TWO WEEKS, TWO GREAT RACES

05.15.2016
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Preview of things to come! The gates of Hayward Field.

One of these is no surprise, considering this was my fifth time running it out of the 10 times it has been held. The other maybe shouldn’t have been a surprise since I’ve run a ‘sister’ race (‘brother’? – do races come in genders?) by the same organizer.

First up was the Eugene Half Marathon on May 1. It more than lived up to its reputation and my expectations. Probably met or exceeded expectations for several other Forerunners folk with four BQ’s out of six entrants in the full marathon! Yep, it is that kind of course.

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Blogger and wife at Pre’s Rock. Still a moving experience.

Being a Race Ambassador (yes, I was, but then you knew that) I got to Eugene early and did a couple of Ambassadorial stints at the Expo. But, before the first session my wife Judi and I made the almost obligatory pilgrimage to Pre’s Rock, and then walked the other side of the Willamette River where you can follow what they call “Pre’s Trail”. This was apparently an area he ran for longer training runs.

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Pre’s Trail meanders through much of the last 3 miles of the Eugene Half.

Before the racing even began (Saturday morning to be precise) I had a chance for a quiet coffee with Running in the Zone contributor and running writer extraordinaire, Joe Henderson. We covered more topics in an hour than you would ever imagine. Some of those topics may turn into later posts. For now, I just want to say it was great to be able to touch base. We met up again at the finish, where Joe was awaiting the arrival of the members of “Joe’s Team”. He even had a photographer there, one Mike Lebowitz, who just happens to have lived in and around Vancouver for something like 30 years. The picture here, is his work!

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Joe Henderson greeted this old blogger/slogger at the finish. (Photo: Mike Lebowitz)

Well, that kind of skipped over the whole race thing, so I suppose I better step back a little and cover that. Since I don’t do ‘in competition’ photography, I snapped a picture of the fabled gates to Hayward Field while on my way to the Expo on Friday. Just seeing those gates gave me a few chills and excitement for what was to come. Sunday morning dawned bright and cool, perfect conditions for running. A kindly ‘random stranger’ snapped a photo of Judi and me pre-race. It is wonderful to have a personal support team!

Almost ready. And, toasty warm.

Almost ready. And, toasty warm.

Soon enough we were off and since the full and half use the same course up to about 10 miles and a bit, and have done so as long as I’ve been running this race, there were no particular surprises. I tried to get into the pace I wanted and then just let myself enjoy the morning, the place where I was and what I was doing. It didn’t seem like a really long time before we were passing by Hayward Field again (just around 9 miles). Excellent.

Now, nobody really needs to know that getting older means I have a lot of trouble getting all the way through a long race without a ‘comfort stop’, but that is how it often is and was this time. The main reason for mentioning it is that even that worked out well. Once I knew I just wasn’t going to be able to press on to the finish, the next set of Porto-Potties was a ‘no waiting’ set and I was able to run right into the first one in line. I am totally OK with the time cost of this necessity, but I really HATE having to wait the extra time for others in the same situation. That always hurts. So, a minimal time was required before I was on my way again.

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Near 10 Miles. The Beginning of the End!

Between 9 and 10 miles there is a slightly challenging bit of running which is probably only challenging because it IS between 9 and 10 miles (15-16km). At 10 miles the route leaves the road and goes onto walking/biking paths and heads down toward the Willamette and the bridge across, where once on the other side, the marathoners go one way and the half marathoners go the other and really start the drive for home, with something less than 3 miles or 5K remaining.

Ran the race. Got the T-Shirt. Got the Medal!

Ran the race. Got the T-Shirt. Got the Medal!

All that said, it started to get ‘demanding’ shall we say. In reviewing my Garmin stats, it looks like I did pretty well up to around 14km before my pace started to drop off. Nothing drastic, but what up to that point had been around what I wanted, what followed got markedly slower. Still, I finished a race I love and nothing beats the feel of heading down the straight-away of Hayward Field, past cheering fans (fans of running, because with just one exception, none of them knew me). Then it was done. On to the post-race and some hard-earned refreshment. No lingering allowed though, as we had to push on to the next race in Las Vegas, NV.

In truth, the hurry was to get a shower before leaving and then get away early enough for an easy drive to our overnight location in Northern California.

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Gratuitous tourism photo of the Grand Canyon (South Rim), AZ.

Monday, we drove the rest of the way to arrive at our destination and ‘home’ for the week to come. We pretty much did the tourist thing for the next several days, including a trip to see the Grand Canyon. First time for both of us. Words hardly describe it, as anyone who has visited will know. As a runner, I couldn’t help thinking about a few crazy friends (you know who you are) that think what you should do at a place like this is run – a little adventure known as Rim to Rim to Rim. Uh-huh, run down and across the river and up and down and back up. I couldn’t believe it as I gazed down into that huge chasm. Maybe there needs to be a post on this and other crazy undertakings like the Badwater 135!

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Package pick-up for Revel Mt. Charleston Half Marathon. Wearing my Eugene Marathon volunteer shirt!

The weather was great, but for the weekend they were calling for much cooler temps and maybe a shower or two. The race to be run was the Revel Mount Charleston Marathon (and Half). It is the fourth and newest race in the Revel Series. If you don’t know about Revel races, they all have one major characteristic – down-ness, a LOT of down-ness. This one drops about 5,000ft over the full marathon distance and is a fairly smooth profile with just a couple of bumps that may almost be a relief. The half is slightly less steep than the upper part of the full marathon, but still nicely down.

Friday, we headed for the Expo, ready for the Saturday race. Early start! Because there is seldom room where these races start, you go to the Finish and get a bus to the starting area. Because of the logistics it requires an early arrival at the Finish area to catch your bus. Because Vegas can be pretty hot, the start was scheduled for 6:30am. You do the math. It was an early wake-up!

Nicely started! (Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

Nicely started!
(Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

I’m told there were a few flakes of snow at the top of the marathon course, nothing sticking, just floating down. Well, they were at something like 7600 ft. We half marathoners were much lower down, but even still were over 4500 ft. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t quite as cold as we thought it might be. By the start, when we had to strip down to what we planned to wear for racing, I felt OK in shorts, singlet and arm warmers. Once we got going it was near perfect.

So, I’m not going to describe every step, even if this was a brand new race. The grade was smooth and almost totally down, at least through the first half of the route. After that it flattened a bit and there were a couple of very modest up-grades. The only ‘hill’ was the rise over a major highway we had to cross, then it  was down again to the finish. By the time I finished it was sunny and getting warm.

Double Agent rockin' the Finish!  (Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

Double Agent rockin’ the Finish!
(Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

As I approached the finish line, I could see the numbers on the clock and knew I was going to finish in a very satisfying time that would prove to be the best I’d done in about two years. With age grading it might even be a bit longer than that.

Revel does good 'bling'! Slept with my gold medal the first night.

Revel does good ‘bling’! Slept with my gold medal the first night.

What I didn’t know was that I was finishing FIRST in my age group. I thought I had spotted a ‘competitor’ early in the race and he left me behind. Obviously, he wasn’t. When I went to get my official result I learned the fabulous news and was sent immediately to collect my gold medal. Revel does a great job of race bling and the inaugural medal and shirt certainly lived up to their normal standard and maybe then some (Big Cottonwood Marathon, in Utah, is a race I’ve run twice, so I have some familiarity with Revel races).

I have been having great sport noting that since this was the first running of the event, coming first also makes me the age-group record holder. That’s right! I HOLD A RECORD! I anticipate it will last about 365 days, but for now, I’m the man. Love it.

I had knocked some 14 minutes off my Eugene time, which was kind of in line with other recent half marathon times. So, my 2:17:23 had me feeling pretty good. Oh, and since you ask, there was another comfort stop of just over a minute, so run time was that much better and while the official time doesn’t change by a second (nor should it), on a personal satisfaction level, this race was fabulous for me.

On the Vegas Strip. Jersey Boys, playing at Paris.

On the Vegas Strip. Jersey Boys, playing at Paris.

We celebrated the race, by going to bed early! (Well, I did anyway. Hey! I was up at 3:00am!) We did manage to take in a couple of shows while in Vegas, one being “Menopause” and the second, on Sunday was “Jersey Boys”. Oh, and since Sunday was also Mother’s Day, we had a really nice late lunch/early dinner before the show.

Monday, it was back on the road and two and a half days later, we arrived home after a very successful vacation and running road trip.

For the runners reading this, I highly recommend both of these races if you haven’t done them.

