Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Shortly after our family Thanksgiving, I headed back over the mountains with Pooh and Monkey, with my sister and brother-in-law (and Team Michael Moyles co-founder) close behind. The passes were pretty icy, but we managed...
We picked up Linda -- stalwart TMM member just flown in from sunny Florida -- at the airport on the way in to Seattle. I've never seen anyone so bundled up for November in Seattle! But more on that in a minute...after a few relaxing days at home, we all headed out for the race...
Pre-Race Expo. The expo was crowded, and the location they chose -- the Westin in downtown Seattle, the same place as last year -- simply isn't adequate. The facility in comparatively small, the vendors are packed together, parking can be hard to find and expensive, and both the hotel and the expo itself were rather difficult to find. Packet pickup was well-marked, and the technical tee provided (Brooks) was comfortable. The biggest score of the night -- a pair of Gel-Kayano 16s, size 12.5 for $50! The savings on that purchase almost covered the cost of parking.
Race Day. Race day was well-organized and easy -- everything the expo wasn't. It helps that we ran the same race last year, so we knew where to go, what garage to park in, and exactly how to get to the start line. Sunday morning dawned cloudy and very cold -- low 30s -- and we made our way downtown. We all froze, and took turns teasing Linda about her attire -- two pairs of pants, three shirts, two jackets, a scarf, two hats, and gloves. I was in shorts and a t-shirt with a disposable jacket, and my B-I-L (brother-in-law) and sister were dressed similarly. Fortunately, we found a large 24-hour grocery store right at the start line, and made liberal use of their clean bathrooms (no porta-potties!) and their heater. With nearly 30,000 racers, there were only about 25 people in the foyer of the grocery store...perfect for us. The Team stretched, warmed up, and made a dash for the start line with about 10 minutes to spare.
The Course. The course was the same as last year -- only last year, I ran the full marathon, and this year I ran the half. The half-marathon course really just preserved the hardest parts of the full-marathon course, removing only a five-mile out-and-back across Lake Washington and a 7-mile loop around Seward Park, both almost completely flat. The race starts by winding from the Seattle Center through Seattle's streets out to Lake Washington, then a rather confusing series of loops consisting almost entirely of on-ramps and off-ramps from Interstate 90 and Interstate 5. I ran the first 7 miles or so with BIL, at about 7:55 pace, then pulled off to the side to wait for my sister. There is a miserably wicked hill at mile 7.5 -- basically straight up -- and I actually got to run it twice, once with BIL and once with my sister. The last half of the course is almost entirely uphill, starting with the big hill, then transitioning into Intelaken Park, which is about a 3-mile sustained, gradual climb. The views of downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, and the Puget Sound are incredible, and are a fit reward for completing the hilly portion of the course. From the top at Interlaken Park -- about mile 11 -- it's downhill back to the Seattle Center, and the finish line. BIL finished first in about 1:49, and my sister and I finished together in 1:56, easily blasting away her goal of sub-2. It was a very emotional finish, and a great way to end TMM's 2010 season.
What a great surprise to see Ade, one of the charter members of TMM, waiting at the finish line -- along with Pooh, Monkey, and other friends and family. Not long after hooking up with our supporters, we spied Linda sprinting across the finish line, still wearing most of the layers and clothes she had on when she arrived at the airport...but she was comfortable and finished easily.
Support along the course was great, both spectators and volunteers -- aid stations were well placed, well supplied, porta-potties were plentiful, and miles were clearly marked.
Post-Race. The "finish festival" was hardly a festival, but it was fair -- decent food and supplies, but just like the expo, the facility was simply inadequate. Crowded, too hot, impossible to move, long lines, poorly organized, just not what you'd expect from a major race. As the race grows, Amica and other sponsors will have to find better facilities for both the expo and the finish festival. At the end of the day, the Amica Seattle Marathon is still my "hometown" race, and one I'll probably return to every year -- but I'd love to see the race sponsors and organizers find better and bigger facilities now that the race is drawing tens of thousands of runners. We all celebrated (medals still on, of course) with a big burger and beer at the Elliot Bay Brewery, and toasted a great race, a great year, and a great team. Go TMM, on to 2011!
Friday, December 10, 2010
Editor's Note: Okay, so my posts are WAY behind. I've written a few, I just haven't posted them...so, ignore the posting date, and pretend I actually posted this when I wrote it a few weeks ago...
Another race in the books! Rock-and-Roll San Antonio concluded on 14 November, ending my true "race" season. There is one more scheduled -- the Seattle Marathon on 28 November, but I'll run that race with the team, and won't really be racing.
Training for San Antonio has been an adventure. As long as I've been running marathons, I've trained by running on lunch breaks and Sunday afternoons after church. Well, that doesn't work so well in Texas, where it doesn't drop below ninety degrees until about 10pm, and only stays cool (relatively speaking) for a few hours. So, since moving to Texas in June, I've been getting up at about 4:30am and getting my runs in. I'm still using the "Run Less, Run Faster" training plans I've been on for the past year, and still think that program is one of the best around. Since starting those training programs, I've set a PR in every distance from 5K through half-marathon. So, on to San Antonio...
