Friday, December 21, 2007

Motivation, Injuries and Winter in Minnesota

Well, I need to get going on training for the next marathon but it seems I am in the middle of the normal holiday, Minnesota weather, injury blues.

The knee is still problematic so I have been hesitant to get running on it. I don't want to run all year on a sore knee. Once I target my next marathon it is improbable that I will abort and I am hoping to get in 2, 3 or even 4 marathons this year and a 50k as well.

For those that don't know what running in Minnesota in the winter means, it is darkness, ice, snow and cold. The good news is we plow our bike paths after snowfalls so you can run easily, the problem is the darkness as it makes seeing the ice an issue. Once you do get going it is almost always enjoyable you just need to slow down a bit to avoid a fall (yes, another lesson learned the hard way).

I have done a wee bit (meaning very little) of cross training and the knee hasn't gotten worse so the plan is to take it easy through Christmas and then get going once the new year starts.

Have a Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kansas City - 2007

Ok, the event is set it's Kansas City, the city of fountains. The plan was to drive down Thursday night, take in the expo on Friday and for me to run the marathon on Saturday and for Karyn to run the 5k that starts 15 minutes after the marathon.

We arrived late on Thursday, the drive down was marked by rain and we had a minor problem in navigating to the hotel. I missed the turn I should have taken so we went through downtown Kansas City, MO and then back out to Kansas City, KS (this explains why I have always been confused about which state Kansas City is in :-). Normally just a minor issue as the delay was probably only 10 or 15 minutes but when I am starting to enter my pre-marathon stress zone, not good.

We arrived at the expo which was hosted at the Crown Center Hyatt in downtown Kansas City. The parking was free (after you get your ticket stamped - a nice touch in contrast to TCM). The packet pick-up was easy and quick and although the expo is not huge everyone was very friendly. My thanks to Saturn, Waddell and Reed and all of the other exhibitors for making it a fun expo.

Since we had our packets we decided to tour the course before the spaghetti dinner. The one thing that was obvious is that yes the course had a few hills. I had expected that but in driving the course they were a bit longer than I would be used to. Since my plan was to run slow anyway I would simply not charge the hills, no big deal. Worse case a few minutes slower.

The spaghetti dinner was enjoyable, we talked to a couple guys at the table. One guy from St. Louis and the other from New Mexico. They also had Patty Dillon talk during the marathon.

Packet picked up, dinner eaten, now it was time to go back to the hotel, get everything ready, then sit back and relax.

My plan was to drink Clif Shot Apple Crisp Electrolyte from start to finish. I would carry two bottles and then reload along the course. Clif Shot had given away a packet of the stuff a few years back at TCM and I had finally tried it (I thought it sounded disgusting) and found I could stomach it and it seemed to work. I had read on Hal Higdon's webpage (or in one of his books) that if you drink electrolyte you should just drink it from start to finish in order to avoid energy spikes and to help the stomach get used to it. I have had stomach issues in almost every marathon using Gu's, bars and a water/electrolyte mixture so figured this was worth a try.

Ok what is the weather forecast? We originally though it would be rain but the forecast was changing to cloudy and warmer then to clear and warmer yet. Well, the latest forecast was that we could expect highs in the lower 80's, windy and clouds moving out as the morning went on, no problem just keep a conservative pace, take it easy on the hills and enjoy the day.

I was my normal stressed out self before the race, I had a coughing attack at the hotel and about lost it. We arrived in downtown and after a few stressful moments in getting parked we found our way to the start line. The race starts at the crown center which is a downtown mall right next to Hallmark Headquarters. The morning temp was comfortable (low 60's) and it was easy to line up for the start. The marathoners and 1/2 marathoners started together and we would split off around mile 6. I love these mid sized marathons, all the good things of the larger races but a whole lot less people.

The race plan was to run 11:30 miles and to make sure that I go out slow. I had planned on taking an electrolyte walking break every 15 minutes.

