Saturday, December 12, 2009

2009 Cheese & Sauerkraut 10 miler

After a poor night of sleep and too much sugar for dinner, I ran the Cheese & Sauerkraut 10 miler. Closest predictor of this race wins the cheese and worst the kraut. I wasn't sure what to guess for my time. I ran a 6:46 pace for the 10K at the Pie Run which is flat like this course, but this was 4 miles further so I figured I would be slower. Also, I have not been that fast lately so was thinking about 7 min pace. I was pretty sure I could run at least 7:30 pace. Since I couldn't decide I picked 1 hr 12 min 30 seconds which is right in between.

I lined up in the back since I didn't want to start out too fast. We weren't allowed to wear our watches so I kept my GPS in my shorts pocket so I could get my splits later. It is interesting not wearing a GPS since I don't really know for sure the pace. I started with Joe C. and Stephen B. They thought 7:20, but I thought maybe it was a little faster. After the turnaround on the first loop (less than 2 miles back to start of 1st loop), I picked up pace and went ahead and passed a few people including Terry H. who picked the same finishing time as me.

I was afraid to push too hard. Overall I felt pretty good, but didn't feel like I should push all the way yet since I am not 100% healed. I caught up to Steve S-F and passed him and then Nancy T. On the way to turn around go to see Pat H. and Ryan H. who were the first runners. I was in 9th behind Tom & Phil. It felt good to be behind them since I knew I was running pretty well if I wasn't far behind them. They were too far ahead and fast to catch. I finished 1:06:59 so beat my prediction and was not close. I am happy with the result though since pace was faster than the 10K on Thanksgiving. No PR though today although second half was very close to my pace last year. Missed PR by 2:09. Enjoyed the run and didn't feel like I really raced it that hard. Placed 9th of 47. After finishing I entered the race results in the spreadsheet for Linda as they came in.

M1 - 7:10
M2 - 6:51
M3 - 6:53
M4 - 6:41
M5 - 6:28 - 34:08 first 5 miles, 6:50 avg pace
M6 - 6:37
M7 - 6:18
M8 - 6:31
M9 - 6:35
M10 - 6:37
.05 - 0:16 - 32:51 second 5 miles, 6:34 pace
Overall Pace: 6:40

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Protruding Disc - McKenzie Exercises - Healing Update

Almost 5 weeks ago, I posted about my protruding/bulging disc. See Health Note - Protruding Disc - McKenzie Exercises. Since that time, I've noticed every time I check search terms that bring people to my blog on a daily basis, they are looking for protruding disc or bulging disc and running, or looking for bulging disc and McKenzie Exercises. Due to the interest, I figured I should follow up with my progress.

Since starting the exercises, I noticed a bit of improvement each day with my right leg/buttock/calf. It kept getting just a little easier to get out of bed in the morning. I stopped taking Ibuprofen about 3 weeks ago since the pain became tolerable as it lessened. I am still not always sleeping very well, but it is improving. I sleep mostly on my back with the McKenzie night pillow that goes under my lower back. That works for awhile, but at some point, I get uncomfortable which is not necessarily painful. I just can't get comfortable in any position at times.

I started running again on Halloween (my birthday), only a week after I started the exercises. I had been walking and figured I could run slow and low impact and not do any further damage. My first run was 6 miles and I kept it on a flat course. Pace was about 13 min per mile which is about 5 min slower than my non injured easy pace. The next week I was in the 11 1/2 to 12 min range and ran the Cranberry Crawl 10K at 9:29 pace on Nov 7th. Probably a bit fast but it was a race so pushed a little. After that race, runs were in the 9:30 - 10:30 range for the next week. For past 2 weeks, I have moved into the 8 - 8:30 for my road miles with the exception of the Thanksgiving Day Pie run where I decided to push a bit and surprisingly managed a 6:46 pace for a 10K.

The main issue at first with running was a lot of stiffness in the right buttock, plus numbness in the right calf and some in the hamstring. The left foot would drag a bit. I could hear it scraping the trail each step for awhile. Each day I would run, I felt better the rest of the day. On days, I did not run, I was more stiff throughout the day. Some mornings, I was so stiff and uncomfortable ached to go run since I knew I would feel better after although it was slow getting started.

What I have been doing seems to have been working for me. At first, I avoided most hills, but in the last week or so, I have been running hilly courses. Yesterday and today I resumed trail running and the hills are fine. I do have to be careful on trails not to slip or fall or jump over anything yet. For awhile, I had to be careful on the downhill, but now that is about back to normal. I've continued to have some pain running, but it is becoming less. My most recent runs have felt pretty good. For awhile, it has been the case, the runs were painful with the stiffness for the first few miles and then got better. Now, I can start a run, and am feeling closer to normal. I am saying at this point, I feel about 70% recovered.

As for McKenzie exercises, I spend a lot of time lying on my stomach doing Exercise 3 - Extension in Lying. I can read in this position or use my laptop. At some point, the lower back starts to feel a bit stiff but when I get up, I feel really good. I have progressed to the last Exercise, #7 - Flexion in Standing where I am supposed to bend over and attempt to reach my toes. I have a long way to go with this one. It is still painful to try the one leg hamstring stretch exercise with the right leg. I've noticed though I am starting to feel a bit looser which is making running more enjoyable. Another measure of my progress, I kept noticing how much easier it was to get up off the floor after doing the exercises. I am also getting in and out of the car more like a normal person again. Socks, shoes, and pants are not longer an ordeal to get on as I struggled for awhile.

Whenever I am sitting at work or in the car, I am using the The McKenzie Original Super Roll, Lumbar Roll pillow. I ended up buying one for work and one for the car. I also have one of the small McKenzie Early Compliance Roll for at home, but would recommended the Super Roll over it. The Super Roll is more comfortable for me. I am now to the point where I can sit comfortably for awhile without these pillows on some chairs like our bar stools and kitchen chairs. I will continue to use in the car and at work forever to help prevent back problems in the future. McKenzie's book 7 Steps to a Pain-Free Life is very informational on why so many people end up with neck and back pain. I will continue to doing a few of these exercises even after I am healed to prevent this from happening again. The Lying in Extension will be easy to do since I can do other things while doing it.

At this point, I am hoping at the rate I am progressing that within 4 more weeks I will be completely pain free. I am planning to try weight lifting again this week. I am been very apprehensive about doing so since I have been avoiding lifting anything too heavy. Whenever I have tried it didn't feel good if it was over 45 lbs. I feel I am now at the point where I can start light and go from there. I bought a book on Bikram Yoga and may try that to improve my flexibility. I have a plan to continue running and if all goes well, I will train for a 100 mile in June. I don't start the extra long runs for a couple more months so have plenty of time to build up. Although, I am already back to 50 - 60 miles per week so I am thankful I am running that kind of mileage again even if not as fast.

For anyone that has found this blog searching for McKenzie for a back related issue, I would say try the McKenzie exercises and be patient. Make sure you are doing them the amount he says. I noticed on the days I did not get all the sets done as frequently, I was more stiff. If you are not a runner, I would recommend doing a lot of walking. If you are a runner, do not run if it is a lot of pain. You do not want to end up with a herniated disc. If you are at that point, you would need to consult with your doctor before trying to run. You will likely be in so much pain that you won't be able to run anyway.

I started slow after about 2 week break from running worked for me, but everyone is different. My disc was slightly protruding and if your injury is worse, you may take longer to heal. Do consult with your doctor, but also question your doctor. If you try running, be reasonable and be very careful. In some cases, I have learned people's doctors have told them to quit running or they can't run anymore after a bulging or protruding disc. I've also found other runners that were back to running fairly quickly as has been the case with me. My doctor told me not to run for awhile, but said I would be running again at some point.

