Sunday, November 26, 2006

Seattle marathon volunteer report

It's weird how often Murphy's Law strikes with marathon weather. Seattle has on average only a couple of days of snow a year and one of these days happened to be marathon day.

The weather for the marathon ranged from 33F(24F)-37F(29F) with 12-16 mph gushing winds and a snow/rain mix. I don't think the rain would have surprised any one given that this is November in Seattle (this year was the wettest November in history). However, the cooler than normal weather would have impacted the runners. I wonder why the marathon organizers don't move the race to an April-September date. I guess it must be a revenue issue.

After toying with the idea of running the full (earlier in the year) and then the half (dumped the idea for a no-frills half a couple of weeks back instead of paying the $65-85 entry fees), I decided to volunteer in a water-station for the charity I ran my first marathon with, Asha for Education.
I've never had the chance to see the whole gamut of runners participating in a marathon so this was an interesting experience. The race leaders on sub-2:20 pace blew by us. For a bit there was a lull and then the volume of runners kept increasing until the run-walkers around the 4hr+ pace mark. The running forms transformed from smooth/highly efficient to normal to labored. Quite a few 5-6hr runners took two cups of water (perhaps why we hear so much about hyponatremia).

There were runners cramping, some giving up and beginning to walk as they reached our water-stop. A guy pulled out of the race with knee issues. He told me that he had been walking from mile 13. I consoled him telling him that he did the right/smart thing. He was cutting his recovery time and could always recover and run a Winter/Spring 'thon.

I scolded anyone in our group who attempted to tell the runners that they were almost there with 18.3 miles done!!! So some people won't be whining about this in their race report ;)

I guess I'll have a new perspective when I pass the water stops in my next marathon. The volunteers holding out water for you, trying to ensure that the water cup is 3/4 full, the gatorade cup 1/2 full & sufficiently diluted. Trying to determine what kind of fluid you want. The flavor of the energy gel you might want. Making eye contact. Stretching their arms out so that you can efficiently grab your fluids. How they appreciate it when you thank them ...

The Seattle marathon course seems quite nice - passing though the city and then some scenic parts. Surely worth doing as a non-PR marathon keeping in mind that it will probably be raining and the course is a "little" hillier than Chicago ;)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Horse on trail

Observations (on my 8 miler):

1) The beauty of the snow-capped cascades (it was bare in summer)
2) I apparently share the Sammamish trail with horse-riders. The horse got very excited as I passed it. The lady riding the horse told me that the horse was just very elated that it was going home. I did not take any chance and came to a complete stop until the horse got out of my way :) I've seen enough excited horses in school - you never know what the're thinking!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bronx River Parkway trail run

My sleep cycle had been out of wack all week in NY (PST-EST jet lag). I woke up at 4:30am and waited for the sun to come out. I had to get in my 12 miler given the horrible weather in store for me in Seattle.

I set out on my run at 8am. I can't remember having felt so good in a while - 52F, sunny, light breeze. It had been a while since I'd run on the Bronx river parkway trail. It's a scenic paved trail just along the highway, the MNA train tracks and the Bronx river. I did not run into anyone else on the trails but enjoyed the solitude. I turned around at Hartsdale and headed back to Valhalla to cap a nice run.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A break from the rain

November's been a very wet month here - the wettest November in history. It was nice to have no rain today for a change.

I re-discovered the trails on the Lake Sammamish trials today. I've done all my runs on the bike path so far. Running on the grass/mud was kind of nice. I guess it might not be much fun when it's raining but the lower impact sure felt nice.

I've also pledged to stay away from the treadmill and run no matter what outside. I hate running in the dark (alone) so I've got to either get in my runs during lunch or ideally in the morning...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Autumn Classic Half Marathon

Olympia, WA
Temperature: 56F (88%), Light Rain

Background:

After my dismal September running, I figured I'd run a "baseline" half-marathon. This would give me a goal for the RNR half and some feedback on my current fitness level. I could have picked the Seattle Half but paying $65-$70 for a half just did not seem right. I'll be paying that for the RNR half but that's another story (There I'll be in tourism mode - if I can pay $120+ for a 30 min helicopter ride around the Canyon why not $70 for 100 min of running?)

Race week:

On Monday I felt slight shin splints on my right leg while walking (I had run 14 on Sat & a 5 mile recovery run on Sun). I did not want to take a chance and did not run Mon-Wed. On Thur the shin splints seemed to be gone but I had to stop after just 3 miles on the TM (1% incline). My fibula/shins on my left leg were very sore - it was as if I had not run for 3 weeks not just 3 days! The same thing happened on Fri after 2 miles. I didn't run on Sat but I really had my doubts about the half. With it raining heavily all Saturday I seriously considered bailing out...

Inspite of the 11am race start, I ended up leaving home late for the race. The 80 odd miles to Olympia ended being a race against time (I had to speed and take on the WA cops) given that this was not a chip timed race. I finally made it to the Millerslyvania State Park start with a couple of minutes to spare (that wasn't before I got lost in a camp site). I quickly picked up my number and pinned my bib (upside down as I would realize when I was running).

Race:

Considering that I did not get time to warm-up I was surprised at how good my leg felt when I started running - no shin aches or fibula issues.

There weren't too many people running this race. Perhaps a hundred in total for the 5k, 10k, 10 miler and the half. All the races were out & backers. The neat thing about this was that the turn-about points for the other 3 races acted as time splits for the half.

The course was gently rolling so my lack of hill-work did not get exposed. In some ways this was more like a time trial since I ran mostly by myself. There was 1 half 'thon runner in my sight in the front and I could hear the footsteps of another behind.

Eventhough I was out-of-shape, this is the best I've felt in a half. This is probably because it's the only one I've actually tapered for. It looks like I was able to maintain an even-effort throughout the run. I kept my HR around the 180s so I think I was running it at max-effort given my current fitness level. Things got a little tedious for the last 3 miles but I made it though ok. At the end, I took a wrong turn in the park but the guy behind me warned me that I was going off. I think he could have gotten past me if he wanted to but it was nice of him not to. At the end I thanked him for not passing me and he thanked me for pacing him :)

This wasn't a time PW but the course was the easier than the other 4 I've run so it might well have been - Fairfield, BAA half, Boston's Run to Remember & Bronx. Putting things into perspective my Steamtown 'thon pace was faster than this. All in all it was a great small race. A unique medal, a neat sweatshirt (no ads!) & a half for $30! The RNR will be interesting - pretty much the antithesis of this race :)

Splits

0-1.5? (11:34 @ 7:??,178)
2.5 (7:26, 179)
3.5 (7:32, 180)
4.5 (7:25, 180)
5.5 (7:29, 180)
6.5 (7:25, 181)
Half way: 49:29

7.5 (7:27, 180)
8.5 (7:42, 181)
9.5 (7:24, 182)
10.5 (7:38, 182)
11.5 (7:39, 183)
12.5 (7:34, 185)
0.X (4:52 @ ?, 188)

Final: 1:39:45 @ 7:36 (181)

The course must have been a little long. The start and finish weren't at the same place on an out-and back course!

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