Thursday, June 25, 2015

Half way there...

With 5 days to go for the first half of this year, I've crossed the mid-point of my mileage goal of 3000 miles, for 2015! Here's to an equally consistent second half!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Charge your phone by running?

AMPY: Power your devices from your motion

AMPY MOVE is a wearable device that captures energy from your motion and turns it into power to charge your phone or any USB-powered device ...

Seems pretty cool and a great incentive to move or for keeping your phone charged during long hikes...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Channeling Dr. Seuss

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Longest day of the year...

Today being the Summer Solstice (at 9:39 AM PST), is the longest day of the year. I sure am thankful for the light!  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Brooks PR Invitational 2015

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon 2015 Pacer and Race Report

The run-up...

I go way back with this race and it's "ghosts". I had run it's predecessor, the Seafair marathon, twice. I had also paced the Seafair marathon back in 2007 - the only race ever to have crossed the 520 bridge. The route was novel and had potential. However it was also a year the temps hit the 90Fs and of gross mismanagement. That was it for the event. The Rock and Roll franchise took over the Seafair marathon in 2008. I had paced the new RNR Seattle half in 2011, when it still used to start in Tukwila. I had never run the full. A couple of years back the pacing responsibilities shifted from Chuckit to SGLRG.

I've now become a regular with SGLRG and was able to seek out a 3:15 marathon pacing gig this year. SGLRG pairs up pacers for distances and pacers run only half of the marathon.

I had six weeks between Prague and RNR Seattle. I did not run for the first eight days after Prague. My mileage for the last five weeks were - 55, 88, 70, 54, 28 (6 days). Another goal was to test out the taper for the Pfitz XX/87 plan, which I intend to follow for Chicago. I'm gradually getting to realize that when I run high mileage in training, I need to run more during taper. Else my body ends up getting confused and "wierd-ed out".


Pacer goal: Run the first half at even effort (following the Taz band splits when it seemed accurate). We (I was pacing with Francis) aimed to have a 2 minute buffer. So the target half split was 1:35:30. This would give Nick, Cyrus and the pace group a buffer to compensate for the hills, heat and the traditionally long mile 26.

Race goal: 3:08:30. This would be a BQ and also be my second fastest marathon time. I already had a BQ for 2016 and this would not count for 2017 but it was a good and challenging goal to have.


I ensured that I made it to the expo on Thursday. I also had a pacer shift from 7-8 pm to it was good to double up picking up my race packet and the booth duty. The expo was smaller than when I had last gone to a RNR expo. There weren't folks from Cliff etc. Friday, from what I heard was a traffic nightmare since there was a large convocation going on next door...

The weather was forecasted to be sunny, in the upper 50s at race start (7am) and would rise to the lower-60s by the time I expected to finish. While not ideal marathon racing temperature this was normal June weather in Seattle. Also, we were lucky that it cooled down for race day - this week had seen some HOT days. The day after the race also was significantly warmer.

I treated this race as I would have treated any goal marathon. I did carbo-load leading up to the run. Being at home meant that I could eat what I wanted and I could sleep at my own bed. I woke up at 3:15 am to get in some calories and then got in a couple more hours of sleep...

When I was about to head out I discovered that my GPS was almost uncharged. I didn't have enough time to get it charged :( The start of the run was at the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is). This was just a 5 minute walk from my apartment but I needed to make it there by 6:15 am for our pacer photo-op. In hindsight I should have left the GPS to charge and then come back and picked up after the pacer picture. This would be my first run in a long time that I ran "naked" (without a GPS) and my first "naked" marathon ever. I would realize that in the final miles this would really matter...

Resigned to not having my GPS, I dropped my bag, made a porta-potty stop and headed to corral 2. This was the designated corral for the 3:10, 1:35 and the 3:15 pace groups. It only made sense for us to move to the back of the corral, with the 3:10 folks in the front of the corral.

Brooks CEO talks, the National anthem by a musician in some Grammy winning band (which I cannot recall) and then fireworks by the needle to kick off the race (there was light out so it wasn't as dramatic as they promised but it was cool race start none-the-less). We started about a minute and a bit after corral 1... 


Temperature: 55-63F, Humidity: 74-60%, Cloudy/Sunny

Making our way out of downtown toward the International District
mile 1: The target pace for this mile was around 7:20 but we were quite a bit slower than that. We stayed behind the 1:35 group and they were off to a slow start. I was depending on Francis to keep track of the pace since he had a GPS! Cyrus and Nick started off with us (they would take the light rail from Westlake to the half way point). We also got to know the folks running in the pace group a bit. There was a guy who just ran Newport and had a PR of 2:37 when he was young. He talked about condos downtown being $30k in his days ... There were guys shooting for BQs.

mile 2:

This was a downhill mile and after the slow start it only made sense to pick up the pace. This of course is my first race report which won't have any mile or km splits. Thanks to the timing mats though, I do have some time splits...

mile 3:
5k: 22:32

mile 4/5:

Francis and I alternated holding the pacer sign... I made it a point to get either water or Gatorade at the water stops. I also kept up with my marathon gel strategy - a gel every 4 miles. Actually in this race I ended up with 7 since I took a chocolate gu at one of the waterstops...

