Thursday, February 22, 2007

RR Fort Lauderdale

Race Report
A1A Marathon
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Sun, Feb 18/07
3:53:27 – 2 AG

During the last (painful) nine miles of the previous marathon in Miami I thought that there was no way I would be able to run the A1A Marathon scheduled for Fort Lauderdale a few weeks later. But after more tests showed no problems in the circulatory system in my legs and I started to respond to PT (physical therapy) on the left calf and my back and - most importantly the memory of the pain decreased – I started to believe that the best thing to do was to run Fort Lauderdale as a test run/marathon.
My plan was to run the race very slow and walk 60 to 90 secs every five miles to give the legs some time to relax. If I felt OK at 20 miles I could try to race the last 10 Km? My only goal/hope was to run/walk and finish the race (all 26 miles) without suffering any more leg cramps!
Since the Sport Manager’s sister was visiting from Ottawa (TundraLand) I thought it would be a good opportunity to combine the marathon with a trip to S. Florida. She had never visited Key West or the Everglades. Thus we set off on Sat morning to drive to Fort Lauderdale via the south shore of Lake Okeechobee (a huge lake/swamp) in the middle of the state. On the way we drove through Lake Worth, FL so we stopped to visit my friend/mentor Wally Herman and his wife. Wally was planning to run the marathon also (#689?).
The packet pickup/expo was located at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center – not a convenient location because it is next to Port Everglades (where cruise ships depart) and security was tight and a bother! After I got my race bib we checked out the race start and finish. The race starts in downtown Fort Lauderdale and finishes about 3 miles away at South Beach Park. The 1st three miles are along Las Olas Blvd and the rest of the course is entirely on Route A1A along the Atlantic Ocean but you can’t see the ocean for condos!
Sun was M-day! There were 2000 runners lined up for the 6am start (500 in the marathon and 1500 in the Half). Because of the different start/finish I asked the Sports Manager to drive me to the start. It was dark, cloudy and a chilly 52 F at the 6 am start. The temp never rose above 55 F for the race! Not wanting to start out too fast I lined up in the middle of the pack and coasted through mile 2 in 17:50. By the time I reached mile 5 in 43:31 I had settled into a comfortable 8:45 pace and felt fine. However I stuck with the race plan and walked 90 secs. I was sad when I reached the turn-around for the Half near 7 miles because most of the lovely young ladies I had been following left me? I passed mile 10 in 1:26:51 – walked for 60 secs. At mile 12 it started to rain. It rained /poured for almost 45 minutes and the temps dropped below 50 F! It was miserable! I passed the Half in1:54:11. I felt good and I was confident that I could/would finish under 4 hrs! When I reached mile 15 in 2:11:32 I was soaked but I walked for 90 secs again and continued on. I felt good and wanted to push the pace. I had followed the 3:50 pace group from the start of the race and would close within a few hundred yards between my walk intervals. I wanted to catch and pass them but wisely told myself to be patient and wait till 20 miles.
I reached mile 20 in 2:55:25 – walked for 60 secs and did a ‘gut’ check. I felt good – I felt confident – I felt cocky – I was going to ‘race’ the final 10Km and pass the 3:50 pace group! I lowered the pace and was within 100 ft of the pace group as we approached mile 22. No WHAM! But I suddenly felt the right calf starting to cramp and recognized that it was going to lock up quickly so I stopped immediately – stretched and walked – and prevented the calf from locking up. It was tight and sore but I avoided the excruciating pain by walking/jogging the next two miles. I was frustrated and upset but consoled myself with the fact that I had avoided another serious problem/injury. Finally at mile 24 the calf relaxed enough that I could continue running at a 9 – min pace and crossed the finish line in 3:53:27!
Although I had not accomplished my goal (to finish w/o another problem/cramp) I was at least pleased that I had still managed to finish under 4 hrs and qualify for Boston for the 25th consecutive year! I later learned that I had finished 2nd/14 runners in my Age Group!
My support team was waiting at the finish line and after a customary finish line photo we returned to the hotel for a quick shower and continued our tour of S. Florida. We stopped in SoBe for lunch to watch the ‘pretty’ people and headed for the Keys. Unfortunately I had forgotten it was President’s weekend and there were no hotel rooms left for under $350 so we stayed in S. Miami and drove down to Marathon Key on Mon morning. Then we drove home through the Everglades.
I am disappointed that the problem with leg cramps persists and I don’t have a clue what to do about it – and neither do the doctors? I think I will try to train/run through the problem for the next few weeks as I prepare to run the Sarasota marathon – my hometown marathon. Unfortunately it does not look like I will be able to defend my Senior Title (unless a miracle happens)? If I suffer the same problem at that race I will go back to the docs and continue the medical tests!
Stay tuned!

Monday, February 05, 2007

RR Miami Marathon

Race Report
Jan 28/07
Miami Marathon
Miami, FL
4:08:37 – 6 AG

I signed up for this marathon one year ago for two reasons:
1) the race offered a 50% discount for the first 200 entrants to register
2) I finished in the same time of 3:33 in the two previous times I ran this race and wanted to go back in 2007 to break 3:30!

