Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Skagit Flats Marathon (PR)

I’m not much for races reports anymore. Not that running 26.2 has become an everyday thing, but I am more comfortable with it and the little things aren’t as notable as they were during my first race. Even if I do have something to say, I usually remember it days after the race as most of it was a blur. This race was kinda last minute, and I had no great agenda other than running near my PR time as this was flat, yet I knew it might get warm. Inspiration can be few and far between once you have a few marathons under your belt. This week saw my brother suffer a heart attack, and thank god he caught it and got himself to the ER in time. Also fellow RW forumite smarterblonde lost her father Karl. This race was dedicated to Karl and my brother Vern along with the victims of 911, so a PR would be nice. Latter miles 22-26.2 are tough for me, and having inspiration to draw from helps me. Thinking, “c’mon, this pain will pass, their pain might not”. Me and the GF Jenni headed up to Burlington and signed me up. It was a nice crisp morning, but I knew the sun was coming. It was only going to hit 75, but this course isn’t called Skagit Flats for nothing. It’s in the Skagit Valley where all the tulips are grown. It’s farmland, FLAT with NO shade. I made my rounds, talking to and meeting Betsy, Robert, Ric and David.
I was sporting the current team USA singlet with the JO for Jesse Owens. These were used in the Berlin World track Championships. Splits felt good, but miles 8-10 I let it slip into my head that I wasn’t even going to run under 3:30:xx. I was slowing a tad. I think it might have been the lonely out and back with no land marks or any real scenery. So I think my theory ran true, because there is a mental light that goes of when I run out and back whether it’s a training run or a race. I run faster on the way home, knowing you only have “X” distance to go. I picked the pace back up again and was hovering around 7:42 pace overall. 7:38 gets me to Boston. I didn’t know it at the time, but my Garmin was reading further (26.4 overall). So really by the time I hit 7:45 overall pace, I was really at 7:49. I thought I had a shot at 3:23-3:24. At mile 17 something happened that gave me more confidence that per the hot conditions I was doing well. My PR of 3:25:23 came on a pretty flat Eugene course on a day that was 55 degrees with some sprinkles. That was perfect. So to run that again in 75 degree weather with sun on you and zero shade? GREAT. The thing that happened was I saw a friend of mine ahead of me, you can’t miss him, he’s got to be 6’4” tall. I caught him at mile 17.
Why is this a sign? Because his PR is 3:10:xx. I passed him once at the Seattle Marathon at mile 13, but he was walking and was injured. After the race I found out the heat was draining him and he was cramping up. Shortly after mile 17 they started dropping like flies….. I must have passed 15 people in the last 6 miles. I tend to slow down myself, but it always amazes me how many people got so far ahead of me, only to drop back so far in the latter miles. Miles 23-26.2 were far better than any race prior, I was sore and tired, but no drained like previous races. This alarms me, why then didn’t I push harder? I think in some ways it’s that marathon mentality, you need to pace yourself. Then again you only have so many miles to make up time. It’s not like you can drop 3 minutes in the last 3 miles by banging out three miles at 6:45 when you were running 7:45. The final stretch of the race has you making a sharp left turn onto the high school track. You go thru a gate to your left. I was around 3:24:00.
At the gate a guy passes me while we are turning left, on my left. He had barely room to do this. You really shouldn’t do that, you should do it before or after the turn, or pass on my right being as we are turning left. I blurted out “WTF”. I’m kinda in a pissy mood after 26 miles especially when someone jeopardizes my safety. You can easily go down after that much running. So, his reward was me sprinting past him in a 100m dash. It was just me and him for 100m. I beat him by a step at the line for 25th place. I looked at my Garmin after the race. It tells you your fastest pace during each mile, top speed if you will. That last 100m I was running under 4:00 pace. Final clock time was 3:25:01.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What do I sound like? The Running Medal Hanger Podcast Interview.........

Aside from hearing your own voicemail recording, you hardly ever hear your own voice, especially for 3-4 minutes. I was invited to talk about my running medal hanger display on a very cool running podcast called "RunRunLive". I was pretty nervous about it, but thought what the heck, it's a great way to reach many people and get the word out there about a perfect solution to a problem most runners face, what to do with your running medals.



Listening to that much of my voice reminded me of when I was a kid, and people actually had tape recorders and recorded little skits or whatever.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

2009 Seattle RNR Marathon

Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon report.

Everything went well the morning of my race, but if the day before the race was any indication of how my race would go, I was in serious trouble.

Friday afternoon I parked my car in my driveway so I could wash it. I got a knock on the door an hour later from our condo landscaper telling me that he’d backed into my Coupe.
Busted tail light and a bumper that was out of alignment by ¼”.

Jenni dropped me off at about 5:30 and I had plenty of time to get things out of the way, talk to a few running friends I ran into in coral #2 and get my photo taken by the roaving camera guy.
My goal for this race was 3:30:00, being I ran that on a similar course. It turned out to be a way easier course, and I was in better shape. 3:25:00 (a PR) could have been achieved on this day. I felt great, maybe even good enough to run a BQ time of 3:20:59.
The crowds were thick despite corals. There were still a good 750-1,000 runners per coral.