Reach Lake Washington (overlap with Seattle Marathon)
mile 6: 
The full marathon split from the half. I told the folks in our group to savor the next few miles because the second half would bring them tunnels, hills and car exhaust.

10k: 45:01

There was a huge Brooks "Run Happy" barge at the 10k point. It was kind of a neat landmark on course.

mile 7-10: Steward park loop
I noted how lucky we were to have these cool conditions. A cloud cover had moved in for the moment too. Francis did a good job facilitating some banter. For instance he asked me which was my favorite marathon of all the many I did. It made for an interesting conversion with the group.

mile 11: I gave the folks in my pace group a heads up that we would be leaving them soon. Separation anxiety is always tough ;) 

The handoff and miles along Lake Washington to the I-90 bridge
mile 12/13: Cyrus wasn't around at mile 12 but he did jump in a little after. I handed the pacer sign to him and prepared to move ahead on my own. 

half: 1:34:30
I wished my group (which had stayed intact to this point) well and moved ahead. Francis stayed with me for about a half mile before he decided to stop running. He had initially considered running the whole marathon as well.

mile 14:

The half marathon merged with marathon for a bit here. There were clear signs indicating that the half runners should stay on the left yet so many of them were venturing onto the right. This was quite irritating for me since I was having to swerve past them. At this point I really did not want to expend the extra energy necessary!

There was a row of flags in memory of the fallen...

Things came to a head at a water stop when I ran into a lady who was ambling around in the right. A little bit of race etiquette?

There was a brief out and back before we had a short but steep climb to the I-90 bridge. I saw Bruce at the turn-around. It was nice of him to be out there even though he had his BQ race at the "Light at the end of the Tunnel" marathon the next day.

Along the I-90 bridge

mile 15/16/17:
17.7: 2:12:22

My GPS did have a couple of hours of battery life so I could have turned it on at the half way point. However, I kind of was enjoying running free for the moment. That was a mistake.

The miles on the bridge were warm and lonely. It was me and myself running on the concrete and through the tunnels. A couple of folks in my pace group were running with me for a bit. We saw the race leader (a guy from the US army) pass by on the other side quite early on...

The road on the bridge was also angled so my calf was having to work extra hard. It would take the longest after the race to recover...

mile 18/19: 
I remember seeing the mile 19 marker in the tunnel on my way out. So I anxiously waited to see it on my way back.

mile 20: 2:26:01

Mercer island tunnel... Next time I drive through the expressway I will have a different perspective on this tunnel :)

Out of the bridge and heading home on the I-90 expressway
mile 21/22/23: As I was heading off the bridge I saw Joe on his medical bike patrol... I knew I was fading here. I tried to keep going for as long as I could. Normally in a marathon my GPS would keep me distracted. While I could notice and observe more in the last few miles it's a mental game...

Downtown and to the finish
mile 24/25/26:  
I finally started walking at mile 24. Cyrus and Nick would proceed to pass me. Physically I was quite capable of running. It was more of a mental thing. I did not feel like running. My brain won! I ran and walked. Definitely, walked the climbs.

Through the viaduct ...

To that last painful climb that graces both our main city marathons... I ran the downhill and walked up the climb. 

mile 26.2:

I had to run once the finish line was visible... You always do!

Loka greeted me at the finish line. He asked me how it felt. Me - "Difficult!"

The walk to the packet picket was quite an annoyance. It was all the way to the other side of the finish so I left my stuff with Eddie and went on a trudge to find it! The finishers marathon jacket post race was a nice touch!

It was good to be able to quickly get home and recoup... No planes to catch to make it back to home base!

I live to fight another day!


Net time: 3:18:56 @ 7:36 min/mile
Clock time: 3:20:05
Overall: 66/2032
Division: 13/185
Male: 58/1124


The cool thing about running "naked" was that I was less worried about things such as mile markers being off or my pace in general. I noticed more things during the run since I no longer was looking at my watch. The disadvantage was that I did not have that motivator in the final miles. I desperately pined for mile markers which could not come soon enough.

Mentally, the desire to run any more non-goal marathons had gone after this race... I was mentally scarred... for 3 DAYS ;) All is forgotten three days later :) I would like to pace the full in Skagit and I'll maybe want a re-do for this marathon next year as well :) !! 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

North Olympic Discovery Half-marathon 2015 Pacer Report

The Backstory

I had paced the 1:45 half at NODM last year. This year I was able to get the 1:40 half pacing gig. That was perfect since at this point my perfect pacing assignment is around 1:35-1:40

I intended to run and pace the Rock and Roll Seattle marathon the week after. Therefore, I was tapering and had been keeping up with the training. So this was expected to be a hassle free run without any dramatics.