LIFE IS GETTING BUSY THE NEXT WHILE

04.26.2016

logoRunning life, that is. The rest of it has already been TOO busy of late. Have you missed me???

First up is a race favourite, the Eugene Marathon (and in my case, Half). I was selected to be a Race Ambassador for this event so will be doing duty at the Expo on Friday (middle of the day) and Saturday (late afternoon). If you are there, come by Soles for Souls and say hello.

Marathon Start - Eugene 2010

Marathon Start – Eugene 2010

I have run most of the Eugene Half Marathon four times on my feet and uncounted times in my mind. I’ve run the marathon three times and the half once, with this Sunday to be the second time for the half marathon. That is a total of five appearances out of the 10 years this race has been happening. I put it this way because pretty much the first 10 miles of the half and full marathons use the same route. Just past that point the courses split. The first time, maybe the second as well, the marathoners used to stay on the road to Springfield while the half marathoners dodged down a path and across the Willamette River. Now everyone crosses the river before the routes split. So much nicer, I think.

As soon as the Half Marathon turns down river, you will find yourself running beside, or on, or crossing over “Pre’s Trail”. Yep. That Pre. It was the area he went to do long runs. The nice thing about the split too, is that you only have three (3) miles to go (5K for us Canucks).  Hey! What???? Why do Canadians have to run 5K? Because we’re special, I guess.

Hayward Field - The Finish is Nigh (Photo Eugene Marathon)

Hayward Field – The Finish is Nigh (Photo Eugene Marathon)

Speaking of ‘special’ though, when you hit the end of that 3 mile finish segment everyone gets to be truly special. The feeling of turning off Agate Street and through the gates of Hayward Field is pure magic. You enter the track just about where the 200m start area would be and then you round the bend for the finish down the straight-away. This will be my fifth time and I expect the tingle up my spine will be no less than the first time in 2010 when I finished what turned out to be my recent marathon PB. Yep, third best raw time ever and second best age graded. Hmmm, maybe that is partly why I like this race so much. Partly, but far from the only reason. This is a special event for anyone who loves a great course and a legendary running experience. I know that I, like everyone else on May 1, will be “Running in the Footsteps of Legends”.

I won’t be spending much time savouring the moment though. More work to be done! As soon as there is a little recovery time at the post-race festivities, it will be into the car and off in the direction of Las Vegas! Las Vegas? Nevada? Indeed.

Running Down Big Cottonwood Canyon - My most recent marathon.

Running Down Big Cottonwood Canyon 2014 (Photo Revel Race Series)

The timing is either really good or really bad, depending on how you look at it. The Revel Race Series folk decided to start up a brand new marathon/half marathon race just to the north-west of Las Vegas. It is the Revel Mount Charleston Marathon. While Eugene may be one of my favourite races, the Revel series are my favourite KIND of marathon or half. I found out about Revel races via another Marathon Maniac and tried out my first one a couple of years ago: the Big Cottonwood Marathon near Salt Lake City. Revel specializes in running down hill, Big Time. The marathon courses typically drop plus or minus 5,000 feet! Now some would look at this as seriously crazy and knee busting. I, on the other hand, through no fault or cleverness of my own making, seem to be able to run down hills very nicely, thank you very much. I just seem to have a stride or gait or something that works on hills. My fastest ever race was Leg #1 of the Hood to Coast Relay which drops 2000 feet over just under six miles. I may actually be running that baby again come August. We are in for 2016 and I have to run something! Why not Leg #1??

Eugene -Passing Hayward Field. First time. Can't stop yet!

Eugene -Passing Hayward Field. First time. Can’t stop yet!

I’d love to say something about the Mount Charleston race, but since this is the first running, there isn’t much history. OK, no history. However, the Revel series does have a history and they put on a good event. I am much looking forward to this race come May 7. Yes, just six days after Eugene. That is where the good/bad timing comes in. Considering that it can be done in one longish driving trip is the ‘good’ part. Racing two half marathons you want to do well in, just six days apart, is not recommended as I vaguely recall. Decisions must be made.

Right now, I’m thinking strong and steady for Eugene with lots of recovery and care, then give ‘er at Mount Charleston. Because of scale, course profiles are often deceptive with some surprising little ‘ups’ where it looks all down and steeper sections where the downhill looks smooth and even. All that said, the profile tells us this is about a 3% down-grade. A bit steeper up the canyon and a little less so on the town roads, but still always heading down. It should not be terribly punishing and run well could produce a pleasing time for this old codger. You never want to assume that running a downhill course is like having roller-skates on. You still have to run, but gravity will help. It certainly won’t hinder!

Running in the cool high country above the desert will be fun. The race starts early, so hopefully by the time I can finish a half marathon, it still won’t be too hot. Later in the day, the temperatures are going to be getting up there. Even if I have a terrible race, I’d expect to be finished by 9:00am. Heat shouldn’t be a big factor. Hey! Remember me? I’m the guy who loves the Reggae Marathon where you get warm temps and just a wee tad bit of humidity to spice it up.

Gratuitous photo from the Inaugural Boston 5K

Gratuitous photo from the Inaugural Boston 5K

It isn’t that often, if you think about it, that you get to be part of the inaugural event for anything. This will be one for me. I’ve had a few over the years, but when you think of how long I’ve been running, it really isn’t that many. For me, this is going to be a big one. Without straining something (my brain) it seems like this is about the fourth such event. One that really stands out for me was the very first Boston Marathon 5K which started in 2009. Our daughter was running the Marathon and asked me to come be her support team. It was a thrill to be there for her, and to take advantage of the very first BAA 5K run on Sunday morning. They let us ‘borrow’ the official finish line. Probably the only way I will ever get to cross THAT line!

So, that’s it for pre-race speculation. I am very much looking forward to both of these races. You (if you wish) can look forward to the post-race accounts. You know they will be coming!

THE ALL NEW AND IMPROVED WHITE ROCK SANDCASTLE CLASSIC 5K

03.30.2016

       The Sandcastle Classic 10K was a perennial feature of the Lower Mainland running scene. The race itself, in one form or another, has been around since 1983, or coming up on  34 years. It has been hosted from the start by the Semiahmoo Sunrunners and Walkers. Over the years the course has changed a bit (OK a LOT in the last couple of years). But, that is life. Part of the recent change has been to move from starting in South Surrey and finishing on the West End of the White Rock Beach, to running the entire course within the confines of the City of White Rock.

Change continues and we (I am a Sunrunner) believe the latest change is going to please a lot of people.

The 10K is dead!   Long live the 5K!

Anyone who knows anything, knows that White Rock is actually VERY small in terms of its physical footprint. Those same ‘know-it-alls’ will also be well aware that there is a whole lot of up and down in White Rock, steep up and down. Finding a 10K route without any of said ‘up and down’ is near impossible.

Over the hump and turn-around already in sight (and Mount Baker, too!)

Over the hump and turn-around already in sight (and Mount Baker, too!)

HOWEVER, the Sandcastle 5K Route, out and back along the beach only involves a couple of modestly significant bumps and a gorgeous view of Boundary Bay from end to end. The new course runs the length of Marine Drive from West Beach to East Beach and back, finishing where it starts.

Organizers are super excited about this change and are pretty sure the running community is going to be too. The price is a bargain at $23 including BC Athletics fee and just $20 if you are a competitive member of BC Athletics. The change has been in the works for a little while, but announcements had to await City approval and we are all thrilled that White Rock has embraced the race and given the permit needed to run Marine Drive. If you like water views and funky restaurants and shops,  you are going to LOVE this race! Even though there will be plenty of post-race refreshment, you may want to plan a brunch along the beach before returning home. You’ll be glad you did!

I caught up with the all new Race Director, John Makepeace. Here is what he had to say: “We are excited to offer what we expect will become one of the most popular events in the LMRRS roster! A Sunday morning run along the White Rock beach front just has to be a great way to start the day.”

So, when does all this happen?  June 5, 2016!  That’s when.

You will want to check out the other details at the Sandcastle Classic 5K web site. Registration is open now.

Historically, the Sandcastle Classic races have drawn some top level athletes and a lot of others who just know a good thing when they see it!  The 10K event records (as far as I can determine) are:

Men: 29:34  Warren Barker (1995)

Women: 33:02 Nancy Tinari (2003)

Notable participants include: Carey Nelson, Leah Pells, Jim Finlayson, Nancy Tinari, Tina Connelly, Oliver Utting and probably a number of others from the earliest days, the results of which are still in a dusty old file box somewhere. Man, it was so easy to check the more recent electronically timed races!

