Monday, October 14, 2019

I Set a New Delaware State Record

Five years ago I trained to attempt to break the Delaware men's 70-74 age group record in the marathon. I did downhill repeats and signed up for a marathon in Colorado. But the website misled me into thinking that running at altitude wouldn't matter much if I was running downhill. Wrong! in the first few miles, running at the pace I had determined I wanted to do, I was breathing like I was running an all-out 5K. When I hit an uphill stretch, I couldn't run at all and had to walk. There were other problems with that event, but needless to say I missed the opportunity to break the record at age 70. I know well that every year now, I slow a good bit, so it was at 70 or nothing.
Fast forward to yesterday. Having just turned 75, I attempted to break the 75-79 state record. I went to the Mohawk-Hudson River Marathon, which ends in Albany, New York. I had run this race three other times and each time I had qualified for the Boston Marathon there. I knew from those three experiences, that my time at that race was anywhere from four to ten minutes faster than a marathon I had done the previous spring. I ran the Delaware Marathon this past spring. I was not in good shape because of an injury I had suffered in mid-summer of 2018. But I ran a 5:11:45. The current state record was 5:08:35. So I figured that if I could cut four minutes off at a minimum, I would break the record by 50 seconds.
While again not in good marathon shape, I figured I had done enough, between a very slow Erie Marathon (5:26) five weeks earlier and a 14 mile run three weeks earlier that I was in comparable shape to what I was when I ran Delaware. The slightly downhill course would take care of the rest. I started with the five hour pace group. But the pacer was running faster than that and then telling people to walk through the water stops for recovery. Even doing that, we were ahead of schedule. I don't walk water stops unless I am real tired near the end. Although "banking time" is needed recommended in a marathon, I know my body. I have always slowed down in the second half. So O decoded to go for it.
I went ahead at the first stop and put some distance on them. Later we yo-yo-ed back and forth. They would pass me at a faster pace than I planned to run and I would pass them at the water stops. I basically held my pace, which was faster than at Erie, for two miles more than at Erie - to 18 miles before the inevitable slowing. Even then, at 20 miles, I had 82 minutes to cover the last 10K. 
It is a good thing I had the goal that I did because those last 10K was some of the toughest miles of my life. Various muscles, mostly in my right leg, took turns starting to cramp up. I just kept up whatever pace I could, which was basically a race walk at that point. A twelve minute mile, then a 12:30, then a 13, then a 13:30. Each slower mile kept me worried that I was not going to break the record, but it motivated me to push as hard as I could. Finally, the 26th mile went faster than the 25th. I knew I had it, only not by as much as I thought I might have done. I crossed the finish line in 5:05:52, 2:43 faster than the previous record.
I must say that running that sort of time is not a great feat. It is a half hour slower than the qualifying time I would have needed for Boston. That was a goal I had aspired to early in the year, but the heat and humidity together with the drastic fall-off in my overall conditioning in the last couple of years, made that an impossibility. Instead, my achievement is more about the fact that I am one of the few Delaware men who reached 75, who wanted to run a marathon and who was still healthy enough to do it. The two who held the record before me, John Schultz and Henry Gunther, were the same. In fact I do not know of another man in Delaware, who reached this age and ran a marathon. So it was persistence and my experience that got me to this point.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Marathon Bests and Worsts

I have gotten the question several times – “What is your favorite marathon?”  I have never had an immediate answer because I want to know “favorite” for what reason?  Speed? Scenery? Fun?  There is no one answer.  So I have decided to look at my marathons – 123 as of the beginning of September 2015 – and make lists of various categories.  Note: I have run over 30 more marathons since I first wrote this in Sept. 2015. I will add in italics any marathons that occurred in the last four years.

First Marathon:  Philadelphia, 1995, 3:46:05

First Boston Qualifying Time: Philadelphia, 1996, 3:26:55 (needed under 3:30), 3rd marathon.

