Seattle Marathon Race Report ( or my 11th Marathon)

The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…Nigel Tufnel (Spinal Tap)

 I made the decision after Boston to run a late fall marathon because I just didn’t want to train in the heat of the summer. I know my limitations and racing in early October has bitten me twice with heat. So I was going to take it entirely out of the question. The decision was made to run Seattle after brunch when we already had a few adult beverages. My sister-in-law also decided to run her first half marathon there as well. It was on.

Training went well except for some days when work responsibilities just made it impossible to run during the week when I traveled. I trained with the Pfitzinger 18/70 plan once again. I did all of my long runs. I really didn’t race much this year so I ran the Prairie State Half as a fitness test in early October. I ran in in 1:37:32 (missing the AG podium by a spot) and it encouraged me to shoot for another Boston Qualifier time. The entire family came with me and we stayed at our first Airbnb. It was a great condo in the heart of Seattle’s downtown, closer than the host hotel to the start/finish and cheaper. A downstairs coffee house put an exclamation point on it. We visited with my cousin and her family on Friday night for dinner who live out there.

Seattle View

My wish for cold weather came true. In fact it was my coldest marathon start ever at 34F. Fog was everywhere.  There was a very light zephyr of wind which made it bearable and made running in shorts comfortable. I wore my long sleeve Boston shirt over a short sleeve tech shirt. Running events are where I never feel like I’m bragging about Boston. The marathoners were last to go after the half marathoners. I saw my sister-in-law and wished her good luck as she was in her first mile as I walked to the race start. She was incredibly nervous/excited prior to race day and just wanted to finish. At 8:15 AM we were off. The course is mostly flat but the race director had said at the expo that “no one negative splits this course”. The course elevation did not look that formidable, but I took the man at his word and decided to go out a bit faster than my 3:28:xx qualifier pace.

 Mile 1 was slightly downhill so I tempered the pace a bit and it came in right at the planned 7:55.  After Mile 2 we prepared to enter the express lanes of I-90.   Hell we’re not that fast.   It was here I noticed a  few tents in the grass on the sides of the expressway from homeless people.  Not cardboard boxes but lightweight camping tents. I thought about throwing my long sleeve cotton shirt here over the fence near the tents.  They need it more than I do but it was still too cold at this point.  Off to our right was Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field.   No tailgaters that I could see for the Seahawks game later.  The half marathoners and Marathon walkers (yes you read that right) were separated in another lane when I noticed a woman face down and not moving.  It must have just happened because no one was helping her yet.  It was then I noticed frost had formed on the bridge we were running.   She was up by the time I passed and she had a nasty cut on her face and was being helped.  Better watch my footing.  The first timing mat was at Mile 4.5.  34:34 (7:41 pace).  Better back it off a bit.

We headed for an out and back on the I90 floating bridge (second longest on Earth) which heads to Mercer Island.   It was cool running that close to the water and being surrounded by it.

Mile 5 – 7:32 Ummm…back it off there killer
Mile 6 – 8:23 What…don’t back it off that much.
Mile 7 – 7:23 Did I forget what pace feels like…this is nuts.
Mile 8 – 8:23 But I had an excuse.  Had to leave some liquid in the porta-a-potty which were conveniently located with the mile marker sign taped to it. We head off the bridge and west along Lake Washington’s shore.
Average is 7:52 pace at the second timing mat.  Mile 8.1 and all systems go.

The next 3 miles are enjoyable but if there was less fog I could see more Pacific Northwest scenery.   Houses were along our right side and the race leaders were headed past us on the other side of the road.

Mile 9 – 8:07    Mile 10 – 7:51  Mile 11- 7:54 Mile 12- 7:55   I was glad to be slightly ahead of pace but could not figure out why pace was so erratic.  The race field is not huge and no one is running in packs.   I am not running with anyone as we are spaced out. Usually there are giant packs all running the same pace.
Mile 13.1  – 1:43:37 (7:55 pace)

It was here we ran around Seward Park. No roads just an asphalt path

A Wikipedia Seward Park photo.  The fog made it look way different.