This was my first race in the Rock-and-Roll series, and let me tell you, these folks have figured out how to put on a great race. I've run literally dozens of races at all distances, including quite a few marathons and halves, and I can comfortably say that this was the best-organized race I've ever run. From expo through finish festival, every aspect had been clearly thought through, and was nearly flawlessly produced. The expo was quite crowded, and they really could have rented a considerably larger space, but they did well with what they had. Packet pickup was clearly marked, and if you couldn't see the well-marked signs, the volunteers were cheerful and helpful.
Race day was, again, very well organized. I arrived later than planned, and couldn't quite get up to my designated Corral, but managed to start in Corral 4 instead of Corral 2, and the difference was negligible. Let me just say I'm a HUGE fan of the wave start -- each corral was separated by about 30 seconds, which almost completely alleviated the problem of spending the first mile dodging and dancing through hundreds of other runners, many of whom had probably "corralled up". I was off and running at race pace with the first half mile or so. The course wound through the streets of old San Antonio, including some mileage along the historic Riverwalk and (of course) a lap around the Alamo. Surprisingly hilly for Texas, but nothing steep or uncomfortable. The full marathon route includes a great run out along the San Antonio mission trail, which I'm actually sorry I missed. Both the half and the full finished at the Alamo Dome in downtown SA, with the entire parking lot dedicated to sponsors and family meeting areas divided by last name. Only a minor complaint here -- I couldn't discern any rhyme or reason to how the letter were distributed, and it certainly wasn't alphabetical. Regardless, the wonders of the iPhone and text messaging made finding Pooh and Monkey easy, and they were in full "cheer mode!" Monkey even had her "LiveSTRONG" outfit on and her "Team Michael Moyles" shirt. Too cute.
1:44.12 (7:57 pace) for the finish time -- nothing spectacular, but right on my planned pace of 8-minute miles. I was very happy with my splits, which were remarkably consistent:
Mile 1: 8:23
Mile 2: 7:48
Mile 3: 7:47
Mile 4: 7:50
Mile 5: 7:50
Mile 6: 7:49
Mile 7: 8:01 (up the hill)
Mile 8: 7:43 (down the hill)
Mile 9: 7:54
Mile 10: 7:52
Mile 11: 7:55
Mile 12: 8:12
Mile 13.1: 9:05
Pretty much the most consistent race I've ever run. One down, and one to go! On to Seattle on the 28th!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Wow, has it really been almost six months since my last blog? Well, so much has happened...just for starters:
1. Selected for reassignment from the Pentagon
2. Moved wife and baby to San Antonio, Texas
3. Tried a few runs and absolutely died in the heat
4. Spent three months trying to acclimate to the temps by running at 0430
5. Got a CLEAR brain scan in September!
6. Turned 29 (yes, again)
You get the idea...it's been a busy six months. The greatest news is, of course, the clear brain scan. There was no sign of cancer, though there are a couple of areas they want to keep an eye on, just to make sure the prosthetic is healing correctly -- but the important thing is no malignancy. Just some scar tissue and fluid buildup that, as long as it remains stable, shouldn't be a problem. I'm going back in December for my next update -- living 90 days at a time!
If you've never been here -- Momo, I suppose Arizona counts -- the Texas heat is positively oppressive. We arrived in June, so we've been here through the heat of the summer...over 100 degrees by about 9am, and it stays above 90 until about 10pm. Humidity hovers around 95%, so the heat index during July and August is usually around 110 - 115. I've never run in those conditions before -- it really saps both pace and distance. My first few runs left me laid out in the shade with a water bottle, wondering how I'm going to get home. Hitchhiking in south Texas can be dangerous! And, that's not all...there are really no hazards to running in Virginia or California. Here in Texas, you have to watch out for all kinds of crazy things -- on this past Sunday's long run, I passed four deer, then was nearly clobbered by a coyote, watched various rabbits and raccoons scamper out of the way, and to top it all off, came upon a sizable rattlesnake, sunning himself on the roadside, mere inches from my path. Yes, my pace quickened a bit!
Team Michael Moyles is doing well. We are approaching the 70% mark, with still three months to go in the year. Several Team members have completed marathons or half-marathons, a first for many, and a PR for most, even a podium finish for my sister! Next up on the docket is my buddy T running the NYC marathon in a few weeks, followed by LiveSTRONG Challenge Austin, then the Rock-and-Roll San Antonio Half-Marathon, ending the year with the Seattle Half-Marathon on November 28th. I also recently learned that Team LiveSTRONG has agreed to sponsor the Austin Marathon -- and the new "LiveSTRONG Marathon" will be in Austin in February. There NO WAY I can miss that one, so I'm already planning for next year! If you haven't had a chance to check out our website or donate a few bucks, we'd really appreciate it...we're really just a few donations away from our goal of $10,000.
Thanks for everything each of you do every day, inspiring others and posting your runs and other accomplishments. I don't always reply or comment, but I read your blogs every week, and love to hear from my friends in the endurance athletics community. I promise to update more often -- keep on running!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
No matter what bridge you run over in the DC area, you're bound to be greeted (or chased) by "the guardians." These towering (and often intimidating) statues sit on either side of the bridge, on both ends, and were usually gifts to the United States by foreign dignitaries or nations. The two greeting you as you reach the top of the hill -- one called "Music and Harvest" (pictured below) and the other called "Aspiration and Literature" -- were gifts to the United States from Italy in 1925, and both bronze mammoths stand nearly 20 feet tall, peering down on miniscule runners below as if to say, "Better keep moving, boy..."