Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Marathon Medals

My Marathon Medals

 Since people are not going to come to my house for a tour, I decided to take some pictures of my marathon medals (or other things that signify that I did it).  I once had them all crammed on one wire on my wall near my computer, but having now finished a marathon in all 50 states, I have spread them out and arranged them in orders which will be explained with each individual picture.  I have have lost a few over the years and some of the ones I did on trails (five Stumpy's Marathons were noted with rocks from the creek with labels).

Philly and Boston Medals: I first ran a marathon in 1995 - the Philadelphia Marathon.  My goal back then was to be able to qualify for Boston, which I first did in Philadelphia in 1996 after learning about track work and other training aspects.  Here are the medals from Philadelphia (9) that I ran from 1995 to 2006, from left to right and the medals from Boston (13) that I ran from 1997 to 2014.  I could have gone to Boston a few other times, but other plans got in the way and I became less interested in the experience.  I would like to go one more time at age 75 if I can qualify.

 Overview of East Coast Marathons: This is the space where I was originally cramming all of my marathon medals, except for Philly and Boston ones.  As shown below, I have spread them out now and I will detail what these are in sectional pictures.

Overview of the Rest of the Country Marathons:  These are the medals from states that I did to complete the 50 states with only having done one in each state.  The other wall has a couple that I did only only along the East Coast.

Delaware Marathon Medals: When I first started running marathons, the Races2Run organization had a Delaware Marathon in Middletown, DE.  I ran it twice in 1995 and 1997.  But the race lost sponsorship and ended.  Before 2004, the 50 States club contacted Wayne Kursh and asked him to start a new Delaware Marathon as the only option at that time for a marathon in Delaware was to run a tough trail half-marathon twice.  The club guaranteed Kursh that it would make sure at least 50 people came to the event.  Well, it went better than expected and that version in Wilmington, DE has gone on for 14 years now and has been sold to an organization that specializes more in larger events.  Since I am from the area, I decided I would do the marathon every year as long as I could.  There are only a handful of us left who have done all 14 so far. Above are the two medals from the earlier version, plus all 14 from the current version (in chronological order from left to right).  Notice how the medals have gone from plain metal to bling and iconic illustrations of the Wilmington skyline.

Other Delaware Marathon plus Maryland Marathons:  Once I started diversifying from qualifying for and running in Boston each year, I became interested in doing marathons in other places.  But I kept it local at first - others in Delaware and surrounding states.  This is a picture of the others in Delaware plus Maryland.  In Delaware they include Rehoboth (3), C &D Marathon (2), Fortitude for First Descents (2), Monster Mash, Stumpy's, and Triple Crown Trail Marathon, plus a medal from the first Triple Crown Challenge (a trail half marathon, 10K and 5K, one after the other).  I did five other Stumpy's Marathons that were immortalized with rocks.  Maryland's are: Baltimore, Last Train to Boston, B & A Trail (4), North Central Trail (2), Ocean City, Lower Potomac (2), George Washington Birthday (3, one medal missing), Western Maryland Rail Trail, and Potomac River Run.

Pennsylvania Marathons (exc. Philly):  I have done a lot marathons in Pennsylvania, but not nearly all.  They are: Steamtown (2), Via (2), Half Sauer Half Kraut (2), Garden Spot (2), Harrisburg (2), Johnstown, God's Country, Drake Well, Delaware & Lehigh Heritage, Bucks County, Bob Potts, Erie,  Two Rivers and Run The Loop.

Other East Coast and Southeast Marathons:  New Jersey, Ocean Drive (2), Asbury Park; New York, Wineglass (2), Mohawk Hudson River (3), Greater Binghamton; Virginia, Shamrock (2); Tennessee, Chattanooga(not included for Tennessee in 50 states because of short course); North Carolina, Last Chance for Beantown; South Carolina, Columbia, Hilton Head; Georgia, Savannah; and Florida, A1A (2).

New England and Mid-America States:  Reading from right to left - Bay of Fundy (shell shape), Maine; Gannsett (patch), Rhode Island; Hartford, Connecticut; Clarence DeMar, New Hampshire; Vermont City, Vermont; Freedom's Run, West Virginia; Rocket City, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; Mississippi Blues, Mississippi; Canton, Ohio; Carmel, Indiana; Martian, Michigan; Fox Valley, Illinois; Lakefront, Wisconsin; Louisiana, Louisiana; Mid-South, Arkansas; Mo Cowbell, Missouri; Heartland Series - Iowa, Iowa; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Western States:  From right to left - Lucky Trail, Texas; Route 66. Oklahoma; Gobbler Grind, Kansas; Logan View Raid Run, Nebraska; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Fargo, North Dakota; Duke City, New Mexico; Revel Rockies, Colorado; Run With the Horses, Wyoming; Bozeman, Montana; Buckeye, Arizona; Deseret News, Utah; Lake Lowell, Idaho; Hoover Dam, Nevada; Carlsbad, California; Portland, Oregon; Birch Bay, Washington; Juneau, Alaska; and Big Island International, Hawaii.

