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Monthly Archives: November 2006

Marathon #4 – Philadelphia

Hey, Rocky!
Originally uploaded by thespacerace.

Yes, it’s true. I snuck off to the east coast this past weekend and ran yet another marathon. Yes, the Detroit one was only 3 weeks ago. But I really wanted to get visit my friend who now lives in Delaware, so I figured running the Philadelphia Marathon was a good excuse for me to do so.

My girlfriend and I on left Friday morning for the roughly 6 1/2 hour trek out east, suffering for rain for most of the first half, along with mountains and semis going way too fast. But we finally made it there and quickly left again to head for Philly to catch the marathon expo and some dinner. Well, traffic had different plans as we spent about 45 minutes sitting in the same spot due to an apparent accident on the bridge ahead of us. So the expo plans were moved to Saturday, and we had some tasty Greek food after we made it to Philly, before checking out one of my favorite singers, Eric Bachmann, perform at a cool little place called the North Star Bar.

On Saturday morning, we headed back to Philly and picked up all the necessary race stuff (bib, chip, shirt, free stuff) at the expo and did a little bit of exploring of Philly which seems like a very cool city. After watching the big OSU/Michigan football game, we had a very tasty homemade pasta dinner before heading to bed early.

Sunday morning, I was up at 5:45 and we were back on the road to Philly at 6:30. We got there just in time to follow some others in hopping the curb and parking on some innercity baseball field just a few hundred feet from the marathon area. The weather was cool, though not as bad as Detroit was, and there was not much wind to speak of. So, I opted for the shorts instead of the tights, though I stuck with the long-sleeve shirt which turned out to be a pretty good idea.

The race started about 8:05, a little behind schedule. I managed to secure a pretty good spot in the crowd, though it still took me a little over 2 minutes to cross the starting line (thank goodness for chip timing). I managed to keep up a pace of about 8:05 per mile for about the first 8 miles or so. But during mile 9, we went up a good sized hill for about a half mile and I was hurting by the end of that and I don’t think I ever fully recovered from that. The first half of the race was pretty awesome. Running mostly around the city and little neighborhoods, there was a lot of crowd support and interesting sights to be seen.

At the halfway point, we crossed back by the Art Museum where the race started and headed north. At the 14 mile mark, I was at 1:57:02, which is an 8:21 pace. I actually improved on my pace between mile 10 and 14 as my average pace at mile 10 was 8:32. Unfortunately, the second half of the race was not so great, both course-wise and performance-wise.

For the second half of the race, we ran north of the museum along the Schuylkill River. It was scenic if you’re into the whole nature thing. I train a lot in the park and enjoy the nature scenery, but when it comes to marathons I like the more urban settings with fans. The fans along the second half of the marathon were pretty few and far between, with the exception of the turnaround point at mile 20 when we ran through Manayunk. The crowds there were the best of any along the course. I hit the 20 mile mark at 2:52:51, so my average pace had swelled to 8:38. If I had managed to maintain that, I would have set a personal record. But, I didn’t.

The last 6.2 miles of the race took me almost exactly an hour, or an average pace of 9:41 per mile. I guess it’s safe to say that I “hit the wall”. The only positive that I came away from it with is that I did not walk at all during that last 6.2 miles, or any of the 26.2 miles overall, which is a first. I walked in Detroit a bit, only because I had some cramps. But in Philly, I had no cramps, and no walking. Just slowness.

I managed to pickup my pace a bit during the last half mile as we finally encountered crowds of people again. I officially crossed the line in 3:52:55. Not my best time, but a time I am content with. Running two marathons in three weeks is not something I recommend if you’re looking to break personal records. But I’m glad I drove out there and did it. I visited a new state for the first time (Delaware), got to hang out with my friends, explored a new town, and got a bit of exercise. And having a four-day weekend was an added bonus too.


Weekend on the go

Lebron shooting free throws
Originally uploaded by thespacerace.

Another Sunday night, mourning the end of the weekend. A very fun weekend it was. We spent most of the day on Saturday at the Fabulous Food Show at the I-X Center, taking in lots of free food, wine tastings, and cooking demos from various “celebrity chefs”, including “Iron Chef” Cat Cora (who is much more attractive in person than on TV). It was a good day to spend indoors as it was very rainy and grey outside, as is typical in Cleveland this time of year.

