Saturday, October 31, 2009
The day before the Marine Corps Marathon, Misty and I checked into our hotel room, and Brad picked us up and took us to Arlington National Cemetery to visit Dad’s grave. As I knelt beside his grave, tears came to my eyes, and I knew it would be an emotional week-end.
We went to the Expo to pick up our race packets, and then went to an early dinner with Joan, Roy and Misty’s family. We got back to the hotel early to get everything ready. I made sure I had Dad’s dog tag with my gear. I pinned my number onto my shirt that said; Running in memory of Capt. George J. Pidgeon, USMC Ret. “Dad”
The next morning we got up at 5:00 AM. We walked to the runner’s village to check our bags in. Before we headed to the start, I took a few quiet moments on the grass beside the Potomac River, to say a pray to God, and to talk to Dad. I asked Dad to be with me during the race, and again my eyes teared up. As I got up from the grass in the predawn darkness, I saw two marines walking toward me, one male, and one female. One of them said, “We just wanted to make sure you’re alright.” I said, “Yes. I’m fine. I just wanted a moment of peace.” I felt like Dad had sent those marines to check on me, and to let me know everything would be alright.
The starting line was very crowded with much excitement in the air. There was a flyover from two jets, the Star Spangled Banner was played, and the cannon from WWII signaled the start of the race! Misty and I stood there, because the crowd around us was not able to move. It would be 20 minutes, before we would cross the start line. (Our individual time is measured by an electronic chip attached to our shoe.)
We felt good as we started jogging. I had Dad’s name on the back of my shirt, and there were many others who were running in memory of a loved one, some with pictures on the back of their shirts. There were marines everywhere, passing out water and cheering us on. We were able to spot Brad and Misty’s family at several spots along the course. The course was beautiful as it ran along the Potomac, the Washington monument, Jefferson Memorial and the sites of DC.
Misty’s knee started bothering her in the first half of the race. She had done so well during our training without any significant problems. Surprise! You never know what a marathon will bring. She told me to go on ahead, but I said we were fine. We walked a while, and then resumed jogging. Her knee continued to give her trouble from time to time, and again she would tell me to go on. She always seemed to find the strength to get back into a good jogging pace.
At mile 17, we saw the White House, but I saw something even better. Brad was there, and said, “Would ya’ll like some company?” At this point in the race, you’re as tired mentally as you are physically. We jogged along with Brad, and listened when he told us we could take a walking break, and when we needed to jog.
The bottoms of my feet were so tired at mile 20. I felt for Dad’s dog tag several times during the race, and it gave me strength. I questioned would I ever want to do a marathon again. I saw a sign that said “Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever.” I’m sure Dad must have had a lot of painful moments when he was in the Marines, but what I remember, is the great pride he had in being part of the Marines.
After we crossed mile 25 Misty was ahead of me, with Brad ahead of her. I saw Misty’s leg bobble, and thought she might fall. She said her knee was giving way, and for me to go on. I said we could walk. She could hold on to me, and I could be a crutch. She said no. I said the most moving thing I could think of, “You never leave a fallen marine corps marathoner!” She still said no, and that this was my race, and she wanted me to go on. I offered to have Brad and I on both sides of her, but she said she would go in at her pace, and wanted me to finish strong. When Brad looked back, I waved for him to come back, and asked him to stay with Misty.
As I jogged ahead, I thought to myself, I’m finishing the race with Dad, and I felt again for his dog tag. I heard someone say, “We have less than ½ a mile to go.” I soon saw the 26 mile marker. (Only two tenths of a mile to go.) I scanned the crowd looking for Joan, Roy, and Misty’s family. I saw the big arch with Finish. I high fived the good looking marine and I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. I looked ahead and saw the Iwo Jima Memorial, and tears came to my eyes.
I finished in 5 hours, 8 minutes and 8 seconds, a new personal record. Misty moved as quickly as she could with one stiff leg, with the crowd cheering her on. Wounded, but not defeated, she finished 2 minutes behind me. We went to get our metals, and felt a sense of pride not only in ourselves, but in the marines who put them on us, and what they represent.
With all my love,
Friday, October 30, 2009
I just picked a 10 mile route that is on our regular roads. It is easy to add or subtract to meet your own needs. Please RSVP if you are coming. I need to mix the proper amount of fluids. We are starting a 7:00 am this week. It is too dark to start any earlier and be safe with a large group.
- Where: Saturday, 7:00 am @ Harris Teeter
- Supported: Yes at the Tracks
- Weather: Forecast
- Routes: 10 Miles
EXTRA GUS: We have left over GU and GU Chomps (similar to Shot Bloks) from Medoc that we would like to get rid of. If purchased in bulk, GU is normally about $.50 a piece, and GU Chomps are about $1.75 a bag. They are far more if bought individually. If you are interested in any of these we are trying to get rid of them at a discount.:
- 3 GUS for $1
- 1 Bag of GU Chomps for $1
The money collected will go back into the Medoc race budget for the 2010 race. It obviously is not a large amount but it is better then letting the GUs go to waste. I will have the GUs with me at group runs for anyone who is interested. We have a variety of flavors.
Everything about the Marine Corps Marathon was huge...The long walk from the hotel to the start, the Pentagon which we passed along the way, the many port-o-johns and UPS trucks at the bag drop, the thousands of runners standing in the start corrals, the huge monuments and buildings we passed, the thousands and thousands of spectators along the way and the many many marines that volunteered to provide support along the course, and finally, the long walk back to the hotel (that was self-inflicted, i know...)
