Archive for October, 2010

Columbus Marathon: just happy to be here

Posted in Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 by Trail Boy

Speedy Kevin (left) and Trail Boy (right) before the race.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was a beautiful day for  marathon. Or in my case, a fully-supported, nine-mile training run to test my leg.

Either way, I was just happy to back at the starting line of a marathon, even if I wasn’t going the full distance.

It was the best outcome under difficult circumstances, so I am just going to look on the bright side and think of all the fun I had today.

And it was fun. I liked all the hoopla, the crowd energy, the sounds of thousands of running shoes hitting the pavement all around me, and catching up with my old buddy, Kevin. We had different goals today, but it was fun to spend a weekend seeing him again.

We had fun bopping around the expo, enjoying dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse and watching a bad Arnold Schwartenegger movie in our hotel room (“The Predator”).

On Sunday morning, we got up at 6 a.m., ready to run. It was just a question of how far.

Kevin was aiming for a full marathon. I was aiming for a third of a marathon — nine miles, which was pretty far for me, considering it was nearly twice as long as my longest run in the past month.

We lined at at 7:15 at the corner of Broad and High, near the Statehouse building, while it was still pretty dark. This was the last I saw of Kevin. He was in Corral #1, for the speedy runners. I was in Corral #2, for the not-so-speedy.

To my surprise, however, I somehow wound up far back in the corral, a few dozen feet behind the 4:30 marathon pace group. That was weird — and frustrating. I knew it would be tough to get around this group in the first mile or two.

Behind me were two other corrals for those even slower runners. Here was the view behind me:

And here’s the view ahead of me:

We shivered for a few minutes while the race director made a bunch of announcements. Then someone sang the national anthem. That was followed by a live band playing a pretty mediocre version of (yes, you guessed it, the usual) “Born to Run.”

Then at 7:30, the gun went off, and we started moving. Due to the size of the crowd (about 5,000 marathoners and about 10,000 half-marathoners), it took me about 10 minutes to get to the starting line.

We ran east down Broad Street for three miles. Within 10 minutes, I passsed the 4:30 pace group and the 4:15 pace group.

Then we all hung a left into the leafy sidestreets of Bexley.

It was a perfect fall day — temps in the high 40s, with crisp leaves on the ground. It’s my favorite time of year to run.

The course turned frequently during this section, giving us lots of views of the mansions in this old-money part of town.

I didn’t mind carrying my little camera and taking an occasional shot. I was not running this race for time, just for pleasure.

Still, I kept my eye on my watch. I saw I was running about an 8:30-8:40 pace, which pleased me, after such a difficult summer.

The miles clicked by and I was feeling OK. Soon, I passed the 4:00 pace group, and set my sights on catching the next pace group, whatever it might be.

But by mile six, I could tell I was in new territory, distance-wise. I hadn’t run this far in months and months, probably since my spring marathon.

By mile seven, I was starting to slow down. By mile eight, I was was starting to feel fatigue. That’s just how it is when you try to stretch your distance by four miles in one fell swoop, I guess. I was glad that my run was nearly over.

At mile nine, I jumped out of the race, up onto the sidewalk, and took a shot of my “finish line.”

I was just a few blocks from the starting/finish area. So I walked in that direction, stopping to take in the sights, including the 122nd Army Band, which was playing “Cleveland Rocks,” with lots of spirit. I heartily approved of the selection.

A few minutes later, I hit the finish area, and cheered on the half-marathoners doing their final push.

Then I looked at my watch to review my own run.

I had run nine miles, with the following splits: 8:37, 8:26, 8:20, 8:39, 8:32, 8:51, 8:55, 8:58, 8:41.

My overall time was 1:17:28, for an average pace of 8:37. I was satisfied.

I went back to the hotel, got changed, packed up, and drove home.

Later, I saw that Kevin finished his race in 3:45. That was a bit slower than Kevin’s last marathon three weeks ago, when he ran 3:34 in Akron. But he’s been suffering from foot pain, and predicted he would be going a little slower today. “I think I peaked in Akron,” he told me on Saturday.

Kevin’s next big race is Boston in April.

I haven’t picked my next big race. But I can’t wait to get back to the starting line of a marathon.

Next time, I hope I run all 26.2 miles.

Upward and onward. Next stop: Columbus

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4, 2010 by Trail Boy

 

I’m ready to go to Columbus and have a little fun.

I’m not saying I’m ready to run 26.2 miles. Or even 13.1 miles. Not with this kind of injury-filled summer. That would be suicide.

But I’m ready to have a little fun. I’m tired of sulking and stewing and feeling sorry for myself.

Marathons are supposed to be exhilarating. So I’m going to go to Columbus and soak it in.

And I don’t mean from the sidewalk or a hotel bar. I mean in the middle of the road, along with thousands of other runners.

Let me explain.

Last Saturday, I ran a 5-mile race, my first competition in nearly five months. Afterward, I felt great, and I remembered how much I missed the whole running/racing scene.

A few hours later, I thought, “Hey, Trail Boy. You just ran five miles and clobbered your goal. How about seeing what you can do in Columbus?”

Immediately, I laughed off the thought, perhaps the same way a sane person might laugh off the idea of walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. I haven’t done a single long run since my spring marathon.

But then I thought some more. And I decided that while I can’t run 26 miles, I could probably run eight or nine or ten miles.

And if I remembered correctly, the first part of the Columbus Marathon is a nine-mile loop on the east side of downtown that would bring me right back to the start/finish area — and right back to my car and hotel.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I could do that.

