Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 - Simply the Best year Ever

I love going back and reading my old posts. (I'm not the only one, right?) On days that aren't going so great, it reminds me of how many peak experiences I have had, and just makes me grateful for the good times.
And this year has been FULL of good times! cheers
Most miles run in a year since 1980! (projecting 1,350 miles) emo-thumbup

Most races in a year ever! - 15 surrender

First year with TWO marathons! emo-surprise

First epic "Ultra-Pikermi trail run" at Double Dipsea! emo-yes

FOUR Loopfest meetups! hug
 Over age 40 PRs at 5K, 3 Miles, 10K, Pikermi and Marathon distances! rocks

And, oh yes, qualified for Boston!!!!!

Yes, this year will be hard to top.

So, let me walk you through my year.

As the year started, I was doing the best training of my adult life, as I was preparing for my BQ attempt. I had some long workouts that amazed me and had me feeling VERY confident. This bloop was one good one, and this one recalls the best one. But I did find time for a Loopster dinner in Santa Monica.

Surf City Loopfest was a blast, as I got to host 5 famous loopsters at my home, as well as the pre-race carbo-loading party. The race came after running 20-milers the two previous weeks, but I still killed it, with a PR 1:33:18.

Next up was the LA Marathon in March, and you know how that went! Reading this bloop of my 3:26:52 BQ still chokes me up, not to mention the 100 comments!

I then planned to focus on speed for a while. Didn't quite get my sub-20 5K, but came darn close in April with a race that was short, that I projected out to 20:06 for 5K. In bunny ears.

Then it was road trip time as I met up with BSquaredMN in MN for a 4 mile trail race.

Then it was on to Cincinnati where I had a quick 6-mile run with lawrenceaa. And then headed over to Louisville, meeting many more Loopsters while cruising the Derby Pikermi in 1:35:54. My horsey RR was kind of clever...

In June ShaunP45 was in town, so JB, Zombiekid and I found a fast 5K and I gave it all I had to get an actual 20:06 5K PR.

I followed that the next week with another 5K in 20:32 on Dad's Day, which was at least good for first place tie-wearing runner.

And one week later, was Double Dipsea - more Loopsters, more fun. Where I may have started my love affair with trails (to be continued)...

July brought ANOTHER opportunity to meet up with Loopsters and race, so I jumped on it! A weekend at Loop Mansion with Medievalist, Alice, JB, John Wayne and Red Hat Amy was a blast. Got to do a beautiful trail in the redwoods of Santa Cruz, and I loved the San Francisco 2nd half marathon and managed a 1:34:47.

August was my chance to do a 10K and lower that PR, which I did by 60 seconds in 43:16. Even though I left AB hanging...

Good year so far, right? Well, Autumn brought not one, but TWO more huge Loopfests at Twin Cities and Marshall! As always, it was so much fun just to be around all these fantastic people and runners. Loopfest magic carried me to a 3:32:31 marathon in Minnesota on minimal training.

And at Marshall I raced for fun with MildSauce the whole way for the most enjoyable sub 1:40 Pikermi ever! And of course met many more Loopsters!

Still not done, I had another Pikermi a week later outside Las Vegas, and managed to win my age group and score a cowbell.

And four days later was Thanksgiving, so I had to do the 3-mile Turkey Trot. So I might as well get another PR in 20:16.

Phew! I am taking December off from racing, and giving my body a little break now, but I am hopeful for a great 2013. With Surf City and Boston already planned, that's a good start!

An early Happy New Year to all!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Turkey Trotting

Today I would do the local Turkey Trot; a 3-mile fun run with several thousand locals. Lots and lots of walkers and trotters. No chips, no results. Just run for fun and start the day off by burning calories.

This is my 8th time running this one. Two years ago I set my course record of 20:27 which was a post-high school PR. This year I am a little burned out from two pikermis the last two weeks, but I'm also in better shape. I decided to do the Loop Prediction Race and would be racing without the Garmin for the first time in 5 years. Just like old times! Considering my fatigue I predicted 20:45. I figured I would do my best, and guessed that 20:45 was the best I could do on tired legs.

I also decided to wear my new green Loopfest shirt, and see if it had the same magical qualities of its predecessor, which carried me, and many other loopsters, to many PRs. I really should have factored that into my prediction time, but it was a last minute decision.

