Tuesday, May 29, 2007

2007 Bayshore Marathon Race Report

Okay, so I already spoiled the conclusion to this story with my brief report the other day. So, I'll start at the end before going back to the beginning.

Miles: 26.2
Finish time: 3:12:19
Pace: 7:20 per mile

I qualified to run the Boston Marathon and couldn't be happier! Now I just need to get registered (when registration opens) and make it official. This was really the best time I could have hoped for on this day. Really, I thought there was a decent chance I'd get under 3:16 but I expected to just brush under the wire like Dolly Parton at a limbo hoping the room is warm.

It was a struggle though. I didn't follow my own advice and paid for it in the end. But I'm getting ahead of myself...


I don't normally believe in "omens" or "signs" but I have to say that a few of them were present if I was bothering to look. All week, the forecast for Saturday morning called for "thunderstorms". Not rain. Thunderstorms. On Friday, the forecast suddenly changed to "partly sunny and 50 degrees". Could that be more perfect? Then, at registration, I'm presented with a Bib # of 100. A nice round number. 100...as in 100 percent...or perfect...or all the way...or can not do any better...get it? Omens!


My wife and I stayed at my folks place on Silver Lake in Traverse City the night before the race. Woke up just after 5 AM. I managed 5 hours of sleep which I was pretty happy to get. I took a meal of two slices of toast with peanut butter and honey, yogurt, and Gatorade. Then, on the drive down to the Start line at the local community college (NMC), I ate a Powerbar and more Gatorade.

I found Mike already present and ready to go waiting amongst the crowd. We chatted a bit and proceeded to the starting area after my wife gamely volunteered to transport our newly emptied GU packages to the nearest garbage.

At the start, I was excited but not overly nervous or worried. The weather was perfect...around 55 degrees, sunny with a light breeze. No rain in the forecast. I thought we had positioned ourselves reasonably close to the front - I could see the start line about 50 feet ahead of me - but when the horn sounded, I realized I was once again having to wade through a large group of runners just like in Chicago.

MILES 1-10

Okay, so maybe not just like in Chicago. There was only 1700 marathon runners here. But I got that nervous "oh, crap" feeling that I was going to be trapped in a slower pace than I wanted right off the bat. I started scurrying up open lanes and jumped outside of the street onto the grass a few times to pass as many people as I could. I think I might have accidentally cut someone off as I heard an angry comment behind me. It was unintentional. As it turned out, I shouldn't have worried. I turned in a first mile of 7:01 which was quicker than I wanted. And I had emerged from the crowd by the half mile mark and was able to run the race at my pace.

My plan was to stick to 7:15 miles through the first half marathon to save something for the 20+ miles where I knew I would need this energy. I didn't listen. I felt great and got in with a group of 6 or 7 runners that were pacing out at about 7:05 miles. I stuck with them. There was a slight headwind going out the peninsula and I positioned myself right behind them to try and draft a bit. I've heard that real runners do this so I thought I'd give it a try.

The miles were smooth and easy here. Garmin was consistently recording miles between 6:57 and 7:10. I had hoped to "bank" 2 minutes over my goal Boston time by the half marathon mark to use at the 20 + mile range. By the end of ten miles, I was already over 3 minutes in the bank.

Highlight: My local running store Playmakers was blasting music and cheering on their runners around the 4th mile mark. Very cool that they came up just to cheer on their team. I'll have to look into joining their running group.

MILES 11-19.31

I started to feel the effects of my 7:05 pace as I approached the half marathon mark. I knew I was going to be in for a rough second half and was already adopting a "one mile at a time" mental approach by the time I circled the half marker and started on the road back. Overall, I was still feeling good at this point and pretty optimistic. I was 3.5 minutes under my planned half time. There was extra seconds banked now if things got rough.

Shortly after the half marathon point, I spotted Mike coming the opposite direction (just past his 12 miles/just before my 14 mile mark). I knew he was moving. I thought I'd pass him when I was at 14.5 miles and that was when I thought I would do 7:15 miles. I was going quick...he was going even quicker. We were both way ahead of our planned paces.

