Saturday, September 24, 2005

Kansas City Marathon, KS

Race Stats:

Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon

Kansas City, KS

Marathon #249 - 38th state (2nd loop)

3:35:52 - 36th OA - 1st AG

I decided to run this marathon for two reasons:

a) I wanted to arrange/schedule my marathons so that I ran marathon #250 on my trip to Europe

b) I needed to run a 2nd marathon in Kansas as I slowly work my way around the 50 states for the 2nd time.

And besides it was conveniently located on the route home from Colorado to Florida. Thus my sports manager and I stopped in KC on Fri afternoon to pick up my race package at the Crown Center in downtown KC. The expo was a disappointment – only a few sports/shoe vendors and the prices were not attractive. The marathon date had been changed to coincide with several other events/activities happening in KC. But that was not all good because it was difficult to get around the city and the restaurants were full. We had to find a small local neighborhood restaurant for our pasta dinner.

The race started at 7am at the Crown Center and finished in the Freight House District in downtown KC. There were about 2,000 runners in 3 events – marathon/Half and a relay - about 700 runners in the full Marathon. The weather was not good (for running) – about 70F and 100% humidity (fog) at the start. I lined up with the Big Dogs and took off. There were no mile markers until mile 4 and I passed that in 29:17. I thought that pace was too fast but was not sure if it was correct so I kept pushing in spite of a lot of hills? I reached the next mile marker at mile 7 in 53:26! Way too fast for the weather and hills so I slowed my pace. I passed mile 10 in 1:18:48. I felt OK but was concerned because the first 9 miles had been very hilly. Fortunately the course flattened out with a few rolling hills over the next few miles and I passed the half in 1:44:03.

I still felt OK but knew that I couldn’t repeat that pace for the 2nd Half with the hills and heat so decided to slow the pace down some more. That turned out to be a wise decision because the sun burned through the fog around 14 miles and the temps soared into the 80s. I figured right then that most runners would be in ‘survival’ mode by 20 miles because of the heat. I reached mile 20 in 2:42:10. The heat had become brutal and although I felt OK my legs were feeling very heavy so I decided to ignore my pace for the last 10K and just run off my heart monitor. I kept my heart rate below 90% Max in order to give the old ticker some cushion to handle the extreme heat. The course had looped back on itself around mile 15 and I had not seen any old farts in front of me so I was fairly certain that I was winning my age group and did not have to kill myself in the heat. I managed to run/cruise at an 8:30 pace w/o getting into any trouble and passed about 30 runners who had succumbed to the heat and were walking.

I crossed the finish line in 3:35:52. Even though the race had been timed by chip they still did not have any marathon results for the winners so I figured there was no sense waiting around. We returned to our hotel for a quick hot soak and shower and by noon were back on I 70 heading east towards St Louis, MO. I drove for 6 hrs until we reached Marion, IL and then told the sports manager it was time for a beer and something to eat – I had not eaten all day!

I didn’t get any official results until we returned home. I was not surprised to learn that I won my age group but was surprised to discover that 2nd place finished 48 minutes behind me and that my time was good enough for 36th overall (700 runners). I guess the heat took a bigger toll than I thought?

That was my final tune up race for my European trip. Hopefully the weather will be a little better. I would like to run a flat course in cool weather to see if I can break 3:30 again?

Stay tuned for the next trip report!


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Road Kill Half marathon

Road Kill Half Marathon
Kremmling, CO

Race Stats:
Sept 10/05
Road Kill Half Marathon
Kremmling, CO
1:38:24 1st AG

This race was to be my final race and speed workout for the summer season in the High Country. To make it more fun and memorable I invited (or coerced) a running friend - Fast Freddy – from Dallas, TX to visit and be my ‘rabbit’ for the race.

Fred arrived on Wed. to allow himself some time to acclimate to the altitude. I thought it important to initiate him quickly into Maddog’s ‘Suicidal High Altitude Training Camp’ so we immediately hit the hot tub with some margaritas and Colorado microbrew to prepare for a hike on Thu.

On Thu morning we hiked to the 12,000 ft level of Ptarmigan Mtn to acclimate Freddy to the high altitudes and single track trails that we would encounter during the race.