But, as one of our race committee pointed out, there are no records for the Sandcastle Classic 5K!  Those 10K records are all water under the White Rock Pier!  That is right. There are going to be a whole bunch of NEW records set on June 5th!  Overall for men and women. Masters, and every age group will have a new record!  Now if that doesn’t get your competitive juices flowing, probably nothing will!

Post Race Awards and Prize Giving at West Beach

Post Race Awards and Prize Giving at West Beach

This is going to be a family-friendly event, even if it is Race #6 in the Lower Mainland Road Race Series. The course will be open long enough for most people to walk the 5K distance as long as there aren’t too many stops to take in the awesome view or snap ‘selfies’. (Remember, as much as those restaurants have great offerings, they will be open all day, so no stopping along the way for a bite!)

Post-race crowd enjoys awards ceremonies.

Post-race crowd enjoys awards ceremonies.

We expect this to be a competitive challenge for those so inclined, but also expect to appeal to a lot of people who just enjoy running, run/walking or even walking great courses and supporting local events put on by local people.

Even coming from downtown Vancouver, it is an easy Sunday drive, and while in the interest of green-ness, you may want to car-pool a bit, you can enjoy free parking until noon in the lots near the Start-Finish. The race starts at 8:30am with package pick-up and even race day entry from 7:00am to 8:15am.

And don’t forget in these days of Social Media, you can find the Sandcastle Classic 5K at:

Facebook: Sandcastle Classic 5K

Twitter: @Sandcastle5K

And of course at the Lower Mainland Road Race web page as well as the Sunrunner web page.

 

RUNNING IN THE ZONE IS A BLOG AND A BOOK

03.11.2016

Although it may be obvious to some, and I do mention it from time to time, this Blog is based on the book: Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes.

Steve King and I put a lot of work into developing the concept and then finding the 24 other contributors who provided the content, along with the two of us. It was an amazing labour of love and we were, and are, very grateful to all those who provided their perspective on what it means to be a seasoned athlete. Steve and I are co-Editors but we also wrote more than just our own particular essays on the general topic.

About Half of the Contributors, Victoria, BC at the official launch.

About Half of the Contributors, Victoria, BC at the official launch.

The 26 contributors range from avid runners like myself through Olympians and World Record holders, and everything in between. There are Marathon Maniacs, ultra-runners, marathoners, middle distance runners and sprinters, on road, track and trail. There are professional writers and those who may never write this sort of thing. That was where the editing skills came in. For the most part, I assisted contributors to get their contributions whipped into shape while trying very hard to keep their personal voices very much in the writing. Steve, as you might imagine was the guy who knew everybody and brought a large proportion of the contributors to the table.

Cover Layout (design by Danielle Krysa) including book reviews.

Cover Layout (design by Danielle Krysa) including book reviews.

For me, it was an amazing experience getting to know these people and working with them to polish up their contributions. We only had a few ‘rules’. For the most part, we just said keep it within a range of total words and keep the topic to running as the years roll on. We wanted various perspectives on how people kept their running fresh and fun, but otherwise there weren’t a lot of directives. For what it is worth, I more or less try to follow the book format with my blog posts, with respect to both length and general content.

It was such a pleasure and even a bit of a revelation to see how many approaches there were to running once one is in the ‘seasoned’ category. At one point we had our own idea of what ‘seasoned’ was (age-wise) but eventually, let people bring their own definition. Let’s face it, for elite athletes, Masters territory generally falls under the heading of ‘seasoned’. As it happened, the youngest writers for our book were 46 at time of writing. I have since met some remarkable senior runners who hadn’t even started running at the lower end of our age spectrum. I would also point out that many of our contributors have their own books or are/have been publishers of running publications. There are a LOT of race directors and organizers among us as well. We’ve got coaches and mentors. Many give back to the sport as well as running for their own pleasure. I would love to ‘name drop’ a little here, but it wouldn’t be fair to those I don’t mention. I deal with a fix for that a little later in this piece.

Steve King X2 (from Penticton Herald)

Steve King X2 (from Penticton Herald)

I was just a little shocked when I realized Running in the Zone (the book) was released just over 10 years ago at the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon in 2005 (see the photo at the top of this article). I still can’t quite believe that. Still, the ideas are as fresh and relevant today as they were when the book first saw the light of day. What makes it so? I think it is probably because there were only a couple of ‘how to’ oriented pieces and even those were kept in context. Most of the writing was around how running fit into any of the authors’ lives and how each felt about it. I am still in regular contact with a number of these writer/runners and don’t think much has changed. If we asked them to do it again, I think that in broad terms, we would get a lot of the same subjects and content.

Since writing this book, I have met quite a number of ‘seasoned’ athletes and others fast joining the ranks, who I might have invited to join us were we just starting. It seems like there are common themes among us that hold true. When we were done with publishing of the book, I sent out a small survey to the contributors to get some stats and perspectives. One of the questions I asked was “Why do you run?”. Virtually every person responded to me with one form or another of “Because I love it.”

Because I love it. That took many forms, but the essence was that most everyone could not imagine their lives without running as a part of it. Not everyone was going fast, certainly not as fast as they once did, but they were still getting pleasure and fulfillment from whatever kind of running they were doing. Some were still very competitive both in spirit and performance, but some were just doing it for their own benefit and not trying to prove anything.

Co-Editors, Dan and Steve, working the Expo (BMO Vancouver Marathon, 2007)

Co-Editors, Dan and Steve, working the Expo (BMO Vancouver Marathon, 2007)

I seldom ‘pump’ the book regarding sales. We never wrote it to make money. Steve and I used to make appearances with the book at Race Expos and had a great time talking to people while selling a copy or two. I have had lots of feedback from people who did buy it and read it, and it is pretty well always positive. One of the great things about it is that it is not meant to be read cover to cover, or even in order, as presented. You can read what appeals to you today and come back another time for something else that is clicking at that point. And, it is not the opinion (clever as such might be) of just one, or even two individuals. You get the ideas of 26 individuals.

You may be wondering about the contributors I keep mentioning and what they decided to talk about. Well, if you are reading this you must be on the Blog Site, so you can just go over to the right side of the page and click on “About” or better, “A Peek Inside the Covers” where you can find a reproduction of the index which will show you the Who and What of Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes.

When we started out the book was available as a soft cover traditional printed form. Since then, it has been offered in e-format and it seems a fair number like that version. Of course, you can still buy either format via Trafford Publishing, as well as other on-line sales sites like Amazon. Or, if you happen to know Steve King or me, well, we will be more than happy to sell direct. And, we will autograph the book for you (probably a given, unless you stop us). If you get it right, you might be at a race where both of us are on hand. If it is one of several, such as the Vancouver Marathon or Victoria Marathon, there will be a good chance that at least a couple of other authors may be around too and you might get them to sign as well.

Rod Waterlow CIM Finish - 3:54:44. Final part of regular report series.

Rod Waterlow CIM Finish – 3:54:44. Final part of regular report series.

From time to time, book contributors have offered something here on the blog, and I am certain there will be further such contributions coming in the future. One or two have generously allowed me to reproduce articles published elsewhere. I have also been thrilled to have had the chance to invite other ‘seasoned athletes’ to contribute their thoughts to this blog, or in one case provide a series of brief reports and updates from an important event.

It was so much fun to write/edit this book and I know many have had the pleasure of reading it over the years. If you think you would like to own a copy of Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes, we would be humbly honoured.

 

 

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?

02.28.2016
Runnin Guy takes a rest

That Runnin Guy takes a well deserved rest.

Well, so most of you have already jumped to the conclusion that I am going to talk about age. You are partly right, but this IS a blog for ‘seasoned athletes’. The truth is, this post is kind of about four numbers. It is also getting published today, in honour of my friend, Chris “That Runnin’ Guy” Morales, who has apparently got himself a new number – it is his Birthday today. You may recognize the name or blog handle as associated with the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. That was how/where we met, several years ago, and now where each December, we solve the problems of the world (well our worlds) over a Red Stripe or two and some good jerk pork!

OK, I said there would be numbers. Here they are:

First Number: Age (yes, you were right)

Second Number: Time for any given race distance

Third Number: Age graded time for any given race distance

Fourth Number: % Performance for any given distance at any given age

Many people like to say “Age is just a number.”  That is true. I like to say it. I know a lot of amazing ‘seasoned’ athletes and in this case I’m even going to use another ‘s-word’, senior athlete. As I am one, I’ve got to know a lot of such people. As a matter of fact, after the First Half Half Marathon which I just ran for the first time on February 14, I was standing with two other senior runners (on the day) and one who would have been running were he not working back from an injury (that did NOT happen while running). I was the youngster at 71, but together we added up to 305 years among four guys. I won’t class myself with these other three, but I am still going and they would put a good many younger people to shame at any given distance. But, they (we) all work at it. So, we definitely fit in the ‘age is just a number’ category.

