Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ft Myers Marathon

November 9, 2014
Ft Myers, FL

What a great summer of training. I followed a more aggressive training plan over the summer. Many weeks of high 40 and low 50 mile training weeks. Finally, it's the weekend to put all that training into practice. I eagerly checked on the weather forcast in the days leading up to the race. Every time I checked, the morning low showed low 60s and rain. Not good. In the back of my mind, I knew this could turn into a training run, since I have Space Coast Marathon in 3 weeks.
Gina and I headed down to Ft Myers early Saturday afternoon. It was only a 1.5 hour trip, we could have driven the morning of the race, but a friend said we could stay with her Saturday night, so why not get down there and sleep a little later in the morning. We got to the race expo, after a little detour around the downtown area. Not much of an expo. There were some booths set up in the parking lot and then 4 booths in the event room of the host restaurant. We were in and out in about 15 minutes. We had time, so we wondered around the local mall before heading to my friends house. We hung out for a bit before heading to Outback to meet Darlene, Carolyn, Ariana and Wendy for our pre race dinner. After a great dinner, it was back to the house and then to bed early. Race morning, we were out the door before 6am. Quick stop at Starbucks for a coffee and then on to the race site. We got there earlier enough to get a great spot a block from the starting line. We got all our gear ready, then headed over to the restaurant to meet everyone. A big group was here from Sarasota! After lots of pre race photos, we headed outside, where thankfully it wasn't raining, and waited for the race to start.

Running over the first bridge.
Carolyn, Gina, Darlene, Ariana and I all started off together. We had run most of our long training runs together, so we figured we would stick together for at least part of the race. I felt pretty good right from the get go. The rain started within a mile of the start. Thankfully, it was pretty light, so not an issue. The half marathoners and marathon runners all started together. We had a two lane road to use, so it was never over crowded. There was a strange turn around, early, for just the marathoners. So when we turned, we were able to see some our friends who were behind us. After a couple of miles, I was finding it hard to hold back my pace. I told Gina I wanted to run a little faster. I pulled ahead of the group, but figured they were not far behind. Mile 2 is also the start of the first bridge. We take the Caloosahatchee Bridge over the Caloosahatchee River. This is a 4 lane bridge, with one of the two northern lanes closed for the runners. Just a line of cones holding the cars away from runners. I stay to the right. I don't trust drivers in this rain. Because it's still early, there are not many cars out yet. We run along Cleveland Ave for a couple of miles, before turning right. We are on this road for about half a mile, before we turn left on Tamiami Trail. At this corner is a sign saying "first lap, left. Second lap, left. Third lap, right." What?!? A half a milish down the road, we turn right. At the end of this road is a water stop. We turn right at the end of this road turn left, taking us back to Cleveland Ave, were we head back to that sign for the second loop. Along this stretch. I catch up with a guy (Joe) who has on a Bill's Beer Run shirt. We start talking. He is from Sarasota too! We end up running a mile or so together before he pulls ahead while we are on Tamiami Trail again. As I head into that water stop, I see Joe ahead, running straight on the road past the water station, instead of turning right. I stop and ask one of the volunteers, which way I'm supposed to go. The girl says to go straight. Signs would have been helpful!! I make the left turn back onto Cleveland Ave, make the left on to the other road, then finally turn right on Tamiami trail, instead of running another loop. What a depressing area we have been running in so far. Cleveland Ave was OK, but Tamiami Trail had a lot of closed businesses or run down buildings. Not much to look at around here. Just before mile 11, we make our way over the other bridge. We make a right onto the road that runs along the water. Just after mile 12, we turn to the left, while the half marathoners head straight, on their way to the finish.
Splits for miles 1 through 12 - 9:37, 9:33, 9:00, 9:18, 9:16, 9:22, 9:07, 9:18, 9:19, 9:05, 9:09, 9:13