Other runners with this problem are what motivated me to try running again. As I mentioned in my previous post a runner (George) had recommended McKenzie's exercises and book. George's web site where he talks his own injury and recovery is here - How I Recovered from Back/Leg Pain.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 Thanksgiving Day Pie Run 10K

I think this run exceeded the race organizer's expectations this year. There were 493 people for the 5K Run, 5K Walk and the 10K Run (an increase of 166 over last year). By the time we arrived at 8:10 there were 2 long lines. Fortunately, the shorter long line was for those that had preregistered. The race started 25 min late. I am not sure if they just quit taking registrations or got everyone signed up. We talked to Chad while standing in line.

My goal was to try to run 45 min, close to a 7 min pace. My runs lately have been 8+ pace and a few just under 8 min. I was feeling a little stiff at the start. I line up in the front of the pack since was not sure where to be. I was passed by quite a few starting out really fast at the beginning.

Hugh ran the 5K and I passed him before the first mile so although I started out a bit conservative, I think the race helped push me. The first 5K was around 21-something which was decent. I didn't want to push too hard but I also think my body was out of shape to run too fast since I haven't run any sub-7 miles since the Truman State 5K on Oct 10th and those were close to 6 min. I was running marathon pace today so figured that was a good place to be. The wind was pretty bad on parts of the course.

Ran the second half about the same time I ended up with 42:21 on my GPS for 6.27 miles. Ten year age groups so did not win anything this year, but only 3 min 41 second slower than I ran it last year. I was 4th in my age group 40 - 49 and missed 3rd by 9 seconds. Definitely have a lot to be thankful for concerning this race since I ran well and I don't think I did any damage doing so. Running is continuing to get easier so I am hoping in another month, I will be even better. It has been over a month since I started rehabilitating myself from the bulging disc.

It was great seeing several familiar faces today and big congrats to Kathy on her 5K PR!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

2009 Cranberry Crawl 10K

I was feeling better this morning, but didn't know if that would mean I run faster or not. The plan was to finish the 10K in 1 hr 20 or less. I lined up about mid-pack and moved way over to the side since I wasn't sure if I was in the right place for whatever pace I might run. I started off pretty slow but definitely better than the 11:30 miles I have been running on the trail. I was easily passing people up the hills and this pace felt okay and was low impact. For the first 2 miles, I passed a lot of people.

At the end of the first loop, it looked like I was going to finish in under an hour so that was good to see. I passed a few more and then caught up to a girl (Emily) and she seemed to be the right pace so I stayed with her. We had a good conversation about running and ran together until the last hill where there less room on the side of the road to run. I picked up a little to stay out of the way of any cars passing and since it was a hill, I felt like I could run faster.

Overall, this was very easy for me and my butt gave me fewer problems today which I think helped with the pace. From what I can tell, it is the SI joint that is becoming inflamed and keeping me from running faster. I did hold back for this run but not sure if I can run this pace on a normal run or if it was because of the race. Hopefully, it is a sign I am getting better, but I do not plan to push the pace for quite awhile. I'd be very happy if I could run 9 min miles pain free for awhile.

I placed 3rd in my age group with a time around 58 min, about a 9:27 pace. I didn't quite get my GPS started for a few seconds at the beginning. I picked out a pair of Mizzou running socks from the table of prizes. Hugh placed 1st in his age group in the 10K.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Health Note - Protruding Disc - McKenzie Exercises

Some people have been wondering if I am injured or what is going on so here is the story. Early last month, I noticed a little pain in my right hip, sliding in and out of the car. I had no idea what was going on but it seemed pretty minor at this point.

I ran both marathons in September and recovered fine, but still noticed this slight pain in the butt. I used the foam roller on it but never got any better. First week of October, I started to have shooting pains down the back of leg to top of calf. I noticed that my right hip and butt was hurting more, but whenever I would run, I felt fine. There were even times when I felt okay walking. It was strange how it would come and go.

I called Estaban (massage therapist) and got an appointment for the 15th and wished it were sooner. I felt like a massage might work out the soreness. The pains got worse but were better when I ran. I ran a 5K on October 11th. I wasn’t sure how I would do, but once I warmed up 3 miles, I could run pretty normal but a little tight. After, I could barely stand to sit in the car and getting into the car was difficult. After awhile, I could get comfortable sitting but then getting up from a chair or out of the car, I could barely walk the first few steps. I ran Rock Bridge Revenge 25K the next day and the hamstring felt pretty tight and I could feel some twinges. I learned this was sciatic nerve pain. It especially hurt me to duck under anything just like ducking into the car. Overall, it went okay, but I was glad I wasn't running the 50K.

The 50K I was planning on the 18th in Louisiana was questionable. I ran on Oct 13th and butt hurt the entire run and hamstring and calf were so tight I was afraid I was going to pull something. It was difficult to put on socks and shoes. I went to see Esteban on Thursday and he treated me for tight hamstrings. I called my doctor and was hoping to get in Friday to see if she thought I should be running, but could not until Thursday the next week. I decided to go ahead and try running the 50K. I would not run it hard and just see what I could do. It was a flat course so should be easier since no hills. I had to get up extra early race day morning and stretch myself out and get moving so I could try running. The shower in my hotel lacked a mat and I ended up falling and hitting my head on the floor. Left a nice bump and not much blood but wondered if this was a sign I shouldn’t run. I went ahead and ran the race. I was tight nearly the entire time, but ended up having a 50K PR on a flat course and placing 2nd overall. I felt pretty good during and after the race other than I could not bend over to take off my shoes.

It seemed that as long as I kept moving, I was fine. Go to bed or sit down too long, and I had problems. I felt the same as before the race, but didn’t run and went to the doctor last Thursday. She sent right away for some flat scans and an MRI that evening. She suspected a bulging disc in L5 S1. Dan S. had sent an e-mail when he read my symptoms earlier and had suspected the same. It was all confusing to me how I could have a back problem and my back didn’t hurt, but my leg was having the problems.

I never heard the MRI result on Friday, but learned from another runner about some back extension exercises (McKenzie Exercises) that were helpful for back problems including bulging discs. I started to do these assuming that would be the diagnosis and bought the book on Sat. since it had a lot of good information on posture (which I can definitely use). I’ve continued to do the exercises and ice the back where the disc is located. I am noticing a little improvement each day so I am hopeful I can get over this. Today, I was able to tie my shoes a little easier.

Today, I received the official diagnosis and they said it is disc at L5S1 that is protruding a bit (bulging disc). The protruding disc is the same thing as a bulging disc. It can get worse, but it appears maybe I have caught it early enough. Running doesn’t cause them but doesn’t help get rid of them any faster. The bulge applies pressure to the nerves in the region which signals sensations like pain and numbness in the leg. It can also inhibit range of motion and cause pain. People can often having bulging discs and not have a problem. Sometimes things can get so bad that surgery is needed.

The doctor could do an epidural steroid injection or physical therapy. I feel with the exercises I am doing that I am improving enough to treat this on my own from this point. I am taking it easy for now and have been doing the elliptical and walking. I tried weight lifting last night and could not do it. Any runs during this recovery, will be very slow, short, and low impact until I feel like it is 100% recovered. Then I will start to rebuild my fitness.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Q50 USA – 50 K Ultramarathon - Mandeville, LA

Q50 USA – 50 K Ultramarathon. Hopefully, pictures and results on this web site soon.

I decided to run this race since I am attending a meeting at LSU in Baton Rouge this week. The race was actually in Mandeville, LA. So I flew to Baton Rouge, rented a car, and drove the 75 miles to packet pickup on Saturday. I got arrived at 5 pm and they said we were eating at 6 pm and a meeting at 7 pm. I decided to go check into my hotel about 10 minutes away and then return.

