Monday, May 06, 2013

RunDown: 2013 TCM (Tacoma City Marathon) #17

Fun at the Expo

We checked into the hotel Murano (The official race hotel) and right away clashed with a  snotty person on getting late checkout. They gave us a checkout time of12pm, which was already 1hr later that normal but.... After much appeal, pleading and pointing out that we'd be done with the Marathon only *just* at 11am BEST CASE, they relented and gave us 1pm. 
From our hotel room we had a great view of Mt. Rainier. Many times you will not see Rainier due to clouds/rain or fog, but this weekend it was beautiful. Looks like a huge dessert!

We went over and got our race packets and t-shirts. Toni's first packet pickup!!

Later that day I got in one of the 3 elevators and pushed the button for the 12th floor. After traveling for a bit the elevator stopped with  BANG and there was shaking due to the cables oscillating up and down a bit.

I wasn't scared so much as confused, the display said floor 5 but the doors would not open and pushing other floor buttons did nothing. After mucking around for about a minute I opened the call box intercom and told the operator I was stuck.  She asked me if I was in need of medical help "No.", what was my name "Paul Rodman", my room number? 1216. I also called Toni in the lobby via cell phone and let her know what was going on. I let intercom lady know the elevator didn't just stop going, but it acted like the emergency stop system (that keeps you from plummeting) had engaged unintentionally causing the rest of the system to stop reeling in the cables (rather than pulling on an elevator that was not going to move.) I found this rather disturbing even if the probability of death was extremly low...major FAIL as we engineers like to say.

Them said she had to put me on hold and I heard the most horrible distorted musak coming out of the intercom for a minute. She came back and said the best minds were now on the case (ok, my words). Then she said she had to ask me more questions, probably to keep me busy or for the lawyers. The first one was "What is your address?". I just told her: you have my name and room number, look there please. That shut her up. Actually I think she was just trying to keep my busy talking so I wouldn't panic or something. 

I wasn't panicing but I was amusedly thinking about the play Toni and I had just seen 5 days earlier at Berkely Rep Theatre called "Stuck Elevator". This play was was about an illegal Chinese immigrant that got stuck in an elevator in NYC for almost 3 days. (he didn't want to summon the police because he'd be deported)...I was thinking 72 hours was unlikely..I hoped..but would I get dinner at the pasta feed (answer NO..but stay tuned)? 

How long was this going to take? Meanwhile, I could hear some sounds coming down the shaft and eventually the intercom lady warned me the lights would go out (she should have just said the elevator button lights would go out, the lighting stayed on), I said ok, fire away. They did the equivalent of cntrl-alt-delete on the elevator controls and I could feel the elevator going back down. As soon as it got to the ground floor and the door opened I hopped out and found Toni. 

Later on, we found out they comped us the entire stay at the hotel they felt so bad..and rightly so. We found out that elevator does this from time to time and they don't seem to be able to fix it properly. Sheesh. Everybody used it like normal and it didn't do it again (as far as we know ;/.

They also moved our late checkout to 2pm, and that was very useful (as you will see).

To get  some lunch we went up the street and while sitting outside met a couple of very nice young guys (Justin and Ken) that were maniacs running the marathon too. They had just run Eugene in the prevous week!! And were running another marathon the next week. Ah youth!

Pasta Free Pasta Feed

At 4:30 was the Marathon Maniac awards, etc and 5:30 the pasta feed (cost $22 each!). The talks turned out to be bit of a bust: The conference room was not ready and the talks were not started. Eventually we all just filed into the pasta feed at 5:30. The main Maniac Steve Yee annouced they would have the awards presentations while tables were called up to get there food.

Unfortunatly, our table was about 5th from last and when we got up to load up our plates were told that there was NO PASTA. There was: sliced chicken, lettuce with very thick ranch dressing, and stacks of garlic bread. We just could not fathom that there was no more pasta. We double-checked that we that there really was NOT any more coming. I mean WTF? Toni went up to talk to the organizers and they basically ignored her. 

I grabbed her and said "Lets go to a restaurant...I need carbs for tomorrow!" we did that and you can bet I will be emailing the organizer for a refund. Jeeze..pasta is so cheap to make why not have lots of extra? 

The weather forecast had been stubbonly staying the same for the last 5 days: high of 82F for the day with 66F the value at 11am and when I went to bed it was still the same. Boo.

