Thursday, December 25, 2014

RUNDOWN: 2014 California International Marathon (#23)

Where the heck have I been? Finally posting a review to a race that was in December of 2014? 

I have no excuse. I have been busy, with both work, and with fun traveling. Finally I'm catching up.

The picture below from the expo is with my friend Steve, it was his first full marathon. Steve is a Triathlete and is moving up to the Ironman this is an important step. 

No photos from this event, but as I recall it was pretty cold at the start. I stayed on the bus and kept warm and relaxed. Not much training had happened since Indy..just recovery running. I wasn't too worried. 

I remembered the course from my previous run and enjoyed it, it's not scenic but it's a fast course and love those point-to-point runs. 

I had a good run..I knew I was not speedy but had run two marathons since probably good endurance still. Therefore I was targeting a similar  11:00 pace (4:46 or so) and held to that pretty well

2014-12-07 Sun
Split Miles    Pace    

You can see from my splits I slowed down a bit in the last 6 miles. Total distance only 26.2 though..this is a good course for running the tangents..and there aren't a lot of turns.

Marathon #23 down!  Barcelona next!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

RUNDOWN: 2014 Indianapolis Monument Marathon (#22)

Well, this was a switch. Running a marathon on Saturday? Why would a city mess up city streets on a Saturday? For the answer you'll have to read through..heh heh.

By the way, there are TWO marathons in Indy: the other one (NOT "Monumental" ) runs out to the racetrack and back. I've been told it's a pretty boring course.

Just a recap of where I was in my running: 3 months ago I tore a muscle in the arch of my right foot. Since then I have only done about 250 miles of running with 50 miles of that being the Chicago Marathon and the Indy Marathon.

The foot has been healing but it's been a very weird and different process from other injuries I've overcome (AT, calf strains).  Balancing training and rest for before Chicago was difficult, but after Chicago I figured I was good to go to speed up and run a bit more. About a week after I did a normal pace run (rather than my current 11m/m easy runs) and the foot Did Not Like. That scared me a bit so I basically only ran 3 times in the three weeks before Indy. I did do some recumbent cycling and usual gym routines.

Toni and I flew out to Indy on Thursday, arriving early enough for a nice dinner in the cool and hip Union 50 restaurant on Mass Ave..a trendy revitalized area where they have kept all the old industrial bulidings and fixed them up something grand.

After dinner we walked to the Hilton and through monument circle..some cool lights on the buillding there in the background. 

The next day we hit the expo up at 11am and I got my swag and bib. The shirt is *the* best shirt I have gotten at any marathon: it's a multi-panel shirt (so has a taper to it) with the panels in different colors. 

The sponser, St Francis Hospital, has a small logo. Not like most shirts where the bank or whatever has a huge effing logo on the front. The money from this marathon goes to benefit health and fitness education in Indy schools which is really nice too.

Here's a photo of the shirt, along the medal: also really nicely done. If you run 4 years in a row they fit together and make a big medal with a hole in the center.

Not bad eh? But wait! There's more! But you'll have to read on ...heh heh.

The weather on Friday was terrible: very cold, rainy and 30+ kph winds.  It was supposed to get dry but still cold and windy on race morning.. perhaps 30F or so with 23kph winds at the start time (8am). I was really worried about this  so I bought a pair of compression pants at the Expo. I have NEVER run in anything other than shorts...even at CIM where it was 37F at the start..but there was no wind at CIM and here it would be blowing a gale.

After the Expo we took a taxi out to IMA: Indianapolis Museum of Art and spent about 4 hours there. If you are interested in art it's one you have to visit.

The rain let up a bit during the day but it was still blowing a gale and freezing when Toni and I headed out to the pasta-feed. 

Unfortunately the dinner was being held in tents set up for the race and it was very cold (32F) and windy..the food was decent as such things go but it was sending up huge clouds of steam it was so cold.

After such an unsatisfying dinner I took Toni to a nearby wine bar and we relaxed a bit there before heading back to the hotel.

I got my stuff together but scratched my head about what to wear. I would wear my normal hat but with a ear warmer and gloves. Tights on the legs, with shorts over and with bib pinned to one leg so I could have a jacket and still have it visible (Ultra runners trick).

On my upper body I had: microfiber T  + throw away cotton T + long sleeve micro fiber + greenlayer jacket. Yowza! A ton of stuff...but I knew I could always spin-up and tie the last two items around my waste if I got really hot. Not elegant but better to be warm at the start.
Unlike Chicago it was not easy for Toni to meet me to let me give up some of my I would (and did) keep them with me.

I didn't sleep that well, wondering how the cold would work out and finally got up at 6:15am. Down in the lobby were a bunch of runners hanging out. Most of the runners I met were from a few hours driving distance away. I took a gander outside and YIKES! ...COLD and windy. Flags on top of the buildings around were standing straight out. 