After mile 16, my pace suddenly dropped. I managed to hold the 7:05 - 7:10's through 16 miles but miles 17 and 18 were at 7:30. This was okay though. For Boston, I needed to average 7:28 so I consoled myself with the fact that I hadn't actually used any of my banked seconds for these two miles...I just hadn't made a deposit either. Mile 16 was also the point where a runner I had been jockeying back and forth with since about mile 9 finally moved ahead of me by about 60 feet and threatened to leave me behind. He looked strong and I wanted to stay with him.

At mile 19.31, my Garmin ran into signal interference and I was without it for the rest of the race. Fortunately, I had planned for this occasion and had my trusty Timex running on my other wrist. I could still monitor my pace! I had run without taking a walking break to this point. I had passed many people and only passed by a handful. This was the point at which the race started to go downhill for me. I began paying for my lack of early race conservative pacing....

MILES 19.31 to FINISH!!

By mile 20, I felt dog tired. I was mentally kicking myself for going too fast through the first half marathon. I knew this would happen. Why didn't I listen? I consoled myself with the fact that I had banked over 5.5 minutes by this point. Boston was well within reach if I could just avoid a complete breakdown or injury. Keep the legs moving. Ignore the pain. No, what did Karnazes say? Embrace the pain. I actually had these mental conversations with myself. Keep moving. You only need 8:15 miles to safely make it under Boston. 8:15? I think. I was having trouble doing the math with my Timex. Crap, why did my Garmin fail?!

Miles 22 and 23 were tough. I had no idea what I did those miles without Garmin or the ability to do mathematics at this point in the race. Looking back, I could have simply started hitting the Lap button on my Timex but that was the farthest thing from my thoughts. I started taking walking breaks through the water stations. My body felt okay - no muscle pulls or strains - just an overwhelming feeling of being drained and wanting to stop running.

Past mile 23, it was only a 5k to go right? I'm pretty sure I still have a few minutes banked for Boston. Keep movin...

Mile 24, is that the runner I'd been envious of a few miles back when he put some distance between us? He's walking through the water station and doesn't appear to be ready to start again anytime soon. I took a shorter walk break and passed him on the run....I won't lie, that felt great.

Mile 25. When will the damn race end? For the first time through either marathon I have done, I took a walking break for no other reason than to rest. I had been walking only while taking water at an aid station previously. This time, as soon as I passed mile 25, I stopped and walked. I knew I still had a few minutes banked for Boston at this point. I wanted to finish strong at the track in front of my family and friends. I walked for 35 seconds. Amazingly, the mystery runner I guess I had been unknowingly competing against, did not pass me. I coaxed the legs into a running stride again....

Mile 26. After winding back through the college campus, marker 26 was at the beginning of the high school track. I could see and hear the crowd as I approached. I knew my wife and kids were there. My parents and in-laws were somewhere inside. I knew Mike's family and friends, Animal and Tess and others, were there. I looked forward to finishing in front of them. I was pretty sure Boston was in the bag at this point. However, I was so mentally and physically exhausted I did not know for sure if my Timex was right...how much course was left (duh!)...just KEEP MOVING...

Mile 26.2. I missed the encouraging words from Mike's friends though I appreciate the effort. I couldn't hear anything (partly due to the MP3 in my ears but mainly due to the concentration I had just to run each step). I pumped my fists as I crossed the finish. Even accounting for the variation between my start time and the gun time, the official clock showed me well below what I needed. I did it and was ecstatic! I saw my family right at the finish line snapping photos and cheering me on. That was a moment I won't forget.

In the end, I finished with 3.5 minutes still in my Boston bank. I could have relaxed more over those last 6 miles but I didn't want to take anything for granted. I am thrilled with a 3:12:19. This exceeds even my most optimistic expectations.

After waiting for Mike to come in, we headed out for some food and refreshments (and ice packs) back at my folks house.

