Since finishing the Quad Cities Marathon back on September 28th, I have been like a rocket ship with one of its engines not working.
Running is one of my rocket engines. I will confess it is one of my larger engines where it should have a more proportional size to other aspects of my life. So for over 2 months now, I have been “drifting” because I have not had any specific race to train for. On one hand, it gives me time with the family, time to recuperate, time to focus on other endeavors. However, on the other hand, being known as a “Runner”, the first (and easiest) thing way to start a conversation is for someone to ask “So, are you training for anything?”. When you are not training, the conversation generally stops abruptly at “No”. Enter the ‘Runner With No Race’.
To help illustrate the ‘Runner With No Race’, I extracted some song lyrics to illustrate. [After finishing this post, I could write “Runner Without A Race”, a parody of Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without A Face”]
from “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugar Hill Gang:
“Like a millionaire that has no money
Like a rainy day that is not wet,
Like a gamblin’ fiend that does not bet
Like Dracula without his fangs,
Like the boogie to the boogie without the boogie bang
Like collard greens that don’t taste good,
Like a tree that’s not made out of wood
Like goin’ up and not comin’ down,
Is just like the beat without the sound, no sound”
and selected lyrics from “What?” by A Tribe Called Quest:
“What’s Alex Haley if it doesn’t have roots?
What’s a weekend if you ain’t knockin boots?
What is a glock if you don’t have a clip?
What’s a lollipop without the Good Ship?
What is a paper without a president?
What is a compound without an element?”
So, hopefully that makes it clear about a runner who has no race to run. I’m getting ready to reignite my engine, here’s my running schedule for 2015:
Calhoun’s 10 miler – Jan 24 – Part of the KTC Winter Long Distance Series and training run for the Knoxville Marathon. It is quite possible that I could try to break my 10 miler PR time of 1:25:55 Possible
Farragut Half Marathon – Oct 31 – Going for the “Half Double” (two Half Marathons in two consecutive days), if the 2 races are scheduled back-to-back. One of my marathon goals is to run a Full Double (two Marathons in two consecutive days) but logistically, there’s not too many Sat/Sun races for me to choose. Right now, the least crazy option is the Chickamauga/Outer Banks combination. So for now, I will settle for a Half Double.
Flying Monkey Marathon – Mid-November – If the schedule holds and get an entry to the race, this will be marathon #25! I had Monkey Lament this year for not running this year. [Holding up my hand] I do solemnly promise not to miss another Flying Monkey.
Rocket City Marathon – Early December – This will be my Premier Race. Running the ‘challenging’ Flying Monkey course about 2 weeks prior to Rocket City will set me up well to shoot for a sub 4 hour marathon finishing time. Finishing under 4 hours is my highest Marathon goal, and I was only 5 minutes away at Quad Cities this September.
Pistol 50k – Early January 2016 – This is well managed race that puts the runner first! I look forward to running it again and I can use Rocket City to piggyback with training.
It was a family venture out to the flat Midwest from hilly East Tennessee. I should create a blog post of the few days prior to the race. It involved an interstate detour because of a burning truck, fog lines, visiting family that I hadn’t seen in years and years, and meeting some others for the first time. Reasons why I was running this race are on a previous post.
Expo The expo was held in the iWireless Center entertainment venue and wasn’t overwhelming. This made packet pickup pretty easy, although I would have put the Lookup Board just outside to make the flow easier. Jeff and I arrive fairly early on Saturday, we had a family reunion later that afternoon, so this was the best time to get there and back. I found that I was going to wearing the number 402 for this race. I hadn’t tried to ask for the #43 bib since the race was being held on my 43rd Birthday. It was cool that the Darlington Marathon did it for me in 2013, so once was cool enough.
When I went to pick up my race shirt, the lady asked, “Is this your first marathon?” I answered in a surprised, “Oh, no.” To which she quickly replied, “Is this your first Quad Cities?” and I replied simply “yes”. We also received a poster with the medal on a hand drawn rendering of the Race Start with the date, which should be suitable for a frame, someday.
A number of vendors were present, most of them local companies. So while most of them I couldn’t really use their services being from out of town, I did hit the booth with the free samples of Miller Lite. I was on my last 2 doses of antibiotics, so I was willing to risk taking a sample. At the Official Quad Cities Paraphernalia booth I scored a 2013 Quad Cities Marathon shirt for $5, since I was short a few shirts for the trip. The only thing I didn’t get to do was talk with the Pacers for the race. I wanted to ask if there was anything cool that their Pacer Captain did for them to get any good ideas. Also was going to see if any of the sub 4 Pacers would consider a trip to Knoxville in 2015 (Always Networking!).
When I woke up it was just a little early but I didn’t want to go back to sleep and then proceed to over sleep. I figured my brother would wake me if it got too late, but I didn’t want to take any chances. I went and got up, dressed, and Jen helped me put Rock Tape on my hamstrings and quads. I went downstairs for my normal pre-marathon meal of an Apple, Clifbar, Coffee, Water and Gatorade.
Since 2002, to carry food with me, I pin my gels to the outside of my short’s waistband and then flip them inside. I had 2 Accel gels (both Lime) which are my favorite of all the gels that I have used because they aren’t too sweet and have some protein in them to help regulate the sugar. I had picked up 2 new gels at Eddie’s Health Shoppe back in Knoxville, a Chia based Gel and a Gu Roctane. I know, I know… you aren’t supposed to eat anything new during a race unless absolutely necessary.