For all the hype and enormity of this event, I was somewhat relaxed, yet eager to get started. Sometime over the past couple of months between training runs and a few races, I had gained this huge level of confidence in my ability and was setting out do really really well in this race. I think I can even be quoted as saying "breaking 4 hours will not be a problem".
Scott and I lined up in the 3:45 corral and after getting a pep-talk from veteran Marine (and talk-show host) Montel Williams, we were off...It took us 2-3 minutes to get across the starting line. In the first mile, Scott and I became separated and I was on my own...(well, besides the other 1000 people I was running shoulder-to-shoulder with). I was really interested to see how this thick crowd would thin out...
After a slow climb and winding through the streets of Arlington, we were dumped out on a more desolate stretch of the course with very few spectators. After crossing Key Bridge into Georgetown, which was beautiful, we started back up the river and it wasn't long before we saw the two leaders meeting us in the opposite direction. They were literally side by side with no one else around them...I don't think I can comprehend the level of intensity and competition those guys feed off of.
The course took a u-turn to the right and climbed a hill, pointing us back in the direction of the city. At the top of the hill I could see a sea of runners going in both directions. This was about mile 7 and where I started feeling good and settled in. In retrospect, this is where I let myself get too settled in and instead of throttling my pace, I went with it. I remember the converstations I had with myself.."It's okay, you feel good now...run with it, you will be able to push through if it gets rough near the end, you are trained for this" and then immediately after, "alright damnit...you're making this bed, you are gonna lay in it.". That is exactly how it went through my head and the latter is more closely how it played out...
After Georgetown, course details start getting a little foggy and I remember seeing a golf course on my left and realizing I was on Haynes Point...The half marathon point was at the very tip of Haynes Point. I was at about 1:55 half marathon pace and it was at this point where I knew I was in trouble...I was not comfortable. I tried to ignore that and push through this boring strip of course and hope the upcoming crowds and sites would provide a lift, and they did. I could not believe the amount of spectators that lined the course along the mall and around the monuments, meanwhile, I am still in a very thick crowd of runners...It was people everywhere!
At mile 20, my goal time was out the window and it was time for the "fall back" goal (is that even allowed?)...It wasn't long after cossing the bridge into Crystal City where time was irrelevant and it became a mission just to finish. We passed our hotel twice during this Crystal City out-and-back...Do you know how hard it was to not just bail on the race and go inside and get a beer??? (things were bad).
Shortly after the turn around loop part of Crystal City, someone hit me on the shoulder...It was Scott. We were literally shoulder-to-shoulder and I don't think I would have ever noticed if he hadn't said something...22 miles later we were running together again...No telling how many times we passed each other during the race and didnt even know it. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention how bad the cramping was at this point...It started on the bridge (hence the desire to go in the hotel and get a beer). Cramping in the calves, hams, and inner thighs...I don't ever cramp when I run. I don't know why I was cramping so bad then. I was doing a lot of walk>run with an emphasis on walk...Scott moved ahead.
The night before the race, my parents called me at 8:00pm and said they were in the car on the way to DC...this was a surprise to me. I had no idea where to tell them to go on the course and didn't want them running all over the place, so I just suggested they hang out at the finish. As I closed in on the finish, I figured I had either missed them along the way or that I would just meet up with them after the finish. About 20 yards from the finish I heard someone yell my name and I turned around and there they were...I had just passed them and it was a great surprise to see them there right before I crossed the finish line. Mom even got a great picture as I passed by them. I was thrilled they were able to see an event of this size, see me finish, and see first-hand how I am spending all of my spare time these days. I hung out with them post-race and even dragged them along with me on the 2.5-3 mile walk back to the hotel in Crystal City.
As far as my personal goal for the race, I was very disappointed at first. I think I've learned from this that physically, there are things I need to do to become stronger as a runner. As far as racing smarts, this is the first race where I can honestly say "I went out too fast". It was bound to happen and I hate it happened at this race, but given the pre-race confidence level I had, the post-race humbling will hopefully sharpen my pace-management skills.
I don't think enough can be said about the amount of support provided by the Marines and the crowds and also the amount of planning and coordination that must have been done to pull off an event like this. The effort and numbers are enormous...For those who may have not read or seen this in the race program, I think these are some interesting stats:
- $7,000,000 raised through charity programs
- 1,888,000 ounces of Mixed Berry Blast Powerade
- 850,000 cups
- 401,243 photos taken by MarathonFoto
- 381,470 total MCM finishers in 34 years
- 207,500 safety pins
- 156,000 feet of heat sheets
- 34,500 finisher medals
- 30,000 bags of pretzels
- 30,000 gallons of water
- 28,000 race programs printed on eco-friendly paper
- 26,000 CLIF shots
- 25,000 bags of Sport Beans
- 16,400 pounds of ice
- 10,000 orange slices
- 5,662 marines, sailors, civilians and volunteers
- 5,520 feet of snow fencing
- 5,000 traffic cones
- 2,888 tables & chairs
- 1,168 law enforcement personnel
- 724 Port-a-johns
- 446 awards
- 253 2nd Lieutenants placing finisher medals on runners
- 200 vendors
- 84 laptops
- 74 shuttle buses
- 45 countries represented
- 35 UPS trucks
- 17 mile marker spinners
- 1 finish line
Raleigh: This past weekend also had another event that is part of the Second Empire Grand Prix quest. This was the Run For Healthier Babies, and is the fourth event in the eight race series. Ashley Bass was once again on fire, setting a new PR of 17:37 and placing 7th overall. Brian Lankford still managed 15th overall with a time of 18:41 despite fighting the flu. This time earned Ashley first in his age group and Brian was second in his. Ashley now sits in first place in the Series and Brian is in second. Keep in mind, this is their overall standings, not their age group standings! It is pretty cool to see a Raleigh race series, and have Nashville and Rocky Mount at the very top!
