Monthly Archives: August 2008

Men’s Olympic Marathon

One of the big events I really wanted to watch live on TV during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was the men’s marathon. Unfortunately, I forgot that when the schedule said the marathon was being run on Sunday that meant it was going to be on TV live in the US on Saturday. D’oh! Oh well.

I’d been somewhat following the US men’s athletes, Ryan Hall, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Brian Sell. Here are some post-Olympic interviews, courtesy of Flotrack.

Ryan Hall… Holy crap! He ran a 2:12 marathon, finished in 10th at the Olympics, and the next day he’s walking the Great Wall instead of limping around sore all over. Incredible.

Dathan Ritzenhein… he stops. Stops running at 31 km. And he still finished 9th at 2:11. Jesus H. Christ.

Brian Sell… bloody shoes and a 2:16 finish for 22nd place. Oh man

These guys are simply amazing.

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Race report: Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon

I’m finally a 3:30 marathoner.

The week leading up to the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon didn’t start out so well. What was supposed to be a 20-mile run the weekend before turned into a pair of runs on Saturday and Sunday, a 9-miler and an 11-miler. I just wasn’t “feeling it” either day and cut those runs short. Then we had what felt like the hottest week in Portland. So I ended up with three 4-5 mile runs throughout the week and they were hard. Also, my plantar fasciitis started flaring up again. And something was going wonky with my knee, which was probably a result of a trail run. My goal going into today’s marathon was a 3:30. But considering how my week was going I wasn’t too hopeful.

The day before didn’t give me any reason to be optimistic. Cat and I were supposed to go camping outside of North Bend, WA. But I made the mistake of not reserving a campsite at primary campground I picked out or the backup campground. So we ended up having to get a motel room in North Bend. I was feeling kind of bad about spending $50 more than I planned for lodging, plus the extra money for a real dinner instead of the campfire mac+cheese and PB&J sandwiches. But hey… we got a real dinner. Plus a TV to watch the Olympics. And a real bathroom. And a real bed. As we were lying in bed we thought, “yeah… this is much better than camping.”

Then came race morning. And my alarm clock didn’t go off… again. The only reason why I woke up 15 minutes before I had to leave the motel room to catch the bus to the starting area were the people outside the room making some noise. Damn. But we managed to get out the door at the planned time. I just didn’t have the customary amount of time to stretch, eat, and relax. Okay… no big deal. I’m running 26 miles so there’s plenty of time to warm up and relax, right?

The race was real low-key. A lot of Marathon Maniacs. A bunch I’ve meet before and a bunch I got to meet today. Lot’s of good folks. The 2 mile tunnel was more humid than I expected. Actually, I didn’t expect it to be damp and humid at all. It was also darker than I expected. I probably should have changed the batteries in my headlamp I guess. I didn’t bring my Garmin Forerunner thinking it would have a hard time finding the satellites after coming out of the tunnel so my pacing wasn’t exact. Using a normal watch, I figured I was running 8:00 miles, +/- 10 seconds on any particular mile. At least I was at that pace for the first 23 miles. The gravel on the trail was a bit more slippery than I expected but nothing too bad. The real killer for me was the humidity. Every time I hit a breezy section it felt like heaven.

The last 3 miles were tough. I was definitely slowing down. But I was on track for a PR, and even better, a sub-3:30. So I needed to push myself. I had just enough Hammer gel to get some calories every mile from 23 on so I was hoping I wasn’t going to run out of gas. When I glanced at my watch and saw 3:24 I was getting a bit worried because I hadn’t seen the 26 mile marker yet. But I stayed relaxed. And then there it was, mile 26. And my watch said 3:27-ish. Okay. No problem. Then 3:28. Okay… time to panic. Then I saw the finish line and went into a full-on sprint. I finished at about 3:29:30. Official finish times aren’t in yet.

