Monday, April 03, 2017

RunDown: Oakland Marathon 2017 (#31)

Summary: Tough course, hot day. 

Toni and stayed at the Marriott Hotel on Saturday night. We had tickets to see the play "Hamilton" on Saturday night and it gets out late.

So we took Bart back after the show to Oakland, and I fell into bed at around 11:30pm. 

At 5:30am I took the shuttle to the start area and hung out until the start at 7:10am. 

This was a small race. Only about 700 runners for the full marathon.  We started at 7:10am (The halfers start at 9am.)

The course is hilly. See my profile from the watch below. The marathon site itself is a bit smooths the graph to make it look less nasty.  We are all used to that trick but, sigh.

I knew that for me the hills would be killer. I planned to walk any of them that were too steep to run without a lot of effort.  

The early morning temps were nice, but even at dawn I could see holes showing up in the fog/cloud cover.

As you can see from the map, had a nice tour of downtown and then we headed north to highway 13-ish. I was feeling pretty good, temps were cool, I was drinking and eating GU just fine. 

When we hit the steep parts I power walked...sometimes hardly slower than the 'runners'
around me. The field was already spread out and was pretty sparse. 

All along the course, even in the middle of nowhere, there were people out cheering you on. Some were friends/relatives but others just doing it for fun. 

A high point was when we got a view of the city skyline from on-high. Too lazy to drag out the phone but it was a nice view. I was still feeling ok. Full sun was out but we were still in an area with some tree-shade.

I should mention: the roads were pretty messed up from the rain. Lots of cracks and deep holes that required keeping your eyes open. This is true all over California so I wasn't surprised. Everybody was super careful.

The Oakland Police and the parking enforcement team was out in force and every single cross street had somebody making sure that drivers didn't do anything stupid. The field was sparse enough that they could shepard people through when there was a gap between runners. This worked out really well and I never had a problem...they did a great (and safe) job. 

Finally, after many false downhills we reached the last uphill and started the long down to the flats. I managed to clock some 10:30-ish miles on this part. It was a bit too steep in places to get good energy extraction and I was breaking on every step in that lovely (not.) quad busting way.

Once we got down the furthest southeast point we turned northwest and headed back to town. This stretch was still ok as there was a cooling wind and the sun was from behind. I was looking forward to seeing Toni at mile 19.5 at the corner of Webster and 10th. 

All pictures courtesy of Toni (unless marked as done by the marathon)

At mile 19.5

At 19.5 still not crashed but HOT...knew it was coming

Famous Tribute Tower

State flower (Poppies) Mural

Off I go!
Now the going started to gradually get tough. We were heading into deeply industrial Oakland. No more trees, lots of asphalt and lots of SUN. At this point my splits started slowing and my  23 mile split before my watch ran out of battery (argh.) was 13:00. It got worse from there.

I run-walked from there. I was not able to run but it was not nearly as bad as Tacoma.

The company I had was the halfers..they started at 9am and when I got to 20miles they were just hitting the halfway point of their half marathon. Of course we are now 1:30 or so in for them, so these are relatively slow half marathoners so that was a good thing from my point of view. We all had a similar slow pace.

At one point I texted Toni (one advantage of walking) and let her know I was slowing down..she was worried a bit but I let her know not  a problem, would finish, but just taking it as I could. She walked to the finish area.

If I had one complaint for the race director it would be that they could put another water stops from mile 23 to the finish. It's a really hot area of Oakland at the end of the race.

On the shuttle back to Marriot. ..really nice service!

Canonical post-race imbibing

After the race was done my Garmin totaled
 up 1200' of climbing.  Yikes. I have not done any hill work at all, as my new work location has no hills near it. 

This was also one of my worst prepared marathons with only 220 miles of running in the previous 90 days. Oops (Caught cold, trip to Mexico, hip issue etc. You happens. 8)


A pretty slow race, typical for a blow-up in the last 5-6 miles due to under-training, hills and heat. But hey, still a finish!

Any day you can run a marathon is a great day! 8)

Total Marathon Finishers 351
Male 60-65 A.G.    9  / 21

7.8 Mile   01:27:06 11:10 min/mi
14.5 Mile 02:44:02 11:18 min/mi
21.5 Mile 04:03:02 11:18 min/mi
Elapsed 05:06:32
Pace  11:41 min/mile

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sunday: Oakland Marathon (#31)!

Yup, it's coming up this Sunday!

