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!