DW was already busy in the kitchen, cooking up a Thanksgiving dinner that we will be taking to a less fortunate family. So I have no pictures for you. But I did get to meet up with several friends from my local running group.

At the gun I went out at a good clip, and I really missed not being able to check my pace. But I trusted in my (significant) race experience and figured I could manage to read my body's cues and stay on track. I felt pretty good. A good hard effort, but in control. I saw mile marker 1 and there was no clock or person reading splits. But I did hear some people behind me say it was about 6:45. Is that cheating?

Mile 1 I was passing people steadily, but mile 2 it became more about hanging on. I passed a few people, but a couple passed me too. It felt like a pace I could hold on to. At the mile 2 marker I again heard someone say 13:33, and knew I was ahead of schedule and if i wanted to hit my number I could slow down. But I was out here to run as hard as I could - not hit the number, and that would be cheating anyway. But I probably did take a half-step back from the hurt locker in that 3rd mile, knowing I had a good time in the bag.

Still, I was pushing hard and suffering. The last 1/4 mile I picked it up a little more and passed a few more on the way in. Final time was 20:16. I missed my goal by 29 seconds, or 2.3%. But more importantly, it was a new PR! The Loopfest shirt's PR magic is confirmed!

So I had my Garmin on (with only distance showing). So I checked my splits. 6:40, 6:46, 6:50. Not quite negative, but pretty darn close to even for a fat, blind man. I guess my racing instincts are still in pretty good shape.

Now I am taking at least two weeks with no running after feeling a little burnt out with a marathon and two halves in the last 7 weeks

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Conquering Mountains - Valley of Fire RR

In a valiant attempt to do everything before my body remembers it is old and should just slow down, I am saying yes to everybody and everything and using up my (many) vacation days. So, after returning from the awesomeness of Marshall on Monday, I put in two days at the office, and then headed out for another 4-day weekend. Las Vegas, baby!!!
It was time for my annual reunion trip with my high school buddies from Minnesota. Each November for about 15 years now, we get together in a warm-weather state for golfing, racing, and general camaraderie (drinking and eating). No wives allowed. There were nine of us this year, and we rented a huge house to camp in.

So in brief, here was my weekend:
  • Drive from LA to Las Vegas, picking up a friend on the way - 5.5 hours
  • Drinking, eating and gambling on the Strip

  • Side trip to Hoover Dam
  • 18 holes of golf - Best round ever! (111)
  • Back to the strip for dinner, drinking
  • James Bond movie (excellent!)

  • Half Marathon! (RR below)
  • Giant buffet on the strip
  • Drinking and football watching and gambling
  • Cirque du Soleil show (Beatles - Love)

  • 18 more holes of golf
  • Drive home

We had a great time. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to have so much fun.

Before I jump into the race report, let me tell you about my friend K. K was my best friend in high school. We were teammates in track and CC, and ran many miles together. One of my best memories is the only CC race that I had a chance to win. K and I were leading a smaller race and decided to finish in a tie. So we came in together, but someone had to go through the chute first, and he pushed me ahead.

About a year ago, K got diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his liver. He had been training for the Twin Cities Marathon, and feeling sluggish so he went for a checkup. It was shocking news, and we all figured he had 3-6 months to live. This cancer is notoriously brutal and almost always fatal. But K started in on the chemo treatments, and after a while showed improvement. He kept working, and kept running when he could. His athletic vigor certainly helped him through the harrowing days of chemo.

It was a long road, but his last two visits have shown him to be cancer-free! So no more chemo, for a while at least. It has been incredibly inspiring and emotional, and we runners of course claimed that running helped his body and mind to be strong enough to win the battle.

So, K was with us in Las Vegas. And he was the same guy as always. Looked the same, acted the same. No obvious change in his outlook on life. And his training partners said he's really on fire lately - running strong. Kicking death's ass tends to give you confidence and lets you not pay attention to a little running pain.

Race day we were up at 4:45 to do the 75 minute drive to the Valley of Fire, which is a state park in the middle of desert. The rocks are blazingly red and orange and beautiful, but we would be running on a 2-lane road in the desert. Only 73 people ran the half, so lots of alone time. Weather was good though. Low 40's maybe, and sunny.