Finishing 50 States and 2017 in Review

For unknown reasons I have let my writing on this blog slip past for over a year.  It's time to get caught up.  I have run 11 marathons since I last wrote, so posting articles of any length at this point on particular races would be overdoing it.  Here is a quick summary of each race:

Portland Marathon, 10/10/16:  Oregon was my 48th state and doing Portland meant not having to travel much by car, as I flew from Philly to Seattle to Portland.  I showed up the day before and scouted out the downtown area to figure out where I could park for free.  The marathon started in a drizzle, sometimes turning to more rain and never stopping during the marathon.  But being in the 50s that was not too bad, except that my hands were cold.

Unfortunately, during the wave start, about half of the waves, including mine, were misdirected and run about a half mile longer than they should have.  I could tell by the two mile sign, which was the first I saw, that there was a problem.  Later the times were adjusted for the extra distance, but the race director botched his interviews with the media and came off as a total jerk about it since he stated that the extra mileage with not affect the "serious runners", by which he meant the earlier, faster waves.  Well, anyone who runs marathons knows that we all are "serious" about finishing and most are trying to do the best they can on that particular day. Subsequent articles showed that he and another executive of the organization were making big money.  Later the marathon organization was forced by the city to change its route in 2017 so that not all of the police force was needed to work overtime.  My time was a miserable 5:08:13.  As a consolation, I got ungraded to first class on my flight home from Seattle to Philly!

Nashville Marathon,  11/12/16:  This is a race I did to make up for the short course at Chattanooga, so it became the one for state 49.  The beginning went through downtown Nashville, which was a bit hilly.  Most of the rest was flat, but there were two bridges that had to be crossed each way.  The last one was in the 26th mile and I did a bit of walking.  I finished in 4:38:39, which was my fastest time since the previous fall.  The day before the race, I spent some time in downtown Nashville, which left me with the impression that its business was mostly honky-tonks and boot shops.

Rehoboth Marathon,  12/3/16:  I did this one in Delaware  because of a conversion I had while running ten miles with long-time icon of Delaware marathoning Doug White.  Doug had the second longest streak doing the Boston Marathon (over three dozen times straight).  He was also the person who had measured and certified most of the running courses in Delaware, including the Rehoboth Marathon.  Doug was training to run the half-marathon at Rehoboth.  While we were running, I mentioned how expensive ($160) late entry into the marathon was.  Doug asked me if I would run it if he could get me a free entry and I said I would.  A couple days later Doug told me I was entered.

With Rehoboth being a hundred miles away, I slept at home, got up early and drove to the race.  I parked on the main road, less than a block from where the after-race party would be held.  At 6:30 I walked to the start which was at 7:00.  I saw Doug and exchanged hellos.  A couple miles in, right before the half marathoners separated from the marathoners, I came upon Doug, who noted that I seemed to be running a bit fast.  But I felt good, at least until my first encounter with the wind from the northwest in the tenth mile.  After i turned around there, I felt better until about 14 miles.  Then we turned and spent time going several miles into the wind.  I was affected just as I had been years earlier at Rehoboth.  My hamstrings got tight and gradually I walked more and more.  After the second turnaround, with the wind at my back, I had nothing left and mostly walked.  While my first half was slightly better than the first half at Nashville (2:15+), my second half (2:43+) was 20 minutes slower, resulting in a 4:58:36.

Nevertheless, Dough White was at the finish line to greet me.  I changed and then we went to the tent to get some food and beer, but the beer was out.  After eating and collecting my age-group third place award, I left because the beer truck had to leave for more beer.  As I left, Doug was having something stronger and laughing with other post-race revelers.  It seemed interesting to me that I had never been that close to Doug, but felt more of a friendship with him after his doing this favor of getting me in the marathon.  Sadly, about a week later, Doug suffered a massive brain aneurysm and passed away after several days on life support.  The line of people at Doug's memorial service was quite long and we waited for almost two hours to say a few words to Doug's widow Susan.  So, unfortunately my memories of Rehoboth, having now run it three times, is that strong winds are common and they mess with my hamstrings and my last interactions with Doug White involved that race.  Oh, and the race is still too expensive.

George Washington's Birthday Marathon, 2/19/17:  This is a rolling course with a brutal hill in the last two miles that I had done two other times.  I ran it to get in some sort of shape before going to Hawaii for a marathon in the last state I needed.  Surprisingly, it was sunny and in the 60s and, at times, it felt quite warm.  I was slow and finished in 5:14++, which was better than the time years before when I "pulled" my right tensor latae fascia muscle and had to walk about the last eleven miles.

Big Island International Marathon, 3/19/17:  This was it!  The last of my fifty states!  Carolyn and I flew Hilo on the big island of Hawaii for a medium long vacation.  The time change was six hours and I think we never adjusted as we were constantly wanting to go to sleep in the early evening and waking up in the wee hours of the morning.  But that was OK for getting for a 7 a.m. start.

This marathon starts in downtown Hilo near the beach.  It goes north to a turnaround and returns.  Then it goes south through less attractive city streets.  The first half was hilly, eventually returning after the turnaround point at a botanical garden that Carolyn and I visited a couple days later.  At one point we had turned off the main road and ran along a road in neighborhoods right above the beach.  We could look below (about 80 feet) and see people surfing.  There were many cars parked and some people were just sipping coffee and watching the sun rise over the ocean.  It was a cool sight, but when I took Carolyn several days later, it was cloudy at sunrise.  The first half got me pretty tired.