We had a prerace phootshoot before Jeff and I headed to Race Start.
We arrived with plenty of time before the start of the race. Finding our way into the mass of people lined up for what was turning out to be a beautiful morning, hoping the sun wouldn’t be too draining. Race Start was crowded but not bad even with 3,800 people hanging around for their respective race to start. I was a little surprised that all distances were starting at the same time: the 5k, Half Marathon and Marathon. After the gun fired, it took me close to 4 minutes to reach the Starting Line.
Miles 1 – 6.2 (55:51)
Thankfully, the race had the entire road for runners to spread out in the first mile. This relieved much of the congestion one people got going. I didn’t have to do too much swerving around runners to get to my target pace. I didn’t want to be too slow in the first mile and set myself with a time deficit and at the same time burn too much energy swerving through traffic. Jeff and I separated right at the start, he was thinking he’d have a 2+ hr finish for the Half.
The course for the Full and Half runners put us running over a bridge right at mile 1, while the 5k runners kept going straight ahead. Even with losing the scores of 5k runners, it was packed like sardines over the bridge. We had one lane of the bridge while slow moving vehicular traffic had the other. A few times, to avoid getting jammed in runner traffic, I run outside of the cones (shhhhhh).
Coming off the bridge, we were able to spread out again. Since I hadn’t seen the Mile 1 marker (located early on the bridge) and coupled with the congestion on the bridge, I wasn’t sure exactly what pace I was running. Too slow and I would have to make it up, too fast and I would pay for it later.
I crossed the Mile 2 marker at 18:36 which was a 9:18 average pace. I was pleasantly surprised that I was actually that fast, just about at right pace. I was sure I had been slower because of the bridge congestion. At the top of the hill, right before Mile 3, I saw my cheering section of Jen, The Boys, and Bree (my Sister-In-Law).
One thing I did in preparation for this race was to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The forecast of Sunny weather earlier in the week did not sit well with me, so I planned for Operation Saturation. My rhyming plan was working well, because shortly after getting off the first bridge, I had to go! So, just past Mile 3, I ditched off the course and used the bathroom. During my very first marathon in 1999, I had to use the bathroom at Mile 4 but held it until Mile 17. I had trouble for the rest of the race because of it, so I’m very conscious now about making sure I take care of my business early.
Coming down the “big” hill during Mile 4, I passed one the Pacers, which comforted me because I was making the gains that I needed. Around the 4.5 mile area, the route hops onto a greenway that runs parallel with the Mighty Mississippi River. It’s much like the Neyland Greenway in Knoxville that runs alongside the Tennessee River. I took some time just to enjoy the view of the river and the scenic view it offered.
Miles 6.2 to 13.1 (1:56:11)
Somewhere before the Mile 6 mark, I caught up with another Marathon Manaic and we began talking. Turns out that it was Maniac #62, Steve from Wisconsin who has ran all 17 Quad Cities Marathons! FYI, there are currently 9,800+ maniacs and I’m #1225. We ran together and chatted for almost 2 miles along the greenway. Crowd support was nice on the greenway, there seemed to be a smattering of people just about the entire length of the greenway.
Right around Mile 8, the Half Marathoners left us making their way toward the finish line. We still ran a bit in Davenport (Iowa) until we crossed the Centenniel Bridge over to Rock Island (Illinois). As a hill runner, most of the marathon course was flat and I had already ran the “big” hills, so the run up the ramp and across the bridge over the river was a nice change of pace.
The Rock Island section of the course was pretty active. A bunch of Cheerleading Teams were at different corners being loud and encouraging. The course through the Rock Island section was a box that connected back up to itself. Thankfully, it went around the quaint downtown area and a residential section which provided some shady places to escape the wrath of the sun.
Just before the Mile 12 mark, someone had their radio playing the song “Cherish” by Madonna. It made me think of Chris, my brother who passed away in 2013, as Madonna was one of, if not his all time favorite artist. I sure wished he could have been there to see me and Jeff at the Finish Line.
Heading over another bridge, we made it to the Arsenal Island and to the half way point.
Miles 13.1 to 20 (3:00:06)
Just before the halfway point, I caught up with the 4:00 pacer. I continued past him as I crossed the halfway point at 1:56:11 which projected me to a sub 4 hour marathon (my overall Marathon goal). I had been in a similar situation back in the 2012 Chickamauga Marathon where I had been on target for a sub 4 hour finish but then started to slow down and hung on for a (at the time) 36 second PR finish.
This meant, I had some time banked, so I could afford to slow down a little if needed. On the Aresenal, we hooked back up with the Half Marathoner for a little bit and I checked my watch to see if by some chance I might run into (pun intended) Jeff and get to see how he was doing. I did some recreational math and determined that if we crossed paths, things would be going very badly for him.
The first part of the course on the Arsenal was fairly tranquil. Once we broke off from the Half Marathoners the number of runners became pretty sparse again. The route took us on a crushed gravel road right next to the river and since we were on an Island, the other shore was closer. The course then meandered through part of the golf course, again, no traffic and plenty of trees to offer some shade. I could hear Star and Stripes Forever in what sounded like bells being played off in the distance. At one point during the golf course, they handed out towels soaked in cold water. They felt so good. It was nice to take a mini towel bath to get some of the sweat and gunk off.
