Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Now thats more like it.. Derby 50K 2010

Well, I had planned to start out slow and see how I felt but not this slow. As Race Director Mark Long said go, I looked down to start my Garmin and realized I had not turned it on and acquired the satellites. Ok, no panic today. I just turned it on and began walking veerrrry slowly until they figured out where I was which took just over a minute. This of course had me well behind the other nearly 100 other entrants but I had 31 miles to make up that little bit of time.

The morning had begun very early for me as I awoke at 4am and then headed over to Cary to meet with Lisa and Amy to carpool to the race. We made good time and arrived at the Derby Community Center where I had nearly an hour to visit with many running friends from the MTC and also some NCRC friends that had made their way down to attempt their 1st Derby. Through Facebook we had agreed that this would be a kilt run so Lisa, Amy, Ken Hamilton ,Charles Akers and myself all lined up sporting our Sportkilts.

So, now I found myself at the back of the pack and began to slowly move my way up into the field of runners. I was just relaxing and snapped a few pictures along the way. After about two miles the pack had spread out and I caught up to Lisa around the 2 mile mark. We ran together from there chatting like we were on one of our normal Saturday long runs together until we reached aid station 1 just past mile 4 where we were greeted by Mrs.Doom, Rosemary and the Professor. I was happy to see that after the 1st mile I was running 9 minute miles and it felt very easy so I just grabbed a cup of gatorade and decided to pick it up a notch over the next section to see how I felt.

The next part of the loop is the easiest and my favorite including a sweet gradual downhill on Sycamore Lane and then the mostly flat dirt road section. It is a 5k to the next aid station and I averaged 8:55 and felt fantastic. Now I just had to see how it felt going up the long hill back up to Derby Road. That felt easy too and I was able to maintain pace without trying and completed the 1st loop averaging 8:59 for that 3.25 mile section. I dropped my waist pack off by my car and quickly headed out for loop two on a mission. The PR attempt was on.

By now the weather was perfect for running warming into the low 50's. I was pushing the pace just slightly on the downhills and then easing off just a little on the climbs. I didn't want to push too much because I still had a long 20 miles to go but I was really feeling good about things and smiling to myself to be running so well and having so much fun. I was back into AS 1 a little faster this lap averaging 8:54. In and out quickly and back onto Sycamore Lane, running strong and loving life, singing songs in my head that I've been practicing lately. Unfortunately I lollygagged a little once I hit the dirt road and ran it slower than the 1st lap but still my overall pace was below pr pace.

I covered the next section to finish lap two within 2 seconds of the time for the first lap and quickly ran on gaining confidence that I could get that pr today. Back into to AS 1 for the last time and only slightly slower than lap two. Another 1.2 miles down Sycamore Lane and I passed the marathon point in 3:57:17. Now if I could just hold on for another 5 miles. I had run that last section at 8:50 pace and was moving along well on the dirt road but then the slow fade began and by the time I hit AS 2 for the last time, I had slowed considerably and things weren't looking good.

I made one last push to try and pick the pace back up but after another 1/2 mile it was over. There would be no pr today. I had to began doing a run/walk up that last mile long hill and to add insult to injury I was passed by two runners that I had passed earlier, the first people to pass me all day. And then on the homestretch I was passed by two others. But even with the disappointment of losing it the last 3.5 miles, I am still very happy to have run so well considering how the last couple of races have gone. I ended up in 24th place out of 81 finishers and 2nd Grandmaster. Even if I had gotten the PR, I still would not have beaten 53 year old Mike Riggins from SC who ran a 4:23 ! I was first kilt !

Sadly, Lisa had a bad day and dropped after one loop so we waited together for Amy. I was so happy and proud to see her finishing her first ultra, just two weeks after her 2nd marathon at OBX. Husband and wife team Charles and Blanca Akers got their first ultra finishes together and Olga Kruger from NCRC also finished her first one. Overall a great day! Thanks to Mark and his volunteers !

Now I look forward to a few easy weeks and then into some serious marathon training for Boston.

Here are some photos from the race.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Derby 50K 2010 Preview

Going to the Derby 50K has become a Thanksgiving Weekend tradition for me since 2003. I regret now that I didn't run that 1st one but at the time I was still fairly new at ultra running and didn't think I had had enough time to recover from my last race and prepare for the next one on my schedule. I did however go down and volunteer and then ran the third lap with the Finkles. I have since raced every year and include myself in a small group of 6 that have raced it 6 times. My buddy Tony Rouse is now the only one to have run every year with 7 finishes.

The picture above is from 2007 with Jenn the Ultra Angel before her first one. I ran a PR 4:46:58 that year and it remained my pr until I ran 4:44 at Frosty Fifty this past January. Derby doesn't have age group awards but I was the first Grandmaster in 06 and 07. My streak of "wins" was broken in 08 when I just ran to finish due to my nagging hamstring injuries and would take off 6 weeks immediately
afterwards and then last year I ran with Karla in her first ultra.

