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Baltimore and Annapolis Trail Marathon (not a trail marathon) (Mike)

Baltimore and Annapolis Trail Marathon (not a trail marathon) (Mike)

Technically this was not my first marathon. I completed the Rochester Marathon in September 2008 in approxmiately 3 hours and 48 minutes. That race was a horrible experience for a few reasons…most significantly because I had only been running for about 2.5 months after a hiatus of several years…I could go on but I’d rather not stir up those bad memories. That said, I’d prefer to consider the B+A Marathon my “debut.”

Also throughout this post, I’m going to take some digs at Josh because he’s the one who convinced me to do a marathon to begin with. I was (at best) lukewarm on the idea of taking on 26.2 miles, but Josh was ambitious. Why does that merit harassing him, you ask? Because in the midst of his hard training he went and got himself injured (see the post below). Mostly I’m just jealous because he’s faster than me now at anything shorter than 26.2 miles.

Race morning could not have been more perfect. There was no wind, overcast skies, and a touch of humidity with temperatures hovering in the mid to high 40s. Such ideal conditions helped to bolster my spirits, which were (again) lukewarm at best. My training had gone well in some respects but poorly in others. My mileage was crap (averaged 55-60 miles over the previous four months) but I did manage a number of very strong long runs and workouts. I knew I could run low-six-min pace with ease, but I was not at all confident that I could stick to it after 20 miles.

start

The race began promptly at 8am. The B+A Marathon carries a small field–only about 300 runners started the race. The fellow to my right in the picture above took an early lead but backed off after about a quarter mile (he would ultimately finish in third place), leaving me in the lead alone. Despite a deliberate effort to take it easy, I hit the first mile mark in 6:03. Undoubtedly the easiest six minute mile that I’ve ever run. At this point, I was happy that Josh was not present, because he probably would have run a 5:45 thinking it was a 6:10.

After two miles, a middle aged-looking runner came up on my shoulder and we ran together for awhile. He said he was looking to run “in the 6:20s” which sounded great to me. My (conservative) plan was simply to remain between 6:15 and 6:25 pace for as long as I could. We split miles 2, 3, and 4 in 6:14, 6:19, and 6:09. After the 6:09, my competitor accelerated a bit more, and I decided to just let him go. A quick glance behind me revealed that, unless he comes back later in the race, I’d likely be on my own for the next 22 miles. At this point Josh was (most likely) happily driving to Johnny’s back in Rochester rather than cruising through the early miles with me!

The next six miles flew by: 6:20, 6:25, 6:22, 6:11, 6:13, 6:23. I felt like a million bucks. My confidence grew with each passing mile: “I can do this, it really couldn’t be easier. Should I speed up? No! Don’t do something you will likely regret.” I sipped the road-side gatorade every two miles or so, hoping to fend off the inevitable late race fatigue. Had Josh been there, we could have comfortably maintained a casual conversation about how stupid Republicans are, or something.

Sometime in the eleventh mile, I detected the very first sign of fatigue. I was hardly noticeable and is now somewhat hard to describe. Instead of feeling 100% bouncy, the pace started to feel like it took a little effort to sustain. 6:17 and then 6:24. A brief and mild uphill stretch of trail took me down to a 6:33 13th mile. I still felt strong but mile after mile, I was tiring. For now, I managed to hold the pace: 6:28, 6:21, 6:22 miles tok me through 16 miles. Still no big deal but no small matter either. At this point, Josh was probably comfortably warming up for Johnny’s instead of suffering through the second half of a marathon with me!

running1

Miles 17 and 18 contained hills. Familiar hills near my apartment–not huge–that I run up and down nearly every day. Given my conservative strategy, I didn’t push here. 6:37 and 6:32. It’s also not hard to strike a deal with oneself to “take it easy, don’t risk it” after having run for nearly 2 hours.

A 6:22 and a 6:23 got me through 20 miles, now back on pace. At this point I was tired, period. Running 6:20 miles was now very hard. My legs were heavy and my quads felt terribly torn up. I could see the leader on the long straight sections of the trail, painfully far away. Bystanders informed me that he was 2 minutes ahead. I managed to do the math in my head: 2 minutes in six miles means….no wait, I can’t do this math. If only Josh was here, he could have figured it out. Or at least shared the pain–he was probably halfway through Johnny’s by now!

I managed 6:24 and 6:27 for miles 21 and 22. “It’s only a four mile race left.” 6:46. “It’s only a 5K left.” 6:52. “OK, just break seven minutes per mile and I’ll still finish in the 2:40s.” 6:53. “How the hell was that under 7???”

running2

With one mile left, I finally understood that I was not about to completely fall apart. This realization was reassuring and propelled me to a 6:37 finishing mile. It was so nice to stop running, and I was very content with my time of 2:47:57 and 2nd place finish (results here). Karyn collected me and fed me water and pizza (she had finished the half marathon in a strong time–2nd in her age group–about an hour prior to my finish).

salt

Looking ahead, I know that I am capable of running faster. Combined with better training, this experience will help me greatly. Possibly at the Boston Marathon next April, but I won’t fully commit to it just yet. It has been exciting to get back into shape after a disastrous 2012 summer. I’m ready to go for some shorter race PRs during the remainder of 2013!

tiredmedal

McMullen Mile Report (Mike)

McMullen Mile Report (Mike)

This race went extremely poorly for both of us. We came in with high expectations, myself having PR-ed by 6 seconds in the past two years (4:42 –> 4:36 –> 4:30), and Josh with a similar progression capped off by an impressive 4:29 last year.

