Monday, May 25, 2009

The Race that was a Wall....And a different type of PR

Short Story: Today was not my day.  Almost DNF'd, but ended up mostly walking to the finish.

Long Story: Woke up at 5:00 AM, had a little coffee, a granola bar, a fruit bar and starting drinking my usual Poweraide.  My friend Billy and his cousin "Q" (who would be running his first!) pick me up at about 6 AM.  We make it downtown with no problems, wait in line for the porta potties and line up.  It didn't seem like a huge field, but it was incredibly crowded.  There was no "side area" etc to get to your designated position.  After 10 minutes of jockeying for position I make it up within 30 feet of the 4:00 hour pace group. 

The women took off at around 7:10 and somehow a lot of the crowd didn't get the memo.  There's a push of people from the back resulting in many people near me toppling over....crazy!  We were finally off at 7:25.  Talk about a crazy start.  It was all over the place.  The 4:00 hr dude totally took off!  It was near impossible to stay anywhere close to him....way too many people - all different people!  And plenty of race walkers clogging up the start!  (Thought they were supposed to start AFTER the runners???)  It was utter mayhem, and it didn't subside until at least mile 3 or so.  I managed to stick with the pace guy through all this somehow, but quickly started feeling fatigue - especially for being just 3 or so miles in!  WTF?!?!?!  The calm before the storm.   Mile splits (1) 6:49 - but I think that's wrong (2) 9:05 (3) 9:09 (4) 8:51.  

During mile 4 I realized I was breathing pretty heavy...and my heartrate would confirm that indeed I was struggling.  175 bpm for that pace???  Maybe 8 months ago....I mananged to click off the next several miles with the pace dude still in site, ignoring my awol heartrate.  Mile splits (5) 8:59 HR 177 (6) 8:56 - HR 179 (7) 9:06 HR 183.  I know my rates pretty well, and I definitely knew 180s this early were not going to back down.  I can handle 180s (and 190s) short term, but not for 19 miles.  I made the decision to kiss the pace group goodbye.  It sucked watching the balloons fade off into the distance.  My next goal: sub 4:10.  Mile splits (8) 9:44 (9) 9:49 

I saw my Julia and mom at around mile 9 - knowing this was not my day I informed them that I still wanted to push for a good PR and that I'd see them at mile 17 (where they'd meet me next).   Let the meltdown continue....Mile splits (10) 10:17 (11) 10:52 (12) 10:49

Before the halfway point I was caught by the 4:15 pace group.  This chick rocked, she was pep talking and animated.  Way better than the silent mysterious 4:00 dude...I thought about picking up the pace, but decided to stay with them.  Nice.  I was even comfortable, and least for a mile or two (13) 9:43.

THEN....good old fashioned GI issues.  Nausea.  I didn't puke, but sure felt like it.  I had to let the 4:15 group go.  (14) 12:02 - HR 160 (!) (15) 10:55 HR 165 (!!) (16) 12:28 HR 163 (!!)  These HRs don't go with the paces, do they?  I hooked up with my cousin Josh at mile 17 or so.  He ran from his home in SM (he's also a runner).  I was falling apart quickly though and couldn't bare to run.  We walked together for a bit.  I was a bit light headed and still nauseous.  At one point while WALKING my HR read 165.  This had me worried.  I thought about pulling out.  Something was definitely not right.  With the PR out of site it certainly didn't seem unreasonable to DNF.  Josh was worried about me and we agreed we'd visit the nearest Medical tent to make sure I was fit to continue if I chose so.  We came by Julia and my mom again at mile 18 and we finally found the medical stop.  The nurse took my blood pressure (normal) asked me questions and basically told me I was ok to go.  I decided I could not bare to DNF - that would make a tough day a tough week knowing I was physically fit to continue.

I gave hugs to the fam and carried on in a light jog.  Uh-oh.  The walking tightened me up.  My entire left side cramped up and a nasty blister had formed (from the walking?) on my right foot.  WHAT THE HELL ELSE COULD GO WRONG?  I decided to walk, walk and more walk.  At this point I had nothing except the finish.  Last year I finished this race in 5:00:50 and I wouldn't break 5 until Houston THIS YEAR (4:28:xx.)  If I wasn't gonna break 5 part of me thought well maybe I could top my LONGEST marathon time (My first in Houston - 5:09:xx.) 