Leaving the golf course, we connected up with the Half Marathoners again just after the Mile 18 mark. The rest of the course through the Arsenal was on the main road, taking us past some buildings and toward the Rock Island National Cemetery. There was a radar speed limit sign set up for the normal vehicular traffic, but with only runners on the course, it kept flipping back and forth from 5 to 6.
As we made our way closer to the cemetery, I understood for whom the bells (I had heard on the golf course) were tolling. The cemetery was playing an assortment of patriotic tunes with bells. The sound was strong but not earsplitting. After rounding a slight bend, the familiar white markers in perfect rows began to come into view. Orderly rows of veterans, in their final resting place, were in formation. An overwhelming sense of “something” touched the back of my neck. It was a humbling sight. I began to think of the different generations that were buried there and wondered how many of them I might have come across in the audiobooks on U.S. wars that I have listened to the past few years.
But whether or not I had listened to the account of any number of these soldiers, there was one that I knew, a certain SSgt Robert W. Tripp, USAF, from whom I received 1/2 of my DNA code. As I was running along side of the cemetery, following the marathon course, there was one point that our distance from each other was at its minimum. Yes, recreational mental calculus based thoughts while running, but the realization made me smile as he too was immersed in the sciences, an engineer. With a small tear in my eye, surely not a bead of sweat, I turned slightly toward the cemetery and gave him a small salute. I turned back forward, enough of being sentimental, there was a race afoot!
Mile 20 to Finish As we left the Arsenal Island to go back over to the “mainland”, we crossed the 20 mile marker. I looked at my watch, 3:00:07, knowing at this point my legs were feeling heavy, my mind ran through the rigors of different paces and implications on finishing time. As it was, were I to keep my current pace, I was looking at a 3:59 finishing time. Realistically, I knew my pace would slow, but I wasn’t sure how slow I would become. There was 6.2 miles of exposure from the sun left to endure, the sun would be relentless and I, I would endeavor.
Making the math easier, slowing down to a 10 min pace, would add 1 hour 2 minutes, forecasting me for a 4:01 finishing time. Dropping down to an 11 minute mile pace would put me around a 4:07 So, I had some time in the bank to spend, if needed. However, if I wanted to achieve a PR, I could not let my average pace slip past 11 minutes per mile.
The last 6.2 miles of the course was the flattest part of the course. It was about 3 miles out then turn around for about 3 miles to the finish. In theory, you would think this is a good thing… and it is, to a point. Having hills, even small hills forces you to change the muscles you use so that no one muscle group has to do all the work. So, for me, I found the lack of hills, well, rather disturbing. All sun, no hills makes Terry’s legs fatigue faster.
Wouldn’t you know it, around Mile 21 I was looking for a place to ditch thanks to Operation Saturation. I wasn’t going to waste precious time standing in line for a portapotty. However, there was no place to politely ditch without a bunch of people around. If push came to shove, I would do what I needed to do but for now, I could still manage. I even went through a water stop and drank water and Gatorade even though I still needed to go.
Shortly after the water stop, I found a place and took a sharp 90 degree turn beside a trashcan shielded behind a wall. P.E.E. that’s how I spelled relief. My bladder thanked me and my legs enjoyed the rest while it lasted and then I was off again. Mile 21 split – 10:06.
I found myself closing in on the 4 hour Pacer (who had passed me at some point) and even hung with him for a short while. I realized my pace was a little fast and let him pull ahead by slowing down slightly. While there was still time left in the race, I had at most, an 8 minute 1 second window to still achieve a PR. My ultimate marathon goal of a sub 4 hour finish would have to come another day, but a PR didn’t have to wait, but it wouldn’t come easy. Mile 22 split – 10:02
For these last 6 or so miles, I took walk breaks when I needed and continuously drank all the water I could manage. No shade was available, the sun was draining and the temperature was still comfortable but rising. I welcomed another wet towel station along the way and took advantage of it in both directions.
I was watching the time that I had banked slip away at each mile marker. I knew though, I had to go as fast as I could without depleting my energy too early. I was limiting myself to walk breaks to a minute, preferably less. If I stopped to do my leg stretch, I knew I my pace would be slightly faster for a short period of time. Also, for time management, I made sure that I had the cap of my bottle off before I got to the water stop, and when my bottle was being filled, I would grab a water or Gatorade for the road. Mile 23 split – 11:06.
At the water stop near Mile 23, they filled my water bottle with the coldest, tastiest water I had ever put to my lips. It was ambrosia, but I didn’t get to enjoy it too long. At Mile 24, it was time to prepare for the Finish Line. At this point, my time was 3:33 and I knew that a PR time was probable, if I could keep steady.
Then, to my surprise, I saw the 4 hour Pacer, still moving forward but shoulders hunched forward as if in a daze. I had been there many times in races… moving forward to the finish line… somewhere out there. This was his first race as a Pacer, but even in his condition, he had done 10x better than I did in my first gig as Pacer. When you get to this point as a Pacer, where you know there is no way to finish at your goal time, there is the added weight that hangs heavy on your mind that you have failed. Runners were counting on you to get them to the finish line by that time and now it wasn’t going to happen. At least he was going to finish, I had a DNF (Did Not Finish) on my first pacing attempt. But as I tell the Knoxville Pacers in the last email before Race Day, if something happens, take care of yourself. It.will.be.okay! So today, neither of us were going to finish under 4 hours, but I could smell a PR… it was there in front of me… on the horizon. Mile 24 split – 11:26.