Five of us did the half. Two others did the 10K. P was the favorite - a serious runner that I may have had a shot at if I was in top shape. But I planned to run with the other three guys (K, T and M) a bit slower. Normally I would be the #2 seed, but not by much.

The race starts out with a big hill in the first half mile. Followed by more hills.

So we go to the start and nobody is even on the line. Everyone is back 10-20 yards even though the start is seconds away. We go and realize why. There are no fast people in this race! Two guys went out ahead, and then there was us 5 middle age guys and a few others. I plan to jog up this hill, but P is already going ahead and so are K and T. By the top I am huffing and puffing and tied for last of our group. The downhill didn't change things either. Soon P was moving out of sight, and K and T kept pulling ahead. M and I just let them go because we were already going faster than planned, so we just decided to run our race and see what happened.

The elevation chart is not quite accurate because the hill at mile 10 actually got moved to mile 3 (an extra out and back), thus pushing the rest of the chart over. Anyway the first 3 miles were hilly before a long downhill. M and I stuck together for 5 miles, but then he started to slip as I seemed to find a good groove and starting pushing it a little. I waved good bye and set my sights on T who was a good quarter mile ahead. K and P were out of sight.

The road was very curvy and closed to traffic, so I was running the tangents. But nobody else was. It really made a difference. More people need to learn this trick. I passed a few people, but it was pretty desolate. There were some marathoners and 10Kers on the course too, but not many.

After mile 6, T started coming back to me. He was recovering from foot surgery and it made him slow quite a bit. I went by with a greeting and moved on. In mile 8 we hit a turn around so I could see the people ahead of me. P looked good. K had maybe 2-3 minutes on me. I figured if I kept feeling good he may come back to me.

The return trip had some major uphills, but I found a good trotting pace that didn't kill me and kept going. I passed some marathoners that had started 30 minutes earlier. Glad I wasn't going to be out in the sun for 5-6 hours! One guy stopped to take pictures around every turn.

At times I could see K up ahead and I think I was gaining a little ground. Then I saw him walking up a hill. OK. If he's struggling I can catch him. A mile later I saw him walking again up the last big hill. I was struggling too, but I knew I had some in the tank, so I kept plugging.

With about a mile to go I realized I was going to catch him. So I had to have a little conversation with myself. Should I stop and run in with him? Repeating our famous tie from high school? Or should I just run my race and go on by. I was pretty sure he wasn't going to rally and stay with me. Of course his recent bout with cancer was on my mind. I decided that a pity tie would be the last thing he would want. We are both competitors and knew that the race was the thing. So I beat him. I'm sure he would have done the same to me. Well, maybe not.

We gave each other a supportive cheer and I ran up over the last hill and flew downhill the last half mile. Finished in 1:46:44 and got 5th overall. P beat me by 4 minutes and got 3rd overall, which allowed me to get "1st" place in our age group, and the coveted cowbell award. My legs were not real happy afterward, but it was a good race.  I cheered the other guys in, and we got ready to celebrate in Las Vegas.

Coming in to the finish!
Photo: Racing in Nevada!

Photo: Another successful showing and beautiful day at the Valley of Fire Half Marathon for the Tonka class of 1980 gang.
Me, S, T, M2, K, M, B and P. My bro B and M2 did the 10K. S was supportive.

Looking forward to next year. New Orleans was mentioned as a possible destination.

Since then, my legs recovered a little. I did 5.6 miles Tuesday, and will be turkey trotting 3 miles tomorrow. Shooting for sub-7 pace. THEN I'll take a break. Really.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marshall - Loopfest #5 - More Magic

You know, it should be illegal to have this much fun.

For those of you who have been to a loopfest, I don't really need to explain. You know the joy that everybody just gets wrapped up in for the whole weekend. I'm not sure why it happens, how it happens. Everyone says stuff like "Loopsters are the best people". I'm not sure that's really true or if it just happens because of the process of getting people together who only know each other from a magical website that only accepts positive vibes; People sharing the same passion who congregate in a place where they can put the "real world" aside for a while and just party and run and race and support each other. Whatever, it sure works, and this weekend was no exception.

It was great to see many of my "old friends" that I had seen once or twice before. And as always there was about half of the crowd that were new to the experience. Sharing the rookies' joy can be the best part.