Mile 14 – 7:56  We head north on the opposite side of the path and view the slower runners going the other way

Mile 14-15.  Good to see both feet of ground.

Mile 15 & 16  – 8:20 average.  I have to hit the portable again at Mile 16.  I need to figure this fluid thing out in future marathons because it’s costing me 20-30 second every time I stop.

Mile 17 – 8:02   Mile 18 – 8:02  Mile 19 – 8:01 Got the pace finally knocked trying to hold back for the next stretch 

It is about here I begin to run with a younger couple maybe in their late 20’s. We’re running the same pace so I try to stick with them.  She is looking stronger than he is and wearing a neon orange long sleeve shirt and slightly ahead.  We’re about to head into the toughest section of the course.   Mostly uphill from Mile 20-23.   Cruel.  Just cruel.

A look at the hill grading from 20 -26.2

Mile 20 – 2:36:58 Overall (7:51 pace) Holy crap.  As we make a left hand turn at Galer St (Mile 20.44)  The street goes straight up (5% grade).  It’s not long but steep. My muscles were temporarily overwhelmed and I walk about 15 steps up the first part and resume running. It was more the shock than fatigue.  We climb 135ft in the next half mile .  Mile 20 clocked in at 8:30
Mile 21 – 8:45 We enter the Botanic Gardens. Lots of turns and more uphill.  This would be a cool place to just walk.   I’m picking off people slowly.  Pass someone and find the next victim.   So I’m surprised at the pace here.  Orange girl and her partner are keeping pace behind me.
Mile 22 – 8:06 Still passing people.
Mile 23  – 8:32 The grade gets a bit silly here.  Strava calls it the East McGaw Street Climb.  Strava puts me in the top 10 for this section so I’m not fading.

Mile 24- 8:10 Almost home now and I haven’t looked at my watch in 3 miles because I don’t want to get discouraged.  Just run on feel baby and love that fatigue in your legs.   At the water stop which is uphill, I walk through it to get one last drink.  Orange girl passes me and yells to me “C’mon you can do this”.   I yell back, “I got this”.  I start running and pass her at the top of the hill…and never saw her again.
Mile 25- 8:09 There was a very short insane downhill on Republican St. that I brake a bit because it surprised me.  Almost home now.  A pacer passes me running by herself with no pacer sign.  Is she the 3:30 pacer?  For some I still have not looked at my watch since Mile 21 but decide to go with her just in case.
Mile 26 – 8:14 Uphill one more time as we head into Memorial Stadium and finish on the field.  I blow past pacer girl and see my family. Glance at the clock.

Pacer girl in green.  Still have no idea which pacer she is.

Finish time: 3:31:26   My third fastest marathon out of 11. 12th out of 97 in my AG.  72nd out of 466 Male masters (must be a destination race for fast old guys).  I’m good with the time due to the late hills on this course.  A flatter course might have been a BQ time. The elevation chart on the website was very deceiving since there is a lot of up/down in the last 10k. A positive split for sure and the RD was right. Garmin read 26.29 miles so I ran the tangents well.

I get a big hug from my son and it made me really emotional for a second.  My sister-in-law was shooting for a 3:20 time in the half.  I joked she needed to beat Al Roker’s time at the 2010 Chicago Rock n Roll half.   Turns out she had some ankle pain from Mile 8 on and I told her it was a big accomplishment to finish even if it was in 3:40 something.  She was mad just the same which makes her an official racer because of that kind of thinking.  The recovery area was indoors which was plus to get warm.  The drop bag recovery is cruel though because you have to climb stairs of the stadium to get it.  Just mean…..
There weren’t a lot of spectators on the course.  I should have known because my cousin and her husband who live here weren’t really aware of the race.  It’s a small race, only 1633 marathon finishers in total but scenery was very different for this Chicago guy (aka Flatlander).   This was a day that fit the Pearl Izumi motto: Endure and Enjoy

THE Boston Marathon

There is really one race you to you need to run as a marathoner.   Boston. This was my very first Boston.