New York: I also wanted to post a reminder that John and Derek and both racing New York this weekend, and seeking Boston Qualifying times. Derek qualified at Shamorck this year, and John is now focused on joining him on his trip. New York is a spectacular event. It draws one of the most competitive fields of any race in the world. NBC will show two hours of coverage of the marathon beginning at 2:00 pm. You can also watch the race live online in several places. I highly recommend tuning in to watch.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
After sending an email to a friend about the Marine Corps Marathon, I realized I had essentially written a race report, so I decide to tweak it a bit, and put it on the blog. As normal, I am not short of words. . .
The MCM was a unique race to do. I have done several mega-marathons now (Disney, Chicago, New York, and Grandma's), but MCM had something "different". You really felt like you were part of something special. . .
- 22,000 people screaming OH RAH before the race was cool.
- Having the Marines every step along the way was a unique experience.
- Finishing at Iwo Jima is amazing
- The patriotism was strong.
- The Finisher's coin and what it represents is something I will treasure
These are all things that are unique to this marathon. You will not find them anywhere else.
The race was kind of odd/good for me. I never really felt like I "settled in". The entire time I was waiting hit the wall so I could give up, and was thinking of my excuses along the way. I ran the first five miles or so with Ryan. The parts heading towards Georgetown are beautiful! Probably my favorite section of the course. Lots of fall colors overlooking the Potomac. Eventually we caught the 3:20 pace group. I explained to Ryan that "I have no business passing them". I knew I had not trained for that pace.
Running in a pace group can be good, but it can also be hot, stuffy and crowded. I decided to hang behind it while Ryan went ahead. After a while I caught up to the pace group again, and found out Ryan was sticking right with them. I continued to drift back and then up on the pace group, but never really ran with it. I also never let Ryan know I was so close. At times I was 150 yards back, and at other times 15 feet back. I felt like we both needed our space, and did not want to mess up his rhythm.
Coming back by Georgetown the second time, I got to see Ursula going in to the loop. I was shocked she found me in the crowd. I was scanning like crazy, and could not find anyone until she shouted my name. I did however manage to see a girl dressed as Madonna (golden cones and all) on the way.
Around mile 17 we were on the Mall and I let Ryan know I was there. We pulled out to the side of the pace group where it was less crowded and easier to breathe. We really did not talk too much (except for some complaining) but ended up running together from there forward. I think we were both waiting for the other one to break, so we could both give up. We did not say it, but we both knew it. Through emails after the race we confirmed this was the case.
Crossing the main bridge was horrible. It was long, boring, and there were no fluids (which I needed for my GU). When I saw the grim reaper I was not amused at the time (now I can enjoy the humor). When we finally got to Crystal City we walked through the fluid station to get well hydrated. This was an out-and-back part that I thought would be horrible. It was a struggle, but turned out to be great. The streets were lined with about 1,000 colorful teardrop flags, plus we got to see Jeff on his way back to the finish. We knew he was on a Boston qualifying pace.
We made it through that section, and then started the two mile finishing stretch from the Pentagon to Iwo Jima. I was in "shuffle mode" now, although my pace never went above 8:30. There was a water stop at mile 25, which I did not need, but it gave me an excuse to grab a cup and walk a few steps again (I wish I had those 10 seconds back now).
Somehow around 25.5, I found my stride again and really started running. I put my head down, said the Lord's Prayer and pushed all that I had. I said Amen just as I heard Sarah and Tessie cheering. The final short/steep hill towards Iwo Jima is a pain. This killed my stride, but I was able to finish still moving at a good pace. Ryan and I congratulated each other and limped for our medals and pictures. It was great to see Jeff smiling at the finish line. We knew he had made it.
It took several minutes for it all to sink in, and I am very proud of my time, but more proud that I did not give up.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I can’t think of one thing that Michael, Scott & Frank could have done to improve the race (short of removing the roots, rocks and hills!). As many of you know, I started this race feeling pretty ill and couldn’t hope to finish feeling much better. I ignored much well-intentioned advice and ran the race anyway. The great part is I felt safe the entire time. The race was so well supported that I never felt that aid was too far away in the event that I did crash. There were friendly faces around every corner. At every aid station the volunteers went out of their way to make sure all runners had the bottles filled and knew where the gels and snacks were. I questioned my ability to finish this race many times this morning, and these positive factors were instrumental in getting me through.
I met many people along the run and had some interesting conversations; this always helps to get me through. I had one tumble as I was approaching the Start/Finish area on the 2nd loop. Got through it with just some small scratches and was uplifted when Tracy Proctor informed me that I only had 5 laps left! Thanks Tracy.
As is my norm, around mile 17 I started feeling shaky and lost a lot of energy. Around mile 18 I was stung by a yellow jacket (thankfully only one this time). It didn’t hurt that bad, but it did dampen my spirits some (and made me feel like I have some sort of insect target on me). Again the volunteers at the next aid station went above and beyond, digging out the First Aid kit and keeping my spirits up. About a mile later I ran into Ron and William’s Travelin’ Aid Station (which was an absolutely great idea) and they gave me Cortisone ointment for the sting and provided some laughs and mental support.