I have been dealing with a right leg issue..super tight muscles both front and back and this almost caused me to DNS this race. I did some work on my hip flexors and this seemed to have exploded into a lot of trigger points in places I've never had them. 

Luckily,  with the help of a lot of experimentation and a really good massage person (Thanks Gail McCaffrey!) I think I can do this run.

Not a lot of running the last two months, some due to the leg problem but some due to fun trips, etc. So no fast marathon time... 

What pace? Well, the weather looks good, but the course has 500' of climbing. Given my lack of training I plan to target a 10:45 m/m on the flat, and slow down as needed climbing. I will open it up a little bit on the downs and generally just be really conservative. 

Main objectives are to enjoy the run, see Oakland and try for even splits.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Racing and getting older....

As we get older we slow down

I was pretty pleased with my 4:20 in Phoenix but wanted to know how my previous race times would hold up if I scaled them to my current age. One needs to have realistic expectations when training and I thought this data would help. As you may know I'm a data maven. I have all my garmin data on my own machine and have software (python) to crunch it eleven ways to Sunday 8)

Below, find a list of all my races of consequence: my10k PR race, 3 half marathons and mostly my 30 full chronological order. At the bottom is my latest marathon. In red are the only other full marathons that are faster on Age Graded time than my latest race...

There are only 3 out of the 29 previous that were faster that this race on age graded time.
With non-AG time there are 8 races that are faster.

That makes me feel pretty good about my 4:20! Without crunching these data I'd be still feeling like a slacker ;) I kind of suspected my PR of 3:54 would be about 4:0x, but knowing it's a 4:06 is important to me.

Recently a 4:30 (10:15 pace) seemed pretty easy to knock I know that corresponds (roughly) to my 'easy' 4:15 marathon pace back in '09. 

I find it extremely ANNOYING that Garmin and Strava have no features to support this kind of analysis. 

Strava lets you look at age graded results for segment rankings, but they mix women with men (REALLY suck for women) and they have 10 year age groups (!). When you are over 50 10 year groups does NOT cut it. The slowdown is steeper and it's just not fair to compare a 68 year old against a 61 year old.

The ageism we all have to deal with someday (if we are lucky) !

Race              Date      Miles       Time    AGTime    Pace    AGPace BPM
sfh__08 2008-08-03 13.25 2:04:42 2:14:37 9:24 10:09 137.6
napa_09 2009-03-01 26.39 4:25:40 4:46:47 10:03 10:52 132.6
sch__09 2009-04-19 13.09 1:51:09 1:59:59 8:29 9:09 146.3
sfm__09 2009-07-26 26.80 4:15:28 4:33:15 9:31 10:11 137.7
svm__09 2009-10-25 26.51 4:15:28 4:33:15 9:38 10:18 138.0
sfm__10 2010-07-25 26.74 4:06:19 4:20:59 9:12 9:45 0.0
lbm__10 2010-10-17 26.46 4:25:09 4:40:57 10:01 10:37 138.6
surf_11 2011-02-06 26.37 4:22:04 4:37:41 9:56 10:31 132.9
lam__11 2011-03-20 26.50 4:12:29 4:27:32 9:31 10:05 133.2
cph__11 2011-05-22 26.77 4:10:42 4:23:09 9:21 9:49 139.9
cim__11 2011-12-04 26.38 3:56:35 4:08:20 8:58 9:24 135.9
eug__12 2012-04-29 26.36 3:54:59 4:06:39 8:54 9:21 140.9
berl_12 2012-09-30 26.70 4:27:23 4:38:01 10:00 10:24 137.8
sch__13 2013-04-07 13.08 1:48:34 1:52:53 8:18 8:37 144.4
tcm__13 2013-05-05 26.37 4:39:12 4:47:32 10:35 10:54 130.8
sfm__13 2013-06-16 26.81 5:09:47 5:19:02 11:33 11:53 126.2
trc__13 2013-06-17 26.52 5:10:48 5:20:04 11:43 12:04 126.6
pa10k13 2013-09-21 6.36 49:19 50:48 7:45 7:59 149.4
surf_14 2014-02-02 26.29 4:06:04 4:13:25 9:21 9:38 137.5
chic_14 2014-10-12 26.90 4:48:39 4:54:25 10:43 10:56 126.9
indi_14 2014-11-01 26.17 4:51:19 4:57:07 11:07 11:21 128.9
cim__14 2014-12-07 26.15 4:46:59 4:52:42 10:58 11:11 0.0
barc_15 2015-03-15 26.57 4:46:54 4:52:37 10:47 11:00 0.0
qarr_15 2015-12-20 26.15 4:41:35 4:44:22 10:46 10:52 129.2
clev_16 2016-05-15 26.32 4:30:00 4:30:00 10:15 10:15 126.7
sfm__16 2016-07-31 26.57 4:33:00 4:33:00 10:16 10:16 128.7
mcm__16 2016-10-30 26.74 4:42:04 4:42:04 10:33 10:33 121.5
ariz_16 2017-01-15 26.15 4:20:23 4:20:23 9:57 9:57 131.9