Luckly the temps were not below was exactly 32F. On of my nightmares in bed was the water stops turning into skating rinks from the spilled water. This would not happen...whew!

I wasn't in a corral or anything...just headed to the back and managed to find three maniacs hanging out and tolked with them. 

Here's a blurry shot of how crowded it was at the start...there are 3000 marathoners and a much bigger batch of halfers.

Good news was it looked like it would be sunny rather than the forecast mostly cloudy! 

Eventually we started, it took me 8 minutes to get to the starting line and then we ran. It was a bit tight as usual but since I was just doing slow paces I didn't really care.

The route takes you south of the center of town for about 2.5 miles and then heads you back up to monument circle..the place with the cool lighting in the night shot above. You come into the circle at 3 o'clock and leave at 12..headed straight north.

Nice fall colors on all the trees and the winds noticeable but not too bad. Not many spectators though but I don't mind that. 

In the shot above I'm at about mile 9 on Washington Blvd..a residential street with huge lots and fancy old houses. Hard to see but in the patch of shade at the top of the stairs there is a huge german shephard that is not leashed. He's barking at all of us as we run by.

In a few spots the road was broken up, you can see a bit of that on the bottom right in the shot above. Not too bad...I've run on cobble stones in Copenhagen and that is worse!

At about this point I lost two minutes doing wardrobe fiddling. I took off the outer two layers to get rid of my disposable T-shirt and then tied the long sleeve tech shirt around my waist.

That's pretty much how I rolled for the rest of the race. I was sweating when the winds were behind, cold when they were ahead. The temperature regulation is a big pain of running a race in the cold. Not good if you wanted to PR.

 This race was pretty well run but the only negative I have is that a lot of running was done on roads shared with cars. There were cones put down and the drivers were reasonable by and large.

However, it was a Saturday and the marathon did mess up the city pretty badly. Often there were huge lines of people waiting to turn across the route, with a policeman stationed to pick the moment to wave somebody through. I felt bad sometimes when I was the only person going through the path...spoiling the chance for the lead car.

Twice I saw policemen losing their tempers with people that just didn't get the fact that they could not go down the street they wanted to go. In once case the cop finally shouted "If you do not turn your wheels to the left I will issue you a $250 ticket right now!" 

In the other case a women was having a hard time goosing her car at the right moment to get through the gaps in the runners.. the policeman was frustrated and shouted "Do you want me to drive your car for you ?! When I motion like need to GO..else you hole everybody behind you up!"

Ouch. I never saw anybody yelling at us runners though.

So WHY was the race on a Saturday? Answer: this is a religious town. The churches and their congregations don't want the access to churches blocked. At least that is the story told to me. Perhaps they also don't think marathons are appropriate on a day of rest either? Dunno.

 The building above is part of Butler university, which we ran through. No huge crowds there, for sure. Maybe 4 people cheering ;)

Now we pop into a little part off of Butler, very pretty.

The next photo is the Lilly house, the grounds of which also house the IMA museum I mentioned above. 
 And then we come to some of the outdoor sculptures of IMA on the grounds there. I managed to snap a shot of the iconic LOVE sculpture made in Cor-ten steel by Robert Indiana. It was made in 1970...I have seen copies (mostly in concrete) all over the place ...including Malta!

Then we turn the corner and you see the museum itself. We are at about mile 19 now.

 Below is an art deco  building called the "Naval Armory", not sure why we have one in the middle of the plains but it sure is white. Looked good against the blue sky.

Below see the canal of Indy..'Canal?' you say. Yup. We were told that in the 1800's the got the idea of building a 160 mile long canal to the Ohio river...they built about 40 miles before they almost bankrupted the state and quit.   For years they were covered over, but now they make great recreation areas. We saw them on the run several times.

Now we are about 24 miles. I had been holding about a 11:07 average m/m pace but was starting to have to walk / run. 

Skyline getting closer...when I got to have mile to go I dropped my little hammer and sped up to 9m/m or so. 

Finished just a tad slower than Chicago...4:51:15. Not bad considering how little running I've been doing..

The finish was uncrowded and we got our medals and MORE SWAG, first a nice tyvek jacket with zip and hood instead of a space blanket.

And also this great beanie hat nicely embroidered


I met up with Toni and the finish and after a hot shower (didn't realize how chilled off I was! Wow felt really great) off to BruBurger for the usual post marathon feed!

By Tuesday I felt pretty good, and started exercising again. Probably run lightly tomorrow. The foot feels pretty excellent..after a week or so I will again try to up the paces a bit. 

