Monday, November 26, 2012

Training Continues

The miles are down this year.  In fact, the miles are down this month as well.  I had that IT Band injury early this year which sidelined me for about 2 months of no running and then this summer, I ran about half as much as I did in the past fearing the IT issue would resurface.  The past 2 years at this point in time, I would be around 1500 miles but this year I am still under 1000 miles, closer to like 915.  I think I will make 1000 for the year still barring another injury but still way down.

I am OK with this.  I think if things go well next year, I will be back up in mileage, maybe not to the over 1600 miles I have been at the past 2 years, but back up.  I have noticed that I do not have the endurance in the later miles that I used to have.  I struggles a lot to break 4 hours by only 3 seconds with pretty good weather 2 weeks ago where in the past, I feel that would have been to the lover 3:50's with similar conditions and course.

I did go on a 15 mile run with Mike this past weekend.  We finally got some pretty cold weather here in Wisconsin so this was the first really cold run of the season.  We left when it was 23F out.  My running tights have worn a little so to avoid so chaffing, I chose to wear shorts.  The first couple miles were a bit cold but in the end, it was nice shorts weather.  We ran a conservative easy pace and caught up on things talking the entire way.  In the last mile, we wanted to drop the average pace to under 9:09 (4 hour marathon pace) so we picked it up and ran a sub 8:00 to finish at average 9:07.

We are both going to South Carolina in 2 weeks (along with our friend Paul) to run the Kiawah Island Marathon. The goal will be a sub 4 again.  Hopefully it will be cold that day, I like the cold for race day.  The course is super flat, maybe like 10 feet difference since it is run right along the ocean.

In other running related news, on Thanksgiving, my friend Chris asked me to be the Race Day Director for his race in Burlington, The Talmer Turkey Trot.  Things went well and my 10 year old daughter, Melissa, ran.  She will tell you she ran terrible, and I agree, she did for her ability, but then again, she hasn't run in over a month and a half since Cross Country season ended.  She ended up running the 4 mile race in 37:47, over 2 minutes slower than she ran last year.  But, she did end up taking 1st place in the 14 and under age group so she was at least happy with that.

So the training continues and the races are still there.  I am still having fun.

Keep on Running!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Race Report - Marshall University Marathon

Sunday, November 11th was the Marshall University Marathon in Huntington, West Virginia.  Paul and I decided to run this race a few weeks ago and make a road trip out of it.  How much of a road trip?  Well, 1170 miles or driving in a little over 36 hours and add running a full marathon in there.  Sounds like a good road trip to me. 

Paul and I left from his house at 5:00AM on Saturday and pretty much drove straight through to Huntington, only stopping for gas and food.  After only 9 hours, we were on the campus of Marshall University to pick up our race numbers and shirt from the Rec Center on campus.  Oddly enough, there was no packet to pick up, I guess there were trying to go green or something.  All I received at the time was a technical short sleeve shirt and my race number.  So glad they gave out short sleeve shirts, too many race feel they need to give out long sleeve and I have waaaaayyy too many of those.

This is the 9th year of the Marshall University Marathon and is put on as a memorial to the many who lost their lives in a plane crash back in 1970.  Almost the entire Marshall  University Football team died back on November 14th, 1970 in a tragic crash coming back from a road football game.  The Movie "We Are Marshall" tells the story of the crash and the resurrection of the football team the following year.  On campus is a memorial fountain in honor of those who lost their lives.  The full marathon runs past this fountain 2 different times.  Unfortunately, the half marathon did not run past this fountain.  I think the marathon did a poor job at letting the runners know where this fountain was or that it really existed.  I found it after asking some staff on campus.  In past marathons here, they gave runners the option to place a flower at the memorial during the race but I did not see this happening this year.  Not sure if they did this or not.  

Memorial Fountain on the Campus of Marshall University.