The next miles were tough. My throat and ears really started aching and my coughing fits came more frequently. Luckily there were some other guys in the race who were battling infirmities of their own and we all tried to push each other through. The long stair descent was especially tough and I truly almost through in the towel at this point. I wrestled Medoc at the base of the stairs and kicked his butt. I kept run/walk/running and got to Mile 25. It took me approximately a million and a half minutes to complete Mile 25, maybe longer. I finished, I made it and I feel good about it. The trails are beautiful and running is great at Medoc. Thanks to all Race Staff and Volunteers.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Now that 28 of us have crossed the finish line at the Iwo Jima Memorial, many of us are asking, "What's next?" For some of you one marathon a year is enough. For others, one marathon a life is enough. And there are several of you who don't want to see all that training go to waste and you plan to squeeze in more marathons!
I will update this post occasionally as people reply. This is what I know of so far (this is just what people are planning):
- 11/01 New York: Derek, John
- 11/07 OBX Half Marathon: Half: Leigh Anne, Scott, Ryan, Ingrid, Michael S, Sean, Jennifer, Mike V, Laura
- 11/14 Richmond: Full: Amber, John, Jeff H, Abraham, Levi
- 12/12 Thunder Road: Frank, Steve, Dave, Ron
- 01/09 Frosty 50k: Ron
- 01/10 Disney: Amber?, Jon?
- 02/13 Myrtle Beach: Steve, Levi, Jeff H
- 03/06 Umstead: Scott, Michael, Eric?
- 03/13 Roanoke Canal Half: Kim, Larry, Ted, Liz, Cliff, Ralph, Scott, Leigh Ann, Arthur, Matt, Sarah, Ron, Amber, Jon, Kinnie, Eric, Steve, Indie
- 03/21 Shamrock: Michael?, Ryan?, Gerry?
- 04/25 Big Sur: Ron?
- 05/02 Eugene: Michael?, Brian?
- 06/19 Grandma's: Tracy P
Here is my two cents. . . If you want to use the next two weekends as a taper and race again, I highly recommend Richmond. There is already several RMEC runners going. It is one of my favorite races. If you can get by with only one weekend off, you can try OBX. The half is already sold out, but several Rocky Mount runners are going.
Thunder Road is another affordable and drivable option to race. Frank, Dave, and Scott raced it last year and had high praise of the event. It is a "bigger city" event, but does not draw the immense crowds like MCM. Plus you get a nice medal! It also allows ample recovery time for most of you.
If we want to get a big group to do a spring race, our best option is Myrtle Beach. The course is the easiest you will find in my opinion, the weather is normally very favorable, and there is both a half and a full option. Plus you can get cheap hotels with fun for the family in the off season. Shamrock is another flat beach marathon option as well with nice swag.
If you want a challenging marathon, and one you will feel proud to have completed, I strongly suggest the Umstead Marathon. It will sell out within 24-72 hours after it opens for registration on 11/02.
There are some new marathons in North Carolina this March as well, but I really hope the RMEC will support the Roanoke Canal Half Marathon on 03/13/10 if you plan to race in the month of March. However. . . I ultimately want you to pick whichever races get you excited and motivated to stay active!
So lets start the ball rolling now. What half/full marathons are you planning to run? If it is not on the list still post a comment!
Monday, October 26, 2009
I would highly recommend another big group trip, but at a smaller marathon. With a race the size of MCM and a city the size of DC, it was tough to all get together. For those of you who I did not see or speak to, congratulations!
Below are the results of every associated with the RMEC. The links take you to our individual results page complete with splits and photos. There is also a virtual race map where you can watch "dots" race. It appears to have a glitch at the time of this blog post (it pulls up the wrong runner when you put in their bib number):
- ARTHUR BENNETT - 5:37
- RYAN BULLARD - 3:22 (PR)
- DEBORAH BUNTING - 4:30
- DOUGLAS BUNTING - 4:48 (PR)
- JORDAN CARTER - 4:24 (PR)
- INDY CHESIS - 4:58 (PR)
- MATTHEW COLLINS - 4:23
- STEVE COOPER - 4:18
- ABRAHAM COX - 3:57 (PR)
- CHRISTY COX - 4:06 (PR)
- DENNIS CROSSEN - 4:05 (PR)
- RON FLEMING - 4:15 (PR)
- MICHAEL FORRESTER - 3:22 (PR)
- URSULA FORRESTER - 4:57 (PR)
- TRACY HICKS - 4:50 (PR)
- RUSSELL HINESLEY - 5:14 (PR)
- AMANDA KENNEDY - 6:30 (PR)
- DENNIS KENNEDY - 5:53 (PR)
- DAVID LAVELY - 3:38
- FRANK LILLEY - 5:28
- EDWARD LORD - 4:14 (PR)
- JEFFREY MILLER - 3:13 (PR, BQ)
- PATRICIA MILLER - 4:14
- TRACY PROCTOR - 4:01 (PR)
- MURRAY SCHMITT - 5:10 (PR)
- WANDA SOHN - 4:36 (PR)
- ELAINE WEISNER - 5:08 (PR)
- SCOTT WINGFIELD - 4:12
For everyone who ran. . . this video is for you.
Friday, October 23, 2009
So how is the blog entry a tip? The tip is to tell you it is time to start planning now!
