Day 194: OH/MI 8K

Distance5.00 mi
Duration 00:40:02
Pace8:00 min/mi

The Ohio / Michigan 8k. A big rectangle road race. Went out too fast. Chugged along through it. Was a hot one. Ended up finishing about where I expected. Not bad since I oversold myself in the first mile.

Day 144: Frantic Finish 5k

Distance3.10 mi
Duration 00:23:54
Pace7:42 min/mi

A local club, Toledo Roadrunners Club, put on a super casual race today called ‘Frantic Finish 5k’. Met a cool lady who answered a lot of questions about local running for me and is a great cheerer. Weather was cool and drizzly which made it surprisingly good for running.

In this type of run the clock counts down before start. You take off at the time you expect to finish or last finished a 5k at. For me, that silly 5k I jumped in on last week had about a 24:07 finish. That’s when I took off here.

It was interesting running up on and over taking people, while also trying to discipline between burning out too fast and going too easy.

Of note, there were a pair of folks, David and a young track runner I’ll call 13 as I caught her age but not her name later. They went out at about 26 minutes I think. I caught up to them fairly quickly and overtook a bit before 1km in. I would see them again in the last 1.5km and in the very last 400m they managed to pass me as I gave up some pace in exchange for not vomiting.

Running is violent to yourself at times.

One other gentlemen was the only other person who managed to pass me. I held a steady enough pace to be happy. I hit finish with 44 seconds left on the clock.

Math says that should put me at a solid 23:23 for my 5k time. Neatly under my previously standing goal of a sub-24. Guess I have to make it sub-22 for a 5k now.

Lots of tasty food after, which was cool, and a brief club meeting, which was just announcements, it seemed. A pretty fun Wednesday night.

A big 10k looms on  the weekend though. Crossing the Maumee River, twice, on big bridges. Looking forward to it. Strava says I’ve managed 51:25 at that distance before, so I guess I should strive hard to nail 50 minutes or less. I’ll let you know how it goes on Saturday.

 

Day 136: Suddenly there was a 5k. I ran it, too.

Distance11.00 mi
Duration 01:47:00
Pace9:43 min/mi

Went out to Olander park to run in an oval a silly amount of times. As I got there, a 5k was slowly getting set up. I had no clue it would be there. But, I believe the universe is a very strange place and that most coincidences aren’t.

I set off on my run with the thought to keep an eye on the set-up when I came across part of the crew marking out the starting line. There I stopped and asked them what was up. They said registration was open. I had some cash on hand, so I signed up.

I did 3 miles and change before stopping to register and watch the proceedings. The tiny race seems to have been a fundraiser for a memorial scholarship for the area Montessori schools. Nothing objectionable there. Lots of kids and parents around, so being a long-haired outsider childless adult male felt awkward. I just stayed off to the side, quietly congenial, until it was time to run.

The little kids did  flash-dash run which was fairly amusing. It’s good to see genuine general enthusiasm among them all. Then we all walked to the 5k start line.

There were a few fathers who looked ready to be serious. A pair of high school runners I expected to be fast, too. Just before the race started, an older gentleman came running from up-course with a number on and essentially turned on the start line as the organizer yelled ‘Go’!

Been a while since I’ve done a 5k race and I wanted to lay into it. I kept up with the pack of fathers, the older gentleman, and the high schoolers for a while before they pulled ahead. I then largely had a big gap to myself.

I managed to finish just a bit behind the first place female finisher and probably 5th or 6th place among males. The clock time looked to be 24:07 as I crossed. Strava gives me a full minute better in its estimation.

I enjoyed a hot dog and bag of chips provided and watch some more as folks finished the loops and the course emptied out.

Once everyone seemed accounted for, I set out to rake up some tired miles. I figured the race would tap my reserves pretty well and this made a good chance for me to run tired. I put down 4 more miles in this semi-depleted condition before calling it quits.

So, that is my story of the unexpected 5k I ran today. I also realized that there are all sorts of tiny races happening left, right, and center that I never hear about. It’s interesting and will probably float around the back of my head for a while.