The pickup was at Franco's Athletic club. The packet had a sample of Q50 coffee and we got a nice tech shirt and a sample Hammer Gel, one of the race sponsors. Q50 is a brand of coffee and they have races in Nicaragua, Italy, and more. The one in the US was to contribute money to help fight childhood obesity in LA. There was a duathlon event on Sat. as well.

The food was setup outside by the pool but it was a bit cool so some people moved inside. I sat with a woman, Mary Anne, from Texas that was race walking the 50K and she had her son with her for support. She said she had signed up for the Rocky Racoon 100 in February that I am considering if I am able. After eating, we went inside since it was getting cold outside.

The pre-race meeting started about 7:30 and they warned us repeatedly about snakes which kind of freaked me out and also that there was some deep mud on the course. That had me wondering what might be at the bottom. The meeting was a bit long and would have preferred to be in my room but it was mandatory. After, I went to the store to find some food since I really wouldn't have time to eat breakfast when the hotel served at 6. I ran into several people at the store from the meeting.

I came back to the hotel and ate the half pound of fudge I had bought to calm my nerves. I got my stuff ready to go for the morning. I was seriously wondering if I could do this race since my right hamstring was super tight and still having a bit of what I think is sciatica. Calf was also tight. I have been barely able to bend over to put on my socks and shoes recently and had not run since Tuesday.

I woke up around 4:45 am and decided to go ahead and get up. The alarm I had thought I set was not for the right time so it was good that I woke up. I ate a shake with coffee, ate some bananas. Then I took a shower. I noticed there was no mat to place in the tub and the surface was slippery. I was thinking I need to be really careful and next thing I know I am flipped out of the tub and on my back. I think my leg was still hanging on the tub. I felt okay so got up and checked my head since it had hit the floor. I had just very slight bit of bleeding and a sore bump on the side near the back, but it wasn't bad enough to be too concerned and only hurt if I pressed on it. There was no way I was getting back in the shower so cleaned up standing on a towel beside the shower. I will never get in a tub like that again without a mat. Then I did some stretches to try to loose up the hamstrings and all the leg muscles so I could attempt to run.

I left the hotel about 6 am and there was no one around to complain about the tub. There was a note they would return shortly so I just left for the race which started at 7. It was about a 15 min drive, but took a little longer since I missed the turn the first time. I got there and rushed to the bathroom for one last time. Then talked to a few people and they thought the threat of snakes was not great. There is one that is poisonous, but since it was around 48F, it wasn't likely they would be out for awhile. I was less worried but still would be careful. I had decided last night I would just run this race to finish and wasn't going to go all out. With the tight hamstring, it didn't seem like a good idea since I could pull something.

Before we started, we were warned again about the snakes. They had seen one setting up the course, but most people didn't seem worried. We started around 7:15 am. There was also a 2 leg 50K relay and 10Kers starting at the same time. The beginning was on grass and it felt good to run but immediately my quad felt tight, but not as bad as Tuesday since I had stretched. I caught up to a group of guys that said they were doing their first 50K. They normally did adventure races together. I went ahead and caught up to a couple women doing the 10K. They were commenting about the the tree roots and to watch out but it really wasn't that bad.

I ran ahead and then eventually had another 50K guy running right behind me until about mile 9 when we hit the paved trail portion of the course and he fell behind. At this section I was really having the urge to pee and we were no longer in the woods so I was looking for options. I was getting close to peeing in my shorts since I had to go so badly. When I turned onto the paved path by the lake, I guess with all the water I could no longer stand it. There weren't a lot of trees but I was looking for a big one to quickly and discreetly use. This was along a street and there were people playing with dogs along the lake. I finally found the right spot and no cars. I felt kind of bad to publicly urinate, but this was just one of those times where I was out of options and I didn't want to wet myself.

Shortly after, I am at mile 11 and a guy at the aid station says this is my turnaround. I didn't even realize there was a turn around. I decide to fill my bottle a little even though I had some Accelerade left. There were aid stations about every 4 miles but I didn't take anything since I had plenty of Acclerade and also Accel Gels. Also, they were serving Heed, which isn't my favorite drink. After turning around I saw several people running at me and they asked me, “is there a turn around?” One guy nearly stopped and asked if I was quitting. I guess they didn't realize there was a turn around and didn't notice anyone ahead of me to ask. I ran back on the paved trail and then made another turn toward the start to complete the first “loop”.

Someone had told me at some point I was in 4th but I am not sure if they counted relay people or not and figured I was actually further behind since I wasn't pushing it. The different racers were wearing different colors but I didn't know who might be ahead of me from the beginning. I didn't think I was doing that well considering this was a flat course. There were no hills, but there was some mud and big puddles to go through and a few places that turned a lot slowed me down. I picked up my second bottle of Accelerade and left for the second loop immediately. I think my time was around 2:07 so figured I had a good chance at breaking 4.5 hours. My PR for a 50K is 4:59 on hillier, more trail-like courses.

I had a problem finding exactly where we went into the woods at the start of this “loop” since they didn't have any flags in between where we started and the woods off in the distance. I couldn't see the flag that was that far away and no one to follow. Someone had to run over and help me out and so I got a little extra distance due to the back tracking. I felt like an idiot. Otherwise, I didn't have any problems, but did need to keep looking ahead for the orange flags since there plenty of wrong trails to take. There were aid stations about every 4 miles but I didn't take anything since I had plenty of Acclerade and also Accel Gels. Also, they were serving Heed, which isn't my favorite drink.

I follow the same course as the first 25K and see Mary Anne at the point she was less than 2 miles from the finish. Once I reach the lake some girls say how well I am doing and that I can catch the guy ahead of me. I see him on the way to the turn around and figure he is about 0.25 mile ahead. Then at the turn around I ask the guy at the aid station my place and he says I am second and probably had a chance of catching the guy. I was excited to be in second place so I immediately pick up the pace. I see a relay runner coming toward me. A half mile or so later he flies past me and says he is running the relay.

I wasn't sure I could see the guy ahead of me and I find out later he sees the relay runner coming behind him. He said he also saw me before and so he picked up the pace too. I only picked it up for about a mile and then resumed the 8-something pace. The stretch where we run to the last turn before getting back the woods which was grass and mud which slowed me down more than on the first time. I think we were running between power lines right of way here.. This part of the course had some of the worst huge puddles that could not be gone around. I really slowed on this part. Also, it smelled like pigs and someone said later there were wild pigs nearby. I had given up on catching the guy ahead, no one was close behind, and I was thankful to soon be finishing.

I reached the finish at 4:17:50 so ran the second half a bit slower. If I hadn't wasted the time starting the second loop almost getting lost I would have been a bit faster, but not sure if fast enough to beat the guy in first. He finished around 2 minutes ahead of me. Overall, I ran pretty even. My 50K PR improved 31 minutes and GPS had 31.1 miles so the course would have been almost exact if I had not added a little extra. I heard several people made wrong turns and one guy doing the 50K that was in first went the wrong way and ran 7 extra miles. He got back on track but decided to stop at the first loop. Someone said they don't have a lot of trail races here so I got the impression that could have been part of the problem.