Next up CIM on 12/7 in Sacremento!

bib number:
overall place:
2847  / 3725
M 55-59 
division place:
117  out of 153 
gender place:
1794  out of 2163 
1:05:33  (pace: 10:35 , rank: 3023 )
3:23:04  (pace: 10:54 , rank: 2939 )
first half:
2:22:01  (pace: 10:51 , rank: 3080 )
last half:
2:29:14  (pace: 11:24 , rank: 2603 )
net time:
11:07  (based on net time)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Marathon Recovery

Recovering well from Chicago....have done some light running starting Thursday. 
Today (Sat) scored some tickets to the Nasa/Ames open house.

We walked about 5 miles in there. Here's a shot of Toni inside the bones of Hanger One

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

RUNDOWN: 2014 Chicago Marathon (#21)

Arrival and Expo
The "Bean" and skyline

Friday: After some delays at SFO due to air traffic problems around ORD (due to the vandalism in the control tower recently) we arrived in Chicago to sunny weather. 

We stayed in the Hilton...pricey but right at the center of everything. 

Saturday: Off to the Expo a bit late but before it got too crowded. The shuttle from the Hilton had a huge line so we just cabbed it. 

The packet pick-up was amazing: You had a QR code on your race booklet they had mailed you via both US post and email (pdf). There were lines that took you very speedily to people that scanned your code, looked at your ID (US license or a passport) and then told you which of about 50 tables to head to.

As I walked to table 47, the person said "You must be Paul" as she had a display showing the people that had been guided to her table...and I was the next. Amazing.  She gave me my bib packet (which she had already fished out when I was walking over) and pointed me to the T-shirt pickup. (Which as usual required running the gauntlet of all the expo booths).

Me and Hal Higdon
The T-shirt is pretty good, IMHO. Toni didn't like it but Iiked the dark grey-black color as these shirts don't look yucky after a year or two of use like white ones do 8). Of course, Bank of America gets huge billing on the shirt but the bold white letter are pretty striking and the date 10-12-14 is nice.

My only other goal at the Expo was to see my hero (and I don't have many): Hal Higdon. 
If you read my first marathon report you'll know I used his training plan and I read his book about 1 zillion times. I especially read his recommendation on first marathon pacing and that stood me well. So I went to his booth to get a pic with him. He also autographed my bib and his signature survived the sweating to come ;)

After the Expo Toni and I went up to the Art Institute to see the new wing. Pretty nice. I ended up walking around and being on my feet for about 6 hours that day, not the greatest idea but I refused to worry about it.

Had a great Italian dinner at a restaurant called "Sofi" that was close to the hotel and spoke with a few other runners there. One, named Mark was from near Shreveport, LA and it was his first marathon. On race day he passed me and recognized me (probably because of my Marathon Maniacs shirt) and was on a path to a 9:35 m/m finish! 

Race Day

As you may know, I injured my PF in my right foot acutely about 10 weeks before race day. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to be doing a lot of stretching and foot rolling to break up the scar tissue in my foot. I also switched to much softer shoes (Hoka ones and brooks Pure flows) and used gel heel lifts to reduce the stress. 

I slowed way down to 11 m/m paces in my (sparse) training and took it easy. I did not want to miss race day!  On runs I was not hurting but my foot did ache a form not too messed up but I had no idea if I would pull another muscle after 15+ miles. So it was a bit of a crap shoot. My plan was to stick to a 5 hr goal with around 11m/m (4:50 finish) pace that would allow for some walk /stretching time.

I was seeded in corral D because of my Eugene 2012 3:55 time which was nice (but it meant that people were passing me in droves the entire race until mile 20 or so.

Here I am in the corral: it looks much lighter that it was at that time. The weather was perfect: 48F at the start. There were no clouds which meant it might warm up a bit much but it made for a beautiful Chicago to be seen!

I used my Garmin 620 so Toni could see a 'Livetrack' of where I was. I am not happy about the GPS reception in this watch compared to my 610, but this course has accurate 1 mile markers with clocks so all I really needed was the stopwatch. 

This next shot is after the can see how crazy crowded it was! The sun is up
and we are headed out!

Now you can see the crowed are thinning out. Unlike Berlin, Chicago has wider streets throughout the entire race so no "choke points" to slow you down. I did not have to jink around anybody (because I was going so slow) but people didn't really have to jink around me either. 

The crowds were already lined up in the first few miles! My goodness. Only a taste of things to come.  I was going out a bit fast with a pace in the tens and after a few miles had to really tell myself to stop that and slow the F down.

I heard a funny noise behind me and this guy came by: he was dribbling two basketballs and running about a 10m/m pace. Amazing. He is ""

We are headed north up at about mile 5 and reach Lincoln Park, where my sister in law used to live. Lots of nice trees up there.

