Time for an overdue update. I've been putting it off and putting it off and finally I have some good news to write about. So I decided that this will be an excellent opportunity to update my racing calendar. Beware long post alert.
First off, here's an update on the past few months. After my knee injury, I was hesitant on predicting my performance in the South Bend and Alaskan marathons. Since this would have been the closest I ran back to back marathons, I decided to stay conservative. My goal was to run both under 3:30 and come away feeling better. Let's take a look.
The Sunburst Marathon, aka Hall of Fame to Notre Dame, proved to be a success. With a history of extremely hot temperatures mixed with good ole Midwest humidity, this event has earned a reputation of draining even the most prepared runner. Well Knute Rockne must have been looking down on us that day because the weather worked in our favor.
The 6 AM start at the College Football Hall of Fame was cool as a cucumber. The first 10 miles just rolled by as we worked our way through some of South Bend's neighborhoods. After crossing over the 5K runners (which caused some near collisions) the 2nd half of the course was an out and back along the river.
This provided me with a unique experience of seeing the race leaders as they headed back towards the finish. Along mile 16 my race was saved by a helpful volunteer holding popsicle sticks slathered with vaseline. By this time the heat was coming out and the sweat pouring on and some well placed vaseline on the chest was called for to prevent further chaffing.
After what seemed like endless switchbacks, I finally hit the turn around point feeling good. Again I was treated with another unique view of the marathon as I passed oncoming racers that were behind me. The agony on some of their faces was astounding and many had 10 plus miles to go with it only getting hotter.
Having maintained a comfortable, yet fast pace, in the beginning, I was able to start picking off racers in front of me. Many of whom I saw at the start flying past me making the worst rookie mistake out there. One that I have made a few more times than I care to admit. That's the best feeling in the world during a race when you can feel good passing people that late in the race.
Hitting the last few miles, we mixed back in with the half-marathoners who started about an hour and half after the marathon. One of my biggest complaints when this happens is when you have to weave in and out of slower runners. Especially after running 24+ miles. The race in Birmingham did it well by seperating the two and allowing the marathoners plenty of space and their own water stops. At this point in the race I identified another runner wearing a Ft. Jennings t-shirt. I shouted a "Go Grove Bulldogs!" at him and he yelled something back. Probably "Tomorray" since some of you swear that is an actual word used in Ft. Jennings. Whatever.
Taking the final turn, I am greeted with a spectacular visual. The moment we all were waiting for. This is what why we ran 26.2 miles (or 13.1 for some). To run down the tunnel of Notre Dame stadium as they played the fight song. What a feeling. You could have attacked me with baseball bats and chains (but please don't) and I wouldn't have felt it. I crossed the finish line with a respectable 3 hours and 26 minutes. Of course the first person I see is my brother Matt. He had just finished the half about a minute before me and turned around and asked, "What took you so long?". Oh he was lucky I just used all my energy doing my best Heisman pose earlier.
Indiana...done. On to The Land of the Midnight Sun.
Just two weeks later I was lining up to compete in the Mayor's Marathon held in Anchorage, Alaska. After spending the previous week on a cruise ship eating way too much delicious food and factoring in the possibility that I might come face to face with a grizzly bear, I decided just finishing would be a worthy goal. Minutes before the start, I caught a glimpse of fellow Columbus runner (Dublin actually), Chuck Engle warming up. I met Chuck last year at the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon in West Virginia where he has won it the past 3 years. Oddly enough this was the exact weekend of the race this year so obviously he decided to pass on the hills on Appalachia for the frozen tundra. (Side note: Chuck has had quite an impressive 2009 marathon schedule. To see what I mean check this quick link out)
The race got off to uneventful start. I was surrounded by purple clad runners as this was a keystone event for Team In Training. My strategy for the early miles is to find someone around my pace (a hair under 8 minute miles) and stick with them. I picked out a fellow runner and followed him through the early miles along the bike path. The race thinned out fairly quickly but it was still a pain at points to pass people on the path. This did not help me trying to maintain a conservative pace but fortunately the road opened up a bit after a few miles.
Around mile 6 something peculiar happened. The runner I was pacing with started to pull away quickly. Puzzled I decided to hang back and run my race. Approaching mile 7 we hit the first relay point and I saw him tag another runner...great I was pacing with someone running a quarter of the race. Let's hope that doesn't bite me on mile 23.
Also on mile 7 we entered Richardson Army Base. We followed a gravel path that they use to drive tanks to and from various firing ranges. Dotted along the path were signs that said, "Beware, Unexploded Ammunition May Be Present". Great...so I have bears and bombs to worry about now. These miles were the start of the scenic portion of the marathon and also the most challenging. The gravel made it difficult at points because it was pretty thick and you had to find the "lanes" where the tanks drove and thinned out the stones. Also we hit some pretty unforgiving hills here as well. Point number 2 that I was hoping wouldn't bite me at mile 23.
Upon leaving the base we hit a single lane wooded path that weaved in and around streams and hills. This was probably my favorite part as there were numerous times when you were all alone in the wilderness with no runners around. One could easily get snatched up by a bear and no one would ever notice. I didn't know at the time but there were bear spotted on the course and the race directors had people on the course earlier to scare them away.