There is a great page in the MCM race booklet to help you determine your plan for arriving at the race. Look at page 25 and take the Transportation Quiz. Most of the RMEC will taking the METRO in, or getting dropped off at a nearby lot and taking a shuttle in. Some of us will walk from the Virginian Suites too.
If you are taking the METRO, it will be PACKED. The Pentagon Station (Blue or Yellow line) is where you need to get off if you are checking bags. If you are not checking bags, get off at Arlington Station (Blue line). Don't just follow the crowd when getting off the METRO. Get off at the correct stop based on your bag check needs.
Don't wait to buy your METRO ticket on race morning. Take care of this when you get to DC. For more information about the METRO and maps, visit their online site.
I wish I had better advice to give, but the main thing is to know your strategy. If you are worried and have time on Saturday, do a "practice trip" to the start. When you go to bed Saturday night, you want to have every worry out of your head.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
If the alert system works as designed, the blog should update every time one of us hits a 5k split. Race tracking. With this many runners, you should be able to refresh this blog between 8:00 and 2:00 pm and get constant updates. You will need to refresh the screen to see the alerts.
- ARTHUR BENNETT - Marathon
- RYAN BULLARD - Marathon
- DEBORAH BUNTING - Marathon
- DOUGLAS BUNTING - Marathon
- INDY CHESIS - Marathon
- MATTHEW COLLINS - Marathon
- STEVE COOPER - Marathon
- ABRAHAM COX - Marathon
- CHRISTY COX - Marathon
- DENNIS CROSSEN - Marathon
- RON FLEMING - Marathon
- MICHAEL FORRESTER - Marathon
- URSULA FORRESTER - Marathon
- TRACY HICKS - Marathon
- RUSSELL HINESLEY - Marathon
- JASON IRVIN - Marathon
- AMANDA KENNEDY - Marathon
- DENNIS KENNEDY - Marathon
- DAVID LAVELY - Marathon
- FRANK LILLEY - Marathon
- EDWARD LORD - Marathon
- ELIZABETH LORD - Marathon
- JEFFREY MILLER - Marathon
- PATRICIA MILLER - Marathon
- TRACY PROCTOR - Marathon
- MURRAY SCHMITT - Marathon
- WANDA SOHN - Marathon
- ELAINE WEISNER - Marathon
- SCOTT WINGFIELD - Marathon
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- The AccuWeather forecast has a Saturday night low of 49F and a Sunday high of 63F.
- The Weather Channel forecast has a Saturday night low of 48F and a Sunday high of 58F.
If this forecast lasts, it might be the most ideal weather I have raced a marathon in. It will be chilly at the start. Remember, if you are checking a bag at the start, the Runner Village is at the Pentagon, which is a good walk from the starting corrals. Don't think you can check your bag at the last second before the cannon goes off. This means you need ways to stay warm in the 30-60 minutes before the race, and in the first several miles.Here are some tips:
- Technical: No matter what you wear, make sure your bottom layer is technical fabric. No cotton on the bottom!
- Jackets: If you wear a wind jacket, you will sweat! Don't plan to keep it on the entire race. Layers of shirts are better.
- Wear gloves: I recommend the cheap kids gloves at Target. They look tiny, but are super stretchy. I think you can buy two pair for about two bucks. If they are not thick enough, put both pair on together. If you can't get gloves before you leave for DC, there will be lots of cheap throw-away options at the expo.
- Long Pants: If you plan to have on pants or tights, I strongly recommend testing that out on a run today or tomorrow. 26.2 miles is a long way to run in long pants. It will feel good at the start, but at mile 16 how will it feel? I am not saying don't do it, but do think ahead. Tights will likely be the better option over pants, because pants can introduce lots of potential chaffing.
- Trash Bags: Take a trash bag with a hole cut for the head. This is a great pre-race cover. It also keeps you dry, and holds in body heat.
- Dropping: Plan to drop layers in the first few miles. Don't bring your favorite shirt or hat if you can't part with it during the race.
- Band aides: Not really a clothing thing, but guys should remember band aides or body glide (not both) for their chest. Cold weather can make any potential chaffing become severe. I have seen men finish races with two lines of blood running down their shirts.
- Head & Ears: You lose the vast majority of your body heat through your head. Take an ear warmer or toboggan hat for pre-race and the early miles.
- Race Number: Think about where you pin you race number. I pin my number on the layer I plan to race in (not the other throw-away layer). You don't want to waste race time re-pinning your race number. Pinning it to your shorts is a common approach too, but remember two things: 1) is it comfortable when you run, and 2) can you use the bathroom without having to unpin your number?
It is easy to think you are preparing for a 10F race based on my comments above. To be honest, preparing for 10F would be easier, because it is cold the entire time. We are trying to make certain we stay warm pre-race, but then comfortable during the race. This means layers (onion reference again).
- You will be sweaty after the race, and can quickly get cold.
- If you are checking you bag, put some warm dry clothes in the bag. This likely will include a hat and maybe some extra gloves just in case.
- If you are not checking a bag, be sure you can get to your hotel to change if needed.
- They will have the shiny space blankets at the finish. These will help, but they are not as good as a warm sweatshirt and a hat.
Monday, October 19, 2009
MCM is a fantastic course. I have not run the MCM, but have taken in some of it when I ran the National Half Marathon. If you know DC, you know there is so much history to see. Pay attention to the monuments, the Potomac River, the spectators, and the volunteers along the way. You do not want to run 26.2 miles, and the only thing you can remember is what the road looked like.
