This week has been a little bit of a recovery week, stepping slowly back into things as the marathon pains fade away. Notable runs of the week – Thursday I met up with some people I’m planning to run a Reach the Beach ultra with in May. They seemed pretty cool. Yesterday I did a solid 7.3 mucking about with iSmoothRun Pro (more on that once a bit more testing is done). And today I met up with Hondo for the middle part of my snowy long run. My mother (normally a wise woman) said yesterday that she thought winter’s back was broken, but after having spent a few hours today with snow blasting me in the face, I’ll have to disagree.
Hey and speaking of marathons, the Country Music Marathon in Nashville is 9 weeks from yesterday! Let’s hit it YJP.
Song of the week, The Official Ironmen Ralley Song by Guided by Voices.
Unlike most of the races I do, the Country Music Marathon in Nashville was on a Saturday. Maybe it’s a Southern church thing, I don’t know. Its certainly not to help coordinate with other regional races as the nearest two others this weekend (Louisville and Champaign/Urbana) were both on the same Saturday as well. Regardless, I took the day off Friday to head down to Nashville for expo & some top-secret poking around town business.
Also unlike most of the races I do, part of my family came with to cheer – I was really psyched about this. My mom has wanted to see a race for some time but the Sunday thing has been a problem for them. We scored fairly cheap nonstop flights ($160?!) so were able to grab a third for Christine, who brought the free-ridin’ Tate along for the trip. This is his second marathon (he came to Newport last year) which is pretty good for someone who isn’t even one yet.
The original idea to run Nashville came from YJP, as part of an extension of our Austin plan. Timing being fortuitous, we met up at the airport and headed to the expo. This is a Rock ‘n’ Roll event which for better or worse leads you to expect a certain consistency. Which was what we had. No surprises. Shirts were white and IMO boring, which seems to be a trend in this race series. I haven’t worn the New Orleans or St. Louis shirts since those races, and don’t see myself wearing this one either. The hat Christine bought me, however, is pretty sweet.
My family has a few relatives living south of Nashville so Friday afternoon was spent down there. Our Louisiana cousins drove up as well, a sort of semi-impromptu family reunion. I was glad to see everyone but at the same time happy to be able to call it an early night, heading to bed at my hotel around 7pm.
3am, up and at it. My hotel was freezing. I checked out the window, rain seemed to be gentle. Ok maybe this won’t be bad.
5am, YJP showed up at my hotel. We met a third friend who ran Ragnar Florida Keys with us last January, and walked down to the finish line for a shuttle to the start. By now it was raining heavily. As I got on the bus I realized that I had left the clear gear check bag required by post-boston security upgrades back at the hotel. This was a problem. I ended up checking my jacket, the only warm item I brought with me to Tennessee, in yjp’s bag.
The start was near a scale model of the Parthenon just west of downtown. I was in corral 2 as I had been a bit over optimistic with my finish time back when I registered. Start was delayed five minutes or so for last minute car towings. This is fairly common and I try to roll but the pouring rain makes it hard to be easy going about the wait.
Mile 4: I see Christine & my mom on the left side, I’m over toward the right if a fairly wide course that’s still fairly dense so can’t make my way over. Not thinking much about pace at this point.
Mile 9: I see them again here – this time I get a high five. I tell Christine I’m feeling awesome, which is surprising given the rain. Which remains heavy. There’s a mat at 9.9 miles for some reason, later I’ll see I’m under 8:00 splits.
At half I’m at 1:44:21, a 7:58 split. This is pretty decent for me – I didn’t realize at the time this is some 80 seconds faster than my half time in Austin, my standing marathon PR. Just past the half mark we’re heading down a steep hill that’s being bisected by what’s basically a little ankle-deep river and some dude cruising past me says “this is totally the log flume of marathons”. Yeah.
Mile 17: we cross over the river into East Nashville. I look for the cheer squad here but no luck. The Titans stadium is right across the river, this part of the course gave pretty good views of it. I’m talking to some guy here about Boston qualifying times – he’s running with his son who is 19.
The course from 17-20 winds up through a quite nice neighborhood. I know there’s a chance mom & Christine will be at 20 when I get there but they’re not – this is fine, actually the thinking about it serves a purpose of occupying the brain whether I see them or not. Mile 21-25 is a loop around a big park with a lake in the center – it’s raining quite heavily here and most of the paths are flooded, it’s hard to say where the lake ends and the park begins. YJP told me later she saw ducks padding on the grass, I completely believe that.
The race starts to get difficult for me at mile 23 which is later than usual. I know there’s a cheering squad at 25, so I break the remainder up into 2 & 1.2 mile segments. At 25 these kids are going nuts (enthusiasm was high all along the course today but here particularly). This last 1.2 I’m really pressing – I think I’m just shy of a PR but am not really sure. At 26, just prior to the left turn into the stadium I see Christine on the far right side of the course screaming at me. I can’t really put it together mentally why or how she’s there but she is. Three seconds later YJP is also in the same peripheral view, coming the other direction heading out towards 20. Having not seen anyone since mile 9 – this is really pretty remarkably awesome coincidence right before the finish & gives a boost – you can see from the GPS map above in the last half mile I go from 8:30 splits to a finish of 7:09 – that’s all the cheer squad’s doing.