Have you ever just found yourself at a race without expecting it? How’d it go?

Race Report: Glass City Marathon 2017

Pre-race Glass City Marathon

Race & Conditions

  • Race: Glass City Marathon
  • Location: Toledo, OH, Start and Finish at The University of Toledo
  • Date: Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
  • Start: 7 am
  • Weather: 36°F (2°C) at Start. Rising Throughout. 60°F (15°C) at Finish.
  • Participants: Nearly 8,000 Runners across all events

There is a first for everything

The Glass City Marathon had been noticeable in the past I live fairly close to the mid-course park that features prominently. I’ve lived in Toledo for 16 years now and this is where running took root in me, so I feel it was appropriate for my first to be the Glass City Marathon. I signed up for when I started this blog and my quest to run 2017 miles this year. There were some major set-backs in February and March, but I made it to race day. I felt my condition was good to give 26.2 miles a try.

Goals

  • Complete
  • < 4:30:00 Finish
  • Quick Recovery to handle work event
  • 3:59:59 or Better Finish
  • ~9:00 min/mi steady pace

Prelude

My training was less than ideal in the last couple months. Due to injury and illness I lost around 6 weeks of effort. I still managed a hard ramp up and a later than planned long run of 21 miles leading up to the race. Still, I managed to feel pretty confident in my abilities and was absolutely ecstatic after that long run, which surprised me. Bolstered against any doubts, made a plan for race week and day. I went over my practical preparations in this post.

To give a little bit of the setting, where I work I occasionally run events, some late at night, that require a lot of standing, walking, and general running around to do things. Sometimes the scheduling of those events are outside our control as they are unified on an international schedule. Of course, on race weekend I would have a series of 5 big events with the race right in the middle on Sunday morning.

I tried to manage my caffeine, eating, and workload going through Friday and Saturday to improve my immediate condition for the race. Ultimately, I got lucky in a kind of horrible way: our Saturday evening event cancelled. That is a very unusual thing to happen, and sadly means less revenue than expected too. However, this allowed me an extra 3 hours of sleep and to wake up a half hour earlier on race day! The universe is strange and provides. I took it as a sign and a gift. I was going to do this.

The Race

I have spent hours looking over and running parts of the marathon course in the weeks leading up to it. The University of Toledo, where it would start and end was a place I spent many years at and hold two degrees to prove it. I am very familiar with the campus and neighborhoods the course utilized. My other half volunteered to help out in the beer tent for the shift that started and ended while I would be on the road. We arrived and parked with plenty of time to walk across campus to the starting zone.

A massive sea of people spread out around the starting area. As time got closer, everyone moved into the corrals, where I selected corral c, which is for an expected finish of under 4:30:00. My biggest goal was to finish at any cost, even if I had to claw my way across finish with my legs slung over my shoulders.

My second goal was to finish with dignity in under four and a half hours. Starting area was buzzed by the Mercy Health helicopter 3 times in flyover, which was pretty fun, and then right on time at 7:02 am, the race started.

I was hyped. I wonder if my little flourishes and big grin ate at my precious energy reserves, but I feel most alive when faced with a challenge that feels at the edge of my abilities. So, I probably acted the fool, but no one including myself cared.

Miles 1 – 4

In my excitement, I was pretty thoroughly ignoring the cold. The temperature was a bit lower than I expected in the days leading up the event. Once everyone got moving, I  slowly started to notice exactly how cold my fingers were getting.

The race had provided an app, RaceJoy for tracking uses to both racers and spectators. I had it pulled up on my phone alone with my Itunes playlist and left it stowed in my long-run bag behind my back. Unfortunately, when I knew I had passed the three mile mark and the phone wasn’t telling me anything, I went to pull it out and look at it.

Each finger reported no tactile sensation as I fumbled behind my back with the pack. Regardless, with a bit of mid-stride shifting I got the phone into the grasp of my meat icicles and managed to tweak the setting to start proper tracking. When I crossed the 4 mile marker, the phone reported that I was right on track for my 9 min/mi pace, and it was good.