We meandered out of downtown during mile 1 and climbed a hill for mile 2. It was a reasonably steep hill so I kept saying keep it easy, no hurry. After we climbed the hill we came back around the Liberty Memorial and had a great view of downtown KC. I kept thinking that it was a nice morning a bit warm but not yet hot. Miles 3 through 6 were somewhat uneventful through an area referred to as Westport, the course is real neat lots of turns and yes a few more hills. Mile 6 goes through an dense set of shops that seemed like a yuppies delight.

MILES 7-16
During mile 6 was the split off from the 1/2 marathoners which was good as there were too many runners for me to just zone out. Miles 7 and 8 were along a concrete creek bed called Ward parkway. It was around mile 7 or so that I came along side the 5:00 marathon pace team and the pacer was going through a list of marathon mistakes, I threw out charging up hills as she had listed most of the normal ones - trying something for the first time, wearing something new, starting out to fast, not enough training, wearing worn out shoes, no plan, etc... It was a reminder to myself to take it easy on the hills. Mile 9 or so we climbed a fairly steep hill through a beautiful neighborhood (think expensive homes). Miles 10 through 12 were fairly level as we went along Ward parkway again except this time it was along traffic and homes. I met Karyn around Mile 11 and she reloaded my supply of electrolyte. Mile 12 marks the furthest from downtown that we would go which I remembered from our drive. It was starting to get fairly warm. Miles 13 through 16 were downhill but hot.

I would be remiss not to mention the great volunteers that were along the course, they were energetic and helpful and the marathon had plenty of water and other stuff. The police also did a great job in keeping the cars from being an issue. There were a few disgruntled drivers thanks to their great work.

MILES 17-21
Miles 17 to 21 were an out and back down a boulevard, It was around Mile 18 that I first started really feeling the heat. They provided us ice soaked paper towels which felt great around Mile 18. I was cramping up a bit during these miles and had to walk a bit more than I would like. We started uphill again around Mile 20 and it just seemed to continue for a longtime.

MILES 21-25
Still climbing, we finally crested the hill at Mile 23 and began a downhill journey. I ran with the lady for the 5:15 pace group starting at 23 but my legs were finished and I had to back off. Every time I tried to run I just kind of cramped up. I muttered on through 24, then 25. They had ice at 25 which I put under my hat.

After eating the ice, I had recovered enough that I was able to hobble on the rest of they way. The finish is into the Freighthouse district and is not a bad way to finish. You round the corner at about mile 25 3/4 and then have a straight shot to the end. Not a great day but what a gorgeous city, I loved the course, the volunteers and the city.

They give you two shirts and a medal, the finishers shirt is a nice tech shirt that you can run in, the other shirt is a participant t-shirt that is given to all of the runners (5k, 1/2 and Full). They had plenty of water, cookies, fruit, yogurt, bread, etc... at the finish.

A couple of notes from the race, I had asked Karyn to bring my soccer slides to the finish as I always enjoy getting the shoes off after a race. Well it turns out that as she stopped to take a picture of the finish area from a bridge overlooking the freight area a gust of wind came up and blew them out of her hands down onto the railway below. We couldn't get to them as the area was blocked off for safety.

I should mention that she did very well in her 5k which started at the marathon start and then went through the marathon course Miles 25-26.

The last item is more interesting concerning my running mindset, remember when I said my goal was to run 11:30's and to slow down on the hills. Well here are my mile splits:

Mile Time
1 00:14:16
2 00:12:18
3 00:11:48
4 00:11:25
5 00:11:10
6 00:11:17
7 00:11:14
8 00:11:31
9 00:11:27
10 00:11:27
11 00:11:12
12 00:13:10
13 00:10:43
14 00:11:18
15 00:12:10
16 00:11:56
17 00:11:42
18 00:12:00
19 00:12:39
20 00:12:42
21 00:13:32
22 00:14:33
23 00:13:28
24 00:14:50
25 00:13:30
26 00:13:01
26.2 00:02:37

What you might notice is a slowdown as the race moves on but that's not the issue (mile 12 was slower as that is where I refueled and chatted briefly with Karyn but you can see I then picked up the pace -- can you say stupid).