I go over the map in my mind, thinking we should be running on this side of the river for a while. This does not happen. We make a right turn, starting the climb up the Caloosahatchee Bridge again! This was not on the race course map! This is not good. I make my way over the bridge, hoping that we don't have to run that strange 2 loop course again. We do make a right turn on the same road as before, but stay to the southern side of the road. No double loop! We get to the end of this road and make another right turn on Tamiami Trail, heading back to that second bridge. This explains the 16 mile marker sign I saw on the bridge earlier. This will be bridge crossing #4. Just before getting to the bridge, I see runners on the other side of the road, heading off the bridge. This really shocks me, because now I realize we will have to cross this bridge again. Twice, because we will need to get back over to get to the finish line. I was not prepared for 6 bridge crossings! As I make my way down the bridge, my legs are already starting to feel sore. At the bottom of the bridge, we make a left turn and then a short while later, make another left, to head back up the 3rd bridge. Bottom of the bridge is mile 17. As I am slowly making my way up, I hear a couple of women talking behind me. One sounds like Gina. I turn my head and sure enough, it's her! She yells out that she is trying to catch up. I tell her, she will have no problem! She does catch me at some point on the down hill. My legs are really cramping and my bladder (which has been giving me problems for a couple of hours now) is full. I need a porta pottie! Gina and I run together for a few minutes, before I tell her not to slow down for me. I tell her to go on with out me. She is having an awesome race. I feel happy for her! We make a right turn off Tamiami into a neighborhood. Just before mile 19, I see a water stop and a porta pottie. Thankfully, there is no one inside. I try to make it quick, but with the stop there and then water, a banana and walking after the stop, I add a minute and a half to the pace I had been keeping up to this point. :(
Splits for miles 13 through 19 - 9:35, 9:30, 9:40, 9:33, 9:55, 9:53, 11:34

One of the 3 bridges we crossed.

I thought the stop and little bit of walking and stretching might help give me a boost for the last 10K, but this did not happen. If anything, I started to feel more tight and stiff. My running really slowed. I needed to take more walking breaks. We ran two big loops through this neighborhood, before heading back to the main road. On my second loop, I caught up with Darlene. Her fiance was on his bike giving her water. She wasn't have such a great race. We shared a few words, before I continued my slow run. Finally, I was heading back to the bridge, for my last crossing. I was not feeling good, and head to tell myself over and over to not stop, keep running until the uphill portion. I managed to get through the flat part of the bridge, before walking up the hill part. Slow run down, my quads were on fire!, and then a turn to the right. At the water stop here, I suddenly feel very light headed. I drink down my water and continue on, with hopes I will be ok. Another right turn took us to the base of the second bridge. Thankfully, we made a left turn here. No more bridge crossings! Back along the road bordering the river. Finally, I can see the finish line. It is very far away, almost a mile, but it is there. I tell myself that I can no longer walk. I look at my watch, to see that I have a very small window to still pull off a PR, but it would only be by seconds, not by 5-7 minutes I had been hoping for. I try to pick up the pace a little, finishing with a grimace and not the smile I always try to finish with. Gina and Wendy are there at the finish to great me. We grab some water and food, before heading into the Restaurants meeting room.
Splits for miles 20 through 26.2 - 11:07, 10:16, 12:24, 10:26, 13:28, 10:29, 3:08
Finish: 4:22:08

So, in the end, no PR for me today. I was off of my best time by 5 seconds! I know I am a much stronger and faster runner, than I was earlier this year when I ran my best marathon time, so I plan on recovering this week and getting that PR at Space Coast at the end of the month! :)

Download of the course from my Garmin.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Double race weekend

Boo Run 5K and Bill's Beer Run
October 25-26, 2014

I don't normally like to run two races in one weekend, but I really wanted to run Boo Run this year, so I decided a couple of months ago to go ahead and sign up for it. It's part of a 3 race seriers, so I needed to get it in. Plus, I had heard it was a great race. Of course I had to run the Manasota Track Clubs biggest race of the year on Sunday. Bill's Beer run brings out almost all of the local runners. It's a great race and fun party after.

