Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grandma's Marathon RR

Timeline of The Goal:

June 17, 2006:

I line up and run Grandma's Marathon with the 3:10 pace group. It is sticky and warm. Mid 60's at the start with over 90% humidity. Temps climb through the 70's during the race. The course is black-flagged before we hit the half. Somehow, I hang with the pace group up to mile 22, and then take off with a few other runners. Cross the finish in 3:07:43.
Wow, maybe without the heat, a sub 3 hour marathon might be possible......this was the day I first started thinking about "the goal". But, for the next 11 months I'm plagued with plantar fasciitis. It just does not go away. My runs are getting slower. I still manage to run a few marathons and races, but nothing very fast.

Summer, 2007:
The running is going better. My running takes a slightly different direction. Ultras.
An excuse to run slower, but now for longer. Thoughts about a sub-3 marathon go away for a while.

In 2008:
I've got a different goal - run 100 miles. By the end of August, goal accomplished.
After the 100 (or maybe during), a tibial stress fracture hits me. Takes until January of 2009 to heal properly.

February, 2009:
I'm trying to figure out goals for the year. I still think a lot about sub-3. I'm getting older. My 3:07 PR has stood for nearly 3 years. Time to give up on that dream.
Unless.....If I have a plan. Let's see.

  1. Train smart - I'm not injured now.
  2. Lose some weight - never have paid attention to diet at all.
  3. Run some benchmark races to see if I can run equivalent times at shorter distances.
Around March 1, the diet starts. Just limit calories. Include more lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Take away soda, french fries, pizza, cookies - all the fun stuff.
I'm hungry all the time, but the weight starts coming off quickly. Running becomes easier, I'm running faster paces with less effort.
On March 10, I announce my goal here.

June 20, 2009:
Three years after my PR of 3:07, I'm at the start line of Grandma's again. It feels EXACTLY the same as 2006. Same temperature, same humidity. Only this time, I'm lined up way ahead of the 3:10 pace group.
I can see the Kenyans. Do I belong here? I'm just a 48 year old guy with a 3:07 PR three years ago. Part of me says it's just a pipe dream. But the other part of me knows that I'm fully prepared for the race of my life.
The gun goes off. I ease into my pace and more runners are passing me. I lined up with about 200 runners ahead of me, but now it's more like 350.
I hit the first few splits about perfectly. My goal is to stay steady, with about 30 seconds banked at the half.
But, it's getting warm - uncomfortably warm. My HR is climbing into the 165 range already. About 10-15BPM higher than it would be on a nice cool morning. As long as I do not let it peak over 170, I should be OK.
Around mile 4, I sense a pack of runners approaching. Adam was with them. They looked so strong. I visited with Adam a bit here. A couple of times we caught a breeze from the lake. It was brief, and then followed again by a blast of hot wind. The temperature difference in the air was incredible.
I looked at my watch.., we just ran a 7:00 mile. Gotta get back on pace. It feels uncomfortable, but I push to get back on pace.
Somewhere around mile 7, Spinach (David) passes by me. We visit a little, but he's moving really well at the time. I'm pretty well running alone now, except I notice a runner ahead of me with a real energy-conserving stride. We play cat and mouse for the next couple miles. He passes me on the downhills - I pass him on the uphills. We visit a bit, and continue through the half together (1:29:45). I find out that Richard is 40, an Ironman triathlete, and has a marathon PR of 3:22. But that PR was during an Ironman. He is running very strong.
The wind is picking up now. Pretty much in the face - but it has a cooling effect on me. Temperature is still rising, but I'm doing OK. Sometimes I tuck in and draft Richard. Sometimes he drafts me.
Around mile 20, I start thinking about the final miles. Richard drops back a little bit. A young runner is beside me. (Found out later his name is Dan). We don't talk much, but attack Lemon Drop hill together. He is strong on the uphill..we stay right on pace. After we crested the hill, my calves began to cramp. This always seems to happen on a downhill stretch after an uphill push. I slow down for about 300 meters and eventually get them to back off. Dan stays close by. We arrive in Duluth running together.
I look at my watch at mile 24. 30 seconds in the bank. Just hang on!!
The cobblestone street on Superior Ave starts. I love this part. Nice, slightly downhill. And the people!! Spectator support is tremendous here in downtown Duluth. We keep going, and make the turn towards the DECC. Little uphill followed by a downhill. Running well now, but the calf muscles are on the verge of cramping again. Right before the William A. Irwin ore ship, the calf cramps set in big time. Ouch. The pain. Can't extend my toes. I'm forced to run on my
heels, as the ore-ship cramps continue. As I clear the ship (my guess is that thing is nearly 400 meters long) the cramps subside a bit. Edit(The ship is only 200 meters long-Thanks, Chad!)
Time to take it home.
Cross the finish line and I see 2:59:21 on the clock.
The pipe dream is now reality!
I walked for a bit and then knelt down and give thanks to God. Then I cried like a baby.
Tears of joy.
The medics came over. "Can we help you?" they asked. "Nope - never been better" I told them. I continued through the runners area. I congratulated Dan who was just 2 seconds behind, but had a better chip time. Heard the announcer counting down the 3 hour mark. There was some drama as a runner missed the 3 hour mark, crossing the line in 3:00:03. It was Richard - but I knew he had the sub-3 chip time also! Talked to him a bit and congratulated him.

