Archive for the ‘ Race Report ’ Category

Army Ten Miler Race Report


Mack Trucks

Image via Wikipedia

Firstly, this was a great race!  It was well organized, well supported and was run on a great course through some of the most meaningful landmarks commemorating our country.  I was running on the Mack Trucks Military team, and we were there to raise visibility and awareness of Mack Trucks as a supplier to the US Army and other branches of the armed forces.  With that, we had one goal: to finish in a position high enough to escalate visibility of the team/account, preferably top ten.

The race event started for me on Saturday when I hopped in the car and drive 5 1/2 hours to DC from where I live.  I entertained myself the whole way by listening to the collective works of Tom Gabriel Fischer (Celtic Frost, Tryptikon for you non metal-heads).  I got to DC too late to meet my teammates for dinner outside of the city, but in enough time to have an impromptu dinner with fellow dailymile team mate Brodie Wise (http://yfrog.com/75cyqj).

Early to bed and early to rise.  Kent P and I headed down to the race area at the Pentagon on the Metro.  It took a couple of trains for us to be able to get on, and the crush of runners at the platforms looked like Toyko.   We got to the event grounds, went to the bathroom and then Kent and I split up to warm up a bit and head to our respective starting areas.  On the way up to my starting balloon arch, I hear someone say “Is that Jay Parker?”.  I turn around and it’s Brodie again, I just couldn’t shake this guy…

It was great to hang out and chat while standing in the corral.  We were up front in the group starting behind the elites, so it wasn’t too crowded.  The Achilles Athletes (wounded soldiers) started 10 minutes before the elites with a silent start, and then the color guard brought the flag out for the national anthem.  We were then treated to a fly-over by 4 helicopters and then an impressive cannon start!

Brodie and I ran together for the first half mile.  I was planning on 7:00-7:15 for the first mile due to crowds.  Brodie was talking crazy talk about running 8:15-8:30 due to injury and the upcoming MCM.  Then, he just looked at me and said “this is feeling good”, and took off.  about a quarter mile after that, I had to pee.  Stupid mistake, drank too much on the Metro.  So, I jumped behind a small bridge embankment and joined 4 other dudes with the same issue.  I only lost 10-15 seconds and then sprinted back into the stream (pun intended).

Shortly after this, I heard a piper.  What the hell?  It wasn’t decreasing in volume.  Then I saw this guy, all in American Flag gear running and playing the flute.  Apparently, he is a staple of the race, but as a first-timer, the thought of running 10 miles while playing a flute was quite impressive.

The course took us over the river and to the Lincoln Memorial.  I was feeling great and cranking it up a bit, trying to catch back up to Brodie.  We went down past the Memorial and then turned up into down toward Watergate for the first slight uphill.  I caught up to Brodie at the base of the hill, and he had slowed down a bit, saving himself for MCM and reducing the risk of re-injury.   Cresting the hill, we barreled past Watergate and downhill into a turn back toward the Kennedy Center, running underneath the cantilevered balcony there.  At this point, I passed the first of some of the injured veterans.  What an impressive effort those guys and girls are putting in.  Simply amazing and inspiring.

The course then took us up to the Washington Monument, then down the long straight of Independence Avenue. At about 5.5 miles in, the leader passed the pack coming the other way.  At that point, he had about a 30 second lead on second place.  Not knowing where the course took us, I thought: “Hell, he’s not really THAT far ahead of us”.  He was actually at 7.5 miles in, a full 2 miles up on us, but hey, who’s really counting…  At this point, we passed the Army Jazz Band, and I got a kick out of the bassist and drummer playing Rush’s YYZ.  We went down a block in front of the Capitol building and then back up Independence Avenue.  Then, we went left on 14th street, out the bridge and past the Jefferson Memorial, over the George Mason Bridge back to the finish at the Pentagon.  The last two miles were fairly tough for me, but I was boosted a bit by the guy dressed like Michael Jackson (thriller era) handing out beers to runners at mile 9.

Once I finished, I was standing in the waiting area for the rest of the team, and who came up to me?  Brodie Wise.  Out of 30000 runners, I run into the guy twice.  He’s like magic. Run with him.

