Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Akron Marathon

"That's the last hill. You're at the top. It's all downhill from here." I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard that, or something just like it, over the last 10 miles.

After missing a couple days of training due to NC24, I jumped back in last week to try to get right back to where I had been. I also decided, with only a few days to left, to go ahead and run Akron. I'd heard that it was *wonderful*, and I thought I'd find out for myself.

So I found myself lined up with a few thousand of my best friends on a nice and relatively cool Akron morning. After the gun, the hills didn't take very long to materialize. It was down for the first mile or two, then up, up, up for the next several. After a while, I found it impossible to keep up with my training partner Debbie Scheel, and instead ran and talked with friend Kevin. It was good to see so many friends before, during and after the race.

It got a bit easier as I hit the towpath just before half-way. The TP and Sand Run are very pretty areas, and they make this race memorable. Hey, woudn't it be great to have a race that's entirely on the TP? Oh, I forgot. There already is one.

I probably did pick it up a little for those 4+ miles. Then came Sand Run: several miles - almost all of it uphill. Tough for everyone, including me. Brad caught me for a while, but then I pulled away again. I eventually began to spot Debbie up ahead. When I caught her later on I tried to get her to go with me, but that didn't happen. I went on to pass Connie, who was just less than a week recovered from her 141 NC miles. Seems that's the only time I can beat her is right after a hundred or more miles. Of course I had yet another smart remark ready for her when I did: "You need to learn to run while drinking water," I said as she stopped at an aid station.

From about mile 15 to about 23, the trend of the race is up, up, up. Only the last two are back down a bit, but by then I was fairly shot. I came in at 3:23. I had only wanted to do a training run here, so the time, and the even splits, are fine with me. But I never thought it would be this hard. Not even with all the warnings I'd had from friends. It was really, really tough.

Would I do it again? The race organization was as wonderful as advertised. Very good attention to detail. And I may consider it as part of a relay. But run the entire bird again? One of the toughest I've ever done anywhere? What do you think?

2010 NC24

It's over. Has been for a week and a half. And I thought things were supposed to ease in my life now. They didn't.

We had a volunteer/organizer party at our place Saturday. Yesterday I went to the MCRR meeting to talk about the race, only to learn that everyone there, except Lisa, had actually been at the race in some capacity. Tonight is our organizational team wrap-up / post mortem. On top of all that, we went to Shannon's last week to get all the race equipment and supplies, so we could bring them back home. Now Debbie has inventoried and deposited everything into containers, and the next step is to build some shelving for it in the garage (last year we'd stacked it in the basement). And on top of all that... I'm dealing with a never-ending barrage of emails about the race. This in itself is a full-time job.

I must say that the event itself was another huge success. Not that there isn't room for improvement, mind you. That, of course, is one of the main subjects for tonight's meeting. But thanks to the fantastic volunteers and great organizers, NC24 was a great experience for all of us - including, even, the runners.

By far, the most important thing to do when organizing an event like this is to get the best possible team. And I did that. Without a doubt, Shannon, Roy, Frank, Joe, Debbie Horvath, Debbie Horn, Charles and several others that I'm probably forgetting, were the backbone of the event. We couldn't have been successful without them.

Like last year, when I saw it all unfold, it was truly amazing. And gratifying to the n'th degree. Of course it was hard work - not only during the 24 hours, but for several days before and after. But it was, as they say, a labor of love.

Think I'll do it all again next year? Stay tuned..

Monday, September 13, 2010

River Run Double Half-Marathon

10 miles in just under 69 minutes. That's in between the finish times for the two ten-milers I've done in recent weeks. Would I be able to keep that same pace, or even pick it up a bit for the final 5K?

It had been a couple years since I was able to dip under 1:30 for a half-marathon. For the River Run Half, I made a point to tell everyone that 1:29 was my goal, and after the Crim, I felt I was ready.

Several of my MCRR friends were there. The weather was decent - low 60s, and a little humid. I ran the early miles with Debbie Scheel, but by mile 3 I was mostly alone, and stayed that way for the rest of the run. I knew I needed about a 6:50 pace, and I did manage to get to the half-way point in about 44 and a half minutes, give or take.

It took a great deal of concentration, but I did manage to make those final three miles my best ones. The last 5K was about 20:40, so I finished in 1:29:31. Some faster old geezer showed up, so I was only second in my age group. But I'm happy with this one. There may be a way to squeeze out another minute or so in some future race, but by and large I feel like I'm running to my potential. And that's a good thing.

After kibitzing with my friends at the finish, it was time to run back to the car. Yes, Jack and I had parked at the start with plans to jog back afterward. It had sounded like a good idea at the time. But those additional 13 or so miles were pretty darn tough - even though they were at a slow 9-minute pace. I think I was bonking due to lack of nutrition, because I felt better when I took a gel. We did eventually make it back to the start. It was a lot of running for one day.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tremendous Training Trail Trots: Twenty-Two, Twenty-Two, Ten. Tempos Too.

Probably don't need to say much else; the title says it all. Almost.

The story should probably start with last Tuesday's speed sessions. Yes, sessions with an 's'. I ran well at both, but afterwards my right knee seemed abnormally tender. This didn't seem like too big a deal.

Thursday I met Dave at the towpath, and I wound up with twenty-two terrific towpath training miles. It was a pretty steady eight-minute to slightly slower pace. After this run, the 'ole knee hurt more - especially going down stairs. I learned that it may be patella tendinitis, or possibly bursitis. Either way I need to treat it with ice and ibuprofen, which I'm doing.

On Saturday I drove to Connecticut for a visit (Debbie is still there, and will stay another week because although Malcolm is fine, Veronica is still recovering). I ran on the Housitonic Trail on Sunday (22) and Monday (10), and did well. I managed to get down to tempo pace for two slightly downhill sections on Sunday, and one on Monday.

So the running has been good. But what the heck do I do with this aching knee?

Hinckley is Back

Okay, okay. Hinckley never really left. But a lot of us did; we hadn't been meeting there for our Sunday morning runs for quite some tim...