I model my prepping for the finish line (of any race distance) on what I believe astronauts might do when they are getting ready to land on the moon, or Earth, or may even Mars one day. For marathons, at the Mile 25 mark, I start to go over a systems check. Lungs, Legs, Stamina, Mind, Posture, Water Levels, and Energy Levels. At this point I have already scanned the runners ahead of me and mark them as ones I will overtake or that I might be able to catch before the finish. Mile 25 split – 10:51.
All systems were in check, my fatigue was being ignored due to the increased excitement of the finish line. I could make out the taller buildings ahead of me where I knew the finish line waited for me with open arms. The noise of the people and music at the finish line was becoming louder. It wouldn’t be long. One last scan for runners ahead of me, none close enough to over take, the PR was the most important thing. Mile 26 split – 10:50.
A row of traffic cones lined the road acting like landing lights for the runners. At the Mile 26 marker, I tried to finish off my water supplies and tossed my bottle off to the side. It served me well.
“Go at throttle up”
“Go at throttle up” was the last communication of Challenger to Mission Control. For the shuttles, during launch, they pull back their main engines shortly after lift off to minimize the maximum dynamic pressure on the shuttle while they are still in the thickest part of the atmosphere. If they didn’t, it would cause some very bad things. Then around the height of 35,000′ where the atmosphere is thinner, they speed back up. At this point they are travelling 1,626 mph and need all the power so they can get to reach 17,000 mph to escape Earth’s gravity. When they reach this point, if all systems are normal, Mission Control sends the “Go at throttle up” message and they open the throttle of the shuttle engines.
My “Go at throttle up” is the point where my calculations of how much distance is left in the race meets up with the maximum amount of energy level I have left. That is, where I begin my “kick”.
I was ready, it was time for throttle up. I saw the finish line clock ahead of me but couldn’t make out the time, it would me my focal point as it keeps my head up and eyes forward instead of looking down. My mind gave the command, “Go at throttle up”. I surged forward, increasing my speed. It was going to happen, there would be a personal record today… on my birthday.
During the last 0.15 of mile, I could here Jen and the Boys call out for me. Yay, they were here! Everything was coming together, but then my left calf cried out and I gave a small hop. Contingency plan created and engaged. Slow down in very small amounts to maintain speed, but not to push to hard to get a debilitating cramp. If I were to get a full blown cramp, limp, skip or crawl to the finish line… just keep moving forward. My contingency plan was not needed. Last 0.2 mile split – 1:28 (a 7:20 equivalent pace).
I crossed the finish line with my hands in fists and my arms over my head. In my excitement, I had forgotten to put up my fingers with the number of the finish. Last year at Darlington, I put up my fingers displaying “42” as it was my 42nd birthday. I noticed the clock 4:09:57 and panicked. “What? I thought I had… Wait, how long did it take me to reach the starting mat.” It had taken me 4 minutes. My watch said 4:05:56… what? 2 minute PR time, No Way!
Yes Way, my official time was 4:05:53 which was a 2 minute and 9 second PR time.
I received my medal and took the chocolate milk that was handed to me. I knocked that back immediately. My brain was dazed and confused, but I had done this enough times to move forward and look for food and my family.
Jeff found me and then Jen and the Boys. Jeff and I talked briefly how we did. One of his friends had finished right behind me. I grabbed some food from the food table and sat down and my body tried to get back to normal. I kept seeing the beer people had and wanted about 3 of them but I found a bench under a tent and sat.
After a while, my wits had come back and could think better. We headed out of runner’s area and headed back to the car. Looking back, I definitely wasn’t thinking very clearly because I never got any beer!
Official Time: 4:05:53
233 out of 708 for Overall Marathon runners
170 out of 414 for Male
35 out of 58 for Male Age Group 40-44
Observations Post Race
Had it been cloudy on race day, I believe I could have taken more off my finishing time. In fact, if I had another marathon in October, I believe I would have been able to seriously shoot for a sub 4 hour finishing time, my biggest marathon goal.
The winner of the Guess My Time, Win Crap Quad Cities Edition was Pete with a guess of 4:05:33, just 20 seconds off.
Can you FEEL it? It’s time to win some fab crap from me. It’s simple, all you have to do is submit your guess at my finishing time (official Net Time listed on official Race Website) for my upcoming race . If you are the closest, you are the WINNER (and it’s better than Chicken Dinner). Guesses can be left here on the blog, via Twitter, via Google+, or via Facebook.
Race Distance: 26.2 miles (standard Marathon distance)
Random info to give you assistance in guessing or Analysis Paralysis:
I’m not sure if you will be able to see them, but they are scatterplots of the Distance in Miles and Pace for the 2014 Quad Cities Marathon Training and the 2013 Darlington Marathon Training. The time period of the training (June 30th – Sept 27) is the same for both years and so helps negate the effect of weather (especially hot weather) on performance.
Most recent relevant races:
Jan 04 2014 Pistol Ultra 50k, 5:43:12
Nov 24 2013 Flying Monkey Marathon, 4:46:02
Sep 28 2013 Darlington Marathon, 4:29:03
Current Marathon PR time:
Nov 9 2012, Chickamauga Marathon, 4:08:02
As of Saturday Sept 27th at 10:45 am: Race Start – 57F/ Approx Finish – 75F
There’s a Magnetic Note Pad with snowflake design, Sharpie pen, LiveSTRONG coffee mug (no performance enhancing supplements included), Pay It Forward wristband, and the cadillac of all bags a GM licensed Cadillac Bag. I didn’t have time to scavenge for more stuff before we left on our trip, so I’m also thinking about including some random mystery crap.