I qualified in October of 2013 and it was a long wait until my turn came around.   In anticipation of the Newton hills, I did all of my long runs in Barrington on hills more severe than the race.   I also ran more than I ever had for a spring full and found a happy medium between the Pfitzinger 55 and 70 mile plans.  I had a good cycle (no injuries) with the exception of a couple of work heavy weeks dropped two weeks into the 30mile range.   I did all of my long runs.  I tried to run some of them glycogen depleted.

Two prep races did not excite me about my fitness.   A hilly March Madness Half resulted in 1:40:13.  The Shamrock Shuffle 8k ended in 35:24.   Neither got me excited about my fitness although I did not taper for either.  I plugged my times into Greg Maclin’s calculator and it spit out 3:36:00 which was using the fairly aggressive setting.  That is 8 minutes slower than my qualifying time.   I had no idea how to pace Boston.

I met Amanda on the bus ride to Hopkinton.  She had traveled all the way from Adelaide, Australia and a 30 hour plane ride to get to Boston.  Just another cool part of the Boston experience.  We were both in the second wave.   I relaxed in the Athlete’s Village and made the customary bathroom stops.   It’s basically a series of tents that we all huddled under to keep warm.   They had all the necessary stuff in case someone needed some last minute supplies or Shot Bloks.  I was impressed that the loudspeakers were playing Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc. Tough to get psyched if they were playing Beautiful Day by U2 and according to the weather it would have been a lie.  My wave was called and we began the .8 mile walk to the start line.   As I stood in the 7th corral unbelievably I had to hit the bathroom again.  I dumped my K State sweatshirt and old softball pants that were keeping me warm.  We were off and I crossed the start line at 10:30.

I put the crowbar in my wallet pre-race for $5 and printed out two of Greg Maclin’s pace bands.  One for 3:30 and one for 3:35 because I just didn’t know what kind of shape I was in.  The first mile was beyond slow (8:49) but only because I needed to make a bathroom pit stop. Honestly, I don’t know where all the liquid came from.   Then I was able to settle in.

Mile Marker
2  7:56                  5  8:02              8  8:00
3  7:56                  6  7:57              9  8:00
4  7:55                  7  8:01             10  7:53

The crowds were awesome.  In the rain, they cheered for every runner as if they knew them personally.   I felt the gusts of headwind and tried to tuck in occasionally behind another runner.  The rain was annoying but I’ve run a marathon in a monsoon before so I didn’t mind it.  I was clicking off the miles with very little effort.  Mile 11 came and I had to go again and found a tree in the woods along with about five other runners.  I really didn’t drink that much in the past two days but apparently I was super hydrated. 

11  8:03            12   8:20            13  7:58           Half 1:45:46

We approached the Wellesley scream tunnel at the half way point and I wasn’t about to kiss any of the girls here since I have daughters that age.  It seemed creepy to me.  I did give almost all of them high fives as I ran.  It made me forget about the wind and rain for a bit and gave me a jolt of energy. It was here I made a conscious decision to back it off slightly.   I worried as the Newton Hills approached that I may not have enough for the finish.  The weird part is that I welcomed the upcoming hills.   All of the downhill running at the front of the race, I thought the change in muscle use would be good for me.  My stomach behaved.  No issues as I took three Hammer gels and got water and Gatorade occasionally throughout the race.

I saw my family a at Mile 16 and sprinted over to give my wife a quick kiss.

Quick detour to acknowledge the family

The first of the three Newton hills begins at Mile 16 and the last is at 19.3.   None of them were very difficult and maybe that was my training.   My quads were very cold at this point and maybe it was the hills having some effect on them as well.   The cheap cotton gloves I bought stayed on for the rest of the race.