Although I’ve enjoyed some podium finishes in the last year, I am the first to admit there was an element of picking the right races! I have never been fastest in a class field, but what I really care about is how I compare to the me I used to be. You certainly can’t make a 30, or more, year comparison to the Second Number above. That number is the time you recorded for any given distance on your best day. Naturally, we all run different paces on different days (depending on the circumstance), so rather than any specific race it is probably most reasonable to compare PB’s either outright or recent. I’ve started, on someone’s recommendation, to keep 5-year ‘bests’. For ease of keeping track, I use the usual 5-year age groups, so right now I am working M70-74. Even your best at age 70 can’t compare to your best at 43/44 (when I actually set my PB times).

To be clear then, my “Second Number” is your raw time at any age. It is what it is. You try not to let it slip too fast as the years and races roll by, but you can’t stop it forever. Best you can do is limit rate of change.

I also keep record of my annual PBs, so if I were to say run three or four 10Ks, I only include (for this purpose) the best one. Sometimes, it is the only one if you only run one race. For instance, last year I only ran one marathon, so that was the best, the worst and only. You get the idea.

Hood to Coast Start 2012

Hood to Coast Start 2012. Age grading will even work on the ‘random’ leg distances in a relay!

That leads us to the Third Number, the age graded equivalent (converted) time. I like this number and will talk about it in a bit, but want to bring in the Fourth Number now, as they do go hand in hand. The Fourth Number is the % Performance and in the last number of years, the one I keep track of the most. These standards are related but different. In essence, the age graded time is based on an ever-growing database of performances by age (and gender) for any given distance. The % Performance is relative to the single age World Standard for age and distance. I have learned that the calculator I use, put out by World Masters Athletics, is actually a bunch of equations and is not just a block of times for a precise distance (say 10K). As a result, it is actually possible to enter a decimal value for your age (I only do this for my own statistical records) and for distance too. There are some strange distances out there and if you are running relays, like my favourite Hood to Coast, the legs are what they are. They aren’t neatly divided up into familiar standard distances. The calculator still works. It also works on a decimal age. That is important to me because living in Vancouver where you can run, and race, all year and with a birthday that comes early in January, a late in the year race (like the Reggae Marathon) makes me almost a year older than my nominal age. As I said, I only use this for my own statistics, but at the higher end of the scale where I am now, a year makes a big difference.

Now, onto some specifics. After a not so pleasing 2:29:32 on February 14 at the First Half Half Marathon, I did as I always do and looked up my age graded results. To my surprise, my converted time for the half marathon was 1:48:20. That got me thinking about how it compares to my general achievements over a number of years. For the last good five years, my converted time has been in the low 1:40 range. This last race involved a number of issues and challenges for me (and some that included all runners – it wasn’t such a nice day). I don’t want to make excuses but am convinced I can do significantly better, and will as the season progresses.

Medal haul from the four in 15 day races (BMO Vancouver, Eugene and Sage Rat). Includes a first and second at Sage Rat weekend (red ribbons)

Medal haul from the four in 15 day races (BMO Vancouver, Eugene and Sage Rat). Includes a first and second at Sage Rat weekend (red ribbons)

As I looked back at all half marathons over the last few years, I could see how the raw chip time got slower, while the age graded time stayed relatively static (a good and satisfying thing). This is where the % P also comes in and is somewhat similar, because quite like the age graded time, it too compares favourably year over year. Circumstances always count, so care needs to be taken in the comparisons. As we are talking half marathons at this precise moment, I would point out that I ran three last year but all in 14 days, with full knowledge that on the 15th day I would be running a 25K so-called trail race (really more country roads). Anyway, all four of these races were run either with the intention of conserving energy for what was yet to come, or with the weight of what had just happened in the last week or two. So, while I was proud of the greater achievement and it got me to Level 4 in the Half Fanatics, the times are to be taken under advisement.

All of the above notwithstanding, as I look over a longer period of time and use the annual best time, the age graded result falls within quite a narrow range between 1:40 and 1:45, even though the actual times were getting slower. (For context, my half marathon PB is 1:33:40 which grades to 1:27:48 and happened in 1988. That first marathon PB was a 64% effort at age 43, while my marathon at age 65 was a 60% performance. Slippage? Yes, but not so bad I think.) But, notwithstanding that raw times were getting slower, that is kind of the point. My age was increasing, too.

As it turns out, aging is not really a straight-line sort of thing and neither is the age grading algorithm. Thusly, I had a graded time for the First Half that was not as bad as I thought it would be. The other number is the % Performance and is often my preferred standard. I have realized that if I can keep myself on a steady track, I can achieve around 60% on a reasonable day on a reasonable course. So, days like two Sundays ago, with the rain and all, should be taken in context. Situations like the four in 15 days should similarly be put in context. But, if you run races, you usually get a few each year when conditions are decent, not ideal necessarily, but decent.  Those you can reasonably compare and it pleases me that I find myself ‘holding my own’, as the pages of the calendar turn.

Reggae Party Time! Cool, refreshing coconut and the sea just a few steps behind the stage!

Reggae Party Time! Cool, refreshing coconut and the sea just a few steps behind the stage!

My personal approach to this is to use my best time for each distance in a given year. Sometimes, as already noted, that is just one race at a given distance, but sometimes there are several to choose from. Those ‘bests’ tend to fall in the target range I mentioned. That is what I use to judge my personal progress. You can’t do anything about things like the weather in mid-February or the heat in a race like my much loved Reggae Marathon (Half). Those results have to live on their own, but as I said, each season you probably get a good course on a nice day when you are well trained and feeling fit, and that will usually be the ‘keeper’ for that year. Here is another situation then were a number has meaning and not just for me. Some races actually do have age graded results and some even give prizing on graded times. There is always a little bit of shock among younger runners when some 70 year-old hot-shot wins.

As always, I write about my own experiences as the example to a larger point. What I have written about can be done by anyone at any time. You just need to know your age, your time and the distance. Plug it into one of the calculators and hit the button. There are a number of such age-grading systems out there now, but I stick with the one I started with just so the outcomes remain comparable over the many years. Because I started a long time ago, all I need to do now is plug in the latest race and add it to the rest. If you want to start your own record and don’t want to invest all the time it might take to go back to your ‘personal beginning’, you might just try to look up your five-year PBs to bring yourself up to some recent point in time and go from there. Word of warning, the age effect only kicks in around 35. Younger than that, you can save time and just use your actual result. It is fun to watch your adjusted performances as you go along.

Eugene Marathon - 2010 - Good Times (and a good time).

Eugene Marathon – 2010 – Good Times (and a good time).

Finishing up my Marathon PB (1988)

Finishing up my Marathon PB (1988)

I have had times where my training and running were better than at other times. Sometimes it is life, sometimes an injury that impedes progress and sometimes everything is ticking along like you would hope it would. A good example for me was the year I turned 65. I was healthy, had the time and was training pretty well over an extended period of time through the year before and into that year when I was 65. I peaked (recent races) on results over all distances right up to marathon and found that my graded times and % Performance stats where better than they had been in some years. In fact, my first marathon is, was and probably always will be both my best actual time (that is an absolute at this point) and best graded time (most likely). BUT, the Eugene Marathon run in 2010 turned out to be my third best raw time and second best graded time. The difference was 22 years. Clearly, comparing the raw times makes the two look very different (was just over an hour difference between Vancouver (1988) and Eugene (2010)), but age grading narrowed the gap to a few minutes. It is still a highlight of my running career!

Four Amigos after RM2015 showing 22 total races (fingers up) with That Runnin' Guy second from the right.

Four Amigos after RM2015 showing 22 total races (fingers up) with That Runnin’ Guy second from the right.

Oh, and this picture of the Four Amigos is a testament to age-grading and its many uses. We use the technique to compare our times and even distances in a friendly competition, which includes a bunch of other  people who are also Reggae Marathon regulars. All those fingers in the air represent the number of times we have done one of the distances of the Reggae Marathon (full, half or 10K). Takes some doing because left to right (and through no fault of our own, we ARE arranged by ascending age) there are some 35 years separating youngest and oldest (me, of course). Maybe if some of you ‘seasoned’ athletes out there give this age-grading thing a try, you will find some surprising and very pleasing outcomes.  Have fun!