1/2 a mile into the marathon, I wasn’t paying enough attention to the terrain I was running on. I twisted my ankle on the edge of the asphalt where the paving ends and has a 2" drop. I tried to break my fall with my right hand. That left me with 6-8 very deep cuts with rocks and dirt. It looked like hamburger, blood and dirt. Then my left hand hit along with my left thigh, resulting giant raspberry on my thigh. Left elbow hit. My left eye socket hit the ground and shattered my Oakley's into two pieces. It forced the glasses into my temple bruising it.
So there I was, no sun protection for my eyes on a very sunny day, and my ankle was kinda sore. Little did I know it was actually WAY more than just sore. Adrenalin and endorphins mask pain.

I got up and continued on with the same pace I planned (8:00 or faster).
I saw a co-worker at mile one and stopped for a second to let him know his wife might be finishing AHEAD of me. It was her first full marathon.
It’s kinda sad that I didn’t get to enjoy this course, I was just on autopilot. I just wanted this nightmare to be over. I couldn’t believe my race was unfolding like this. At some points I just laughed, I’d pay big money to see a video of me going down like that. The people behind me that saw me go down had a good laugh I’m sure. Oddly nobody said a word or stopped to make sure I was ok.
It’s hard to come up with details of this race, because it was just a blur. I just ran, I can’t even remember what was going through my mind except I know I altered my normal stride. I kept my ankle as stiff as possible without pushing off of it. It’s a good thing I don’t pronate much when I run, I’m neutral. My concern was my new shoes, lightweight trainers. They don’t offer as much support as my normal shoes. To think before the race I was worried about my other ankle and what I thought might be plantar fac. In the weeks prior to the race.

At mile 11 I was still at 8:00 pace and stopped for a full minute to wash out my wounds and dig out rocks. I actually looked at my ankle for the first time. It was the size of a racket ball. I saw a few people I know and they commented on how I was running, they asked if I was limping. I guess I was only fooling myself. I told them what happened and like true Marathon Maniacs they told me “you can do it”.

Mile 11 I think it was, we met back up with the ½ marathoners. We had run out the I-90 bridge adding more miles. That was a mess, you WERE running with people your pace, then when you rejoin them, you are running with people way slower. To top it all off 4 lanes merged into two, with water right before it. GEEZ
That was tough. Any left right movement wasn’t fun. Turns, turnarounds, camber in the road………
So now I was heading into the city, near the finish line. The half runners were almost done, but was I almost done? I could take a DNF on the full and turn left and get a ½ marathon finish, which would actually be more like 15-16 miles for me since I ran on I-90. This was the toughest mental portion of the race. I don’t like failure. I literally couldn’t decide what to do, to the point that it upset me. If I finish in 2 hours I won’t be able to find Jenni for about an hour and a half. If I continue and can finish or take longer than 3:45:00 she’s going to start freaking out. As it was, when I finished I was way behind my normal time, and the time we discussed. She was already wondering what happened to me. When she saw me at mile 26 she KNEW, she could see it on my face.
I continued on, trudging out onto the bridge. Once I made that decision, I thought for a split second it was the wrong decision. It’s so demoralizing running away from where you are to finish. After I went through the tunnel and up to Fremont, I talked to a young lady to try and take my mind off this “problem”. Her story was crazy, maybe not as crazy as mine, but crazy. Her long run was 12 miles, and the day before the race she upgraded to the full marathon. Easier for her, she might have been 22? I left her behind and made my way to Fremont, seeing my friends coming back at me after they went around the turnaround. I didn’t use my garmin, I was just using my watch and keeping track of each mile, judging how I was doing by each mile ran. They weren’t TO far ahead of me, and they were in the 3:30-3:35 range. Seeing the 3:30 pace group ahead of me, and seeing the 3:45 pace group behind me as I myself was coming back around mile 19 gave me a much need confidence boost.
I was doing great besides my ankle. Then again I was around 8:18 pace, which is now becoming very comfortable at any distance. The only problems I had were when I’d stop for water. I could tell it was tight and I just tried no to look at it.

Mile 23-24 once again was no fun, you had to run past the finish area again. This time we were going south of it for another turnaround. I didn’t feel any fatigue on my legs I just could feel my ankle was so done. I really wished I could have enjoyed this race, the scenery, the bands. Mile 24.5 was the turnaround I think, that hurt. I just about walked around that cone to make sure I didn’t hurt my ankle anymore with left right action.
Mile 26 was down the off ramp, STEADY please…Little did I know Jenni was there at the bottom. So was Shelby, local RUN26 running store owner and mentor to many. He was coaching TNT this race and must have run 40 miles back and forth helping his team. He had a big high five for me. Jenni saw me and yelled but I didn’t hear her. She then ran through the alley to mile 26.15 to see me finish. I saw her and heard her ask me if I was ok. I think I was almost crying at this point, and mustered a “hell no” nod.

I watched my finish video today, I looked like crap. I instantly signaled to a medic to look at my ankle. They took me into the medic area and sat me on a chair in direct sunlight, nice. They kinda cleaned out my hand and gave me some ice. Funny thing was I saw on the news later on that they had these cool buckets of ice water for runners with plastic booty’s for your feet. Why wasn’t I offered one of these? Instead I had a lame plastic bag with ice wrapped on my cankle, dripping melting ice all over. Headed out to get my medal and finishers pic and find Jenni.