A side note is necessary here to explain some of the events to follow.
During the weeks before Fred arrived some friends (Joe & Brenda) who go back 30+ years and who live(d) in New Orleans had been forced to evacuate the Big Easy because of Hurricane Katrina. Fortunately they had evacuated a few days before Katrina hit and the rest is history. Unfortunately they thought they were only leaving for a few days so had only packed a week of clothes and belongings and were wandering around TX wondering when they might be able to go back home to collect more clothes and belongings and check on their home? We invited them to visit and stay with us in Colorado. Well, they arrived the same day as Fred - only late that night! Now on with the story that will make more sense.

Fred is renowned for making a great margarita and happily Joe, Brenda and Nicole love margaritas so we decided it was necessary to initiate Joe and Brenda to the pleasures of the High Country – margaritas in the hot tub while watching the Blue river flow by! They adapted very quickly although they may have a tough job selling a story to FEMA that they are refugees?

On Fri we took all our guests to a musical festival in Fairplay and then Fred resumed his job as margarita bartender even though he and I were sadly on the wagon in preparation for the race on Sat. The race – the ‘Road Kill Half Marathon’ – was held in Kremmling, CO, about 40 miles north of Silverthorne. The race started at 12 pm/noon, which is unusual for a race in CO? All of us piled into a car for the drive to Kremmling. The sports manager and the Treiges decided they would watch the start/finish of the race and explore the town while we were running.

The description of the race was not pretty –start /finish in the town square at 7300 ft, 50% trails, 50 % road, lots of hills and a climb to the top of the landmark ‘Kremmling Cliffs’. My research had revealed that the winning time last year in my age group was 1:53. Based on the description of the course I believed a sub-1:50 should win the age group?

It was sunny and warm at the 12 pm start with temps in the low 60s. The race director advised the 50+ runners that it had rained hard on Fri night and the course was very wet and muddy. They did not want to change their challenging but scenic course so we were warned to be careful in the muddy sections? And the race started!

Well let me tell you – the course description and explanation before the race left out a lot of wee details? Like the wooden rail fence that we had to climb (or hurdle) in the 1st half-mile and all the ravines/gulleys that we had to jump over or climb down and up? There was lots of water and mud as promised and my shoes had picked up about 10 pounds of mud each in the 1st mile. The race was essentially a cross-country and steeplechase run on single-track trails across the high plains /desert around the town! It was a bitch!
And the best was yet to come?

Around 2 miles the trail climbed the Cliffs. The trail went straight up the cliffs that rose 300 ft in elevation above the town. And I mean straight up – no switchbacks – straight up the cliffs! My rabbit was right behind me as we approached the Cliffs (aren’t rabbits suppose to set the pace – in front?). An old fart passed me at the bottom of the cliffs and I tried to stay with him on the steep climb but half way up I decided the wisest strategy was to walk the top section and save some energy for the run back down on the other side!
When I reached the top of the Kremmling Cliffs the rabbit was still behind me but I decided to catch the old fart and took off and never saw the rabbit again?

The next 3 or 4 miles were the same challenging terrain – water, mud, ravines and hills! When I reached the 2nd water stop I checked my watch – about 50 minutes! There were no mile markers anywhere on the course but I figured that the water stop was between 5 and 6 miles, which meant I was averaging about 10 min/mile. If the rest of the course was this tough I would be lucky to finish under 2 hours? However shortly after the water stop the course climbed a very steep hill and dumped out on a dirt road – a real road that cars traveled on. I was finally able to scrape off the 10 pounds of mud on each shoe and haul ass down that road for a few miles. Unfortunately the course again turned off into the plains/desert but the trail followed the tire ruts/tracks of an old 4X4 road and if you selected the proper rut the footing was OK. I managed to hold a fast pace on the ruts and finally reached the 3rd and final water stop. I asked a race volunteer how far it was to the finish line. “About 3 miles” was the response. I looked at my watch – only 1:16. It didn’t make sense – if this was really 10 miles I was running a sub 8-min pace? I didn’t believe the answer – there had to be at least 4 miles to the finish?

I continued to push the pace on the 4X4 ruts in the hope of catching the old fart in front of me but I could never get closer than 300 yards and a few miles later the ruts reached the edge of the town and dumped out on to a paved road. Again I asked a volunteer how far? He didn’t know. Shit! I needed to know how far to determine how hard to push the old bod! I decided to push as hard as I could and hope I didn’t crash. The paved road was a straight shot into the town center and soon I could see the town square and finish line about 1 mile ahead. I looked at my watch –about 1:31! I was really confused and concerned because this could only mean one of three things:

a) I was running ‘way over my head’ and would finish under 1:40

b) The course was short? But they had emphasized that the course was the same as last year and the times had not been that fast.

c) There was an ugly surprise waiting near the town square – an additional loop of a ½ mile or more around the town center?