Oh yes, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRIS!

Ho Hum to Banner Year in a Few Easy ‘Clicks’

02.01.2016
Getting ready to run the First Half, but won't be up with these guys!

Getting ready to run the First Half, but won’t be up with these guys!

Some of this isn’t new news, but I have been personally thrilled about things that have happened in the last while that have turned 2016 from a year where I intended to continue running but without much more of a plan than to ‘do it’.

Wow, has that ever changed!

I am already officially registered to run four of my favourite events of all time and committed to one more as soon as registration opens.

Eugene Marathon - 2010 - Good Times (and a good time).

Eugene Marathon – 2010 – Good Times (and a good time).

In February, I will run the First Half Half Marathon, for the very first time. I’ve talked about this before, so we’ll just leave that for now. As noted here quite recently, I am a Race Ambassador for the Eugene Marathon. That comes up in May and is also a real favourite. (PS, don’t forget the Ambassador has a discount code to share!) Flashing forward to late August, after several years of trying unsuccessfully, I got a team accepted into the Hood to Coast Relay. Oh yeah! Registered, and recruited a full team already. The fourth event is the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. This one is going to be a bit different because rather than the full or half marathon, I will (again, a first) be running the 8K with grandson Charlie.

Home stretch of Giant's Head Run (2015)

Home stretch of Giant’s Head Run (2015)

So there you have it! Just like that, all registered in four of my favourite racing events. BUT WAIT (as they say on the TV ads) that isn’t all. I am committed to a reprise of the Giant’s Head Run with Charlie in June. That makes FIVE really special races in the schedule and it has only just turned February.

I’ve already made posts about the First Half and Eugene so let me dodge ahead to October and the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon Weekend. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that knows me, that I have a spot in my heart and race schedule for this event. My first ‘doing’ of this event was in 2000, when it was still the Royal Victoria Marathon. I made my marathon come-back there. Well, if you can call running  your second marathon a ‘come-back’.  In a way it was, since I ran the first one in 1988, wound up with a serious back problem and operation that happened in May of 1990. Then, later in that decade I just got so busy that I mostly didn’t race at all until about 1998. The time wasn’t totally without racing, but it was pretty sporadic. I ran but mostly did not race or train to race. I did actually start training for a marathon in 1991 while living/working in Brussels, Belgium, but it fell through for lack of training time.

Janna Finishing RVM, October 2000.

Janna Finishing her First Marathon. RVM, October 2000.

So, it took until October 2000 and a lot of serious intent to ‘get er done’, before Marathon #2 went into the books. Well since then I have run a total of six half marathons and 5 marathons and launched our Running in the Zone book, at Victoria. This year, as noted, I will run the 8K for the very first time and it will be special because I’ll be running with my new running buddy, Charlie. By October, it should be at least our third race together. I hope I will still be able to stay with him. In case it isn’t obvious, we are kind of going in opposite directions where it comes to running pace. I figure it is only a matter of time (and not much of it) until I’m saying “See you at the finish” and meaning “Please wait for me at the finish”. I suppose it isn’t that I’m losing ground at such a rapid pace, but I know Charlie is going to get faster, and soon. If I had to predict, it would be something like this. In 2015 in the Giant’s Head Run, I had to pace to Charlie’s current capability. In 2016, I am kind of betting we may be on somewhat the same level. By October, he may have to slow down for me. Maybe not quite yet, but soon. As I said, we are kind of moving in opposite directions, but that is a good thing.

Danielle, Dan and Janna 2007 at Victoria Marathon

Danielle, Dan and Janna 2007 at Victoria Marathon

If that wasn’t enough, it is going to be a full-on family running weekend! Out of the 11 previous Victoria appearances, most have involved one or the other of our daughters (Danielle and Janna) and sometimes both. And, while I was running my second marathon, Janna was running her first! That was a big event for all of us. Not only did Janna and I run our first marathon together, it inspired Danielle to take on the challenge of the marathon a year later in Toronto. I recently added up the total for the extended family and all together, counting kids and spouses of kids plus me, our full marathon count has now reached 36! Not even going to bother to check but our half marathons are probably pushing 100. The family that runs together……………….

Our son lives in Victoria and has agreed that he will get in the spirit and do the 8K too. Danielle and Janna and their families will be there. Both sons-in-law run and wife Judi is ready to take on a challenging walk. Right now, details are still being sorted. Danielle is registered for the Half and Charlie and I are registered for the 8K. Everybody else is thinking about the distance they might do. But, I do know hotels have been booked, so it is definitely on. I know one son-in-law is looking for another marathon to do, but not too likely this is going to be the one because of his schedule. We have one grandson too young to run and with race rules prohibiting strollers, is unable to ride. So, there still needs to be some sorting of who is running what and who looks after Jonah. However it works out, this is going to be one big family celebration of running! Going to be a highlight of my year for sure.

Bob's Border Busters - Hood to Coast 1987

Bob’s Border Busters – Hood to Coast 1987

Backing up a bit, Hood to Coast will be a great event for me too. The first time was in 1987. This will be the ninth, but they were not evenly spaced. Number Two was 1989, but Number Three was in 2006. There have certainly been a lot of changes including numbers of teams and even the finish location, which naturally means the route too, especially from Portland onward. In the early days it was JUST the Hood to Coast Relay. The Portland to Coast and High School Challenge were added later. With more and more teams it got harder to get in and this last round, it took three attempts to secure a place. The nature of the race has changed too, from what might have been somewhat of a rolling party to something fairly tightly scripted. What hasn’t changed is the attitude of fun on the run. A big part of the fun for me is the planning.

Ready to Start Hood to Coast - 1989

Ready to Start Hood to Coast – 1989

Back in 1989 I ran Leg #1 and it is the fastest sustained pace I’ve ever run over a distance (about 5.5 miles). It was glorious and I bask in the memory of it. Now, I have fun with trying to get all the team members into the best leg set for both them and the team. It is getting to be time to start doing that, even if the relay is still many months away. Oh yeah!  Hours of Fun! Oh, and it looks a lot like I’ll be giving myself Leg #1 again. No, I’m not trying to relive past glory. If you don’t mind running steep, sustained downhill (the actual Leg One) then it is the right place for the oldest, slowest runner on the team. Funny enough, although the post-Portland Leg #1 route has changed and was a bit longer back in 1989, I ran it then because I was one of the slowest on our team, even if I did come down that hill at a pace of 5:59/mile. That’s right. On that team, I was one of the ‘slow’ guys. We came 19th in Men’s Open, and those were the days of crack teams put together by Nike and others, using the very best from their stable of distance runners. That included such people as Alberto Salazar. Today, the ‘pointy end’ of the relay still involves amazing runners, but not quite like those days. Did I mention we came 19th in Men’s Open?

There are several other races that are fairly special to me and I’m working on the plans to get them into the schedule. Some involve travel outside Canada and that is not inexpensive these days, so we will have to see what we will have to see. Guess you might think I’m being a bit greedy considering the great line-up of special races already ‘on tap’!

So, that is it for my plans for the moment. What does your 2016 look like? Hope you are heading for as special a year as I expect to have!

THIS BLOGGER JUST BECAME A RACE AMBASSADOR FOR THE EUGENE MARATHON

01.18.2016

logoFollowers here know I decided a year or two back to try new things when the chance arises. A NEW CHANCE JUST AROSE!

One of my favourite races, the Eugene Marathon selected me to be one of their 2016 Ambassadors!

I am pretty thrilled for a bunch of reasons, but I realized that this is the “10th YEAR RUNNING and will be my FIFTH time of running either the full (3X) or half (2X as of this year). Let’s face it folks, there aren’t that many races of which any of us could say we’d done HALF!

Eugene Marathon - 2010 - Passing Hayward Field.

Eugene Marathon – 2010 – Passing Hayward Field.

This is a great job for me! I think I’ve been doing it unofficially since the first time I ran Eugene in 2010. That was a pretty big year of running for me and the Eugene Marathon was one of the highlights. It was also one of my personal best marathons. I really have two adult distance running careers. Well, maybe that should be RACING  careers. My first marathon was run in 1988 in Vancouver, but I didn’t run the second one until the Victoria Marathon of 2000. Oh yes, and there was that thing about a ruptured disk and back operation that happened between #1 and #2. On a raw time basis the first was the fastest and the second was, well, second fastest. Many of you know how I do love age grading to keep track of myself (then and now). Eugene, run in 2010, some 22 years after my first, was (and remains) my third best raw time and second best age graded (out of a total of 26 marathons – Eugene 2010 being #13). Oh yeah, and to my everlasting surprise and delight, I was THIRD in M65-69.