While the second half was flat, the sun was out in full force and it rose pretty quickly into the 80s.  I spent a lot of the second half walking.  I hated it, but I knew that this was it, so who cared?  After doing the first half in 2:28, it took me over 3:08 to do the second half for a total time of 5:36:53.

Finishing my 50th State marathon & 50 states trophy right -->

Western Maryland Rail Trail Marathon, 4/9/17:  Rather than just do a long run before the Delaware Marathon, I figured I would work in another marathon.  So I picked this one, which is one of many put on by a company called AltisEndurance.  They are low key affairs, run on rail trails or park roads.  This one involved two out and backs.  Being a rail trail, the rises and falls were moderate, but could go on for a while.  I was not in good shape and the day got warm. While I ran the first half in 2:17, I got tired fairly early in the second half.  By the time I started the last quarter of the race, I tried to duplicate what I did in Albuquerque a couple years earlier where I would run a segment at a 5K pace and then walk to recover.  That worked for a while, but by the last couple of miles I was mostly just walking.  I did the second half in 2:42 to finish in 4:59:54, with my last few hundred yards being a desperate attempt to stay under five hours.

Delaware Marathon, 5/14/17:  This was my 14th time running this marathon.  I was one of only about ten people who had done all of the marathons.  My old friend John Schultz, who had also run all of the Delaware Marathons, had been killed in November by a vehicle while crossing a street.  I wore a sign with a picture of John on my front and back that said "This one's for John".  I had requested the specific number 145 because it was my 145th marathon.  They gave me number 1145, which had the first name of the runner who had previously been assigned that number before I asked for it.  The runner's name was John!  I have no idea if that would have been John Schultz, but I used the printed name in my sign.

The race itself was the same tough slough with 2:19 in the first half and 2:38 in the second for a total 4:57:51.  I suppose I was happy enough to finish a couple minutes ahead of the time of the last marathon on a tougher course.

Run The Loop Marathon, 9/3/17:  I couldn't wait for fall after a summer lay-off from marathons.  I jumped into this one which was close by and for which I got a discount code that made it cheap.  But after I made the arrangements, we planned a family vacation that started two days before.  So I helped move our needed belongings to the beach house we rented in the Cape May area, drove home the next day, ran the marathon the following day and drove back to the beach.

The marathon is at a school complex, involving one mile loops running around a couple of schools on the driveways.  Each loop had about a 30 foot rise and fall to it, which takes its toll doing it 26 times. Fortunately this early September race took place on a cloudy morning with drizzle for about half of the time.  The temperatures remained in the low 60s at the warmest.  I realized that there was shade on this course and realized the odds of this sort of day were slight.  So I will not be doing it again in the future.

I was pretty happy with my result, with the big glitch being an almost four minute toilet break.  At least there were actual toilets inside the high school.  My first half took 2:14:40, with the second half being almost 2:36, including the break.  I finished in 4:50:33, but was ticked that my  time did not read in the 4:40s.

Greater Binghamton Marathon, 9/24/17:  The first thing to note about this race is that it starts and finishes in Vestal, N.Y. and never is in any part of Binghamton.  Secondly, Dick's Sporting Goods was founded in Binghamton and is the major race sponsor, included putting it's name on the huge round finishing medal.  So I now literally have a big Dick's medal.

Unfortunately, even though the race was a couple hundred miles north, it was a warm day, which started at 66 degrees and was 81 by the time I finished.  The course was somewhat rolling, mostly along secondary roads which were not closed.  So you had to run on the shoulder, but at least you were facing traffic.  I finished in 5:07.  Also the mile markers were way off in the latter stages with some too short and others too long. Oddly, as seems common in New York races, the last age group they have is 65+, instead of 70+.  So I ended up second in that age group.

Potomac River Run Marathon, 10/28/17:  This was about ten miles above Washington, D.C. along the tow path on the Potomac with two out and backs.  What I did not know beforehand was that the trail is hard dirt with gravel ground into it.  It made for uncomfortable running in road shoes.  The race director was not allowed put out mile markers, so I had to go by the time at the turnaround points, which were at each quarter of the race, which was not enough information for me.  I finished in 4:53:13.  Having run this course, I would not do it again.  Plus it reminded me not to run North Central Trail Marathon near Baltimore in late November because that has a similar surface.

Harrisburg Marathon, 11/12/17:  This was only two weeks after the previous one, which may have had something to do with my finish.  Carolyn was with me and our motel was on the course.  So we planned to meet at certain points and I could avoid carrying my fuel belt for most of the first half of the race.  That worked until she arrived late at the last place I would see her before going onto the second half.  So I did not have a fuel belt, but I grabbed several gels a couple times and figured I had consumed enough fuel.  Maybe not.