I really hoped it wasn’t option c) because I was hurting and didn’t think I had either the energy or willpower to run a loop before the finish line. I decided to push as hard as I could and fortunately there was no ugly surprise and I raced across the finish line in 1:38:24 to the cheers of our supporters/Fan Club!

I joined the Fan Club to wait and cheer Fast Freddy as he finished in 1:48:19. I could hear him grumbling “Too damn many hills – I hate hills – there are no hills in Dallas”! We both concluded/agreed that no matter what date the ‘Road Kill Half Marathon’ is next year that our social calendar “is busy”. It was a BITCH!

There was a great post-race party with live band and a lunch of wild game dishes- Buffalo lasagna, Venison chili, Elk Fajitas and tacos and other wild game delicacies.
Unfortunately I had pushed the old bod too hard and was suffering severe stomach cramps and couldn’t stand the thought of food. Fred wasn’t very hungry either so Joe bought one lunch and filled up a sampler plate so the group could taste all of the wild game dishes. That worked out OK.

I wanted to see the race results but they never did post any at the finish area nor have they posted them to the website yet in spite of my requests and complaints! There were no age group awards - only awards for the top three overall and Masters. I didn’t win any of them nor did the old fart who beat me? The three Master winners didn’t even look like they were 40? I am curious to see the results but can’t delay the report any longer.
Update: I did win my age group and established a new course record by 15 minutes. However it may not last long since the old fart who beat me was 59 and will be in my age group next year.

After the race we returned home for a soak in the hot tub – and yes – more margaritas and microbrew. Then we fed the racers and the refugees some great grilled steaks and of course more margaritas/wine/beer. In fact we had to make another (of several) run to the liquor store for more tequila and margarita mix in preparation for our nightly party in the hot tub!

A great way to finish the race season in the High Country – with good friends, a hot tub and lots of margaritas!

I have scheduled one more marathon in Kansas City on the drive back to FL.

So stay tuned for the next race report!


Monday, September 05, 2005

American Discovery Trail Marathon

Colorado Springs, CO
Sept 5/05

Race Stats:
Sept 5/05
American Discovery Trail Marathon
Colorado Springs, CO
Marathon # 248
3:58:49 1st AG

This marathon was neither exciting nor memorable – it was just plain (friggin) Ugly and Painful! Let me tell you about it before my mind erases it like childbirth.

I ran this marathon last year but I had suffered a foot injury at Pike’s Peak two weeks earlier that had not completely healed and had prevented me from training during those two weeks. Somehow I finished in 3:44 and won my age group. This year I felt confident that I was in much better shape so I set my goals to:
1) Win my age group and defend my Senior Title
2) Finish at least 10 min faster than last year

With these goals in mind I decided as I lined up at the start line with about 250 runners “to go out as hard and fast as I could and try to hang on”! It would either be a really, really Good race or a really, really Bad race! There would/could be no in-between. Thus I lined up with the Big Dogs for the 6:30 am start. The weather was sunny with temps in the low 50s. I followed the lead group (including 3 or 4 ‘gray hairs’ who looked like they were only in their 40s?) through the first 2 miles at a 7:30/7:45 pace. I knew I could not hold that pace over 26 miles on this course. The course started at Confluence Park @ 6200 ft and followed paved and dirt bike trails along Monument and Fountain Creeks to a turn-around point near the Air Force Academy at mile 16. Miles 14 to 18 were a series of BAHs (Bad Ass Hills) that rose 300 ft in elevation! I backed off on the pace and by mile 5 had settled into a smooth and easy 8-min pace. Then the problems started. The mile markers became totally screwed up and useless! Mile 6 was 6:29 (impossible) followed by mile 7 in 9:06?