The lines to go through the food area were HUGE, and a maze. I could barely walk here people……. I asked if I could forgo that area and bypass it and find the giant “N” for Nelson so Jenni could find me. I’m sure she was kinda wondering WTF happened to me? They couldn’t move the barricades so I climbed over it. Once again, NICE, I mean do I have to ask for a wheel chair to make it apparent I can’t walk? I ran into Heather who had just ran her first ½ marathon. A friend of hers passed away recently and she ran it for them. So cool.
I found Jenni and got my kiss and ahug, explained why her boyfriend is crazy and ran 25.5 miles on a jacket up ankle, hobbled to the car and got the hell out of dodge.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Running Medal Hanger Display (Running Medal Display)

This week we released the latest version of my running medal display hanger that I had made last year. The original one did the job, but the new one is thicker, sturdier, and better designed.
There isn't really a good medal hanger out there, hence why I designed my own.
Since then they have become pretty popular in my running community. The other ones cost to much and look cheap. I am proud of my running medal display.
We can custom make anything you want really.

I have also made a few here and there that were custom. It’s a great artistic outlet.

Online catalog for purchases found here...... http://www.alliedsteelfab.com/catalog

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kirkland Half Marathon

I debated back and fourth about whether I wanted to pay $65 to run a distance I could run on my own and that wasn’t giving out finishers medals. I decided to go ahead and do it anyway since I love the challenge of doing better on a course than I have before.
This course I did 2 years ago and to this date is STILL my best half marathon time despite it NOT being the easiest or flattest. My personal best from two years ago is 1:33:47 and I have consistently run 1:35:00 +/- many times.
This race starts at sea level and rises in elevation 600 feet from miles 3-6, then comes back down to sea level in miles 7-9. So you do get to make back that time lost going up the hill, but coming back down at 6:45 pace really hurts your body for that last 4 miles after.
Things went pretty well, but not doing any speed work for over a year due to training my body to run just below 8:00 pace for 26.2 miles took its toll. I should have made up more time in the first two miles, but I just plain wasn’t in a groove yet. I did pretty well on the hill, running a 7:42 and 7:22 going up that hill. Wow, that’s pretty good actually, but maybe it wore me out. I had to stop to pee at mile 6, which actually was my slowest mile @ 7:49, even though it was FLAT. Peeing takes time off of a race, and every second counts.
Another reason I ran the race instead of doing speed work on my own on a flat trail was the competition makes me run faster. At mile 2 a female runner bolted in front of me that I perceived to be going out to fast for her body type. It’s just the male ego I’m sure, but when I put so much hard work into my running it’s hard to see someone that appears to be in less fit shape ahead of me. I sometimes also forget that she is also probably 10-15 years younger than me. Just being honest, I didn’t want her beating me. I thought maybe I’d catch her on the hill, which I almost did, but the peeing slowed my pursuit. Miles 11-12 I saw my gap closing and it helped me run faster. I was no longer monitoring my overall pace which had dropped to 7:21, but chasing her down and my normal overall kick dropped it to 7:15 by the time I hit the finish mat with 1:34:56, just one minute and nine second slower than two years ago. I ran a 6:48 final mile thanks to chasing her down and pushing when I saw my watch click to 1:33:00. My pace in the last .10 was 6:08.
I did pass her at mile 12.5, but for all I know her chip time could have been better. Didn’t matter, competition is why I enter races. I also passed 15 or so runners in the last few miles that went out to fast or had no kick. I finished 58th out of 1,104 runners. I was 7th out of the 100 males aged 40-44.
Here are my splits, you can compare them to the elevation chart below.
7:18, 7:05, 7:41, 7:22, 7:29, 7:49, 7:18, 6:42, 6:55, 7:08, 7:27, 7:25, 6:48, 0:30.
I should also mention it was Mothers Day, and it was nice to run on Mothers Day, for without my mom, I’d never have inherited all the drive and talent to run so well.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eugene Marathon