Fastest Time: Boston, 1997, 3:21:51 at age 52, 4th marathon, stops for cramps and portajohn break cost five minutes.

Most painful post-race recovery: Boston, 1997, had to walk down steps backwards for a couple days

Most marathons for one venue:  Boston, 13. 1996-8, 2000-5, 2007-9, 2012, 2014
   Delaware, 16, 2004-20119
  Philadelphia, 8, 1995-7, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005-6  

Most consecutive marathon at one venueDelaware (Wilmington), 16, 2004-2019

Marathons where I felt most “in the zone”, excluding Philadelphia, 1996 and Boston, 1997:  Philadelphia, 1999, 3:33:12 (incl. 2:30 for “pit stop”); B & A Trail, 2001, 3:34:46 (inc. 2:09 “pit stop”); Mohawk Hudson Valley, 2003, 3:43:20; Ocean City (Md.), 2006, 3:49:30; Delaware, 2013, 4:07:59; Erie, 2013, 4:04:04, Milwaukee Lakefront, 2015, 4:22:04.

Number of marathons requiring “pit stops”:  21, 13 of which were before 2003. Two more in last four years.

Marathons involving injuries:  Washington’s Birthday, 2011, tore gluteal/hip muscle and had to walk almost 12 miles; Martian Marathon, 2015, fell and jammed elbow into rib, possibly breaking it; Gobbler Grind, 2015, tripped on crack in asphalt path and hurt ribs; Lake Lowell, 2016, tripped less than mile from end and got a bloody hand.

Slowest Marathons + reasons:
50 to 54:  Delaware (old Middletown into Maryland course): 4:09:20, wind and “pit stop”
55 to 59:  Boston, 2001, 4:14:35. Knew I was not going to have a good day, took a camera and shot a roll of picture, had a full beer at the Hash House Harriers stop on Heartbreak Hill.
  Boston, 2004, 4:19:59, temps in upper 80s.
60 to 64:  Seashore Marathon (Rehoboth), 2008, 4:23:29, windy conditions caused hamstrings to cramp the entire second half, forcing me to alternate jogging with walking.
  Boston, 2009, 4:29:02, felt awful all day
  God’s Country, 4:24:08, long climb over Eastern continental divide left me so fatigued that I could not run much going downhill to the end
  Drake Well, 4:28:19, although the temperature stayed close to 70 most of the race, the humidity was 100%.
65 to 69:  G.W. Birthday, 2011, 5:40:17, tore hip muscle and walked
  Deseret News, 5:09:02, altitude and steep downhill early beat me up
  Boston, 2012, 5:24:57, 88 degrees and more humid than in 2014
Over 70:  Revel Rockies, 5:22:53, altitude and cambered road made running impossible in the second half
  Green River, 5:28:15, started at 6100 feet, went up to 7500.  Actual running was impossible and my speeds were, depending on the difficulty of the terrain at the moment, jogging, race walking, or walking.
  Big Island, 5:36:51, first half hilly and second half sunny going into 80s with no shade, this was my 50th state.
  Deseret News, 5:54:44, being out in Salt Lake City, I decided to this one for a second time, even though I approached it conservatively early, the heat and altitude affected me.

Courses with most loops:  I don’t mind courses with multiple loops and, in fact, I preferred the older Delaware four-loop out-and-back course to the current two-loop course.  I may be doing a course in early 2016 with 13 out and back loops, essentially a one-mile course with one aid station.
  Run the Loop Marathon, 2017. 26 loops --  This was held about 35 miles away from my home.  We ran around a couple of schools, running up and downhill about 25 feet on each loop. Held near Labor Day and with no shade, I was lucky that it was drizzly and cloudy.  I would not do it again.
  Last Plain To Boston, 1999, 8+ loops – Put on by the DC Roadrunners in a year when the Last Train to Boston wasn’t being run, it took place in conjunction with the club’s 20K championship at Haines Point in DC.  The loop is 3.2 miles and the marathoners started an hour before the 20K runners.  It got awfully old having speedsters go past while one’s body was tiring.
  Around the Lake Marathon, 2010, 8 loops – This event is in late July in Massachusetts and starts in the evening.  Some people do 12 and 24 hours runs.
  Asbury Park, 2009, 5 loops
  4 loop courses – Delaware (Middletown), 1997; Delaware (Wilmington), 2004 -9; Last Chance for Beantown; Lucky Trail
  3 loop courses – George Washington Birthday; Fortitude for First Descents, 2011 and 2012

