Sunday, June 8, 2008

06/07/08: Bloomin' Four Mile

I think I need to find me some P.F. Flyers, the better to run faster and jump higher with; I know I need to find some friendlier weather but it's only June - it's going to get worse before it gets better. For the Dallas Running club's Bloomin' Four Mile race it was 79 degrees and 77% humidity which made for a heat index of about a jillion. Not that it would be any better, but I wonder if they've ever considered having one of their summer runs in the evening.

I had a plan - run the first two miles very conservatively and try to pick it up over the second half of the race - but several things went awry not the least of which was not following the plan very well. I ran the first two miles in about sixteen minutes, which would qualify as very conservative if the temperature was about twenty degrees cooler, but today it was a faster pace than I was expecting for the entire race. Which meant there was much walking and gnashing of teeth over the last two miles but at least there was more teeth-gnashing than there was walking. The second, and third (out-and-back course), miles traversed the dreaded shaky bridge which has been my main source of motion sickness for the past ten years. Maybe I should start taking Dramamine before running at White Rock Lake.

Actually after a long walking break in the third mile - longer than intended as I decided to walk to the mile marker and I was further away than I thought - I decided to forget about the race (except for staying on course and stopping at the finish line) and just run intervals for the last mile. I ran hard, like near-sprint hard, for 100 steps (counting one foot only) and then walked for 60 steps. I did three sets and then jogged the rest of the way in, finishing about 35:06. Which isn't an auspicious start to a new (birth) year but does mean I have lots of room for improvement.

I was expecting to run with some relay club members but I didn't see any of them at the race; there was a happy hour the night before that I guess wound up being happier than anticipated. I did see Grapevine Mike, who actually lives in Dallas County but who I know from running in Grapevine. I hung out with him some before the race and more after the race but not so much during the race as he finished well ahead of me.

While hanging out after the race I tried one of the many free Accelerades they had available. My flavor of choice was fruit punch and I should keep in mind that it was warm but I wasn't too impressed and I'm not in any hurry to fork over cash money to give it another try. For now my carbohydrate-and-protein drink of choice remains Nesquik although I'll pass on that, too, if it's served warm. I drank the dregs of the Accelerade after I got in my car and drove off in search of breakfast. You can tell the racing season's hit a lull when you get back to your car after a race and your windshield doesn't have a single brochure on it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

05/25/08: Mad City Half Marathon

Thirteen.1 Notes on the Mad City Half Marathon

1. The half marathon starts at 7:25 at the state Capitol building - fifteen minutes after the full marathon and twenty minutes before the quarter (and personally I think these subdivisions are getting silly) marathon - and finishes at the Alliant Energy Center maybe three miles away. So I had to get to the finish line a little after six to catch a shuttle to the start, which is why I'm not a big fan of point-to-point courses.

2. I hadn't planned a strategy for this race so when I saw the 1:50 pace guy lining up near me, I decided to stick with him for as long as I could. If I could hang for ten miles, I'd be happy no matter how crappy the last three miles were. Unless my death was literal rather than figurative, of course.

3. I ran this race two years ago in 2:xx:xx on a day when it was 79 degrees and 72% humidity. Today it was more like 63 degrees and 54% humidity, which is one of the reasons I came back. The other is that I like Madison; it's a cool city.

4. The race started promptly and it also started downhill, which is nice on a point-to-point course. It's a moderately hilly route although it does have two long, mostly flat sections: along Lake Mendota around miles six and seven and around Monona Bay and heading towards the back of the Alliant Energy Center, towards the finish. Although they do throw in one last nasty little uphill just before you turn into the parking lot.

5. I wouldn't say the crowd support rivals Boston but I was surprised by how many people were out cheering early in the morning.

6. The first part of the course goes northeast from the Capitol along the isthmus separating Lake Mendota from Lake Monona before turning around and returning to downtown via Johnson and Langdon Streets. So a lot of the downhill in mile one turns into uphill in mile four, I think.

7. The University of Wisconsin section of the course goes along the Temin Lakeshore Path and along some roads on the west side of campus, including past Camp Randall Stadium. Which is fine by me; if they took us through the main part of campus we'd wind up running some hills worth bitching about.

8. I don't remember much about miles eight through eleven but what I do remember is mostly bad - a short out-and-back around Vilas Park, which I hate out-and-backs and wish they'd find a way to eliminate it; running up a pedestrian bridge late in mile nine to get across North Shore Drive; and noticing about halfway through mile nine that I'd already sped up to my "God I want this to be over with!" pace, which isn't a good pace with 4.5 miles still to go.

9. I made it through mile eleven in 1:31:44 (8:20 pace) before cratering and losing contact with the 1:50 people.

10. The last two miles weren't totally horrible, just mostly so. There was some walking but I ran more than I walked.

11. I actually had a quick left after mile thirteen. I guess that was the payoff for dogging it those last two miles.

12. The medals for all the races just say "Mad City Marathon" and are color-coded by race (red for marathon, yellow for half, white for quarter); in addition, the name of the actual race run is printed on the (also color-coded) ribbon. Marathoners sometimes bitch when the shirt or medal doesn't distinguish between the various distances.

13. I grabbed a bottle of water at the finish line, but didn't bother food. I didn't even go all the way through the line - I didn't see anybody carting around anything that looked particularly appealing.

13.1 1:54:31.