Monday, January 16, 2017

RunDown: Phoenix Rock n Roll Marathon 2017 (#30)

The plan

After I ran the Marine Corp Marathon, number 29, Toni asked me "What is number 30?". At the time I had only signed up for the Oakland marathon (a somewhat local race). Toni wanted me to run my 30th at someplace more special than the Oakland Marathon and I was not adverse to that so I suggested Phoenix. It's pretty decent weather there in the winter..but it can still be a bit hot. 

I have to admit I've always been a bit negative towards Rock n Roll events. I think that probably stems from reading about some bad stuff that happened at the 2011 Las Vegas marathon. 

We decided on a quick visit: fly in Saturday afternoon, and out Sunday late afternoon. We stayed at the Hotel Palomar (a Kimpton hotel) which worked out really well..they gave us 2pm checkout and were super close to the start and to the metro rail which got us back from the car rental required.

Yes, this race is a point-to-point race, which I always like (you feel like your getting someplace). The course is billed as flat, but it does have 200' climb and descent and and an annoying 60' steep bump-up hill at mile 25. 

The two best parts:

1) The full marathons run a totally different course than the half marathoners
2) You get a full marathoner jacket at the finish.



Bib pickup was easy and wall organized. The Expo space had lots of room and booths were spaced apart more than usual.  I didn't have much to do there after the bib pickup but appreciated that it was not packed (and close to the hotel)

Race Morning

The weather forecast settled on 52-55F and cloudy all day. YES!!! 

There was a 5-7mph tailwind for ~10 miles of the course, and a headwind for 3.5 miles of the course. The rest was a crosswind. Excellent!

I laid out my gear..(see photo). By now it's easy but I always use my checklist easy to spaz out and forget something.

At the start it was cool but not cold. A bit warmer than ideal but nothing to whine about. I had a disposable T-shirt but ditched it early. 

The Plan

I have gradually been upping my game. I have some tools to let me look at the training vs some other buildups and decided to target as a primary goal a sub-10 minute pace.  I've been pretty busy and also getting older since my last sub-10 m/m pace in 2014. Here's how my training compared to Marine Corp:

You can see (green is this buildup, blue is marine corp buildup) I've done a bit more hard running. What it doesn't show is the extra work in the gym and more long runs.

I've run a bunch of races between 4:30 and 4:41-ish.. Marine Corp Marathon was a bit too hot for a good time. Assuming the weather was good, my goal was sub-10 m/m (4:22).... a stretch goal was 4:1x time..(back in the 'teens' for the minutes  8)

Miles 0-5

The start was very laid back..with only marathoners it was about 2500 people total. There are 7 corrals.....(I was in #5..) each can hold 1000 people so not that crowded. 

Off we went and headed north. I was trying for a 9:50 pace (allowing for 5s of non-tangent running and 5s to finish faster than 10 m/m pace.)

The first 3-4 miles had no mile markers but eventually they were there and done really well: A big clock showing gun time which was visible way in the distance and accurate positioning (at least according to  my GPS watch).

The course has mostly very straight runs (marathon course in red..wind from the left):

As I ran I noticed that the gps noise was nil, and so the mileage was matching the mile markers. In fact for the first time in ANY race, as I proceeded my GPS watch was under-reading vs reality. 

I was eating a GU Roctane every 3 miles and taking a half cup of water every water stop. There were a lot of water stops (every other had some energy drink). I didn't feel hot, but I know how these things don't get much in you at each stop so I took a cup at every stop until about mile 23. They used paper cups....kudos for that!

The RnR bands were nice. I'm a sucker for good music of many types and I have to say it was fun that every couple of miles was a new band.