Derby is one of the rare road ultra's and although it has some rolling hills I consider it a pretty fast course. With the way things have been going in my last two races I'm not sure what will happen this weekend. I would like to race it and go for yet another 50k pr and at my age I know I won't have too many more opportunities to do that. My plan is to take it very easy the first two or three miles and then pick it up to pr pace and see how I feel and go from there.You never know about these things so you just take the good days when they come. If I figure out I 'm not going to get the pr I will probably drop back and run with Amy (Marathon Mom) Surrette who is eager to run her first ultra. Lisa will be running her first Derby and 2nd ultra and I expect she will once again do well. Sadly, The Marathon princess won't be returning as she is resting a nagging foot injury and Jenn has to work.

Stay tuned for the results

Here is the race website

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

OBX Marathon 2010

OK, so it didn't go quite as well as I hoped but I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I knew when I made the decision to do my 100 mile training week just 3 weeks before the race that I was probably killing any chance of a fast time but it's what I wanted to do so I have no regrets. Just make a note that when preparing for a fast marathon , do not run a 50k race 5 weeks before, followed by a 102 mile week and then do two more weeks of 49 and 48 miles and call it a taper.

The weekend itself was wonderful. I was once again a guest of Mike and Lisa Howell at their home in Kill Devil Hills, just a block away from the race course. It was a beautiful weekend except for some strong wind on Saturday which we spent goofing off all day.

Mike dropped Lisa and I at the start Sunday morning and we quickly found Karla and Amy and also spent some time talking to Bill and Sally Squier. After chatting a bit I ran a short warm up and made my way to the start. They had a lady that did the most incredible job of singing the National Anthem that I have ever heard. Simply awesome and inspiring.

Once the race started I settled into an easy feeling pace, just letting people pass me and trying not to get sucked into to speeding up. The first mile was still a little faster than I had wanted in 8:32 but at least not over my goal pace of 8:23. After that I fell into a nice rhythm and was steadily clicking off the miles , all within a few seconds of my goal pace. But just like last year it soon became obvious that I was not going to be able to hold that pace comfortably much longer.

Just as we were entering Nags Head Woods , I shut it down at exactly the same place as last year. I was surprised that Lisa passed me there ,well ahead of her goal pace. I knew she would be along shortly but not that soon. Unlike last year I was not going to just slow down and hope to still run a fast time. That didn't work out too well as I blew up hard and suffered mightily the last 8 miles or so. This year I just decided to get to the finish as comfortably as possible so I began walking the hills through the woods.

Once I came out of the woods and back onto the flat roads I took a short break and two gels at the mile 13 aid station before beginning a run/ walk strategy of walking one tenth of a mile and then running nine tenths. Each mile I began looking back to see if maybe Karla was coming so I could run some with her. I even considered just walking until she caught up to me but I was hoping she was going to have a good day and would catch me soon.

So that is how the last half went with me just trying to enjoy the day. Around Mile 20, Amy passed me looking strong and I knew she was on her way to a pr. I never did see Karla and after one more look back just past mile 25 I ran it on in to the finish. My time of 4:28 was almost exactly the same as last year but a lot less painful. I was talking to Mike and Lisa in the finishers corral when I looked back and saw Karla. She actually ran one minute faster than me but had started in a later corral or we could have been able to at least run a little together. Lisa would slow down a lot the 2nd half but still improved her pr by about 2 minutes with a 3:56 finish. Amy ran strong and got a pr in 4:06. Frank ran his usual 2:15 in the half and his son Eric running in his first half did 2:07 on less than two weeks training.

OBX is a great race and I have been happy to run it 4 times now. Unfortunately I don't know when or if I will get around to running it again. There are just too many events in November that I want to run and next year for sure I will be returning to Mountain Masochist, one of my favorite events.

Here are some photos from the race

Thursday, November 11, 2010

OBX Marathon Version 4 preview

I am very excited to be returning this weekend to run my 4th Outer Banks Marathon! Training has been going very well this Fall and if all goes well I hope to run my 2nd fastest marathon time. I'll be aiming for 3:40, the same as I tried at Lehigh Valley. Hopefully the weather conditions will be a lot better for this race and the forecast is promising. I really hadn't planned on running this one again this year but if things go to plan , I will not have a chance to come back for at least a couple of years so I decided to go ahead run it again.

This is the 5th year of the race and so far the only one I missed was in 2008 when I ran Mountain Masochist with Jenn, or at least the first 33 miles of it. The funny thing is that I hadn't planned on running the first one but as I explained in my race report which you can read here. I only decided to go at the last minute so I could run with Karla. In many ways that race was even more amazing than her Boston finish as this came after all the months of chemo-therapy and now she was into radiation treatments and had done almost no running all Spring and Summer. The picture is our finish in 2006.

This year I'll be racing on my own. Karla will be running her fifth and hoping to run well also. I will be staying with the Howells again and I expect my other training partner Lisa will blow out an amazing time and get a big PR the way she is running lately. And my newest training partner Amy has been making huge improvements the past few months since joining us on our long runs and track workouts so I expect she will also run well in her 2nd marathon and first at OBX.

Looking forward to some fun times with good friends and hope to see some others from the area there too. Here is the race website.

Stay tuned for the results !