Jenni and I headed off to Eugene on Thursday night to drive halfway down and then drive the rest of the way Friday morning.
The trip down had it’s normal ups and downs but after spending the night at the rest stop we somehow locked ourselves out of the RV. It wasn’t really locked, but the door was jammed. After a brief freak-out by Brad, I was opening the window to shove Jenni in through. It was stressful as the RV was started and warming up for the final leg down to Eugene.
We arrived in Eugene Friday afternoon and our first real stop was Nike. Talk about the coolest Nike you could walk into. Huge display of actual 1970’s running artifacts from the beginning of Nike including Steve Prefontaine’s actual track shoe that Bowerman made for him. To cool, even the waffle irons that made the first shoes.
I had looked at a cool pair of Nike Lunar trainers online and even had a pair the were SUPPOSED to have arrived Thursday night (Thanks UPS, you suck). So feeling inspired by the birthplace of Nike, I purchased a pair of BLACK Lunars. The ones that were being sent were white and not so cool anyway. These new black ones looked way cool with all my black skull and crossbones gear. Plus once I tried them on, the 10.5’s fit better than the 10.0’s that were being sent. 26.2 in a shoe I’d never even run in seamed more doable in a larger shoe.
Next stop was the expo over at the Hilton. Very cool expo with not a bunch of “junk” vendors as I call them. Some expos are full of needless junk. This one had nice items and quality items for sale. I picked up a DVD of “Fire on the Track”, the Prefontaine story. INCREDIBLE DVD. As I was headed out of the expo I noticed a both with a Prefontaine painting that wasn’t really that good, but for some reason I stopped to look. Not sure who the paintings artist was, so I started reading the info. The items at this both were not made by the seller, but the sellers name made me take notice. The both was being run by none other than Linda Prefontaine, Steve’s sister!!! That was to cool and very unexpected.
I think I was getting more excited for this race than I was for my first marathon. The combo of Pre’s running Mecca and a flat course for a BQ attempt was to much…….
Next stop……. Pre’s rock where he wrecked his car and died. At this point where Steve died there is a memorial set up were tons of people come and leave race bib numbers and medals or flowers. I had told people I was going to run the mile and a quarter to it and leave my bib there if I qualified for Boston. Not knowing the route, it seamed like a good idea. Maybe I don’t want to BQ here…….. the route was pretty much straight up a 6-7 grade. It went up about 300 feet in ¾ mile. If you are standing at Hayward Field, the track he ran one and the start finish line for the race, you just head straight down 15th and make the turn at the end of the road and turn left up the hill where you see the street sign that says “Pre’s Rock”. Me and Jenni put on our gear and jogged up to the memorial. We took some cool pictures and I analyzed the road, noting how steep and winding it was. I could see how a 25 year old in his little MG could crash here no matter if he was run off the road or just driving to fast. The fact that is was a convertible made it easy to flip and then crush him. So sad. I then realized I had forgot the memento I wanted to leave there. We ran back down so I could get it and I went back up it alone. After dropping off one of my skull and crossbones makeshift wristbands (taken from the tops of my old socks) I said my peace and headed down the hill to check out Hayward Field where Pre and countless other incredible Oregon runners had made history. I walked right out onto the field and started taking pictures right along side the current Oregon Track team.
Saturday was spent pretty much hanging out with Jenni and her dog/co-pilot August. We headed into the small town (3 blocks) of Colburg where we were staying, and wouldn’t you know it, it had 5 antique stores out of 8 stores that make up the “city”. Jenni has a home full of 50’s and 60’s furniture. You could pretty much film a period movie in her condo. I spotted a very cool handbag for her, and she found some other cool items. I’m glad the trip wasn’t 100% all about me.
Saturday night it started raining………. Whatever, not going to let it bother me, not this race.
I’m not sure why, but the more races I run, the more I am concentrating on my race and not little things you hear about in race reports. It was hard not to notice things here though, such a nice running town. Mile 1 was to slow for running with the 3:20:00 pace group. Mile 2 I saw a cute Greyhound with 3 legs. Jenni’s dog August is part Greyhound part German Shepard. Miles 3 and 6 were supposed to be the only hills on the elevation chart so I braced for them and had planned to make sure and not fall back from my pace group. About mile 8 I asked a guy near me if he had run this before. He had. He said the hills were at mile 3 and 6……. UH, those were “hills”?? In Seattle we call that an “incline”. To funny. That was a good sign for BQ.
Lets just cut to the chase, I was running in a crazy beautiful greenbelt of running trails along the river, it didn’t really rain very hard, and the sun even poked out. The crowd support was good. I saw Jenni at mile 17 and she took a few pics as I passed, and I told her I loved her as I did at mile 16 of Whidbey. I had hit my ½ split just shy of on time (1:40:35) but now knew I’d have to run an even split or negative to come away with a BQ. This fact I knew ahead of time, if I wanted to BQ I should have went out AHEAD of pace knowing I always slow down a little bit flat or not. So I told myself good job and just hold onto a PR. I knew I was not doing well when I lost my sense of humor. I am always having a good time on the outside as shown in my mile 17 pic, even if I am hurting. But at mile 24-25 I saw a table with some "dudes" that had tiny paper cups full of BEER. They were yelling "Ice cold Beer here", as if they were beer vendors. I didn't laugh, I didn't say a thing, I didn't even think at all. Usually I can laugh hard on the inside. Nope, just not having fun at all. It's at these times when you wanna quit all together. I laugh NOW, that was damn funny of them.With 3 miles left I knew all I had to do was run 8:00 pace after running 7:48 up until that and I’d come under 3:25:00. Well mile 24 was ok with 8:05, but somehow I just lost steam and mile 25 was 8:23 and even though I “felt” faster for mile 26 it was really only 8:29……… I think the clock said 3:25:02 so I was happy knowing it took me 25 seconds to hit the start line and my chip time would be under that.
Well the fact is that after running 26.2 miles, a 5 and a 6 look pretty similar! It was 3:26:02 and my chip time was 3:25:23.
Found Jenni, gave her a salty kiss and got some food. Growing up I ran track with some incredible runners at Redmond High. I had been following one friend Shelly who was a sprinter back then but now runs marathons as well, and FAST. She ran 3:38:xx at Boston and HAD a PR of 3:36:xx. I say had because today she ran 3:33:xx. Great work. I knew she’d be there, but with 5,000 runners never thought I’d see her. Well I milled around in the recovery area long enough for her to come in 8 minutes behind me and she saw me there. It was nice to see her after 23 years.
We then walked about two miles to the RV and set off home. 5 hours of driving was not a big deal when you have a house on wheels. I could hit the fridge and the bathroom at will, and laid on the couch and stared at Jenni’s green eyes in the rear view mirror.
Here are the stats…….
5k split 23:43
10k split 47:17
13.1 split 1:40:35
30k split 2:25:20
40k split 3:12:51
Finish 3:25:23
Finished in 237th place out of 1715 men and women.
Men’s Division 40-44 35th out of 158.
By mile………
7:55 / 7:26 / 7:38 / 7:40 / 7:47 / 7:25 / 7:28 / 7:47 / 7:38 / 7:45 / 7:48 / 7:54 / 7:48 / 7:58 / 7:51 / 7:52 / 8:07 / 7:49 / 7:54 / 7 :39 / 7:43 / 7:49 / 7:59 / 8:05 / 8:29 / 8:23
So there it is, 2 years and 5 months after my first marathon and here are my observations about my improvements.
My first Marathon was 3:49:43, 24:20 slower. That is almost a full minute per mile improvement. 8:46 pace down to 7:50.
My splits yesterday were 1:40:35 and 1:44:48.
The first two races I ran 2 years and 10 months ago were 1/2 marathons. My times were 1:43:35 and then 1:40:50. Adding up my first two half marathon times you almost end up with my current marathon time. 3:24:25 vs. 3:25:23.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