Marathons with finishes on tracks or football fields:  Freedom’s Run, 2011
  Canton, 2012 – Hall of Fame stadium

Marathons with notable places in the race:  Philadelphia, Independence Hall
  Boston – for runners the entire course is historic, including screaming Wellesley coeds at 20K, the Newton Hills, the Johnny Kelly statue, running past the Citco sign and Fenway Park with a mile to go, and the final 3/8 of a mile down Boyleston St.
  Monster Mash, 2013, first mile on Dover International Speedway, also run past historic government buildings in Dover
  Ocean Drive, 2001 and 2009, starts in historic Cape May
  C & D Canal Marathon, 2007, ran over and back on the St. Georges bridge.
  God’s Country, 2009, crosses the Eastern continental divide
  Drake Well,  2009, starts near the site of the first oil well in the country
  Asbury Park, 2009, does go past the Stone Pony, where Springsteen got his start.  Truth be told, it’s just a concrete block dive bar.
    Freedom’s Run starts in Harpers Ferry, W. Va.  Later the course goes through Antietam Battlefield, site of the bloodiest battle in the civil war.
  Deseret News, 2011, starts outside Salt Lake City in the pass where Mormons first came through and found the Salt Lake Valley.  The marathon finishes at the park where Pioneer Day is being celebrated.  The runners go alongside the parade of covered wagons that is the main attraction.
  The Hartford Marathon, 2012, starts and finishes near the golden domed state capitol.
  Hoover Dam,  2013, starts in a park on Lake Meade and then climbs up to the trail originally used to bring supplies up to the people building the Hoover Dam.  There are several tunnels to run through and eventually the runners turn around after running onto the roof of the parking garage for the Dam.
  The Louisiana Marathon, 2014, starts right in front of the state capitol and also goes past LSU’s Tiger Stadium.
  The Savannah Marathon, 2014, goes through a historic area of the city and also through Savannah State University, where a choir sings.
  The Huntsville Marathon, 2014, goes under several rockets outside the aerospace museum.
  Duke City (Albuquerque), dozens of balloons carrying people go aloft during the race.
Trail marathons completed:  Seven - The above slow times do not include any of the trail marathons I did:  five Stumpy’s, one Triple Crown, and HAT Run, which was actually a 50K, but I include as a marathon because it’s the only ultra I have done.  All those times were over five hours, except my first Stumpy’s in 4:48 in 2002 and second Stumpy’s in 4:50 in 2003.

Windiest marathons:  Delaware, 1995, 4:09; B&A Trail, 1999, 3:59 (I ran one here three years later 24 minutes faster); Asbury Park, 2009, 4:28:11; Gansett Marathon, 2011, 4:31:20; G.W. Birthday, 2013, 4:36:21; Vermont City, 2013; 4:24:54.  BTW, almost every marathon I have run near a beach had strong wind.

Marathon requiring qualifying time (other than Boston):  Gansett, 2011, 4:31:20.  The qualifying time was five minutes faster than Boston and the race is held two days before Boston.  I was the oldest person in the race and since everyone was capable of running a Boston qualifying time, I was the second to last finisher.

Marathons where the sounds of explosions were heard:  G. W. Birthday, 1998, 2011, 2013, near a military installation which tests munitions; Last Train to Boston, 2001, at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, which was never held again after 9/11; Hatfield-McCoy, 2013, put on by descendants of the famous feuding families in Kentucky near the West Virginia border.  After running pasts a house with about a dozen people watching from a porch, someone shot off a gun, which was unnerving to me.

