Wednesday, January 21, 2009

P.F. Chang's Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Marathon

3:40 Pacer report January 18,2009
Temperature change:
We arrived in Arizona on Thursday, realizing a 104 degree change in actual temperature. It was -24F in Minnesota when we left and 80F when we arrived in Phoenix. What a change!
Mary, Taylor, Chelsey and myself arrived at my parent's place in Mesa early Thursday afternoon. We had some time to relax and take in some of the abundant sunshine.
My sister, Joja Jogger arrived on Friday and she brought with her a lot of nervous energy. Read her race report here to get another point of view on the weekend's activities.
Mom's birthday was on Friday (she turned 83), and we went out for supper/carbs that evening.
Saturday was Expo, and I wanted to get to the pacer booth and talk to some runners. We had a pacer clinic at 10:00AM and also at 2:30PM. I visited with a lot of runners and many of them were intending to run with me on Sunday. Exciting stuff!
Start Village:
Mary, Joja and myself got to the finish line area just before 6:00AM and rode the bus to the start. We had plenty of time to get food, fluids, bathroom lines, sunscreen, etc done before the start.
Here is a picture of the three of us before the race.

Joja, John and Mary
The Race:
Got into corral 3 about 20 minutes before the start. Both the 3:40 and 3:45 pace groups were in the same corral, so I worked my way up to the front. The 3:45 pacer was there, right at the rope with quite a few runners around him. Oh well, he'll let us move ahead when they drop the ropes.....not.
He and his group dashed right up there, leaving us behind them.
The gun went off, and we crossed the start line with an offset of about 1 minute. After a slow start, we had to try and work our way through the 3:45 group. At about the 1 mile mark we had finally cleared them. It was a beautiful morning for a run.
At mile 3? we heard a huge CRUNCH!!! to our left. Some guy driving an RV must have been watching the runners and forgot that his vehicle was taller than the canopy clearance at the gas station. His AC unit was now in a new place.
The miles continued to click off nicely and at 10K we had 19 seconds in the bank. By the half, we had 45 seconds to work with. As it happens every year, quite a few of my group surge ahead of me from miles 11 to 14. I try to keep them in as much as I can.
At mile 14.5, we get a beautiful view of Camelback mountain. This is a sight I look forward to every year as the sun really accents the exposed rock at this time of the morning. But after this point is where I start to lose runners from my group. As we work our way north and then get up to Indian School Road, we are on a very slight incline, and a breeze was picking up from the east. The breeze had a good cooling effect, as we were now running in a lot of direct sunlight. But, it takes a little more effort to maintain pace into the wind also.
By mile 20, we had about 1:30 in the bank. It was time to slowly withdraw from the bank - but not too much. My goal was to run 8:25 to 8:30 miles for the next few.
I told my group that it was my mother's birthday on Friday, and that I planned to pull over just before mile 22 to give her a hug and kiss. I told them to shout "Happy Birthday Lois!!" when I pulled over to the side of the road. I was visiting quite a bit with some runners, and was oblivious to the fact that mile 22 was coming up soon.
There they were - Mom, Dad, son Taylor and his girlfriend Chelsey. Mom got her hug and salty kiss. The group started singing "Happy Birthday" as they ran by. Nice touch. Thank you, 3:40 group!
Mom felt really special.
I caught back up with the group and there was a group of 5-7 who were running very well. When we got to mile 23, I told them "There's only a 5K left, if you feel fine - keep going at this pace. You will then finish somewhere around 3:38:30. I will slow down a little more and see if we can pull in a few more runners for the finish."
I intentionally slowed down to about a 8:40 pace, but not many runners were catching up to me. I really started to wave my pace sign really high, back and forth, trying to lure a few more BQ's up to me.
Soon, the final mile was here. I take it in nice and easy, waving the sign some more, encouraging the crowd to cheer for all of these fantastic runners that are coming in.
I crossed the finish in 3:39:46 chip time.
Extra Thoughts:
It's kind of lonely in a way, as you'd think a pacer would have dozens of runners right with him across the finish. I crossed the finish line alone. The fact is, I WANT my group to beat me. And congratulations to all of them that did!
A few more came in right behind me. I'm not sure if they used me during the race or just happened to be there. If I helped in any way - my goal was met.
My heart goes out to those that fell off my group. Whether it was mile 10, mile 16, mile 18, mile 23... not everyone that runs with me will get their goal. The marathon is not easy.
But if you did not reach your goal, make sure that you learn something from the experience.
And try again...don't let that goal slip away or let your inner demons convince you that it is not possible.
Mary and Joja Jogger(my sister):
After I finished, I got my drop bag and then went back to mile 26.1 to cheer the runners on!
Mary finished in 4:26:37, and had a lot of trouble with quads cramping and persistent plantar fasciitis pain in her right foot. She was a real trooper and gutted it out to the finish!
Joja finished in 4:58:23 for her first marathon ever! She had a goal of breaking 5 hours and executed her plan perfectly. Congratulations, Sis!
We sat down for a bit in the Family reunion area. Drank some beer and talked running. It was fun.
Evening concert:
Taylor, Chelsey and I went to the evening concert in Tempe. Smash Mouth was the feature band. It was the first year that I had enough energy after the marathon to take in the concert. I'm glad we went.
Temperatures started to drop, but that didn't seem to have any effect on LeRoy the lead guitar player who prefers to go shirtless.
Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mary is First Place – John is Last Place

