Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chicago Marathon 2010

We flew up late Thursday night and took a cab over to my friend’s house. I got up Friday and had an easy 5 mile run with 3 - ¼ mile surges at marathon pace. I got back to the house and went off to breakfast. After that, we took a cab to the Expo. Sunny, Christopher and I met up with both on-line forum friends from all over the country and local friends from Dallas. I purchased my gels, Body Glide and race-day socks (I often do the big “no-no” and purchase a pair of socks at the Expo and wear them for the first time in the marathon). Once done at the Expo, we went to lunch, back to the house to relax, and then to dinner. Basically all weekend was eating and commuting to the next meal. On Saturday I got up and went out for my Aussie Carb Loading run. 2 mile warm-up and it was really bad; my left glute was pretty painful. I kept stopping and stretching it and still it hurt. Once I got to the last 3 min all out, everything felt good, so with a lot of concern I was ready to move on to the carb load. Another three meals and an easy day lying around the house and I was ready. I got to bed by 9:30 Saturday night. I usually sleep well before a marathon and I got 7 ½ hours Saturday night. Got up Sunday morning at 5, and took a cab to the start. Ran into several friends, took my stuff to bag check and got into the corral.

Mile 1 - 6:53. The first two miles were crowded and the GPS is useless under all the bridges and tall buildings. I missed the first mile marker so I averaged the first 2 miles. It was around 62 degrees at the start.
Mile 2 - 6:53. I see Sunny, Christopher and John for the first time here.
Mile 3 - 7:03. Steve and Shaheen take off in front of me but I am taking a very conservative shot at sub 3. I know with the temps, a PR is the more likely outcome. I take my first gel here.
Mile 4 - 6:56. I am running with Paul and Chad at this point. The pace is easy and these guys are very funny. Paul knows this course like the back of his hand, so he is coaching me where we are turning ahead of time.
Mile 5 - 6:50. I am starting to feel good and I figure it is time to get on pace if I want a shot at my ‘A’ goal.
Mile 6 - 6:52. We are moving nice and easy and each mile feels better than the last. Still I know the shade and cooler temps will not last much longer.
Mile 7 - 6:52. Our pace is very consistent. We probably run past Wrigley somewhere around here, but I am terrible at noticing things as I pass them.
Mile 8 - 6:53.
Mile 9 - 6:47. Somewhere along here we lost Chad. I take my second gel.
Mile 10 - 6:53. Paul and I catch-up and pass Shaheen. This mile is about the best I feel all day. I am thinking I can hold this pace another 10 miles and then see what I have.
Mile 11 - 6:53.
Mile 12 - 6:56. Paul starts to pick up the pace and I am holding steady.
Mile 13 - 7:08. Oh, I seem to be slow for some reason. I should have pressed a little more here, but that is the challenge of the marathon… You should just run what feels good because when you start pressing at mile 13, you are going to be mentally worn out by the finish. I see Sunny, Christopher and John here and I throw my shirt to Sunny. The people around her thought she was a groupie picking up my shirt.
Mile 14 - 7:05. Now I am thinking sub 3 is not going to happen but if I can hold around this pace I can have a good PR.
Mile 15 - 7:08. I take my third gel here.
Mile 16 - 6:59. I am happy I am able to break 7 min pace if only so slightly. I see the family here for the third time.
Mile 17 - 7:15. There goes the pace again… Why can I not press a little harder at this point? It’s like I am scared of the heat, but the legs feel fine.
Mile 18 - 7:08. This is where I pass Steve. I try to keep up the pace so he doesn’t pass me right back. I don’t look back, but I figure he is right there.
Mile 19 - 7:15.
Mile 20 - 7:21.
Mile 21 - 7:29. Wow, how slow am I going to go? I remember when this pace was good in a marathon.
Mile 22 - 7:26. I now start to do the math: If I can drop it back down to 7 min pace, maybe a can get a 3:03.
Mile 23 - 7:33. Down the stretch I notice relative to everyone else I am pretty consistent. I am passing a lot of people. There are some people that will run fast for a ½ mile and then walk.
Mile 24 - 7:28.
Mile 25 - 7:24. I feel OK and the legs feel good, but still this is my pace. The sun is pretty hot by this point. I am really struggling with the math. I think I might need a 6 min mile to pull off a PR.
Mile 26 - 7:08. I get to the 25.2 sign, and I realize I only need a 7 min mile for a PR. I see the family here for the 4th and last time. I am pushing the pace pretty good here relative to mile 26. I pass about a dozen people going up the last (and only) hill.
Mile 26.2 - 1:34. It was in the upper 70’s and sunny by the finish.