The botanical garden up there...crowds pretty thin here.

At about mile 7 we have turned around and are headed back to town. You could spot the former Sears (now Willis) tower.

Unlike downtown NYC Chicago has a lot more interesting areas where things are not a pure grid: because of the rivers that cut through town with zillions of bridges. Chicago is also a lot cleaner city than NYC in my opinion. (I love both cities, btw). 

As I approached the half marathon point, I was looking for Toni and didn't find her. As it turned out the 620 livetrack wasn't working well at all. (I was seeing goofy stuff on the watch due to the poor reception in the skyscrapers and she saw my track all over the place. The livetrack also spontaneously reset so my elapsed time she saw was goofy)

The crowds were amazing. Some places just pushed you along with a wall of cheering. If you had your name on your bib (I didnt) they called out to you. I was wearing my maniac shirt and got shot outs for that all the time.

Even though it was sunny, there were trees providing shade, and of course a lot of tall buildings also, so the temps were good. 

Heading back into the city again after going out to the west.

 Toni hadn't been able to find me yet and so at some point around mile 16 I texted her "@ mile 16 and all well" so she would know my foot was ok and I was still cruising along.

Heading into Chinatown...the last 6 miles or so I think. There were 20 aid stations on this course and each one was a full two blocks long and all laid out the same: sports drink for the first block on BOTH sides of the street, water on the second block.

I started only taking water every other water stop after about the half and I was decently hydrated after the finish. 

This was my first race taking gels via small gel flasks with Hammer gel rather than GU packets. (I had been using them in training of course). This worked out really well. I could take a small sip of gel every mile or so and my stomach was much happier than a whole packet at a time after 45min. I finished the race having taking the equivalent of about 10 previous max consumption  was about 6.

At the Expo Scott Jurek was telling people that 6 GUs per race (one every 45 min) was NOT enough...which agrees with the recent research I have read.

Scott Coe of Portland Oregon. I think
we have about 4 miles to go here.
 As we headed back north to the finish, the sun was behind us and so the shadows of the buildings didn't help (you can see this below) so it was getting a bit warmer but still not too bad. Glad to be on the home stretch.

Scott nicely took my camera and got a shot of me.
As I ran through mile 23 or so, I heard my wife call out my name (which was a miracle given all the crowd noise) and I crossed over to meet her. It was great to see her and I was able to get rid of my jacket that I had spun up and tied around my waist!

She texted with my friend Mark, he was at the convention center (yes same as Expo) but at a medical convention doing presentations there. He was off for lunch and asked her if I was finished with the race. She told him I had just gone by so he wandered out and suddenly jumped in when he saw me.

My friend, Mark Payne, running along with me
for a bit at about mile 25 in his full business suit!
Hilarious to see him running in his suit!

Soon after I saw the dribbling guy again.

basket ball man passes me again? How did this
happen? Perhaps he stopped for a rest someplace?
(His splits show that he lost a bunch of time over me from 30-35km.)
 Really getting close now

Getting very close now. About 1.5 miles out?
On the approach to the right turn on Roosevelt street the crowds were 6 deep on each side and yelling like mad. I speed up just a little bit as I was actually feeling decent (considering) and was happy to have my foot holding up and my pacing being a success and of course, the finish being so near! The crowd responded to this in a way that was crazy. I was tempted to hold that pace up Roosevelt (a 50' rise just 400m from the finish) but I knew my heart rate was already probably pretty high and pushing the same pace up the hill would be dumb.

The sides of this rise had a bunch of race staff cheering us on, and I noticed they all had "EMT" signs on them. They were taking long hard looks at each runner in the eye as I went up the course...they knew this was the place where a lot of people might over do it. I've never seen that at a finish.

I read that 25 people got taken to the hospital. 2 got CPR. I hope they get better. I'm sure the marathon did a great job tending to them. 

Overall Impressions

Best run race (especially considering the size) I have seen so far..thousands of volunteers
of all ages and all very well organized.
Best crowd support (OMG! 1.7 Million spectators)
Super weather this year
Lots of people from all over the world.
Chicago a great city as always, course is varied and fun.
I would do it again for sure!


This race provides 5k splits, plus the half (of course). My speed varied but
my half splits are 2:19:31 / 2:19:05, which is a teeny negative split. I could
not be more pleased! 

SplitTime Of DayTimeDiffmin/milemiles/h

Place Gender16036 / 22177
Place Age Group771 / 1198
Place Overall26025 / 40567
Finish Time04:48:36
Today is "DOMS day" (Tuesday) and my foot feels really great. I think the 26.2 at a slow pace has actually "tenderized" all the scar tissue in there. It actually feels better than before the marathon. Yay!
On to Indianapolis in 2 weeks!