In addition to fine crap above:
Guessing within +/-2 seconds of official time will score you all the wonderful prizes above and a coupon for a free 20oz Coca-Cola product. Get the time exactly and it will be a coupon for a whole 12 pack of Coca-Cola product.
another awesome contest brought to you by PRIZ3S, a division of planet3rry.com
I had initially intended to do a weekly update on my marathon training and report on how I was progressing. I found the accountability of recording my Sugar Detox this Spring very empowering to motivate me to blog. I had hoped it would carry on, but it only continued with blog entries that I wrote in my mind, not on the computer. So this is an overview glance at my training this summer.
Some time back in the Spring, Jen and I decided that since the Quad Cities Marathon fell on my birthday, it would be a nice combination to go visit family and run a marathon. It had been almost 7 years since we had seen most of the Iowa family and 15 for some of the Illinois family.
Once I knew that I would be running the marathon, I started thinking about the logistics of a training schedule. Last year, the inaugral Darlington Marathon fell on my birthday and I trained for it during the summer of 2013. As a result, regardless of whether I developed a 12, 14 or 16 week plan, I wasn’t terribly excited about running in the heat of summer.
I decided on the shorter 12 week plan, I mean, why prolong the suffering? The two biggest obstacles for a shorter training period are fitting in the long runs with time for rest and missing any run can be harmful to the overall training regiment. Also, since I didn’t run my normal gamut of races in the Spring, I would, in essence be starting from scratch. I set my training start date for June 30th.
My schedule would primarily consist of lunch time runs (in the heat) of 2-5 miles of easy, tempo or interval workouts. Long runs would be scheduled for the early mornings and a few of them with a twist, I would set up a run during the week where I ran to work. This would allow more time for the weekend to spend with family. I would also try to avoid running on days that I had Taekwondo class at night, and only run those days when I had a conflict elsewhere.
What has always been a weakness in my marathon training is the mid mileage runs of 6-12 miles. They take longer than what I can do at lunchtime but too short on weekend when time is valuable.
A typical week would be something like this:
Monday: Taekwondo in Evening
Tuesday: ~2 miles Speed work at the Track
Wednesday: Taekwondo in Evening
Thursday: 4 -5 miles Tempo run around Campus/Downtown
Friday: Taekwondo in Evening
Saturday: Long Run in Morning
Sunday: Interval training disquised as Ultimate Frisbee with the guys at church
But that, my friends, was something called “theory”. So here is the reality of my training in the short-short version.
Weeks 1-4 [Jun 30 – Jul 27]
I logged in 9 runs for a total mileage of 37.1 miles in a total time of 5 hours 12 minutes. My longest run was 6 miles on the sand at Myrtle Beach. All but 1 of my runs, which was a Speed workout, were Tempo sessions.
Weeks 5-8 [Jul 28 – Aug 24]
In the second part of my training I logged in 93.7 miles in 13 runs in a total time of 14 hours 6 minutes. The breakdown of my running sessions were 4 Long Run, 1 Speed, and 8 Tempo sessions. The longest run was a 20.5 mile run on Third Creek and surrounding Greenways. This was workout that I had to stop and rest in the shade multiple times because of the heat (~86F with feels like 90+).
Weeks 9-12 [Aug 25 through Sept 22]
As I compose this, I’m not done training, but I don’t expect to get too many more miles in at this point. I logged in 1 Speed, 2 Long and 7 Tempo workouts for a total of 68.9 miles in 10 hours 6 minutes. My longest run was a 23.8 mile run from Farragut out to near West Town Mall and back.
I ended up running on the same days that I had Taekwondo classes 8 out of the 32 running sessions. Most of these were on Wednesdays when I would run at Lunchtime and then have TKD that evening. When I had run earlier that day, I found it easier to control my level of exertion during sparring However on days when I didn’t run, usually Mondays, I would be very eager to spar and if I didn’t intentionally start slow I would tire too quickly and be exhausted after the 2nd bout.
In all, I only logged in roughly 200 miles which put me at an average of about 17 miles per week. To give some perspective, a moderate training program (Hal Higdon Intermediate) is typically a total of 550 miles with an average of 33 mile per week. So who knows what will happen!
The Quad Cities Marathon has been on my bucket list for a while now. It was my first choice in pursuit of 50 States (i.e. running 1 marathon in each of the 50 states +DC) for Illinois, but the reasons are much deeper than just checking something off a list.
For all practical purposes, Petersburg VA, is my “hometown” because that was my childhood home. It was where I went to Elementary school, High School and my home base for when college wasn’t in session. However, it was not my first home. My origin started in Davenport IA (one of the Quad Cities) and was my first home for a few years though I have no recollection of it. I moved to Virginia due to a change in the family structure.
Delicately, I have 2 Dads, the late Bob Tripp and the illustrious Pete Higgins. As a result, I have the Tripp and the expansive Allbee (My Aunt) family in the Quad Cities. So running the marathon will be a sort of homecoming, to run among my family, in the place were I was born and to add a extra factor of coolness ON the day I was born.
In 2006, we lost Bob Tripp, I had dreams of him watching me run a Quad Cities Marathon. We would travel to Iowa so that he could meet his grandsons and I could run the race. I imagined him cheering me on and maybe even riding along with me for a short bit in his electric wheelchair. I “think” he had engineered his chair to get more horsepower because he could get movin’ in that thing. Unfortunately, the last race that involved him, was the race against time to get to Iowa as quickly as possible because his body was failing fast. Due to his service in the Air Force, he is buried in the Rock Island National Cemetery located on the Rock Island Arsenal.