Total - 3:05:48. PR by 28 seconds.

I finished 923 out of 36,159 runners; 106th in my age group

This was more like my ‘C’ goal, but considering the weather, I am happy with my time. I still think I can push a little harder, but it is always hard to know when to pull off the gas and preserve yourself for the last 10K. That is seven marathon PR’s in a row: Chicago 2008 (3:28); White Rock 2008 (3:25); Austin 2009 (3:23); St George 2009 (3:11 - first BQ); Houston 2010 (3:09); Boston 2010 (3:06); and Chicago 2010 (3:05). Currently, the ultimate goal is to break 2:50 -- The Berrones Line. I like to shoot high.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blackland Triathlon Race Report

600 meter swim, 15 mile bike ride and 5K run
My Place is 132/420
Swim rank 107 / Time 5:53
Transition 1 3:03
Bike rank 231 / time 55:42 / pace 16.2
Transition 2 2:11
Run rank 24 / time 21:17 / pace 6:52
Total time 1:28:09

So this was my first Tri. I have been saying for the last couple of years that I wanted to try one. This one fit my schedule so I got a bunch of my friends to sign up with me. I did not train for this event other than to run. I am in the middle of training for Chicago and I was not willing to cut back on any of my miles to get in any swimming or riding. I figured I am a strong swimmer and I should be able to ride a bike good enough. First mistake I made was running a strong 20 mile run the day before the race. This gave me dead legs and very little energy for an endurance event. I was very nervous for this event. I was not sure what all I needed and how to set it all up. Once I got my bike setup in the transition area I could tell I had already over estimated myself. I was number 42 and with all the top swimmers as they put us in order of our estimated swim. I ended up 1 minute slower than I estimated. It did make me feel good when most of these guys said they would run a 9 min pace. After a lot of visiting we headed into the pool area to swim. Once in the water I felt really good and it even felt like I was catching the person in front of me. After 100 meters I really started to slow down. I just went as fast as I could and got past by two swimmers. By the time I got out of the water I was exhausted.

Next mistake was I put on my helmet before my shirt so I had to redo that. After I got my shoes on I headed out with the bike. I had a little problem getting my left foot clipped in. The pedal was upside down. Took me a couple of miles to get going but I felt pretty good for the next 8 miles as I usually kept it in the 18 MPH pace. It was a hilly course and my legs were dead from the start. The last 5 miles were not as strong as I was on my second loop. Next time I will not worry about my watch and just ride. Oh, and some training runs would have helped.

Got my shoes traded out and headed out on the run. Once I was running I was passing everyone and never got passed. I thought I felt pretty good but looking at my splits (7:32, 7:08, 6:47) It took me a while to get warmed up. I kept thinking while I was passing people. This is what all you bike riders get for passing me at 24+MPH. It was again a very hilly course and the last .1 was down hill but they had this terrible winding path right before the finish line. I ran the last part at 5:20 pace and almost went off course and into the trees.