They had massages so I went with the first place relay guy, Matt, to go wash off in the lake. He had run with his wife and he was a super fast 2:33 marathoner so no wonder if flew past me. We got to the beach and I told him I didn't think I could remove my shoes. Every time I went to bend my leg, it felt like it might spasm and they were tight. It has been a challenge at any time lately to get on my shoes and socks due to the tightness. They had loosened up just at around mile 22, but were tight the entire race. People that saw me on the course said I looked good running so I guess they were just loose enough to let me run. So he unties and loosens my shoes so I can remove them. I managed to pull my socks off with my feet. Then we get into this shallow lake. It was a huge lake, but seemed to stay shallow for a long time. It went up to my calves and I was able to bend a bit to wash off. Then I went back and washed my shoes off. They smelled like a pig lot.

The massage lady is free when I get back. She worked on my good leg first and then my other leg. She was very good and it was quite painful. Legs were definitely looser when she finished with me. I then went to get some food. We had pork and jambalya. There was an actual entire pig with the head, and it had an apple in its mouth. It was a bit disconcerting to me, but to someone that rarely eats pork it tasted pretty good. I was able to sit down and eat my food and noticed that I didn't have any issues sitting like I have been.

So we all wait around and wonder if there is an awards ceremony. They had given us medals at the finish. I got tired of waiting, so was packing up to leave and the guy who was first says they are going to do awards in 10 min or around 3:30 so we had been waiting awhile. 20 minutes go by and the race director says they typically wait until everyone is finished at these races. The time limit was 8 hours so we would have been waiting a long time and had waited a long time. He went ahead and did the awards. I received a nice curved clear plaque. They awarded the top 3 overall male and female and top 3 relays. They also gave each of us a bottle of Hammergel.

Finally, I can leave and I have a message from Hugh. He had called just minutes before and I missed the call. So I call him and while I am on the phone the last 2 runners come in. One of them is Mary Anne and she is race walking. So I go back to congratulate her and then leave for Baton Rouge. I sat in the car and the drive wasn't too painful. I decided to skip New Orleans since it was getting late. Also, driving was a bit uncomfortable but not bad. It is really strange to me how running the 50K made me feel better but not sure it will continue. I am doing better and but don't know if it will continue. I am still pretty inflexible but moving around seems to help. Unfortunately, I need to sleep so can't keep moving all the time.

I was able to walk this morning and other than soreness, my legs aren't any worse off than before the race. I think the sciatica is a little better but sitting too long and getting up is still an issue. Hopefully, will have a few pictures to post from the race later.

Monday, October 12, 2009

2009 Rock Bridge Revenge

If you are looking for results and pictures see: Rock Bridge Revenge Results

This year the Rock Bridge Revenge was a new experience. In the past the race included a 10K and a 20K with most people running the 10K. This year which included a new course offered a 7 mile, 25K, and a 50K with most people running the 7 mile. I ran the 25K and would recommend anyone running this race to try to run at least the 25K since you get to see a lot more of the park. If you want extra Revenge and to see everything 2 times, then run the 50K.

On Saturday, I ran a 5K in Kirksville and even though I raced pretty hard, I was not concerned about running the 25K the next day since I have done a few multi-day races that were much longer. We had a late dinner at Fazoli's and then went home and got some much needed sleep since it had been a long day. The race started at 8 am. We left at 7 am and Hugh went with me. I had to pick up my packet since I had not done so the day before. Everyone received a Nathan Quickdraw Plus water bottle, a very nice premium for a race.

My sciatic nerve was letting me know its presence and I was limping a bit when walking due to the pain. I ran just a little before the race and could feel it, but not a big deal and no limping when running. The temp was in the upper 30s so I just wore 2 wicking shirts and shorts which felt about right. I carried one Nathan water bottle with Accelerade and 2 gels. Due to the temp and already being well-hydrated I hoped that would be enough although there were aid stations if I needed to refill. At 8 am after receiving pre-race instructions, we all lined up in the parking lot. We had a few yards to spread out before heading into the woods.

I passed a few people at the beginning before settling into a pace. I am never quite sure of my pace since my GPS seems to be a little slower on the trails than I think I am actually running. My first mile was 8:54 and I was hoping to be around 9 min average on this course. Most 50Ks on similar trails have been about 9:40/mi. This was my first 25K so 9 min miles was my best guess. Also, wasn't looking at pushing a super hard effort since I am running a 50K next Sunday.

I passed Kevin T. early in the race in the first half mile. After a about 2 miles, I hear him catching me and then let him go ahead. I figure he is running about the pace I need to be running so I planned to stay behind him. He was running the 7 mile so I would stay behind him until the courses separated at about 5 miles. We had to cross the usual cold creek and get our shoes wet. My shoes did dry out some and had no problems since I had applied Sports Stick to my feet. I was surprised that the trails were in such good shape since we had 6 inches of rain last week. As we were coming out of the woods, Dan H. was taking pictures by the Devil's Ice Box parking lot.

At this point, I crossed the road and run a small 2 mile loop that includes some grassland as well as trail. As I was coming out of this loop, I seen another runner just starting the loop. Kathy and Mary Ellen were directing and cheering for runners in this area. After that loop, I then ran a loop in the Gans Creek Nature area for 6 miles. The trails were very well marked with pink flags and signs in a few places. It was very obvious where to go so I had no problems staying on course. Around mile 8, I stop to get rid of some water since didn't think I could make it 7 more miles. I wasn't drinking much and didn't feel that warm either.

At mile 9, I got to see Hugh and Jeff at the campground which also had an aid station. I still had plenty of Accelerade so did not stop. There was an area shortly after that the trail was flooded with water. A path had been flagged to go around, but I decided to just run through it. It actually felt good and washed the mud off my shoes and legs. I took my final gel before mile 11 (had taken one earlier about mile 6). At mile 11 as I am climbing the steep hill, I see Jeff again. I opted to walk up the hill since it doesn't do much good to run this one. It is only about 0.1 mi long but it is quite a climb in a short distance. This course had plenty of other hills and I did run every one of those.

As I was coming out of the hill, I turned right and was back on the same trail I took going into this loop. I met a couple runners walking on this portion. I was still feeling pretty good and going fast as the last part of this loop went downhill where I had gone uphill in the beginning of the loop. I was back to where Kathy was directing people and Hugh and Dan were there (he took yet another picture). I ran back across the road and I knew I didn't have much more than 2 miles to go. Mile 14 felt pretty good and James was at an aid station somewhere on this mile. Then about mile 15 which had a couple hills, I was really ready to be done. Although I felt strong, I was glad I was only running 1 loop.

The final stretch was up the hill that we had come down into the park at the very beginning. Ended up finishing in 2:22:23, a 9:10 pace. GPS was very close to a 25K and my GPS is usually a little short on the trails. At the end we got a very nice finisher's glass. There was also chili, hot dogs, brownies, and drinks. The food was excellent!

The first female in the 25K finished about 4 min behind me and Kurt K. was 9 min behind me. Overall, I placed 4th out of 16 runners. There were 42 finishers for the 7 mile and 11 for the 50K. Also, cash prizes for the 25K and 50K male and female winners.

Overall, I thought it went pretty well. I did feel my sciatic nerve for most of this run. The times I sped up to about 7:30 or faster, I did not feel it so I guess I just need to run fast. Also, I think the unevenness of the trail might have been an issue. Just like after Sat. run, it was very painful to sit in the car and then get up, but a hard bench was fine. We stayed around until the first couple 50Kers crossed the finish. The first 50K runner was Andy P. at 4:48 and the first 25K was 1:50. I would really like to run the 50K for this race next time since I enjoy this course so much. The course is so awesome, if you are in shape to run that far, 2 times is a must! If not, the one loop which is just a little over 3 miles longer than a half marathon is well worth the scenery.