It was impossible to determine my pace and adjust as needed so I was forced to pace off my heart monitor and try to stay with a group of young runners who had been running a sub 8-min pace. I passed mile 10 in 1:20 and already knew that I would not be able to hold an 8-min pace through 26 miles but decided to hold that pace through the first Half or even 16 miles and then reassess the situation? However the mile marker problem got worse. After mile 12 I never saw another marker until mile 18? That really upset me and messed with my mind because I had no idea what pace I was running or what adjustment I needed to make? ! I figured that I struggled through the BAHs over miles 14 to 16 at an 8:30 pace. When I reached the turn-around at the AF Academy I was hurting and knew at that point the race was going to get Ugly! I struggled on the return loop through the BAHs and reached mile 18 in 2:31. My fuzzy mind calculated that I had averaged an 8:30 pace through the hills – but my legs were mush!

When I reached mile 20 in 2:51 and a 10 min pace and the temps had soared into the 70s (F) I knew that the race was over for me! I struggled to run mile 21 in 10:20 (if the marker was correct)? The wheels were falling off but I figured that I was still in 1st place in my age group so I was forced to go into ‘semi-survival’ mode – just try to keep the legs running/moving at a10-min pace to preserve my lead and hope that I could finish the race – safely, injury-free and alive! My legs were screaming/crying/pleading with me “to stop and walk” but I ignored them – until mile 24. At mile 24 there was a BAH that looked like Pikes Peak! As I contemplated how to trick my tired/used-up legs to run up that hill a competitor with a flock of gray hair and a gray beard passed me. He certainly looked like he was in my age group? Instead of trying to respond which I knew was hopeless it took a lot of stress off me. Not only had I blown my time goal I had now blown my age group goal! And I knew from the nausea and dizziness I was beginning to experience that I was pushing my old bod beyond its limits on this particular day! I recognized these problems as symptoms that my electrolytes were out of balance and/or my blood sugar levels were too low? So I went immediately into ‘full survival mode’ – just try to finish the race - ALIVE! Screw the time- screw all goals – except the primary goal of finishing alive!

I started walking. I managed to walk/run/crawl the next mile in 11:52. I reached mile 25 in 3:45. My very foggy and disoriented mind somehow calculated that if I could walk/crawl the last mile in the same time I could break 4 hrs and salvage some respect?
Bad News! I knew that Maddog would take over! I won’t repeat the names he called me or what other incentives he screamed at me but we finally agreed that I could walk for two –1 min intervals if I forced my old/wasted/exhausted legs and half-dead body to run the rest of the time! I ignored the pain – I ignored the dizziness and tingling in my arms – I totally focused all my will power and energy on keeping the legs moving and finally struggled across the finish line in 3:58! At least I had salvaged some sort of respect!

Other than collecting my finisher’s medal I did not stop at the finish line- I did not stop to look at the preliminary results – I went directly to the car to suck up some high-octane sports drink that I knew would replenish and rebalance my electrolytes and increase my blood sugar level to correct the problems I was suffering. It worked almost immediately as expected and I became lucent and felt better within a few minutes.

We had to return to the hotel immediately. Since I had run so slowly and the hotel would not extend our checkout (another complaint – the host hotel would not grant late checkouts for the runners) I needed to get back for a quick shower! After a shower we returned to the finish area for the customary finish line photo and to check the race results.

My official finish time was 3:58:49. Needless to say I was not pleased with my time or performance but neither was I disappointed. I had set an aggressive (in hindsight – a foolish) goal and deserved the painful consequences. But Maddog was absolutely disgusted with my time and performance. He was very upset that I had set an aggressive goal and couldn’t follow through and “do it”!

The only thing that saved my ass was the shock and surprising discovery that I had finished 1st in my age group? Mr. Gray Beard who passed me at mile 24 was only 50 years old. I need to take a course/lesson in guessing ages of old farts? I stayed to humbly collect my award since 2nd place finished 15 min behind me.

In summary it was an ugly/painful race that resulted from an aggressive and foolish race strategy. It proves that even after 248 marathons it is still possible/likely to make foolish race decisions and have to live with the painful consequences! It was not the first time nor is it likely to be the last. However because of the poor results I have already resolved that I will return next year to defend again my ‘Senior Title’ but next year I will run smarter and maybe not run an Alpine Marathon and climb four 14ers in the week preceding the race?

But for now I have to concentrate on resting the legs and hope they can recover in time for my final speed workout in the High Country next weekend when I run the ‘Road Kill Half’ in Kremmling, CO. I have even arranged to import a ‘rabbit’ – Fast Freddy - from Dallas, TX to pace me through the race!

Stay tuned for the next race report!