Boo Run: I wasn't able to pick up my packet ahead of time, so I got out to Lakewood Ranch an hour and a half before race start. There is a Starbucks in the Main Street shops area, so I stopped in there, before walking over to get my packet and timing chip. Headed back to the car to finish getting ready and to stay warm. Temps in the low 60s. Thankfully, cooler Fall weather has made it to Florida! After getting a text message from Gina, we meet up and then head over to the race area. We hang out a bit, talking to people we know, before leaving our keys and extra clothing at the Fit2Run table. Since I've been so tight for the first mile or so of my runs lately, I decide to go out for a slow warm up mile about 15 minutes before race start. The easy paced mile feels good. I get back to the start area as they are playing the national anthem. I manage to find Gina in the crowd and moments later it is go time!

I head out fast. I figure I'm going to give it my all today, so that I can take it easier tomorrow. Normally, I'm kind of conservative the first mile or so, but I decide to push it right from the start. The course is out and back. Completely flat. I felt pretty good through mile one, but did slow it down a little. I knew Gina was behind me, so I just tried to stay ahead of her. I figured if I was ahead of her, I must be doing well, since she is always kicking my bootie in these races! I pass the water stop without getting any water. I can make 3 miles without it. Stopping just slows me down. I haven't mastered the grab and drink yet. I always spill it all over or the water goes up my nose! By the last mile, I can feel myself slowing a little, but looking at my Garmin, I am still under an 8 min mile pace, so I am happy. We make the last turn and I can see the finish line down the road. I start pushing it hard. I feel my stomach start to give me troubles. This may be the first time I throw up at the finish! I cross the finish line, so happy to see that I made it in under 24 minutes!

Gina comes in soon after me. We get food and drink and then hang out until results are posted. We both place in the top 3 of our age group! Gina gets 2nd and I get 3rd. So happy! We hang out Donna and her friend until awards are presented. Donna is suprised to hear her name called for Grand master winner. We each get a Tervis mug with the race logo inside. Such a great race. Excited for day two tomorrow.

Finish - 23:54
Splits - 7:28, 7:38, 7:53, 0:47

Gina, Donna and me.

Bill's Beer Run, 5 miler, Casey Key, FL

Once again, I headed down to the race venue, early. The parking lot is smallish for the amount of runners, so I wanted to make sure I got a spot. I parked in the southern part of the lot, with a great view of the water and the sun rise. I hung out in my car for a bit, before Gina arrived. We hung out for a little longer, before hitting the bathrooms and walking over to find friends. Once again, I lost Gina, and had to search for her in the started area. :) I decided not to do a warm up run this morning. I didn't have any big goals, since I had a great race the day before. I figured I would just try to keep last years pace, which I though was around a 40 min finish.

This is a much larger race, than the previous day's event. We were tightly packed for a little longer this morning, but after half a mile or so, the crowd thinned out. Gina and I were near each other for the first half mile, but then I lost her. Wasn't sure if she was ahead or behind. I felt pretty good keeping a comfortably hard pace, but not pushing it. The course runs down Casey Key, which is lined with beautiful houses. There are a few open spots on the Gulf side, were we get a view of the beach and water. Before reaching the half way point, I am seeing lots of the speedy runners passing by on my left, heading back to the finish line. I love this race because I see so many familiar faces. I love calling out to everyone, shouting a "Hi" or calling someones name. I hit the turn around and head back. I see more friends, more shouting and waving. This is the best part of the race! Soon enough, there are no more runners to see on the otherside of the road, and it is time to put focus back on my pace. My left hamstring is starting to tighten up. It worries me a little. I'm only a couple of weeks from marathon weekend. I don't want an injury! I slow it down a little, but try to keep it around an 8 min mile pace. I grab a cup of water during the 4th mile, walking for a few seconds (which you can see with my slower split time). I try to keep pace with the runners who have been around me for a while and as I get close to the finish, I pick up the pace, trying to pass a few. Turning the corner towards the finish line, I manage to pass one more guy before finishing!

Super happy with my finish time again today! I didn't realize until I got home, and looked at last year's time, that I managed another PR! Took over 40 seconds off of my time from last year. Placed 8th in my age group. Very proud of that, This is a fast group of runners!

Finish- 40:06
Splits - 7:53, 7:55, 7:58, 8:11, 7:55