26.2 miles of island bliss.........

This weekend was the 3rd anniversary of my second running life. I started running when I was at my friend Jims house and had no gym to go to. Sundays marathon was on Whidbey Island, where said friends mom lives…… I stayed at her house the night before the race. I’ve had some really scenic runs on that island two years ago.
Me and Jenni headed up to Whidbey Island Saturday morning and drove around instead of taking the ferry. We stopped off to admire Deception Pass from the bridge onto the island as I might not get a good look at it on race day.

Saturday we had dinner with Jims mom and enjoyed the peace and quiet of her home on the beach. It faces due West towards Ft. Flagler and Port Townsend/Straight of Juan De Fuca. That night I was awakened by the wind and rain hitting the windows. That was 2:30 AM. I slept maybe another hour and woke up to light wind and not a cloud in the sky!!!

We made our way up to Oak Harbor for the shuttle at 5:00 AM and I arrived at the Start line around 6:00 while Jenni stayed in Oak Harbor for my finish. She is so smart, she put down the seats in her Subaru and had a little place to sleep. More importantly, a place for Brad to ride comfortably after the race……

I’m going to go out on a limb and say my performance today was directly linked to the fact that ahead of time I decided I WASN’T going to run hard and just run it for someone who just learned she has cancer and is going through hell now. Plus I had an issue with my hip the weekend before. I’d be saving my Personal Best performance attempt at Eugene coming up on May 3rd. I was helped along by the fact that I forgot to turn my GPS watch on, and it never found a signal as we were in a park with giant trees around us. That was unknowingly in my favor as I wasn’t constantly updated with my current pace. I just used the watch portion and hit lap every mile to see how fast I was running each mile. I could see what I had RUN, but not my current pace. I could calculate in my head, my overall pace, but to increase my pace on the fly was harder. I could only do that after each mile and try to make it up on the next if I was falling behind. But when you can’t judge how fast you are running, especially up and down hills, you have to wait until after you’ve run that mile……
At mile 13 I was dead on 8:00 pace, but knew from my other marathons it might not hold up, especially since I had NO idea what the course really looked like in elevation. I felt good and kept telling myself to slow down if you want, nobody will care and you can PR in 5 weeks on a flatter course. At mile 14 we were on the military base, and they had a cute Shepard just like Jenni’s dog guarding an entrance to where runners shouldn’t be. I kinda went towards him just a tad off course to verbalize “hey buddy”. He wasn’t so happy to see me as he was very well trained to be in defense mode. The handler had to pull him back as he rose up and barked very loud. Ok, not the best idea…..
At mile 16 we entered the park where the race would end so we had this view of the finish line. So there was another 5 miles out and 5 miles back left to run.

At this point I was down to shedding my arm warmers, both pairs of gloves and my hat. All stuffed into my running vest pockets. It was getting annoying having that weight bounce around and it was actually pretty warm for 50 degrees, must have been the sun. I spotted Jenni at mile 16 and said, “Take this F’ing thing” as I threw it to the ground and then added "love ya"…… I was down to shorts with my cutoff tights over them and a thin long sleeve tech shirt I could roll up or down. I also held onto the thinner pair of gloves, my favorite Orange gloves. They came on and off as the wind kicked up.
Miles 18-22 seamed to go one forever, like WHERE is this turnaround??? 22-23 was the turnaround back up the hill, not happy, but I knew I’d get to finish with a kick coming home….. 23 was no fun and my legs (quads) were starting to burn, but I kept seeing that I only needed 9:00 pace to PR and 7:45-8:00 to get close to under 3:30:00, which was my goal for Eugene.

I’ve always used other people’s pain to deal with mine on race day. My dad dying, my nephew dying and now the struggle Paulette (Kayano on RW) is dealing with. Some of you may have felt the dizzy feeling on long runs. Well I get emotional I get pissed. I found myself swearing under my breath, “you won’t F’ing take another person away from people that care, you won’t crush our spirit, you can’t stop my legs from pushing on…”
When I started this race I really didn’t care how I did, but from mile 20 on, I knew I could do it if I could just hold on during the hardest part of the marathon. It was tribute time, Paulette will need to hold onto every ounce of strength she has. My test we easy, and if I didn’t pull threw it was no big deal. I also knew these little battles won somehow help people like Paulette knowing her friends are out there battling when she has to muster all her energy just to get up each day and put one foot in front of the other. That 30 seconds mattered all of a sudden. I think I ran a 7:23 that last mile. I hit my mark with little time to spare, 3:29:25.
What a great race. 3 years of running, 4 marathons and -20 minutes taken off my marathon time since my first one.