Since I started with all the fast swimmers I was one of the first in our group to finish except for Chris W. but most of them still beat me overall because everyone was faster on the bike. They had a decent post race so we all hung around for a little to get some pictures. This was a very humbling experience for me. I am use to placing a lot higher at races (running) and I was very average at this event. I find it just about impossible for me to enter a race and just have fun. I learned a lot and I will try another one next summer with a little more well rounded training.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

El Scorcho 50K 2010

El Scorcho is a 50K race that is run at midnight in the middle of July in Ft. Worth. It is run in this park on this 5K loop. The course is flat and most of it is on this crushed rock trail. It is mostly dark but the footing is good and I decided to run it this year without a light. It is usually about 85 degrees at the start and it cools to around 80 by the end. This year it was maybe 1 or 2 degrees cooler than that. I ran it last year and after 7 loops and 21 miles I quit. I came in this year with a different mindset of finishing was my first goal even if I had to run 9 min miles. I end up with a few of those but I am very happy with the results. I have so many friends that run this race although most run the 25K. I even had some amazing friends that come out there to cheer us on and miss a whole night’s sleep. I didn’t taper much for this race as Chicago is still my goal race. Still had 78 miles for the week and I felt somewhat fresh for the race. The 25K starts 10 min after the 50K so at the start we know anyone passing us is a 50K runner.
10 Nick Polito M/41 10 8:38/M 4:28:05
5K 25:32 8:13/M 3.1 25:32
Started the first lap with Jayna, Shaheen and Chris Wong. The plan was to start out at 8:30 pace and hold it as long as possible. I was the constant nag the first 3 loops telling everyone to slow down and save for the later miles. We had 20 or so people take off past us right at the start. I knew we were all top 10 finishers and I told the group they would not hold that pace. The bigger problem was when 3 females past us in the first mile. The two women running with us had won the 25k (Shaheen) and 50K (Jayna) last year and they are use to chasing down any women that passes them. Two of the girls that past us I knew from last year and I knew that they would fade. One was an unknown.
10K 25:52 8:20/M 6.2 51:25
Still easy running and we were working to find a good moderate pace. We were already running into walkers on the second lap around. We had to get into a single file line to get past some of the large groups of people. For the most part people were good about getting to the right side of the trail. It was 10’ wide in most places and you could usually run off in the grass to pass if you wanted. After the second loop at 6.2 miles I took a GU from our pit crew. A special thanks to our wonderful pit crew. Namely Brian, Jayna’s husband that got my Gels and refilled my handheld with Gatorade.
15K 25:46 8:18/M 9.3 1:17:11
Still going strong. I always have been one to speed up when I go thru areas with lots of support but Chris and I was getting left in the dust every time we got to the start where all the people were staged. The two girls were almost sprinting thru this area.
20K 27:48 8:57/M 12.4 1:45:00
About halfway around this lap I let the group know that I need to drop back and run 8:30 or I would be dead at the end. After mile 12 my stomach really started to hurt and I had to make a bathroom stop. That’s why my pace on this loop looks so slow. After a 1½ min stop I felt fine again but from here on out I was going to be on my own.
25K 26:22 8:29/M 15.5 2:11:23
Back to another solid loop. Just had to keep telling myself not to worry about all the miles ahead and just keep as close to 8:30 pace as I could. I could see all my 25K friends that had finished as I came around. I took my second and last GU at the halfway point. At this point I stopped using Gatorade and just stuck to water from here on out. I was afraid that it was too much for my stomach.
30K 26:37 8:34/M 18.6 2:38:01
Dan a friend of mine had won the 25K and he ran this loop with me for a cool down. Unfortunately I was going too fast when he joined me as my friend Josh who finished 5th in the 25K join us but his legs had tightened up too much from the wait and he had to peel off after a ½ mile or so. For the record they are both faster runners than me. It was nice to have someone to talk to. It is really hard for me to run for 3 hours with no one to talk to.
35K 27:04 8:43/M 21.7 3:05:05
I am running by myself again but by this time no one is going to pass me and the crowds are starting to clear out as the fast 25K runners are all done. Pace is slipping a little but I am OK as I mentally know that I am trying to save something for the end. Turns out I could have pushed a little harder but in the end it didn’t matter. There is one part on the course where there is a turn around and I could see that I was about 5 to 6 minutes behind Chris and Jayna. I thought about kicking in a tempo pace to catch up to them but once I did the math doing 3 miles at 6:30 at this point would have taken a miracle. I got smart and just stayed within myself.
40K 27:37 8:53/M 24.8 3:32:42
This is where I stopped last year so this was a large mental barrier.
45K 27:56 8:59/M 27.9 4:00:39
This is the last time I was passed. The winner of the 50K looped me around mile 27. He said something nice to me and I tried to hang with him but he was still doing an 8:15 pace and I was around a 9 min pace. Here is where I was having trouble concentrating on pushing the pace. I had the physical energy but I was mentally drained from the entire time running.
50K 27:25 8:49/M 31.0 4:28:05
The last lap felt so good. I was not really struggling although the legs would only turn over so fast. After half way around I kept thinking I was probably out of the top 10 but if a few people had DNF I had a chance. I would find the next person that was running and run them down. It felt like a tempo run but it was more in the 8:40 range. Once I would catch them I would ask them if this was their last lap and they would say they had 1 or 2 more laps to go. I don’t think I passed any 50K runners on their last lap. Finally, my watch said 31 miles and I was still a ½ mile out and I slowly started to get faster. By the time I got to all my friends I was in a full sprint or at least it felt like a sprint. I was probably the only 50K runner with a kick. It was a blast and I crossed the finish line with in my “A” goal of 4:30. A race guy asked me if I finished the 50K and he told me I was top 10 and handed me 2 medals and a really cool backpack.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boston Marathon 2010

I flew down Saturday afternoon, went to the Expo on Sunday and had a great afternoon. We took a Limo out to a friend’s (ESG) house and had a great pre-race lunch. The Limo then brought us back to Boston. I was staying with a good friend that let me stay in his rent house the whole time I was there. We made dinner and got all of our stuff ready for the next morning. We got up early and TTM, ESG, Kfox and I drove to the buses at the finish line. We caught a bus to the athlete’s village. We setup our spot where all our friends could come join us. Before you knew it we were getting on our shoes (Brooks Green Silence), loading up our GUs’ and putting Body Glide on. We then started walking to the starting line. We dropped off our bags at bag check and made the .7 mile walk to the start. People were running off left and right to hit the port-a-pottys one last time. I was just staying as calm as possible as I made my way up to corral #5. Ten minutes before the start I removed all of my throw away shirts as it was 48 degrees, very little wind and sunny.

Mile 1 - 7:03 (Hopkinton) I was right on pace. I stayed on the left side of the road as this side did not have a guard rail (Thanks for the heads up Jayna) and a little more room. This mile is downhill and very easy to get a fast start. If not for the crowd I could have easily ran .20 sec faster. After about a half mile on the left side of the road there were tons of guys peeing in the trees.
Mile 2 - 6:55 another easy downhill mile but still real crowded.
Mile 3 - 6:50 (Ashland) there was a split in the road and I stayed on the left hand side which was a mistake as the road curved right. This added some distance to my race but it allowed me to pass tons of slow people. I took my first GU at 3.5 miles.
Mile 4 - 6:54
Mile 5 - 6:58 First mile with net uphill but just barely. These miles were rolling and would take their toll by the end.
Mile 6 - 6:55 more rolling hills but this was a net down.
Mile 7 - 6:59 still felt like I was holding back and this was very easy. In this mile my friend Steve Henderson came up behind me and then ran with me for a while. I knew he was shooting for sub 3 so I told him to have a great race. We stayed together for about a mile but then I let him go. He really helped to keep my pace up.
Mile 8 - 7:03
Mile 9 - 7:03 Took second GU and second drink of water. I was hoping to hydrate just enough but not too much in this race. I was grabbing two cups with my GUs.
Mile 10 - 7:02
Mile 11 - 7:06 these miles were flat and still rolling. Not too many true flat miles on this course. I was now starting to learn how technical this course is. You need to go easy on the up hills and fast on the down hills without trashing your quads.
Mile 12 - 6:50 we hit Wellesley here. I have always heard of the girls of Wellesley and how they will kiss you if you stop. They were on the right and I stayed to the left to stay out of the crowd. It lasted maybe a 1/3 of a mile or more. They were screaming so loud with tons of great “Kiss ME” signs. I was very overwhelmed by so many women yelling for us runners. After we got thru them and it got silent again I turned to some guys and said “I feel like I should smoke a cigarette now”. I got no reaction. I guess it was just funny to me. So I sped off to get away from their bad personalities.
Mile 13 - 6:49 I hit the halfway point at 1:31:06. 13 seconds ahead of my plan. I felt very strong at this point. I kept thinking every mile that I felt better than I did at the same place of my last marathon. I was thinking the first half put sub 3 out of your mind and run your race. This is a positive split course and I knew what kind of shape I was in.
Mile 14 - 7:06
Mile 15 - 7:09 took my 3rd GU and drink of water here
Mile 16 - 6:51 this was the last downhill mile before the hills. I was thinking light on my feet and recover for the hills. I kept thinking of all the hill work I had done every Wednesday morning.
Mile 17 - 7:14 First Newton hill which was very long but nothing I wasn’t prepared to run. My pace was just a few seconds fast on this hill so I felt good.
Mile 18 - 7:23 Second Newton at fire station and I was a little tired on this one but just about right on pace for the first 2 hills.
Mile 19 - 7:10 this mile was a little downhill and should have been a little faster but I was just recovering from the first 2 hills.
Mile 20 - 7:22 john Kelly Statue, hill #3. I lost about 10 seconds here but still felt ok.
Mile 21 - 7:32 Heartbreak hill and I was only about 5 sec slow here. I felt very strong and I past a hundred+ people on this hill. This hill seamed shorter than the others but it is probably more known for being the last hill. Took my 4th GU and drink of water here
Mile 22 - 7:10 here is where I was suppose to hit the gas and get fast again. My energy level was very good but my legs were sore and hard to turn over. I lost another 20 seconds this mile.
Mile 23 - 7:30 this should have been a much faster mile as it was downhill. Somehow I lost 30 seconds here.
Mile 24 - 7:11 Recovered a little here. Still passing tons of people each mile. This mile seemed very quiet. Where did the crowd go?
Mile 25 - 7:18 so tons of people here yelling like crazy. I didn’t realize it at the time but I learned later that there are tons of hecklers on the course. They were yelling at people walking. The hills and the competition of this race will claim a lot of runners.
Mile 26 - 7:24 the last two miles I spent too much time doing bad math trying to figure out where I would finish in this race. My calculation had me anywhere from 3:06-:10 and no PR.
Mile 26.2 - 6:35 saw the finish line and started to sprint. Passing tons of people. Once I saw my watch hit 3:06 I let off the gas just a little and enjoyed the finish.
Total - 3:06:16 PR
Finished 2052 out of 22,500 runners. 280th in my age group

This was probably closer to my “B” goal time but I knew on this course that was a strong possibility. I am super excited to get a 3:20 PR on a course that is probably 90 seconds tougher than Houston. It was nice to have energy the last 5 miles and not feel like I was going to die down the stretch. My legs were very sore down the stretch and I just had to keep pushing it and telling myself ‘How much pain can you handle”. I was also a little careful because I didn’t want to pull something. I was passing many people walking with tight muscles. My training for this marathon was similar in mileage, 70 mile weeks and 85 mile peek week as in the past but the quality was a little higher. I had lots of MP miles in the long runs. I plan to continue that in future cycles as well as adding more core, stretching and strength work.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Houston Marathon

Houston Marathon 2010
Family drove me into town that morning and dropped me off. Dropped off my bag at bag check and met up with Dan. We went to the restroom and then headed to the starting line. Stood around there and talked to my friends. Found Shaheen as we planned to start the race together with the 3:10 pace team. We got setup right by the starting line and we still had a slightly slow first mile. The plan was to go out with the 3:10 pace group for the first three miles and then pick up the pace.