There are several ways to become familiar with the race course. First and foremost, review the course map, and the course elevation chart. You will use this course map in your head on race day. Another great resource is the photo collection on the Richmond Times Dispatch site that list landmarks for each and every mile. Take a few minutes to click through the photos so you can find some things to look for on race day. Here are some useful links:
Brief MCM Video
Aid Station Intervals
Here are a few of my own observations:
- Between miles 2-5 there are some decent hills. These used to come later in the race, so enjoy getting them out of the way early, and then settle in to your race pace.
- At Mile 17 the White House is to your left. . . anyway you look at it, that is pretty cool running by the White House.
- At Mile 19, look to you right, and you can see everyone that you are beating.
- At Mile 20 you will hit the "beat the bridge" portion of the race. Smile as you run across knowing that you easily beat the 1:15 pm cut off time.
- At Mile 22 you hit an out-and-back stretch. My experience tells me that segments like this always feel longer than they look on the map. It is a mile out and a mile back. Don't dread this section. Look forward to being able to see runners face to face, and know there are only two miles left once you get back to the Pentagon.
Tips still to come. . . Getting to the Start, Mental Preparedness, Hydration, etc.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The Tar River Running Company is run by Michael Forrester. Michael is the President of the Rocky Mount Endurance Club, and has been instrumental in bringing you events like: the Medoc Trail Races, the Ford's Colony 5k and 10k, and the Sweetheart 5k. We believe in providing runners with "big-race" quality but with "small-race" charm. March is an exciting race month for North Carolina, and there are lots of options to choose from. We hope the you will decide to join us for the inaugural Roanoke Canal Half Marathon.
SPECIAL SALE! To help get things started, the first 20 people who register for the half marathon can sign up for only $30! The only condition is we want you to tell friends, and help spread the word. We save on advertising so we can put more back into the race experience. Word-of-mouth has helped us to sell out Medoc and Ford's Colony, and we want to see that trend continue.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Race Packet Assembly: We are planning for Wednesday at 5:30 pm. to assemble race packets. This means getting the right name, with the right number and the right shirt in the runners bags. We are not putting in the timing chip this time, so it should go a bit quicker. We also are adding in some extra goodies from sponsors. Each bag and race number will be labeled with the runners name.
Like in the past, we will do the assembly at the main RBC building near the YMCA. If you can help, please post here. With 7-8 people, this will take about 90 minutes to complete. Any more than eight, it is gets too crowded. CALL MY CELL PHONE IF YOU NEED TO GET IN THE BUILDING 903-0713
Race Packet Pickup: We are strongly encouraging local runners to pick up their race packets in advance. This will make race day far less stressful. Early packet pickup is challenging for us this year, as we have three locations for runners.
- 3:00-6:00 Raleigh Running Outfitters - Kinnie Pruden
- 3:00-6:00 Davenport Honda - _______________
- 12:00-6:00 Halifax Travel and Tourism - Christina
If one or two people can help at Davenport Honda, it would be very appreciated. We will give you the race packets for people picking up at that location. It should be pretty calm.
Thanks to the RMEC for once again making the Medoc Trail Races become a reality!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The race was another big event with just under 700 timed finishers. The wining time was a runner from California who ran a blistering 15:29. . . and he only won by 14 seconds!
Once again, the RMEC boys did not disappoint. Ashley Bass finished 9th with a 17:50. Brian Lankford finished very close behind with an 18:17 taking 15th overall. These times were good enough for 2nd and 3rd place over all in the master's division. Both runners earned both ceramic plates that were hand painted by local children and adults with autism.
Looking at the Grand Prix standing, Ashley has now moved up to 4th overall, and Brian has cracked the top ten, and is now sitting in 8th position. Three races are now completed, and five more still remain. Their next race is the Run for Healthier Babies 5k in Morrisville.
But here’s the reality: You will finish! You won’t be last! About 98 percent of those who start marathons run, jog, or walk across the finish line. Your goal should be to make the trip as pleasant as possible. Miles of training help, but so does a good mindset.
Here are three tips for helping your mind take your body to the finish line.
Break up the total distance. For real motivation, create short-term goals that will give you a sense of accomplishment during the event, not just at the end. Avoid using the finish line as motivation in the first half or even two-thirds of the marathon, says Ethan Gologor, PhD, chairman and professor of psychology at CUNY and a past captain of the ING New York City Marathon Psyching Team. The finish is too far away to be useful and you might actually lose focus. Likewise, goals that are too close to one another—every mile, for example—will make the race seem endless and tedious, says Gologor. Exactly how you break up the race is up to you. (every five miles? every 10k? you choose!)
Take the focus off of your own feet by thinking about someone else’s. The best place to learn how and why other people are running. When you begin to doubt your own strength, imagine training with a new set of lungs from a transplant surgery. Or consider how motivated you would be if every mile you ran helped raise money for a disease that’s affecting your own child. These are the real experiences of runners who will be in the pack with you on November 11.
Give yourself a reason to continue. When a voice of self-doubt pipes up in your head, don’t take it to heart. Instead, recognize it by saying, “That’s the voice of self-doubt,” then exhale and picture it moving out of your head. It might help to replace the doubt with words of self-belief. Perhaps you need a statement of affirmation at the ready. You can create one. Mine is "My Medal, Hot Shower, Our Team"
Friday, October 09, 2009
Adidas really has never made it to the front of the pack with their running shoes, but they have always had great ads. In 1999 and 2000, Adidas created some fantastic ads that captured the true uniqueness of the endurance runner. I would bet that most of you can related to almost everyone of these ads. . . well, maybe except the last one. Special thanks to Charles Hayden for hosting these pictures on his site.
