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Monthly Archives: September 2007

Marathon #5 in the books

Today was a great day for a marathon. The weather was perfect, in the low 40s at the start of the race, at 7am, and it only got up to the mid 60s by the end. It was my second time taking on the Akron Marathon, and fortunately I fared much better this time than I did two years ago. Not to say that it was easy though. Running 26.2 miles is never easy, especially when it involves what seems like a lot more uphills than downhills.

Fortunately we made it down to Akron and found parking with a good 25 minutes to spare. I’m usually super-early, but Akron isn’t a huge event and I know my way around fairly well. Which is a good thing, because the exit I was planning to take was closed for the race. I spent my 10 minutes in the line for the obligatory pre-race port-a-potty stop. In the starting area, I managed to get near the 3:40 pace runner, which I was going to try to stick around since that was my stretch goal for the race. But once the race started, I lost track of him and don’t remember seeing him again.

I tried to avoid the “sprint out of the blocks” habit that I have in distance races, and managed to do fairly well. I found myself hitting almost exact 8 minute miles for the whole first half of the race. In fact, I hit the halfway point (13.1 miles) in 1:44:30, which is a 7:58/mi average. There were a number of interesting sites along the way, including a number of local marching bands, about 30 hippies of all ages hanging out in front of some house singing songs, and a group of old ladies hanging out in lawn chairs, one with a sign to wish her a happy 88th birthday, which I did. One thing I love about Akron is the people. Lots of people come out, many setting up chairs out front of their houses, and cheer on total strangers like they would their closest friends.

The fluid station coverage was good, averaging about one every 1.5 miles or so, and I made sure to grab something at each one to try to avoid dehydration & muscle cramps. I also choked down some GU energy gel about 4 times, to try to get some carbs in my system. My halfway point time was awesome for me, but things got a whole lot tougher shortly after that. Once we finished the 4 mile stretch on the towpath trail (part of the Cuyahoga River valley), it was time to climb out of the valley, from about mile 17 to 22 (see elevation chart). I managed to run the whole thing (well, at times it was slow enough to arguably not be running), but it took a lot out of me.

Miles 23 & 24, when we go out by Stan Hywett Hall & Gardens, I was pretty wiped out from the hills, but I kept putting along, barely. Fortunately, mile 25 is mostly downhill on Market Street, past Highland Square, and I was able to approach a more running-like pace. The last mile had some tough uphills mixed in with the downhill, but it helped that the last quarter mile, before entering Canal Park, was jammed with cheering fans. Once I hit Canal Park, I made a pretty good sprint from the outfield to the finish line, and I crossed the line in 3:44:57, a new personal best. That beat my previous best, from last year’s race in Detroit, by over 4 minutes, and beats my 2005 Akron time by 22+ minutes. So needless to say, I was pleased.

About 30 feet after I stopped running, my stomach let me know it was not too happy with my end-of-race sprint, and decided to empty it’s contents about 6 or 7 times. Not exactly what you want to happen at the end of race, let alone in front of a stadium full of people, though hopefully most of the them were watching the finish line instead of me. A volunteer was nice enough to grab me some water which made me feel a bit better, and after about 5 minutes I was up and ready to leave. Needless to say, I opted not to claim my 3 free Michelob Ultra beers. I did grab some food, but didn’t end up eating until about 3 hours later. Of course by now, I’m super hungry and looking forward to a feast at the Chinese buffet this evening.

So despite my little situation after finishing, I was happy with how things went. While I did expect to beat my old Akron time, I didn’t think there was much of a chance to beat my best time overall given the very non-flat nature of the course. I think Akron is a great event, and I’ve really enjoyed both my experiences there (other than the mass chaos inside Canal Park in the area where runners meet up with family, which took me like 25 minutes to claw my way through, while trying not to get trampled). Like after my last race, I’m contemplating stepping away from marathons for a while. Five seems like a good number to me. No matter what, I plan to keep running. I haven’t lost my passion for that yet.


Last night of summer

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First pitch

I spent the last night of the summer of 2007 doing my favorite thing I can think of doing on any summer night, going to a baseball game. Kristy scored some sweet seats to the Cleveland Indians game against Oakland, so we headed down to Jacobs Field. The weather was perfect, but the same can not be said for the game, as the Indians fell 9-3, so we missed out seeing them clinch the division title (which they saved for this afternoon…bastards). But the seats were great (we missed getting nailed by a line drive foul ball by about 3 feet), and the weather was perfect.

Hopefully it will not be the last game we see at Jacobs Field. Unfortunately, I read that the naming rights for the ballpark are up for sale to likely the highest corporate bidder. Hopefully it’s something that doesn’t sound as stupid as Quicken Loans Arena, though pretty much any name change is going to suck. I hate this trend of selling naming rights to big corporations. The stadium is completely plastered with hundreds of advertisements. Does the stadium name itself have to be one too?

I did manage to score tickets to the 2nd home game of the Division Series playoffs, so hopefully I’ll get to go down and see them in action again in a couple of weeks. I was able to see them last time they made the playoffs in 2001, when they lost to Seattle. Hopefully the results are better this time around.

This morning, I did the final “long run” of my 16-week marathon training program. It was just a simple 8 mile run and it went well with no problems. The Akron Marathon is now just over 5 days away. Trying not to think about it too much.

A week to go

Yesterday I finally registered for the Akron Marathon. I usually like waiting until the last minute for stuff like that in case an injury were to pop-up, but now I’m only about 3 runs away from completing my training, the longest of which is only 8 miles since I’m in “taper” mode. I would wait until the expo the night before to sign-up, except the price goes up $20 for waiting until then.
As you can see above, the current forecast (which from 8 days out isn’t much better than a guess) is a low of 53 degrees and sunny. I’d prefer a bit cooler and not-so-sunny, but I don’t have much of a choice in the matter. The race starts at 7am, so it will still be pretty cool at the start, and I guess the fact that it might get up to 70 degrees is an incentive to try to finish earlier, before it gets hot.
Although I’ve been training for the race for months, I haven’t really gotten excited/anxious about it until the last few days. I just need to try to get a lot of sleep this week, eat my carbs (and not as much of everything else, since my training miles are reduced), and try not to worry too much about the hills. I’ve decided to put off buying ‘Halo 3’ until after the race, otherwise I’d be a zombie on race day from too many late nights in front of the TV. Let’s hope the race is worth it.

care for an asterisk?

I read today that fashion designer Marc Ecko was the winning bidder in the auction for Barry Bonds’ record-breaking 756th home run baseball. Instead of just putting in a display class to sit on a shelf somewhere, he has decided to milk it for all the publicity it’s worth (all $752,467 worth) and allow the public to vote on the fate of the (infamous) ball. By visiting this website, people can choose one of three options for the ball. Send it to the Hall of Fame, brand an asterisk in it (due to Bonds’ questionable enhancement drug use) before sending it to the Hall, or to put it in a rocket and send it out of orbit.

As you can probably guess from the picture, I went with the 2nd option. I feel the ball does belong in the Hall of Fame, and the marking of it with an asterisk will force the Hall & baseball in general to acknowledge the steroid scandal that marked this era in the game, so that fans for generations to come will be aware of this moment in the long storied history of the game. While the era of performance enhancing drugs is one of the darker moments in the game’s history, it needs to be acknowledged and remembered just like the Black Sox scandal of many years ago.