14  8:02       15    8:05         16  7:57         17   8:15        18  8:16     19   8:06       20  8:20  

Heartbreak Hill wasn’t very tough either for me.  A bunch of us runners cheered loudly when we saw the woman holding a sign saying we had just conquered Heartbreak.   Mile 21 8:34.   It was all pretty much downhill from here.   I decided to run on feel at this point and it felt like I was running faster and easier than the splits turned out.

22  8:03       23  8:19        

The Citgo sign was now in sight.  The crowds got louder.  The crowds got deeper. I kept raising my arms to get them to cheer louder.  I actually caught myself saying out loud to no one “There will be no fade today!”  Not sure anyone heard me and/or cared about what I said.  At Mile 24 I checked my watch and it read 3:14:xx and I thought for a brief moment I had a shot at sub 3:30.   Umm, race math this late in a race is dangerous and I forgot about the extra .2.   I was passing a bunch of runners at this point.  While passing a runner and looking next to me to make sure I didn’t bump them I stepped ankle deep in a puddle.  I didn’t care and tried to push the pace.

24  7:54       25  7:59

Final push on Boylston and my fastest mile of the day

Right on Hereford and left on Boylston.   My family saw me one last time right in front of the expo center but it was so loud I had no clue they were there.  The atmosphere was beyond electric at this point.  My last 2k was at 7:51 pace.   My Garmin claims I did the last .2 miles at 6:54?

I crossed the finish in 3:32:18.  As good as I felt, I think I underestimated my fitness.  In my tenth marathon, I have never run this consistently all the way through. Maybe I could have re-qualified here but I didn’t care as enjoyed every step of the race.  Boston, I’ll be back.

The Race That Went South…Twice

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (Marathon #9 for me) is a point to point race.   It starts at Grafton High School and proceeds south to Veteran’s lakefront park.   It’s a fast race which usually negates the prevailing west wind.  Unfortunately, my actual running went south as well and led to a disappointing day.

I can’t put my finger on any one thing the destroyed the race.  My parents decided to join us for the trip. The day before the race was very relaxing.   I got plenty of sleep the night before and we grabbed lunch about 2pm at AJ Bombers which is known for it’s peanut delivery system.   A quick stop at the very small expo to get my bib and back to the hotel for some rest before dinner.   We found a fantastic restaurant before last year’s race. If you are into homemade Italian everything while in Milwaukee, go to Mimma’s Café.

I slept probably better than most nights before a race.   Usually, I’m waking every hour but not this night.  I got up about 4:45 and had brought my own breakfast.  Oatmeal and a half bagel w/peanut butter.  Standard issue marathon runner race breakfast.   I sipped on some Hammer Perpetuem.   The only thing missing was coffee.  But the Hyatt had promised to open their shop up at 5:30 for some Starbucks.   I refuse to drink in-room coffee.  Not because I’m a snob and I actually prefer non-corporate coffee. but who only knows what bacteria grows inside of the in-room makers and the coffee just plain tastes bad.   I got to the lobby to catch the bus to the start at the high school at 5:45 only to find there was ZERO coffee to be had anywhere in the lobby.  Even Holiday Inn’s have some sort of coffee free in all of their lobbies.  Hyatt fail! (you could have sold overpriced coffee and breakfast and runners would have gladly paid it).   Luckily there was a coffee shop open across the street from the hotel and I grabbed some to go before boarding the bus.   I sipped on some PowerAde while at the school to top off any hydration deficit.  I really don’t think I drank all that much but the race proved otherwise.

It was cold (36F) but the sun was out so I wore some layers and my Brooks gloves.    My goal was to go out at my PR pace of 3:27:00 and negative split the race.  My “A” goal would have been 3:25:00.  At 7:30 we were off.   I had no problem hitting pace early as the first two miles were downhill.  I felt good but my stomach felt bloated and slightly upset.  It took two port-a-potty stops to get rid of the excess liquid at Miles 4 and 12.    I brought four Hammer Gels but while rearranging them in my back pockets I dropped one and did not want to stop to get it for fear of being trampled to death. 

