Where: Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Illinois
Race Format: Marathon relay, 5 laps as the anchor
Results: 2000 Meters, approximately 1.2 miles, 8:19
I did something new and ran the last leg of a marathon relay with some local running club friends. It was a mild day with some humidity, but I don’t think that it affected me much. I knew going in that I was in no shape to be running fast, so I gave it the best all-out effort that I could give and was pretty happy with the result. Garmin said I averaged a pace of 7:01 for the five laps I ran.
I warmed up with about a 2.5-mile jog, and then took note of what mile we were on. I could see that there were a couple of teams that were a couple of miles ahead and a couple of miles behind based on the bib numbers. I paid attention to a couple of faster runners and noted that they seemed to go out too fast on their opening laps, and I took note of that.
When the baton was handed off to me I started at a pace that I felt wasn’t too hard and I think I was able to hold it pretty steady for the 5 laps that I ran. By lap two I was thinking about how heavy the baton weighed and I switched it to the other hand. By lap three I was pretty much tapped out but was able to grind out another couple of laps. I finished to the cheers of the remaining teammates and was glad it was over.
I think there were about eight teams and I believe we finished around 6th. It was a fun day, and I’m glad I got to spend some time with the others.
I could make this an easy, two paragraph wrap-up, but why make it easy on myself?
Race day morning a coworker who works out at a local fitness club advised that a man had died while working out at her club the day before. Knowing that I have a history of running she was quizzing me about why I thought he had died. I could only speculate, but I figured that he probably had cardiac arrest related to heart disease and was triggered by exertion he was unprepared for. She wanted to be assured that she wasn’t going to code out as well, so I dug up several articles about deaths at fitness clubs and found that the majority of exercise-related deaths are due to exactly what I had thought, they were not fit and had a history of heart disease. But exercise in moderation is one of the best ways of preventing such deaths. Her fears were soothed and said she won’t worry about dying on the treadmill.
But the conversation kind of stoked my fears a little. My father died of heart disease at the age of 52. He was a smoker, my mom fried a lot of our meals, and did no exercise whatsoever. I took note of that at the age of 15 and have tried to live my life without such outside bad habits, and I started running in my early 20’s. But I often find myself running short, high-intensity races at high heart rates which make me feel like I’m maxing myself out and wonder if I’m going to blow up my heart. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened, and I am aware of the warning signs. But it’s always kind of in the back of my mind. As I stood on the starting line the thought of blowing up wasn’t even on my mind. It was time to beat as many as I could. Enough of the doom and gloom, on with the race report.
For a race that celebrates the first day of summer with a Wednesday night 5K, it was anything but summer-like. Air temp was about 63 degrees and it was drizzling. I debated as to whether I should race in a singlet or not but decided to do so. I joined the local running club group photo and then did my warm up.
The course was changed this year, pretty much running it in reverse from previous years I have run this race. I didn’t mind the change, except sometimes when you are seeing things you normally see in the latter parts of the race early on it kind of messes with me for some reason. I put that behind me and tried to settle in without going out too fast, but as usual, I failed.
There’s a guy that runs this race pushing his handicapped wife in a racing stroller and in the past he has kicked my butt. It’s always humbling when he beats me, and I marvel at his strength and ability. He quickly jumped ahead of me and I decided to jump in behind him. On the flats, he would put a pace or two on me, but when we hit the little rises in the road I would pull him back in. As much as I try to hold back early in a race and run negative splits, I never do because I can’t turn off the competitive aspect of it. I feared that he was making the same mistake that I was, heading out too strong, and we were going to pay for it later.
A little before the first mile I passed him and then worried about him the rest of the way. I went through the first mile split in 6:42 according to my watch, and decided to pull back just a touch as we headed up the road and onward to the bike trail. I was passed by another runner that had recently had a kidney transplant and said to him that it was me usually chasing him down. He laughed and I asked how his health was and was said he was great and thanked me for asking. Then he pulled away.
I went through the second mile split at 6:53 and was satisfied with that. A girl passed me and I said “go get it” and she encouraged me to grab on and go with her, but I told her I was waiting for another 1/2 mile before kicking. I mistakenly thought the course would continue on the path a little longer, but we turned off and hit the streets again. After a couple of turns, we made it to the ending straight to the finish. I glanced back at the trail and could see the stroller pushing runner not far back. A quick look at my watch showed that I had about a 1/4 mile left so I kicked hard up the hill back to the finish and was all alone. My watch showed 21:25, which is always quicker than the official time at this race. I’m not sure why that happens, but the official time is always slower than my watch. I was maybe five steps back from the starting line at the start, so there’s not much of a time difference there.