Still wondering why I love Eugene?  OK, well here are some other reasons.

Harry Jerome - Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

Harry Jerome – Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

1. Track Town USA!  I am of an age when Eugene was the epi-centre of running excellence, at least for West Coasters. I knew a number of promising runners who took their careers forward in Eugene and under the expert coaching of Bill Bowerman and his staff. The biggest name among them, I suppose, was Harry Jerome. I am not going to try to pretend Harry was a friend, but we did belong to the same track club and did train together under the same coach. I even raced him once! And hey, how many of the people you ran with over the years have a statue to commemorate their achievements?

2. Hayward Field. If Eugene is ‘Track Town’, Hayward Field must be City Hall! The Eugene Marathon FINISHES on Hayward Field! #goosebumps #Imighthavecriedabit

"Pre's Rock" - Eugene, OR

“Pre’s Rock” – Eugene, OR

3. Running in the Footsteps of Legends. The long-time ‘tag line’ for the race. Nothing could be more true! The people who have run in that stadium are truly legendary. I think the first that would pop to mind, at least for anyone my age, is ‘Pre’. Steve Prefontaine, even though his true potential probably went unrealized, ranks near the top of the list of Legends. Truth be told, the legendary performances continue to be recorded to this very day at Hayward Field, and who knows how many more will emerge in years to come.

4. A First Class Race. Never mind what was and everything included in the first three points. The Eugene Marathon (and Half) is a top quality race in its own right. The course is fast and essentially flat, with a good return on PB and BQ aspirations. Even if you aren’t looking for those outcomes, the organization is superb and volunteers as good as you will find. Post race is pretty much top shelf too.

As an official Ambassador, I can help you out with information and a special discount on registration if you are running the Half or Full Marathon. More on that later.  But, the weekend has more happening than just those two races, so if you are bringing kids or someone not quite ready for a marathon or half marathon, there are other options. On Saturday (April 30) there is the Run Track Town 5K and the “Duck Dash” (1 K) for kids.

Forerunners crew carbing it up in 2015

Forerunners crew carbing it up in 2015

Metro Vancouver and British Columbia runners seem to have a strong affinity for the Eugene Marathon. In 2015 I personally ran the half marathon, but was part of a group of 28 from the Forerunners marathon and half marathon clinics that descended on Eugene for one or other of the distances, coming away with something like 8-10 PB results, 8 BQs and 3 age group podium finishes, including one First and a total of 7 Top Ten placings. Although not there for 2015, Jeremiah (Jerry) Ziak of Forerunners North Vancouver has won the 5K (2011 in 14:46). And this is just the story for my Forerunners friends, not counting those running with Peninsula Runners as well as other clubs and clinics. I mention Peninsula in particular, because they have sent some pretty big contingents over the years and I am sure have produced some very satisfying results among their runners.

Why and How you run any race is up to you. I mentioned my 2010 result above. It was one of my best and I trained and raced with the intention of making it so. The next year I had every intention of repeating (only faster) but a late training injury put the result somewhat in the ‘pathetic’ category. I should have just said ‘not this time’, but I thought I was OK when the race started. OK to run, not to better the previous year. Wrong. But, I did finish. 2014 was a slower time but good for me at the time and age. 2015, the Eugene Half Marathon was the second of four half marathons done in a total of 15 days. To the outside observer the time was far from stellar, but for me it was just what I needed as the second step in my project to ‘moon up’ to Level Four in Half Fanatics! I also used the 2013 Eugene Marathon to scoot myself up to the Silver Level of Marathon Maniacs. I only mention these things because they are examples of the literally thousands of personal goals expressed on the road on any given race day. What will your goal be??

OK, let’s get down to basics.

Eugene Marathon puts on a great weekend. I recommend you think about making it part of your personal race calendar.

If you do feel this is for you, I have a special code that will give a discount for either the half or full marathon. Send me a Personal Message on the Facebook Page for Running in the Zone. OR, you can e-mail me at :  dan@runninginthezone.ca

The main race day is Sunday May 1, 2016. The Expo and package pick-up starts April 29 going through April 30. The Run Track Town 5K and Duck Dash are on Saturday April 30.

Registration fees and deadlines are found HERE.

Accommodation in Eugene should be booked early. Of course the Race Web Site has a page for hotels and many offer discounts. If you are of that sort of mind, Air BnB is an option to consider too.

Marathon Start - Eugene 2010

Marathon Start – Eugene 2010

The ROUTES for the marathon and half start on Agate Street just outside Hayward Field, running into South Eugene and Amazon Park, eventually looping back right past Hayward Field just around nine miles. Runners head toward the Willamette River, crossing over on the Bike Bridge around 10 miles, after which the two routes separate. with marathoners running up-river into Springfield and half marathoners heading into the ‘beginning of the end’ on the pathways on the North Side of the Willamette, from time to time quite near and even paralleling ‘Pre’s Trail’. After a foot tour of part of Springfield, marathoners follow the streets to Autzen Stadium where they too get onto paved pathways following the river. For most of the last 10 miles, runners are quite near the Willamette River, first on one side and then the other as they turn back toward the finish at Hayward Field.

Hayward Field - The Finish is Nigh

Hayward Field – The Finish is Nigh (Photo by Eugene Marathon)

Regardless of half or full marathon, everybody finishes by running along Agate toward those iconic gates that welcome everyone back to Hayward Field. If you have any kind of a ‘runner’s soul’ or sense of the history of this place, I challenge you to pass through those gates without having some kind of chill up the spine or maybe even a sudden surge of emotion, including a tear (if you are me). Everyone hits the track just about where a 200m race would start and then runs the curve and down the straight to the finish arch. If you aren’t so concentrated on the clock or finish mat that you forget, you can actually watch yourself finish on the JumboTron screen!

The courses are fast, mostly flat with just enough roll to keep your legs loose. There are two bumps that actually qualify as hills and you are done with them by about 8 miles. The race has been in the Top 15 BQ producers for some time. I suppose that should tell you something, whether you are looking for the BQ or just a good personal result.

Is Eugene the only race on May 1? Hardly. First of all, there is no running season weekend that doesn’t offer multiple options. It is the reality of the times and popularity of our sport. For Vancouver runners, the obvious situation is that this year, the BMO Vancouver Marathon is the same day. Last year that wasn’t so. I actually ran the half in both places, my 11th time for Vancouver and fourth for Eugene. I guess we just have to realize there are choices to make. This year I will be choosing the Eugene event. Others will need to make their own decisions.

For those who do pick Eugene, I will really look forward to greeting you at the Expo and Package Pick-Up. That is part of my job as Race Ambassador, but one I love. The Expo of any Marathon is one of my favourite places to be, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding me! For all my Vancouver area running friends please feel free to look me up and chat about the Eugene Marathon      “10 Years Running

So whaddaya say?  See you in Eugene in May!?

 

 

IS IT REALLY JUST A MONTH TO THE “FIRST HALF”?

01.13.2016
pacific road runners - bright blue

A Well Recognized Logo!

The short answer is YES.

People who know me, this blog and the race, also know this post was to be anticipated. Unlike some races I am known to love and promote unofficially, The “First Half” Half Marathon sold out months ago. Registration will not be impacted by even one runner through the words of this blog. One thing that might is VOLUNTEERS. Unlike most races of its size these days (over 2000 finishers), this is still a 100% club organized and volunteer delivered event, supported by super generous partners such as Forerunners (from day one) and Mizuno (now with the race for some eight years). Excess proceeds from the race go to Variety – The Children’s Charity and now total well in excess of $650,000!

Pre-race crowd FHHM2014

Pre-race crowd FHHM2014

For the first 20 years, members of Pacific Road Runners (“the Club”) were not allowed to run the First Half. We all had to be the core of the volunteer brigade. It did create a bit of a tension in that some really good local runners were prevented from running what is arguably Vancouver’s best half marathon. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are some fine races here, but the First Half is still the only half marathon that sells out over 2000 spots in 24 hours or less. I see that as a direct vote by runners. Some might argue that having been Race Director for several years and stage MC ever since, that I could be biased. Could be.