Dang, now what am going to do about Eugene?
Thanks to Paulette for being so strong. I myself was diagnosed with a possible brain tumor 3 years ago, right before I started my weight loss. The MRI showed nothing and they didn't have an answer for my smell issues. Just the THOUGHT of having to go through something like that scared the CRAP out of me. It ended up being a simple abscessed tooth. I can't imagine how I'd hold up if it was actually something I'd have to go through. Say what you will about people and their running performances, but their rising above adversity is way more impressive to me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Farewell my friend… Ode to my shoes.

This week saw some milestones and some things coming to an end.
After nearly 3 years (35 months) I’ve reached 4,000 miles. Not real impressive due to low mileage that first year, but still cool. Between now and September I’ll add another 1,000 miles easily. I’ve averaged around 4 miles a day for the first 3 years, but now I’m running about 50 per week.
This week I realized my favorite shoes don’t have many miles left in them. The heel has worn a major angle in them. All 4 pair now logged more than 300 miles. I haven’t had to buy new shoes for quite some time. You’d know this by walking into my condo and seeing 10-12 pairs of running shoes in the entryway. My favorite pairs are my Asics Nimbus 8’s. Specifically I liked the copper / gold colored pairs of which I’ve had 5 now. I’ve also had white and blue, and plum (purple).
The purple are a funny story. I buy them for around $75 on eBay instead of paying $120 at a shoe store. I’d buy them there, but they now longer make them. So I couldn’t find the grey and copper ones anymore and I hate white shoes. I opted for buying women’s 11-1/2 to match my men’s 10’s. The euro equivalent is 44 on both of them. The last pair I found that I like was also women’s. They are white and GREEN. Love green and my idol Steve Prefontaine wore green at Oregon. I’m training to run my fastest marathon on May 3rd in Eugene Oregon, exactly where “Pre” ran. So I’m sad to see my “golden boots” (copper) go. I’ll probably clean them up and put them on a shelf. The last 2 pair where given away to my brother to loaf around or garden in. They are in perfect shape as long as you aren’t running 13+ miles in them. I ran my 3 and only marathons in those shoes, so they are special to me. Hmmm, maybe I’ll take my copper shoes that look gold and have one bronzed……

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

3 years and counting......

The weekend of March 29th to April 1st is the 3 year anniversary of the weekend I started running. I was in California visiting my best friend Jim and I HAD to keep my exercise and weight loss going. Jim’s wife is a great cook, and I was fearful I’d fall off the wagon. This was the perfect time to start running, seeing as though I had no gym to go to.
So it’s fitting that this marathon is on Whidbey Island where Jim’s mom lives and where Jim spends a month of every year, fishing. We’ll spend the night in the guesthouse right on the water. One of my most beautiful runs was there on the island August 2006. I spent a week up there when Jim was in town, and I would get up just before the sun came up. I remember how odd it felt running nearly 12 miles without seeing a car. I did see many deer and bunnies and cool creatures though. Besides running in Sydney Australia, this had to be the best run ever. So my next marathon will hopefully be full of those same views. The race starts on the land side of Deception Pass and the first mile crosses a bridge to the island. I’ll become very intimate with the next 26.2 south of there.

The beach where we'll be staying.....

Deception Pass......

Monday, March 2, 2009

One way ticket

Saturday I tried something new for my long run. Instead of the typical out and back run where you run to a destination then run home, I ran somewhere and had someone drive me home. The someplace turned out to be a perfect route for me to give me some confidence needed for my next marathon. The route was pretty flat and at one point early on downhill.
It was a near perfect route, exactly 20 miles on the nose. Starting at my house in the Renton Highlands, just miles from where Jimi Hendrix is buried. One mile north and I’m turning onto “900” to Issaquah. This was the only flaw in my route, crossing over I-90 wasn’t planned out to well as there isn’t a sidewalk. Oh well, sprint in front of some fast moving cars and I’m over I-90 and into the state park.
Running along the lake was great, nice and flat with some small rolling hills. The views are awesome and it was nice to see this 9 mile stretch at a mere 7.5 mph instead of the 40 mph I see it at every day when I drive home. I drive the opposite if this route daily to avoid the lovely I-405 mess. Who would think I-405 would be a mess when I leave work at 2:30? It is…..
At mile 17 the sun started to peak out and I had to remove my short sleeve top to reveal my tank top. This is also where my legs started to feel the 8:00 pace I was holding onto. My goal for Eugene is below 3:35:00 (8:11 pace). So hear how Eugene is a pretty flat course, I’m hopeful with a 100% effort on race day I can keep that 8:00 pace up another 6 miles. I used two GU energy gels will caffeine and about 30oz or watered down G2.
Mile 20 was exactly where google maps said it would be, right at the entrance to Redmond Town Center. This gave me another ¼ mile to jog into the mall to cool down before I was greeted by my girlfriend Jenni. She brought me my banana and my re-hydration drink (NUUN) which I really needed at that point. She left about the same time I did 2:40:00 earlier and took her dog August to the dog park and did some shopping while I ran.

