Monday, February 11, 2008

2/10/08 Valentine Marathon

Bob Green is a guy who puts on lots of very low key races south of Seattle. A great many local Maniacs have Bob to thank for bumping our counts up. The Valentine Marathon, the Easter Marathon, the Halloween Marathon, and the Christmas Marathon are all Bob's "holiday" races that he manages at a state park near Olympia. Actually, I'll amend that. Maniacs consider these to be Bob's holiday races. He also does a half-only event around the fourth of July, and maybe near other holidays. Additionally, he directs the Gateway to the Pacific Marathon in late September (it used to be July) at a different park.

But wait, there's more. Marathon days also offer up a half, a 10 miler, a 10k, a 5k, a one miler, and either a duathlon or a triathlon later in the day.

That's a ton of stuff. The races are rarely crowded... and with good reason. The organization is, shall we say, lax. He's actually gotten a little better over the past couple years. And once you've done a couple Bob Green races, you know what to expect (example: always check the time they record for you at the end if you care). Last year, he had Maniac Tony measure, mark, and certify his main marathon course. This was very cool. Of course, he doesn't always use that course. He has two different out-and-back courses. And sometimes, he only puts aid out to the half marathon turn around and has full marathoners do this course twice. Needless to say, there's always some poking and ribbing about Bob's races. "Where everyone is a winner!"

Every time I show up for a Bob Green race, there's a prospective 50 stater who has traveled from afar to do this race as her/his Washington entry. I feel kind of badly for that person... then again, I've run lots of races in other states that were worse than these. I have a list. These aren't that bad.

But all that ribbing and poking is mostly good natured... Bob is a SUPER NICE guy and he and his family work very hard on race days. He takes feedback with a smile.

Bob's in the hospital. He had to have abdominal surgery and apparently, he developed an infection. Oh man. We might make fun of his races but we like Bob!

So, whether you've ever heard of Bob Green or not, even if you've grumbled about one of his races, please send out some good mojo.

This brings us to yesterday and the Valentine Marathon. It went on as scheduled, managed by Mrs Bob Green. Holy smokes! She was great, and she did a good job.

Honestly, there's not much to say about these races, and I've written about them before. This edition utilized the main out-and-back course. It's roly poly from the start through about M5, and then from M21 to the end. The middle is mostly flat, through farmland, near I-5, and always in barking distance of random country dogs.

The norm for February in the Olympia area is cold, windy, and wet. As we all lined up for the early start (because the weather is generally dismal for these races and there are only 20-30 people anyway, it's always nice to start early and be done early), it was about 43 degrees with a bit of wind and some ugly skies. I was sure it would rain. I made a questionable wardrobe choice... 2 shirts, a fleece, and a jacket (but no gloves!) and shorts. The top half of me was ready for arctic survival, and the bottom half of me was ready for a normal day. I was sure it would rain, though.

It never did rain. By the end, I was soaked with sweat and completely dehydrated. I did *look* like I had been rained on. It was windy, however... and it was one of those crazy wind days where everything was a headwind no matter which way I was facing. It was interesting. I was too hot, and then I was too cold. I never found Goldilocks.

Anyway. This was a "just get in the miles" long run which I spiced up by intentionally running my body out of energy. I wanted to do this and then see if I could push the last miles at a reasonable pace. I also wanted to see how far I'd make it before my body complained. So I very carefully restricted my calories in the two days before the race, and aside from a small breakfast and diluted gatorade, I didn't take in any calories during the race. Well, except for one gel. I had taken 3 gels with me for insurance - if I got into trouble with the actual "the wall", then I'd have something to set myself right. However, this isn't why I ate that gel. I ate it because I'm a dork. Seriously. I was so zoned out around M16, that I forgot what I was doing and popped that shot of raspberry. Whoops.

I also intentionally went out a little faster than I would have for a long run. Last week at Orlando, I threw in some fast miles into the middle of my long run. This week, I put those miles up front. The "go out too fast" strategy. Why be boring?

Turns out, this was kind of cool. A bunch of us started early, like we always do... up front, there was Maniac Steve, me, and Maniac Hope - a womaniac who I hadn't met before. Right away, she asked me, "What's your goal for the day?" Er... I didn't really want to explain everything you just read above. "I don't have a time goal; really, I'm not sure."

She didn't like that. "No, really, what's your goal?"

"Seriously, I don't know. I'm going to run some miles fast and some slow. We'll see."

Her GPS wasn't working, and she mentioned that she wanted to run a 3:40. I asked her if she was trying to BQ, and she was kind of "maybe" about it.

Okey doke. Time for me to run too fast. I rabbited her for the first half of the race... 8:10-8:20/mile for as long as I could. I knew I wasn't going to be running a 3:40, but I wanted to have some fun, and I figured that I could help her find the pace. Turns out, she didn't really need that - her whole family leapfrogged her in a van for the race, and I think she got a spare GPS somewhere along the way. But it was still nice running fast.

While I could. She passed me at M14. Because we started early, there was no aid set up on the course. As I am a pro at Bob Green races, I knew this would happen so I carried a bottle. A few people did not. The first open aid station was at M16, which is where I accidentally popped that gel. And that gel made my stomach hurt anyway :-(.

My pace was creeping up. My 8:15s were now 8:45s. When Maniac "rogue wave" (sorry, I don't know her real name) flew by me at M17, I was in the 9:00 range. No problem... that should be my long run pace anyway. Heh. I lost sight of both Hope and rogue wave by M20.

It happened at M22. The bell went off. Ding! I was low on energy. My 9:00s became 10:00s. Yikes. Not gradually, either. M21 was 9:05, and M22 was 10:08. Remember, I did this partially because I wanted to see if I could focus and keep a reasonable pace. What's reasonable? Not 10. 10 was all I could muster. Physiologically, though, this is what should have happened. It meant I really was low on glycogen. Considering how much I'd eaten in the previous two days, making it to M22 was actually pretty sweet.

The last 4 miles and finishing this race? Not so sweet. Ugh. Sometimes having fun is not so fun.

But I did it.

3:54, which is just about where I'd have finished if I had run 9:00s evenly as a normal long run. I would have been a lot less grumpy though.

In the end, Hope did indeed finish at exactly 3:40 and got her BQ. WOOHOO! Rogue wave came in at 3:47... which means she gained 7 minutes on me in 9 miles. I really slowed down.

It's ok. Now I will pack on the calories and I know how far I can go before that bell goes off. This is a confidence builder.

I mentioned I was dehydrated. Yes, indeed. I lost several pounds and my shirts were literally dripping. Ew.

Next up: This is it. Sunday is the National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer... my super-goal race for the last 13 months. It's weird that it is here. I was hoping to shoot for my 3:30 at this race. Frankly, that's going to be very aggressive based on the past two months of training. Race day call. If it doesn't happen, "there's always another race". Specifically, Seabrook in March and Eugene in May. In any case, wow, my race is here. Maybe I'll see you!

Get better, Bob.

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