I started with the 4:40 place group, knowing that I had run a similar time the previous November and hoping the day would be favorable.  I felt pretty good and got a minute or two ahead of the group.  I felt like I could hold that pace.  At 20 miles, I was averaging a 10:34.  The next three mile I ran under an 11 minute pace and at mile 23 I was thinking I had 36 minutes to run a 4:40.  It seemed quite possible.  Suddenly a couple minutes later, I felt light-headed.  I slowed to a walk until the feeling passed.  But when I started to run again, aerobically I felt like I was at the end of a hard sprint.  I was just jogging, but I was out of breath.  So I would slow to a walk to recover and then try again and again.  But the feeling got worse.  My 24th mile was over 13, my 25th over 15 and my final mile was over 17!  Yet I was panting like crazy while merely walking!  I guess it was another form of "hitting the wall". Although usually, for me, I have gradually slowed down in most marathons, this time it was a precipitous plunge.  More mystifying was the fact that I had continued to take on energy, including at miles 22 and 24.

Overall Year: I am quite sure that overall I lost fitness and speed in this past year.  Some of it is to be expected as I age. Every runner seems to experience this as they age, but can still run.  The slippage is not so much gradual as it is a holding pattern for several years and then a sudden drop to a lower level of fitness, which may then become the new holding pattern for a while.  I am aware that being in my 70s now, those periods of holding what speed one has left become shorter and the declines tend to start happening almost constantly.  Still, in the back of my mind, I still feel I could train more and better if I was motivated to do it.  Finishing a marathon in 50 states was more about getting through them at whatever pace and recovering in-between, especially when one is doing eight to twelve a year.  So now I do have more time to train should I so choose.  I just need the motivation.  I think I know what it will be within a year or so, but I am not going to spill the beans now and jinx myself.

Overall in 2017, I ran eight marathons. With not many 70-74 year-old runners, especially in the smaller marathons I chose, I won my age-group two times, was second three times, and was third two times.  The one time I did not place (Western Maryland Rail Trail) did not have age-group awards.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Signs You Find During Marathons

1.     I am Rich’s athletic supporter.   Good and original.
2.     Run like you stole something.   Huh?  I get a bad vibe from that.  Besides, you’d be sprinting, not running at a measured pace.
3.     13.1 miles ‘cause you’re only ½ crazy.  Okay
4.     Get that Kenyan!  Ridiculous! I once saw a sign at Boson: “Kenyans, six miles ahead”. That’s more appropriate.
5.     Two women with signs, first one “Go Hard” and second, “That’s what she said!”  Titillating and to the male mind, inspiring
6.     Fancy a piggy-back?  Funny
7.     Young female holding, “I love endurance. Call me!” with an actual phone number!  See answer 5.
8.     Run now, beer later!  Always appropriate and I am usually thinking about that anyway!
9.     Don’t stop, people are watching!  Meh
10.   Your perspiration is my inspiration.  OK.  While I think the person holding the sign probably already gets physical fitness, I do hope my running inspires others.
11.   Worst parade evcr!  Don’t know why, but this annoys me.
12.  You feel like crap, but you look good.  Better than when people yell later in a marathon “Looking good!” because you know you don’t.
13.  Smile if you peed a little…  Umm, I’d rather smile because I hadn’t.
14.  Why do all the cute ones run away?  This is apparently for female runners.  As an older male, I now find myself among a lot of female runners.  So it’s good!
15.  Run Fast, I just Farted.  It works with the young girl holding the sign.  Not so much if it were an adult(see 4 in the next group).
16.  You are all Kenyans. Toll Booth Ahead. Exact Change Only.   Again, why compare marathoners, despite the size of the feat doing one is, to the best in the world?  The rest would have been funny if it were actually at a place where cars had to pay tolls.
17.  I’m sure it seemed like a good idea 4 months ago.  Not bad, particularly late in the miles when one is feeling the pain and wondering.  There are several variations of this that I have seen.
18.  It’s all about winning! Accompanied by a picture of Charle Sheen.  Eh! Not really and anyone having that sign doesn’t understand.
19.  You’re all crazy!  Right you are!
20.  You are 2 legit 2 quit!  That’s encouraging to people who are suffering pain from the sore muscles.  It’s foolish advice if someone is seriously hurt.
21.  Pain is just weakness leaving your body.  OK, I understand the encouragement.  On my best runs, I have been able to push though the pain and not slow down too much.  On bad days, I have slowed down a lot with the pain.  But the pain is from muscles, tendons and jointed that have taken more stress than they are used to receiving.  Some of the pain is going to linger or even intensify for a few days after the marathon.  Also I know the muscles I have been using are generally much weaker at the end than at the beginning.  That’s why a little hill over 20 miles in can feel like a major climb and force me to walk. So the saying has it all wrong.
22.  The Nails are for Sissies.  Wrong, wrong, wrong! I understand that losing a nail is more probable in a trail marathon.  It should never happen in a road marathon. If it does, you’ve either tied your shoes too loosely, allowed your feet to slide forward to hit the inside of the toe box or your are not wearing a big enough size.  In now 139 marathons, many on trails, I have never had a problem with a toenail getting bruised, much less having one fall off.
23.  Touch here for Power (with some sort of symbol on the sign).   These signs show up in the late miles.  I get that it is meant to be encouraging, but I have never touched a sign. I don’t believe in superstitions.
24.  The End is Near! (at the Mile 25 sign).  I love it! Gallows humor at it’s best.