At about mile 5.5 I turned to the east which was downwind. This was good but there was an uphill starting where we gain about 250' until mile 15. You would not think you could notice this but I run so much I can problemo. The tailwind helped offset it, thankfully. Along this part i spoke with some other runners, tried to stay relaxed and kept my pace at under 9:55 / mile. 

The miles ticked by pretty quickly and I noticed that my watch was starting to chime the mile AFTER I passed the mile markers. This has NEVER happened before in any marathon. The terrain was very open (very low-rise buildings) so GPS reception was good but still...CIM was pretty open too but didn't happen there.

Eventually hit the half marathon point and started the out-and-back section from mile 13 to mile 20. I could see some of the barn-burners already 7 miles ahead  and hitting mile 20 when I was just hitting mile 13 (sigh ;)  Already there were people walking, and I was starting to continuously pass people more and more.

Once I made the turnaround at about mile 16.5 the wind was apparent. The perceived effort went up noticeably. Ugh. I tried to find some big guys to draft but the crowds was pretty thin. 

Just when I was giving up on seeing Toni..(I figured she'd gone right to the finish) there she was at the 20 mile point! She took this harried video of me:

I gave her a little touch-hug (I was sweaty 8) and reminder her she had about 1 hour to get to the finish before me.

Now we were heading south toward the the finish. The wind was a crosswind but it was 20+ miles into the race and "Wall"-time. My legs felt pretty good but I was monitoring them closely. I decided to stop banking time and stick to 10:00 per mile or so until I got closer to the finish. Things can unravel quickly at 20+.

I had been doing a super good job of running the tangents..this was very easy to do in this race and so the mile markers starting to come earlier and earlier vs the watch. So bizzare. (I swear I was not cutting the course in any way)

The fatigue in my legs gradually built up over the miles and then at mile 25 UGH, a 60' steep bump up hill. At this point there was no way I could power over it...I walked it for about 30s to get over it and that was that for 4:1X time..

I have to tell you, at this point in a race you are counting down the minutes. The metric is "perceived effort"...and I'd been seeing it increase inexorably since mile 20.

 When I got to the top of this little hill there were a couple of guys that said "only ONE mile to go". Usually such people are speaking 'roughly' and so I ignore them. People will say "only one mile to go" and I'll KNOW it's 1.5. 

I want to tell such people to STFU, but I know they don't mean to be cruel ;) 

These guys  seemed to say it in a way that was serious: they sounded like marathoners. I realized with my dim cognition that my watch was off and I had banked the .2 (of the 26.2) already!

That was a lift! I resumed my sub-10 pace once I crested the hill. Eventually I got to the overpass that crossed the river/canal...dimly in the distance I heard the low-pitched cowbell I had given Toni: She made it to the finish area! 

Toni catching me on the bridge approach:

I hit the downhlll and banged through the finish in 4:20:25.  Met my goal! Not my stretch goal by 25 seconds due to that pesky hill 8)

At the finish time to collect my finisher's marathon jacket. What a nice touch! I found this RnR event to be one of the best organized races I've run. 

A nice collage of photos by Toni:

Had to wait awhile to get the tram / train back to the hotel and then time to enjoy our usual post race beer and burger at Kettle Black Kitchen and Pub:

The race was well run, and the weather was pretty ideal (Another 10F cooler would have been perfect, but hey). I would run another RnR marathon with split courses anytime!

I'm happy with my time and my place in the standings. Not bad for 61. As usual, I did pretty even splits. (Why I do so well vs the young'uns)

Note: My Garmin watch only registered 26.15 for the race. There is no way I unintentionally cut the was super clearly marked.  But as I said I ran the tangents really well, so I wonder if the course was measured assuming people stayed in the same place in the lanes. (Which is not normal..regulations say tangents are a must). I don't know but it certainly saved me 2 minutes or so.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the course is a tad short. 

But all's fair in love and war (and marathoning)!

  • FINISH TIME4:20:25 You beat your expected time.
  • EXPECTED TIME4:30:00
  • 10 KM1:01:29PACE9:54
  • HALF2:09:33PACE9:53
  • 20 MI3:17:50PACE9:54
  • PACE9:56
  • CHIP TIME4:20:25
  • CLOCK TIME04:22:45
  • OVERALL943 / 2334
  • DIVISION24 / 68
  • GENDER661 / 1313

2017-01-15 Sun
Split      Time  CMiles     Pace      HR   % WHR    YPB
25641.324.9710:41 (60' HILL)