Miles 5-10

As the crowd started to spread out and segment a little, we got into the thick of the Ottawa Hills neighborhood of Toledo. There were a lot of spectators clustered about at the turns and in scattered driveways as we ran past some of the more expensive and impressive houses in the metro area. The streets where extremely well secured from vehicle traffic and wide open for jockeying position.

Somewhere in this leg I would fall in behind a blonde woman with bib 960. She and I seemed to have a pretty evenly matched pace and we would occasionally swap positions around a turn only to have her pop back ahead of me a few stride a moment later. 960, if you are reading this, you are awesome! I really felt locked in following your heels. We moved through the next 10 miles this way.

I was taking in the crowds and the funny signs and really just enjoying myself through this part, and I knew it couldn’t stay so easy, but I felt like I had hit that limitless pace. Finally, after the first gel-aided water station I saw a couple of the friends I had cajoled to come cheer me on. Scott and Danny, regulars at work, were in the park near a turn where two trails split and we all three went nuts.

“That’s my peeps!” I yelled and gestured wildly.

They were wearing the bright blue t-shirts I had made up with this site’s logo on them and where posing and yelling and I couldn’t be happier. They gave me a great burst of energy that I carried on through the halfway mark

Miles 11-18

Exiting the park, we entered the first segment on the University-Parks Trail. This was where I had done most of my training and comfortable to me. Running from the center of the trail and out the short end, it turned back into a road race at King Road and we were on the shoulder of what is usually some respectably busy streets. The 13 mile mark was right before a major intersection and the near side was crowded with spectators. This was the place another friend of mine had said he would be at to cheer me on.

After a couple minutes of scanning as I ran, I saw the bright blue shirt and the yelling began again!

John is a much quieter person and he politely waved and cheered me on, but I wanted people to know that he was awesome for being there and I appreciated it immensely. I wonder how many beer tent stories there were at the end of the day about these moments of a runner cheering on the crowd like a madman. Ah, well. I got a great belt of energy out of it that carried me through the next park.

At this point the Half Marathon runners had peeled off and were heading towards their own finish. I saw a ton of relay runners, as you could tell from their blue bibs, but not many red bib marathon runners and even fewer yellow bib first timers like myself. I stayed heavy on the heels of 960 as we rounded into and around the small lake Olander Park and entered the most challenging area.

Corey Road leads us back into the huge Wildwood Park, but not until we navigate the wavy hills of the footpath to get there. I knew this area could sap a lot of energy, but I was still keeping right on pace according to my phone feedback and I felt good.

Miles 19-24.2

We poured down the last hill and entered what I consider the far side of the park. Something about coming out of the hills tripped a trigger. As I approached the bridge that connects the two ends of the park, I saw Scott again who crossed the bridge to cheer me on again. There was no yelling from me this time. He waved and cheered.

All I could mutter out was a “Oh, I feel it now. I feel it”.

Mile 20 was a slight down hill on the bridge but then took the one uphill I regularly run at the park to pass through an earlier aid station on the way back to the University-Parks Trail and the finish. That hill broke my stride.

I had been waylaid during the winter months with an IT Band injury,  so when BOTH my knees lit up like a fresh brand was pushed into their sides, I blanched. Suddenly I was hobbling instead of running and hustled with a limp through the water stop and onto the final leg of the race.

I walked one whole mile with that limp, terrified that I had not only recurred the right leg injury but also injured my left leg the same. As I contemplated my options and deciding what I must do, I saw one lone family in the middle of an otherwise empty quarter mile. They smiled and a little girl held up one of the many green plastic cups full of water they had handy.

I had hit every aid station up to that point, and there were so many, but this act of kindness compelled me. I was thirsty and suddenly miserable. Hobbling over, the parents approved, I gently stopped, took down the half cup of water, and handed off the empty plastic to the mother. “Thank you so much!” I huffed as politely as I could and with deep genuine gratitude. Never have I tasted sweeter water, and it had nothing to do with the flavor.

I began a broken trot and after a few hundred feet it became a steady plod. Slow, likely messy, but the pain pushed down and I could move again.