Mary got 1st place AG and yes, I was last place in my AG.
For more, read on.
On Saturday, Mary and I participated in the Heart of Winter 12K in Redwood Falls, MN. This race starts at Jackpot Junction Casino, circles around some service roads there, then travels west on a county road for 5 miles, goes through some streets in Redwood Falls, and ends up at the Community Center with the last 200 meters being on an indoor track.
Temperature was 5F with only a 6mph west wind to run into. It was a bit chilly, but tolerable.
There were only 38 runners in the 12K and 65 runners in the 6K event.
I recognized a few people, including my speedy neighbor Ashley and age group rival Jay from Windom. Both Ashley and Jay run pretty much the same speed as myself when racing. I figured at least there would be some company.
The gun went off and there were at least 12 people that shot out ahead of me. I settled into a 7:00/mile pace and stuck to my plan – run steady and don’t do anything stupid.
I saw that Jay had shot ahead, but Ashley was running real close to my pace. I visited with her a bit, and told her that she could draft me once we got out on the open road going into the wind.
After the 2 mile mark, she took me up on the offer.
After 6 miles, and heading into the streets of Redwood Falls, I had a decision to make. Do I kick it down and try to catch some people in front of me? Logical John won out and decided to hold a steady pace to the finish. The streets were quite slippery and at times there was quite a bit of street snush building up on the shoes. Ashley fell off my pace when the footing got bad.
Got to the final stretch on the indoor track and it felt good to stretch out the legs and get a few strides done in warmer temps.
I visited with some other runners, and then went by the door to cheer on Mary on when she arrived at the track. She finished nice and strong!
Awards presentation was next. Ashley won 2nd overall women’s and $100. Mary won her age group (1st out of 2). Upon checking the results, I was officially 3rd out of 3 in the men’s 40-49 age group. Jay beat me by a good 1:30…he’s really running well lately.
Web site says my time was 52:12.7, but my watch showed 51:47. I think one of the people with the stop watches at the finish line missed me as I was running in stealth mode. It doesn’t take away my last place finish, but pointing out that fact makes me feel better….
PF Chang’s RNR Arizona Marathon:
We are getting ready to leave for this one. Flights leave tomorrow morning.
I’m feeling very ready for the marathon and anxious to run in some warmer temps!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

HADD test Version 2.0

HADD Test Results:
On Tuesday night, I ran myself through another HADD test.
It had been about one month of good training since the last HADD. I've been focusing on increasing mileage, but logging most of them in my aerobic HR range which would be 130-145 BPM.
I think I flunked the test.
First of all, my goal HR averages for each segment were 130 to 170 in increments of 10. Segments 3,4 and 5 were pushed too far over the average.
I ran very close to the same paces, but had to work harder to do it.
Here are the results:
Int#: HR_Avg Pace
1 128 9:11
2 141 8:19
3 153 7:45
4 164 7:17
5 175 6:41

These results seem to indicate that now I am in poorer running condition than I was one month ago. I'm a bit reluctant to believe that right now, as I have seen good/bad running days change as fast as the weather here in Minnesota.

Heart of Winter 12K:
Speaking of Minnesota winter weather, this Saturday Mary and I will be running the Heart of Winter 12K in Redwood Falls, MN. Forecast is for 15F and 20mph headwind.
I'm hoping to run well, but I don't want to push myself beyond my limits for speed right now. Gotta save the legs for Phoenix.

PF Chang's Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Marathon:
Yea, I'm getting pumped for this one. Only 10 days to go. Running conditions are almost guaranteed to be great.
I used to get taper madness really bad before marathons. Now it doesn't seem to affect me as much. I just get fired up rather than drive myself crazy.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Arizona here we come!

In just 2 weeks, I'll be running the Rock 'N' Roll Arizona marathon (January 18, 2009). It will be a special day not only for myself, but also for others in my family.
My Mom and Dad live in Mesa during the winter months, and it is always good to see them. My mother will be celebrating her 83rd birthday on January 16. I am so thankful that Mom and Dad are in good health and still able to enjoy a very active lifestyle.
My sister is also traveling to Phoenix that weekend to run her FIRST marathon. She has done an excellent job of getting through her training for this and she will do great.
My dear Schmoopie, Mary will be running her THIRD marathon there. Just one year ago, Mary was convinced that she would never be able to tackle a full marathon, and look at her now!
My youngest son and his girlfriend are also making the trip with us, and they will be there to cheer everyone on!
The RNR Arizona marathon holds a special place in my heart. It was the location of my 3rd ever marathon and most of all it is where I was first able to qualify for Boston. It was the most emotional marathon finish I have ever experienced.
Now, I'll be running the course for the 4th time, and pacing the 3:40 group for the 3rd year in a row. I really look forward to pacing at this marathon, because it is one simple way that I can give back to the sport. Nothing makes me feel better than to see the emotion a runner who has finally achieved a BQ for the first time. Two years ago, a guy got his BQ running with me on his 84th marathon. That is outright incredible.
I'm in great shape now, except I'm maybe carrying a few extra winter pounds.
The stress fracture is totally healed and I have been slowly increasing the miles.
2009 should be a great year.
I'm still trying to figure out what events to run in 2009.
Here are some ideas, but I hope no one holds me to them.
Chippewa Moraine and Trail Mix 50K's in April look like they would be fun. I am not going to run Boston this year, but may return there again in the future. It is just too expensive to travel to these big city marathons.
Med City or the new Stillwater marathons in May would be fun, maybe I could use them as a warmup to run FANS again this year.
I will certainly want to travel to the Afton 50K again this year, that is an awesome place to run!
One thing I would really like to do is travel to Badwater in July and crew for the Badwater 135.
Something about that race is really appealing to me, and I definitely want to crew there before I would consider anything as crazy as applying to run it. If anyone reading this gets accepted into Badwater, and needs crew members, please consider me for the task!
But for this year, I think I would like to attempt the Superior Sawtooth 100. I've only completed a fairly easy 100 (Lean Horse), so I view this as the next logical challenge.
Oh well, I'll come up with a more concrete schedule in the near future.