Monday, March 29, 2010

RR Yakima Marathon

Race Report
Sat, Mar 27/10
Yakima River Canyon Marathon
Yakima, WA
Marathon # 328
3:47:45 – 1 AG

I didn’t expect to write this report for another week or more but have access to a computer so might as well write it up while it is still fresh in my memory. After turning 66 last week I can’t be sure how long the old mind can retain memories any more. Heck I can’t even remember where I leave my keys most of the time?

As I mentioned in my last report I was trying to ‘key’ on this race since the course was reported to be a fast downhill course. I ran into a wee glitch the week before the race when Morton’s Neuroma flared up again in my left foot. Luckily a few days rest and another few days of cross training provided enough ‘rest’ time for the pain to subside and we left Florida on my birthday.
We arrived in Seattle late Thu night and stayed with our son Chris and he drove us across the Cascade Mtns on Fri to Yakima, WA. An ‘old’ (dating back to our early careers in Canada) friend living in Selah, WA- Mike Howell and his partner Beverley- invited us to stay with them.

As we approached Yakima we exited I 90 and drove the actual marathon course on Hwy 821 between Ellensburg and Selah, WA. The course follows the Yakima River through the Yakima Canyon and is very scenic with the river always on the right side and majestic hills and cliffs on both sides of the narrow road. The course is point-to-point and drops 300 ft from start to finish. However there was a slight catch – one small hill in the first Half and four hills in the 2nd Half – and two of them qualified as BAH (Bad Ass Hill)! When we climbed (drove) the 1st BAH at mile 14 I knew it would be tough – but the 2nd and BAH at mile 22 was a bitch! But at least I knew what to expect.

We arrived at Mike’s, unpacked and headed straight to the Civic Center in Selah to pick up my race packet and attend a reunion of the 100 Marathon Club, NA. Bob and Lenore Dolphin organized and manage the North American chapter of the 100 Marathon Club. They are also the race directors of the Yakima Marathon. All the volunteer work (plus Bob still runs marathons) must keep them in good shape because they are both in their young 80s? Bob & Lenore have been inviting me to run their race for years but there always seemed to be an international race to conflict with their date. Last year I committed to run their race and even bought airline tickets – but you know what happened – I suffered that strange/mystery injury and had to cancel. But I had finally made it to Yakima!

I met several old friends and members of the 100 Marathon Club that I hadn’t seen in years and even Mike enjoyed the war stories. The members introduced themselves and gave a short biography of their accomplishments and at the end one member tallied that the 40 members present had run a total of 8800 Marathons and Ultras! Yep – it was a room full of fanatics and nuts! But we all understood each other’s obsession/addiction!
I skipped a pasta dinner organized by the Club for dinner with our hosts so we could reminisce about the good old days and brag about our grand kids. On Sat morning my son and regular Sports Manager slept in while Mike drove me to the start line and cheered me at the start. The weather was great – a chilly 35 F at 8 am, low humidity and a light breeze. It was sunny but the course was blocked from the sun for the first few hours so I wore a throw-away T-shirt until the sun broke over the mountains around 10 am.

I planned to go out at an 8:15 pace and hold that pace as long as possible to see if I could break 3:45 – maybe even 3:40? The first 4 miles were flat or a slight downhill so I passed mile 1 in 7:58 and then slowed the pace down to 8:10s. The only uphill in the first Half at mile 5 slowed my split down to 8:26 but then I was back down to 8:15s. I passed mile 10 in 1:22:50 and reached the Half in 1:49:10. I was on pace to break 3:40 but knew that the 2nd half would not be that fast because of the hills and especially the BAHs! The first BAH climbed about 150 ft from mile 14 to mile 15 and slowed my split down to 9:49. That shocked me and I tried to make up some of that time over the next few miles and in hindsight that probably cost me my sub 3:45 target! After another (up)hill at mile 17 my splits slowed to 8:40s until I started to climb the BAH – or Dam Hill as it is called - at mile 22. That Dam Hill climbs 300 ft over 1 1/3 miles! I figured the best/smartest strategy was to climb it smoothly and methodically rather than charge up it. I wanted to have energy left over at the top since the final 5K dropped 300 ft to the finish line! Unfortunately that methodical climb resulted in an excruciatingly slow 10:57 split and that really cost me my sub 3:45 goal!

I tried to lower the hammer and make up for that loss of time on the final downhill and the final mile was my fastest split (7:56) of the race but not good enough to break 3:45. I sprinted across the finish line in 3:47:45. I was disappointed in my time but not my effort. I left absolutely nothing on that course! I might have run a wee bit smarter but I had given it everything I had on that day! Thankfully my time was at least good enough to win 1st place in my Age Group so I will have to live with that!

After the race our hosts gave us a tour of the Yakima area including a visit to a brew pub and a winery for tasting. The Yakima Valley is an agricultural region with fruit, hops and vineyards. Add a great dinner with lots of wine and my legs weren’t feeling any pain when I went to bed? On Sun morning Chris drove back to Seattle by himself while we waited for our other son Jason and our precious granddaughter Priya to pick us up. Mike and I attended a breakfast with runners and members of the 100 Marathon Club so I could say my farewells and a special thanks to Bob and Lenore. It is a great race and a great event. I recommend the race to all runners!

Later that morning Jason and Priya picked us up to continue our journey to Hermiston, OR. Jason is working a remote (one-week) shift in Hermiston for his Radiology Partners. Since his wife Ami is pregnant again (our 2nd grandchild) and working all week in Portland we agreed to join Jason for the week to babysit our precious granddaughter while he works. What a blast!

The Radiology Partners rent a beautiful house situated on a cliff overlooking the Columbia River with views for miles! There is a great dirt trail below the cliffs and along the river. Priya and I enjoyed a pleasant 8-mile run along the Columbia River on our first day and we will explore that trail in every direction before we leave. She loves to run with her Pappy! Life doesn’t get much better!

At the end of the week we return to Portland with Jason and Priya to visit Ami and then head back to Seattle by train to spend a few more days with Chris before returning home.

These long easy runs with Priya should be good for my new race/running strategy and my next race in 3 weeks. Remember – I am going to run for fun – just like the fun I am having on the morning runs with my precious Priya!

Stay tuned!


davo said...

Do you have a list of the countries that you have run in anywhere?

William M. Irwin said...

You're a true inspiration, bro'! I'm a young dude (just 53) up here in Gainesville, Florida who just ran his first half-marathon this past February. I'm now training toward marathon #1, but where can I race? The heat of the summer season is coming on fast and the only place to go is northward for any available races. How are you able to manage those flights (to Yakima and Singapore, for example)? If I am half as fit as you are by the time I reach your age, I'll be very content!

Tony said...

Hi John,
Haven't contacted you for a while. Good to see you're still in fine form!
Thought I'd let you know that I've finally got into the Antarctica marathon next Feb and will complete the 7 continents.
Look forward to reading about your continuing adventures!

Tony Toole