Friday, February 18, 2011

Why I won't be running Boston

For those marathoners who have been hiding in a closet this week and missed the news, the Boston Athletic Association just announced new qualifying standards for their glorious marathon. The Boston Marathon, or "Boston" for those who are close friends, is one of the few marathons left in the US that require the runners to meet certain standards of speed for entrance. Standards which used to define "runner" but now just define "faster runner." Mind you, non-elite athletes can meet these standards. The times are graduated for sex and age (the older and femaler you are, the slower you can run).

It was JUST BARELY POSSIBLE that if I maintained my current PR of 5:30 until I reached 80 years old I could qualify. Now that dream has been taken away from me. The new qualifying standard for an 80 year old woman has been dropped to 5:25. While that's a 12:24 minutes/mile pace, I can't even hold that for a half marathon, let alone a full. Thanks a lot, BAA, for changing my future.

Fine, I'm joking. As a confirmed back-of-the-packer who has dreams of being a middle-of-the-packer, I have no problems with the change of standards. Lots of people are running marathons and why shouldn't the fastest runners have some way of showing off their speed. If too many people apply then raise the standards. If it's still too crowded then raise them again. I always thought that even though I might be running the same route and day as a 9 minute miler or a 7 minute miler (not even counting the elite 5 minute miler), the race experience is entirely different for each of us. This just confirms and gives them their own race. Most of the Rock 'n' Roll/Competitor races are for my people, the poky ones. Let Boston skim the top tier and RnR skim the bottom.

I'll keep running whatever race allows for 6 hours, keep trying to beat my best time and hope that there is a medal and a bagel left for me at the finish.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

First taper of the year

My 18 mile training run hurt. My 20 mile training run hurt worse. When it came time for my 22 mile training run I was worried. My breathing hasn't been great; better than last winter/early spring but I've had a cold and allergy things and a never-ending cough. We planned the run for Sunday and the forecast was cool and overcast. The Sunday part worked out but the forecasters were wrong.

Anita and I showed up at the parking lot of the Lafayette-Moraga Trail at 7:00 am and it was freezing. Literally. Although the temp was rising it showed on my car thermometer as 32 degrees. The sun was rising and not a cloud was in in the sky. In the 5 hours it took us to finish the run the temp rose by 30 degrees. Seriously, how are you supposed to dress for a run when there's a 30 degree differential?

The run went well. Miles 1 through 7-1/2, the outward direction, went beautifully. It was cold but finally around mile 5 we could feel our toes again. After the hill at 7 miles we were sweaty and drippy. We headed back the other direction and the run still was going better than the previous 2 long runs. We chatted, finally starting to run out of conversation (and steam) when we got back to the parking lot.

At that point Bree met us, a breath of fresh air and a new source of stories to keep us aware and amused. These were the hardest 3-1/2 miles; upgrade and endless and away from the cars. There were too many walk breaks and too much grumbling (by me, of course). The turn-around was wonderful and we were able to walk less and run more. Slowly, but running nonetheless. Our 9:1 run:walk had changed to a 4:1. And it was warm. But downgrade so yippee and hurray. We "sprinted" to the finish with Anita actually sprinting and Bree and I trying to catch up. 22 miles in the book and within the cut-off time for the race.

After cramping up so badly after one of our runs I was determined to work on my fluid, electrolytes and nutrition. I confirmed once more that I have a drinking problem. No no no, I mean a problem drinking. Twice I managed to choke on my Ultima, once spewing a large mouthful in all directions. I drank a lot of Ultima. I also focused on my Gu's, sucking down a gel every 40 minutes. Espresso Love to the rescue, with a taste of Mandarin Orange and Vanilla Bean for variety. When I got good and sick and tired of the gel I ate a couple of Sport Beans. I can always eat candy, even when it comes loaded with performance/energy benefits. It worked, no cramping at all.

In fact, although I was exhausted and tired and sore, there was no pain. No pain on Sunday, no pain on Monday, no pain on Tuesday (until after Katie was done with guiding me through my workout). Sore, sure. Tired muscles and weary legs. Sore back, sore arms. No pain. No blisters and no black toenails. Very nice.

Sunday night we went out and celebrated Anita's birthday. It's only fair if you burn 2700 calories that you can eat and drink without counting nutrition. After 2 Orange Peel Manhattans I was feeling great. I was less hungry than expected but managed to consume more than I normally do in one sitting.

I'm excited (and still a little scared) about the upcoming race. I've wanted to run Napa since my first year of running marathons, 10 years ago. If I have a bad day it'll be a slog. I don't think I will though. I think it's going to be a good day, a good race, a good time. Stay tuned!