Here are my splits:

m1 - 8:54
m2 - 8:58
m3 - 8:07
m4 - 9:01
m5 - 8:28
m6 - 8:32
m7 - 8:29
m8 - 9:43
m9 - 9:52
m10 - 8:20
m11 - 10:17
m12 - 10:36
m13 - 10:19
m14 - 8:43
m15 - 11:10
0.32 - 3:02 (9:28 pace)
Map and Elevation Profile

Very cool Nathan Quickdraw Plus Water Bottle and Finisher's Glass

Lisa running the check-in
Bryan & Andy

Race Director, Jeff giving starting us off

Andy at about 5 miles
Andy at about 12.5 miles

Hugh being photogenic

Kurt, Lisa, Andy, & Elaine
Andy P. after winning the 50K

Rock Bridge Revenge had its revenge on Tony with 10 stitches!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

2009 Truman State Homecoming 5K

We arrived at packet pickup shortly after 7 am. Temperature was quite cold today at about 34F. I wanted to arrive early this year since my sciatic nerve really flares up after sitting and especially in the car or in a soft chair. I find if I walk around, the pain goes away so I wanted plenty of time. I had not run since Wed. so had no idea if I could still run, but assumed I would be okay.

We ran the course as a warm-up and it felt pretty good. I had just a slight twinge during the run. The warm-up reminded me this is a challenge course with some hills figured 19:30 would be a reasonable goal on this course and I had never really had a good race here. A couple years ago I ran a 20:10.

Hugh and I lined up in front and when we took off, a bunch of guys were way out in front. I remembered this was the case a couple years ago so kept my pace under control and waited patiently. About 0.7 miles, I pass about 10 or so of them huffing and puffing. First mile split was 5:57. I was very happy to see I had some speed today. I passed another guy shortly after first mile.

About the halfway point, I passed another guy that I had been catching up to. He attempted to stay with me but couldn't do it so I ended up putting a lot of distance between us quickly. The second mile was 6:10. I expected the second to be slower since it had the most hills in the course. I was very happy though with 6:10 since expected I would be much slower.

I still felt strong for the 3rd mile and tried picking up the pace but still some hills. I was catching up to another guy in the last 0.3 mi, but didn't quite reach him. I finished the last mile in 6:04 and the last 0.1 in 33 sec. I had a lot left in me and felt good. I never had any sciatic pain during the run.

Overall I finished 4th of 133, but 2nd of 13 in my age group of 35 - 44. The guy that beat me by 10 seconds was in my age group. I also had never gone under 19 minutes on this course so I am very happy with my time. Hugh finished 23rd overall and 2nd in the 45 - 54 group so we both ended up with silver medals today.

m1 - 5:57
m2 - 6:10
m3 - 6:04
0.1 - 0:33 (5:27)

We noticed a couple guys running in the Vibram Forefingers today which reminded me I would like to try running in mine again. Overall, this was a good race. The course is always well marked and the distance seems pretty accurate too. After the race, we went to move the car and it was quite painful sitting in the for just the few minutes. I did feel like I am noticing some improvement today. Since it is a irritated nerve, it seems to change so much though I don't know sometimes if it is getting better or worse. I think better though. If it is all better by Thursday I will cancel the painful massage session with Esteban.

Race Results

Sunday, October 04, 2009

2009 MU Dog Jog

Hugh and I ran the MU Dog Jog this morning. I don't really consider this a race. I ran with Bruno and Hugh with Rusty. I was impressed with Bruno's splits today. The first mile at 5:50 is the same as I normally run in a 5K. He slowed a bit the second mile. Course was a bit confusing as we were running into the walkers as we ran back across college. I passed the lead guy with a dog back and forth. Then got slowed down by some people in the way coming at us. Almost missed the ramp to go back over the road too. This was supposed to be a 5K so I assumed had some course left but it came up way short at 2.5 miles. I was barely beaten by a guy with a dog and one without by just a few seconds. I was really expecting them to tell us to keep going but that was the end! Both dogs enjoyed the run. I was disappointed to see the course was so far off.

I impressed how calm they were at the beginning. I picked up packets early and then we went back with the dogs. We would have had less than 10 min to wait, but not sure the problem since we didn't start until 8:20 am. They had a raffle and we didn't win a thing! Also, got nothing for second place with dog. They gave something to the first 2 overall men and women whether or not they ran with a dog. The second place male didn't have a dog so I was 3rd overall. We were all very close though. The guy that won ran with an Australian Shepherd.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

2009 Roots n' Blues Half Marathon

For those looking for results, see 2009 Roots 'n Blues Results

This event was convenient since I got to run a half marathon and less than 10 min drive to the start. It was lightly raining this morning and temp around 59. Hugh and I took separate vehicles since he was volunteering and we didn't know if he would need a car. He worked at the tunnel near the Stadium so ended up walking. I headed to the porta potties and there were plenty of them due to the Roots 'n Blues festival. Very nice that I didn't have to wait. Then went out for a warm-up and it started raining a little harder.

I lined up in the front in front of the 1:30 pacers, Tom and Jackie. My goals was to run about 1:27, assuming the course would be accurate since this was a new course so did not know. The course was quite hilly in the second half so did not expect to break any PRs today. Started off pretty fast and had to watch my pace. Once we spread out I passed one guy during the first mile. It had felt like I started more for a 10K than a half, but first mile was not too bad at 6:28. Any miles under 6:30 were a bonus since my fastest half pace is 6:30 in Sedalia, a much flatter course.

I skipped the first water station since I had ran just over a mile. I was passed by a guy flying down the steep hill to Providence. The roads were wet today and slippery so I was glad I decided not to wear the racing flats. After Providence, we got on the trail at the tennis courts at around mile 3. Pace felt good on the trail and kept the pace sub-6:30. I passed the guy that had passed me earlier flying down the hill. Took my first gel at about 30 minutes. Several of the Uprise runners cheered me on as I ran to Twin Lakes. The timing was perfect.

The halfway point was just as we turned onto Chapel Hill to go up a significant hill before turning onto Fairview. Split was around 42:15 at 6.57. The mile that included the hill was not too bad at 6:42, and then 6:48. After I got back on track with 6:30 pace with some up and down. Saw Phil on the course and he thought I was in about 6th place and Stephen B. was ahead. The course went onto Fairview and down the hill we had went up earlier. I got to see a lot of runners on this part of the course for about a half mile. Then up Chapel Hill to Mills Dr. This seemed like the worst hill for me and this mile was 7:03. I did seem to recover quickly after the hills.

The course then crossed Forum to go down Stadium and back to the trail. I had been slowly gaining on Stephen and could see another guy ahead of him. With only 2 miles to go and no more hills, I was ready to pick up the pace. We crossed under the trail on Stadium Blvd. I wasn't sure if we were going over or under but Stephen went under so I followed. The water was about ankle deep. Shoes were already wet but now they were thoroughly soaked. At this point it had nearly stopped raining. Shortly after mile 12 which I ran 6:14, I passed Stephen. I still could see the other guy ahead. I kept the pace going. I was running past a lot of the 10K runners so it was getting kind of crowded at this point. Ran the last mile in 6:20. I probably could have run faster since this didn't hurt at all. Half marathons are supposed to be more painful than this due to the faster pace so it was nice to feel good.

At this point, I knew the course was probably a little long since we weren't close to the finish. They had us cross over the road on Providence rather than use the tunnels due to the water. I couldn't quite catch the guy ahead of me before the finish. My GPS had 13.38 miles, 1:27:10 which was close to my goal even with the bonus distance. I was given a finishing glass at the end which I was a little worried I would drop since I was wet so I gave to Hugh. Soon, we see someone had dropped their glass. Bags might have been a good idea.