This was a long post. So, I'll break here. For the next one, some thoughts on the Bayshore Marathon...how it was organized, the course, the swag and, hopefully, some pictures.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


My legs are sore. My body still feels drained. But it's all worth it.


The weather was perfect. If you haven't done Bayshore, you should put it on your list. It is outstanding.

Race report to come when I return home.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Coming Soon: Bayshore Race Report

I will return next week with the very exciting report from the Bayshore Marathon.

Good Luck to my fellow runners!

In the meantime, I received my first newsletter from the Disney folks. They aren't gonna let me get Bayshore done - or Chicago for that matter - before their email bombardment begins.

I'm already looking forward to the Goofy Challenge.

Until next week.....

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Homestretch

This taper has been weird. During my taper period for the Chicago Marathon last fall, I was nursing a foot injury every day and filled with anxiety. I was nervous about my prospects for finishing. Could I run 26 miles? Would my foot flare up on me? Would I hit the legendary "wall" at some point? Physically and mentally, I really needed that taper though to get ready for my first marathon.

This time? I'm not so sure. Physically, I feel great. I've had some issue with my right hamstring and glute and left ankle during this spring training. All of that seems to have healed and gone away now. Mentally, though, I actually feel like I've lost the edge a bit I had a few weeks ago before the taper. I'm not as focused and tuned in. The marathon almost seems like an afterthought now even though it is 5 DAYS AWAY!! Maybe this will turn out to be a good mental break from obsessing about the race every day.

The experts say to taper so I'm trusting the plan. In Plan We Trust. Ole Hal hasn't let me down yet.

Once again, I'd like to thank the Wife for putting up with my running hobby. She has to deal with not one, not two, but 3 marathons over the next 8 months and all the training time it will take to complete them. I also know she doesn't quite understand why I want to do it...or blog about it...or read about it...but goes along with it anyway. Thanks again for all the support. One day, I promise, I'll get my fill of running. I just don't have any idea when that will be just yet.

If only I worked this hard at my career....but that's a topic for another day...

I receive support from many different places (including a hilariously odd conversation with a complete stranger in Target one day) so, for fear of leaving someone out, I will not list folks here. Anyone that has given me encouragement, I remember and appreciate. I especially appreciate the few folks who stop by my blog and offer encouragement. It's nice to read thoughts from others going through the same process.

However, I would like acknowledge Mike. In my family, I'm a first generation runner so it's nice to have a friend whom I've known for years to exchange thoughts with as we go through the rigors of training. I look forward to tracking your continued improvements. I think you'll make a huge leap this summer if you are able to keep after it!

For everyone else, keep running. Most of the battle is just getting the shoes laced up and heading out the door.

Bayshore is going to be great. Besides, what else would we be doing from 7-11 am Saturday morning?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Counting Down

8 days to go.

The weather forecast flipped again and now ominously predicts "showers" for the 26th. This is Michigan after all so no doubt the forecast will flip-flop several more times until race day.

Our refrigerator stopped working earlier this week and my partially healthy diet has been replaced with eating out almost every meal while we wait to get the thing fixed. It is fixed now. I tried to minimize the fat content of the meals by doing lots of Jared style Subway meals.

Meanwhile, my daughter is kickin' ass in her 5 year old soccer league! She plows through the mob of kids and comes out the other end with the ball and marches right down to the goal several times a game. She's a competitive little bugger.

I completed my 5 miler and 7 miler this week at paces of 6:58 and 7:02 respectively. Three more runs to go: 9, 5 and 4 miles until race day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Did I Mention...

...I'm anxious to get this race over? Not so much just because of the race itself...or the training for it to be over...or I'm tired of running or anything. Basically, the race marks the conclusion of a tremendously busy May for us and the start of a more leisurely summer schedule.

With two kids and their respective spring sports and end-of-the-year school events combined with the homestretch of my marathon training program, add in Mother's Day and a birthday and a suddenly busy work schedule....ugh...I'm looking forward to the "finish line" on May 26th.