After the Finish:
Now it was time to go back and watch the marathon. I hung out with some friends, rested and stretched for a bit by the ore ship. After a while, I started running the course backward, looking for Schmoopie. After about 1.5 miles, I find her. We run together all the way back to the ship. Se didn't have her best day, but I am still proud of the strong effort she put together.
4:21:28 which placed her 17th in AG and got her name in the paper!
I hang out more by the ship to see our friend Deb come by. She just completed her first marathon and she did it in 4:28:28. Way to go, Deb!
My sister, Joja Jogger was still on the course. She's had a tough time in the heat, as the text updates indicate. I head out running again. Found her at the 25th mile. We walk together a bit,
visit, and run together for the photographer there. This might not be a PR for her, but completing this marathon gives her Marathon Maniac status.
Congratulations, Sis!

Data and Statistics:
Clock time: 2:59:21
Chip time: 2:59:14
Overall: 87/5899
Gender: 74/3702
M45-49 AG: 9/428

10K: 42:45 (6:53/mi)
Half: 1:29:45 (6:51/mi)
20 mile: 2:16:57 (6:51/mi)
25 mile: 2:51:01 (6:51/mi)
Last 10 K: 42:18 (6:48/mi)

Stats I look at:
Overall HR average: 167 (second highest avg in a marathon)
Two men older than me beat me (one was Paul Brown, the guy who beat me 2 weeks ago)
13 women beat me.
But - No women older than me beat me (Whew...)
Here is the HR chart, which shows '06 Grandma's (dark blue) vs. '09 Grandma's (lavender).

In my opinion, weather conditions were carbon copy. Looks like I worked quite a bit harder in miles 10-20 this year.
Thanks for reading,

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Success at Grandma's

Got to be a hot one.
Bank thermometer shows 90F right now.
Full race report later.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Five Year Flashback

June 17, 2004:
Not to the day, but sometime around this date.
This is what it was like.
Two years ago in 2002 I ran my first 10K. It was the Heritagefest run in New Ulm, MN. My very first road race of any sort. I don't know what my time was, but I remember other parts of it well. I hurt for days afterward. But there was a flicker, a spark of something within me that made me want to try it again.
You see, now I'm a seasonal runner. My goal is to do the Heritagefest 10K again. Every June, I get out and run for a bit. Run a mile, walk a bit, run a little more. Mary got me going on this. I can't run the full 3.5 mile route up to County Road 29 and back without stopping, but in the next couple of weeks...I should be able to work up to it.
The 10K is coming up next month, but it seems like the training gets tougher every time. I'm 2 years older than my first 10K. I'm 43 years old now, weighing a bit heavier than the year before. Somewhere around 180 lbs. I'm not fat, but I've got love handles and size 31 jeans are a bit snug.
The training runs are slower than last year. But I'm older. My best days are long behind me.
I get 2-3 runs in per week and end up being able to run the entire 3.5 mile route PLUS an additional mile without stopping on my final training runs.
On July 17, 2004, I ran the Heritagefest 10K.
I thought I did pretty good. Got through the entire distance. Official time was 52:51.94
It was in the paper. I still have that race result pinned on my bulletin board.

I stuck around for awards, thinking that I might have a chance for an age-group award. Nope, there were guys in their 40's kicking my butt.
But, Mary ran the two mile and placed in her division.
I felt beaten, I got down on myself and didn't run any more that year.

June 17, 2009:
Here I sit - 5 years later, with tears in my eyes reminiscing about my early running days.
Grandma's marathon is in 3 days.
I am not down on myself anymore.
I've run nearly 10,000 miles in the last 4 years.
I have a goal and I am prepared.
Sub 3:00:00
I am not beaten......I am going to do it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A FANS-tastic weekend