When I looked at the course for the Quad Cities marathon in 2007, I noticed something remarkable. As the marathon crosses Rock Island (One of the Quad Cities), it passes through the Rock Island Arsenal but what jumped out was that it passed the cemetery near Mile 20. Mile 20 is the legendary location where a runner’s willpower is tested. It is late in race and to some it feels like they hit an imaginary “wall”. However, for some snarky runners, the Mile 20 mark is “just the end of a 20 mile warm up and the start of a 10k (6.2 miles) race”. The 2014 course passes the cemetery just after Mile 19 for the Marathon and Mile 12 for the Half Marathon. So, poetically, at the point where my willpower is supposed to be tested, I can suck it up and give a good showing (with maybe a wave and blow a kiss) as I pass the cemetery.
From my father situation, I have The Brothers Tripp, the late Chris and the engineer extraordinaire Jeff. As far as I can recall, Chris never got to see me run. In 2012 when I ran the Georgia Marathon in Atlanta, he had gone to New Orleans that same weekend. Then in 2013, he was gone. This year, I get to start the race with Jeff! He will be running the half and I get to share the course with him until the halfers break off (at mile 8) to head for the finish. I am VERY excited about this chance to run with Jeff!
When I cross the finish line at the Quad Cities Marathon, it will be my 24th marathon finish in my 7th state. I am planning on running a Guess My Time, Win Crap contest for you to play at home but that will be under a separate post, closer to Race Day. In the meantime, I am in the works of another blog post that reminiscences about my training for this marathon.
This was my 11th Expo race, the 10th consecutive one for the 10k flavor. My very first Expo in 1998 was the 5k distance when I was but a noob runner. I had only started running 3 months prior. The Expo is a long standing race in the Knoxville area with a choice of a 5k or 10k distance, this year was the 37th running of the Expo. It has had different sponsors throughout the years (like News Sentinel Expo) as well as different course routes. Here’s a picture from 1981-82 when it started on Gay Street downtown.
This year the sponsor was Panera Bread (hence Panerathon) with benefits of the race going to one of our local food banks, Second Harvest.
Expo 10k PR Time 51:11 (but not for this particular course)
2 weeks leading up to Expo, I started a Sugar Detox eating change in an effort to lower my sugar cravings and cut back on my sugar intake. Expo fell on Day 13 out of 14. If you were to ask me a week before I started my detox, “Hey Terry, what do you think your Expo finishing time is going to be?” I would have replied, “about 52-53 minutes”.
However, I was having some energy and leg hurting problems. You can look at the archives for May 2014 and see my blog entries for my detox. Leading up to Expo, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be under an hour. I had come to peace with the change in finishing time because of my detox, it just was a timing (pun intended) issue.
As with just about every KTC race that I run, I sought out a volunteer spot I could do before the race and still run the race. This time is was Course Setup: Water Stop Edition. I helped fill the big coolers of water and gatorade and take them out to the spots on the course. Apart from getting wet trying to handle the leaky coolers, it was straightforward work and earned me another coupon to go toward a future race. Also, I knew exactly where they were located on the course beforehand.
One of my taekwondo friends was going to be running the race and looking to finish under an hour. So, I figured that I might hang with him as long as I could. For anonymity sake, since I haven’t asked permission to use his likeness, we’ll just call him, Mr. P for now. I found Mr. P hanging out in the courtyard and we chatted for a while waiting for the race to begin.
Earlier in the week, one of my runner friends posted on Facebook about something call a sQoosh. It was some sort of wristband, sweat picker-upper type of thing and I commented that I would probably like it because I sweat profusely. I was even thinking about using it more for taekwondo because I’m like a faucet after sparring with my gear. To my surprise, he sent me one to try out and it arrived Friday, just in time.
This year’s course was something quite different. Instead of going down the long hill, we were going to go up it… twice. It was a two loop course, with running up a fairly challenging hill right at the start and then again in the middle. Just how I like it.
I noticed that there seemed to be ALOT less people at this race than last years. Looking at the Results Section on the Knoxville Track Club website, there were 878 finishers for both races in 2013 and only 679 finishers in 2014, so it was a big difference.
We had the National Anthem, the runner’s count and then we were off. I was going to try to run with Mr. P, but in about 20 yards, he was ahead of me and I thought it would be better for me to conserve at the start and let him go on ahead.
I struggled a bit up the first big long hill, I just didn’t have the energy to surge up the hill. At the top of the hill, the fact that I had been hydrating well became reality and I soon started looking for places that I could ditch and do my business. I peeled off and took nature’s call. Since I wasn’t concerned too much about time, i worked my way out of the brush and got back into my pace.
The first loop went well, or rather I didn’t die. On the way up the long big hill for the second time, I just churned my legs. Something weird was happening on this second loop, my shoulders and arms were starting to hurt, like hurt-hurt, painful hurt to move them. Then at the water stop, I was feeling my legs getting heavier and heavier. It was a struggle back over the Henley Street bridge.
At this point, there was a little more than mile in the race and I wasn’t sure how I would do. My legs were lead weights and my arms were aching badly. I saw my friend Mr. P up ahead and realized that both of us were going to make under an hour. The turn off Henley Street was a slight up hill and I didn’t had the energy to maintain my pace and slowed down.