Hugh gave me a dry shirt and then we walked back to the car and I changed out of all my wet clothes. We went back to the finish, and checked the results several times and ate some food. The result postings were kind of amusing. They would post sheets and then post the same sheets with updates. The first sheet had my time at 1:27:15 and Stephen at 1:06-something. The guy ahead of me was at 1:27:14. I know Stephen started at the front so couldn't have been that much of a difference in chip time. Earlier I heard them call his name to report so figured there was an issue. Next results had him at 1:27-something. Later I checked and I was at 1:27:13 (2 seconds faster) and 9th place, guy ahead of me at 1:27:08, and Stephen at 1:26:55. Also, the overall winner of the half had changed. Then the results they posted on the web site changed yet again and were 1:27:05 for me and now 7th place and Stephen got faster too at 1:26:49. Since the improvements were not equal for everyone, it all seems kind of random.

There were also some issues with getting some of the 10Kers mixed in with the half results. I am not sure how this happens, but I am sure they were doing their best. I am a bit perplexed how my overall time changed at least 4 times. I do think all the possibilities were close, but I am going with my GPS of 1:27:10 as my official record. I placed 1st of 22 in my age group. Awards were wine or grape juice and a hat. I took a bottle of Les Bourgeouis grape rather than wine. The winners for each age group posed together for pictures. Also, they kept repeating some of the results since they kept changing and some of these people had to go back on stage and different people had to go up in some cases. Even the overall male winner was incorrect the first time. I guess a good thing they weren't giving out plaques today. That would have been a big mess! I do know my age group result is correct. Overall, I think I placed 6th of 653 rather than 7th. Either way, not bad for hilly half marathon and 6:31 pace for 13.38 miles.

There were 653 running the half and 306 running the 10K so they had a good turnout holding this in conjunction with the Roots and Blues festival. Overall a fun race, a few bands along the course, great spectators and volunteers that came out in the rain.

m1 - 6:28
m2 - 6:22
m3 - 6:33
m4 - 6:25
m5 - 6:21
m6 - 6:26
m7 - 6:41
m8 - 6:49
m9 - 6:31
m10 - 6:31
m11 - 7:03
m12 - 6:14
m13 - 6:20
0.38 - 2:25 (6:25 pace)

Overall: 1:27:10 - 6:31 pace

Saturday, September 19, 2009

2009 Heart for Africa 5K

This was the third time I’ve run this race. It is organized by the Long Run Lunatics that I run most of my long runs with on Saturdays. The race benefits orphaned children in Burkina Faso, a tiny country in western Africa, considered to be one of the poorest in the world. Some of the proceeds also go to local African refugees. I picked up our race packets on Friday so we didn’t have to pick up race morning. Packets contained candy and one had an umbrella and the other a water bottle.

I had planned to go run the course ahead of time, but instead we decided to run a mile with the dogs first. By the time we got to the race there was only time for me to run another mile and I also quickly used the bathroom at Hardees at the beginning of my mile. Temperature was perfect and I think around 60F when we lined up on the start. This was around 15F cooler than last year. I felt good, but figured coming off 2 marathons (Sept 7 & 13) in 1 week, today was not the day to set a PR. I did hope to at least set a course PR and run faster than 18:43.

There were about 5 of us that took off in the front group and I did not hold back as we were running downhill at the beginning. I was running close to a guy wearing a San Diego half marathon shirt. I noticed him before the race and thought he looked fit and fast. I also thought he might be in my age group and possibly older. Once we got to Stewart Road, I was running a 5:49 pace and the rest of this group was pulling ahead. I decided my pace was fast enough and let them go. This pace was faster than any I have ever tried to maintain in a 5K. The course goes up about 100 ft elevation in the first mile. However, I didn't feel like this hill was any problem for me.

The second mile is a little rolling and not bad. I decide I will try to maintain a 5:49 pace and see what happens. Just before mile 2, the elevation drops drastically, about 300 ft, and I am seeing 5:30-something. Mile 2 is just as I turn to go on the trail and split was 5:49.

Third mile is on the trail and I am hoping I can maintain the sub-6 pace. I could no longer see any runners ahead of me at this point. The trail just slightly increases in elevation the last mile. My pace slows and GPS is a bit erratic so I am not sure exactly the pace. I did feel like I was slowing though. A guy passes me about half mile from the end and I decide not to try to stay with him. I am really ready for the race to be done. Then I heard breathing behind me, and sounds like a girl. I pick up the pace just a little.

There is a series of tunnels near the end and I can hear her right behind me. This is not where I enjoy being passed in a race by anyone. We go up a small incline and then flattens out and we are near the end. I hear her footsteps pick up the pace so I see if I have anything left. I sprint all out and hear her coming faster for me so run harder and make the finish line. She finishes one second behind me.

The last mile split was 6:17 and the last 0.1 was 5:23 pace. Overall time 18:23, a 20 second course PR, and an 8 second 5K PR. Thanks to the girl behind me, I somehow managed to get a PR even with my disappointing slower last mile. I feel I could have pushed harder, but just didn't want to make it hurt that much and maybe wasn't focused enough. The PR was still a nice surprise and I placed 5th overall of 98.

Hugh had said he wanted to run 22:30. He crossed the finish line exactly 22:30 and 12th overall. We both ended up with second in our age groups. The guy from San Diego was 42 and in my age group. There was a drawing for prizes at the end. I won a Dunn Bros. coffee gift bag with a stainless steel travel mug, ceramic mug, coffee, some truffles, and biscotti.

m1 - 5:49
m2 - 5:49
m3 - 6:17
0.09 - 0:29 (5:23 pace)

18:23 overall

Race Results

Andy (2nd in 40 - 44)
Hugh (2nd in 50 - 54)
Andy (one of the lucky door prize winners)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2009 Lewis and Clark Marathon - St Charles, MO

This marathon was a new challenge for me since this is the first time I have attempted 2 in 1 week, 6 days apart. I left Columbia on Saturday afternoon to head to packet pickup at Fleetfeet in St. Peters. Took a brief survey on leg pain while there and will be e-mailed followup surveys. I then headed to hotel to check in. The hotel was half mile from the start line on the east side of the river. Around 4 pm, I went down to St. Charles near the finish on the west side of the river for dinner with some running friends from out of town. We ate at the Trailside Brewing Co. and then went back to Jan's hotel where we had her yummy cheesecake. She made and transported all the way driving from Mississippi. Laurie and her daughter Tess were at the same hotel as me so I drove them back. I set alarm for 5 am and went to sleep at 10.

I woke up at 4 and didn't really sleep the last hour. I had a Myoplex with coffee in it and 2 bananas. I had plenty of time to get ready, take my pre-race shower and use the restroom multiple times. I headed over at about 6 am to the start. The race didn't start until 7:15 am. I talked to Tom W. briefly who also ran HOA last week so I wasn't the only crazy to attempt this feat of 2 marathons in one week.

4480 finished the half and 688 finished the marathon so there were over 5000 people at the start. I found Jan, Kevin, and Bill in the parking lot and we all wished each other well. I decided to go back to the bathroom at the far end of the parking lot away from the noise and chaos. I waited about 25 minutes just in time to head to the start line at 7 am.

Having no idea how fast I could run this, I had to rely on faith. I felt really good, had no pain or issues from the last marathon, and I thought this was a pretty flat course which might help. Temp was around 60F and humid. The sun was out so I was a bit worried it would heat up. I lined up just ahead of the 7 min pace. There was also a 6 min and there was such a large area and barely no one in it so we all moved up and I was probably about 10 ft from the start line. I decided I would attempt a sub-3 but today was not the day to attempt a PR. I hoped to keep the pace around 6:45 and see what happened.