I got a free entry to run the Brunch run 5k the day before. It was my first 5k in four years and I ended up with a PR of 19:58 (yes, I am not born with fast twitch muscles). Eddie was running the 5k too. When he discovered that I was doing NODM the next day, he wanted to come along. What made things interesting was that he was having so much to drink at the post-run event (free bloody maries and mimosas) that there was a doubt if he would recover. I texted him at 3 am before leaving and he was still up for the challenge of heading down to Port Angles. This was cool since I didn't have to drive and could get some rest (unlike last year).

We finally got on the road at 4 am... With the Summer Solstice approaching, soon we were driving in daylight. We were treated to a beautiful sun rise and some spectacular scenery as we approached Port Angeles. After reaching at 6:30 am, we hung out at a quaint breakfast joint for a bit. The shuttles for the half only started at 7 am.

The shuttle ride to the start (Storm King soccer field) was more eventful than it should have been... The bus driver got lost and had to be guided by a couple of runners who were aided by their smartphones :) This made for some anxious moments for the marathon runners in the shuttle. Their race started at 8 am!

By 8 am it was already pretty warm. There was not much respite from the sun. I did not envy the marathon runners or anyone who was planning on going all out on this day. That said it's a good thing that Port Angeles is about 10F cooler than Seattle! It was nice that there was ample water and Gatorade at the start. After getting my pace stuff, dropping my bag and visiting the porta potty, I found some shade to veg out until the start. The local high school band was keeping the folks entertained...

About 15 minutes to the start we lined up. I was the fastest pacer so I was almost at the start line. There were very few runners who lined up ahead of me :-| The colors were brought in, the national anthem and we were off!


Temperature - 61-70 F, Humidity - 72-55%, Sunny

I had learnt from my pacing experience last year and had a better strategy in place. I intended to keep a little bit of a buffer for the climbs from 5-8. I knew the huge downhill would help me make up some time. Then I had the flats at the end. Last year I had gotten a little rattled by the time I had lost on the climb...

mile 1: 7:30

In the first minute there was a guy who questioned if I was going out too fast. I explained my plan and also talked about other pacing experiences. He seemed sold and would end up sticking with me all the way till the very last half of a mile :)

mile 2: 7:33

For the first four miles I had quite a solid pack keeping up with me. I noticed that a couple of folks were breathing hard - they conceivably would soon have to course correct :(

mile 3: 7:33

Normally, I don't drink any water or Gatorade at any aid stops while pacing. Today I actually did get some in 3 aid stations. Out in the open, it did feel warm.

mile 4: 7:31

We came across a drone taking pictures of the runners. Now that the first I've seen at any race!!

mile 5: 7:40
mile 6: 7:40

A short out and back section where we got a brief sighting of runners just behind us.

mile 7: 7:37

The climbs also came with the bonus of shade and hitting the greenery of the North Olympic Discovery trail. Crossing the bridge on the route just felt so peaceful.

mile 8: 8:00

Yup. Even while pacing, this climb did feel tiring and I was breathing a little heavily. I was not very concerned about the time expended here. The focus was on even effort!

mile 9: 7:13

This was a steep downhill but I wanted to ensure that I did not descend too fast. This ended up being just perfect - I made up exactly the time lost on the uphill but nothing more.

mile 10: 7:39
mile 11: 7:30
mile 12: 7:28
mile 13: 7:29
mile .11: 0:53

The final miles along the Strait of Juan de Fuca is just quite amazing. Cool and flat, with sweeping views of the sound. I had two runners who had kept up with me. The guy would stay with me right to the final half mile and the lady fell a little behind towards the end but would still make the 1:40 time! We passed 10k and 5k runners who cheered for us and I cheered back. They would profess amazement at the "fast" pace we were going at. How relative pace is!

The finish with the announcer thanking the pacer.

There was such a nice array of post race food - Popsicle, Chocolate milk, ... I discovered that pacers could get a free massage if there were no lines. There wasn't any line yet :) Eddie got a massage too. He had shot a video of my finish with his hands on the lens. So a black video with only sound :)

I learnt that the 2 hr pacer had to pull out due to cramps. I hope the rest of the pacers did a good job because I do want us to be able to pace this again!!

This year they had the long sleeve quarter zip race shirt again. That's going to be incredibly handy come winter! I can see it becoming one of my favorites :)

Net time: 1:39:27
OA - 28/895
Male - 25/237
Div - 5/30

Final Thoughts
  • I loved the race, loved the experience. I intend to be back pacing for as long as I can. 
  • I noticed that the ratio of men to women in this half was about 1:3. That's quite something!
  • All in all a great weekend at a great event!

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