Miles 24.2 – 26.2

These may have been the hardest of the race as I refused to let myself ease up again. I was moving again and I would be damned if I was going to walk over the finish. There was a flag on the course just a bit before the end of the trail that marked only 2 miles to go.

Somehow, with the path the course took, one mile of that ran over campus roads and back-end parking lots where there was nearly no one to cheer on the runners. That was the mental challenge, to keep moving so close to the end, but so spent and in pain, while there were no eyes. I had long lost sight of 960 when I started walking and I was certain her and many others who passed me had finished.

I gritted down and ripped out my earphones at this point and heard everyone in the distance. Few other runners were in the cones and tape set-up to guide us in this no man’s land. And finally, I turned the corner.

I saw the after party in full swing and tons of people with medals and mugs cheering on those of us following behind them from the iron rails that had replaced the cones and tape in this final stretch. I rallied and smiled.

Entering the stadium, I heard everyone at the edges cheering in one cacophonous and glorious voice. I usually finish my races with a final hard kick at the end, sprinting at the finish line. This time all I could do was lengthen my stride and mutter ‘Yes, yes, yes, I made it” to myself as I flowed towards the 50 yard line of the Glass Bowl Stadium.

Results and Aftermath

Results

  • Chip time: 04:22:54
  • Pace: 10:02 min/mile
  • Checkpoints
    • 4.3 Miles
      • 09:13 min/mi
    • 6.7 Miles
      • 09:00 min/mi
    • 9.4 Miles
      • 09:07 min/mi
    • 12.9 Miles
      • 08:57 min/mi
    • 16 Miles
      • 09:10 min/mi
    • 20.9 Miles
      • 09:20 min/mi
  • Overall: 695 of 1,070
  • Overall Male: 452 of 638
  • Male 35-39: 66 of 84

There were no more checkpoints after the 21 mile mark it seems, but that is when I ran into trouble.  The dreams of closing sub-4 hours on my first marathon didn’t manifest. Still, I finished as strong as I could muster. Looking back at the results I am damned proud of what I did put up. That performance up to mile 21 was more than adequate for a first time amateur runner’s attempt. Even with the 10 minute overall pace I ended up with is respectable.

Aftermath

After the race was over, there was a TON of food and support, including two beer tickets with my bib, but I wasn’t feeling it. I downed my recovery shake as soon as I was reminded of its existence and only could munch a few pretzels, a bite of pasta and a bite of pizza before it became too much for me.

I would have loved to recover there a bit longer and mill about, but I had a job to get to. The festivities for me were over with a walk half-way across campus to the car. My other half was concerned about my ability to drive, but once I sat in a proper seat my legs agreed to do the task of driving without problem.

I wore my medal for the rest of the day. Nearly a pound of metal, I was too proud of the giant thing to let it go. Luckily part of the job that day involved a lot of pizza for customers and staff, so I ate hearty once my stomach came off strike.

Right now, two days after, I am super eager to go out and start piling miles up. But, I’m trying to be good and give myself time to rest. I may go out tomorrow, Wednesday, for a light slow jog. My eagerness is only matched by my concern that I may have revived that IT Band injury. Time will tell.

Conclusion

The Glass City Marathon was amazing. I wish I would have had a little more time to write about it. Like the Expo on Saturday and the funny signs in the crowds. This pass though, time was not on my side. I haven’t decided on whether I will do next year’s Glass City Marathon. I have already signed up for one in fall.

If you want to see a bunch of pictures of the loot I got check out the Facebook Page. I’ll post them up soon, including two finisher t-shirts, the giant medal, mug, and my ‘Mover’ team/fan shirt.

Practical Preparing for My First Marathon

Preparing step 1 remove kitten from shoe

At this point the Glass City Marathon is under 100 hours away. The training preparation has been underway for months. Now is the time to trust my training and get out of my own way. To do that, I am preparing all the practical affairs of running my largest race to date.

Ready

The first thing to do is prepare for preparing. That may sound circular, but to ensure you have all the elements needed in place for a successful race, you need to identify them. I’ve been thinking about these elements for a while. I’ve run previous, smaller races successfully and have learned a lot about what works. Each time is a learning experience that can improve the next if you observe and make notes.

