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  • bqx40 10:50 pm on December 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: flying monkey, ,   

    Exit the Monkey, 2 years later – a race report 

    It’s been two years since I last ran the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon.

    Last Time on Monkey…

    In my last experience, the Flying Monkey was my first marathon coming back from injury time-off in August and September.  Earlier that year, I had experienced beating my first marathon time by over minutes [4:34 down to 3:39] at Flying Pig, only to be sorely disappointed with a 4:42 at Hatfield-McCoy 6 weeks later.  Both of these are hilly marathons, Hatfield slightly more so than Flying Pig.  Having been humbled by Hatfield-McCoy, I was pleased with a 4:30-ish time coming off of injury.

    Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon DNF

    I was coming off of an extremely disappointing disintegration this spring at the Derby Festival Marathon.  Lackluster training was compounded by a stomach bug in the household the week of the marathon.  I had a chip on my shoulder and buckled down to come back stronger than ever.

    Progress Derailed by Injury

    Seven weeks out from the Chicago Marathon, I broke down after an 80+ mile week and 2 60+ mile weeks.  What started out as a run toward a PR became a race to be able to finish as I tried to stay fit on the bike and walking while I did 3 weeks of physical therapy to heal.

    Chicago Meltdown

    Chicago was hideous.  It was hot.  I was ill-prepared.  I didn’t sign up for a seeded entry.  I barely broke 4:25–the median time for my 7 completed marathons.

    Pfitzinger

    I started reading Advanced Marathoning – 2nd Edition (affiliate link) by Pete Pfitzinger during my recovery time.  I was looking for answers and inspiration.  I came to a realization in the early pages that I had been neglecting tempo runs, so I paid attention to keeping them in my workout routine.

    Monkey Report

    My former co-worker and fellow runner signed up for the Monkey in August, despite having neglected any form of running for the last 8 months.  At his peak–even last Monkey in Chuck Taylors–he is a sub-3:10 marathoner and a 19-minute 5ker.  At my peak, I’ve come near 3:30.  Neither of us were at our peak for this race, but I at least had a long run at Chicago [and another 20-miler in between].

    He took off ahead of me on the first hill, and I fully expected that he’d pace about a minute per mile faster than me until he blew up, at which point he’d still gut out a sub-10 pace.

    Instead, I caught him by at least midway down the first downhill, and we paced each other at a 9-minute pace until I had to hit a portapotty.  After that pit stop, I caught him and passed him on the next downhill.  He later caught up with me and we paced each other from that point on until mile 14.

    At mile 14, I ran with the hard downhill.  I was brutalizing my legs with these downhills, but I had to take the opportunities where I could get them.  I lost track of my racing partner at that point.

    By mile 20, I started breaking into walks on the steep uphills.  I’d check behind me every so often to see if I was going to be passed again.  By mile 22, I started walking on the slight uphills.  Those hills absolutely wear out the hamstrings.  Even on the switchbacks, I didn’t see my competition higher up on the hill.

    I somehow managed to hold on for both a 4:08:33 and the lead over my racing partner… The months of extreme tapering were too much for his usual tenacity to overcome. While the friendly competition was fun, I was most delighted in the fact that I beat my Chicago Marathon time–by 16 1/2 minutes.

    Monkey FTW — especially in the medal and bib department:

     
  • bqx40 9:30 pm on October 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: crowd, , megathon, rant   

    Chicago Megathon, er… Marathon Race Report 

    Let’s get the gory details out of the way.  My time was a 4:24:50. I was hoping for a sub-4.

    The Chicago Marathon was on my list of marathons that I wanted to do.  While New York has the five boroughs and the Boston Marathon has the prestige, Chicago is the flat, speedy marathon of high performance times.

    Never mind the fact that, 3 years ago, the Chicago Marathon was also the site of a marathon cut short by near 90 degree temps.

    Pre-race, the porta-potty line an hour prior to the event was as bad as the worst I’ve ever experienced, at the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon this year [although that was 30 minutes before the start].  Considering the crowd for the Chicago Marathon was about 3-4 times as large, I can understand the wait.

    The porta-potty line in the Finish area an hour prior to marathon start

    An even bigger problem occurred after I had gotten through the porta-potty line and started heading toward the start line area.  There was a wall of people trying to get around the fencing set up for the start corrals.  At some point, within a few feet of the nearest entrance point, a line of people formed going in the opposite direction.  It turned out that they were streaming out of the exit and that the entrance was a few feet further.  However, there was a mild sense of panic and for a few moments, I thought I was going to be in the middle of a soccer-fan-style stampede.

    After about 15 minutes of pushing forward, I managed to get behind the 4:30 marathon pacers.  I don’t know if they intended to be there, as I saw an assortment of other pacers for paces from 3:30 to 5:30 within sight range through the dense crowd.  Bad move on my part for not investing time and effort in a seeded entry–I had a 3:32 and a 3:49 marathon time that I could have used.

    My place in the open start area, after pushing through. Behind 4:30 pacers.

    When the race began, I found myself waiting for 20 minutes to cross the start line.  Again, considering the size of the field, not a big surprise.  What was a big surprise, however, was the race course having so many 90 degree turns in the first few miles of the race.  In many crowds like this, I have to work to avoid walking.  In this one, I had to work just to avoid coming to a dead stop at the turn.

    Much of my first half of the race was spent jogging at a 10-12 minute pace and sprinting to get through openings as they came available.  This resulted in a 9:30 average pace for the first 5k splits and about a 9:00 average pace towards the half.