I cooled down and then went and joined some others from the running club to cheer on the rest of the runners. After a while, I got a little cold and went and changed into some dry clothes and waited for the results. Glad to hear my name called for 2nd in my age group. There’s lots of great competition at this race and to get an A/G medal is special. I had a pretty good race.
Preparing for a marathon means following a plan, a plan that takes you up in mileage over several weeks (16 for me) and gets you ready to tackle 26.2 miles. This is Week 13 of 16 for me, and it was time to do the dreaded 20 mile training run.
This year I decided to join in with the local Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club that I have been following and run their 20 mile training run. This club really did a great job putting on this event. The route was run on my local trail, had awesome volunteers, plentiful aid stations with anything you could have needed, and even a local team of specialized volunteers called CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) aiding with traffic at several street crossings.
We started at the still sleepy hour of 6 am in downtown Frankfort, Illinois after a group photo in the dark that surprisingly turned out well.
I don’t know why I get nervous before long runs like this, especially when I am doing them alone. This was just billed as a training run, not a race. But regardless, I still was a little nervous. As soon as the photo was taken, I hit the trail.
I was in a pack of about 12 people at the start, but by the time I got 100 feet into it I was in second place. Not that I was racing it!
The trail was in great shape for the early morning run. Most of the brush clearing that the forest preserve does in the summer/fall seemed to have been all cleaned up, and the trail was not yet overrun with cyclists getting in their weekend miles.
I could see a couple of runners ahead of me and I could tell that they were pulling away from me through the first two miles. The girl was moving super fast. They caught another runner and the male dropped back and ran with her. It wasn’t long before I caught them and realized it was a guy from the group named Pat that had also run the Boston Marathon in April. He ran with me for the next two miles to the 4 mile turn around point. We had a great conversation about Boston, running and triathlon. He decided to drop out at the turn around and told me he was heading to the 14 mile aid station and would see me there.
It was now just me and the super fast girl ahead of me, when around mile 6 I was passed by another guy from the group whose name I learned was Gavin. Gavin killed it. He was moving too. There’s some good runners in this club.
I got back to the 8 mile aid station, which was our starting point and filled up my water bottle. I think they were slightly surprised to see runners already returning from the first out and back. It was awesome to have the aid stations. I probably could have left my water bottle at home, but I like to be able to drink when I wanted it.
Around the 10 mile mark I couldn’t take my sweat soaked shirt anymore and I took it off and wrung the sweat out of it. It could have easily been a cup or more of sweat. The day started cool enough, and there was plenty of shade when the sun finally made an appearance, but it was humid and I was sweating. I kept up with my run plan of taking a salt capsule every hour and it kept me in good shape.
Soon after turning around at the 14 mile mark, I could see that another runner Dan Doyle had made up some time on me. He was closing the gap and finally caught me at Wolf Road when I stopped one final time to top off my water bottle. We ran the remaining 3 or 4 miles together. He was planning to do an extra two miles but he said that he was starting to feel like he was going to cramp up. He ended up doing an additional mile. He’s looking to get a Boston Marathon qualifier in Chicago, and I think he has a real solid chance at that. You never know with the Boston Marathon numbers game.
I wasn’t planning on writing such a long report for a 20 mile training run, but I haven’t posted anything about my marathon training so far. I was a little concerned about how I was going to fare, seeing that Boston was a terrible run for me and that I came to the conclusion that I was way overtrained. After Boston I dropped the 3+ year running streak I had and took some time off to let my body heal. Missing out on those recovery days after hard efforts was killing me. I think I trained pretty well through the summer to get to this point. It’s kind of hard to know sometimes, as the hotter summer temps produce slower times even though I was putting in hard efforts. What was clear about this run was this: performance on race day is so different than when you are just out there working on a training run. Even though this highly supported 20 miler was not a race, it had a vibe of one, and it allowed me to see where I stood. The previous weeks’ 18 mile run was done on a much cooler day and I seemed to struggle to eventually finish with an 8:15 average pace. Today I averaged 8:05 on a much warmer day and felt strong at that 20 mile mark finish line. A great weather day in October for the Chicago Marathon will hopefully make for another 3:30 or 3:25 finish for me. This run certainly was a confidence builder. I don’t think I have much to dread anymore.
One last shout out to FNRC for hosting this run and doing such a great job. The cold drinks and popsicle at the finish line was the best ever!