No, it wouldn’t be the full marathon experience. But it would be a lot better than staying home, cleaning the bathroom or raking leaves and thinking dark thoughts about everyone else having fun in Columbus.

Sometimes, a little is better than nothing.

And I already paid $75 or $80 for a race entry. And the T-shirt.

Yep, that was months ago, when I was healthy. Then things got ugly, and I screwed up the IT band on my right leg and was MIA for months.

But now, I’m back on my feet. I’m running again and having fun. This morning, I went out for an easy three-miler and surprised myself by finishing it at an 8:10 pace. Tomorrow, I’ll go a little longer.

I’m pretty sure running nine miles is within the realm of possibility. So why shouldn’t I go to Columbus?

Well, finding a hotel room at this point could be a problem. But yesterday, I got in touch with my buddy Kevin, who is also registered for Columbus. He generously offered to let me share his hotel room.

What a guy. Kevin is planning to run a marathon for a PR — 3:20 or something like that. He’ll probably get to the finish line about an hour after I wrap up my race. And I’ll be there to cheer him on.

Marathons are supposed to be like that: fun, challenging, exhilarating.

So let’s do it. Next stop: Columbus, for a marathon expo, pasta dinner and a race through a great town.

I won’t run 26.2 miles this time. I won’t cross the finish line.

But next time, I will.

(To return to the home page, click here.)

Finally, back at the races!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 2, 2010 by Trail Boy

Oh man, what a feeling. Today I ran my first race in nearly five months.

I was overdue, brother. Waaaaaay overdue.

This has been the longest stretch, by far, that I’ve gone without a race, in years and years. I guess a leg injury will do that to you. Especially one of the worst kinds of leg injuries, an iliotibial band flare-up.

In the last few weeks, my leg has been feeling better and better. I’ve been running slowly almost every morning, about three miles.

Yep, I felt ready for a short race.

I chose an old favorite — “Hit the Bricks,” a five-mile road race in Zionsville, Indiana, about a half-hour west of my home. I ran this race last year, finishing in 35:01, or 7:00 a mile. That was good enough for a second-place finish in my age group.

But that was last year, when I was healthy.

Today, my goal today would be much more modest. I just wanted to finish in one piece without collapsing, and without climbing into an ambulance.

And if I could finish faster than a 9-minute pace, I would be happy.

I went to bed last night excited. It’s been so long!

I woke up today before sunrise. I felt as giddy as a marathoner on the big day. I gobbled down a light breakfast and hopped in the car.

After driving in the dark for 25 minutes, I arrived at the race site in time to watch the organizers set up the finish line.

Then I went inside the high school and checked out the course map. (You can see the map is from last year, but it’s the exact same course, a mix of roads and a bike path.)

I went inside the high scool, plunked down my $23 and got a packet. After pinning on my number and attaching my chip, I headed over to the starting line. It was a small field, maybe 100 runners and walkers, plus another 40 or 50 for a sister race, a three-miler.

A few minutes after 8:00, the race director counted down from fiv and then we took off. I started my watch. We trotted out of the parking lot, down a neighborhood street, through a subdivision, around an elementary school, and then onto the bike path.

The weather was nearly perfect: cool temps, cloudy skies, and a slight drizzle.

I was still carrying my camera, so I decided to take a few shots while I was running. (Yes, while running. That might explain the blury shots.)

After a few miles on the bike path, we headed back onto the roads. This time, the surface was brick — hence the name “Hit the Bricks.” The town was pretty quiet — very little traffic or hustle and bustle.

I was running a little faster than I expected. I had been hoping to do a 9-minute pace — nothing too radical, following a long layoff.

But my mile splits were better than I hoped.

Mile 1 — 7:51

Mile 2 — 7:50

Mile 3 –7:44

Mile 4 — 7:33 (downhill)

Mile 5 — 8:12 (uphill)

At the finish, I hit my watch and noted the time — 39:11, for an average pace of 7:50 a mile.

Yahoooo! I finished in one piece and beat my goal time by more than a minute a mile.

Look at that smile. I look like I just qualified for Boston. And to tell the truth, that’s about how happy I felt.

Yep,  it felt great to be back on my feet. Sitting around for months, icing my leg and doing stretches, has been no fun. Being back in the action is just the medicine I needed.

Then I wandered back to the building. I noticed that the race organizers were an efficient bunch. The first wave of results were already posted in the window.

I felt this was a big turning point. Now I can pick out a few longer races over the next month or two.

Then I noticed another sign in the window.  Yep, I’m optimistic about the rest of the season.

********************************************************************************************************

Like father, like son

After my race, I changed, grabbed a banana, and headed back to my car. It was time for the second race of the morning.

But this time, I would be a spectator.

Son #2, Jake, was running a 3K with his middle school, at a big county meet about a half-hour away, at Ben Davis High School.

By now, the skies had opened up, and things were getting very wet.

I arrived in time to lots of umbrellas and a soaking race course. The school tentswere filled with water.

I watched the girls race get under way, then waited patiently another half-hour for Jake’s race to start.

 

Finally, it was time. The boys gathered around the starting line as a cold, heavy rain fell on them. I’m sure they were shivering, and couldn’t wait to get started.

Finally, at 11:00, the gun went off, and the boys got moving.

Go, Jake! Pass that kid in blue!

Now finish strong, buddy!

Jake did finish strong, setting a new PR by about 10 seconds, finishing just under 13 minutes.

Then we dried off and drove home. We were all smiles and good cheer, looking forward to the next race.

I really don’t know which of us was happier.

(To return to the home page, click here.)