Remember when I said I was going to take it easy on the hills? Let's walk through how that went.

First here is a view of the approximate course elevation by mile:

Notice the major climbs are from miles 1 to 3, 8 to 10 and 19 to 23.

Look again at my mile times during these three stretches:

Miles 1 to 3
1 00:14:16
2 00:12:18
3 00:11:48
* Notice that each mile is faster

Miles 8 to 10
8 00:11:31
9 00:11:27
10 00:11:27
* Notice the even pace

Miles 19 to 23
19 00:12:39
20 00:12:42
21 00:13:32
22 00:14:33
23 00:13:28
* Notice the slower times period

Could it be that maybe I missed the mark on taking it easy on the hills. I thought it was the heat that caused me to fade and to cramp, maybe it was my approach on the hills. Also, notice the complete lack of any even pace at least as it relates to 11:30's or was I trying to run 12s?

Add these to my already long list of marathon mistakes. Who knows maybe I always charge the hills and don't hold pace, this is just the first time I have taking the time to plot it out.

Maybe next time things will go as planned.........................

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Quest for 50 States begins

My quest for 50 states begins in late September, early October. I have 3 states complete (MN, WI and TN) just 47 to go.

The really fun part of doing 50 states is all the research you get to do that ultimately helps you decide which marathon you will do when. In order to get in 50 by 60, I have to choose multiple marathons in multiple states and then try to figure out how to train for them. Let's see at 4 marathons a year, hey that won't work I am going to need to average almost 5 a year, man there are a lot of states.

To get the quest going I initially decided to knock off Iowa. If that sounds easy, well it wasn't. First there were 3 marathons in Iowa within 2 weeks of each other. They are:

On the Road for Education in Mason City
Siouxland Louis and Clark in Sioux City
Des Moines in well Des Moines

I initially wanted to do Mason City as it's only a couple of hours from the Twin Cities and would be easy to coordinate travel, etc... The problem with it, I was going into it overweight, under trained or said another way SLOW......... So if I run it, I would be one of the last finishers as my best guess is that my time will be between 5 and 5:15. In 2006 there were 95 finishers, 10 runners finished over 5 hours, 5 runners finished after 5:15.

My next choice was Siouxland - 118 finishers in 2006, 20 or so over 5 hours about 5 hours away. The interesting part about Siouxland was that it starts in Nebraska and ends in Iowa which means I could use it for either state but not both in reading the 50 states rules. Did you know there are at least two 50 state clubs? I didn't so is my goal 50 states or is 50 and DC, yet another thing to plan. Here are links to the clubs:

50 States Marathon Club
50 and DC Marathon Group USA

Then there was Des Moines about 4 hours or so away 1000+ finishers in 2006 more than 50+ over 5 hours. The course looked interesting, you kind of meander around downtown in a circular kind of loop, the kind of course I like, lots of turns no long straight aways. Ok Des Moines it is, that is unless you know something about 14 year old girls and a certain band called the Jonas Brothers. They were coming to town and my daughter just had to go, they were the warm up band for Hannah Montana, yes even I had heard of her, she is Billy Ray Cyrus's (Achy Breaky Heart) little girl and has a show on Disney, just in case you don't know. The concert was Sunday, the marathon was Sunday morning a bit hard to coordinate if my day goes bad. What to do? Then I heard the news, Hanna Montana tickets were almost impossible to get. Ok, I would wait and see and then decide what to do. As there was no way they would get tickets, ok wrong again they did. New plan choose an alternate, I could do On the Road, not what I wanted to do, did I have another option and sure enough after a quick visit to:

A new plan was hatched, just how far away is Kansas City, the answer is around 6 or so hours and they have a marathon on Saturday, that could work, the review looked ok although it said it was hilly. What does that mean????? It doesn't matter, it's a go, Kansas City here we come.

My report on Kansas City will come shortly but as a tease I discovered yet another flaw in my race strategy. I think this is mistake number, ok I have lost track.


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