The miles crept by incredibly slowly.  For awhile I turned on the iPod and tried to zone out.  Then I tried to encourage some of the runners who were obviously first timers and needed some support.  But the miles go on forever when you're doing a 16:00 pace.  (HA!)  Just before mile 25 the 5:30 pace group came up from behind.  I decided to try and run with them for a few minutes and chatted.  5 or so minutes later they were due for a walk break.  With just over a mile to go I decided to turn on the jets (more like a small electric motor with dead batteries.)  I clicked off that final bit at around a 10:00 pace.  Game over.  Final time 5:26:xx

A new PR!  PR stands for "Personal Record."  And that it is.  Officially my longest marathon.  Hopefully this is a PR that stands up until I'm elderly.  Honestly I'm somewhat frustrated (obviously).  I think I've overdone it.  4 weeks ago was Big Sur, then SM 10k, then SB 1/2, then a weekend off and now a very tough LA Mar.'s done and I'm glad for that!  I'll have many other opportunities for glory in the future.  I'm happy I didn't DNF - I'd be MUCH unhappier with that.  So no A,B,C, or even "D" goal.  I did get my "E" goal.  My dad's first name happened to be "Eric."  Very Fitting.

P.S. Ironically I watched the 2007 Ironman Special last night to get amped up.  Was definitely thinking of that elite runner who refused to drop out in the marathon after getting injured.  He walked it with age groupers passing him right and left.  Obviously I'm about as far from elite as you'll find, but seeing his dedication certainly fueled me during my "long walk."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Numbers Talk: Pre LA Marathon

Tomorrow I'll be taking on my 6th marathon...good old LA.  Weather looks good and I'm definitely my usual combination of nervous and pumped up.

I've raced 3 out of the last 4 weekends.  Well, Big Sur wasn't really a race for me (4:41:xx)  But the SM 10k (48:11) and the SB Wine Country Half (1:50:00) definitely were.  I took last weekend off in prep for tomorrow and I think I'm ready for a big PR.

The numbers say I'm capable of a sub-4 hour marathon.  That's been my end game for awhile.  I'm planning on going for it.  I'll head out with 9 minute miles and see if I can hold on.  I might even run with the 4:00 pace group - we'll see!

Fingers crossed, but I must admit I'm not entirely sure of this one.  My goals...

A) Sub 4 (ok, I'd take 4:00:00)
B) Sub 4:10
C) Sub 4:20
D) PR (previous 4:28:41)
E) Finish

Is that a first?  5 goals?

I'll let you know how it goes manana!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good Ol' Hockey and Ramblings

Before running and triathlon I played a lot of hockey.  After college I decided to try my hand playing ice hockey.  I played a little street hockey growing up, and somehow upon my graduation in 2001 the flame reignited.  I've been a fairly loyal LA Kings fan ever since and have enjoyed my time on the ice, mostly at the nearby Culver Ice Arena.  

Since I lost my dad and discovered running my passion for hockey has somewhat diminished.  So much so I actually ended up "changing teams" (not that team to team!) and moved to a less competitive group of guys.  I've still been playing a 2-3 times a month - kinda makes for an interesting cross training!

The last few times I've played I've had an absolute blast.  One thing that fascinates me tremendously about Hockey is that when you're in a game you forget about life in a very big way.  To be honest all that I can really remember for that hour and change is that my name is "Cody."  (Yes, from my team mates yelling at me!)  After the game I remember "I have a wife, I have a dog, etc."

I miss this feeling.  I find running especially to be incredibly introspective.  I do some great thinking running.  That's great, but there's something magical about "checking your life at the door."  Thoughts?  Maybe I should listen to music a bit more...

Oh and here's a fake pic of me fighting.

Oh yeah, I'm pissed Danny got eliminated off Idol this week!  Kris is mediocre at best and reminds me of the generic smug popular guy in high school.  (/vent.)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

SB: Fire, Screen and Run

It's been a very interesting 3 days...I got up to Santa Barbara on Wednesday night as the Jesusita Fire flared up..I took my time getting up North to take some photos.  Here's a little video of the smoke over the ocean.  This was shot from sea cliff, about 10 miles out of SB.

It felt strange to carry on with our film screening despite all the craziness with the fire, but the showing was sponsored by my friends at Destination Races, so the decision was made to go through with it.  Before the screening we had a booth at the mini expo - my roommate was none other the famed Bart Yasso!  Pretty cool.