I kept up a slow but steady pace, basically all that I could muster until the Mile 6 marker and made my assessment of how much I had left in the tank. I was in quite a bit of pain in my arms, and my legs still felt heavy. On the last turn with a little more than 0.1 mile left, I made my plan.
My plan was that I would start my ‘kick’ with about 50 yards left to go. I would bump up my pace and if I had anything left, I would open the throttle.
After the turn, I had to hold back because even though I was hurting, I was all-business. I saw runners ahead of me and I wanted to pass them, but I couldn’t kick from the turn, there was too much course left. I didn’t want to overtake someone only to have them surge past me just before the finish line. One runner ahead of me was fading and I didn’t need to worry about him, I would pass him.
However, with about 300 feet left in the race, there were a couple of runners ahead that might be within my reach. I skipped the water stop that was about 250 feet from race finish (it also served during the race) and surged forward. I ended up passing one of my KTC friends who ALWAYS finishes before me (because she’s inherently faster) but was having a slow day. With just mere feet between me and the finish line, I surged past my friend Mr. P and then crossed the finish line just ahead of him. This was a race, not a fun run.
Chip Time: 56:06
Overall Place 184/404
Age Group 15/26
I will shed a little light on why I needed to do this Sugar “reset”. I am very much a chocoholic and this intervention, while I won’t abstain from chocolate in the future, will give me some proof that I don’t need to eat it 24/7 and to be aware of how much I eat.
Here are a few of the chocolates that are available with ease at my work along with some of the nutritional facts. There are other candies that are accessible, these are the main culprits.
Hershey Kisses (9pcs) – 210 calories, 12g total fat/7g sat fat, Carbs 25g (23g Sugar, 1g fiber), 3g Protein
Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (5pcs) – 220 calories, 13g total fat/ 5g sat Fat, Carbs 26g (23g Sugar, 1g fiber), 4g protein
Mini Nestle Crunch (3pcs) – 180 calories, 9g total fat/ 6g sat fat, Carbs 25g (21g Sugar, 1g fiber), 2g protein
Mini Snickers (4pcs) – 170 calories, 8g total fat/3g sat fat, Carbs 22g (18g Sugar, 1g fiber), 3g protein
I don’t know how many pieces of chocolate that I happen to take in any given day. Sometimes it is less, sometimes it is more (especially if work is real stressful). For giggles sake, I am going to speculate that on average, I might get 24 pieces of chocolate, to make the math easier. 12 pieces before lunch and 12 in the afternoon. And it’s usually like 2-3 pcs when I go to the restroom or something like that, so it’s typically spread out over a few hours.
This totals to 861Calories, 49g total fat/23g sat fat, Carbs 105g (90g Sugar, 5g fiber), 15g protein
I’m going to use the 2,500 Calorie Daily Allowance values as I am a fairly active guy and by default need the extra fuel. So, just on this guess of chocolate alone, the chocolate eating accounts for 34% of Caloric intake, 61% of Fat, 92% of Saturated Fat and 28% Carbohydrates. Funny enough, there is no recommended daily allowance for sugar by itself, only total carbohydrates and fiber but not for sugar or protein. And this is for the day, not including breakfast, lunch, dinner and any other snacks.
So, the decision to make, is how much to allow back into my diet. I have that schedule for the content portion of Day 12 write up.
Day 9 – 5/20/14 Tuesday
It’s only 2 data points per category (the HORROR!) but the distances are the same routes, so that helps the comparison.
I’m not surprised at all, I fatigue faster, but while my body is slowing down, mentally I still feel strong. This is unlike what happens when someone hits “The Wall” (as in The Matrix, there is no spoon, there is no wall) where the physical and mental energy levels are at a low.
I ran 8x400m repeats and I couldn’t keep the pace very well, my best lap was a 1:50 min (7:20 min/mile equivalent) whereas earlier this year, I was able to run repeats in the 1:35 min time frame (6:20 min/mile equivalent). What does this really mean? I’ll speculate on it real soon.
It was a cold morning, something around 16F, which was about the temperature at the start of Flying Monkey. The Start/Finish of the race was on the property of Alcoa Middle School which allowed us to use their gym facility. So instead of hanging out in the car, or walking around outside, we could stay warm inside and be as relaxed as we could get. The Junior ROTC from Alcoa?? Middle School was the Color Guard to present the flag for the singing of the National Anthem. There were only a few pre-race announcements before we headed out to the get the race started.
The course for the Pistol Ultra consisted of an out-and-back configuration of two circles connected together, much like two lollipops connected stick end to stick end. A whole loop was approximately 11 miles and the 50k runners were to run 2 full loops and then an augmented out-and-back to complete the mileage.
The course loop was on entirely greenways with a few road crossings at various points along the loop. About 2/3rds of the course was on the Alcoa Greenway with the other third on the Maryville Greenway. The Alcoa Greenway has a more rural feel to it as it is follows closely beside Pistol Creek (Hence, the name of the race). Once the Greenway changes to the Maryville Greenway, it is a more urban flavor as it courses around the Duck pond of the great city of Maryville (which to pronounce correctly in East Tennessee sounds like “Murhh-vulle”).
I was pretty anxious walking around the race start, as this was my 50k race, were I to finish this race, I could be called an “Ultramarathoner”. However, with ALL races, no matter the length, there is electricity in the air and that tends to bends one’s focus away from trivial matters of finishing a race and more important things such as starting the race.