    Water stops were awful.  Of course, they were two blocks long.  The ground was tacky for the first half and slippery for the second half.  Not a surprise, but 2 blocks of this every 1.5 miles is far more annoying that a half block every mile.  With the size of the crowds and the number of inexperienced marathoners, there was a lot of taking fluid and walking down the middle of the course while drinking.  I’m not the best at etiquette, but I try to avoid obstructing traffic as much as possible.

    The first block was Gatorade, which meant that I always took it at a stop.  The Gatorade was a very thick mix.  Toward the halfway point, I started desperately looking for the water, and then later, started taking whatever cups of fluid I could get.  The heavy mix of Gatorade turned my stomach by mile 20, and I started having stomach cramps.  It seemed like I had a choice between dehydrating and stomach cramps from the Gatorade.

    The heat was not much of an issue.  At least, not on its own.  Yes, it was roughly 83’F downtown when I finished, and downtown temps were on their way to tying the record temperatures by the end of the race day.  The larger issue is that there is so much sun exposure on the course, and Chicago did not live up to its “Windy City” reputation that day.  The air was stagnant and the sun was glaring.  The stomach cramps, heat, and sun wore me down by mile 20, and by mile 23, I was timing run/walk intervals just to keep moving as fast as I could bear.

    I fared better than most.  The last two miles were littered with stretchers with exhausted runners who needed medical attention.  I finished, trekked the 1/2 mile to the end of the finish area, and started in on the Gatorade Recovery drink.  I tried to sit and recover some, but the sun was too hot to even sit down in.  By the way, heat and a Gatorade drink with whey protein?  That’s like getting saltwater in the middle of the desert.

    The finisher’s medal seems to be way more of an ad for the sponsor than a medal for finishing.  I respect that the sponsor deserves ample credit, but I’d also like ample credit for finishing.  The whole medal seems to pay homage to the Bank of America logo:

    Bank of America Chicago Marathon Finisher's Medal

    Lessons and recommendations:

    1. Don’t ever run a big city marathon [20,000+ marathoners] again.
    2. If I do run a big city marathon again, get a seeded entry.
    3. If I do run a big city marathon again, but don’t get a seeded entry, jog it without regard for time.
    4. For this area, I would recommend the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon instead.  The money you save can go toward a hotel next to Lucas Oil Stadium that’s within 1 mile of the start.  Two nights in downtown Chicago + race registration would buy you 3 nights + race registration and maybe even tickets to a Colts home game.
     
  • bqx40 2:37 pm on August 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , heat,   

    5k PR streak ends – Komen Race for the Cure Kansas City Race Report 

    My training has been higher mileage–up to 83 miles in a week the week before last–and geared toward the Chicago Marathon on 10-10-2010.

    This past week, I ran 30 miles in three days and then took off for vacation in Kansas City.  I had signed up as a timed runner for the Komen Race for the Cure in Kansas City.  I was concerned with the number of participants being a problem for a good run–planned 28000–but I ended up not having to fight through a crowd or do much weaving the entire race–usually a problem for even the medium-sized 5Ks at the start.

    The results:

    My streak of 5k PRs is broken after 8 consecutive PRs.

    21:02.42 [+:36 to my PR], 6:47/mile, 5/116 in my age group, 71/1869 out of timed participants.

    The good:

    • Ample parking was available within a block or so of the 5k start.
    • After the finish line of the race were booths of large marathon expo quantity, except that the vendors at the booths were primarily interested in targeting “people” instead of just “runners”. It was nice to see a little variety in the products and giveaways being offered–I have enough marathon brochures.
    • Starbucks had coffee, iced tea, and VIA instant coffee samples.
    • If you were a timed runner, getting goodies and leaving the parking area traffic free was painless.
    • The separation of “timed” runners, and untimed 5k participants and 1 mile participants prevented the 28000 participant from creating a crowd for any runner targeting a specific time.  In fact, the pace areas from 5-9 all compressed due to the thinness of the crowd in that area.

    The bad:

    One complaint: Nothing resembling a restroom was available within 2 blocks of the start line.  There were ample porta-pottys at the finish, which was at least 3 blocks away.  A handful of Assurant Health employees managed to use the restroom in their own building, along with many many non-employees slipping through the unlocked doors.  I had mild cramping as a result, and was tempted to use an office building as a tree.  [No, I didn’t.]
    The course:

    The course is your typical run-a-5k-downtown course.  However, they somehow managed to add the extra component of hills (that’s about 3% average incline the whole time):

    Kansas City Race for the Cure 5k course and elevation

    Compare this to my 20:52 5k time in similar weather last year, which about half the elevation change:

    Gaslight 5k course and elevation

    The report:

    I had a clear view of the starting line when I lined up in between the 6 and 7 minute pace markers. Just before the gun went off, the first 4 minutes of pace areas compressed toward the start line and I crossed the line at about 2 seconds after the gun.

    My first 1k was strong, despite running mostly uphill. By the 2nd kilometer, I really started feeling the burn of running uphill. The first long downhill was welcomed, but didn’t last through the 3rd kilometer prior to heading uphill again.

    At this point, I was feeling wobbly legs and started overheating a little bit.  In the 4th kilometer there was a false top with a quick descent prior to climbing one last hill.  That all but broke me.

    I received limited benefit from the long downhill in the 5th kilometer, and barely broke a 7-minute pace. Toward the finish line, there was small hill.  I practically jogged it, as the 0.05 mile after the 5th km lap triggered on my Garmin indicates.

    That was the hottest run that I’ve experienced in which I didn’t purposely seek out hot weather.

    1 – km paces:

    • 6:14
    • 6:40
    • 6:30
    • 7:04
    • 6:54
    • leftover (about 0.05 mi)- 8:06


     
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