Saturday, June 6, 2009 (6:30 AM)Legends 5K:
Mary and I went to Deephaven to take in the Legends 5K on Saturday morning. We got there around 6:30AM, and there was enough time to take a warmup jog. Didn't recognize any people that I knew, but visited with a runner named Jim before the race. As we were lining up, I saw Rob on his bike. He had come over to watch the race, biking to several points on the course.
The 10K and 5K run the same course up to 1.55K, where the 5K turns around. We got started, and there were 7 runners that shot out ahead of me right away. Got into a steady pace around 5:50/mi. A couple of the runners came back to me after a half mile, but there was one really fast guy that disappeared out of sight. Got to the turnaround, was in 4th place, and saw that only 1 guy ahead of me turned around.
I was in 2nd place?!? Rob showed up and hollered that I was reeling him in. I told him it sucks to run fast. This is why I don't run many 5K's.
Got to the final 400 meters and the leader (found out it was Paul Brown) continued on the Minnetonka trail. I followed him for 100 meters and finally realized that we were off course. I back-tracked and got onto the street. At that point, Mac (a 19 y.o. X-country runner from Valpo) caught me. I pushed real hard to the finish and crossed the finish line 3 seconds ahead of Mac. I explained the situation to the race director and told him that I would not have been able to catch Paul.
There was a pancake breakfast and Legends ceremony after the race. Left there with a 2nd place trophy and a time of 18:52 for a Garmin-measured 3.26 miles.
The fast guy ran a 31:40 10K - wow!
FANS 12/24 hour (noon):
After visiting with Jessica, Matt, Noah and Travis in Edina for a while that morning, it was time to move on. Mary was going to travel back home with Noah, and I was going to spend some time at FANS.
Got there about noon, and saw Adam on the course. It was raining, but not too hard yet. Didn't even change shoes or take off my jacket - just started running with Adam. We visited quite a bit and he was doing very well. His mood was great and he was running smoothly. Adam told me that John Storkamp was attempting the 12 hour record and that he was really going fast.
Next lap I ran with Dave, Rolf and Greg from WI. I got to know these guys at Lean Horse last year. Good to see them again.
After that lap, I went to my truck. On the way, I met Helen and visited a bit. I saw her running with Storkamp just earlier and asked how he was doing. She said he was starting to slow down a bit. but hey, this was now 5 hours into the run - of course he's going to slow up a bit. I got to the truck and put some running gear on. Plus, warmed up a bit. Soon I found out that getting rained on combined with the cool temps and wind would be pretty tough conditions.
Put on the water belt, and started running the course opposite direction. Met up with John and ran with him a bit. I told him I could stay out here a while, just tell me to get lost if you don't need anyone around. He said it was good.
We didn't talk much. John was so focused. He was already in pain. 7 hours to go. You really can't say anything. We ran. At times we stayed under 8:00 miles, but the going got real tough. We'd get to the lap counter table and people would cheer him on. Let's go do it again. Mid afternoon the rain came down harder. The wind blew stronger. Going across the bridge was the worst, with the wind coming from the east across Nokomis.
Paul, Helen and Alicia were crewing for John. They restocked him and kept pouring fuel into him. And then we'd run again. John's stomach got real tight after the crew area. His extreme effort was tying up his stomach. But he always came back fighting. I have never witnessed a person that can dig so deep within to push that hard.
That's John Storkamp.
I ran 6 1/2 laps with John. We had slowed down to 9:00+/mile pace now. Eric was now going to run with him (Later I found out that John ran over 80 miles).
I went back to my truck. I was shivering and soaked. Changed into some dry clothes and warmed up with the heater on high.
FANS 12/24 hour (7:30 PM):
It was time to get to Aid Station #2, where I was going to work until 2:00AM. Learned where everything was and what to do. Worked the shift with Amber, who is a past recipient of the FANS program - how cool is that? While at the aid station, got to know a lot of the runners. So many really great people.
And then there was Mike Henze. What can you say? This guy just keeps going and going and going. Absolutely incredible. We got a call at 11:25PM. Mike has just left the lap counter and is on his way to hit 100 miles.
The 100 mile sign is outside our tent. We need to write down and sign the official time. Take the Coleman lantern out and here he comes. Official time of 15:40:31 for 100 miles!
That alone would make an extremely fast 100 mile time, but this guy was just getting going - more than 8 hours to go.
Worked the aid station until 2:00AM and needed some sleep. Made a cozy spot in my truck and slept until 6:30 AM.
FANS 12/24 hour (7:00 AM):
This is when the place starts buzzing again. The final hour. Runners making their decision to run another long lap or start with the short laps. Logan from Edmonton came through at 7:10 AM and didn't know what to do. By looking at the leader board, it looked like he was in 5th place. He was asking questions about his placement and a bit confused about the long/short laps. I ordered him to start a long lap - I'll catch up and explain. The two guys ahead of him had hit the medical tent a while back.
Logan was in 3rd. I caught up to him, introduced myself, and explained the situation to him. He had plenty of time for a long lap. Short laps suck, and he'll get to do plenty of them yet. Logan was able to run yet. In fact we ran the whole way around the lake - he probably didn't realize that. It was slow, but probably his fastest lap in the last 6 hours. Nice guy - he had lots of stories to tell.
After we got back, I just hung by the lap area and cheered on runners in the last 20 minutes.
Absolutely amazing.
In the final 10 minutes, Fast Eddie finished off a long lap that was his 2,000th FANS mile in 20 years. I got tears in my eyes. He's 69 years old now and ran 99 miles.
Eddie inspires.
John Miles Olsen and his friends. 13 years old. Visited with him a bit at night. Great young man who is talented, polite and humble. Got the endurance gene from his mother Sue. She started him out a bit early - like before he was born.
John Miles inspires.
Mike Henze - what can you way. 147.2 miles in 24 hours. Game plan was perfect.
Mike Henze inspires.
So many other runners/stories at FANS, I can't do it any justice writing here.
All in all - a FANS-tastic weekend.