- Band aides
- Snot Rocket
- Off Road
- Changing Room (mild warning)
See you on the roads everyone!
Amazon has it marked down toe $139.99. This is a one day deal. So if you want the watch, you need to buy today! Thanks Steve for finding this!
We are starting a 7:00 am this week. I am mainly doing this for safety, because it is still dark at 6:30. I am also doing it because our race time is at 8:00 am, and I want us to get some runs in close to that time of day. If you want to add miles before, you are welcome to do so.
- Where: Saturday, 7:00 am @ Harris Teeter
- Supported: Yes at the Tracks
- Weather: Forecast
- Routes: 12 Miles
I like this route. It allows for runners to see each other pretty often on the Litchfield loop, and in Ketch Point. You can also easily shorten the route to meet your needs.
Continue to test out your race strategy. If if you don't need an energy gel on a route of this length, consider taking one with a few miles left to see how you stomach handles it. The more familiar your body is with your race plan, the more likely you are to have success.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Planning what to wear in the Marine Corp Marathon can be a challenge, as autumn weather in DC is fickle. The current predicted temperature for the week leading up to the dace are lows in the 40s and highs in the low 60s. This would be perfect, but will almost certainly change. Remember, two years Chicago had a heat wave, and this year there is a chance of snow flurries. . . you don't know what you will get until race weekend!
There have also been rainy and very windy days. With a chance that it could be anywhere from 33 to 80 degrees, it’s best to have a variety of options on hand, ranging from shorts and a singlet to tights and a jacket. Consider bringing a wind-resistant jacket; a pair of tights or wind pants; long-sleeved and short-sleeved technical shirts ; running shorts; technical running socks; mittens or gloves; and a fleece pullover. Avoid cotton, which absorbs moisture and swells, causing blisters and other problems. If you need any new cold weather gear, get to Raleigh Running Outfitters now. Jim has lots of new merchandise in stock.
Part of the reason to do long runs is to make sure that your gear works during long runs. Fortunately, October tends to dish out a little of every type of weather, so you’ll probably have the opportunity to test every item. This testing should include not only your apparel, but anything you might be wearing or carrying, such as a fuel belt, water bottle, or gel pinned to your shorts. If it is something new. . . wash it a couple of times to make sure it is broken in.
Now is the time to express your own style. They don't discount your time because you had a matching outfit or looked cute. Find out what works and use it! What’s comfortable for your friend might not be comfortable for you.
Follow the guidelines below when testing possible race-day outfits:
- Practice adding and removing layers while you’re running. Can you comfortably go for miles with your jacket tied around your waist, for example, or is it too bulky?
- Be certain that nothing is rubbing, even a little bit. Rubbing and chafing might be uncomfortable or annoying on a short run. During a marathon, an irritating sock or sleeve can rub your skin raw.
- If it can’t be fixed, don’t use it. A bouncing zipper pull can be removed or pinned down; clothing that bunches on runs should be dispatched.
- Test different ways to carry whatever you’ll want on you during the race (gels, other snacks, etc.): in pockets, a waist pack, or pinned to your waistband.
- If you pin your number to your shorts, can you still get them off to use the bathroom?
Keep in mind that you can put extra clothing in your baggage for after the race, but those clothes won’t be available to you in the staging area after you check your bag. Many runners wear throwaway clothing to the start; as the start cannon fires, they peel off the old sweatshirts and coats that have been keeping them warm. If that’s your pre-race plan, stock up on items you can use to stay warm and dry but don’t want to see again. All discarded items will be collected and donated to charity.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Meals: Keep track now of what meals energize you. Just make a note in your training log or personal calendar about what you ate, when, and how you felt during your next run. You’ll find out if oatmeal and orange juice is a good breakfast before a morning run, or if pasta without meatballs works the night before a 20-miler. Use this information to energize your training runs during this last three weeks before the race. Then, choose your best meals for the days before the event. You’ll arrive at the start line knowing that your muscles are filled with glycogen, the energy you need for a 26.2 mile tour of DC. That’s not total control, but as seasoned marathoners know, it comes pretty close!
Everyone has different tastes and preferences—and there are many ways to fill a plate. Follow these general guidelines and you won’t be far off the mark when training or racing.
Review your daily training plate. Two-thirds of your total calories should come from foods rich in carbohydrates, your body’s best fuel source for endurance efforts. You don’t have to count calories—just look at your plate. Most of what you eat should be complex carbohydrates, such those provided by vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans), and whole grains such as brown rice, wheat berries, oats, millet, and quinoa. The complex carbs in these foods keep your blood sugar stable and provide the micronutrients needed to keep your body healthy during these final weeks.
About ten percent of each meal’s calories should come from high-quality protein-based foods, essential for muscle repair. Look at your plate: About one-third of its volume should be good protein sources such as fish, meat, beans, nuts, tofu, low-fat cheese, and eggs. These protein sources will also provide high-quality fats, which are key to energy storage. Avoid fatty meats and cheeses and the trans-fats in many processed, packaged, and take-out foods.
Know what pre-exercise meal works for you. Ideally, you can eat about two hours before beginning a long run. Foods such as bagels, toast, and cereal are easily digestible. Ideally, include some low-fat protein such as yogurt, cottage cheese, or egg whites. Never “run on empty”—if time runs out, at least have a sports drink and toast and bring along a snack.