Mile 1 - 7:34 Elysian
Mile 2 - 7:05 Quitman
After mile 1 we were running with the 3:10 pace group and they were trying to make up all lost time from the first slow mile. But it felt easy so no problem.
Mile 3 - 7:06 White Oak Dr.
During mile 3 I got an 8 oz water bottle and a GU from my wife. As I tried to take the GU it fell out of my hands because I still had my gloves on. I had a backup GU (Roctane) in my shorts so I took that instead after I tossed my gloves. This was my first of 4 GUs’. I also only drank the 4-8 oz bottles of water during the race. I drank nothing from the aid/water stations. So with spillage and throwing bottles away I probably only drank 20 oz of water the entire race. Never felt dehydrated and only had mild cramps after the race.
Mile 4 - 7:00 Michaux
During mile 4 Shaheen pulled away from me but I was feeling good with my pace and I knew she was faster than me. My pace was pretty strong thru mile 11.
Mile 5 - 7:03 11th street
Mile 6 - 6:50 Studemont
Mile 7 - 6:58
Mile 8 - 7:08 Montrose
Mile 9 - 7:05
Around mile 9 the half turns around so the traffic was all gone and we could run good tangents when we needed to.
Mile 10 - 7:06 Main St
At mile 10 I got my second GU and water from my wife. She said I looked very labored after the race at this point. I was probably pushing the pace a little too much thru these miles but it felt very easy.
Mile 11 - 7:06
Mile 12 - 7:13 University Blvd.
Miles started to get harder at this point. I was coughing pretty badly at this point. To the point that my ribs were getting sore. I did my best to stay close to the 7:10 planned pace. I felt like I was working from here to the end of the race. 1hr 50 min of hard work. I was hoping the hard work section would only be an hour long but the course was covered with supporters and I was going to give them all I had.
Mile 13 - 7:17 Weslayan
Started to hear rumors of a big hill ahead from the spectators. Really, I thought Houston was a flat race.
Mile 14 - 7:12 Westpark
Oh, hell. We hit a huge bridge and as soon as we hit it I was passing tons of people. I do my fair share of hill work so it was not too bad. Probably a little over a ¼ mile uphill. Maybe it took a little out of me over the next 2 miles but we were past the half way point.
Mile 15 - 7:14 Feeder off 59
Got my 3rd GU and water from my family. Wife said I looked stronger at this point. It was so easy to find them at each stop because we had more signs than anyone else. Not sure I could have run this race without all the support.
Mile 16 - 7:21 Post Oak Blvd.
More coughing. Please go away.
Mile 17 - 7:06 San Felipe
Somewhere around here I hit a big group of friends from Dallas that came down just to cheer for their friends. They really got me going again. For a second I thought if I could hold a 7:05 pace from here on out I could get the 3:08. I think I can, well not so much.
Mile 18 - 7:13 Woodway
Mile 19 - 7:11
Mile 20 - 7:13 Memorial Park
Mile 21 - 7:20
Got my 4th GU & water from my cousin. I was so tired I made him come to me. Felt like from here to the finish there were a lot of rolling hills. We kept going under all these overpasses. I felt very strong and even smiled at different friends and spectators as I passed them. When the race pictures come out we will see how fresh I looked. This is the first marathon where I didn’t feel my eyes roll to the back of my head. The pace dipped a little and I gave away a couple of minutes over the last 6 miles but no 8 min miles so I held on strong.
Mile 22 - 7:20
My ribs and back were starting to hurt during the next couple of miles. This is probably from all the coughing and a weak core. I need to work on my core and upper body more so I am not as worn down in these last miles.
Mile 23 - 7:17
Mile 24 - 7:25 Allen Parkway
Mile 25 - 7:34 Louisiana
Mile 26 - 7:30
Mile 26.2 - 6:46
Total - 3:09:38
1st half 1:33:50/ 2nd half 1:35:48 almost 2 min positive split so not perfect exacution but I was ok with the race as a whole. It is hard to know what kind of shape, health and day you will have till you run the race.
This race was within a min of my goal so I am very happy with that. It was a PR by 2 min 14 seconds on a course that is probably a few min tougher than St. George. Hopefully I can work hard and shave off a few more min by Boston. Houston Marathon was run very well, second only to St. George. I love having the convention center right there so you can go right in after the race and stay warm.