Across the line, final time of 3:33:46, an 8:09 split – this is a new marathon PR for me by 24 seconds! Though I don’t realize this for almost an hour. I’m 244 of 2705 overall, top 10%, and top 15% by sex & age division. I score some chocolate milk and a mushy banana and trip over to the family meeting area. It’s hard to make it there – the rain is more obvious & painful once I stop running, it reminds me a lot of the Maine Marathon & that post-race desire to GTFO. I sit in the meeting area for a few minutes trying to get it together before realizing I should motivate before I start to freeze. It’s another mile walk from there to the hotel & I’m frozen solid shaking by the time I make it there. Tennessee was supposed to be warm but this is NOT.
The one downside of getting so cold from sitting in the rain is I didn’t get to wait at the finish line for YJP. I think she forgives me, kinda, but it’s not 100% certainty. I’ll have to figure out a way to make it up to her.
We took a bonus day in Nashville the day after & visited the Grand Ole Opry, bought some new boots, went line dancing, the works. I liked this, hanging out a bit instead of flying home immediately, legs cramping. A small luxury. And Nashville totally is an interesting place that deserves future exploration.
Song of the week & a reliable member of my long run mix, An Argument with Myself by Jens Lekman.
4 Responses to “Struggling with the parameters and the basic construction of my feet”
As I write this it’s 10pm Thursday night. I’m preparing to leave early tomorrow morning for an flight to Tennessee for my second marathon of the year. The weather channel is now showing an 80% chance of rain for Saturday morning in Nashville. I’ve run races in inclement weather before, bitterly cold races where my sweat has frozen, races the snow. Rain should be easy. I ran an entire marathon in the rain, just last fall. On a sprained ankle. I can do this.
So it seems like time to say – nobody is nervous. This is a small lie I tell myself whenever it’s needed, always a non-truth when it comes out of my mouth. Most of my life operates on auto-pilot. Work home friends family running sleep. Racing is a break from that, something that still brings positive anxiety. I like this nervousness because it slows life down, forces sharp focus, presence of mind, attention to the immediate. In stressful moments time slows down as my brain tries to take in data quickly in higher resolution, observing every decision, avoiding mistakes becomes critical. And however many marathons in, I can tell you, they’re still stressful.
I’m glad of that. Thankful for the nerves. Grateful for the opportunity to burn through it. Cheers to facing and overcoming the unknown. Ok. I should really go pack.
I look at the bar chart below and feel my internal criticism levels rise. But it’s been a pretty shitty week on several fronts so I’m going to give myself the benefit of the doubt here, pretend that this was an intentional taper and just move on.
Running achievement of the week – I drove up to Marblehead on Sunday and ran the Ring Around the Neck 5 miler. Not a PR for me, but I placed 24th of 400-some, 8th of 54 in my class, and first overall finisher from Boston (there’s a completely made-up category for you just to make me feel better about myself).
I’ve been sick ever since the bombing at the marathon. I’m not entirely convinced that they’re not related. My immune system has been trying to work through it, but I’m running out of time. My next marathon next weekend in Nashville is getting closer and while I’m not exactly panicking, I am concerned. I’m not hoping to break any records at this race but still I’d like to run strong and do myself proud.
I haven’t given much thought to to security situation down there – I don’t particularly think marathon attacks are going to be a recurring ‘thing’, and they’ve announce increased security checks and regulations, both for the event and the expo. But last week’s bombing is still pretty fresh in my memory. I’m really not sure how I’ll feel once I’m down there, but I’m hoping it will be a positive experience.
This is the most exciting running weekend of the year in Boston, with the Marathon coming tomorrow. The whole town is crawling with marathoner-types carrying expo bags, looking for the right restaurant to carbo-load. I’m not running or volunteering this year but do like to be a part of things, to go to the expo, and to cheer on the various friends who are running the full. Another way to get in the action was to run today’s BAA 5K. This isn’t really my race length of strength, but still, I had a better run than last year and lowered my PR somewhat. As it’s only my third 5K (and considering I sprained my ankle in one of the two priors), that’s not particularly shocking.
But still, lots of fun. I met up with Hondo & PK pre-race over by the library in Copley Square, stretched out a bit then worked my way up into the 6:30 race pace group. Race course this year was slightly different, up between the Common & the Garden, weaving down Comm & Newbury before turning around and running the marathon finish down Boylston. I finished it in 20:45, a 6:41 split (which coincidentally is my current PR split for 5 miles as well). Sarah & Steven & assorted nephews were all there to cheer though I didn’t see them until after the race. A few photos from the day are here.
