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!