Most poorly planned events:  Asbury Park, 2009, this course had multiple loops which ended up running north up the boardwalk into the teeth of gale force winds.  The rest of the course through town was more sheltered from the wind, so reversing the direction of running the loops would have been much easier on the runners.
  Last Chance for Beantown, 2013, this event was held in a gated community in North Carolina and the singular propose seemed to be to promote the community.  Held in the evening, sections were poorly lit, and there were no awards at all for running the marathon.  The event never was held again.
  Two Rivers, 2014, I can’t list all of the issues with this one.  The races are held on both Saturday and Sunday.  Promised a Boston certified course, but the finish was changed because of snow on the finish area parking lot (hadn’t snowed in weeks). The course was short and the water tables ran out of fluid early.  The director is stealing money.
  Revel Rockies, 2015, the website misleads about the ease of running a downhill marathon (starting at 11,200 feet).  But the biggest issue was the bus snafu.  Several dozen people could not get to the start, including the woman who may have won (she won the half and was ranting afterward).  1,200 half-marathoners could not get to the starting line.            
  Chattanooga, 2016, this was the inaugural event.  The course was certified, but on race day an early mile was definitely short on a turn around.  I thought the discrepancy was made up in the last mile, which took me three minutes longer than it should have.  But apparently the turnaround missed even more distance.  I had to go back to Tennessee to run a certified course in Nashville.
  Portland, 2016, this race has been around a long time.  But on this year, some traffic cones were moved in the early miles.  There are so many people in the race, that there are five corrals.  The fastest runners in the first two corrals were not affected, but most of the rest of us ran an extra half of a mile.  The race director compounded the issue by giving a TV interview in which he said that the error did not affect the “serious runners”.  Eventually we received adjusted times.  Because the race was longer than the marathon distance, the 50 States Club accepted that result, unlike with Chattanooga.

Most worrisome traffic issues:  Johnstown, 2006, the second half of the event was on small back roads and the runners had to go with the traffic with virtually no shoulder
Lower Potomac, 2007 and 2013, the first half is on islands with little traffic, but the second half was on the main two-lane road in the area.  Because of the camber of the road, people tried to run in the lanes when there was no traffic and then get to the shoulder when traffic came.  But a number of times in both the races I did, drivers seemed to resent the runners and would come quite close to us on the side at speeds over 50 mph.

Angriest drivers:  Baltimore, 2001 (closed a four lane highway and cars sat for hours; changed the course after that first year; Canton, 2012, another first year event.

Most over-hyped Boston qualifiers:  Mo’ Cowbell, 2014 and Revel Rockies, 2015:  Both websites promised fast times, but neglected important details.  Mo Cowbell had a first half with a lot of concrete and a second half that was on a gravelly, cambered trail.  Revel Rockies misstated the difficulty of running at altitude and had a second half severely cambered to the right towards a creek.  I basically walked the second half.

Coldest marathons:  Delaware, 1995, a blustery day where temperatures did not get out of the 30s.
  Mohawk Hudson Valley, 2003 – It was a very unusual day where the temperature in the Mohawk Valley in early October was in the 30s with drizzle.  I ran a BQ, but my hands were stinging from the cold wetness the entire race. Later I checked and found that area was the coldest place in the contiguous 48 states that morning.
  Route 66, 2013 – Who would imagine that in November in Oklahoma the temperature would be at 23 degrees at the start and not rise higher than 28 degrees by the finish?  I was forewarned and had multiple layers of clothes as well as charcoal warmers in my mittens and shoes.