I got a late start Friday night and took a red-eye flight from LA to DC, and then another flight to Charleston Saturday morning. So I only slept about 2 hours, but there would be no time for napping. I met Jenny Rae at the airport and we got acquainted on the drive to Sassafras Estates, where a huge home-cooked brunch buffet would be served, and loopsters dropped in for hours. Then it was off to Huntington and meeting everyone else at the expo and photo op.

Next we had a group carbo-loading and more social time, but eventually it was time to get some rest. Race day was tomorrow! I slept well for once, probably because I wasn't worried about my race, so I made up some of that lost sleep. I roomed with ForWill and it was nice to have a roommate who didn't snore like a grizzly bear! 

I had no goal for the race other than to have fun and enjoy the camaraderie. But I had a plan at least. The plan was to run with MildSauce. She and I were both not optimally trained to race, so we agreed to go out easy, maybe 8 minute pace, and then just see how it went. I figured we would pick it up a little from there and run negative splits. And in the back of my mind I thought about catching RunnerGuyMark and RunMonkey who were planning to run just a little bit faster.

We got to the course just in time to make a pit stop and get to the start. It was a pretty good crowd, but luckily ForWill found MildSauce in the crowd for me just before the national anthem. The weather was perfect, and soon we were off and running. We settled into a comfy pace, and found it was about 7:45, which we deemed acceptable, and trotted along enjoying race day excitement.

Miles 1-6 were 7:45, 7:45, 7:41, 7:47, 7:41 and 7:41. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't hard either. We were chatting and laughing and having fun passing people the whole race. Here we are at mile 3 spotting JB.


It was a clear day. The view by the river was beautiful. The trees still had colorful leaves. The bakery was blowing out fresh bread smell. Fun times.

As we got up to the running path by the park, it got even more fun. The crushed stone path was easier on our legs, and the curvy path through the grass made it feel like a training run. We started picking up the pace as we passed more people. It was a long progressive tempo run. Miles 7 and 8 were 7:38 and 7:26.

Mile 9 we both started feeling a little fatigue and took it down a little to 7:39. But then we saw a familiar green shirt ahead and thought it was RunnerGuyMark, and we kind of put him in our sights and stepped it up a little. We also got passed for the only time all day by a guy, and we ended up running with him and talking a little. Turns out he was a first time marathoner who was going out a little fast. I actually saw him finish later - at 4:49! Ouch.

Miles 10 and 11 were 7:33 and 7:25. Now we were starting to get in race mode. We still hadn't caught the green shirt so we were cranking it up. Mile 12 was 7:12 and we caught him...and it wasn't our loopster. Oh well, we had to keep it going now. It was a race after all so we were giving it a good, solid, honest effort and earning our medals. I was hurting a bit and asked Sauce if she was going to leave me behind, but she said no, and I hung on. Then in mile 13 I felt a little better, and pushed a little ahead, and she asked if I was going to leave HER behind. No, we were in this together. So we helped push each other through mile 13 in 7:17 and into the stadium.

There we caught our footballs and headed down the field, noticing the clock clicking toward 1:40. A last dash sprint seemed to get us in just under.

But...official time for both of us was 1:40:01. Poop.

However... the race lacked a chip strip at the start. Official time was gun time. And if there is no start strip I use Garmin time for chip time, so I'm calling it a 1:39:58.

So, a solid negative split run. More importantly, my recent injury problems were left behind in California and I had no problem at all. So I feel good about getting back to more serious training. In a few weeks. After another Pikermi this weekend and a 5K Turkey Trot next week...Hey, I like to race.

It was a blast running with the Sauce, and then hanging out for hours with so many Loopsters sharing all their stories. I was near tears many times as the first-timers came in for their victory laps, and goals were beaten, and loop love was in the air. Fantastic day.

And then we got to party.

The local pizza bar let us rent out the whole place, so we took over and acted like we owned the joint. The food was great, the beer was cold, and the Loopsters were all in great spirits. After that, most of us adjourned to the Sassafras house for a bonfire and moonshine and s'mores and singing. You will see many pics and stories from others. I'm getting tired so I leave it to them. But it was, you know, osom.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Giving Back for Once - My Rock N Roll VR (Volunteer Report)

After a lifetime of racing (240 races and counting), I finally went to a race just to volunteer. I figured I owed them one. So I picked the LA Rock N Roll Half, which I ran last year. It's a big race, and I knew they would need lots of people.

Competitor does a great job of organizing. I received a free parking pass in the mail, so I got to cruise into a separate lot after passing the long line of cars waiting to get into the runner parking lot (not free). In downtown LA, this was a nice perk! I walked to the volunteer tent where there was coffee and snacks. I then realized that 98% of the volunteers were high school kids, who need to put in a certain number of community service hours to graduate. I found two other adults to talk with. I was immediately looked up to as an "expert" compared to these clueless kids with their smartphones glued to their hands. Which was fine.
Our first assignment was to separate the corrals. There were 20 corrals, already well marked with gates for each one. Nobody was monitoring for correct bib #s - it was strictly honor system. I was looking at bibs and there was only a few people in the wrong corral. Each of the 20 corrals had their own start horn, about two minutes apart. Worked great.

I got to be up front, holding a rope between the Elite corral and corral 1. For 30 minutes. 30 minutes before the gun, some people were already in the corrals, just killing time. No elites showed up until the last 3 minutes. I chatted with a few runners. Answered questions for people who were lost. Rocked out to the great tunes. Frank Shorter and Rod Dixon were at the start for some star power. As start time got closer, I was feeling the excitement, just like I was running.

I saw the Loop lurker I met last year at this race, and we exchanged greetings. He was lined up at the front of corral 1; wearing a batman mask and no shirt. This was a Halloween themed race, so there were many costumes. More and more costumes as the corrals went by. Only about a dozen elites came in. Deena Kastor and Mary Akor led the women. The guys were less famous. I did recognize Pete MaGill who is the fastest 50 year old in the country. He ran 15:00 at the Anaheim 5K this year. Today he would run 1:10 and get 4th overall.

Once they took my rope down, I just stood there next to the start line and watched all the runners go by. Twenty corrals came by and it was really fun seeing all the excited faces, the anticipation, the 10 second countdown and the starting horn, over and over and over. Meanwhile great tunes were blaring; the announcer was exciting. I was hyped up and raring to go! Loved it! I high fived some runners, cheered others, commented on costumes. Great fun. One plus-size girl looked terrified, like she was about to go to the electric chair or something. I gave her some encouragement. Later I saw her at halfway, and she still looked terrified, but she was getting it done.

Next we helped gather up some clothing for donation, but there wasn't too much. It was a hot day. Probably 65 at the start and would be in the high 80's by the end of some people's races. Glad I wasn't running!
Then we moseyed back to the finish area, and they didn't have much need. They tried to shoo me to the UPS bag check area, but I already knew they had tons of people - and I wanted to be a little more involved. They said a water station needed some help, so i walked about 1/2 mile to mile 7 (which is also mile 13 on the way back) and started helping out with the water.

So I handed out water cups for about 90 minutes. I was also cheering for the runners and commenting on the many costumes. None of the other (teen) volunteers deemed it worthy of their effort to cheer. But they were working hard. People were so grateful. Almost everyone said thank you; some used my name from my name tag. A lot said "Thank you for volunteering". It was very rewarding.

I got to see the leaders coming down the other side of the road (we were in the middle) as they sprinted their last 1/4 mile. A surprising amount of people were still taking water even with only 3 blocks to go. But it was hot. Luckily I got to be in the shade all day, but it must have been brutal out in the sun.

Mary Akor and Deena Kastor were 1-2 in 1:14, finishing 10th and 11th overall! There is an interview with Deena on the RW homepage if you are interested. I was trying to keep my eye out for loopsters Atombuddy and ZombieKid, but I was too late for mile 7 and was still working the other side of the road. I did catch AB's back after he went by me though on his way in.

Eventually the trail wagon showed up and they made us shut down the water station, even though most runners were still out on the course. So no mile 13 water for you guys. They actually tipped all the tables over and dumped hundreds of already poured glasses out in the street and swept them up. They were on a mission to get that street cleared on time!

So I was free to go, but I headed to the finish area, because I wanted to hand out medals! They had a dozen kids already, but I just jumped in and joined them. I then spent another hour handing out medals to the 2:15-3:00+ finishers. I must have gone through 500 medals - it was fast work! And those things are heavy! My shoulders were sore by the end. I would grab about 20 at a time and hand them out. A few people ducked their heads and I placed it over their necks - but it is not easy! Those ears always get in the way! Most people I just handed it to. Once again - very fun and rewarding to see all the happy people and share their accomplishment.

So, I heartily recommend volunteering when you get the chance. I left feeling full of endorphins and happy feelings.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Twin Cities Terrific! Embracing the Suck

Time for another Loopfest. Being a Loopfest veteran, I wasn't so anxious this time about what would happen. I knew how it would go. The agenda was identical to Philly. The race was one I have done twice already. The city is one I grew up in, and the weather - well, I have faint memories of cold weather.
So I was comfortable. There were 32 Loopsters and I had already met about half of them. It was wonderful to see the old friends, and it was great to meet some new ones. It was fun to see the loopfest virgins go through the same responses to how amazing it was that we all get along so well. Yes, loopfests are special and not like anything else!

Friday I arrived at the airport, and through the miracle of smart phones and facebook, hooked up with DReyna and her  brother at Chili's in the airport. We downed a beer before we even got to baggage claim where TO was waiting to bring us to the hotel. Then it was right to the lobby bar where 3 or 4 loopsters awaited. Gradually more and more filtered in. Good times ensued.

The helpful bartender told us of some bars we could walk to later, only mentioning at the end that they were topless. We managed to find a PG rated bar and about 20 of us headed there for dinner and more drinking.
Saturday started with a fun little 2.6 mile run. Our whole group stayed together at about 9:45 pace. It was fun to actually do the thing that we all love together.

Later we all went to the expo, which was mostly like every other expo, with a few exceptions. There was a booth for a beef council frying up hamburgers and offering free samples of the meat on toothpicks.

The Green Bay Marathon was cooking bratwursts and also offering samples. It smelled like a tailgater in there.

There were free bags of chips, and free mac n cheese. Healthy fare, this was not!

Later was the Carbo-loading dinner with the whole group, and then we took a beautiful group picture at his location that should surface at some point.

Sleep. I didn't sleep a whole lot this weekend. First night I had to deal with a roommate that snored like a chainsaw! Managed about 5 hours. The night before the race I had the usual nerves, and woke up at 2:15 after about 3 hours sleep. And then couldn't get back to sleep. Tossing, turning...Finally got up at 4:30 and just started getting ready. And the night after the race...well, not a lot of sleep then for another reason.

Race day! My goals were simple - I didn't really care. After getting into Boston, this one was for fun. I haven't had the miles to really go after a PR, and was worried about bonking hard in the last 6 miles. But I thought I could maintain about an 8 minute pace, and see how it went, and then not worry if I died at the end. Still, I needed to go under 4 and I figured I had a decent shot at under 3:40, and I thought just maybe I could surprise myself and beat 3:30 and BQ for 2014. Given the fast course and the cool weather, I was optimistic.

Kara Goucher cruised by us in the lobby as we waited to go. Then we walked the 6 blocks to the Metrodome in the cold. We got separated in the madness, but eventually I made it to the corral with ASchmid3 and I saw BSquared nearby. Sadly I couldn't find TOSuperstar as we were going to run together, but at least I avoided having to listen to three more hours of his "jokes". HA! Those three were all shooting for roughly the same time as me, so my competitive side wanted to beat them, and that helped keep me going later.

It was cold, but I went with shorts, a long sleeve tech shirt, calf sleeves and a thin headband that they gave away. My throw away sweatshirt got tossed right before the start as it didn't seem too bad without any wind. And I had gloves for about 4 miles before I tossed them. I was comfortable the whole time, hardly sweated, and didn't need to take many fluids.

Miles 1-5: Nice smooth start, running with the pack through downtown. I ran with Abby and B2 and the pace got a little too fast as I was hyped up. Tried to relax and bring it down, and a nice little hill helped with that. I was already tired and feeling like I was on half marathon pace. Backed it off a little and B2 caught back up with me. We started running together and found a good rhythm and ended up staying together for 18 miles. By mile 4 I was running comfortably hard. It wasn't just a long run - it was racing, and even though I thought it was too fast, I liked it and I was going to see how far I could ride it.

7:32, 7:57, 7:58, 7:43, 7:45

Miles 6-10: The course was great. Residential with lots of trees with colored leaves, many lakes to go by, people everywhere cheering. I was having so much fun I got choked up a few times at just how great it was. Maybe it was nostalgia or loopfest or the fans or everything, but I was really enjoying myself. B2 and I were mostly side by side and it was nice to share the sights and sounds with a friend. Went by Lake of the Isles, site of my very first cross country time trial in 1977 where I found out I could hang with the varsity. Later we would pass Lake Nokomis, site of many high school cross country races. Lots of memories.
Saw JB at mile 6!
B2 and I found a pace and stuck on it, effortlessly.