The Checklist

To make my checklist, I visualize the time leading up to and through the race, including recovery and exit from the area shortly after. This can help you to find the things that are unique to you and your situation and prepare accordingly.

For myself, I will be working late the night before the race, possibly as late as midnight. So, while meal planning began at the start of the week to prepare myself, the immediate period of concern begins Saturday before work.

I’m running a special event at work, several really. This event involves food and a lot of running around to answer questions, distribute materials, and generally administer the event. I know that I will want my vice of a Monster energy drink during the later event. My rest before a 5 am alarm when I am working until midnight will be of the utmost importance. This leads me to consider the first section of my checklist: Sleep

Sleep
  • No Monster or other caffeine after 6 pm Saturday
  • No food after 10 pm Saturday
  • Lights out and no screens once home
  • Bed at earliest possibility

All these steps are to let me try to get as restful a sleep as I can in the few hours I’ll have. I will actually want to be fairly tired and ready for bed when I get done with Saturday.

Set

You might look at this and wonder ‘What about alarms, laying out clothes, ect.’? I should be done preparing before I leave for work at noon on Saturday. Towards that end, what will I need the morning of the race that I can easily have staged? Let’s imagine that morning and make some highlights we can work with.

When I wake up to my alarm set for 5 am, I will want to wake up quickly. Drinking  bottle of water will help with that and re-hydrate me from the hours of sleep.

I’ll want to quickly get my race breakfast into my system. This time that is around a 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons of honey.

I’ll then jump through a shower and shave my face before dressing in my race clothes. That has it’s own checklist, but should be folded up and standing by for me.

Finally, I’ll check on my gear, also with it’s own sub-list, and head out to the site, The University of Toledo.

Let’s look at this section of checklist then.

Morning
  • Alarm for 5 am Saturday, with a 5:05 am back-up on separate device
  • Bottle of water at bedside
  • Sufficient Greek yogurt, honey stock on hand
  • Fresh towel and razor set out
  • Race Clothes set out
    • Running Briefs
    • Running Shorts (Grey Starter)
    • Running Shirt (Grey Compression with Vents)
    • Running Socks (White New Balance)
    • Running Shoes
    • Hair tie
  • Check and load gear
    • Electronics
      • Charged Phone
      • Charged External Battery
      • Charged Fitbit
    • Charging Cable
    • Earphone
    • Wallet and Keys
    • Med kit
    • Recovery Shake
    • Long-run Pouch (Maybe)

Here we have worked out the things that need preparing before I even leave for work Saturday. When I come home, I’ll go straight to bed. When I wake up, I’ll give my self every time advantage and energy by having everything ready to go with just a cursory final glance.

The Long-run Pouch is a maybe as I’ve not decided on using it or not to hold the external battery and phone. I know I will not be using it for the liquid or other storage capacities as it gets heavy and slows me down that way.

There are other things I’ve already put on and checked off my lists, such as making a music playlist, updating and setting up apps, and planning my last 72 hours of meals.

Go!

I hope to be out the door and on the way to the race at 6 am. That actually feels like a pretty close window to find parking and make it to the appropriate starting area. I live no more than a 10 minute drive from the University of Toledo Campus. Yet, they  expect several thousand participants and volunteers at the event.

I have a plan for how to get to Campus and where to park there. I have a loose fall-back plan as well, but that may involve a warm-up run just to get to Start on time. At least I will already have my race bib from Saturday morning packet pick-up.

That was all the easy stuff…

Finally, I’ll just have to do the thing and run the race. I’ll have to be back at work a couple hours after I finish the race too, and I have made some preparations for that already, including having some very understanding co-workers and customers.

I am excited and I hope you are too. The RaceJoy App for Android and Iphone will be used for this race, so if you want to see updates in real-time, my bib number is 1114.  Cheer all the runners on through social media on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #RunGlassCity. Cheer me on through comments, the RaceJoy App, 2017miles Facebook page, or @RobJelf on Twitter.