The first half was on roads with the half marathoners at the same time and the last 13 on the MKT trail. Pace was very consistent for the first half. I noticed that about 8 miles I had some people from the half marathon passing me since they had picked up their pace and then about 10 miles, I was passing the ones that were slowing down. It was funny hearing some people say almost there, not realize I was running the marathon. There was no way to tell who was running what race based on our bibs, but I could kind of tell those breathing harder were running a half. In fact, later I determined that everyone around me was running the half.

I completed the first 13.1 at about 1:28:30 and 6:45 pace, right on target and realized I had a chance of a PR if I could run the second half about the same. I had to pass by the finish chute which I thought would be hard, but since the largest crowd was here, it actually helped. Once I passed, the announcer said something like, looks like he wants to do another 13 and I looked strong. I was told I was in 6th place. My goal was to finish in the top 10. There was not anyone close behind that I could see once I got on the trail. There was a guy not far ahead that I passed early on the trail and then had people telling me I was in 5th place.

The trail part of the course was flatter than the road and boring. It wasn't much different than running on the MKT in Columbia. A lot was in the shade which was good since at this point, it felt much warmer. The parts in the sun made me wish I had not worn a shirt. I felt like I was out for a run alone until I would reach a water station and there were a few spectators. When I was at about mile 17 I think, I met the first marathoner, James Cheruiyot, coming back. I don't know that he is related to Robert but he was fast. I started counting and I was indeed 5th and hoping I could maintain about that position. Tom W. was in 3rd which was good to see he was having a good race. He also is in my age group so that improved my chances in age group since there is a top 3 overall division. I saw him around the 20 mile marker so I was about 0.7 mi behind him. I made the turn around at the 19.6 mi. The running out seemed to take forever so I was glad to turn around.

Running back, I got to see lots of people and get encouragement from other runners. Our race numbers had our names printed so I heard my name a lot. This made the time seem like it was going faster on the way back. I was feeling really good until about mile 21. The heat was starting to get to me although I still felt good. Legs felt good but body was saying slow down. My pace slowed and I really had to really focus on running, trying to keep the pace, but not go too fast and blow up. I rationalized that if I could keep at 7 minutes I would still finish under 3 hours. I had changed my GPS today to see my overall time rather than the mile split field which was much more useful. A different guy than the one I passed earlier goes blazing by me around mile 22. Mile 23 was 7:05 and then managed to run mile 24 just under 7. By mile 25, I was ready to be done and slowed to 7:13. I wasn't worried about being passed and wanted to be done. Mile 26, ran in 7:10 and then picked up the last 0.35 with the crowd to 6:48 so I had a little left, but not as much as Heart of America marathon. Finished in 2:59:38.

Once I stopped, I felt a little nauseous for a couple minutes and then suddenly felt really good like I could go run more, but slower. A couple introduced themselves as Mike and Elaine from Ashland, that ran the half recognized me over where they were taking finishing pictures. I had my picture taken and then went through the food line. I went over to the finish shoot to watch runners come in for awhile and then watched the awards ceremony for the top 3 overall for each race. Tom W. was third overall. James was 2:31 something I no one was even close. I think the rest were in the 2:50s. Tom was about 4 min ahead of me. The age group awards will be mailed in a week. I ended up with the first place in my age group of 74 people since Tom won an overall award.

I headed back to the hotel around 11:25 on the shuttle bus since I had to check out at noon. They took us back to the start so I jogged back to the hotel, showered and checked out at 11:57 am. I sat in the lobby to check e-mail and call the group. I finally get Kevin. Jan had to head home right after, but got to talk to everyone else. They were going to do a bit of sight-seeing in the afternoon. I went in search of food since I was getting a little hungry. Ate at Culvers since I was craving a concrete. Had a double cheeseburger and a pumpkin pecan concrete. The 1.5 hour drive home seemed to go very fast and legs seemed happy.

Overall, this marathon had good organization and at $55 was not too pricey. It would have been nice if they had some sort of Expo as the packet pickup was at the various FleetFeets in the area, but they are the major sponsor so understandable.. The first half of the course was not bad. There was even a stretch where you could see other runners on the other side of the road where Jan yelled for me. I would have preferred the last half on roads rather than the fine gravel MKT. Mostly the running out to the 19.6 was long and lonely. It is almost like the marathon was an afterthought for this race, but I do feel like it is a fast course even with the trail. I think a full road course might get better participation. The finish area was great and there was plenty of food. There were sparse crowds along the first half and a lot close to the finish. Spectators were very few along the trail. The volunteers though were plentiful at the water stations. I am glad to have run the marathon and most importantly I did have a good time. Once again, I have proved to myself nothing is impossible or maybe I just get lucky sometimes. Stubbornness helps too. Also, I feel like I have a good chance of running another marathon PR at some point which I will try only on a week where I have not already run a marathon.

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01:28:35 AM

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2nd Half


Jan, Laurie, Kevin, Andy, Bill, Tess
Kevin, Jan, Andy, Tess, Laurie, Bill
Tess, Laurie, Kevin, Bill, Andy, Jan

Monday, September 07, 2009

2009 Heart of America Marathon

Today was the 50th annual Heart of America Marathon in Columbia, MO which I ran for the 6th year in a row and my 20th marathon since 2004. This is the 4th oldest continuously certified and one of the most difficult marathons in the country and attracts around 100+ people each year. This year there were 319 registered, beating the record of 178 in 1978. I set the alarm for 5:00, but woke up a few minutes early. We got to sleep in later this year since we are only 2 miles from the start line.

When we are home I always fix a pre-race shake in the blender, but the blender was dead today so used the shaker. I hoped this wasn’t a bad sign. We didn’t leave the house until about 5:40 am which was great! I did use the bathroom one last time when we arrived at Hearnes. Then we jogged over to the start line since it was 5:55.

Temp at the start this year was 62 F with 97% humidity. This was a 10 F improvement over last year! There was quite a bit of fog, but the sky was brighter than usual. There was a huge crowd at the start line but still ran into a few people we knew. I was feeling decent today and since the weather cooperated, I planned to attempt a sub-3. Secondary goal was to beat my 3:04:08 course PR from 2007. Also, on my mind was that I just wasn’t sure I was quite ready for a sub-3 on this course. Some of the hills really slow my pace so I would need to make that up on the easier miles. I still wanted to give it a try.

Bill Clark, marathon founder started us off. Gun did not fire so it took 2 times and we were off at 6:03 am. I felt good, but kept pace under control for the first mile. I was surprised I could actually see the pace on my GPS, but the sky was a little brighter than usual for this marathon. I was trying to pick someone out to keep pace, but when we got to the uphill on Providence, I started passing people. Up the hill I was startled to see Andy P. and Ted Z. walking. I was worried at first, but Ted explained they were doing an experiment walking the hills or at least part of the hills I guess.

I skipped the first water station since I was still well-hydrated. Ted and Andy passed me again and then about mile 4 I passed them and didn’t see Ted again until he drove past me later in the race since I think he was only running 20 miles. I was kind of hoping I would have someone to run with but at this point I was on my own. I could see someone ahead of me, but wasn’t gaining on them. For Gels, the plan was to take an Accel every 4 miles so took the first one shortly after mile 4.

The volunteers and crowd support was much better than usual this year and helped me pick up the pace every so often. The long hill on mile 8 slowed my pace to 7:26. I had been tracking in my head how close I was staying to a 6:44 pace. At one point I was behind, caught up, and this hill put me behind again. 6:52 is a sub-3 pace, but by only 6 seconds. Last year the course was 0.18 longer so I took that into consideration on my goal pace.