Anyway, it just happened that when I took over RD duties, it was coming up on the 20th Anniversary of the race. I decided an experiment was in order and the Race Committee agreed. On a one and done special deal, we would let five PRR members run (chosen by lottery) as long as they got their volunteer hours in before or after the race. Well, long story short, it worked just fine and we did not have to invoke the ‘special circumstance’ argument to return to the old policy. A small number of club members now get to run each year. A big plus is that PRR gets a runner’s eye view of why the event is held so high in the collective opinion of the running community and to keep a direct eye on any issues on course.

Normally, this post is all about what a great race it is shaping up to be and how hard everyone works and wishing runners well. All that still stands, but this time I have something very major and personal to announce. For the first time ever, maybe the ONLY time, I will be running the First Half.

For the weather, this is kind of what I had in mind for race day.

For the weather, this is kind of what I had in mind for race day.

I will put down my microphone and lace up my running shoes and find out first hand, just what it is all about. I am hoping that the running gods will favour me with one of those great running days for this experience. My argument to the current RD was basically that I wanted to do the race (please and pretty please) while I am still able. Not to be morbid, but I just had my 71st birthday and at that age your next injury might just be the last. I am very excited to have this opportunity and intend to take full advantage the experience!

Forerunners Pace Group Leaders at Eugene Marathon 2015

Forerunners Pace Group Leaders at Eugene Marathon 2015

I continue as a pace group leader at the Forerunners Saturday First Half clinic, but instead of telling tales of the event to those who will be running, I am now sharing my own excitement at being ONE OF THEM. While I’ve never run the race, I’ve run almost every part of the course at one time or another. The difference now is that I am not just giving advice to the pace group runners, I am making my own plans and strategies on how to approach each segment.

There are probably only two ways for me to run this race. One would be to just go really easy and take a couple of photographs (if weather is as spectacular is it has sometimes been), talk to volunteers and other runners and just make it a celebration. The other is to honour this race that has hosted so many of Canada’s top distance runners over the years, and do the very best I can. That means training well and running the race for time. Guess which one I will be doing! I’ll save the celebratory run for if I ever manage to BQ.

Now don’t get the wrong idea when I say I will ‘run for time’. Nobody at the pointy end of the race has anything to worry about, probably not even the better runners in my own age group, for that matter. Although I am thrilled to get a podium place when I can, I have mostly run against myself throughout my racing years. So, when I say I will run for time, it will just be the best time I can produce. Only I will know for sure how successfully I will pull that off. Whatever, I do intend to take this race as seriously as any race I’ve done in a long time.

Dylan Wykes (yellow and black) FHHM 2015 winner and event record holder.

Dylan Wykes (yellow and black) FHHM 2015 winner and event record holder.

I will be writing about the race again, nearer to the event. While I am a great proponent for running for your own reasons and to your own standards, I also have a deep love and appreciation of excellence. So, once we know who the top prospects will be, I will be talking about that a bit. This year being an Olympic year and a couple of our better runners and event winners not having yet qualified for the marathon, there may be some race strategy determining who will run and how fast. More on that when we get closer. As a teaser though, here is a list of former First Half winners. For the men: Peter Butler (won the very first First Half), Carey Nelson, Colin Dignum (2X), Phil Ellis (2X), Norm Tinkham (2X), Art Boileau (3X), Bruce Deacon (5X and record holder 1992 – 2007), Ryan Hayden (2X and record 2007), Rob Watson (2X) and Dylan Wykes (3X and current First Half record holder at 1:04:21, set in 2012).

Dayna Pidhoresky hits the tape for the 2015 Win.

Dayna Pidhoresky hits the tape for the 2015 Win.

On the women’s side: Isabelle Dittberner (won the first First Half and again in 1993), Lisa Harvey (4X), Tina Connelly (3X and event record holder at 1:12:47, set in 2004), Natasha Wodak (2X), Lucy Smith (2X) plus several notable one time winners including Ellie Greenwood, Leah Pells and Sylviane Puntous. For those who might remember, the Puntous twins were world class Triathletes, but also very good runners. They were famous for finishing One-Two and the 1991 First Half was no exception with Sylviane first at 1:15:08 and Patricia second in 1:15:13. The family that runs together…..

One should never get the impression that these wins were the complete record for these athletes. I only listed the wins, but many of these fine runners recorded other podium finishes as well and some went on to win the Masters division. And, the book is still open on the current crop of elites as to how many more First Half wins and podium places they will record.

BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh heads back through the Start and on to the Seawall

BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh heads back through the Start and on to the Seawall

The event has also been graced by the presence of some amazing older athletes, first among them being BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh, a regular at the First Half and an inspiration to all. According to the records posted at the First Half web site, BJ holds the age group records for W60-64 through W80+. The times range from 1:39:40 for W60-64 to 2:07:07 for W80+ (by my calculation, done when she was 82). Another runner of note is Herb Phillips who posted a record time of 1:23:19 for M65-69. I almost hesitate on mentioning these few people because it leaves out so many other superb athletes.

Everybody must now go to the Start!

Everybody must now go to the Start!

I would be remiss in not mentioning that a huge number of the less noteworthy runners out there are doing their own amazing races. I will tell just one story here but think it sums things up and because it was personal and moving for me. I guess it is also a great example of why we all need to give back to the sport we love. As I usually do when being stage MC, last year, after making the final announcement that the race was about to start, I went out to actually watch the start of the race. My usual spot is at Pacific and Davie, about 200m down-course from the starting line. You can get some great photographs from that point, and for no extra cost, if you just wait a few minutes, everybody comes right back past that location after the initial approximately one mile loop around BC Place. Because things start to string out a bit, it is also a great place to spot people you know.

Random mid-pack photo from around the time the following happened. FHHM 2015

Random mid-pack photo from around the time the following happened. FHHM 2015

I was standing there cheering and photographing and chatting with Karen and Peter Butler from Forerunners and my co-MC, Anjulie Latta (who actually has a personal link to what now follows).  The elites had passed by as well as a good many strong runners, when all of a sudden a young woman dashed over to me yelling as she came, “Are you Dan??” Having no time to think of why I might deny it, I said “YES”. She proceeded to give me a big hug and thank me profusely for getting her where she was (running the First Half). So, here is the deal. Several years before I had been her Sun Run InTraining Clinic Coordinator and had helped her get started on the road to running. Anjulie, as it happens, was the Area Coordinator at the time and thereby, my ‘boss’. The conversation was brief as you might imagine, but this young woman told me she had done every Sun Run since that first clinic and some 11 half marathons to boot!  Then, she was gone. The whole thing took just a few seconds, but it was very emotional for me and apparently for her because it was important enough for her to run off course to thank me. It made me realize that contributing what you can to assist others can have an impact far beyond anything you might imagine. No, not every time and not for everyone, but often enough and to a level most of us would never understand. I cried a little.

And for all of this, and because so many work so hard to put on this race, I just have to give it my very best come February 14, 2016!

2015 – 2016: The Year that WAS and the Year that is yet TO BE

12.31.2015
Nothing says the running year is done like a trip to the Reggae Marathon!

Nothing says the running year is done like a trip to the Reggae Marathon!

Here we are on the cusp of yet another New Year. That means we are also on the very tail-end of the last one. Personally, the last year has been a strange, yet good one. Personal times surely got slower, but achievements were often and many were new! First time running with my grandson, Charlie, first time running a couple of races that have been around for a long time yet never on my schedule, first time running back to back half marathons (actually one was 25K), first time to score a significant number of age group podiums (5/10 races). I joined Half Fanatics and ‘mooned up’ to Level 4 (of 10). I managed to run a marathon at age 70 and attended the Reggae Marathon for the fifth year running. At the same time, I found it hard to get as much running in as normal. The last number of years, my annual running/racing total has been around 1000 Miles. This year I just crept over 1000km. As readers here know, that was partly to do with having cataract surgery on both eyes which is still amazing to me every day, but took me out for six weeks of NO running and not even any alternate training. Lost another three weeks to the worst cold/flu I think I’ve ever had. So, I guess if you prorate my 1000K plus by the nine weeks, it comes to around 1300km. Still not 1600km, but not as bad as the simple number sounds (to me, anyway).

