close to the red line. The last miles felt like multiple organ failure, with everything from the hips down wanting to cramp up. I passed a guy I'd chatted with earlier in the race, and he said, encouragingly, "look at you, ran all this way on your toes" and I thought "oh shit, I did? oh shit, I am really going to be hurting, assuming I finish this race at all." But then, around 25.5 miles, I saw...a woman. I have never considered myself to be supercompetitive, but put a woman in front of me in a race and, well...so there was this woman. Running alone, not superspeedy, but didn't look like she was struggling either. As I debated the pros and cons (mostly cons) of a Marathon Death Sprint, I realized I was just plain going faster than she was and was going to pass her unless I slowed down (which I was not about to do). A spectator who knew her called out "Go, [whatshername], looking good!" then saw me coming and yelled "[whatshername], watch out!" and then yelled at me "hey, looking good!" We turned a corner just before 26 and I passed her, sure she'd come after me, but she didn't. I knew I wasn't going to come in under 3:10, but as the clock came into view I saw it tick over to 3:11, and I knew I could at least get a PR if I ran like hell. So I ran like hell, and came in with a clock time of 3:11:25. Turns out the woman I passed at the end was my age, so passing her got me 3rd masters.

The absolute worst part of the whole race was the walk back to my hotel. This hotel - the host hotel for the race - had greeted every racing guest with a form stating that they would not allow late checkout and any racer checking out after 12pm would be charged an additional half-day's room rate, Please Acknowledge This Highly Draconian Rule By Signing This Form, O Valued Guest. So I had to hurry back as soon as I finished. The hotel was a block away from the finish - in fact, I could see the finish line from my room - but the streets were blocked in such a way that I had to walk an extra block and a half and oh, was I ever in trouble! Weaving through crowds of half-marathoners, 10kers, and spectators, every little change in velocity or direction causing my legs to cramp in some new way. That walk took 20 minutes, every bit of it agony.

The rest of the day was spent getting home: a train ride, 2 flights (one delayed), and a drive. On the flight to Tampa the captain announced that we could listen to the ATC radio if we wanted, which was very cool. I've always wanted to learn about that stuff. Finally got home, ate something (first meal of the day, oops, I'd kind of forgotten about that), glass of bourbon, Breaking Bad, and bed.

So, you may ask, why does the normally-pessimistic joe positive seem kind of happy with a race that fell (yet again) short of the goal? The answer: I don't know. I haven't finished analyzing it yet, and I may not even bother blogging whatever analysis I do come up with. And if anyone reading this does have any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them. I will leave you with the flollowing splits:

7:01 (completely unintentional)
7:30 (hill + wind)
7:28 (wind)
7:24 (wind + hill + ambulance)
6:53 (Vanity Mile)
7:22 (no excuse)
6:57 (last bit)

Posted by joe positive at 9:21 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 9, 2010

interesting stupid things the mind does

I managed to ride out the Horrible On Call Week with only a few missed miles and reps. But I felt sluggish and heavy, which (come to think of it) is about par for week 1 of taper but of course I never remember that until afterward, so my confidence was very low all week. There was a low-key 5k this morning, and I entered hoping for anything under 20 to boost my confidence. But I also knew that if I blew it, I'd go into the marathon with an even worse head.

Turns out all that worrying was for nothing, as is so often the case. I ran 19:36 by my watch - not stellar and not a negative split, either, but safely under 20 and good for 2nd place. OK. Maybe I'll be able to execute some kind of plan next Sunday.

It occurs to me that I've been running 19:30s for 5k for the past 4 or 5 years, since I was 42 or so. What does this mean? what effect does aging have on all this? If I could go more than a year without an injury, would I finally get to sub-19:30 as my "normal" 5k time, or am I past the point where I can hope to improve?

It's taper time, and most of the physical work is done, but just try telling that to an overactive brain fried by fatigue and all-nighters. During this week I've started thinking about the next race, and the next round of training, and all kinds of changes I want to make (lose 5 pounds, do more xtraining, run with a group, blah blah blah) and then today 2 things occurred to me:

1) by making all these great plans and resolutions about training for the next race (whatever it is, I haven't even decided), I'm kind of dismissing this coming one, kind of writing it off, kind of giving myself a way out of trying hard. And that's stupid, though interesting.

2) this is also giving my mind a way to keep on training even though it's taper time, and training is over. Again, kinda stupid, but interesting too.

Anyway, I hope to get my mind tapering too, whatever that means.

Posted by joe positive at 4:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 5, 2010

just popped in for a little positive,um

yeah, I've been bad. Working, running, trying (and failing) to play viola well enough not to suck in a community strings orchestra, working, running. Not blogging. Oh well, I'm back to bitch and moan a little.

I will start by moaning and bitching about work: I've been on call the past 6 days, and it's been awful. All-nighters, not for anything really broken but for stupid stuff that our "Se*rv*c* F*rst" mentality dictates that I smile and take care of, even if it takes all night, which it did. And when an all-nighter ends with me getting dinged for some bureaucratic oversight, well, it makes me very depressed. And tired; I don't do all-nighters as well as I used to when I was younger. Why did I go back to this job again? Oh, yeah, the money. I wasn't making any before.

And my running has suffered, and my attitude right along with it. Cleveland Marathon is next week and I guess I'm ready as I can be but I don't know how ready that is. I've done very little speedwork (faster than about HM pace, that is) and my mileage has only averaged in the low 70s, if that. I've hardly raced: a 10k, a 5k, a half, a 10k tri relay (doesn't count) and I'm planning a 5k this coming Sunday. Of these, 2 were encouraging and the others were, well...My coach is saying nice things like "you're almost just about where I had hoped you'd be by this point, and anyway you're healthy, so there's that" which sounds (to my depressed ears) like a pat on the head and sunshine being blown up my backside. This week, ostensibly the first week of taper, has been pre-empted by fatigue brought on by aforementioned all-nighters. This morning I tried to do a 5x1000m workout, managed the first 2 reps, then came home and puked, then cried, and that was the end of that. Does not bode well.

Bleh. I want a social life, a friend, a training partner, a good set of legs, a great sense of how to play the viola, a quicker head for database work, a better attitude. I want not to feel so alone so much of the time. I want not to be a whiny baby. I want not to fail.

Posted by joe positive at 9:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack