Monday, October 29, 2012

TR Guernsey

Trip Report
08/22 – 9/17/12

Race Results:
Sun, Aug 26/12
St Peter Port
Isle of Guernsey
Guernsey Marathon
Marathon # 360 – Country # 115

 Well here it is – more than 2 months since I ran the race and I am just getting around to writing the report? I have lots of reasons but no excuses. So best to get it over with while I can still remember some of the details.

 If you recall, my last ‘training’ marathon three weeks earlier in Moses Lake, WA was a painful disaster that I was hoping not to repeat in Guernsey. I was at least encouraged that I had not suffered symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath during the ML marathon but the optimism soon faded. After only one week in Seattle the symptoms started to occur again – at Sea level? It became a struggle to run 8 to 10 miles at Sea level. There was no hope of running a few 15 mile long runs to prepare better for Guernsey. Then with only 10 days left before the race I suffered a painful injury to my left abductor on a simple 8-mile run. Fortunately I was able to get an emergency session with a masseuse who helped to reduce the pain and I was forced to take a few days rest. I figured I had better try a test run before leaving for Europe to see what shape the leg was in and how ugly the marathon would be? Much to my surprise I was able to complete a 10-mile run w/o any problems and it felt good? At that point I figured rest provided a much bigger benefit than running junk miles so I decided to rest until race day.

 I had booked a ‘luxury’ one month trip around and including the marathon for two main reasons:

1)      Guernsey would represent the completion of a marathon in every country in Europe including the IOM & Channel Islands

2)      The marathon was actually on our anniversary day – 45 years later! To entice the SM (Sports Manager) aka wife to join me on the trip I booked a 2-week river cruise after the race.

We departed Aug 22 so that we would have a few days to enjoy Guernsey and recover from jet lag before the race. Several friends and members of the Country Club were planning to join us for the race and anniversary celebrations.

 After arriving in St Peter Port in the late afternoon and checking into the Collinette Hotel we forced ourselves to stay awake for dinner and then crashed for 12 hours. On Fri we completed the mandatory shopping for souvenirs and located a few of our friends. Fri evening I noticed some cars with the marathon logo at the hotel and soon learned that the ‘Colly’ was the unofficial club house for the Running Club and I was able to meet several local runners and Peter Head, Race Director for the race. I joined them for a few beers which is usually taboo for me before a race but I figured that it couldn’t hurt my expected performance on race day? On Sat our friend Edson (NYC) joined us for a tour around the island. We drove most of the marathon course since it used almost every mile of road on the island. Guernsey is a pretty and affluent island. Sat night we joined other members of the Country club – Jaap, Netherlands; Edson, USA, and Klaus, Germany; and a few other friends for a pasta dinner prepared by the Guernsey Running Club.

 Sun was M-day. The race started at 9 am. It was a bank holiday weekend which meant there would be little traffic on the narrow winding roads during the race but it also meant it was impossible to get a taxi. Luckily Edson and I were offered a lift to the start by another runner but Nicole had to get the hotel shuttle to take to her the start later. Thankfully the weather had changed from strong winds and rain on Fri and Sat to nice sunny weather with only a light breeze.  In fact many runners had not been able to make it to Guernsey because all ferries to the island had been cancelled for the past two days due to high winds and rough seas.

 I had no idea how my body was going to react? I had no confidence that I could run the entire race and figured there was going to be a lot of pain –and walking involved to finish the race. Thus I decided to run a smart race – start slow and walk often if needed. I started out at an 11-min pace and was surprised when I made it through the hilly first 10K in 68 min. That is one of the few splits I remember. Sadly I had worn only my heart monitor/watch for the trip and forgot to download the splits after the race. And is the case (and problem) with the Polar Heart Monitor it is easy to accidentally start the stop watch and that erases all previous data. Yep – that’s what happened a few days after the race! So I lost all the data for what may well be my last marathon?

 But the good news at that point was that I had run (no walking) the first 10K and felt good and the rest of the course was downhill and flat. I decided to hold that pace as long as I could, expecting to crash around 18/20 miles, due to the lack of any long training runs. I passed the Half in 2:17. I knew the 2nd half would not be as fast or enjoyable!

 I started to tire around 18 miles but got a brief surge of energy when I met two friends along the course. Tony had travelled over from England and Sue had joined him from the Isle of Jersey. They promised to meet me at the finish line. I believe I reached Mile 20 around 3:40 since I remember calculating in my fuzzy/tired mind that if I slowed down to a 12-min pace for the final 10K I would finish around 4:55. I was amazed that I had made it that far w/o walking? I decided to hand the race – maybe the final race – over to Maddog. I had gotten us that far w/o walking. Now it was up to Maddog to get us to the finish line – w/o walking- so we could finish our last race proudly!

 Thank goodness for Maddog. The next three miles were tough. By mile 22 I wanted/needed to walk. But Maddog refused! We struggled to keep the old legs shuffling. Water stations were located every three miles and I figured the next/last one was near 24 miles. I could use the water station as an excuse to slow down. Shortly after passing mile 23 my legs had nothing left and Maddog started playing mind games with me – “just one step at a time”, “slow down for a few minutes and rest’. “Just finish this race and then you can have a long rest”! Luckily I could see the final water station up ahead at 23.5 miles and I struggled to reach it and allowed myself a brief rest while I swallowed a final carbo gel and washed it down. At that point Maddog and I were determined that we would cross the finish line w/o walking! It got tough/painful again at Mile 25 but finally I could see the sports stadium and knew that I would finish the entire race w/o walking.

 I crossed the finish line in 4:46:20. Needless to say I was surprised and HAPPY. I had completed marathon #360 and country # 115 – and my final (?) marathon w/o walking!

 Nicole was waiting at the finish line (thanks to the hotel bar manager who drove her to the stadium in the hotel shuttle).  We waited for Edson to finish and then accepted a kind offer from a local runner to drop us off at the hotel. Later that day the members of the CC Club met with Peter (Race Dir) and discussed the possibility of organizing official marathons in the Channel Islands of Sark and Alderney.

We discussed the logistics and feasibility of holding two marathons in two countries in two days in Sept 2013. Peter thinks it is feasible and will look into this winter. We promised to bring at least 12 runners from around the world so runners stay tuned and mark your 2013 calendars with that tentative event.

 That evening Nicole and I were pleased to have Tony, Sue and Edson join us for a great dinner to celebrate our 45th Anniversary.

 On Mon we caught a fast ferry from St Peter Port to St Malo, France to begin a one-week train journey across Europe to Amsterdam where we were scheduled to depart on a two week river cruise on the River Queen (rated #1 cruise ship in the world) on the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. I won’t bore you with all the details but I will post photos of the trip to my photo website (eventually).

 As I said at the start of the report it is now two months after the race and I am still wondering what to do with myself – regards running! When I was suffering all the bad symptoms/problems during the summer w/o any plausible explanation I came to the conclusion that my old bod needed a rest. I promised myself that when I finished Guernsey I would take a Sabbatical for at least 4 weeks. With all the travelling through Europe after the race and then a long drive back to FL from WA, the Sabbatical was six weeks.

 I started running again about three weeks ago – very slow and low mileage but so far no symptoms of fatigue and no injuries. I plan to build my long run back up to 13 miles before adding speed and intensity to my program. Then and only then will I determine if Guernsey was truly my final race. I must admit that I have not yet rekindled a ’fire in the belly’ or burning desire to race or compete again.

 Who Knows?

 Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

RR - Moses Lake

Race Report
                                                                               Moses Lake, WA

Sat, Aug 4/12
Moses Lake, WA
Moses Lake Marathon
Marathon # 359

 This report will be brief since this was an unplanned/unscheduled race. My next scheduled race is an international marathon on the Isle of Guernsey in late Aug. Since my last race was in early Jun and I was unable to run any long runs in the mtns of CO I figured I needed to run a training marathon to see if my old bod could go the distance?

 Many of you are aware of the problems I encountered during our 5-week vacation in CO. Surprisingly the same old problems of fatigue and shortness of breath after running  as little as 1 mile appeared after only a few weeks in the mtns. By using the Galloway method of run/walk I was able to push through the problems but after 10 miles I became so fatigued that I had to stop. Thus my longest run in the mtns was 10 miles. I figured I could add some long runs when we visited our son in Seattle but I started to look for a marathon that I could run on the drive from CO to WA. The only candidate I could find was a marathon in Moses Lake, WA. The location and date were good – the only problem was the weather forecast – high 90s to low 100s in early Aug. I decided to play it by ear and wait for the final moment to register because I was only guessing and hopeful that the fatigue problem would vanish when I got to lower elevations?

The first few days of our drive were through the mtns of WY & MT so I didn’t even try to run. Finally we reached Spokane, WA and the morning before race day I tried a 5-mile trial run on the Centennial Trail along the Spokane River in downtown Spokane. I was happy and relieved to find that the fatigue problem had vanished as hoped at lower elevations.  We continued our drive to Moses Lake which is in farm country in the center of WA. The terrain is flat and not very scenic. We found Race Registration and I was #14 to register for the marathon. I got my race questions answered but was surprised to learn there were no Italian restaurants in Moses Lake and no place that served my traditional Spaghetti Bolognaise. I had to eat Asian stir fry for my pasta dinner.

 The race started at the ML High School track at 7:30am on Sat. There were 150 runners in 4 races with only 14 in the marathon – only 12 showed up for the start. It was going to be a lonely and hot race. The temps were in the low 60s at the start. I joined 3 other runners at the rear of the pack for the first few miles @ 10-min pace. When we passed mile 3 in 30:02 they decided to walk and I forged on ahead. I ran the next 23 miles by myself. The course was a ‘Y’ shape so I saw the lead runners on the two loops but could never see any runners in front or behind me. Although the race was very small I need to give the race director kudos for a well-organized race. The course was well marked, there were distance markers every mile and water stations approx every 2 miles. The volunteers were friendly and cheerful. The only downside was about 6 miles of the 2nd loop were being repaved and the road was covered in oil and loose gravel that was difficult to run on.

 I passed the Half in 2:14 and maintained a 10-min pace until I made the turn at Mile 16 on the 2nd loop of the ‘Y’. The road surface was crappy and really took a lot of effort to run on. I passed Mile 18 in 3:10:24 and a split of 12:08 but my legs were dead! I started walking. I hoped to run a cycle of Run 1 Mile and Walk 1 Min but my legs were totally dead/wasted and the road surface really sucked. The best I could manage was Run - 5min and Walk - 1 Min which resulted in a 13/14 min pace. When I finally reached a good road surface at 21 miles in 3:50:18 I was able to increase the cycle to Run -1 mile and Walk -1 min.

 When I approached the city again @ 24 miles I was struggling just to keep the old legs shuffling and mile 25 was pure agony and pain to reach in 4:43:37 and 14:08 split. At that point I tried to convince myself that I didn’t care about time but I knew that Maddog would be extremely pissed off if I missed 5 hrs by a few secs. I had 16 min to complete the final 1.2 miles. That meant I ‘had to’ run the entire final mile. I still don’t know how I did it but I ran mile 26 in a blazing 12:17 and cruised across the finish line in 4:59:12. The temps were in the low 90s and it was HOT!

 Sadly I confirmed what I had known at the start of the race. It is foolish and painful to run a marathon based on a training program of 35 miles/wk and no runs longer than 10 miles. I was not surprised that I had ‘hit the wall’ at 18 miles but I had forgotten how much it can hurt to keep the old bod going for another 8 miles after it has run out of energy. If I don’t want to repeat that painful experience in Guernsey I ‘must’ add some long runs while I am in Seattle.

 I am glad that ordeal is over and I am also glad to complete Marathon #359. That number represents an important goal which will become more significant after I complete Guernsey in a few weeks.

 Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

TR Samoa

Samoa & New Zealand
05/28 – 06/07/12

Race Results
Sat, Jun 2/12
Apia, Samoa
BlueSky Marathon
Marathon # 358 – Country #114

 When a good friend and fellow Country Club member from Germany informed me of this race about one year ago I was immediately interested. When I learned that the race was being held during Samoa’s 50th Anniversary for Independence that was icing on the cake.

It was difficult to get any info that far in advance but I did find a travel agency in NZ who was putting travel packages together for the race and decided that was the easiest way to travel and enter the race.

I used the last of my air miles for a ‘free’ award ticket on United to Auckland, NZ and booked the race pkg from Auckland to Samoa.

 My friend Dieter and I agreed to share a room to lower the costs. About two weeks before the race I informed another German friend - Corinna who I had met in Bhutan – about the race and that crazy gal decided to run the Samoa Marathon at the very last minute. It couldn’t have been easy getting flights to Samoa at that late date?

 A month before the race I was excited about my prospects of running a good race. However those plans blew up along with my right hamstring at a final ‘training’ marathon in Denver two weeks before Samoa. And as you may recall in that race report that injury/disaster was followed by a lot of ‘minor’ health issues in the final two weeks before I left. The surgeries messed with my psyche and the hamstring was still not healed when I began the long trip to Samoa.

I arrived in Samoa late Wed night and while waiting for baggage met another runner – a lovely young Kiwi lass (Ayesha) from Wellington, NZ who had booked the same race pkg. When we got to the hotel it was 11 pm. Our driver informed us that the restaurants and bars closed at midnight! By the time I found an ATM to get local currency I only had time for one beer and had to go to bed hungry!

On Thu morning I learned that the city and country would close down on Fri for a 5-day National Holiday to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. Thus if I wanted to buy my typical souvenirs I had to complete my shopping on Thu. Fortunately Apia is a small capital city and I finished all my shopping in the morning. In the afternoon I visited the home/museum of Robert Louis Stevenson. I also picked up my race packet from the running store that organized the race. The race director Mark was very friendly and provided all the needed info about race start, course, water stops, etc.

Friday was ‘Flag Day’ and opening ceremonies for the Independence celebrations. I soon realized that Samoan time is like Mexican time or anywhere in the tropics. There is no rush and nothing happens on time. The flag raising ceremony was supposed to start at 7 am – the flag finally got raised about 8:30am and by then the poor Samoan residents were dropping like flies from heat exhaustion. I stayed for some of the parade past the official review stand but by 9am it was too HOT even in the shade so I escaped to a bar and broke a rule – not to drink beer the day before a race! I knew that I was already in trouble so a beer wasn’t going to hurt much more! At 9am it was brutally HOT and since the race started at 5 am I might still have another hour to go on race day? I ventured back out into the morning sun/heat to watch the preliminary heats for the 42-man war canoe races. All the walking had caused the hamstring to tighten and it was sore so I managed to find a masseuse at a spa in a luxury resort to work on it and get it to relax. It did not look good for the race?

Dieter finally arrived on Fri afternoon and after an early pasta dinner we headed out to the UB 40 concert. It started at 7 pm but UB 40 didn’t come on till 8:30pm and the weather was OK by then. However we had to leave early because of the 5am start for the race on Sat. I enjoyed the concert and actually recognized many of the songs?

The marathon started at 5am. It was already hot & humid as 13 runners lined up for the start – and I knew 25% of them!  My initial strategy had been to run the 1st half fast to take advantage of the dark and COOL temps, then slow down (even walk?) in the heat during the 2nd half. However the hamstring was a big unknown? I decided to go out at a 10-min pace to test it. After a few miles a pretty young lass from Australia who had been running behind me caught up and we decided to run together. Mace was a lawyer living and working in Samoa on the auspice of the Australian government. It was her 1st marathon. We clicked off pretty steady 10-min miles in the dark. After we left Apia and were running along the North coast it was so dark we couldn’t see our feet. It could have been a serious problem because the road was not in good shape. However since we were in LAST place a sag wagon/ambulance followed us and lit up the road. The 2nd problem was dogs. There are lots of stray dogs in Samoa and they run in packs! Thankfully there was a biker/volunteer riding along and ahead of us to chase away the dogs. Mace informed me that the biker was her boyfriend. I asked her to give him a special reward after the race for keeping us safe from the dogs!

There were water stops located every 5 K (approx). That was it for distance markers except for a few markings on the road – one at the 10K turn-around, the Half turn and the marathon turn. That was all we had to judge our pace and make corrections. I couldn’t trust the hamstring – it would feel OK for a few miles and then feel tight and sore for the next few miles? Mace & I held the 10-min pace and reached the Half in 2:10:43. At that point my legs were starting to tire and the hamstring was becoming tight so I slowed my pace and sadly watched as Mace left my sore, OLD ass behind. I was definitely in LAST place. And I didn’t really care – and there wasn’t anything I could do if I did care!

My priority was to finish! I figured I would run a cycle of Run 2 miles and Walk 1 min for the 2nd Half to give my hamstring a chance to rest and loosen up and to prevent overheating? The ambulance continued to follow me. At my 1st walk break they must have thought I was in trouble because a young volunteer jumped out of the ambulance and ran up to me with an ice pack. I gladly accepted the ice pack and it felt wonderful to rub my neck and head with ice. By the time I passed 16 miles the hamstring was tight and sore and I had to stop and request an ice pack to ice the leg. The routine became every 10 to 15 min a volunteer would join me from the ambulance with an ice pack and I would use it to cool my body down and ice my hamstring. They kept me together until I reached the 10K turn point in 4:15.

At that point I could smell the finish line and knew the hamstring would hold together so I decided to run the final 5Km to make sure I finished under 5 hrs. That finish line was sure a pretty sight as I crossed it in 4:51:05. My performance wasn’t pretty – and it wasn’t fast – but I finished! Marathon #358 and Country # 114. And it also signified the completion of a marathon in every country in Oceania.

As I cooled down I tried to take some finish line photos but my damn (point & shoot) camera that I had carried all through the race wouldn’t work. Too much jostling in the case? I had to walk/limp to the hotel to retrieve my digital SLR to take the photos. Ayesha finished in 1st place OA and Corinna in 2nd place OA. They both earned $$$ for their great finish. Maddog finished in LAST place OA !

Later in the day Mark joined Dieter and I at the hotel to present us with an award and certificate of achievement. We offered some comments on how to improve the race. But I can’t say enough about  the efforts and hospitality of the race volunteers. That 2nd Half would have been much uglier and more painful w/o their help!

We had been advised that the city would close down on Sun and they were right. Nothing was open!

Luckily our pkg included a guided tour of the island on Sun that took all day. It was overcast and rainy much of the day (why couldn’t the weather be like that on race day?) so the tour was good – otherwise we would have been stuck in the hotel. And I couldn’t do much walking! My hamstring was tight and very sore and I had a huge blister on my left heel – probably from overcompensating to take the stress off my right leg? We toured the whole island. Lots of beaches and villages including some that had been completely destroyed by the Tsunami. There are lots of volcanic mtns and waterfalls. The Samoan fale or house is one open room with no windows or doors. There are few ‘western’ homes and although nobody starves in Samoa there is not much money! The nicest buildings in the country are government buildings and churches – ALL built and paid by foreign countries!

That evening we were shocked to find that ALL restaurants were closed? We had to taxi to some luxury resorts across the harbour to get something to eat and drink? Thus we were not too disappointed when it came time to leave on Mon. Ayesha, Dieter and I flew to Auckland on the same flight and parted ways in Auckland.

My pkg included a nice hotel on Queen St close to the harbor where many of the pubs are located. The weather on Tue was really nasty – rain and high winds. When I visited the top of the Sky Tower it was swaying so much I thought I was on a boat? But it did offer spectacular views that I share with everyone on my photo website. Thankfully the weather was better on Wed – my final day- and the hamstring and blister felt good enough so that I could enjoy an endorphin fix with a 1-hr run along Auckland Harbour.

After my morning run I toured the city to take photos to share with my readers. We visited Auckland about 25 years ago but I didn’t remember much? It is a pretty city but VERY expensive! I don’t know how people can afford to live there?

On Wed night I started my long journey back home. It is HOT & humid in FL – just like Samoa. I have been sleeping in late and starting my runs around 8 am. And paying for it! It is brutally HOT & humid! Thankfully we leave for the Rocky Mtns of CO at the end of this week. The weather will be cool and nice.

The blister is healed and the hamstring feels better but I am not sure what my plans or goals are? Every time I get to a point where I feel optimistic Mother Nature swats me back down with an injury or health issue. I am getting tired of getting back up. So I think I will take it easy for a few weeks or even a month  and then re-evaluate. Thank goodness I have only committed to one more race – in Aug! I don’t plan to make any commitments beyond that race/date!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

RR -Colfax Marathon

Race Report
Denver, CO
May 20/12

Race results:
Sun, May 20/12
Colfax Marathon
Denver, CO
Marathon # 357

I need to write this report before I leave for my next international race in a few days. I am behind for a number of reasons:
1)      I have been dealing with an unfortunate injury suffered near the end of this race
2)      I have also been dealing all week with a number of health issues more serious than the injury

As I mentioned in the previous race report I had selected two domestic marathons to use as long ‘training’ runs to prepare for my next international race. After the KS race I felt optimistic that I was finally getting back into race shape? I had lost weight, I felt good and I was starting to add intensity and speed to my training program. I hoped to run a BQ time (4:10) at the Colfax Marathon but I wasn’t sure how the altitude (Mile High City – 5200 ft) would affect my performance and time?

I had booked a long weekend stay in the Denver area so I could visit an old friend, Frank – aka the Mad Monk who is now living with his daughter and her family in Longmont, CO.

I arrived in Denver on Fri afternoon and drove up to Longmont to visit/stay with Frank for the night. We enjoyed a nice Thai dinner and reminisced about the good old days in Sarasota. Frank is looking good and doing much better now that he is living with family in a beautiful home in Longmont.

On Sat I drove into Denver to pick up my race packet at Mile High Stadium and check into a (dumpy) hotel near the start line. I ran the inaugural Colfax Marathon in 06 but they make changes to the course every year. This year the race started/finished at City Park and ran through Mile High Stadium twice.

The race started at 6am on Sun. The weather was nice for running – temp of 45F at the start in the dark and sunny and 50F when I passed through the Half. I was not impressed with the start. I guess I had predicted a finish time of 4:30+ on the entry form because they had me seeded in Coral E with the 4:45 pace group. And the start sucked! They started each Coral separately and in order. When our turn came we had to walk up to the start line and start the race – 10 minutes after the official start of the race. There were 12,000 runners in the Marathon & Half so I was completely boxed in until the two courses split upon leaving City Park around 1 ½ miles. I reached Mile 1 in 10:00 and I was sucking for air in the altitude so I was grateful that I had been forced to start slow. After the courses split the roads opened up and I was able to lower my pace to 9:20s and I was still sucking for air!

By the time I passed Mile 3 in 28:50 I had left the 4:45 pace group behind. But now I was frustrated and perplexed because my heart monitor would not work. I figured it was due to the dry air and not enough moisture on the chest transmitter so I fooled around with the chest strap for the next few miles and still could not get it to work.  I passed Mile 5 in 48:23 and a split of 10:01 because I had to slow down to mess with the heart monitor and I was really frustrated and decided I would just have to run the race w/o a monitor. Finally in desperation I moved the receiver/watch up to the transmitter and a miracle – it started to work properly. Somehow the pair had gotten out of synch. I never had that problem happen before?

Now that I wasn’t so frustrated I decided to lower my pace as we entered Mile High Stadium and ran along the sidelines of the football field. I passed the 4:30 pace group and Mile 10 in 1:37:03 and a split of 9:22. I figured I had lost at least 2 or 3 minutes due to the dumb start and the problem with the heart monitor but I was still hoping to reach the Half in 2:05? When I did pass the Half in 2:07:02 and a split of 9:34 I became concerned about my goal of a BQ time. I would have to run a negative split! And unfortunately the next two miles climbed to the highest point of the course and when I reached Mile 15 in 2:25:16 and a split of 9:48 I had to face reality – it was unlikely that I could break 4:10! Rather than put needless stress on myself I decided to re-set the goal to 4:15. However the course turned around and headed back down on a gentle decline on Colfax Ave toward downtown Denver.  I started clocking splits in the 9:15s and passed Mile 20 in 3:12:53 and a split of 9:31.

 At that point we ran back through Mile High Stadium and either the next mile was short or I got exuberant about sprinting down the sidelines “going out for a pass from Tebow” (er. I forgot -Tebow isn’t in Denver any longer) but I passed Mile 21 in 3:21:39 and a split of 8:42. Damn – I was back on a 4:10 pace! Even if I slowed my pace to 9:00 min/mile I could break 4:10!

I decided to hold my pace and “go for it”. However as I was approaching Mile 22 and pushing up a small incline to cross a foot bridge over a creek in downtown Denver my right hamstring suddenly and unexpectantly cramped and locked up. I knew immediately that the race was over for me. The pain was instant and excruciating and I had no choice but to stop to stretch and massage the muscle and try to find the trigger point that was causing the muscle to fire up. After 2 to 3 min I finally got the hamstring to release but it wouldn’t relax and loosen up. I knew that those 3 min. had already cost me any hope of a BQ time so I figured the best thing to do was walk and jog until the hamstring loosened up and not worry about time. I was concerned about aggravating the injury! I tried to walk and jog but strangely walking caused more pain that an ‘easy’ jog around a 12-min pace. As I passed mile 24 I was completely frustrated and in agony. I felt good energy-wise but the damn hamstring would not relax and loosen up. Each time I tried to lower my pace I could feel it on the verge of cramping or tearing! So I jogged/limped the final two miles and crossed the finish line in 4:21:40.

At first I felt good that I had wisely decided to walk/jog to minimize any risk of aggravating the injury. The leg didn’t feel too bad – but as I was walking through the finish chute the leg tightened up so I hurriedly took a mandatory finish line photo and headed back to the hotel for a hot soak. Unfortunately there was not enough time for a long soak before checkout so I decided to book a better hotel near the airport that offered a pool and hot tub. I checked in and went immediately to the hot tub with a 6-pack of CO microbrew (for medicinal purposes only). About 1 hour and 4 beers later the hamstring had finally relaxed but I was concerned about the soreness and involuntary limp as I went for dinner?

Thankfully and wisely I had pre-scheduled a massage with Attila the Huness for the day after I got home. She worked long and hard on the hamstring and it did feel better after the torture session but I was still unable to run the next day. Four days after the race I tried to run an ‘easy’ 10 miles but the hamstring tightened up after 4 miles and I had to quit!

And then the leg became the least of my health problems! I had scheduled surgery this past week to remove some cancer cells (skin cancer) on my ear and arm. The doc and I agreed to only remove/cut the cells on the arm because it would be more difficult to keep a wound on the ear clean and infection-free in a 3rd world country! I am glad we made that decision because my arm hurts like Hell! The day after the surgery I had another medical appt to review the results of tests to confirm a PSA that was too high. The doc recommended a biopsy of the prostate and the only day he & I could get together for the surgery was on Fri.  That was not a fun procedure and one I hope to never repeat again. So now I am on multiple antibiotics (which are a concern to me because of the UC) – my arm hurts like HELL and I have diarrhea and blood coming out of many places – and I have to get on a plane for 40 hrs of flights to a 3rd world country! The only good news in all this crap is that I am not allowed to run or exercise for the next week and that provides me with an excuse to rest the hamstring! The doc says I can run the marathon – just no training! Oh Joy!!! And if I survive all this crap – the day after I get back I have to go back to the dermatologist to get the cancer cut out of my ear before we leave for CO!

I can’t say life isn’t busy and exciting? But I can say that I am sick and tired of being sick & tired and I never want to see another doctor! This is definite confirmation of my constantly saying “OLD AGE SUCKS”!

But for now I am packing and getting ready to leave for my next race/adventure in Samoa.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

RR Garmin Marathon

Race Report
Sat, Apr 21/12
Garmin Marathon
Olathe, KS
4:17:47 – 2 AG
Marathon #356

I am tardy in writing this report because we moved into a new home at the end of Mar and we have been very busy making repairs and improvements. I did manage to take a few days off – actually days of rest from work – to run this race. After the last disastrous race in Saipan and with not much time for training because of the move I was not sure what to expect. I wanted to run a few ‘training’ marathons before my next international race in Jun so I searched for two marathons that would be satisfactorily spaced to provide the best training? The other criteria were cost. I no longer believe in spending/wasting a lot of money running domestic races – with the high costs of entry fees, air fares, rental car, etc. it now costs about $750 to $1K just to run a domestic marathon. Thus I searched for a couple of races that would be ‘cheap’ to travel to. I selected a number of marathons and compared costs to run them. The Garmin Marathon in Olathe, KS came out first because of cheap airfare to Kansas City. I flew up on Fri and returned on Sat right after the race. Not only did this save money but it put pressure on me to finish the race under 5 hrs so I could catch the return flight home! As I said I did not have much time to train but I managed to get up early most days and slog out some ‘junk’ miles before starting to work on the house. The good news was that by continuing to run and work every day I lost 12 lbs of fat. I was at my lowest weight in the past few years! At least I would have less fat to drag 26 miles! After arriving in KC I met an old friend for lunch and then drove to Olathe to pick up my race packet. Only they had not received or processed my entry that I had faxed into the race organization? That was quickly corrected and I retired to bed soon after a pasta dinner. The race started at 7am on Sat. The race started and finished at the Garmin HQ. I like this kind of race. Small, well organized and I parked within 500ft of the start/finish line! I joined about 2,000 runners – 700 in the Marathon and 1200 in the Half in ideal weather. The temps were 37 F at the start and the low 60s when I finished. The course ran through industrial and residential areas for the first half and on a paved bike trail for the 2nd half. It was boring – but flat! As I lined up for the start I found myself behind the 4- hr pace group. I knew that I was not in shape to run a 4-hr marathon but figured I would follow them out for a few miles to see how I felt? As we passed mile 3 in 29:21 I wondered why they were going so slow. That certainly wasn’t a 4-hr pace? When we reached mile 5 in 48:32 and a split of 9:26 I think the pacer realized he was behind pace and the group lowered the hammer. I was comfortable at the 9:30 pace and I knew I couldn’t stay with them at a faster pace so I held the 9:30 pace and watched them leave my sorry ass behind! I passed mile 10 in 1:36:57 and a split of 9:45. I felt pretty good so I decided to continue at that pace for as long as possible? At 12 miles the marathon split from the Half and dumped on to a paved bike path and three lovely young ladies passed me. They provided a spectacular view to follow (yes-Maddog is a male chauvinist pig!) so I dropped in behind them and enjoyed the view. We passed the Half in 2:06:40 but sadly they started to pick up the pace and I couldn’t stay with them and continue to enjoy the view. They left my sorry/sad ass in the dust as we approached mile 15 in 2:22:03 and a split of 9:26. I still felt OK but figured I needed to slow the pace about 15secs/mile. I started to look forward to a final turn-around point near mile 19. It seemed to take forever to reach that turn-around and I was looking to see how many old farts were in front of me? Shortly after I made the turn I noticed the 4:15 pace group not far behind me. I was already running way beyond my expectations and I figured the pace group would probably catch me in the final 10K? Indeed they passed me as I reached 20 miles in 3:14:00 and a split of 9:39. I decided to fall in behind the pace group and stay with them as long as possible. Unfortunately they hammered through the next mile in 8:42! That damn near killed me! I backed off and tried to keep the group in sight and managed to do so until I reached mile 23 in 3:43:48 and a split of 10:00. Suddenly my legs felt heavy and tired and at that point it was more important to me to run the entire race so I slowed my pace another 30 secs/mile. I managed to cruise the final 5K at that pace. I passed mile 26 in 4:15:22 and crossed the finish line in 4:17:47. By the time I passed through the finish chute and removed the chip I walked to the results table and was given a computer printout of my finish time and place! I had finished 2nd AG. I was very pleased with both my time and performance. It gave me a much-needed boost of confidence and motivation to continue training and hope that maybe – just maybe – there is a chance to run at least one more sub 4-hr marathon? The next ‘training’ marathon is in Denver, CO in late May. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

TR - Saipan

Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
02/27 - 03/05/12

Race Results
Sat, Mar 3/12
Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
Saipan Marathon
5:03:02 – 5AG
Marathon #355 – Country # 113

The planning for this race started one year ago when I was running a marathon in Guam. Guam runners informed me that there was also a marathon in Saipan and I had just missed it. So I started looking for info and a contact in Saipan. It was not easy. There is not much information on the NET. The race is organized by a running club in Japan and 98% of the runners are from Japan. However there is a local contact in Saipan that works for the Saipan Tourist office and he was able to confirm the date and provide me with basic details and an entry form.

Air fares had risen steeply since I travelled to Guam so I cashed in award miles on Delta to save the $2300 fare to Saipan. The downside was that I had to extend my stay to get award seats and based on my time in Guam I didn’t expect there was much to see and do in Saipan?

I left home in FL at 7am on Mon and arrived in Saipan at 1:10 am on Wed. I missed Tue while on a 14-hr flight from Atlanta to Tokyo and a 4-hr nap on the floor of the airport in Tokyo? After I arrived at my hotel I crashed immediately and forced myself to get up at 8 am so I could get my body clock adjusted to local time. I quickly learned that you don’t go outside after 10 am – it is too friggin HOT! The main tourist area on Saipan is the small town of Garapan. There are two huge beach resorts and a small downtown area with shops and restaurants that can be explored totally in 1 hour? Most of the shops and restaurants display menus and prices in Japanese since 99% of the tourists are from Japan. The economy is in poor shape because of the problems in Japan. By mid-afternoon I had explored the whole town and was bored. Fortunately my body clock was so confused and tired that I crashed by 5 pm- skipped dinner and slept 12 hours!

On Thu morning I woke early and ran an easy 5 miles along the Philippine Sea to acclimate my body to the weather conditions during the race. I checked out ‘canned’ tours but the few that were offered were only in Japanese so I rented a car for two days to do my own self-drive tour of the island. Most of the tourist sites are in the north end of the island – mainly historical WWII sites such as the Last Japanese Command Post, the Japanese and Korean Peace Memorials and the Banzai and Suicide Cliffs where Japanese soldiers and their families jumped to their deaths rather than be captured by American forces (see photos on my photo website). There are a few natural sites such as the Grotto and Bird Island. I explored all of these sites in ½ day – now what was I supposed to do? I drove around the South end of the island but there is not much there except residential areas and the airport? The car sat at the hotel for most of the 2nd day although I did go back to the Cliffs for some better photos.
Just before I left FL I received an email from a friend and fellow Country Club member, Brent Weigner, informing me that he and his wife Sue would also be in Saipan. They arrived late Thu and we met at packet pickup on Fri.

The race started at 4:30am on Sat to take advantage of the cool weather during the final hours of morning darkness. It was a ‘cool’ 79F and 80% humidity as Brent & I lined up in the dark with 350 runners – 270 in the marathon & 80 in a 50K race. The race started in Garapan near the American Memorial Park. The 1st 10K was a gentle climb north into a pleasant headwind to the base of the Suicide Cliffs. I reached 10K in 1:01:41 and a 5K split of 31:50. Distance markers were only located every 5K which makes it difficult to adjust your pace. When I made the turn near 11K I noticed that Brent was about 4 minutes ahead of me. I pushed the pace for the next 10K back down the gentle hills (with a gentle tailwind) and passed 20K in 2:06:28 and a 5K split of 31:33. I had decided the ‘smart’ strategy would be to push the pace until the sun rose and then it would be necessary to slow down. By 20K the sun had risen and the heat index started to soar. I knew that the 2nd Half would be HOT and ugly and I would eventually have to walk. So I figured I would be smart and start walking early to let the legs rest and help keep my body temps down near normal. I started walking at 20K and at each water station I drank lots of cold water and took a sponge to cool down my head and face! At first I was able to ‘run’ a cycle of Walk 1-min/Run 10 –min. I passed 25K in 2:42:37 and a 5K split of 36:08. I had slowed significantly and I was starting to overheat. I took off my familiar headband that I always wear to allow my head to vent the heat. I continued this cycle and slow pace until I reached 30K in 3:19:04 and a split of 36:26. I met Brent coming in the opposite direction and he looked strong. I was starting to struggle and when I made the final turn near 32K I realized that Brent was about 15 min ahead of me! And my wheels started to fall off! I couldn’t vent the heat fast enough and I was overheated! I had to shorten my cycle to Walk 1-min/Run 5-min and walk through every water station so that I could drink lots of water and sponge my head and face down with cold water in a futile attempt to lower my body temp!

I kept looking (in desperation) for the 35K marker? At 40 min –still no marker so I figured I must have missed it? Imagine my agony when I finally reached the 35K marker – at a split of 50:08! That was not possible! That equated to an average 10min/Km or 16 min/mile! The marker had to be wrong! But it totally frustrated and discouraged me! I had no idea how slow I was running nor how far it was to the finish line? I started to take more time at the water stations to cool down. I started to feel nauseous and my primary goal became survival – not time. When I finally reached the 40K marker in 4:53:32 and a split of 44:19 I knew the markers were wrong but I was totally demoralized. I didn’t believe it was 2 more Km to the finish line but I wasn’t willing to push the pace to break 5 hrs (in case the marker was correct)! I walked a lot of that final ‘2K’ and crossed the finish line in 5:03:02 and a split of 9:28 for the final 2K? In hindsight I could have finished under 5 hrs but I didn’t really care. I had finished safely and healthy.

I completed marathon # 355 and country #113. And I had accomplished an important personal goal – to become the 1st person to complete a marathon in “All 50 Sates + DC + 4 US Territories”! There are four ‘unincorporated organized territories in the USA – Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. There are also twelve unincorporated unorganized territories but most of those are uninhabited and none have official marathons!

After a hot shower and a short nap I enjoyed a wonderful massage to soothe the legs and then I joined Brent and Sue at the awards ceremony on the beach. Since Brent was not at the finish line I figured he had run a strong race – indeed – he finished in 4:10! It was a nice awards ceremony with entertainment and a BBQ but I couldn’t handle the sun and heat on the beach at 5pm so I retreated to a nice A/C restaurant for a quiet dinner. I am such a weather Wimp – I can’t stand Cold weather and now I have confirmed that I also can’t stand Hot weather! What am I going to do when we have to stay in FL for the summer?

The last two races have been very difficult and painful for me. I could use the excuse that I was sick or it was too hot but those are just excuses. The bottom line is that my times and performances have sucked for the past two years. I believe the injuries and health issues over the past two years have taken a large toll on my old bod and I am not sure that I can/will ever recover and return to the same level of performance that I was capable of a few years ago. And if that is truly the situation then maybe it is time to consider retiring from racing? I will decide by the end of this year!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

RR - Gainesville

Race Report

Sun, Feb 19/12
Five Points of Life Marathon
Gainesville, FL
4:58:51 – 2 AG
Marathon # 354

I need to get this report finished before I leave for my next international race. It has been delayed due to a nasty flu bug I have been fighting for the past week. In hindsight the fact that I was sick for almost one week after the last race has changed my opinion and feelings about the race. I will try to write the race report describing my actual feelings before/during/after the race without the knowledge that I was probably sick and did not know it at the time?

Having finished the Jacksonville marathon the previous week and finally running an entire marathon w/o walking for the first time in over a year I decided to run the Five Points Marathon faster. I ran the inaugural race six years ago so I reviewed my report from that race. Umm! I ran way over my head in spite of it being a tough course with lots of hills and set the course record- 3:29:31 - for my AG (60 to 64) that has yet to be broken! Well, that record was not in jeopardy. I would be happy to finish 1 hr slower?
The weather was forecast to be much warmer than the freezing temps I suffered the week before in Jacksonville. Temps were forecast to be in the low 60s.

I drove up to Gainesville on Sat, checked into a luxurious Super 8 Motel, picked up my race packet and enjoyed an early pasta dinner. The first shock the next morning was the weather. It was a balmy 72 F and windy at the 7am start. Fortunately it stayed overcast so the temps only rose to the high 70s. There were about 400 runners in the marathon and 1,000 in the Half. I remembered the first 6 miles were hilly with 3 BAHs (Bad Ass Hills) so I tried not to go out too fast through those hills and into a brisk head wind. I was pleasantly surprised when I passed Mile 6 in 58:29 and a split of 10:04. The course flattened out and I continued to push the pace to reach Mile 10 in 1:39:47 and a split of 9:42. However I noticed that my legs were starting to tire already and that was not a good sign? At Mile 11 we ran through the UF campus and Gator Stadium. As we approached Mile 13 the Half and Marathon split off and I now only had a few runners in front of me? As I passed the Half in 2:11:41 and a split of 10:31 I realized that I was slowing down and I knew the 2nd Half would be much slower. I hoped to continue to push the pace to at least 20 miles and then worry about walking? However as I was pushing the old bod up a BAH at 15 miles it suddenly became too difficult/impossible to keep the old legs churning and they stopped! I knew right then the race was over for me! I had ‘hit the wall’ – there was nothing left! It was going to be a long, tough slog for the final 11 miles.

I walked/jogged and struggled past 16 miles in 2:46:44 and a split of 12:31. I had hoped that if I walked/jogged a few miles my legs might recover enough to start running again but when I reached Mile 20 in 3:37:11 my split had slowed to 13:30 and I was walking more than jogging! And I felt like SHIT!
I was really discouraged that I had ‘hit the wall’ so early in the race? I didn’t believe I was in that bad of shape but yet I couldn’t seem to recover no matter how much I walked. It was ugly – and it was painful – but I was determined that I would gut it out to the finish line and finish # 354!
When I passed Mile 24 in 4:30:19 and a painfully slow split of 13:52 I knew that I would finish but I wasn’t sure if I could break 5 hrs? I figured I needed to lower my splits to 13:00/mile and allow a few minutes for the final 200 m.

I was running on energy fumes because there was absolutely no energy left in my body. Mile 25 – 4:43:51 and a split of 13:32. Not good enough! I sucked it up – refused to walk and passed Mile 26 in 4:56:27 and a split of 12:35. I held that blazing pace for the final 200 m to cross the finish line in 4:48:51 and salvage some pride for Maddog! I kept telling myself during the final 11 miles that this pain – this agony- this total feeling of fatigue was a great opportunity to teach the old bod how to cope with fatigue and pain! I hope I never have to suffer through another lesson like that for a long, long time!

My late checkout time at the hotel expired while I was crossing the finish line so I had to drag my sorry, tired ass into the car w/o even washing and drive 2 hrs to pick up the Sports Manager at the Tampa Airport. She was returning home from babysitting duties in TX. By the time we arrived home at 4 pm I was feeling so badly that it was all I could do to take a much-needed shower and go to bed w/o any dinner. I suffered all night with a high fever and hot and cold sweats. I thought I was sick because I had pushed the old bod beyond its limits. Only after the sickness and flu-like symptoms continued for another 3 days did I finally realize I didn’t get sick because of the race. I had probably been sick before and during the race but hadn’t realized it? No wonder the old bod gave up at 15 miles.

When I tried to walk on Mon morning my right calf was so stiff and swollen that pain was shooting down the leg into the plantar fascia and I couldn’t put any weight on the right foot? I thought I had a serious injury but I dragged my still-sick ass out of bed on Wed for a 1-hr torture session (massage) with Attila the Hunness and she managed to correct the problem(s). I think I just stressed too many muscles with that dumb effort to finish the race. Had I known I was that sick with the flu I think I would have dropped out and saved myself a lot of pain? But then I couldn’t have counted # 354 and a 2nd AG (there were only 2 runners in my AG).

But that is past history. The leg is feeling OK now. The flu seems be gone? Although I was unable to run/train all week I did manage to run 11 miles on Sun and my energy level seems to be back to normal.

So I am off to Saipan on Mon for my next international marathon. I will definitely run that race much smarter and slower in the tropical heat.

Stay tuned!

Monday, February 13, 2012

RR - Jacksonville

Race Report

Sun, Feb 12/12
26.2 With Donna Marathon
Jacksonville, FL
4:31:16 – 1AG
Marathon # 353

I planned this race as the 2nd of my ‘training’ marathons although I don’t like the drive to Jacksonville and I think the $125 registration fee ($135 with online fee) is ridiculous. However it is all donated to Breast Cancer Research and it is still easier and cheaper than flying to another state to run a race. I ran the inaugural race in 2008 when I was sick and struggled to finish under 4 hrs and 2nd AG. That finish time seems like an impossible dream these days? I was hoping that I could run 20 to 23 miles as part of my training program to get back into race shape.

As race day approached the weather forecast became bleak. A ‘Northerner’ was coming through FL and temps were forecast to drop below freezing with brisk North winds. I drove up to Jacksonville on Sat and arrived in the afternoon to pick up my race packet at the Expo at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in downtown Jacksonville. The weather was sunny and cool.

I stayed at a hotel in Neptune Beach that was a shuttle stop for the race. The race starts and finishes at the Mayo Clinic and since there is not enough parking the race organizes shuttle buses to bus 7000+ runners to the start. Fortunately the hotel agreed to extend a 3 pm late checkout to all runners. When I went for pasta dinner the temps had dropped to the low 50s but with a blustery North wind it felt much colder. It didn’t portend well for a 6:30am start on Sun?

The race starts at different times each year because 3 miles of the course is on Jacksonville Beach and it needs to be low tide to provide room for the runners. I planned to catch the last shuttle bus to minimize the amount of waiting time at the start but somehow ended up on a bus at 5:15 am that arrived at 5:30am. Damn! One hour to wait! The temp was 31F and with a brisk North wind – it was friggin COLD!
There were no tents or buildings to hide in! I had 4 layers of clothes on and I was still freezing! I waited until 10 min before start time to remove my warm up clothes (1 layer) and store them at the gear tent. Unfortunately as I approached the start line they announced that the race start would be delayed 10 minutes because some shuttle buses were late. I later heard from a friend whose shuttle bus arrived 20 minutes after the start of the race and she and others had to start late and try to catch up!

Since there were 7,000 cold runners lined up we huddled together and used each other to stay warm until the race started at 6:40 am. I started the race with 3 layers of clothes and the usual garbage bag to trap the body heat. After climbing a long bridge over the St John’s River (Intercostal Waterway) during the 1st mile I discarded the garbage bag. The bridge was followed by two overpasses over the next 2 miles so when I reached mile 3 in 30:36 I felt toasty and removed a sweatshirt. I hoped I wouldn’t regret throwing that sweatshirt away later. I passed mile 5 in 49:36 and turned on to the beach. With no protection from the brisk North (head) wind it was friggin COLD – I wished I had my sweatshirt back! At mile 8 we left the beach and turned into residential areas that provided some shelter from the wind. I passed mile 10 in downtown Neptune Beach in 1:40:41. I was averaging a 10-min pace even though my legs still felt stiff and tight from the cold. At mile 12 the race turned west and we finally got some relief from the head wind.