Go geared up with 2 packs of Clif Blox, 2 Accel gels, and a 24oz Gatorade bottle, I was ready to attempt my first ever, 50k.
Lap 1: The Good Lap (11 Miles – Total Time 1:47:23)
The strategy I had planned for the race was to run for 9 minutes and then walk for 1. The most important part of this would be that it would force me to slow down at the start of the race. The starter’s pistol released its yell and the race was afoot!
The strategy I actually followed was not what I had planned. Instead of using a run/walk strategy, I opted for the run until you can run no more strategy. What I was most concerned about was that I would be starting off too fast, thus having to take walk break sooner. It turned out that I did find a pace that was slower than my usual marathon pace, however, it would still be too quick. I would find that out in the next loop.
I was familiar with the course, as I ran these greenways in years past and that was to my advantage. The first couple of miles, as the greenway dropped down by Pistol Creek, the temperature must have dropped 5-10 degrees cooler. There were places along the greenway where water had pooled and frozen over and still frozen.
Once on the Alcoa greenway, the few hills on the course presented themselves to taunt the runners. However, short work was needed for these short hills. Part of the greenway ran alongside the back of some buildings and some curious people asked what was going on and how far we were going.
Passing the first aid station, I realized that I wasn’t really hungry, but I knew that I should eat nonetheless. I grabbed a half banana at the aid station and broke open my pack of Clif Blox. I ate two of the Clif blox around the turn around. Once I came back around to the aid station, I filled my gatorade bottle with some Strawberry HEED drink (but I do like Mandarin Orange HEED). It wasn’t all that bad, but it wasn’t all that great.
Lap 2: The Other Lap (11 Miles – Total Time 2:05:24)
Shortly into Lap 2, I started to take walk breaks. I had wanted to push back switching to run/walk as long as I could, but given this was going to be a new distance for me, I thought it better to be preemptive in saving my legs. I ran alone for most of this lap, but I could still see runners ahead of me.
I didn’t eat/drink much this loop either. I still wasn’t hungry and forced myself to drink and make sure that I had a full bottle of liquids with me at all times. At the water station, it was still cold enough that the table that held the cooler for us to get water/carbo drink was frozen over with a layer of ice from the liquids that spilled. I found out that I don’t particularly care for GU’s Lemon Lime carbo drink.
Lap 3: The Short One (9.06 Miles – Total Time 1:50:16)
Knowing that the last lap (for the 50k) was a shorter lap, even if just a short distance, was a mental boost. I had ditched my fleece outer layer. It was still cold down by the creek at spots, but most of the course was getting warm, at least enough to shed a layer. I could manage the colder temps with just a hat and gloves for the short term, then take them off without having to worry about overheating.
And then, I pasted the 26.2 mile mark with 4.8 miles yet to go. All I had to do was finish and could add “ultra marathoner” to my list of things people could call me (this better than some other things people call me).
Most of this lap, another runner and I were passing each other in a leap frog fashion. She would pass me, then start walking and I would pass her. Then I would start walking and then she would pass me. On the return leg of this last loop, when she started to pass me, she stopped and said, “Let’s finish this thing”. We chatted for the next 3 miles, taking much fewer walk breaks while maintaining a decent pace.
If you have read some of my race reports, you know that I am kicker when it comes to finishing race. In the last couple hundred meters, I will use up any excess energy to pass runners at the finish. I even practice this “fast finish” technique on some of my training runs. This was my first ultra and as I stress for first time marathoners, it is about finishing, not time. Enjoy the experience, don’t try to kill yourself at the end, you automatically get a PR and unless you are battling for an award, don’t worry.
Official Time: 5:43:12
28th out of 80 50k finishers
What was strange about this race, I realized is that my food and drink consumption was nothing like other races and I’m not sure why. Usually in a marathon, I will eat 4 to 5 packs of gels, a pack of Clif Bloks, Fruit on the course (if available) and will drink at least 5 or 6 refills of water that I carry (bottle is 24oz). For this race, I didn’t finish one Clif Blok pack, I had zero gels, I did have bananas at the aid stations totaling maybe a full sized banana (or just a little more). To drink, I only had 4 bottles of drinks. I never really felt hungry or thirsty while out on the course
This was the longest time, by about 2 minutes, that I had ever ran in one day. My previous record was 5:41:10 at the 2010 Flying Monkey Marathon.
So now the question is would I do another ultra marathon. The answer is yes, I would. However, I highly doubt it would be much further than a 50k.
Kim Hale won the Guess My Time, Win Crap – Pistol Ultra Edition with her guess of 5:42!
It’s Back (RUN, RUN AWAY!) the GUESS MY TIME, WIN CRAP contest. The premise is straightforward, be the person with the closest guess of my official finishing time and win random stuff crap. Guesses can be left here on the blog, via Twitter, via Google+, or via Facebook.
Random info to give you assistance in guessing or Analysis Paralysis:
Haven’t run this race yet, in fact, I have never run this particular race distance. Furthermore, I have never run this far… ever!
Here’s an excerpt from the non-Pulitzer winning race report for the 2012 Chickamauga Marathon:
“It was so nice to get to chat with Susan while actually running and not on via the intertubes. I told her I doubted I would ever run an ultra marathon (a race greater than 26.2 miles) because at that point I had logged in about 28 miles and felt like crap. Of course, that was just crazy talk… I think there’s a 50k in me. :)”