My long runs are getting easier. This last month I ran 16,18,18.5 and 20 as my weekend long runs. All of them resulted in me getting up the next day and running with Jenni at Greenlake. That’s a good sign, sore but not sore enough that I can’t run a few miles.
My recovery time has really improved in the 3 years I’ve been running. I remember that first marathon, couldn’t walk correctly for 2 days.

On a side note, this is how cool my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch is. You can actually see in the data, me dart across the main road as I was passing over I-90......

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Three Bears

Last night I tried a new pair of race day shoes. I’d been contemplating a lighter shoe for marathons. There are a few things to consider in this decision. The lighter the shoe, the less cushion and support. The lighter the shoe the shorter distance you can run (fast) in them. The faster you run the harder it is on your body. The lighter shoes help you run faster, but offer little to help you cushion the blows.
My Asics racing flats are 7.5 oz. The furthest I’ve run in them was 7 miles at 6:40 pace. My Asics general running shoes are 13.5 oz. I’ve run 26.2 @ about 8:13 pace.
So in order to get my aging (40) body moving faster and further, I tried out a pair of Zoot triathlon shoes that weigh 9.6 oz. They are pretty cool. They drain water very easily as I found out on my first run in the poring rain. They also take on water quickly. You can slip these on and off very easily with a high heel and pull string lacing. The inner portion of the shoes are seamless and are touted as a sockless shoe, but I won’t be trying that feature out to soon. Not sure I want to be 10 miles into a 18 miler and have my feet start blistering. So I went with my thinnest running socks and it felt like I wasn’t even wearing shoes. So, I think I found “The Three Bears” of racing shoes, just right…… not to light, not to heavy. I will however admit I doubt I can run 26.2 in them. Who knows, I’ve tried crazier things in my running. Like the time I thought about running the 50k (31 miles) around Greenlake. I may still try it, it’s in March.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My first blog.......... start with the beginning

Ok, so my first blog…… not even sure where to begin. I wish I were better at writing.
I feel as though the last 3 years I’ve morphed myself into what I want to be, strong, confident, and healthy. I had a few ups and downs, but running has kept me focused and given me the confidence I needed to stay the course and believe in ME. Especially when I lost my job in 2007.

This used to be me.....

My journey towards running a marathon started Dec. 23rd 2005 losing the 40 pounds in the 4 months. It was triggered by having a girlfriend of 6 years walk out on me and our house. I hit the gym for a solid 4 months, every single day riding the bike and eating better. In April of 2006 I found myself in California with no way to workout for a week, so I thought since my legs were in good shape from riding the bike at the gym, I could start running for the first time in 21 years? Yeah, good luck idiot…... So I ran 1.25 miles and thought I was going to DIE and my back and torso said HELL no. By June (2-1/2 months), I had already worked myself up to running 13.1 miles 2 times. So I signed up for the earliest race I could find. The Seafair Bellevue 1/2 Marathon. It was so much fun. I know that sounds odd, but compared to just running 13.1 miles, this was so cool with people cheering you on the WHOLE way. I even saw people on their lawns in their PJ's clapping as they drank their coffee. It was damn near spiritual for me, running while thinking of all the hard work I put in and the emotional pain I went through to come out ahead and then to lose the weight and get back to the shape I was in 21 years ago.

Next up, can I double that mileage?