OK, here are more signs from this website:
http://running.competitor.com/2015/10/photos/25-marathon-spectator-signs-we-love_136577. I won’t review anything similar to what I have mentioned already.

25.  Smile.  Remember, you paid for this!  Ha ha!
26.  Left Foot   Right Foot   Repeat!!!  Like it!
27.  Our parents are running 26.2 …and we’re lazy as shit.  Why do get the feeling the parents helped with the signs?
28.  Always give 100%     except when giving blood.  Of course marathoning is about measured pacing, not going all out, but still clever.
29.  May the Course be with you.  Excellent take on a familiar saying.  BTW, this sign was a Carlsbad, CA., which I did.  The course was definitely NOT with me.
30.  It’s a Hill.  Get over it.  10K to the finish.  Funny, considering muscles are pretty depleted 20 miles into a marathon.
31.  Free beer & SEX at finish. Hurry up.  Definitely appealing to the male mind.
32.  Naked Cheerleaders Next Mile.  Ditto
33.  Are We There Yet?.  Meh. Also the guy was crossing the finish line. After running with the sign?
34.  Those Shorts Make You Look Fast.  Thanks!
35.  Blisters are in Season.  I have only had one blister in a marathon – at Boston when I did not tie my shoe tight enough.  I stopped and took a pin and drained the blister and was fine after that.
36.  Your legs hurt because You’re kicking Ass-phalt.  So true!
37.  There is no time limit on Greatness.  Encouraging, but it all depends on your expectations based on past accomplishments.
38.  My butt is going to look so good after this. Definitely a sign for a female. Personally, I sometimes see myself in a store window and think that I definitely am not moving like the typical 72 year-old and I am thankful that I can continue to run.
39.  Maybe I should just pee my pants.  Nope.  If I’m having a bad day, I have no problem stopping for relief.  If I’m having a good day, I’m probably sweating enough that I am not going to have to go.
40.  I’m the sh*t, I’m the sh*t, I’m the sh*t.  Well, I may be thinking that, but I don’t want a sign pointing it out.
41.  Marathoners make better lovers.  There’s that male titillation again.
42.  Nothing will twerk unless you do.  Cool pun on cultural phenomenon.
43.  No time for Walken (with picture of Christopher Walken).  Clever.
44.   You are NOT almost there!  I’ve heard you are almost there so many times when I am NOT almost there. 
45.  If you want to cry, do it now! (in the middle of extreme conditions)  Yep!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Summer 2016 Marathons
Finally the End of Elevation

In the past couple months I ran three more marathons in hard to reach states.  None of them were easy.  So I am glad they are over.  Here's a quick summary on each one.

FRANK MAIER MARATHON, Juneau, Alaska, 7/30

When traveling to a state like Alaska to do a marathon, the question is:  Which is more taxing? Running the race or the travel to get to and from the event?  I chose Juneau because it is the closest town in Alaska that has  a marathon, thus cutting off up to an hour each way from the flight.  Still it was a long haul from Philadelphia to Seattle and then to Juneau.  Leaving in the early morning, I got in at 2:30 pm Juneau time, which means 6:30 on the East Coast.  

The temperature was around 60 degrees, which is normal for Juneau standards in July.  The driver, who took me to the motel, talked about the day it was 80 degrees, as if it had been monumentally hot.  Indeed, many people were walking around in shorts and tee-shirts, which was not enough for me.

After getting to the motel, I waited until Ricky Singh came in on a different flight about an hour later.  Once we were together, we walked the few blocks to where we could pick up our numbers at a community center.  Later we walked down to the harbor and had dinner looking out on the water.  Downtown Juneau is pretty small, with the inlet leaving probably less than a half mile of relatively flat land before the mountains pop-up.  It was pretty neat seeing the small waterfalls coming off of various spots of the mountains, as the snow on top was still melting.

Going back to the motel, we retired by 8:30 pm.  We had to be up early to catch our ride from Steve and Paula Boone, who had agreed to pick us up, thus sparing the need to rent a car.  It never did seem to get quite dark that night.

The next morning the Boones picked us up at 5:00 am.  We went out to the start onto  an island across a bridge and several miles to the South.  The road was basically the only main road on the island.  When we started, we went up the road from south to north, then veered to the west and somewhat south again, before turning around and returning.

While we were basically at sea level to a couple hundred feet above sea level, I found the constant rolling nature of the course to be taxing.  A couple miles from the half-marathon turnaround, we ran past a bay on the other side of the island.  Across the bay, I could see a glacier meeting the water.  At twelve and a half miles, there was a long uphill segment to the turn.  It took a lot out of me.  I was running well back down, but at the bottom I had to stop at a portajohn and the necessary stop took over five minutes.  When I started running again, all of my motivation was gone because any time goals I had were shot.

After a couple more miles of flat running, when the rolling terrain came again, I did a lot of walking.  It just did not matter.  There were no age-group awards.  My only goal was to finish, which I did in 4:55:27.  Ricky had long finished.  I had a little bit to eat and changed into dry stuff while waiting for Steve Boone to finish.  When he did, he immediately got in the car and drove us back.

After cleaning up, I went out to eat and had a burger and a couple of beers.  I spoke with some other runners who had also patronized the same establishment.  Then I went back to the motel and gathered my things together for the ride to the airport.  Yes, I was leaving the same day.  I had figured that if I waited until the next day, the travel would take all day and I would arrive in Philadelphia after 11:00 pm.  I figured that I might as well fly overnight and get home during the day and take a nap at home.

Recommendation:  I like Juneau.  There is enough to do there that a short stay could get you to a ride up a mountain and a whale-watching excursion.  The marathon is very small and the local club is having trouble getting people to direct it.  I hope it keeps going.


In an attempt to fit in a marathon in Nebraska, I choose this one, which was three weeks after the one in Juneau.  It was put on by a high school booster club, which also had a 5K, a half marathon and a 50K ultra going.  They all occurred on a Saturday evening, starting a 5:00 pm. Still, between all of the events, there were less than 100 participants.  At least the marathoners had the 50K people for company.

I flew into Omaha, rented a car, and drove to the town where I had reserved a motel room.  Driving outside of Omaha, for over 20 miles the dirt roads in between corn fields were still numbered as if they were a street of Omaha, going all the way up to about 300th Street.  I checked in about 1:30 pm and went out and had a meal, before going back to dress for the marathon.  Fortunately the weather was cool as a rain front had gone through the Midwest.  There was a downpour when I was waiting at O'hare for the Omaha flight.  So the temperature stayed below 70 until about the time the marathon started, when it warmed a few degrees.

What a coincidence it was that while I was picking up my number at the school parking lot, I heard a man say he was from Delaware.  I came up and said "Guess where I am from".  Then I had a conversation with him and his wife, Peggy Strang.  She is the marathon runner.  He does half marathons.  She has also done 47 states.  They are from Hockessin and I never knew them, but it turns out that I have been in a number of races with Peggy Strang.

So here I was on a relatively cool evening, with a headlamp for when it got dark in Nebraska.  Should be pretty easy, right?  Wrong!  Nebraska, at least not this part, is not flat.  It was rolling terrain.  The roads for the most part were gravel, sometimes pretty thick gravel.  Then the headlamp, for which I had substituted batteries before I left home to make sure it worked, died after a few minutes.  I had to stumble through the dark, mainly by following others who had good lamps, for well over an hour at the end.  Although I had started out by passing Peggy a mile into the race, she passed me in the dark and beat me by 15 minutes.  My time was over 5:10.

Recommendation:  Well this was an experience for me that I won't forget and it fit my schedule.  But I would not tell people to do it when Omaha has a marathon.

BOZEMAN MARATHON, Bozeman, MT, 9/11:

Here are a few lasting impressions I have of Montana.  As soon as I got off the plane and looked up, I understood immediately why it is called "Big Sky Country", as it was a clear day and a deep blue sky.  The colors of the plants seemed "different", kind of giving me the same impression as when I have worn orange lensed sunglasses.  The populace I saw was 99% white. I can't remember as uniform group anywhere else I have been in the US.  Bozeman houses Montana State University.  It sort of reminded me of Newark, DE, but with less traffic.  The airport is in Belgrade, 15 miles from Bozeman.  I stayed at a motel there.  But the highway speed limit is 75 mph and the traffic is very light.

For the marathon, we had to go to the Main St. in Bozeman to catch buses which took us out to the start.  The previous day, I had scouted out where the race would end and found a place to park the next street over, right across from a bar, which I would patronize after the race.  

The buses stopped along the Gallatin River at a place where there seemed to be a slight pass through the hills.  The wind was blowing strongly through there.  After getting off the bus to relieve myself, I got back on the bus like everyone else to stay warm.  Ten minutes before the start, we all piled off, got rid of our drop bags, and huddled behind the bus to shelter ourselves from the wind until a couple minutes before the start when we finally lined up.

In the early miles we were running with the wind at our backs and slightly downhill.  Although we were at more than 5,000 feel altitude, the running seemed relatively easy.  But I have been through this scenario before, most specifically when I ran the Revel Rockies Marathon outside of Denver.  Going downhill in the beginning was faster than I figured.  But by six miles we had bottomed out.  We turned directions, and started to go uphill.  It was very gradual at first and then a little steeper.  Then we turned again and were going into the wind.  My time per time rapidly went up.  It was all uphill until the half marathon point, at least 600 feet of climbing.  While the first six miles took a little over an hour, the next seven took 96 minutes.  I was done already. 

The half second took 2:55 as I could not run much without becoming breathless in just a few hundred yards.  I walked any sort of uphill incline.  I talked with a couple young woman - asking them if their slowing was more due to the altitude or the nature of the course.  They agreed with my opinion that it was the altitude.  Eventually I made my way into Bozeman and the Main Street for the finish in 5:31:34, one of my slower marathons.  Oh well!  It was done and I did get first in my age-group, netting me a huge belt buckle in the shape of Montana.  Yeehaw!

Somewhere along the way, I misplaced my watch, irking me because I am obsessive about recording my mile splits.  But I did remember a couple of the splits, so that's the way it goes.

Recommendation:  Well, nothing in Montana is going to be at a lesser altitude.  Bozeman was OK.  This is the place you would fly to in order to go to Yellowstone National Park.  So a visit there would be good to link with doing this marathon.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Seven Marathons in First Half of 2016

So here it is in late July 2016 and I have not entered any posts on my blog this year.  None of the seven marathons merited an article to themselves (or my imagination is just lacking right now).  But I will attempt to summarize a bit on each of them.