Monitor your fluids. You should be well-hydrated throughout each day. Check that your urine is light yellow and abundant. Scant or concentrated urine means you’re not drinking enough; clear urine indicates you may be overdoing fluids.
Test energy and fluid sources on the run. Mountain Blast Powerade (Blue) will be available on the course. There will be organges at mile 9.5, Clif Shots at mile 12.5, and Sport Beans at mile 19. I have never seen a race that changes the energy gel on the course. Most offer the same brand the entire race.
If you do not normally use Clif Shots, and Sport Beans, I strongly suggest trying them before race day to see how your body handles them. How much should you drink? Does gel agree you? Test these items on your long runs to learn which energy sources you prefer.
Monday, October 05, 2009
The taper truly is a period of recovery, but not a period of rest. If you think you can sit around and do nothing, you will not have a successful race. Here are some tips and suggestions about how to handle your taper, and what to expect.
Cramming: Remember in school when you used to cram for an exam the night before the test? This does not work in marathoning. Trust that your training has prepared you for race day. Don't try to cram in a bunch of hard workouts leading up to the race and think it will be the key to your success. Your body truly needs to recover and repair right now.
Long Runs: Yes, your are in your taper, but you should still have at least one more "long-ish". For most of us, this run should not exceed 15 miles. For many of you it will be closer to 12 miles. Take the run easy and relax.
Quality Runs: If you have been doing speed and tempo runs, don't stop. You should however reduce the intensity and the amount each week leading up to the race. If you have not been doing speed or tempo, do not start now. You do not want to introduce new training techniques this close to your race.
Cross Training and Weights: Just like speed and tempo runs, if you currently cross train and/or use weights, you need to reduce the intensity and frequency. Remember, you are letting your entire body taper. Just because you are running less, does not mean you should lift weights and bike more. Everything is tapering.
Diet and Nutrition: Over the last month, you have burned a lot of calories. In your taper period everything slows down. As a result, you may start to put on a few pounds if you do not monitor your diet. That Friday night heavy pasta dinner is fine when you were running 20 miles the next day. The chicken biscuit at Hardees was a nice reward after your long Saturday run. Just remember that you are not burning it off like you once were. Don't go on a diet, but do be aware of what and how much you are eating.
Shoes: Some people recommend getting a fresh pair of shoes before your marathon. Most running shoes are good for 300-400 miles. You should have a general idea of how your shoes are doing. If you plan to get a new pair, do it now. You will want them broken in and ready on race day. I would also recommend getting the same pair that you did your 20 miler in (assuming you had not major issues). Go with what has been proven to work for you.
Trying Something New: Over the next three weeks you will be read and hear lots of tips, tricks, and suggestions. It will be enough to drive you crazy. This is not the time to try something new. If you normally run in a heavier cushioned shoe. . . stick with it. If you always train with GUs. . . don't change to shot bloks. If you never stretch before a run. . . don't stretch for 30 minutes before your race because you are nervous. GO WITH WHAT GOT YOU THIS FAR.
Sleep: It is never easy to do, but get your sleep. Start going to bed earlier every night. This is especially true the week before the race. With fewer miles getting logged, your body may not be as tired as it normally is, so it will take longer to fall asleep, but you should at least try. Print out the MCM race program and start to read through it each night to help you doze off.
The "Madness": You will hear runners use the term "taper madness". For nearly 20 weeks you have been focused on ramping up your miles and building endurance. Now that things are backing off, your mind has time to wander and focus on other things. Like. . . Why does my knee feel funny? Am I getting shin splints? That 5 mile run was hard. . . how can I run 26.2? Did I pull a muscle? All of this is normal. You are having the same doubts and excitement as everyone else. Welcome to the madness!
Roll Call: I tried several times to create a list of everyone who is running the Marine Corps Marathon, but life kept getting in the way. Please post your name here if you are running. If you would like, let us know where you are staying too. We will all be looking out for each other on race weekend!
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Dress Rehearsal: Make this as close to race day as you possibly can. Eat a dinner similar to what you will eat in DC. Dress in the clothes you expect to race in. Whatever shoes you are racing in, you will want to see how they handle 20 miles. Go to bed early. Take your gels/GUs/blocks. . . make this run count!
Route: The route we are using is what we normally do before a taper. It is a 6.67 mile route that allows for runners to see each other while running regardless of your pace. We hit the train tracks twice on each loop. You can run the loops backwards or forwards to break it up. Three full loops is 20 miles.
- Where: Saturday, 6:30 am @ Harris Teeter
- Supported: Yes at the Tracks
- Weather: Forecast
- Routes: 6.67 Mile (3 x 6.67 = 20)
Fluids: Fluids will only be at the tracks. I will be making three gallons of blue Gatorade, and have a gallon of water. With so many people going long, and only having one fluid stop, some extra would not hurt. You are welcome to leave your gels etc on the table at the stop too.
I really hope everyone will come out for this run. This is a great chance to get to see all 30 runners who are doing the Marine Corps Marathon. Even if you have other fall racing plans, we still want to see you as well. It will be a great day to run. Come join us! We will try to take a picture for the blog header if it is not too dark.
GPS Tip: If you want to have some fun with your GPS watch this weekend, set it for kilometers instead of miles. This way you can do your training run and mentally treat it like a marathon. Run 26.2 km instead of 26.2 miles. You will still need to add a little over 4 miles when you are done to hit 20 as a cool down.