Sunday, May 27, 2012

Med City Marathon Race Report

I don't really like races with difficult logistics, especially when you have to shuttle to the start. We waited a half hour for a bus at 6 in the morning; when we finally got on one, we had to fit three people per seat, which meant sitting in an awkward position for another 20 minutes. Talk about a bad warmup. The number of runners probably grew a lot in the last few days, due to other races being cancelled, and they didn't get enough shuttle busses. Not cool, Med City Marathon!

There was a fierce headwind. I ended up in the front group with the eventual men's marathon winner, Pete Gilman, and the guy who would go on to win the half marathon (yes, the streak ended today...). The winner, whose name I think was Brad, said he had been aiming to beat his PR of 1:12 flat, so I immediately knew I was outgunned. The three of us ran together until maybe 5 miles when Pete Gilman sped up a little and letf Brad and me behind. I was having a really hard time holding on, especially on the uphills, but the next group was far behind and I didn't want to end up alone in the wind. I was able to hold on until 6 miles or so.

After letting go, I took a little time at an aid station. I had a GU and a couple of drinks and settled into my own rhythm. Near the end, there were a few stretches with a strong tailwind, which felt good. i had a teeny tiny runner's high. The volunteers were wonderful and lots of people had set up lawn chairs to see the runners come by. Very cool. Course markings were excellent.

My time was 1:18.20, two minutes behind the winner and 3 minutes ahead of 3rd place. For such a big race, it felt crazy that I didn't see another funner for the last 5 miles! The Girl did really well, running a 1:35 for fourth place. That's only 2 minutes off her PR, so with the wind in mind, it was probably a PR effort. Except for the women's winner, who was far ahead, the women's race was very close and I think she was within a minute of 2nd place (maybe a little more; the results aren't up yet). We had to get back to the kids, so we never got our awards. I don't really care about some plaque, but I worry that we missed out on some cool clothing or other swag. They had the awards more than 2 hours after we came in, which I expect few people were willing to wait for, and they don't mail awards out. Not cool, Med City Marathon!

Overall, we had a good time and would probably do it again (hoping for a tailwind next time). I don't mean to be too negative; apart form the shuttle and award situation, everything was perfectly fine. The best thing was the Girl's race. She is 90% over her injury now, and has been able to train essentially at full bore for two weeks. Her base is so strong. If I could just make her do hard and easy days, she would improve so much (and stay healthy, too). Yes, the Girl, you are reading this, abd you are stupid for doing back-to-back long runs and intervals (and then another long run the next day).

Next week, we are running a little 5K here in town and then we have a triathlon the following weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Half marathon on Sunday

We are running the Med City Half Marathon on Sunday. It looks like a big race and a fast course.

I'm not as sharp as I have been this year. I have gained a few pounds, focusing on lower-intensity long runs in the hills. That's ok, as I had planned this summer to be mostly about ultras.

My half marathon PR is 1:13.54. It's within reach, if conditions are perfect and there is a good pack to pull me along. The winning time has fluctuated from a 1:11 to a 1:19, so I could be way behind or way out front, depending on who shows up.

Why do races like this have to start at 7 am? I know it's potentially hot, but still. They could start the marathon at 7 and the half at 9.

In other news, I finished Once a Runner. I had heard a little about it, and had seen and heard quotes that I never realized came from that book. The Girl won a copy of the book in one of her races and it had been lying around. She had gotten to page 108 and then abandoned it.

I have read quite a few books in the last few years, because of my commute and so on. A lot of John Irving and a bunch of easy reads. Once a Runner is not exactly well-written. It jumps all over the place, sometimes going into annoying detail and at other times just ending a sub-plot abruptly. Had it been about NASCAR, I don't think I would have finished it, but it happens to be about running, with lots of cool historical references. The reader sort of knows that Cassidy will end up winning some big race, but the how is a big unknown.

It may be to running what "House of God" is to medicine: few people have actually read the book, but everyone knows the good quotes.

But seriously:

- What happened to Mizer? How can he describe him in such detail and then never re-introduce him in the plot?
- And Nubbins? In any normal book, we would at least have followed his running progression.
- And O'Gorg or whatever his name is. We hear a brief narrative from him, describing Cassidy. Then he is in a race with Cassidy later in the book, but is just mentioned briefly. why introduce him and never use him again.

I'm such a girl. My favorite part of Once a Runner was the love story. Andrea is frustrated with Cassidy's singlemindedness but it's almost like she understands it better than he does. The love story sub-plot is so understated that their breakup is never even described. In the big race, she is the first to recognize him, despite his long hair and beard. When she screams his name at the end is the book's best moment. And you never find out if they get back together or even meet again. Great stuff.