I knew early that it wasn’t going to be my day with some stomach issues and legs felt beat up way too early.   I took my first gel at Mile 6 1/2.   The second gel I only took about half of it at Mile 12 1/2 because my stomach was feeling weird.   I tried to keep on pace thinking it would all pass eventually and I would be back to normal.  After Mile 12 when I took the second gel I actually gagged because I almost hurled.  Sometimes niggles, pain or discomfort do magically go away for no apparent reason during a run.  But they never did.  About Mile 11 I felt my adductor muscles sore.  During training they would get this way after a hard week or a really long run.  It never affected my running really.  Taper did not heal it I guess.  I saw my family at Mile 15 and even they said I looked like I wasn’t having much fun.   I kept plugging away telling myself I might right the ship.   I was on pace early but it just kept slipping away.  I just refused to walk and let this become a complete disaster.

The cold hard numbers:
1 – 7:45
2 – 7:44.8
3 – 7:57:2
4 – 8:13:8 First stop
5 – 7:41.3
6 – 8:01.6
7 – 7:59.4  Expected finish 3:27:19
8 – 7:50.8
9 – 7:57.2
10 – 7:56.8 Not a good sign.   Fatigue in my inner thighs.
11 – 7:58.3
12 – 8:20.1 Second bathroom stop
13 – 8:04.6  Uh oh, it’s slipping.
13.1  – Expected Fish time 3:29:11
14 – 7:59.1
15 – 7:58.6
16 – 8:10.2   The wheels starting to come off.
17 – 8:15.3
18 – 8:28.9   C’mon fight this thing.
19 – 8:26
20 – 8:36.5 Can only break 3:30 if I finish at 8:00 pace the rest of the way
21 – 8:14.7  Well so much for 8 minute pace the rest of the way.
22 – 9:00.7  Yep, the wheels are off.
23 – 9:21.7   What the…
24 – 8:59.4   Probably just quicker because I was angry at the last mile
25 – 9:21.5   No longer angry I guess
26 – 8:59.1   Final time 3:37:07  

In last year’s race, my slowest mile was the last and even then I only slowed to 8:20.   So what was my major malfunction?  Too much food pre-race?  Too much liquid?  It feels like I didn’t sweat much in this cool weather. Overtraining or sore adductors not resolved by taper?  Bad nutrition during training?   I’ve run three faster races on less training!  Sometimes it’s as simple as it’s just not your day.   Time to move on and schedule a shorter race within the next 30 days.  At least I have Boston for redemption.

“At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill” – Unknown quote

Marathon Training Doldrums

Back from vacation and an incredibly busy week at work playing catch up.   I used vacation as a cutback week and only put in 31m.  I did the same last year, however, this year I added a trail half marathon.  The Bear Cupboard Run which benefits the local food pantry.   The Bearskin Trail was not technical by any means but the surface was packed sand/gravel.   Final time was 1:41 flat. I did get 2nd in AG but feel iffy about my time.   I do not run many trails so not sure how the surface impacted my time.  I feel indifferent about my pace since I do not know if this was due to fatigue (7 mi previous day), surface or something else. I did get 2nd in my AG and the announcer said the course might have been 0.5 km long?? Mile 9 might have been the culprit since I did not walk or stop.
I did not get the Garmin synced until midway in Mile 1 so I couldn’t verify that and there was many tress that could have blocked the signal.

Mile paces:  7:45, 7:43, 7:25, 7:35, 7:31, 7:45, 7:43, 7:30, 8:38, 7:56, 7:23, 7:41, 7:42

Age Group award compared to my keyboard

I’m so tired and feel beat up on every run after 5m since then. Paces have fallen off in the second half of my runs with paces near 9:20.   I realize it takes about 2 weeks to fully recover.  I do tend to overdo it on vacation with fishing etc also.  

It’s relaxing but I tend to overdo it

A look at my easy pace runs from last year show roughly a 8:58-9:00 so I don’t think there is any reason for concern.  I may move my 3rd 20m for this cycle to Monday and use tomorrow as a rest day.  Some additional sleep wouldn’t hurt either.

