Category Archives: Running
Well, that was fun. I mean, it was as much fun as a marathon can be. I’m thankful that I finished. Not that I didn’t think I would…I knew I would…but somehow, I’m always surprised when I do. What is that?
I didn’t have any specific goals this time since I felt my training was all out of whack. I knew I was ready but in a different way than usual. Plus, waking up at 2:45 am to catch a race bus at 4:00 am seemed to be enough of a challenge. That and I ran a different pattern of distances every week, my strength training was different, and my long run was significantly shorter. C’est la vie. It all worked out in the end. It wasn’t my fastest race – I was shy of that by 3 minutes. It wasn’t my slowest race which would have been 15 minutes slower. It was just right. I felt good the entire race – no suffering (I also remembered my water, etc). Who can ask for more?
The Colorado Marathon takes place in Ft. Collins. Starting 17 miles into the Poudre Canyon, runners descend about 1,100 feet over the course of 26 miles finishing in the heart of Ft. Collins. Because the majority of the race is on a rather narrow road through the canyon and along a bike path, the race is peaceful and quiet – no bands and relatively no spectators. It’s the perfect meditative experience running along the Poudre River into the rising sun. The race is small with only about 1,400 runners. It took about 8 miles but, eventually, the runners spread out and everyone found their pace (pun intended).
I have only two suggested areas for race improvement: (1) starting line shenanigans; and (2) timing chips.
Starting Line. Before the race began, all the runners piled into coach buses (at 4:00 am) and were shipped off
into the darkness to the starting line. Once we were at the starting line, we waited a little over an hour for the race to begin. It was freezing. Literally. Most of us had jackets, etc, but it was pretty uncomfortable. I think it would have made sense to allow the runners to sit on the buses for a least 45 minutes before being required to wait outside. I heard quite a few folks offering this suggestion.
Timing. Timing chips were hosted in the runners’ bibs. This is great – no annoying shoe tag – hooray! Like most runners, I wear a GPS enabled watch. It tells me how fast I am going and how far I’ve gone. I start my watch when I cross the start line. Typically, I am not crossing the start line when the gun goes off. That practice is for the speed demons. Thus, my “gun time” and my “chip time” are usually different by a couple minutes. My gun time was 4:30 but my chip time (my watch time) was 4:27. In my experience, most races provide both results in their results listing. This race does not. I wish it did. I’m not sure if there is a reason for this – I assume those trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon must qualify by the gun time thus making that the only time of importance – but I like to save as many minutes and seconds as possible and know exactly how long it took me to run the race. Thank goodness for my little watch. He makes me feel faster .
Finally, I have one “self-suggestion” (aside from running faster!): know the course. I never looked at the course map. Classic. I found out, on the bus to the start line, that during the race, we would lose 1,100 vertical feet in elevation. Hmmm. I knew the course was a gradual downhill. In fact, I was told (by another runner) that the course was so gradual in its downhillyness that it would feel mostly flat. Um… nope. This race was downhill. It wasn’t steep but it wasn’t flat either. I mean, there were some flat parts and even a rather long uphill (hello, mile 18) but for the most part, downhill it was, folks. Downhill like a thighmaster. The temptation is use these downhills a little too much to one’s advantage. I’ve been there and made that mistake before. At least I knew better on that point. So, I routinely slowed myself down when I felt I was little too fast for myself. Just the same, I’m pretty sure that if my quads could have killed me they would have. Even with my post-race ice bath my quads were screaming for the post-race 48 hours. Interestingly, the rest of me wasn’t sore at all.
Another great Colorado racing experience! I’m not sure what is next. Maybe another go at Mt. Evan’s? What’s your next race?
When is the last time I posted about running? It’s been awhile. I don’t know why. I’ve spent the last 4 months training for my next marathon which will be in exactly one month’s time. Meh. It’s been a dreary training process, frankly. I didn’t really have a plan outside of how much I needed to be running per week and I found myself experiencing an old injury which has had me in physical therapy for the last month or so. I did my “last chance run” yesterday and it was pain-free so, the therapy is helping… and ice baths. Ice baths work miracles. The good news is that my physical therapist approves of me running in the upcoming race (although he looks at me a little funny) and therefore, I feel confident. Well, as confident as I can given all circumstances…
Unfortunately, even with the most minimalist plans, my minor injury-ish thing threw me off my schedule. I’m one of those people that likes to run the 26 miles before the marathon and that wasn’t possible this time. I only ran 21. Apparently, this is normal. In fact, I don’t have any marathon-runnin’ friends that do the whole race before the race so I feel safe knowing that I am in good company on my involuntarily plan change.
Lately, the running world has felt like injury central. Recently, I found myself at dinner party with about eight runners. I did not know most of them. I’d say the ages of these folks were somewhere between 33-45. Not young but, not old. At some point, the conversation turned to the running injuries that everyone is experiencing. All of these nagging and obscure injuries were incredible. Almost every single person had some “thing” going on. I keep thinking – what the…? We are all relatively young and in shape and yet, everyone is injured. I still don’t know what to make of it. Is it that we continue to push our bodies as though we are still in our early twenties? Is it just age? Coincidence?
Injuries often seem like such a crap-shoot. You can try preventive measures all day, everyday and sometimes, injuries just happen. The first year I started running I figured out some hard truths about my more “mature” self. I couldn’t just do “whatever” and expect my body to bounce back 24 hours later. Ah, the good old days. Things aren’t the same as they used to be even two years ago. By way of example, I used to wear 4 inch pumps every day until about two years ago. Now, I just can’t take it more than twice a week, tops. Oh, the pain! I also learned, from experience, that my body cannot run on a daily basis unless the second day is under 3 miles. Running back-to-back days at 5 miles or more puts me on the fast-track to injury. Guaranteed. So, you live and learn about your body everyday. You learn how it changes with age, what your limits are, when you can push, and when you can’t. It can be frustrating but that’s life and you’ll power through – even if it takes time and patience.
As I leave the aches and pains of training and building endurance, I enter the interesting and mysterious month of tapering. I hope to use this time to maintain my physical and mental status and reflect on this most recent training experience.