West Virginia is in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains but somehow, they were able to create a mostly flat marathon there.  This marathon has only 3 or 4 very short hills, maybe 30 feet up so this is a fast course.  It is a double loop course for the full marathon which I was unsure if I would like or not.  I have done a 95 lap marathon and a 208 lap marathon, but never a 2 lap marathon.  In the end, I liked knowing the course and running it a second time when I was getting tired toward the end.  I would not mind doing a double loop marathon again.  Most of the course is on city roads but there is a stretch for a few miles each loop on a crushed limestone path through a pretty park.  If I remember correctly, there are very few full marathons in West Virginia so if you are trying to do all 50 states, this is a pretty good one to do.

The race started right outside the Football Stadium at 7:00AM.  The weather was cool, mid 40's and there was about 1500 half and full marathoners that all started together.  The road was pretty full of runners so Paul and I headed toward the back of the pack.  The announcer was either non existent or I just couldn't hear them but I never heard a National Anthem before the race.  We also could not hear the starting gun, we just saw runners starting to go.  There was no timing mat at the start either (this comes into play later).

Paul decided he was going to run with me so after a couple slow miles, we ramped it up to about 8:50 pace.  Paul was having some stomach discomfort to often we would stop and would catch up to me later.  It warmed up pretty quickly and by halfway through the first lap, I was warm and needed to remove the long sleeve shirt and go with just the singlet.  At the halfway point, I tossed my shirt and it was nice for awhile.

For the first 12+ miles, the half marathoners ran with the full marathoners, then right as we hit the edge of campus, the full marathoners turned into campus and ran straight through the middle right past the memorial fountain.  At the stadium, the full runners kept on the road and the half marathoners finished in the stadium.  Paul was with me as we passed the half in 1:57:45ish as the average pace was finally under 9:00.  We kept running on and off together as I would go ahead and he would catch up.

By mile 21, my legs were starting to get tired and it was getting quite warm, mid 60's already and fully sunny.  My goal was always to break 4:00:00 so I knew I needed to keep up 9:09 average to make that.  And I knew my garmin was marking the miles a little early so I knew I had less time.  The miles started slowing down but I kept my mind on track and still tried to get the under 4.  We hit mile 25 and I looked at my watch and guesses we needed to run a little under 9:00 to break 4.  I tried picking it up and Paul was being very encouraging.  Finally with a half mile to go, Paul was pulling away and I tried as much as I could to pick it up as I knew it was going to be close, VERY close.  The hill down into the football stadium was very steep and Paul was already way ahead of me making sure he broke 4.

The final part of the race is really cool.  You enter the stadium and run along the sidelines of the football field until you reach the 20 where you then run to the center of the field.  They then toss you a football for you to run with for the final 80 yards.  This was fun and unique.  I caught the football and headed for the goal line as fast as I could.  I crossed the finish line with the clock reading 4:00:24.  BUT, that was the gun time.  I said they didn't have a timing mat at the start line and this REALLY sucks.  My official time is 4:00:25 BUT my "Chip Time", if they had it, would have been 3:59:57.  Here is where I am confused at their decisions.  They had a timing mat at the finish of course.  They had one at the half marathon mark, AND they had one at 30 yards before the finish line (I assume so they could read your name over the speakers).  So now my official time is over 4:00 but I actually ran under 4:00 because I started in the back and it took me that long to reach the starting line.  Oh well, I am still going to call it a sub 4:00.

Finish line of the Marshall Marathon.  My "Chip Time" would be 3:59:57, not 4:00:24

After the race, we headed to the car to get some dry clothes before heading back to the stadium for some pictures.  Suddenly my blood pressure dropped (this has happened a few times after marathons) and I felt really crappy.  I was laying in the middle of the football field for a while waiting for it to pass as it has in the past.  This time took a little longer than usual and I think it has to do with me being a bit dehydrated after the race.  During the race, I think I was fine with hydration, but afterwards, it was warm and sunny and I think it happened quickly.  I recovered and after a quick shower, Paul and I got in the car and started our trek home.  We arrived home at about 10:00 PM after a stop in Cincinnati for a big dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse.  I sure get hungry about 4 or 5 hours after finishing a marathon.  I can't eat anything for 2 or 3 hours but then it comes on strong.  

Paul and I inside the Stadium after the race.  Great finish location for a marathon.

 A view of the finish area inside the stadium.

The final 80 yards of the race is right down the middle of the field.  A football is tossed to you so you can carry it over those last 80 yards across the goal line. 