7:45, 7:44, 7:48, 7:53, 7:39

Miles 11-15: Maybe effortlessly is too strong a word. It felt good, but the whole time I was thinking "What am I doing? I am going to crash bad at some point." It felt fast. But my gut said go with it. I told B2 I would get him to halfway at least. We went through half at 1:42:52. Over two minutes under 3:30 pace, or "in the bank". I was almost running my LA splits. Yet I was still OK so we just kept running together. Somewhere here I saw a sign that said "Embrace the Suck". Loved it. I vowed I would do that when the time came.

7:43, 7:42, 7:43, 7:46, 7:40

Miles 16-20: Made it to the river. The effort was starting to hit now. I told B2 I may slip back soon, so "Good Luck". In mile 17 he did slip ahead on an uphill but I stayed close. I got maybe 20 yards back. But then a little later I felt better and he was still close so I went ahead and caught back up to him. I was going to hang on as long as I could. I'm sure I could not have kept up the same effort from 13-18 without him, so thanks B! We stayed together for about another mile but then my fatigue really started to get to me. My legs had been sore for miles and I was feeling beat. B2 slipped away just before the bridge at 19. But I was still feeling OK and maintaining a decent pace, considering. I was embracing the suck. Soon I could see the giant inflatable wall at mile 20 and I was through it under 2:37 with over 3 minutes still in the bank. Maybe I could hold on?

7:48, 7:41, 7:48, 8:05, 8:02

Miles 21-26: Or maybe not. It was getting to be quite the effort to maintain the pace, and the hills were ahead. There is a short steep hill in 21 that really knocked me down to a slow pace and another one in 22 that convinced me to walk for about 20 seconds. My legs were REALLY sore, and walking didn't really feel any better than jogging, so I soon got back to it. I had passed TO in mile 21 and knew he was hurting with cramps. But I thought Abby might be coming up behind me at any time, so I didn't want to let her catch me. That helped keep me going. As did the inspiration of so many Loopsters. I thought about Ms Ritz's Berlin race, and the ultra runners and so many others that ran through new levels of exhaustion and pain to do amazing things. i was going to embrace the suck and keep going. It gave me enough positive momentum to push the pain back in my mind and just go one block at a time.

The fans were fantastic too. Screaming fans virtually the whole way really helped keep the energy up. I wordlessly hooked up with one runner for at least a mile here and we ran side by side and some back and forth, helping each other keep going. My pace stabilized in the high 8's and I was able to keep it going all the way in. Every block was tough, resisting the urge to stop, but soon it was only 2 miles to go, and then 1 mile to go, and then one last hill and I would see the finish. There was the cathedral. Momentum returned. And there was the Capitol and the finish line with a big downhill ahead. The pain stepped aside as we all hurried down to the noise and the cameras and the finish. My hams and calves cramped a little in the last 1/4 mile as I was trying to push it in, so I had to waddle it in a little, but I was victorious! Ecstatic!

8:30, 9:06, 8:48, 8:41, 8:57, 9:02 and 7:54 pace for the last 0.48 miles.

Finish time: 3:32:31
We'll call it a 50-54 AGPR. I beat the time I ran here in 2001 at age 39 by a minute.

The pain was great, and it was tough to walk. And cold all of a sudden with some wind, so I needed to find my sweatshirt. I finally got to crash on the capitol lawn and wait for the rest of the loopsters. We shared stories of success and failure, pain and cold and suffering and joy.

Later we watched football in the lobby bar, and then made our way to the Post-race party. Much fun was had by all until they turned the lights up at 12. So about 15 of us made our way to a dumpy little karaoke bar and closed the night with singing, drinking and revelry. Only the lack of a 24-hour diner made us shut the night down at 3AM and finally hit the sack.

So it was another fabulous weekend. A race I was very happy with. A chance to get to know many more new loopsters and hang with some of the best people around.
Now I am taking some time off to rest my knee (which was no problem at all in the race). And then it will be time to do it all again in Marshall. Life is good.