I felt pretty strong at the end, though, even though the energy flagged in the last bit.  I’m looking forward to seeing how I can do at my next half-marathon based on these results.

Overall, the team came in 9th place out of 135 corporate teams, and we beat all the 4 Navistar teams!  I beat my goal by 1:10, and set a PR.  I’m looking forward to the race next year!

 

Splits:

  • 7:01 (including pee break)
  • 6:36
  • 6:44
  • 6:34
  • 6:56
  • 6:45
  • 6:47
  • 6:53
  • 7:01
  • 6:51

GöteborgsVarvet (Gothenburg Half Marathon) – Race Report


First off, some statistics:

  • Race Day: May 22, 2010
  • # of runners: 58,122
  • 31st running of the race
  • Race Website (English): http://www.goteborgsvarvet.com/en/Runner/
  • Elite Start time: 13:30 CET
  • My Start time: 14:00 CET
  • Winner’s finishing time: 1:01:10 (new course record)
  • My finishing time: 1:46:01
  • My placement: 4613 out of 58,122

So, as you can see, this is a big race.  This race leapfrogs a race in the UK to be the world’s largest half marathon every year.  There are pros and cons to this; it’s a huge festival in the city of Gothenburg, and it’s a great experience, but it’s also a hard race to run a PR in because of the crowd.  The course is beautiful, and tours the city nicely, starting in a large park called Slottsskogen, heading out over a large bridge, following the river, heading back into town over another bridge,  up the main avenue, back through the city and finishing at the track stadium Slottsskogsvallen.  This was my second year running the race, and I’ve already signed up again for next year.  Last year I ran a 1:48:06.

Some background: I trained heavily for this race, starting in January of 2010, and following a coached regimen (Bonkproof by Caleb Masland) of twice weekly speedwork and long runs with pickups at the end.  My training went well for the most part, and I was executing some impressive runs for me (in the low-mid 6’s/mile).  A month out, I was feeling very confident in preparation, but was suffering from Plantar Fasciitis.  Then I ran the NC Half Marathon, and bombed that one at 1:42.  My confidence was a little shaken, but I recovered.  Two weeks before the GöteborgsVarvet, I started having some problems with the 2nd metatarsal on my right foot.  The week leading up to the race, I didn’t run at all, but stayed on the elliptical at the hotel.

On to the race report:

Race day was lovely, for those watching the race.  Unfortunately for those of us running it, it was pretty hot and humid.  The temperature was in the high 70s, which for Sweden, is pretty much a tropical heat wave.  Early forecasts were predicting mid 50s, which would have been much more preferable!  My start group (#4) was scheduled to start at 2 in the afternoon Swedish time, and the gun went off perfectly on time.  The start group I was in was about 2500 runners, and we were jammed up at the beginning.  The first 2 kilometers were through the Slottsskogen park:

Slottsskogen Park

The entire park was full of spectators, as the entire city comes out.  Most people were spread out on blankets with wine and picnics making a day of it.  Through the park, the race group was pretty tight, and I was running slower than plan.  I wanted to go out at about 7:00/mile for the first 5-10k, but for the first few miles, I barely managed faster than 7:20, and that was weaving and passing people in the grass outside of the course.  Leaving the park took us through an older neighborhood that has recently gentrified and is full of kids.  This is always my favorite part of the course, as the kids provide a lot of energy and all want to give you a hand slap of encouragement!

Älvsborg Bridge

The next part of the course takes you up to the largest bridge in the region, the Älvsborg.  This is a pretty long bridge, and fun to run across.  There was a nice crosswind, and I was feeling quite strong up and over.