 

Elmhurst 4 on the 4th

This is probably one of the fastest competitor fields in all of Chicago.   If there is a race that attracts more speed, I haven’t done it. And you need to tell me about it.  It probably has to do with the fact that there aren’t many other races on the 4th of July and this is a CARA Race Circuit race.   The streets swarm with club runners doing their warm-ups.  My own included….the mighty LFLB team!

I consider doing this race a major accomplishment considering my wife had emergency eye surgery Thursday.   It freaked me out.  She’ll be fine and needless to say she is unable to run for a while.  My son was racing and agreed to run with my sister-in-law instead of my wife.   I know she talked him into it so I could race.  Otherwise, I would have been happy to “race” with him.

I’ve run this course seven consecutive years and I can’t help thinking I should be faster.  McMillan assumes 27:23 on a flat course based on my recent 5k.  I do not taper for it (see the training page). Not sure if it has been fatigue from high miles in my marathon build-up or running the underpass hill twice in the race.   

Mile 1 is a slight downhill at the start and then flat thereafter.   I managed to not do anything stupid and run too fast at the start.  It actually felt easy and the first split was 7:00 flat.   Mile 2 is under the railroad tracks and up the first hill.  My goal every year is to get to the top of the hill before the leaders are heading back the other way.  I just barely made it this year.   My second mile was 6:54.

Mile 3 is always a bit slower for me.   I think it’s the hairpin turnaround and the second uphill portion back under the railroad tracks. I saw my son heading toward Mile 2 at this point and yelled to him.  Mile 3 was 7:06   I still had gas in the tank but the last portion is a steady uphill.  Halfway up the hill my gag reflex kicked in.   I slowed slightly and managed to fight off the “reversal of fortune”.  Last mile was 6:52.   I PR’d the race by 4 seconds and finished in 27:56.  I still think I could race faster.

I managed 16th in my AG and if I was 3 seconds faster I would have placed 13th.  The winner in the  group ran 5:54 miles!   Yeah he was in no danger of me passing him….ever.  One of the LFLB members posted pictures of everyone of our racers they could see so that was cool.  Thanks for the pic.

Fighting off the urge to hurl in the home stretch

I walked back along the course until I found my son at about 2 1/2 miles.  A third grader who likes to negotiate when we run and walk.  I’m fine it and I never push him.  Whatever he wants to do is OK with me.  Dad, lets walk.  Dad, lets slow down.  Dad, my feet hurt.  We ran/walked to the finish together and he did manage to sprint across the finish line.    I was proud he did this race at all considering his age.  All of the kids his age were doing the 1k!

I’m going out of town next week and will use it as a cutback week. However, I will actually race my first half this year.  It is a trail race on crushed gravel so we’ll see how I do.  I do not think sub 1:35 is in the cards for this one but I should be rested from the cutback.   My only other 13.1 races have been as a pacer this year.

Time to Get Serious

Marathon training is officially underway.   I expect my running will continue to be focused until April 2015 before I exhale.  It’s one of the reasons why I decided to skip a spring marathon this year.  The Pfitz 18/70 plan calls for 57m this week.  Additional miles next week.   Like I said, time to get serious.

My running has gone pretty much as planned in the last month.   My PF in my left heel has completely disappeared.   It had to be the road camber.   I’ve consciously tried to run in the middle of the road on less busy streets and my long runs have been moved to the crushed gravel surface of the Prairie Path.  Not too many people could rid themselves of PF by running more.   But it appears that is what I’ve done.

My last pacing assignment of the year at the Michelob Ultra 13.1 went perfectly.  We finished exactly at 1:45 and ran consistently.  Our mile pace never varied more than four seconds off the 8:01 pace and no more than one second on half of the miles.  We ran with a great group.   Three women who were attempting PRs (one of them who looked shockingly like Kara Goucher) and one guy in a cardboard birthday hat because it was his birthday.  One of them hung near us for the entire race and got her PR by four minutes (great job Ashleigh). Not sure about the rest of them.  Everyone seemed to approve of our pacing.

