By the light of the (silvery) moon

•Oct 25, 2007 • 1 Comment

This evening we had one of those runs that makes you enjoy the experience in spite of the cold or the effort or any inconvenience… An easy run south through Kent to pick up the Green River trail, like so many others we have run this year, but here we are in Late October and Halloween approaching.

The sun had pretty much disappeared by mile 1 as we reached the trail where it gets shady and the chill from the river felt like a blast on our faces. Darker now as we rounded each bend then at mile 2 a big full moon was rising above the trees. On one side an alpine glow in the western sky with a cool blue haze filling the other half. The bonus was an occasional ghostly glimpse of Mt Rainier between the trees.

By the time we reached RiverBend golf course at mile 4 there was only the moonlight and our little group quietly running along. With that moon now even higher in the sky there was no need for the little headlights and flashlights Eric and Brian had been using. For the next 5 minutes everything was bathed in blue-white and we could see the moon reflected in the river.

Our last 2 miles were a bit of an anticlimax… back in the streets with their traffic. The magic now dissipated.

One more quiet section (interurban trail) gave us the opportunity for a little speedwork – a nice 6:30/mile along the trail certainly warmed us all up :-) Brian never knew he had it in him.

Post Marathon Rest

•Oct 20, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.

Macbeth Act 2, Scene 2

Last week’s race in Denver was cold, wet and very tiring. Perhaps it was the altitude as well as the inclement weather but I felt the need to really listen to the general advice on post-race relaxing this time. I haven’t run at all since last Sunday. Not a mile… not even a little kilometre. Yes, something in me wanted to, just as I have so many times before but I resisted and decided to give my body a full week of recovery. Early nights and lights out have given me 6 full nights of that “Chief nourisher in life’s feast” and I feel much better for it.

Typically after a marathon I’ve managed to “hold out” for 3 or 4 days (max) before I would get out there. The runners’ folly I suppose – thinking if enough does us good then more must be better. We work so hard at maintaining the discipline of our running yet we forget about common sense and ignore the discipline it takes to rest our bodies after the big event. We all read about it but pay lip service.

With Tucson on the horizon (December 2nd) I know I will be ramping up the miles again – perhaps even throwing in some hills and/or speedwork for a few weeks. However, there’s time enough for that, I thought and it’s been good from a mental recovery perspective as much as the physical. I’ve spent what would be running time reflecting on my Denver race buildup (diet – good, equipment – poor choices, appreciation for altitude – overly optimistic). Spent the enforced down-time coming to terms with how unpredictable each race day is and how it can ruin even the best plans.

Well, I’ll be back with the rest of my “Balanced Athletes” on Sunday morning. It’ll be nice to see them all again, regale them with tales of Denver and it’s rain, enjoy a nice breakfast at The Wild Wheat… oh, and run of course.

Denver Marathon 2007

•Oct 15, 2007 • 2 Comments

John at the Denver finishing lineReturned from not so sunny Denver last night. It was sooooooo cold and wet (check out the news report), but fun in that crazy marathoner’s way… Due to the need to check out, I had to pack all my stuff still wet, in bags. I weighed all the gear (shirts, shorts, socks, shoes) and, compared to dry stuff, they had over a pound of water in them. Besides, I could hear my shoes squelched as I ran over the finish line. I reached “goal 1 – just finish” as well as “goal 2 – break 4 hrs”. My chip-time was 3:54:48 which wasn’t bad for the yuck weather and mile-high altitude.

Speaking of the altitude, I had somewhat dismissed the potential performance penalty the 5280 feet elevation might have on my performance – remembering how well I seemed to cope when I had run the Fiesta de Albuquerque marathon back in April 2006. That was also up in the 5000 foot range but I felt it affect me in Denver yesterday – fighting for breath on the slight hills and as I upped the pace on mile 23 for a strong finish. It definitely was obvious as I gasped while they cut the timing chip from my shoe.

Sadly, thanks to the weather, the Post-race festivities didn’t seem well attended with most runners (including yours truly) seeming to fly through the assembled tents and vendors even quicker than they had run the previous 26.2 miles :-) After picking up our medals we did have a Coors beer tent as a treat… ummmmm, freezin’ cold beer didn’t do it for me so I picked my way gingerly across the muddy field that Civic Center Park had become and back to my room for a hot shower I had dreamed of since mile 2!!! Last but not least, lunch with Rahim and his 3 relay team friends at the Cap City bar… by then our recollections of the morning’s events began to seem like fun again. Funny folk we runners… short memories, huh ?

Still, it was a good marathon. Excellent crowds. Super city to visit. Give this one a try if you’re looking for a Fall 26.2 race.