We screened "Running for my Father" to an audience of 40-50 people, mostly locals (some of who had to leave right after the film, getting calls to evacuate!)  It was a bittersweet night as I think most of out minds were on the flames.  I probably did my crappiest Q&A yet (!)  On our way back home we realized the flames had really erupted.  Scary times.  One of our friends house had already burned, several more in danger.  Luckily my mom's house was pretty far from this:

Friday morning we went up to the expo in Buellton, which is about 25 miles North from Santa Barbara - far from the flames.  I was pleased (and shocked) that the air quality in the Santa Ynez Valley was pristine.  No ash to be seen.  It looked like the race might actually NOT be cancelled!  Picked up the packet and headed back to SB where I met Billy (larunner - duh!) his girl Sara and my girl Julia who drove up with them.

We took a walk at my favorite place in SB, Ellwood and then headed out to dinner at the famous E-Bar.  Soon we were all packed up and ready to go to bed.

And FINALLY...race day.  5:30 AM wakeup call.  We were out the door by 6.  I didn't know what to expect.  The fire was going better, but if there was ash in the air my plan was to DNF.  No sense in ruining my lungs.  I was hoping to stick to my plan as much as I could: 8:40 miles 1-7, take it slow up the climb near mile 7, then book it in.  Definitely wanted to break 2, hoping for a sub 1:55 and a sub 1:50 would be A+ for me.

After the walk to the start we were off.

First off, Billy is freaking FAST.  Don't let him tell you otherwise.  He's got serious skillz.  I remember hearing him say "I'll take the first mile as a warm up."  He was out of sight by the 100 meter mark...Sheesh.

The first miles were really beautiful.  I was trying to find my groove and remember settling in somewhere around mile 2.  By mile 5 I remember thinking...hmmm...8:30-40 for another 8 miles?  I don't think so.  I tried to convince myself the race would be over by the big climb near mile 7.  That kept me going.  

The air quality seemed great, and it definitely wasn't as hot as I anticipated.  (Yes, this is my debut in a sleeveless, or don't we call them "singlets?"  We headed through the town of Los Olivos at around mile 5 and it was probably my favorite part - tons of crowd support there.  :)

Just around the corner was the biggest hill in the race.  I remember last year when I paced Julia through her half we totally walked it.  I was pretty hell bent on running.  Man it went on awhile!  But after the crest there was a great downhill - which, btw, normally I hate, but I had to make up the time.  Miles 8-10 were a gradual downhill so I tried to pick it up as planned.  By the 11 marker I knew I was in position to possibly break 1:50 if I could hold onto my faster kick.

I love the feeling when you're close - you can taste it.'s tough when a hill gets in the way.  I'm not scared of hills after Big Sur...but I still loose time!  And the horribly placed hill just before mile 12 was definitely NOT helping my cause.  I somehow made it up - checking my watch at the mile marker - it read something like 1:41:0x.  9:00ish to do 1.1 should be ok, right?

I knew I still had a shot so I gave it all I possibly could.  Finally to the 13 mile marker in the town of Solvang I went into an all out sprint.  I knew it'd be close.  I rounded the corner thinking the finish line would be right there.  (?!)  Uh...this was seeming a bit more like ".2"  WTF?!  I held on to my ridiculous sprint and made it across the line.  The time on my Garmin, and my eventual chip time: 1:50:00.8

Damn.  8/10 of a second!  Still a huge PR of almost 13 minutes, but those numbers hurt a bit.  It's all good though.  This race was nearly cancelled!  And it's not like I "lost" the race by a fraction of a second - my goal was definitely reached in a big way.  Billy, despite what he'll say in his blog is a total badass.  1:40:xx.  I can't even fathom that!  :)

(Julia and Henry in the car at the start of the race - she was there for the finish!)

Mile Splits:
m1 - 8:35 / HR 164
m2 - 8:39 / HR 168
m3 - 8:29 / HR 170
m4 - 8:35 / HR 174
m5 - 8:29 / HR 174
m6- 8:52 / HR 175
m7 - 9:13 / HR 178
m8 - 8:03 / HR 177
m9 - 7:44 / HR 177
m10 - 7:55 / HR 182
m11 - 7:53 / HR 187
m12 - 8:24 / HR 188
m13 - 7:40 / HR 193
.1 (should be .1 but Garmin says .23 and 6:11 pace?!) 1:24 / HR 200 (!)