My son has soccer practice twice a week. He also has baseball practice twice a week. One would think the community would schedule one season to complete before the other begins but, no, there is a three week overlap. He also takes guitar lessons each week.

My daughter has soccer twice a week.

Not to mention homework every night for my 3rd grader. Homework in third grade? I don't think I really ever had homework until high school. They make these small kids do at least a half hour of homework every night. Egad, I feel lucky to have missed this era. On top of that, they assign homework that the teacher hasn't taught yet. I've been teaching my son long division and double digit multiplication - which is part of his nightly homework - that the teacher hasn't covered in class. Now, I'm happy to help my own child with their homework BUT is it too much to ask that the teacher be the first to introduce a NEW concept to the child? I don't remember all the little rules and tricks to help a child learn. I can get the right answer but, most times, my son is looking at me like what are you doing? When I asked the teacher about this at a conference, she simply replied "well, just have him come in and ask me and I'll help". Okay, great, but meanwhile the kid feels like a loser because he has no idea how to even start his homework!!! When I suggested that maybe the kids should be shown the little tricks/rules/rhymes to solve problems in class first, she countered with "as long as they get the right answer, I don't really care how they solve it". What!?

Sorry, had to go on a diatribe there. This has been a constant thorn in our side all school year. Hopefully, things get better in fourth grade.

Anyway, after May 26th, my training schedule will lighten and will feel comfortable skipping runs again. School (and homework!) will be almost over. Soccer for both kids will be done for the spring. Only baseball will remain and those will be games only. No boring practices.

Yes, the marathon can't come soon enough. It's a symbolic ending to a long, busy month of May.

I was reminded that it ain't over yet, despite the reprieve of the taper, when my work pager started going off at midnight yesterday. Another kick-in-the-gut reminder that I still have a job that needs attention too.

Did I mention my refrigerator stopped working and all our food is piled in coolers in the middle of my kitchen floor?

How long til the 26th?

As for running, I completed 26 miles last week down from 37 the week before. Saturday's LR was about 12 2/3 miles at a 7:16 pace.

This week, runs of 5,7, and 9 miles.

Taper on!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

2007 Bayshore Marathon Goals - Revised

Here they are. I've reconsidered my original goals published in December after a stronger than expected training period due, mainly, to a mild winter.

Initially, I was planning to use Bayshore as a springboard for a good summer of training and a planned BQ in Chicago. That plan may still come to pass. However, I'm going to go ahead and put Boston Qualifier at the top of my goal list. Why not? I think the odds of actually hitting this goal is 50/50. Everything will have to fall right....from the weather to injury avoidance etc etc...but why put this goal off? The worst that can happen is I don't hit it. So what? Then it will just be the goal for the next one.

One of my favorite movie lines of all time comes from The Shawshank Redemption: "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'" . That sounds a little severe in the context of a hobby (however passionate) like running but the sentiment behind it holds true. I want the BQ so let's get busy going for it.

Officially, my stretch goal for Bayshore is:

Goal 1: 3:15:59 or less!

Now, will I be disappointed if I don't get that? Only a tad. Frankly, I'm surprised I'm in a position to even consider it at this point. So I'll hardly be overly disappointed if I don't get it. Basically, I think I'll get there eventually so why stress about it over one race in which my margin for error is so small?

So, what would I be HAPPY with?

Goal 2: 3:23 or less!

The bottom line is that I expect to finish under 3:23. Anything over that would be a disappointment. That's my line in the sand.

But I also have other plans for Memorial weekend. The wife and I are spending a few nights in a hotel, family, friends. With the race being Saturday morning, that leaves the rest of the weekend for rest and relaxation.

Goal 3: Fun time with the wife and family.

Tomorrow is my wife's birthday. Happy Birthday to her (though I'm sure she won't check into this blog for several more days!) and Happy Mother's Day to wife and my mother. Dealin' with me ain't easy. You should be commended.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Ready, Set....TAPER!