Two weeks from yesterday is my next big thing, the Country Music Marathon down in Nashville. I think I’m going to wind down the mileage (or at least the effort levels) this week & next to give my body a mini-taper.
Song of the week, Lost in My Mind by The Head and the Heart.
This was a pretty good week for me despite a rough start with my left knee. I’m three weeks out from the St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon down in Nashville and feel fairly well ready for that. I’ll probably do one more ~20 late next weekend before starting a short taper*.
Other quick notes of potential interest:
1) A week from today is the BAA 5K (here’s our team last year). I’ve never run a “good” 5K time (sub 7:00 split), and am not sure the BAA is really the right race to do so in (so crowded!) but I’m giving it another shot.
2) The day after the 5K is the Boston Marathon. I’m not running it but a bunch of my extended running community will be doing it (Marc, Vihann, Jay & Karen at the least). Cheers and good luck to them all, I’m hoping to bounce out of work early enough to at least see the finish. Someday it’ll be my turn to take a shot, hopefully as a qualifier.
3) I think my Reach the Beach ultra team has found it’s 6th member, which is very good news. We’re going to meet up for a social type engagement sometime after Boston so we call all meet in person before the race (May 17th-18).
4) My seventh marathon of the year has been booked – I’ll be running Marine Corps Marathon in October down in the DC area. I’m raising money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital for that race. I’ve hit $400 of my $1200 goal and I am hopeful & optimistic about reaching the rest sooner than later. Please consider making even a nominal donation if you’re able.
Song of the week, The Ladder by Andrew Belle.
*Two bonus links on the topic of tapering: Jacqueline Klemond on taper madness, not something I particularly experience myself but an amusing read nonetheless. And Sean Newall on his pre-half taper fail (“tapering is another Runner’s scam”). This, I understand.
A big training week for me as I broke the 50 mile barrier for the first time. To get there I did two longish runs this weekend, 14+ yesterday and another 13.1 today. Legs are a bit tired tonight.
My next big race is in Nashville on 4/27, four weeks away, so I’ll probably two more normal weeks followed by some kind of taper. The weekend after Nashville I’ll be down on the shore running the New Jersey Marathon.
Song of the week, the excellent My Girls by Animal Collective.
A better week. This despite the cancelation of the Half of Quincy which I was rather looking forward to. I was upset at first, but have gotten over it. They’ll reschedule, I hope, and if not, I’ll wait on final judgment until I hear about refunds. I do think it’s ridiculous to cancel a race on Friday for snow, given the high temps this weekend and the melting we had. But whatever, the Quincy PD wants to be a nanny-state, so be it. I had a nice (if slow) long run yesterday (in shorts!) that included a few stretches of almost undisturbed snow and you know, it was lovely.
My next race is two weekends hence, the Eastern States 20. After that is the BAA 5K and seven weeks from today, on to Nashville for the Country Music Marathon.
Song of the week, Psalms 40:2 by The Mountain Goats.
Not a great week, personally, professionally or running-wise. Right ankle pain is back and most of this week’s (stupid low) mileage has been slow and low energy. Rationally I know that the lows reset our baseline for subsequent highs. But I’m not feeling very rational these days.
One week to the Half of Quincy, eight weeks to Nashville and the Country Music Marathon.
Song of the week, Rufus Wainwright’s Oh, What a World.
It’s quite premature, yes, but I’m already planning ahead for Rocktober III (note: please see the results of I and II). Come October 5th I’m confirmed for the New Hampshire Marathon, a make-up race for last year’s New England Double that I dropped out of after spraining my ankle. October 12th is Hartford, October 13th is Chicago – I’m planning to do one of these two (but not both – will have to decide when Chicago registration opens at the end of next month). October 20th is confirmed for Columbus, which I’ll be running with Mike. October 27th would, in theory, be my 4th in one month. I’ve not tried to do that before, but am aware that the Marine Corps Marathon is a) on that day, b) drivable from Baltimore and c) counts as a Virginia race for the 50 state plan. Should I feel super adventurous I could (in theory) dump the Marine Corps and pick up Indianapolis on the 19th, as my rental car & I will be in the general area anyway. I’m hesitant to try a double weekend as I got all psyched up about it last year only to have things come apart.
The short of this is – doing a batch of back-to-back races like this means the later ones will not be particularly fast, especially given the first one is quite hilly. So if I’m looking for a PR at this distance in 2013, it would either have to be in Nashville at the Country Music Marathon on April 27th or at the second October race (either Hartford or Chicago), after taking New Hampshire easy. Unsure.
That seems like a lot when I write them all down at once. I’ve been having a fair amount of right ankle pain (almost entirely when I’m not running) and I’m not doing a very good job of balancing resting & healing that vs training. The good news is the IT band trouble I had with my left leg seems to have resolved itself.