Hottest Marathons:  Boston, 2004, the race still went off at noon then.  The temperature was in the mid 80s with a dry tail wind.
  Half-Sauer, Half Kraut Marathon, held in June, 2010.  The race didn’t start until 8:00 AM.  I was sweating just standing at the start.  I took it easy and took lots of fluids and ended up passing a runner who ordinarily was much faster than me, but who was overheated.  The dew point was near 70 with temps up to 88.
  Boston, 2012, 5:24:57.  With the now earlier start the temperature was even warmer than in 2004 with no dry breeze.  The run became a slog to just get from one water stop to the next.  Hundreds of people deferred their entry as the BAA offered the chance to not run.

The Eastern most marathon to start in the United States (and also the only U.S. marathon to include 20 miles in another country) – The Bay of Fundy International Marathon, 2013 – starting in a state park outside of Lubuc, Maine, the runners goes almost six miles and crosses a bridge onto Campobello Island, which is part of Canada.  The next 20 miles are about and back on the island with only a quarter mile run to the main street of Lubuc after crossing back.

Most northwestern marathon in contiguous 48 states: Birch Bay, Washington, near the Pacific Ocean and right up near the Canadian border.

Easiest courses (for me):  I preface this by saying some people are good at running downhill, but I am not one of them.  Also, many beach marathons are relatively flat, but one frequently has to deal with winds at those races.  

B&A Trail, Severna Park, MD:  I have run this one three times.  Put on by the Annapolis Roadrunners, it goes out and back, first south and then north.  The first time I encountered winds going north, but the second time I ran BQ and had a negative split (second half faster than first).  The first half has some slight hills in the early neighborhood running and then only serious hill at the seven-mile turnaround.  So I ran conservatively until I got back up on level ground and then picked my pace.

Mohawk Hudson River - I had run this course three times, using each time as my qualifying time for the next two Boston Marathons.  The course drops gradually for a total decline of just a couple hundred feet – enough to speed you up without beating you up.

Erie – located on Presque Isle, this two loop course is totally flat and about 75% shaded. In early September on Lake Erie the air was cool and dry.  Perfect weather!

Scenic Marathons:  This category is different from the category with notable landmarks, concentrating on the views around.  First, six of the seven trail marathons that I did were in White Clay Creek State Park and Middle Run County Park in New Castle County, Delaware where I live.  The other was at Susquehanna State Park in nearby Maryland.  Running in woodland is obviously peaceful and tends to make you feel at one with nature.
  Other courses I have run that incorporate a lot of woods and sometimes dirt trails are:  North Central Trail, Mohawk Hudson Valley, B&A Trail, G.W. Birthday, Drake Well, Lehigh River Valley, Freedom’s Run, Delaware & Lehigh Heritage, Bucks County, Fortitude for First Descents (in Cape Henlopen State Park, DE), Bob Potts, Veteran’s Day, and Two Rivers (not recommended).
  The truly scenic courses would be some of the latest ones I have done:  Deseret News, Bay of Fundy International, Hoover Dam, Revel Rockies, and Run with the Horses.  As I finish the Western states, I’ll probably do more scenic ones.

Marathons with unique features:

Monster Mash – This race starts with one mile around Dover International Raceway and ends outside the stadium in front of the statue known as Miles the Monster.  However, after several miles in Dover, running near the historic government buildings, most the marathon is out on lonely roads through soybean fields.
Sioux Falls – There is a park in the middle of the town where the small falls flow.  The marathon goes over a bridge, which passes over the falls.

Juneau - The race is on an island and on the backside of the island we could see a glacier.  It was a learning experience to see how dirty the front of a glacier is.

Loganview – Run outside of Omaha, a high school puts on races of distances of half marathon, full marathon and 50K.  In all there were only about a hundred people and about two dozen in the marathon.  The course is mostly on gravel roads through cornfields and the races started at 5 pm.  We were told to bring headlamps, but mine died after 15 minutes and I spent about five miles in the total darkness, following someone ahead or a vehicle that would run through checking on the runners.  It was mostly a walk after dark.

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: 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!