Coming off the Älvsborg Bridge

When coming down the bridge, the course narrows into a very small bottleneck, and thousands of runners try to cram through without killing each other.
They always have a photographer positioned here, and I always look very concerned, when in reality, I’m trying not to trip over they guy in front of me! After the bridge, the course blasts you down a long decline that switches back and forth all the way down to the old shipyards and to the Göta river, and from there, it’s pretty flat for the next 2-3 miles along the river until the next bridge.  This part of town used to be only shipyards, but since the shipbuilding industry died in Sweden, there is now a university site and student housing along the river.  There are always bands playing and people out drinking beer through this section.  About the 10k mark here, I started feeling the heat.  I had been training to get through the half without stopping for water, and had run many 14+ mile training runs without water or food, but on this day, at 10k, I realized that it wasn’t gonna go down like that…

Around 10k, I stopped at the water station, gulped some, and dumped the rest on my head and took off.  I employed that strategy for most of the water stations for the rest of the race.  Unfortunately, though, around this same time, my right foot started killing me, and I was noticeably favoring it.  I made the choice to run as hard as I could until my foot hurt too much and then walk until the pain subsided enough to run again.  This obviously had a pretty big impact on my splits, as you can see below.

All along the course, every mile or so, there were bands or musicians playing, ranging from full on rock bands (I heard two Motley Crue songs sing with thick Swedish accents) to African drum troops to traditional Swedish musicians; quite nice entertainment to divert thoughts from the heat…

Götaälvbron Bridge

The next noteworthy part of the course is the Götaälvbron bridge, which is a bit lower than the Älvsborg, but a bit longer as well.  On the downslope of this one, some guy was holding a doughnut over the crowd of runners hung from a fishing rod and line.  Smart-ass…

Coming down the bridge, we circled the exit ramp past the brand new Göthenburg Wheel, that opened for business the same day!  It’s a really nice addition to the city.

Göthenburg Wheel

Past the wheel is the long false flat up the main shopping avenue. It’s a 1.5-2 mile 1-2% grade that is in full sunlight and packed on both sides with the crowd of observers. I always feel a bit like a head of cattle running up a chute, but the crowd support is amazing here. At the top of the avenue, about 18k, I passed my hotel, my wife and youngest daughter, and some friends. My two year old started shouting “Daddy, Daddy, run faster!”. We looped around the statue, and back down the avenue, then left back toward the park.

The course started to open a bit at this point and runners started to thin out. Around here, I started to see a lot of people laid out along the course. The Swedes weren’t conditioned at all for temps in the high 70s, and hundreds of people went to the emergency room with heat exhaustion and dehydration problems. I’m not talking about poorly trained people either. There were lots of runners who had run the course in sub 1:30 in previous years that took DNFs. It was pretty scary to see. I knew we were coming up on the home stretch now and was quite honestly ready to be done and out of pain, although I knew my foot was in trouble. The final mile or so was back through the same park as in the start and then to the finish in the Slottsskogsvallen track stadium.

Here’s a couple of finishing pics:

Finishing Sprint

Stepping on the finish mat with my gimpy foot. Ready to be done!

Splits:

1-7:53
2-7:22
3-7:27
4-7:26
5-7:01
6-7:39
7-8:11
8-8:09
9-8:30
10-8:06
11-9:42
12-8:58
13-8:48
6:01 (.1 mile)

So, overall, I’ll take it considering the unexpected heat and the foot issues I’ve been having.  I’m on week 3 of no running and ART therapy after the race, so I hope to be back out soon.  My disappointment is that I know I could have gone sub 1:35 and perhaps closer to 1:30 if my foot had cooperated.  But, there’s always the next one!

United HealthCare North Carolina Half Marathon – Race Report


Ok, let’s start with the training:  I asked a fellow dailymiler (Caleb M) to help create a training plan that would allow me to increase speed significantly and PR big time in the GöteborgsVarvet (world’s largest half-marathon).  This plan started the second week of January, 2010, and leads through May 21, 2010.  It’s tough and fun, and I have seen big results so far.  I’ve been executing the plan consistently and while many of the workouts have been really hard, I’ve managed to complete or exceed them.  So, my outlook for this race was very positive. In fact, I became quite optimistic looking at the previous year’s results.  My frustration in the outcome of the UHC NC Half is resulting from the fact that I’ve put it all together in training, yet when race day came, I fell apart.

Race day:

The weather was in the low 50’s, a little warmer than I had hoped, but still ok.  The grounds and race setup were fantastic, plenty of porta potties and free water and lots of samples of stuff.  As we were getting ready to start, the beer truck was setting up, always a fantastic race sign!  The field was pretty small ~1600 racers, and the half-marathon and marathon racers all started together.  Words of encouragement were spoken by Joey Cheek and Charlie Engle, both fairly local dudes, and then we were off…

As you can see by the elevation chart, the course was full of rolling hills.  This chart is a lie! Don’t believe it.  There is very little truth here.  The reality is that there is not a flat section on the course, so if you’re not climbing, you’re barreling down a relatively steep hill.