Unfortunately as race time approached I knew that goal #2 had no chance of happening because of the medical problems and injuries I suffered the last few months. After the disaster at Disney three weeks earlier where my left calf had cramped and locked up I had been undergoing medical tests and treatments. Although I had recovered enough to run a few speed workouts I had no confidence the leg would hold up in another marathon. There were many contentious discussions between Maddog and me about what the race strategy should be! I wanted to run smart and slow to test the leg and help my confidence by completing 26 miles without problems. Maddog wanted to go all out from the start to see how close we could get to 3:30!

The Sports Manager decided to go along to meet some friends from NYC and we planned to stop in Naples on the way home for a reunion with some friends and summer neighbors from the Ponds in CO. We enjoyed a nice pasta dinner with Edson and some friends from NYC. Both Edson and I complained about our injuries going into the race.

Sun was M –day. When I left our hotel in SoBe (South Beach) at 4:30 am it was drizzling and 68 F! By the time I had parked the car in downtown Miami at 5am it was pouring buckets and 70 F! It was raining so hard as I walked to the start line that I refused to stand in the lines at the Port-o Johns to take care of last-minutes duties. The weather became the deciding factor in the race strategy. I saw no sense in trying to kill myself in that crappy weather trying to run 3:30.

I lined up with 11,000 other nuts in the pouring rain. We were drenched and our shoes and socks were soaked! I lined up about 200 ft from the start line since there was no need for a fast start. It took me almost 4 minutes to reach the start line after the ‘official’ start – on time at 6:10 am. I started my watch to read ‘chip’ time. It continued to pour as we ran across the Macarthur Causeway to SoBe. I passed mile 1 in 12:45 (9:12 chip time). It stopped raining as we approached mile 2 but then the steam and humidity started to rise off the black asphalt. It was going to get ugly!

I continued to run slow and easy and enjoy the great views back in the pack. I passed 6 miles in SoBe in 53:33. At 8 miles I had to make a full-service pit stop to take care of those duties I missed before the start. Normally I wouldn’t do that but time was not a concern in this race. I continued to cruise smooth and easy – no problems with the legs other than a bit of tightness now and then in the calves. I passed the Half in 1:58:34. During the next mile I felt tired but then realized I wasn’t tired – I was feeling lazy and sluggish because of the slow/boring pace! So I lowered the pace to 8:30s and that felt much better. As I approached mile 17 in 2:31:51 I was feeling great and thought about lowering the pace some more but decided to hold that pace till 20 miles and then ‘race’ the last 10 Km. As I was congratulating myself and patting myself on the back for running so smart and feeling so good – WHAM! Without warning the left calf cramped and locked up in an instant! I was very disgusted and frustrated – but not surprised. I knew enough to stop immediately and spent a few minutes stretching and massaging the calf in an effort to get it to release. No luck! It would not release but I was able to reduce the excruciating pain enough to begin walking.

I considered dropping out of the race but had already passed the ‘no return’ line. Before 16 miles I would consider dropping out but after that point I would never quit or drop out unless it was a life-threatening situation or I could cause more serious damage to an injury. Thus I was forced to begin a long and painful 9-mile walk/crawl to the finish line.
I quickly determined that if I walked/limped/jogged no faster than a 12-min pace that I could manage the pain to a tolerable level. Maddog was extremely upset and embarrassed as we limped the next 4 miles. You see – he had his name on the race bib and everyone was shouting/cheering “C’mon Maddog – you can do it” “Pick up the pace”!

“Eat shit and die” was what he wanted to shout back as he hobbled along like a snail! It was humiliating! Around 21 miles the calf relaxed enough that I was able to keep jogging and lower the pace to a blazing 10-min. I continued to hold this pace with only minor/tolerable pain except for a few times when the calf started to lock up again. I struggled to the finish line in 4:08:37. I collected my finisher’s medal and soon as I stopped the calf locked up again so I limped straight back to the car and drove back to the hotel. I later learned that this pathetically slow time was good enough for 6th place/41 runners in my Age Group. The weather was a bigger negative factor than realized since my previous times of 3:33 would have won this year?
A long hot soak with self-massage finally got the calf muscle to release but then it was very sore and tight from the trauma. I could barely walk as we explored SoBe and applied a few cocktails for medicinal purposes. After several drinks and wine for dinner the leg did feel better?

On Mon we drove home with a stop in Naples to enjoy lunch with our friends.
On Tue morning I was back at the doctor’s office. I told him that I am sick and tired of being sick and tired and I requested a vascular test to check arterial circulation. I want to rule out all possible physiological reasons before I start exploring biomechanical reasons for all the problems/injuries. Haven’t got the official results back yet but the tech indicated that there are no clots/restrictions in the arteries so I have now confirmed that there are no circulatory problems.

Have an appointment with physical therapist to work on my strained back and will get him to work on my calf and check my biomechanics. I must have changed my gait or stride unknowingly? Or there are problems I am not aware of?

Stay tuned!