I could see someone ahead of me at mile 10 and I was gaining on them. I thought it was Chris C. and ended up passing him before Cooper’s Landing. Last year, near the end of the race, I was getting closer to him, but didn’t quite catch him. He was in my age group, but I aged up since last year. He won the marathon in 2006 and ran a sub-3 and has run the marathon many times. Hugh’s boss cheered me on at Cooper’s before we got on the MKT trail part of the course and before the big hill.

Up the hill, I kept the pace easy but didn’t walk. Ran the mile that included the hill in 7:50. At the half-way point my split was 1:30:02. I figure a course PR is possible since I am still feeling really good, but sub-3 maybe if I have anything left the last few miles where I have always slowed down on this course. About mile 14 or so I hear breathing behind me. I don’t think it sounds like Chris. I just keep the same pace and Tom W. passes me. I figure this is normal since he has always run this faster than me. He is also in my age group. He gets a little ahead of me and I stay behind him catching up a little where there are any hills. I was actually glad he passed me since I think he helped my pace for the next few miles.

At mile 21 I am really gaining on him. After some encouraging comments from Ted, I pick up the pace and pass him. At mile 23, I am feeling really good going down hill and pick up the pace. Then hit the hill up Providence and wondered if I was going to fall apart but keep the pace steady and split isn’t too bad at 7:05. Next split was also 7:05. Then I start to feel really good again and think I am probably close to 3 hours so try to pick up the pace for the last mile. Mile 26 ran in 6:44. I sprinted to the end, and last 0.3 was a 5:44 pace. I am thinking way too much left in the tank for a marathon. I see the clock at 3-something and end up finishing in 3:00:23.

I was very happy with that time which was a 3:45 course PR and first time a sub-7 pace on this course. Next time, I guess I should make sure I can see my overall time on my GPS. Possibly could have tried to make it up earlier, but who knows. Ran the last half 21 sec slower than first which is not bad for me. This is the closest I have ever been for this marathon. I also had a strong finish which is a first for me on this course.

I placed 5th overall of 278 that finished and 2nd of 30 in my age group. My age group took 4th, 5th, and 6th place. Overall this is the best I have placed and there were more people this year.

I drank a Gatorade, ate a banana, saw Andy P. finish and then went out for a 2 mile recovery run to see a few other people come in. 1st and 2nd female had a great finish with only 15 sec apart. I headed back to the start and had just stepped into the ice bath and Hugh crosses at 3:48 so I don’t get all the way in. He kept a nice steady pace and was pretty happy with his time. He said he passed a lot of people in the last half.

We soaked in the tub. I managed to stay in for about 15 min and when we got out I did not get warm until we got to the car over 30 min later and I turned on the heat. We went home, showered, and then to Shakespeare’s for the post race pizza party. We had a good time talking about the race with friends. Everyone seemed pretty happy with their performance and to finish strong.

Overall winner had run his first marathon in 2:53 and the guy that was 1st in my age group also his first marathon in 2:58 so 4 guys ran a sub-3. I was impressed with the 2 first-timers. I ran this marathon in 3:19 my first time. They made it look easy. I guess I need to do more hill repeats to prepare for next year.

m1 - 6:48..........m14 - 7:00
m2 - 6:54..........m15 - 6:51
m3 - 6:41..........m16 – 6:48
m4 - 6:41..........m17 – 6:54
m5 - 6:46..........m18 - 7:05
m6 - 6:40..........m19 - 6:47
m7 - 6:52..........m20 – 7:08
m8 -7:26..........m21 – 6:48
m9 - 6:45..........m22 – 6:46
m10 - 6:42..........m23 – 6:27
m11 - 6:38..........m24 – 7:05
m12 - 6:42..........m25 – 7:05
m13 - 7:51..........m26 – 6:42
0.30 – 1:43 (5:44 pace)

I was 1:30:02 at 13.1 and second half 1:30:21

Overall, 3:00:23, 6:53/mi for 26.2 mile certified course. 26.3 on GPS.

Overall Results

Link to last previous year splits (didn't have GPS first year)

More Media Coverage

Heart of America Marathon - KOMU Video I am in the beginning footage running to the finish.

Missourian Photo Gallery

Reactions to Obama speech from Heart of America marathon finish line

Man runs marathon barefoot for charity

Hauser is late to register, first to finish: Record numbers participate in 50th marathon

Messing with GPS as Sam takes our picture

Speeding to the finish!

Finishing! Touching the GPS again!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

2009 Heart of America Marathon articles

Tomorrow is the 50th Annual Heart of America Marathon, the race on the first cover of Distance Running News which became Runner's World.

There will be close to 300 registrants, a record number. This will be my 6th consecutive HOA and 20th marathon, not counting ultras. HOA was my first marathon which often isn't recommended due to its' difficulty. This year there will be many brave first timers on the course.

The marathon has been getting some local press:

Designed by the devil

Doesn't get any easier with time

Marathon keeps pace after 50 years

The man who made the marathon

Good luck to everyone running tomorrow and have fun!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Great Sandbagger 10K - 2009

This is a race where you predict your time. You can "win" this race by grossly overestimating how long it will take to run the 10K. Since we stagger the start times from the slowest predicted time to the fastest, usually the person with the largest positive difference between the predicted time and the actual time (lying) wins the race. Theoretically, if everyone told the absolute truth about how fast they planned to run the race, everyone would cross the finish line together, but that never happens.

I ran a 2.3 mi warm up before signing up for the race and it was raining just a little. I ran a mile with Dan and Tom during their 20 mile run since they ran by near where the race started. I also ran another 1.2 mi after the race started while waiting for my time to start with Bill P. At this point, I felt warmed up and ready to go.

There were over 30 runners that participated (no official results yet). The course is an out and back and somewhat hilly. I always try to predict my time accurately since I don’t want to win the atrocious trophy. It's some sort of tall clock thing with a tube of red liquid and the winners have to add something to it and bring it back next year. This year I predicted to run it in 40:33, 12 seconds faster than I ran last year. Temp was 66F and it quit raining by the time the race started. Legs were feeling good even with all the miles I had already run during the week. There were 3 people that predicted faster than me. I started after a girl that predicted 41:30 and also Nancy T. had started a little ahead of her.

We can't wear watches during this race so I have no idea of pace, but I felt like I was starting out pretty fast as I tend to do if I don't know my pace. I could see the woman that started ahead of me and caught up to and passed her fairly soon. I didn't catch Nancy until near the turn around. I just hoped I could keep the pace and not be passed by her. After the turn around which is approximately 3 miles, I started catching more people and passing. The slight uphills felt difficult but I really pushed on downhill and flat to make up for it. I felt strong and felt like I was running a fast race considering I kept passing people.

In about the last half mile I see a bunch more people as we are all finishing near the same time if we predicted anywhere close to what we said we would run. At the last 0.2 mi we had to run 2 times around the long driveway around the school. I passed several on the first loop. After I completed the first loop I see Bill coming to just start his first. This pushes me since I know he is fast and really don't want him to pass me as I finish. He had predicted 37-something so started about 3 minutes after me. I make the second loop and pass my 20th person just as I reach the finish line.

My sandbagging placement was 15th out of 30-something runners and I am guessing my actual placement was probably 4th based on my time of 39:35 (a 1:10 course PR for me over last year, but not a 10K PR). I guess I was sandbagging just a little when I predicted my time since ended up passing 20 runners and was 1:10 faster than my predicted time. I really had no idea I could run under 40 on this course and was thinking I would be lucky to shave just a few seconds off of last year’s time.

This was a good "race" and felt like I did about the best I could do. It was fun to see how fast I can race and not have any clue about time, pace, and exact miles. The only feedback is how many people am I passing and this is only good if I know the runner and they predicted somewhat accurately.