At least Josh had an excuse for running poorly...
He had to chase Hazel around the track pre-race

 

The weather was perfect. Low-70s, slight breeze, partly cloudy. World records have been set on such days. Fortunately, we were looking to run in the 4:20s rather than 3:43. But that didn’t matter because we finished so far from our goal that we may as well have been “going for” sub-4 (or something).

 

Feeling optimistic
Loud noises, etc.

 

We came through lap one in 68 seconds. Slow start, but not disastrous.

 

1209m to go

 

I was at 2:16 with 809 meters to go. Not good, but all was not yet lost. During laps three and four I made a half-hearted attempt to pass another runner who ultimately beat me by 3 seconds down the stretch.

 

"Powering" through lap four in a blazing ~70 seconds

 

I finished in 4:37, Josh in 4:41.

 

Josh displeased with the result
This picture aptly characterizes my feelings about the race

 

Following a solid 5K in May, this was a big disappointment. However, it was great to spend a couple days in Rochester and catch up with Josh, Lisa, and Hazel. Results are here and a race video from Boyce is below. We were not fast enough to keep up with the camera.

 

Wa Wa Wally Waddle 5K (Mike)

Wa Wa Wally Waddle 5K (Mike)

I look forward to this race every year. This year it was a great excuse to leave my new Annapolis, MD place-of-residence, take a train to Poughkeepsie, NY and catch up with Josh, Lisa, and their family, and also to support Camp Wa Wa Segowea, a summer camp that the Perks family has been involved with for many years. I had managed to win the race in its first two years of existence, so my goal was to establish a three-peat. My training has seemed mediocre of late: sub-par mileage but some decent track workouts here and there. I won two un-competitive 5Ks (in February and April), running in the 16:40s, and I ran a very disappointing 10 Mile race in March. I told Josh the night before the race that I’d be thrilled if I could run 16:15 or so, but that I wasn’t too optimistic. My primary goal was to win….PIE and glory (overall and age group winners received home-baked pies!).

 

The Wa Wa Wally Waddle 5K is organized by Josh and Lisa, and it takes place at Vassar Farms in Poughkeepsie, NY. The race course is a mostly flat out-and-back on a smooth dirt road, supplemented by a couple of ~500m laps around a somewhat bumpy grassy field. I caught up with Josh before the race; he said that there might be some stiff competition this year including three Pough-town locals who are fully capable of running in the mid-to-low 16s for a 5K. I was beset with both excitement (a more competitive race is more fun) and dread (a more competitive race hurts more), and proceeded into my race-prep routine.

 

 

I could only find a picture of the Kids Fun Mile start, so let’s pretend that the photo above was for the 5K. Just replace the little kids with strapping, svelte-looking distance runners and the giant turtle with Josh because he was the one who gave us the start-command. The 5K also had a lot more entrants than the Kids Mile (200+).

 

The first few hundred meters were pretty typical. Some high school kids sprinting off the line and then fading back after 200m, etc. As we rounded the grassy field, a lead-pack of four formed: myself, Mike Chow, Mike Slinskey, and Zach Kudlak. The cool thing about racing alongside two other Mikes is that it feels like everyone is cheering for you.

 

 

When we got back onto the dirt road, I accelerated and put a small gap on the others. I’m not sure if I slowed or if they accelerated, but they reeled me in as we approached the first mile mark. The pace felt fast but I wasn’t wearing a watch. Mike Chow checked his and informed us it was a 5:05. After the first mile Zach and Mike S. dropped back but Mike Chow and I kept pushing the pace. We traded off slight leads or ran shoulder-to-shoulder.

 

Mike seemed to be very strong; we continued to trade surges as we approached the two-mile mark, which he reported we crossed in 10:20 (5:15 second mile). Having run the course the two previous years, I had staked out the 2 mile mark as a good point to try to drop competitors. There is a small hill that crests just after that point, so it seemed like a decent spot to break away from another runner who might be hurting a bit more than usual. I surged, but not hard enough because Mike matched my move.

 

We continued to run shoulder-to-shoulder for the next half mile, when I finally managed to open up a small gap. I don’t fully recall (because I was very tired at this point) but I sensed that the gap had formed due to him slightly falling off the pace rather than my own acceleration. I never looked back, but I figured that I had 5-10 seconds on him with about 1/2 mile to go. The photo below confirms that 5 seconds was probably an overestimate.

 

 

Only one loop of the grassy field remained, but I was gassed. The finish line couldn’t come soon enough. Josh was standing near the last turn directing traffic, and he informed me that I was about 5 seconds ahead. With only about 250m to go, 5 seconds sounded plenty, so I made no effort to kick. Maybe I should have, but whatever. Mike never threatened my slim lead in the closing meters, and I came through 1st place in 16:13, while he was three seconds back. Kudos to Mike; he ran a really gutsy race that significantly benefited each of our finishing times.

 

I was really happy with how I was able to respond to tight competition. It was the second-fastest 5K I’ve ever run, only beaten by a 16:07 on an indoor track in December 2010. It was really good to see the Perks family, and I’m looking forward to catching up with RKR in Rochester at the Lilac 10K next weekend! Full results are here, the full photo album is here, and the below is me with my newest race shirt alongside the Waddle female champ, Marisa. Also below is a race video that Josh put together.