Carlsbad (CA) Marathon, 1/17:  I flew out to San Diego on my own for this one, rented a car and drove the 30 some miles north to Carlsbad.  A marathon that runs along the beach sounds pretty flat.  Wrong!  The first half winds toward the beach and away again, culminating in a steep hill at about halfway.  Getting back to the beach area, I found that the road was on incredibly up and down rolling terrain.  There was never a real flat section to it.  But Southern California in January is a great location for a marathon with the temps staying below 60 until the end when the sun was beating down.  It was interesting seeing surfers in wet suits heading for the beach.  Time: 4:40:04, 1st 70-74.

Birch Bay (WA) Marathon, 2/14:  Ricky Singh went with me to this one.  Having just been to an event close to the southwestern corner of the contiguous 48 states, this one was certainly the most northwesterly one, Birch Bay being right up near the Canadian border.  My lasting impression of the Seattle area and the 90 miles north is of constant rain of some sort.  I don’t know how people live there.  Birch Bay is a tiny town on the bay of the same name, serving as a possible summer getaway for some people, but in February only locals are there.  I never saw the mountains around the bay because of the cloud cover.
  We showed up the day of the race and drove into the town to pick up our numbers at a local restaurant.  Then we drove back to the state park, had to pay for parking at a time that no one would be there (except for runners) and lined up.  Even with a half marathon, the entire group was under 200.  Sixty of the 75 marathon registrants actually showed up, the rest probably bagging it because of the rainy weather.  We started, ran four miles to get through the town, did two nine mile loops and headed backed to the park.  In the first loop, the humidity became fog in the lower areas of the wooded road.  In the second loop there was more drizzle.  I had started with a plastic bag over my clothes, but the bag was ripped by15 miles, so I chucked it at a water stop. 
  Near the end of the second rolling loop I was feeling pretty tired.  There I got exposed to the wind coming off the bay.  It had picked up quite a bit.  I ended up walking a lot as I just had no energy to push through the wind.  Ricky, whom I had passed at about halfway, was faring even worse as he became nauseous.  He finished almost a half hour behind me.  Time: 4:52:48, only 70+ in the event.

Chattanooga Marathon, 3/6:  This one fell at a good time and I figured the temps would be good in early March in Tennessee.  I was correct on that score.  I flew to Atlanta and drove up to Chattanooga because another leg of flying there was prohibitively expensive.  The day before I picked up my number at a rock gym downtown.  I asked if I could take a shower the next day and they agreed I could.  That allowed me to simply leave my motel, not worrying about late checkout.  This was also where the race would start the next day.
    Note the person below the plexiglass of the building.  There are climbing routes outside.

After eating, I found my motel and then visited Ruby Fall just a couple miles from the motel.  It was a long wait to get in (probably because it was Saturday), but worth seeing the falls and the stalactites. 
  The next day the weather was great.  The race turned out to be a fair size.  Off we went. In the first four miles I was averaging 9:51 miles.  In the fifth mile there was a turnaround.  I got to the mile 5 sign in 8:48.  Well, I knew that was off.  Up a step hill, which required some walking, and back down the other side.  I was looking for the six-mile sign.  But only 10:08 after mile 5, I crossed the 10K mat.  Now I knew the mileage was way off.  That was confirmed when I got to mile seven in another 7:22 (remember, I never saw mile six).  So by the math, my pace had gotten down to 9:20 after doing the first four miles in 9:51 pace.  After mile seven, the course got hillier.  I passed halfway in 2:09:53.
  In the second half there was more hills.  My pace seemed more normal with uphill miles as slow as 12:38 and downhill as fast as 10:03.  It was definitely more reasonable for the course - that is until I got to the last mile. The last few miles back into the middle of town were more like the early miles – fairly flat.  I was running about an 11 minute pace for 24 and 25.  So imagine my surprise was I attempted to pick up the pace for the final mile that it never seemed to end.  It took me 15:05 to do mile 26 and 2:30 to do the last two tenths.  Something was wrong – again.  I decided the distance cut early in the marathon had been made up in the last 1.2.  When I got home, I recorded my official mile splits, but also an extra set based on where I thought the splits were.  I assumed the entire distance was correct. 
  A few days later news traveled through the 50 states running community that the course was short, by a quarter mile.  It had apparently happened at the turnaround in mile 5.  Of course that should have meant only mile 5 should have been off if they had marked where their miles were supposed to be in advance.  Obviously they had made up the mileage points as they marked the course.  I am informed that if I want a plaque from the 50 states club that says I did 50 “certified” marathons, I will have to do another Tennessee Marathon.  I’m looking at November in Nashville.  Meanwhile, I’ll never recommend this one.  Time: 4:39:53; 2nd 70-74.