Race Day

Up early to eat, use bathroom, get stuff together etc. Taped Toni's toes to prevent the Morton's Neuroma (works like a champ), wished her luck on her very first walking of a HM and off I went to catch a bus to the start at a small plane airport over across the Tocoma Narrows Bridges. 

The bus was labled MuckleshootTribal School..a very unusual name for a bus indeed...sounds like something out of Harry Potter.

 At the airport we were allowed inside a small hanger to wait as it was 55F with a breeze outside...mostly very clear skies too ..argh. The locals were of course, loving this weather, but us runners No. So. Much. They told me normally there are only half-a-dozen days with above 70 temps per year...and this was going to be one of them. 

The moon was beautiful.

Eventually it was 9 min to race time. The lines for the portos were really long and so I went and found a tree which was not easy. Up to the start area and soon we were off!

I felt good, it was still cool, and the going was easy at a good pace. We were shielded from the sun (mostly) with nice trees. At about mile 4 we dropped down onto the bridge approach downhill. Wow. The Bridge and the views from were pretty amazing...I had to take some photos here.

Looking to the side down the sound:
UP over the crown of the bridge:
Long uphill ahead after the bridge ends

After that long climb up and there is a left turn and another long about 250'  

These were billed as the biggest climbs of the race and then DONE DONE! YAY! Isn't that wonderful?! Uh huh..riiiiggghht. After the climb the pace band said I was down on my 3:52 pace I think it was about 16s off. But no matter.

 Sunny sun. I was doing fine until mile 10, and actually working my way back to the 3:52 pace, but my legs were beginning to feel the constant hills. I was well aware that 10 miles was nothing and I started to worry because even though I was drinking full cups at the aid stations I was feeling hot and thirsty. The air was dry, and so no sweat was visible but the water was just getting sucked out of me I think.
 A super steep downhill behind me

 And the corresponding uphill ahead. A little U-shaped valley actually. Favorite quip heard: "Who put this here!?!"  I kept hope for that nice flatish spot on the elevation profile to show up but realized that that profile just didn't show the continuous up and downs of this race from 5 to 16 miles.

I was trying to hold pace as best as I could, and when we actually had flat miles I was able to keep the pace. But then there'd be more hills and more time would be lost. 

 This was a view up the sound from a little picnic area in the park (Fort Defiance) at the tip of the Tacoma peninsula.  Just amazing in there.

The killer hills hit at miles 15 and 16. (see splits below) I was reduced to a walk for all the ups. A lot of the down to the water front was nasty steep too. Too bad.

 Finally down on the water front and done with hills, but we are also done with being able to run much. I think my core temp was pretty high here and I was completely dehydrated. When I dumped water on my head it made my whole body tingle.

I was hoping for some cool breeze off the water here, but there was about mile 23 there was some, finally. 

At every water stop I drank a ton and dumped more my head but still felt thirsty. I didn't feel I was in any danger though..but just heat exhaustion. My core temps were high enough that my brain was making me feel like I had no starch left in me. 

I was walking here and trying to keep the pace in the 16 m/m range at least. Learning to keep power walking when spent seemed like a good skill to work on at this point.

 I was able to text Toni that I was not going to be fast today. She texted me back and said she was having a great walk and keeping her pace really well, better than in training.

 There are some museums along the waterfront...this is a fire boat they have brought up on land. There were some nice looking restaurants too.
 Still two hills to the finish..this is one of two  overpass flyovers past mile 23 that gets you over the railroad tracks. Everybody was walking these suckers. The tracks  were in use during the race and some loud train horns sounded!

Just finished! Second slowest time, hardest race ever.  Glad to be done!

Medal was about to be placed over my head in a bit...a nice touch (not just handing them out).

 Toni and I with medals: Toni had a great race and I was so happy and proud of her! She had a great time sightseeing during her race and enjoyed the weather (unlike me!).
 Special marathon medal for the Maniacs anniversary. It's also a bottle opener 8) The wall is getting crowded, no? But I met many maniacs that had 50-100 or more marathons under their belts and they all look just fine.

Toni's medal is a half medal (If you ran the half in the previous year it was a match to make a full medal 8). The edging makes this medal look like a bottle cap.

Splits here, the place in red is where I finally overheated and hit the wall. Too many hills too late after I was already toasted. The HRs descending to the bridge at mile 3 are not correct...the strap was wigging out there.

2013-05-05 Sun
SplitTime  Miles  Pace      HR    Elev+    Elev-   YPB


Number of Finishers:886
Number of Females:420
Number of Males:466
Average Time:4:40:32
displaying: 1 - 1 of 1
printradius702PaulRodman58MM 55-5945620/402814:39:1010:39

Funny that my 4:39 is almost exactly the average time (4:40) You can tell the race was a slow one.

I was also surprised to find that I was 20/40 in my age group. I know I'm not built for heat  but I guess we all slowed down.

Garmin registered 26.4 miles so I did a good job with the tangents.

Toni did awesomely and finished her half in 3:46!  Very much under her goal of 4 hours.

I was dehydrated for at least 3 hours until I finally had some pee. Normally this happens within 1/2 hour of a finish for me. I didn't feel hydrated until late Sunday night.

 But beer always helps recharge 8) we are in all our race swag enjoying craft beers (and burgers) at Harmon Brewery, just a short free trolley ride from the race hotel. (The Maniacs also gave us all nice headsweats hats for the race.) The T shirt is black and a nice one too.

Walking back to the hotel. Afternoon highs were 80, just as that forecast predicted, with that bright sun and clear skies.

Tacoma Marathon review


Ok maybe the new course is less hilly and is "net down", and it's no Big Sur marathonk,  but as you can see in the splits above it is effing hilly. 

Subtracting the bridge height over water from the garmin elevations (the shuttle radar data everybody uses doesn't see bridges well) we have 1800' of UP and 2000' of DOWN. That is 
what I call hilly.

Here's a summary:
Race          UP         DOWN
TCM      1800           2000
CIM         430              700
Eugene  380              380

But wait, there's more to hills than just the elevations: The TCM hills are more often more steep. The problem is if the downs are too steep you don't get back the energy you should, you just burn up your legs. 50' over half a mile is not the same as 50'  over 1/8th of a mile, even though the garmin reports them both as just '50 foot loss' in that split.

CIM and Eugene had basically no down grades that were un-runnable..  a long stride was always able to harvest good energy. CIM and Eug had very few steep up pitches: TCM had many steep pitch ups at 4-7% grade  (estimated). These really spiked the effort (or slowed you down a lot).

If it was not for the hills otherwise I would give the award to TCM for the best course, with Eugene a close second. CIM's course is not that pretty but gets the nod for the fastest course and most likely to have cool weather...and for me it's easy to get to ;)

TCM has  pretty views galor, good spectators and is well run. The town is up and coming with the glass museum, art museum and a new car musem all easy to get to without a car. Staging the half start and all the finishes at the Art museum is a nice place too. 

The point to point aspect is well done and being able to wait in a hanger would be awesome if it was raining. The halfers are on their own part of the course and never interfere with the fulls. 

So if you want a Washington marathon that is not as hilly as Seattle and is nice and  small and very well run AND you don't care about it being PR-capable flat, TCM would be just for you!


  1. This looks like a great race - well the beauty of it. I love the medals and esp. the half that matches the one from the year before. How unique and what a great way to get people to come back. Love that your hotel got comped. Craft beer and burgers? Sounds great.

  2. Bleh, remind me NEVER to do Tacoma Marathon! Really gorgeous course, but those hills (along with the heat) can kill your race if you haven't trained for them specifically. I can definitely see where I have improved significantly for hills while Leadville training, but ugh if they still don't kick my butt. I'm glad you had a great time, regardless of the outcome. Sometimes I think these types of races are good for us, they make us not take that training for granted and that there are no guarantees on race day.

    Nice job on another marathon finish, there's something to be proud in just that fact. Love the medals...Toni's is pretty cool. I think more races are getting unique to get runners to come back :). Well done, sir!

  3. Congrats to both of you. Route is scenic and very challenging.

  4. Wow! We had very similar experiences! You could have written my race report, which also ended at Harmon brewery. It was definitely the hardest marathon for me and I too struggled with heat exhaustion. Even up through yesterday. However, it was a beautiful course! I am so glad you were able to capture so many good photos of it!

  5. Congrats! Sounds like a really, really tough day and you stuck it out. Those races can sometimes return the biggest rewards. I don't think you've sold me on this one, though! ; )

  6. That heat is killer -- I couldn't even manage a 10k last Saturday because of it (well, I managed but it was sad). And then heat and hills -- gah. Well done on hanging in there and finishing the race. And super extra congrats to your wife for such a great finish herself. Maybe she has the bug now? :)


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