Walter and I driving the 8:01 bus

In a weird twist, I managed to grab some CARA race circuit points….as a pacer!  The 9th place finish in my age group got me into 15th place overall despite only racing one out of eight races so far.

Last week was the neighborhood Super Strive for Five 5k race.   I wanted to defend my AG title and at least be the fastest guy in my zip code.   I went out too fast in the first half mile which probably kept me from running a PR.   I finished in 21:04 which is my course record by two seconds and got 1st place.  Splits were 6:38, 6:50 and 7:33 (6:49).  But the coolest part of the race was watching my son get a 3rd place medal.  He ran/walked it with my wife but there were only three boys under 10 who ran.   You can’t control who shows up.

Next on the race list is the Elmhurst 4 on the 4th where I want/need to go sub 28:00.

Addicticted to Being High on Life

I think I’ve become an endorphin/adrenaline junkie.   After the recent elation of posting a Boston qualifying time and subsequent recovery time, I got depressed.   I had finally achieved  a goal I had been chasing for over four years. I can’t register even register for Boston until the end of next summer. Also, my running recovery program is very conservative.  I won’t even get back to 40 miles per week until this coming week.  So maybe all those exercise induced miles pre-race got me hooked on the runner’s high?   I decided to enter a Halloween 5k to get my mind off things.

I got a slight reprieve from my gloominess with son’s flag football team which I coach.   The team had an average season and they only scored one touchdown in their first three games.  However, we got better and went about .500 for the rest of the season.  The playoffs began after my marathon so it was a welcome distraction.   The first playoff game they caught fire.   We were up 30-0 at one point and every kid played their heart out.   We won easily and I was so wound up after the game I barely slept that night.  Our second playoff game saw us score another 30+ points and win again.  Our playoff run ended with a loss that would have put us in the championship game.   It was exciting to watch and help them win.  More natural adrenaline.

Which leads me back to the Halloween Hustle 5k in Palatine.  Nothing gets my blood pumping like a blistering 5k.  My wife and son came to watch which rarely happens. Not that I blame them since they get to stand around in the cold for however long the race takes. The Halloween theme gave my son an excuse to wear his Darth Vader costume.  It was odd though to pick up my race packet inside of a parking garage.   Reading the website the actual race used to start in the parking garage!

At least they are leaving the garage with traffic

This year it started on the street.  It was a CARA circuit race which meant any age group award was out of the question.   I really had zero expectations.   After all it was only 20 days since my marathon and my weekly recovery miles were 15, 22 and 17 the week of the race.  The only thing I told myself to do was to pace evenly.  It was a flat course but there was a pretty stiff 18mph wind out of the northwest.  

The first mile as usual started out quick.  Like 6:15 pace quick.   Which is fall down and pass out quick for me.   Thanks to the Garmin I got it under control and passed the first mile marker at 6:40.   Mile 2 of any race I tell myself to relax and just maintain the pace.  But what usually happens is I go too fast since Mile 1 has my muscles warmed.  Mile 2 went down in 6:35.   Only 1.1m left and I am chasing this guy who appears to be a bit older than me.   I decide to hang near him and blow past him in the home stretch.   However, just as I am about to light the after burner my gag reflex kicks in.  I didn’t lose my breakfast but did cough a bit.   To make matters worse the guy I was about to pass runs of the course prior to the finish line.   Damn bandit!  At least I passed him…I guess.   Looking through the race photos I found one of him directly ahead of me near a last turn.

BANDIT MOST WANTED POSTER 

As I crossed the finish line, it turned out the last 1.1 was in 7:40 (6:58 pace) and I had a new 5K PR of 20:55 by 11 seconds.   One of my goals this year was to go sub 21 and I did it when I didn’t even expect it.   More endorphin/adrenaline induced fun despite choking near the finish.  I could have worse habits.