Lake Lowell (ID) Marathon, 4/22:  This venue is located about 15 miles outside of Boise, ID.  It was strange to be flying in and seeing snow on mountaintops and then descending into 80 degree weather.  Lake Lowell is an artificial lake/reservoir.  It is out in the middle of nowhere, only some farming country.  Not much to see, but the skies were crystal clear and dry, which did get a bit warm near the end.  The main annoyance for me was the two-mile bridge across the reservoir.  There were two paved lanes and a gravel area on one side.  Going out, with the lighter morning traffic, I could run in the lane until a car came and then get over on the gravel until the car passed.  But coming back, the traffic in that lane would be coming up on me.  Everyone had to stay on the gravel.  I found it impossible to run on with the fairly large stones, not fine gravel.  So I had two fifteen-minute miles of walking.
  The altitude was also a factor at several thousand feet.  After a few early miles in the 10s, I was running in the 11s the rest of the first half and 12s and 13s in the second half when I wasn’t walking.  With about a third of a mile to go, I tripped on a crack in the pavement and fell forward.  It was not as bad as the two falls in 2015 when I cracked a rib each time.  I did tear up my hand and knees.  I held up a bloody hand for the photographer who was taking pictures at the end.  Ricky was not bothered as much by the conditions as I was and he finished under five hours.  This one worked out for me in terms of scheduling, but there are better ones in Idaho, even though they advertised this one as the flattest.  Time: 5:15:59, 1st 70-74.

    As David Lee Roth once said, "You got to bleed for it baby!"

Delaware Marathon, 5/8:  This was the 13th consecutive time I have run the Delaware Marathon.  There are only a handful of us (less than 12) who have done them all.  It was a bit warm this year.  I did the first half in just a little over a ten-minute pace.  Then as has happened in the past, the wheels came off, starting when I was running along the sunny Christina River area to start the second loop.  Time: 4:47:51. 1st 70-74.

Fargo (S.D.) Marathon, 5/21:  Ricky Singh went with me to this one.  We flew into Minneapolis and drove four hours to the Fargo area.  I would say that this is the must-do marathon event in North Dakota.  It is the nearest to Minneapolis, making for cheaper travel, just barely over the river from Minnesota and the weather was mild enough, if a tad warm in the latter miles.  We started and finished inside the Fargodome, the stadium of North Dakota State, the school where Eagle draft pick Carson Wentz starred.  That meant we could dress down at the start without being cold and enter an air-conditioned environment at the end when it was getting warm.  The course wound around Fargo, across the river to Moorhead State University, and back. 
  By 20 miles, I was warm and slowing.  After stopping in a portajohn in the 22nd mile, my will to push hard was gone.  I got in a conversation with a younger woman, whose husband, kid and parents were waiting at the end and I was content with 13-minute miles.  Nearing the stadium, I saw a man who could have been in my age group, so I asked the woman if she felt like picking up the pace.  So we did run a fairly strong last half mile.  However, I discovered later that if I had not been talking and had been trying a bit harder, I would have placed in the age group, instead of finishing 4th.  Time: 4:55:02

Heartland Series, Clinton (IA) Marathon, 6/8:  This race really had no official name.  It was put on by Mainly Marathons, which conducts series of marathons.  For instance, this marathon was the fourth of seven marathons in seven days.  People travel around to a number of close states and the outfit sets out marathon courses for them to run.  In the 50 States Club newsletter the outfit invited anyone who had never run with them before to do one marathon for free.  I signed up to do it and urged Ricky to do it also, but he forgot and had to pay a fairly substantial fee before we traveled out there.
  The day before the race, we flew into Chicago, drove out to Clinton, IA, had some lunch and then went to check into our motel.  Turns out the advertising totally misled me as it was a real dump.  We left after seeing two rooms and started looking for another.  The first two places were all full with a lot of the rooms rented to runners.  We found another one that looked a bit rundown on the outside, but fine inside.  That evening we went to the restaurant that I had read the runners would meet at for dinner.  We ate on the deck overlooking the Mississippi River and had good conversation with a couple from Michigan.  They were traveling with the group.  The man had done a marathon that day, just across the river.  The woman was going to walk a half marathon the next day.  The man would be working for the outfit, getting paid a bit, which helped to defer the expenses and helped the outfit with experienced people who knew what runners needed.
  The next morning we met in the dark for the 5 a.m. start.  We would be running out and back on the paved path on top of the levee.  Each time out and back, we covered 3.275 miles and when we got back we would take a rubber band and put it on a wrist.  After we collected seven of them, the eighth time back we finished at the timer.  The weather, which had been predicted to go into the upper eighties, was much better.  It was cloudy and the temperature was in the sixties.  Halfway through, it started to drizzle, which helped me stay cool. 
  After starting out slowly and going back and forth past Ricky, at about five miles I started feeling better.  Part of my incentive to pick up the pace was spurred by the fact that Ricky had gotten into a conversation and pace with a young woman.  Her talking was bothering me as I preferred to concentrate of my own signals about how I felt.  So I took off.  Each time I saw them I could tell I was pulling farther ahead.  It was great that other runners would encourage you as you approached each other or passed by.  I was eventually passed by a number of the faster runners, just as I passed slower participants.  Ricky stayed with the woman for the entire race.  He said she helped him with her encouragement.  I don’t know how he does these marathons without any training inbetween.  He finished in 4:56.  My time:  4:44:57.  The series does not give awards, but I was the only runner over 70.