Drenched in Denver

•Oct 14, 2007 • 1 Comment

2007_co.jpgTired as I am from the delayed Alaska Airlines flight from Denver to Portland, as well as the noisy turboprop puddle jumper onward to Seattle… I thought I’d jot down a quick note tonight before crashing out.Let me see, how can I put it ? It rained. No… It really rained hard ? No… It rained hard all through the race, with a breeze, big puddles in the streets and boy it was cold (I tried to write that so I could work in “with a cherry on top” but…). Well you get the picture. The spectators were awesome though!

Late getting to the start line I had an enforced ambling start in the rain, followed by a soggy middle part, followed by a still wet last bit in Downtown Denver. I settled down by mile 12 to just make sure I beat my usual goals 1 and 2 (just finish and beat 4 hours respectively). Happily I achieved both, crossing the line at 3:54:48 to Rahim’s encouraging cheers and the flash of his camera (photos later when he emails them).

For those of you who stumbled in here having Googled for the 2007 race Resultsclick here to see them

and…

For those of you who stumbled in here having Googled for the 2007 race Photosclick here

OK, that’s Colorado done in my 50 state quest. next up Arizona in December, but not before I say how much I enjoyed the city of Denver. Cool place, nice folk and I’m determined to make a return trip as soon as CG and I are able :-)

More on the Denver experience later this week. Until then – Thanks Denver. It was soooooooo cool (literally and figuratively!)

Denver Marathon this weekend

•Oct 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

For those of you who stumbled in here having Googled for the 2007 race resultsclick here to see them

I’m really looking forward to running in Denver on Sunday – my second high altitude race. I’ve put in plenty of training miles, pretty much sticking to my typical plan and schedule. I’m being sooooo good on the taper period diet – drinking plenty of fluids to help the absorption of the slight increase in carbs this week.

Dinner this evening with my daughter at the Olive Garden (hey… it was her choice!!!!) before I set off tomorrow. I have a nice early flight that will get me into the Mile-High city by 11:00 so I get almost 2 days to acclimate just a little bit. Then I plan to relax and take it easy for 2 days prior to the run – a strategy that I noticed big benefits from with all my Sunday long runs lately. I’ll hit the pasta dinner in Denver with one of my partners in blogging (Rahim), who’s running his hometown race as the 1st leg of the relay. “That means I’ll see you for 2 seconds before you take off into your 8:00/mile pace. :) We can always celebrate with a beer after the race, ya?”, said Rahim. More like 2 minutes at the start, but definitely “ya” on the beer!

BTW, I noticed a nice gesture from the Denver marathon folks this morning… following last week’s Chicago debacle, they are offering free registration to anyone who had been in that aborted race. Cool that they are giving people (primarily from Colorado, I suppose) an opportunity to still put all those months of training to good use.

This will be my “number 8 state”… will I make it to 50 ? Geez, I hope so !

Cheating the good old fashioned way

•Oct 9, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Marion Jones was high tech but Roberto Madrazo was much more direct – literally and metaphorically. Taking a leaf out of the Rosie Ruiz playbook, this 55 year old Mexican politician’s shortcut during the Berlin Marathon saw him cruise home in an astounding 2:41:12. And right onto the scandal pages of the sports press, LOL.

Not so fast, though… he was busted by an alert photographer who noticed he was a tad overdressed and fresh for such a speedy win on a hot day. Race organizers investigated and found he had missed 2 consecutive timing mats. Oops… disqualified! What amazes me is that people actually believe they can just be so blatant. Weird.

What constitutes cheating ?

•Oct 8, 2007 • 2 Comments

So Marion Jones, the famous sprinter finally came clean (pun intended) last week regarding the long standing suspicions of steroid use that had hung over her. Resignation is what I felt when I read about it. Not shock or amazement… no, not those anymore. And then the realization that I seemed unsurprised at her eventual, belated admission was what gave rise to the feeling of indignation. It made me wonder if in some small way… some tenuous, barely visible link might ever be drawn between the abuse of elite athletes and “people like us”.

Seems barely credible, doesn’t it ? I mean why would we cheat ? No stadium full of adoring fans for us. No prize money. No tantalizing endorsement deals. Just the knowledge inside that we did it. Us… on our own… by the sweat of our brow and the ache of our muscles, exercised in thousands of unremarkable and barely acknowledged training runs across the community.

After our Sunday run we chatted about it over breakfast at The Wild Wheat. Later Iliana continued the thoughts on the Balanced Athlete Blog. Although we all obviously knew that taking a shortcut in a race (Rosie Ruiz story) is clearly dishonest, but beyond that it became less clear. We debated about people (non-elite runners) who we have heard are interested in experimenting with inhaling hydrogen or drinking enhanced water. I related the observations in oddmountain’s blog about folks abusing asthma inhalers prior to races. While we felt that these folk are probably taking it all too far, the question hung there… if it’s not actually illegal and it’s commercially available… is it really “cheating” ?

I plan to run my own race in the Denver Marathon on Sunday and I’m only running against myself. I’ll drink what fluids they provide, eat the Gu from the aid stations and rely on what preparation I can bring to the start line… that’s it.