Saturday evening, we headed downtown to watch the Cleveland Cavs take on the Boston Celtics. Kristy scored some primo tickets which put us only a few rows behind the Celtics bench. It was the best seats I’ve ever had for a basketball game (by far), and it made the game all the more interesting. Well, that and the fact that the Cavs made an amazing comeback from being down 25 points to win the game, 94-93. It was probably one of the most exciting games of the year even though things didn’t start looking remotely good until late in the 3rd quarter. I’m very glad that we stuck it out. The atmosphere reminded me of the Indians games back in the late 90s when they used to sell the place out every night and people spent almost as much time on their feet as they did sitting. And to top it off, the Browns and the Steelers both won today in good games.

Today I went out on a 12 mile run in the Metroparks. A little bit chilly, but it made for a nice, quiet run. And for those who think I’m a little crazy with all this running stuff, check out Dean Karnazes who just last weekend finished doing 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. And what does he decide to do to follow that up the very next day? Start running back to his home in San Fransisco…..from New York! Yes, this 3,000 mile odyssey (follow it here) is very Forest Gump. Seems a bit much to me. But then again, I’ve never enjoyed minor celebrity and had to figure out ways to extend my 15 minutes of fame.

Marathon #3 – Detroit

My third marathon is now in the books. This past Sunday, I ran the Detroit Marathon. Overall it was a pretty fun race that took us into Canada for a few miles along with numerous little neighborhoods throughout Detroit.

On the drive up to Detroit on Saturday afternoon, things were not looking so great as 50+ mph winds were blowing the Vibe all over the highway, along with occasional downpours. But we made it there in the afternoon and met up with my friend Ryan who was running the half-marathon and was kind enough to put us up for the night. We went to the less-than-impressive marathon expo to pickup our required gear and then headed off to a big pasta dinner with some other friends before going to bed nice and early.

Race day started with a 6am wakeup to eat a bagel and an energy bar before driving downtown. The starting area was a sea of port-o-potties (well over 100) and long lines, though I managed to find one with almost no line. I then spent 5 minutes squeezing into the overcrowded starting coral for my pace about 10 minutes before the race started. Temperatures were only in the upper 30s so I decided to go with the leg tights under my shorts, long sleeve shirt, gloves and a knit hat. I also took along my iPod, which allowed me to track my run (see here).

The race started off well, as most of my runs do, with a first mile time of around 7:22. The first real challenge (course map) was during mile 4 when we crossed the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, Canada. The bridge is super long and the first half was a pretty steep incline. The coolest part of the run was the run back to the States via the Detroit-Windsor underwater tunnel. My “underwater mile” time was 7:46, very good for mile 8. I then made it to the halfway point at 1:47:01, for an average pace of just under 8:10 a mile.

After that, things were pretty much downhill (in a figurative sense). The wind started picking up, and was really bad during the 3-mile run out to and around Belle Isle. During mile 18, I started getting cramps in my left calf muscle and had to stop to stretch a few times. The last few miles, which are always the worst part, was made even worse this time because of the wind. When we made the turn onto Lafayette Avenue for the last 3 miles, we started running into a headwind that was brutal. I ran my slowest mile in mile 24 with a time of 9:22, which is probably because of having to stop to stretch both calves which were now both cramping.

When we made the turn to head for Ford Field, I managed to pick things up, which was helped by a large crowd of fans that had been absent for most of the last 10 miles. We entered Ford Field through a big entryway that led into a downhill tunnel that led down to the playing field. I managed to sprint the last minute or so and finish strong, and finish in under 3 hours and 50 minutes, with an official time of 3:49:18, which is just under 3 minutes better than my personal best that I set back in Cincinnati in May. I had hoped to do a few minutes better, but given the conditions I should be happy that I did as good as I did.

After crossing the finish line, I crashed on the field for a bit. It was cool to be out on the football field with a bunch of fans in the stands, but I was too tired and dazed to really enjoy it. I felt pretty lightheaded, which I credit to dehydration and had to stop and sit down a number of times before grabbing some food and heading outside to my waiting friends.

Overall it was fun and I’m glad I ran it. I wish the weather had been a little better, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected much better this late in the year. Next fall I’ll try to run something earlier, if I do run one. I haven’t decided what is next for my running career, but I don’t plan to hang up my shoes quite yet. After all, I just bought a new pair on Monday.