Overall, the Marshall University Marathon is a pretty good race, definitely in the upper half of marathons I have run.  Good, fast course with many scenic areas and not too many drab areas.  Plenty of aid stations along the course not too far apart from each other.  Great volunteers at the aid stations too and at almost every crossing.  There were many military service members at the intersections and since this race took place on Veterans Day, it was a great opportunity to thank each one as we ran past.  The finish area was really cool in the stadium with the music playing and names being read of the the speakers.  Running the final 80 yards with a football in hand was fun.  So glad I didn't drop the pass or fumble along the way.  Loved the green (Marshall colored) technical shirt with only 1 ad on the back.  A really cool finishers medal that is 2 sided with a thundering herd in it.  The letters RK are on both sides of the medal but I am not sure what that exactly represents.  I heard a rumor it was the initials of someone who was initially part of starting the race years ago but have not confirmed or denied this.

A little bummed they didn't have chocolate milk after the race.  My stomach was in no position to eat but they had food somewhere, some off the grill too.  Really bummed they didn't have a timing mat at the start.  Seems like a bad decision to me.  A didn't like that they seemed to not have anything, at least that I saw, for memorializing the place crash that I was under the impression was the reason they started the race.  I had watched the movie a week before the race to familiarize myself with the story.

 A nice short sleeve technical shirt.

 The front of the 2 sided Marshall University Marathon Finisher's Medal. 
The back side of the Finisher's Medal.  I saw this side first after the race and was confused for a second until I turned it over. 

Overall, this is a pretty good marathon with a few things they can improve on.  It was a fairly inexpensive race to enter if you signed up soon enough.  I signed up 2 weeks before and it was still only $60.  If you signed up way in advance, you received a jacket as well and the price was even cheaper.  Given the chance, if I was in the area, I would run this one again.

Next up in 4 weeks, the Kiawah Island Marathon in South Carolina.

Keep on Running!!!

Marshall University Marathon
Time 3:59:57 (Gun Time 4:00:25)
Place Overall 265 out of 596
Place Age Group 32 out of 61
43 Completed Marathon
16 States Completed

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What's Next?

The year is not over and neither is the marathon season.  After my disappointment at Haunted Hustle and my extreme fun but not fast time at the Honky Tonk, I think I want to run some more.  So I have signed up for 2 more marathons this year but both I will be travelling with friends so it will be fun.

Next weekend, I will be travelling with my friend, Paul, to Huntington, West Virginia to run in the Marshall University Marathon.  Somehow they were able to create a flat marathon in West Virginia, I have been told this is hard to do in WV.  It is a 2 loop course that ends with running the entire football field at Marshall University.  They will even give you a football to carry for the final 100 yards.  That sounds pretty fun.  This race is in memory of the Marshall University Football team that was killed in a plane crash in the early 70's.  This story is told in the movie "We Are Marshall" which I have not watched yet, but plan to before the race since I have heard there are many sights  in the movie that the race course passes.  I have only been to West Virginia one other time in my life before this year and now I will have done both a half marathon AND a full marathon in one year.  I hope to do as well in the full marathon as I did in the half marathon back in early June.

Four weeks after West Virginia, Mike, Paul, and I are flying to Charlotte, NC and then driving down to Charleston, South Carolina to take part in the Kiawah Island Marathon.  Again this course is very flat and is right along the ocean.  The course looks interesting as there are many long out and backs on the course.  Usually I don't like out and backs on a course and I think this one will kind of suck to, but in this case, I will be able to see Paul and Mike more often along the course.  Usually we don't run together so we don't see each other until the race is over.  We plan on staying that night in Charleston so we can have some fun before flying back.

Since I haven't run so well in marathons this year, I really want to get 1 or 2 good ones in.  Both races are very flat so my plan is to try to break 4 hours in hopefully both but let's just start with 1 at a time.  My miles are way down this year but the last 2 marathons will work well as long runs in my training, at least I hope they will.  I need the endurance for the final 10K.

I think this is a good plan for the rest of the year.  I will be able to get 2 more states completed and 2 more marathons.  Closing on on 50!

Keep on Running!!!