I reached the Half in 2:12:25 and I knew right then that the 2nd Half would not be that fast. My legs were already starting to tire! I passed mile 15 in 2:30:53 where the course finally turned South and we would now have a tailwind for the rest of the race. I finally started to warm up with the sun out and the wind at our backs. When I passed mile 18 in 3:01:29 and a split of 10:05 my legs really felt tired and I figured I needed to slow my pace down by 30 to 45 sec/mile if I wanted to make it to Mile 20 or 22 w/o walking. I reached mile 20 in 3:23:08 and a split of 10:35. My legs had recovered some with the slower pace and I figured I could probably make it to mile 22 or 23 before walking? I decided to push on. Each mile was a new record for me for quite some time. When I reached mile 23 in 3:55:31 and a split of 10:58 I was really excited and happy that I had made it that far w/o walking. I became determined to finish the race w/o walking!

Only a few ‘wee’ problems in the way! The last three miles were the same two overpasses and bridge as the 1st three miles and my legs were wasted! Thankfully Maddog showed up – he has been missing for some time and many races! He was determined to finish the race w/o walking so he made me suck it up and gut it out through the final 5K. Mile 25 to the top of the bridge was the toughest mile and longest split of the race – 11:17. But once I crested that bridge I knew I would make it to the finish line w/o walking! That final mile was tough – it was ugly – and it was painful – but I kept the wasted old legs churning and crossed the finish line in 4:31:16! For the 1st time in more than 1 year I had run an entire marathon w/o walking! I was not pleased with my time – I really thought I was ready to break 4:30. And I was very surprised to learn that SLOW time was good enough to win 1st AG?

Once I stopped it suddenly became bitterly COLD again – it was a balmy 41F at the finish! Thus I retrieved my warm up clothes, took a mandatory finish line photo and quickly retreated to a shuttle bus. Only when I got on the warm bus did I realize how COLD I really was. Back at the hotel I filled the tub with scalding water and submerged the old bod for 30 minutes. Only then could I begin to feel parts of my body that seemed to be missing?

I was not looking forward to the long (5-hr) drive home. I was tired and my legs were sore. And I will never drive through Orlando again – I 4 was a parking lot through Orlando! When I arrived home I was so tired that I didn’t even have enough energy to cook dinner or unpack. I went straight to bed and slept 12 hrs.

Now it is time to begin training for the next marathon – next weekend! I am encouraged and ahead of schedule. I didn’t expect to run an entire race until next weekend. Now I can push the pace a little harder and try to lower my finish time?

Stay tuned!

Monday, January 23, 2012

RR - Ocala

Race Report

Sun, Jan 22/12
Ocala Marathon
Ocala, FL
Marathon # 352

Rather than repeat a medical/health update please read the footnote added to my previous race report from Curacao.

Now that I am feeling ‘better’ I decided to stick with the proven and best way to get back into marathon shape – by running marathons! Luckily winter is race season in FL and there are lots of races to choose from that I can drive to. The 1st race after the cruise was Ocala. I have run this race many times and won my AG almost every time. It is a ‘hilly’ course in the horse country around Ocala.

Typically the weather is not great – either cold or rain or both – but this year the forecast was sunny skies and temps in the low 50s at the start. There were some minor changes to the course again this year as the race started and ended at the Paddock Mall in Ocala. There were
200 runners lined up for the 7 am start. It was the nicest weather I have experienced in the many years I have run Ocala – sunny and a pleasant 51 F at the start and warmed up to the mid 70s by the time I finished.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the old bod? During the few long training runs (13 & 16miles) I completed after the cruise I could only run an 11-min pace and my legs were beat at the end of the runs? I knew that I couldn’t run the entire race so my initial race strategy was to run a cycle of Run 5 miles & Walk 1 min. However when I passed Mile 5 in 50:06 I was pleasantly surprised with the 10-min pace and I felt GOOD so I decided to revert back to the race strategy I used in the past to beat my old bod into race shape – run for the 1st 20 miles or until my legs tired and forced me to walk! As I approached a turn-around near Mile 10 I noticed an old friend Rick Karamptsos coming in the other direction. He was about ½ mile ahead of me. I decided to catch him!

I passed Mile 10 in 1:38:10 – I was running over my head for the shape (or lack of) I was in!
I passed the Half in 2:08:33 – a way ahead of my expectations. But I had no false illusions or fantasies. I knew the 2nd half would be much slower and involve a lot of walking! When I made a turn at Mile 16 for the 2nd and shorter 10-mile loop I could see Rick ahead of me and I finally caught him at Mile 18. We ran together for 1 mile but then I could feel my legs starting to tire and I had to watch Rick pull ahead as I struggled to continue running to Mile 20. I reached Mile 20 in 3:18:10 (still on a sub 10-min pace) but my legs were wasted! I started to walk! I set a strategy of Run 1 mile & Walk 1 min and was able to hold that cycle for the next 4 miles and average an 11:30 -min pace. However the final 2 miles have some really nasty hills and I had to struggle to keep the old legs shuffling and was forced to add a few extra minutes of walking on the hills. At that point I really didn’t care about time. I had exceeded my expectations and a few more minutes weren’t going to hurt my finish time!

I struggled across the finish line in 4:34:37. I didn’t win an AG award but I was very happy with my time and performance. It was a great ‘training’ marathon! I discovered that I am in better shape than I thought. All I need is a few more months of training and a few more marathons and I will be back in marathon shape. And I confirmed that the ‘fatigue and shortness of breath’ issues are behind me. It is amazing how much easier it is to run when you have a heart that is working properly!

My only disappointment was my lack of motivation and willingness to accept pain. I could have finished under 4:30 but was unwilling to push the old bod and accept the level of pain necessary to accomplish that time! Hopefully as I get into better shape and become competitive again the ‘fire in the belly’ and desire to win will return? If not then I will seriously consider hanging up the racing shoes and retire from racing by the end of this year!

What will happen? Who knows?

Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Country Club List

Country Club List. (Oct 6/12)

A list of members who have completed a marathon or ultra in a minimum of 30 different countries.
Note: A country may only be counted ONCE and a marathon that passes through more than one country (such as Monaco) may only count for ONE country. All members in the top five ranking must verify their stats.

Runner Country # Countries

John Wallace USA 115
Wally Herman Canada 99
Edson Sanches USA 78
Horst Preisler Germany 70
Stefan Schlett Germany 65
William Govi Italy 64
Jaap Van de Berg Netherlands 59
Tad Lancucki(d) UK 57
Peter Maier Germany 56
Yen Nguyen USA 54
Peter Bennet USA 54
Klaus Westphal  Germany 54
Dieter Elster Germany 48
Roger Biggs UK 46
Peter Dennett UK 43
Brent Weigner USA 42
Curt Sandberg Sweden 42
Don Lang(d) USA 41
Helmut Linzbichler Austria 39
Oswald Waye UK 37
Sudyong Toprasert Thailand 36
Ron Hill UK 33
KG Nystrom Sweden 32
Antonius Steinberg Germany 30
Karsten Koehler Germany 30
(d) - deceased