After a few miles we finally hit what resembled civilization and some much needed downhills. I picked up the pace and hammered out the next 8 miles or so. By this time the sun was coming out and all the stereotypes of Alaska were being destroyed as the temperatures climbed. I was on pace for a PR but around mile 24 I hit the wall. I desperately tried to tap into that peanut butter ice cream reserves I was storing while on the cruise ship but no dice. There was no Notre Dame stadium to carry me these last few miles and the bears were miles behind me. I had to do these last 2.2 miles on true grit.
I forgot the PR and decided my initial goal, a respectable sub 3:30 finish, would make me happy. I grinded out the last miles only to hit the biggest obstacle yet, the final hill. What a cruel joke the race directors played when they included this monster at the end. So bad that even the race winner (who set a new record) decided to walk it. This was also the entry point where we merged with the half-marathoners so I had company on my walk up this hill. Getting my 2nd (more like 10th) wind at the top I finished with a 2nd consecutive 3:26.
Not eaten by bears? Check.
Under 3:30? Check.
Taking a look at the standings I was surprised to see 3 Ohioans in the top 10. Van Wert stars Brendon Moody and Kyle Minnich finished 3rd and 10th respectively. Brendon also finished 3rd in the Notre Dame marathon and would take first place in our local St. Anthony's 5k (while finishing a beer at Neil Steck's a mile from the finish). Chuck Engle edged out the 5th place runner by a few seconds to take 4th. Buckeye represent!
The only thing left for me was 18 hour plane trip back home. Alaska...done.
With marathons number 3 and 4 done for 2009, I have only 2 more to go to complete my goal of 6 for the year. Soon after I returned from Alaska I found out that I was not selected in the lottery for the NYC Marathon. That stinks but I went back to MarathonGuide.com to check out how I can fill my remaining race calendar. After pouring over the logistics, I decided on the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon on October 10th and the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia on November 14th.
Some good news though I just found out that I was selected to run the 2010 Zoom! Yah! Yah! indoor marathon on January 10th. I'll have more to say about this particular marathon later this year but until then I want to focus on the two coming up.
Looking back on my goals for 2009:
* Complete 6 marathons
As noted above I am on target to complete all 6.
* Run 1750 miles
My knee injury sidelined me from any practical mileage in April so my goal of 1750 is not looking good. I backed it down to 1500 and I am even a little bit behind that. I found that with so many marathons in a short time really prevented me any opportunity for some heavy mileage. I was either tapering or recovering for much of May/June/July. My mileage goal for 2010 will definitely take some thought along with the number of marathons I attempt.
* 15,000 push-ups & 20,000 sit-ups
Push-ups I am right on pace. I am hitting those regularly and doing a good job of keeping up. The sit-up goal was good but after some research I found out that I have to incorporate other core exercises other than sit-ups to get any real benefit. So the sit-up goal was abandoned for a more fluid goal of at least 3 days of core training per week. So far I have been successful keeping at this.
* 1:30 Half Marathon
I was really hoping to get a Half in this year. My best chance was in May but my knee injury prevented any hope of that happenening. Columbus has 2 more halfs coming up in August and October but unfortunately neither work out with my schedule. I'll look around after November but more than likely this will get pushed to 2010.
* 18:30 5K
Here's another one that is in jeopardy. After not being able to compete in the St. Anthony's 5K I missed a golden opportunity to break this record. However 5Ks are easier to comeby and with a few good opportunities coming up I think I have a real chance at this one.
* 3:30 Marathon
Smashed. This one fell with the first race of 2009. My goal for my next marathon is 3:20. People ask me if I will try to qualify for Boston. I have some thoughts on that and there is a post coming up soon that I address those concerns. This post is already too long to fit anymore running talk.
Final Running Thoughts
My latest training has gone very well. My long runs have been at a fast average pace and my speed work has held up. I have changed my track workouts from an actual track to the treadmill. I began noticing that my hip and IT band (and eventually my knee) were sore after a track run and I read that it can be attributed to the constant left turns. The recommendation was to run the other direction or hit the treadmill. I chose the treadmill and increased my speed on there to compensate for the advantage treadmill running gives you versus track running. My hip has responded well and my training has benefited.
It's August and with my 2009 marathon calendar full and 2010 started it will be time soon to see what is possible for next year's goals. I'm giving them some serious thought and will have some more information in the next few months. Until then here is an updated graph at the bottom of this post.
NOTE: I have not been updating my Virtual Run Across the United States lately but I have been tracking my miles. MapMyRun has an issue of mapping runs over 1000 miles so it is a pain to track it. When I update it I will post it here.
October 10th, 2009 - Baltimore, MD
November 14th, 2009 - Fort Oglethorpe, GA
January 10th, 2010 - Northfield, MN
Green Bay 2010
New York 2010
June 20th, 2009 - (3:26:30) Anchorage, AK
June 6th, 2009 - (3:26:14) South Bend, IN
March 29th, 2009 - (3:24:23) Knoxville, TN
February 15th, 2009 (3:29:16) - Birmingham, AL
September 20th, 2008 (3:39:05) - Park City, UT
June 14th, 2008 (3:50:22) - Williamson, WV
February 17th, 2008 (3:54:54) - Jacksonville, FL
November 3rd, 2007 (3:55:40) - Richmond, VA