What a big mental hurdle it is to knock out that last 20 miler and know that you are officially in taper mode! I can now look forward to a 25 mile week this week and 20 miles next week with the LR no more than 12 miles. That'll seem like a skip in the park at this point.

So I'm getting my race plans together...when to take GU...whether or not to carry water for the first 6 or 7 miles to avoid the water station congestion...how to pace out my miles, etc etc. I don't like to think about any of these kinds of things by the time I show up at the start line. Of course, this sounds all well and good, but I know it doesn't quite work out as planned. In Chicago, I had my race all planned out - even accounting for a congestion slow down in the beginning - only find myself completely thrown off plan within the first 3 miles by the massive amounts of people and struggling to emerge from the congestion, finally, at mile 14. I felt like I was swimming up stream. With only 1600 marathon runners at Bayshore, I'm hoping this won't be an issue.

I attacked my 21 miler on Sunday. I was a little wary of this run because this was the point at which I strained an ankle/foot muscle that tormented me up until the Chicago Marathon last fall. I gave it no more than a passing reference in that blog posting but I was icing my ankle every night for the next 3 weeks. I believe the problem was new, thicker socks and shoes that were too tight which pinched the muscle that goes along my arch up through my ankle. I did not want a repeat of this issue so I triple checked my laces and left them a little loose to allow the natural foot swelling that occurs during a run of this distance room to grow.

The goal Sunday was to chew up the 21 miles at a relaxed pace. However, I've been running all of my training runs - no matter the distance - at pretty much the same pace so I find that I naturally lapse into this pace without thinking. It actually takes effort to move to a different pace. The best I could do was slow up a bit at the start and then, after loosening up, just go with the flow.

So, I finished faster than I wanted or expected. No apparent injury or problems so I'm happy and ready to move into taper and start mentally preparing. My last mile of the 21 miles was my fastest - again, unplanned and unwanted - as I hit taper euphoria knowing I was almost done!!

21.0 miles
7:25 pace

Last mile: 7:14

Next post: My official 2007 Bayshore goals.

Happy Taper everyone!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"26 Miles to Traverse City...Just Imagine It"

This is funny. I was thinking the other day about running my upcoming marathon in Traverse City...26.2 miles...my first in my hometown. That number and name, 26 and Traverse City, was stuck in my head. Why was there something so familiar about that? I grew up in "TC". I've run several 5k and 15k's there before but never a marathon. So, why this feeling of deja vu?

It finally struck me this morning. I have two older brothers. When we were kids, being the youngest of three, I liked to pester my older brothers. Probably some sort of youngest-child-need-for-attention psychological thing. There is a sign on M-37 heading the back route into TC announcing "Traverse City 26". One day- I'm probably about 8 or 9 years old - I pounced on this and decided to use it to drive my oldest brother crazy. My grandparents were driving us home and my oldest brother and I were sitting in the back seat. For the duration....and I mean the full 26 miles....I steadily repeated:

"26 miles to Traverse City....just imagine it."
"26 miles to Traverse City....just imagine it."
"26 miles to Traverse City....just imagine it."

Over and over again. I don't know why I started saying it but my brother got mad. Real mad. Of course, this egged me on. Neither angry words, complaints to the grandparents, nor blows to my head or arms could prevent me from repeating this phrase steadily for the next 26 miles.

"26 miles to Traverse City....just imagine it."
"26 miles to Traverse City....just imagine it."
"26 miles to Traverse City....just imagine it."

This seems really funny now considering the Bayshore Marathon will start in Traverse City and, basically, leave and head out to Old Mission along the peninsula before returning. It truly will be 26 miles to Traverse City and I will - and have been - imagining it over the last several months.

No doubt, at some point, this phrase will pop into my head as I progress through the marathon. I just hope it doesn't get stuck there and repeat itself monotonously like one of those cheesy Jenny 867-5309 style pop songs (your welcome!) for the duration.

Though that would be fitting karma.

"26 miles to Traverse City...just imagine it."

I can.