Splits:

1-7:18
2-6:58
3-7:21
4-7:21
5-7:25
6-7:30
7-7:59
8-7:28
9-8:25
10-8:36
11-7:40
12-9:01
13-8:39
6:26 (.1 sprint)

Miles 1 & 2 were slightly downhill, and right on my target pace to reach 1:35.  I felt good at the end of 2, when we took a turn and started climbing.  Miles 3 & 4 were pretty much full climbs with a brief (tenth of a mile) downhill at the top of mile 3, and I managed to sustain those at 7:21 each.  This part of the course was through “Old Emerywood”, which is the oldest neighborhood in High Point, and contains a lot of mansions owned by families from the furniture industry.  At the end of mile 4, I felt pretty winded, which is when things started to feel off.  Have you ever had one of those runs where things just don’t feel right, and you can’t put your finger on why exactly, especially when you’ve done it before, and better?  Yeah, that was what I felt like then.

I had a Honey Stinger right before 4.5, where there was a water stop, and washed it down with about half a cup of water. Mile 5 was a little more downhill, and at this point, I was trying to recover and gain back some energy, as I knew there were some tough hills ahead in the course.  Mile 6 took us through the campus of High Point University, and there was a pretty big cheering squad of college students lining the course.  This mile was the first sustained downhill portion since mile 2.

Mile 7 was another roll of uphill and downhill, and here I had basically hit a mental and physical wall.  Not a bonk, but I almost felt like I was getting sick, and fully drained of energy.  Mile 8 was a full downhill, and I still managed a 7:28.  At this portion of the course, the half-marathon turned left and went back into town, and the marathon turned right and went out into the countryside.  The guy who actually had the best marathon time was registered for the half and got misdirected at this split.  He ran the full, won it, and was disqualified for being registered for the half.  Pretty big local race controversy, and created a lot of discussion in the media.  There were 8 or 10 people that got misdirected apparently.

After mile 8, I was seriously wiped, and my Plantar Fasciitis started to bother me a bit.  I had to stop and walk a bit during this mile, which surprised me, and was an indicator of what was to come in the remaining miles.  Mile 9 was a consistent rise that really put a hurt on a lot of racers, lots of people at my pace walked a bit at this point.  After mile 10, the course repeated itself for the next mile or so, and most of miles 9 and 10 were dive-bombing downhill.  I had another Honey Stinger at 10, as a last desperate attempt to get some energy from somewhere.  At this point, the race turned to face a massive uphill that you could see carried the course back into downtown.

The rest of the race was a climb until the final 400 meters or so.  The pack of 4 or 5 people I was embedded in at this point were leapfrogging each other with sad bursts of speed followed by much slower jog/shuffle/walks.  Once we got into the city itself, I mustered any last bits of energy I had and tried to sprint to the finish.  The absolutely best part of the race was this part, and the final bit was lined with little kids ticking their hands up for a high five.  It but a huge smile on my face, and carried me through.  I was happy to be done, and glad it was over.  I waited around the finish area to see fellow dailymiler Troy A and a coworker and a neighbor come through.

So, I learned a lot about the course, and know what to expect next year.  It’s likely that I’ll run this race again, given that it’s a local race.  I know I need to run a crapload of hills between now and my next race, and I think that will help immensely.  What I don’t understand, and would welcome some insight into is the following:

  • I’ve run the distance (and further, up to 16) faster and on a comparably hilly training course
  • I’ve never “died” like that midway through
  • I could never even get up to my target pace, except for the first two miles, even though I’ve run 10 miles at sub-7 pace.
  • I am super-sore from this run.  More sore than I have ever been running this or a longer distance, or tougher speed work.

Overall, I ran about a 6 minute PR, but it feels like a hollow victory, as I really believe I’m capable of 1:35 or better, and that’s what my training suggests.

Marathon Winner Story from the local paper’s website