Overall: 1:50:00 ; 8:19/mile ; HR=177
Age Group 41/110 Overall 271/1956

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Legs on Strike

Had a great 5 mile recovery run with Billy Monday...took yesterday of and decided to go for a medium (albeit slow) run this AM.  It's somewhat warm so I wore my singlet...and by mile 1 I could tell this was not going to be my day.  My Garmin battery died, I had some stomach issues and by the SM Airport (about 2.5 miles from my house) my legs were totally done.  So I'm guessing about 5 miles on the day - with a lot of it walking.  WTF?!

I'm gonna shrug it off and still shoot for an 8:20 pace to start the SB Wine Country Half on Saturday.  Not sure if I can hold on to that ambitious a pace the whole 13, but we'll see!

Arg...I hate crappy run days!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Santa Monica Classic 10k

After last week's race in Big Sur I had a case of PMLDS (Post Marathon Let Down Syndrome).  We've all been there, and especially considering I didn't "race" it, I felt like I wanted to push myself a bit this weekend.  I didn't run much this last week - the knees are still week from Big Sur!  I did a short recovery jog, played some ice hockey Weds and went out for a 40 mile ride on Friday.  But today was the Santa Monica Classic 10k.  I've never done this distance, outside of my triathlon at least!  And for a good cause:  Heal the Bay

My plan was to go out at an 8:00 pace and try and pick it up after mile 2 if possible.  There was a climb before mile 4 and I knew I'd slow a bit there, but then it was all downhill - I wanted to punch it towards the end.

Wake up call: 6:15 AM.  I drove down to Santa Monica and jogged towards the start line about a mile away (it's a point to point, so I parked near the finish.)  I ran into my bro Eric from the LA Tri Club - we visited for a bit while the DJ at the start was trying WAY too hard...poor guy.

At 8 AM sharp we were off.  I tried to position myself towards the front - this is new for me!  I settled into a nice 8 minute pace, sometimes going into the high 7s a bit.  The first mile was through Main Street SM - nice.  At around 1 mile I saw my pal Billy running with his cousin.  He had mentioned he might come by and I was thrilled to see a friendly face (two if you count his cuz!)  We exchanged pleasantries and I carried on down to Ocean Ave.  Definitely a false flat between miles 1.5-3...but I chugged on!  I had my Garmin set to Time, Pace and Average Pace.  I wanted to keep the overall average pace below 8 to reach my goal of breaking 50 minutes.  In the back of my mind I would have loved to break 48...but this being my first 10k just wanted to try hard.

Between miles 3-4 we climbed about 100 vertical feet on San Vicente.  It sounds like nada, but this was a little rough for me trying to keep pace.  I slowed just a tad and was definitely feeling it at the turnaround.  I flew down that hill though!  I also ran into my buddy Bill Lockton who was watching the race in front of his house.

The final 2 miles was a gentle downhill and at the 5 mile mark there was Billy and his cuz again!  I was definitely struggling to hang on at this point, but Billy decided to run with me!  Pretty cool!  I was definitely kicking it as hard as I could - it was downhill after all.  Billy peeled off at the 6 mile mark and that last .2 felt like FOREVER!  But I made it - Garmin time = 48:11.  

What a great experience.  Love the shorter distance - it definitely breaks you in a different way!  Next week I'm in SB for screenings of my film and then running the SB Wine Country Half Marathon.  I was originally hoping for the low 1:50s (which would be a big PR) but seeing the LA Marathon is 3 weeks away I'm thinking of going a little easier - perhaps sub 2:00 (still a PR)

Here are my splits for today's race...

Mile 1: 8:00, 166 HR
Mile 2: 7:48, 177 HR
Mile 3: 8:00, 181 HR
Mile 4: 8:03, 185 HR
Mile 5: 7:26, 185 HR
Mile 6: 6:34 (!) 189 HR
Last .2 (on the Garmin it's .34...) 2:16, 192 HR

Chip Time: 48:11.7
Age Group: 40/167
Overall: 270/1663

Pics courtesy of Billy Burger:

About a mile in...

Mile 5 - not smiling!

Home stretch!  The hardest .2 ever...


About Me

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Film composer moonlighting as a runner, cyclist and triathlete