Here’s my analysis of my performance. The speedwork I did 10 days before definitely helped with that final sprint. And I think I conquered the nutrition issues finally. Hammer gel and regular water definitely suits my GI tract. No GI cramping today at all. And no muscle cramping, despite the fast pace I was a pushing. And I was sweating a lot with the humidity. Electrolytes are overrated. The vanilla flavor of Hammer gel, incidentally, only has 25 mg of sodium. Brooks shoes rock. No blisters. Zero. And no chafing in my nether regions, despite the humidity. Always a plus. And this was only the second marathon where I wasn’t forced to take a walking break. Now that I think about it, I had the best marathon of my life so far today. Still looking for the negative split. But now I’m a 3:30 marathoner.

Update: Official results are in. My time… 3:29:35!

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Getting better with the Yasso 800s

This evening’s times:

  1. 3:02
  2. 2:57!!!
  3. 3:00
  4. 3:05
  5. 3:04
  6. 3:05
  7. 3:06
  8. 3:08
  9. 3:05
  10. 3:08

That’s a range of 11 seconds. More variability than last time, but faster times. Even managed a sub-3:00 split!

Next week… the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon.

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US Olympic marathoner seals and mows

This is why I’ll be much more interested in the less flashier sports than, say, mens basketball, when the Beijing 2008 Olympic games begin.

Sell, 30, still doesn’t own a cell phone. He seals his own driveway. Just last week, he came home during his lunch break from Home Depot in Rochester Hills – where he works in the garden department as part of the Olympic sponsor’s jobs program – and mowed the grass, said Clint Verran, his teammate on the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project.

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Firing on all cylinders!

I went on what was supposed to be a 20 mile run. I originally planned on starting out from the house and running along Marine Drive out to I-205 and over the I-205 bridge into Washington and back. But that’s a pretty boring run; flat, but boring. So I decided to make it a little more challenging by starting out from my house, over the Broadway Bridge, to the Leif Erickson trailhead, and into the Leif Erickson trail however many miles I needed to make it 20. But as I got a few miles into Leif Erickson I realized I would only get a 3 hour run with only 20 miles. I was feeling good so I decided to push for 22. That 22 turned into 23, which I calculated would get me a 3.5 hour run.

It was such a great run! No wall. 4 gels. Less than I thought I would need for a 20+ miler and still feel as good as I did. I could have gone for another mile or two. I really could have pushed for a full marathon distance today. I felt that good. I’m writing this 15 minutes after getting back home and there’s no soreness, no stiffness, nothing hurts! How did this happen???

A couple of theories:

  1. I’m learning to slow down on the long runs. Instead of trying to do them at marathon goal pace, I’m really trying to slow down to 1:00/mile slower.
  2. For the 5 weeks I’ve been doing weekly hill repeats. Not so much repeats, but sustained hill running maxing at 3 reps with the longest section being 1.5 miles. Most of these on Saltzman Road. My leg strength feels improved.
  3. For about a month I’ve been doing medium-long runs (8-16 miles, 1-2 hours) without taking any calories on the run and trying limit calorie intake before. I forget where I got this idea from (McMillan? Hansons? I dunno). The idea is to train the muscles to experience stress under a calorie deficit so they “know” how to function on an empty tank. The theory makes sense to me, but I make sure to take an emergency gel when I do these runs just in case. On a related note, since this was planned as a 20 miler and I wanted to train my gut to tolerate gels on the run, I took a mixed bag of gels with me. All 3 brands I had really seemed to pack a punch, more than usual, so I think there might be something to this theory. As far as taste, the Hammer vanilla was the best. I didn’t care for Carb BOOM! and I still can’t decide if I like Clif Shots or not (they’re pretty solid so you have to warm a packet in your hand for a minute).
  4. I’m also doing tempo runs at a faster pace. While I was in Vancouver BC I ran 11 mile loops around the Stanley Park seawall on 3 separate days, each one faster than the previous one. On the last day I even managed to put in a couple of sub-7:00 back-to-back miles!

Update: I just got out of the shower. Guess what? No chafing! No blisters or new calluses either! Man, I need to buy some lottery tickets.

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