My lifelong friend and next-door neighbor Craig had a brother always run the Seattle Marathon. Me and Craig got into running when we were 14-15. We did pretty good actually, I ran a 4:50 mile that year and Craig went onto place in the top 25 two years in a row in high school state cross country in Washington and post a 3:48 1500 in college. Since those days I always wished I could run like him, or run a marathon like Chuck. By the time I was 37 and weighing in at 220, the thought never crossed my mind ever again, until that day in December. Something just told me, why the hell not? I have seen people do far greater. I know people who have had illnesses and been through far worse than what it was going to take me.
As stated, in July I ran my first organized race, a 1/2 marathon and kinda impressed myself. At this point I was down to 165 pounds from my chubby 220. I came across with a 1:43:37. (7:55 pace). Then in September I ran a 1:40:50 (7:40 pace) in a very warm summer race that left me spent and almost walking across the line. At this point I wondered if I could really run a full 26.2 miles. Maybe if I just slowed down? So I trained another 3 months and increased my miles and fought many days of hip pain. I had worked up to great shape, yet my body kept warning me, YOU ARE 38!!!So I'm one week away from my race and I pull my hamstring. Nice, I worry more than most people do about nothing, and this had me worked up so tight I thought I might break. I had to STOP running the week of the race. Then on Friday I couldn't stand it and went for a 6 mile run. I was a wreck, checking weather forecasts every day, buying new running clothes, trying them out..... Then it was the night before, and I couldn’t sleep for the life of me. Me and Karla woke up to SNOW!!! By the time I got to Seattle it was light rain/slush but 36 degrees. Tons of roads were blocked and we arrived about 1/2 an hour before the race started. And in normal Bradley fashion, I hopped out of the car 2 blocks before the start line and parking so I ASSURED I would not be stuck in traffic while I needed to use the restroom before the race. It turned out just fine and I had just enough time to stretch, go for a jog. It snuck up on me like you wouldn't believe. There I was, in what seamed like days, when it was really EXACTLY 11 months as the race was on the 26th, same day of the month I started working out after the breakup. Plus, the race was 26.2 miles. It wouldn't have surprised me to see #26 pop up in my race time. Well the race didn't start well for me because I am so Virgo, I forgot to hit the start button on my watch (I hit the stop button) until 4:00 into the race so now I'd have to think more, and add 4:00 every time I look at my watch. Sounds like no big deal, but when you have been running for almost 4 hours..... The weather was actually no big deal. Miles 15 - 23 it stopped raining for me. :-) It was kinda crazy running nearly the whole length of downtown Seattle on 5th with NO cars and the streets to yourself, no waiting for lights and dodging cars. One full mile was in the I-90 tunnel so I removed my cap to cool off as there was no rain and no cross wind. The views were great, but yah know, I really had no time to take it all in, I just kept chasing down that 3:45:00 pace group every time I took a pee break or walked through water stations to make damn sure I got enough water and got gel in my mouth not on my gloves or face. I hate running with sticky face :-)
I did also get to see many parts of the city I never see, like Seward Park. Speaking of, why do people try and talk to you? I know it's a social event of sorts, but I got my ipod on and you can plainly see that I am in a zone. In Seward park, (miles 12-14) I was bugged by this lady. I was nice and talked for a second, but when she asked what I did for a living I drew the line and put my headphones back in and took off. In the park I hit my split time of 1:51. That reminds me of another complaint, sorry..... Why are the chips these harsh material that they have you put on your leg??? I'm running for 4 hours here people, have you heard of chaffing? I velcro’d mine to my gloves and reached down and put my hand on the ground to hit the timing mat. But that backfired on me at mile 24 when I realized I didn't want do that at the finish, so I had to fiddle with it sticking to my gloves while putting it BACK on my leg. And wouldn't you know it, it made my leg sore in just the last mile!!! So I felt great the whole race, 5 hours of sleep and all.... I for some reason lost the 3:45:00 pace group every potty break, and at mile 15 I was about 2 blocks behind her, which was fine with me. Now the hard part came, at mile 20 (20 was my longest training run ever and the longest of my life). Mile 20-21 was straight up hill, and I mean 7% grade!!! I felt like I was walking. This is also when my legs said goodbye. No carbs or electrolites could save me or be consumed fast enough, nothing I could consume would make that pain go away, it's just a fact of running for 3 hours when you’ve only been running 7 months.This is when doubt sets in, believe me, I had ALL the confidence in the world, there is now way in hell I am not finishing this thing. But the problem is I WOULD NOT walk, no way, not me (It's called “RUNNING” a marathon). It just got worse and worse. I had my inspiring music, I had all my new running friends, my family, co-workers, my thoughts of my recently passed away father helping me, everything I could think of to channel some energy. Problem was I didn't need energy, I didn't need inspiration, inspiration got me to where I was that very day, what I needed was this pain to go away and it wasn't going to go away with inspiring thoughts. I just had to keep my legs moving, I have NO clue how that happened. All I know is I would have felt like a failure to walk. It's the most emotionally draining thing I have ever done combined with the most physically draining thing I could possibly think of. My friend Craig was gonna try and run the 1/2 marathon and then bike to E Madison to cheer me on along with my family. Well I never saw them cause Craig was wet and cold and went straight home, and I don't blame him, I did the same thing when I was done. You get instantly cold when you stop heating your body by running. My family had decided to meet me at the finish but got stuck in traffic. I didn't know of course and I was actually kinda upset at the time, maybe that gave me a push. Mile 25 was a tiny downhill, but stopping yourself from going to fast or falling on the wet pavement just increased the pain in my quads to the point I wasn't sure I'd make it one more mile. Then to my right I see a co-worker yell my name, OMG I thought, that's Alex, how cool was that, never even told me he was gonna come see the race. Really helped me out. Me and him aren’t the best of friends at work, but just seeing anyone helped. Mile 26 I saw a lady on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance. Turns out this was a car accident, cause she was gawking at runners and not DRIVING. Also turned out to be the reason my family was stuck on I-5 and late for my finish. BUT, they did actually see me (my bright orange gloves) from the freeway when we ran down by REI, I just couldn't see THEM. That was mile 24 and it took me about 18 minutes to finish, and it took them 25 minutes to get through traffic and get onto the football field for the finish. It was surreal running into the stadium, I felt like I was in some odd dream, the guy that my friend USED to always poke in the fat tummy, running a marathon!!!!??? I was in a slight daze as I panned the people for anyone I knew and hopefully Karla. I saw nobody, there were just way to many people. I kinda roamed around until she tracked me down. My brother called just after that and they were making their way down to the finish. I "darted" into the recovery area and filled my bag with food and drinks and "rushed" back out to see my mom. Well of course my "speedy" trip just made my leg cramp up RIGHT as my mom walked up, while trying to put on my dry pants without unzipping the pants first made my calf cramp and I tumbled to the ground. As I looked up to laugh at myself I see some guy taking pictures of what agony must be like, I found it rude at first, then laughed as it was my brothers partner Darian. To funny, can't wait to see THAT pic. Of course as I leaned up to help Karla push out my cramp, my abs cramped up as well. Time to get this kid home. That we did, just in time, as driving home on I-5 it was then POURING rain.This was the greatest year I can recall in my life, and I plan on making the rest of them just as memorable. I just can't believe I waited 37 years to finally understand what my mom told me when I was a kid....."Can't died in a cornfield"