Dylan Wykes (yellow and black) pulling the pack at FHHM 2015

Dylan Wykes (yellow and black) pulling the pack at FHHM 2015

The year in general saw some amazing things in terms of World Championships and Pan Am Games, especially in the sprints with Usain Bolt producing jaw-dropping results and our own Andre De Grasse serving notice that he is here to be seen and heard. At the distances I concentrate on, we saw Canadian marathoners putting themselves in line for a trip to RIO in 2016, and one of those, Reid Coolsaet, inching ever closer to the Canadian marathon record of Jerome Drayton. Eric Gillis has scored a qualifying time too and a couple of others are biding their time for the right race to give them a birth there too. Watching with suspense to see how Dylan Wykes and Rob Watson will do in the coming few months. There is a fine crop of ‘fast women’ too , including Lanni Marchant and Krista Duchene, and some are even having to make decisions as to which distance (if not both) they should run.

Ellie Greenwood wins Comrades 2014

Ellie Greenwood wins Comrades 2014

It is also going to be fun to see if Ellie Greenwood, running healthy and with no altercations with autos to mess up her training, is going to be able go back to Comrades and show them exactly of what she is made.

A sad part of the year was seeing another major doping scandal arise and knowing somehow that it is surely NOT going to be the last. Another part of the past year and maybe past couple of years, is what seems to be a down-trend in race participants in individual timed races in Canada. That will be the subject of a blog early in 2016 after I’m done analyzing data I’ve been given.

2016, being an Olympic Year, Rio 2016 is going to bring lots of thrills, chills and spills, starting with the mad dash to qualify for those who have not yet done so. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will add another $1000 to the bonus for any Canadian who can break Drayton’s record and the event coming after the Olympics may produce some all-out efforts since nobody has anything to risk by going for it. Forty years that record has stood. Seems like it would be kind of poetic for someone to nail it on the 40th. I have this theory that once someone finally breaks through, the record will drop significantly. We’ll see.

My own 2016 is a work in progress.

Rob Watson - Wins 2014 First Half

Rob Watson – Wins 2014 First Half

First up will be running the First Half Half Marathon. When I joined Pacific Road Runners, no club member was allowed to run the race. We all volunteered. As Race Director for the 20th Anniversary Race, I used it is an opportunity to offer a (possibly one-time) chance for PRR members to run. If it didn’t work, we could just go back to the normal policy. We opened five slots on a lottery basis and made it clear that individuals still had to do significant volunteering, just not during the race. Apparently, it worked well enough that the club continues to this day to allow a select number of members to run and do their volunteering outside the time of the actual race. After several years as RD, I took up being co-MC on the stage, right up to this past year. So, I’ve never run the First Half. I asked and the current RD agreed to give me the year off from my usual duties on the stage. in 2016 and at the 27th First Half, I will get to run for the very first (and quite possibly, last) time. Guess I better make it count! Well, training began several weeks ago: looking good so far.

Tutti-Frutti, Orange Cone. Already planning for 2016?

Tutti-Frutti, Orange Cone. Already planning for 2016?

Grandson Charlie has already served notice he wants to run the Giant’s Head 5.4K race again in June. While I haven’t signed up yet (OK, nobody has), I intend to be there for ’round two’!

 

Hood to Coast Start 2012

Hood to Coast Start 2012

After three tries, I was able to get yet another team into the Hood to Coast Relay! This will be the 9th time for me. The first was 1987, so I’ve been at this for a while. I already have a full team and we are currently “Canucks to the Coast“. We may review the name a bit closer to the race, but it served well in 2013 and almost half the team is the same, so……………………….Canucks to the Coast it may well be.

 

We have been talking of a major family running event for a time now and it is looking a lot like the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon (etc.) is going to be it. The “etc.” is important because I suspect none of us is signing on for a marathon this time. It will probably be the Half and 8K options for us. Our oldest daughter is already registered for the Half and Charlie is game for the 8K. Don’t think anyone else has made a specific commitment, but the Winnipeg branch of the family already has the dates blocked in and two of the three anticipate running (one is not quite a year old as I write this and unfortunately they have a no stroller/jogger policy, so I guess Jonah will have to cheer this time). Our son lives in Victoria and says he is game at least for the 8K, maybe more, depending on how the year unfolds. A discussion between Charlie and me will probably determine whether I do the Half or 8K. That, and how I survive Hood to Coast at 71! I HAVE been collecting new experiences lately and while I’ve done Victoria Marathon 5 times and the Half Marathon 6 times, I’ve never run the 8K. Maybe this is the year. Lots of time for the uncommitted to pick a distance and sign on. Must remember to register as a Team!

Judi and me at Big Cottonwood Package Pickup.

Judi and me at Big Cottonwood Package Pickup.

That is it for strong intentions. But, there are many temptations out there. I mean, Revel has just announced a brand new downhill marathon/half in Nevada!  I put in an application to be a ‘run ambassador’ for a race that shall remain nameless for now and if accepted, that will require running either the half or full marathon. Then, I also found out the Yakima River Canyon Marathon now has a Half Marathon this time, not to mention that running/writing friends Roger Robinson and Kathrine Switzer will be there again.

And then there is the Reggae Marathon. Of course there is. After five years in a row, I’m not sure if I would go again if I can’t convince some family to join me this time though. Then, there is another running project that has been lurking out there for almost a year that may or may not happen, but if it does would more or less preclude the now annual trip to Negril, JA.

So, while 2016 may look a little ’empty’ at the moment, it is not likely to remain that way for long. I already have my brand new running log (I’m still analog when it comes to running – like to see it on paper, even if I do a lot of related record keeping electronically, too). I do like to get a run in New Year’s Day, but that may not happen with friends here and a daughter and grandson needing to get to the airport for the trip home. January 2nd is a scheduled clinic run and that is looking pretty good! For many years, the New Year fun was a symbolic indication for the year ahead. One thing I do know is that I am NOT scheduling a January flu bug! (Mind you, I didn’t schedule it this year either!)

Early Morning Beach Runners - my Favourite!

Early Morning Beach Runners – my Favourite!

As other things sort out, we will probably try to do some interesting travel and while I respect that not ALL travel has to involve racing/running (REALLY – you can travel for other reasons than races?  Who knew?), there may be a couple of things that will provide a nice combination. One of my fun ‘collections’ is places run and raced, so maybe we can find a new place to visit and for a couple of new ‘notches’ or even medals for my collection. I’m up to at least 23 countries where I’ve run and five where I’ve raced if you include ‘fun run’ kinds of races. I have a lot of potential for new places without hitting new countries though. Two of my countries are Canada and the US. I’ve raced in just three Provinces and I believe, eight States. Think I’ve run in 9/10 Provinces and a fair number more States than where I’ve raced, but there is still plenty of scope for expansion there! Guess I need to stop repeating races, but the ones I like I usually like a lot (such as the Eugene Marathon, Vancouver Marathon, Victoria Marathon and Reggae Marathon events).

I do know there will be no new moons (Half Fanatics) or stars (Marathon Maniacs) added this year, although I may add States or Provinces to the personal profiles. With TWO Stars and FOUR Moons, what would needs to be done to rise any higher just isn’t in the cards for this old slogger.

Well, it is looking pretty interesting for 2016. I hope your year ahead offers as many interesting challenges as mine already seems to hold.

Happy New Year!!!

VANCOUVER HALF TO REGGAE MARATHON 10K IN TEN EASY STEPS

12.12.2015

Ten easy steps? Who writes these ‘headlines’???

Medals representing ten races and a couple of podium finishes

Medals representing ten races and a couple of podium finishes

While this old blogger has no intention of putting the shoes in the closet until 2016, that IS where the racing flats are going. Racing is done for 2015. Training is NOT. I already have my first race of 2016 in my sights and it is one that I MUST train for as it requires all the respect I can manage: The First Half Half Marathon. It will be the first and probably only time I’ll run it, but that will be another story sometime closer to the actual event. So, what does the Title of this piece mean? Well, of the ten races run this year, the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon was the first, run on a gorgeous sunny morning in May. What a contrast that morning of May 3rd was to the year previous when rain pelted down on us at the start and then through the race (the MARATHON, no less). Nope, May 3rd was as close as you will get to perfect. I was really looking forward to that first 5K downhill that gets the Half started. It actually runs right through my old ‘hood’ and by the elementary school I attended so many decades ago. I just entered my 8th decade and was still in my first when I started Grade 3 at Edith Cavell.

Start of BMO Vancouver Half.

Start of BMO Vancouver Half.

Almost all of the first 5K has a delicious down slope. I had a plan for early 2015 and that was to ‘Level Up’ as a Half Fanatic. I joined Marathon Maniacs back in 2013 but decided I’d also join the Half Fanatics in 2015. Interestingly, notwithstanding that I’d run a lot of half marathons in my time, I had not put enough of them close enough together to qualify as a Fanatic. You can’t use marathons as qualifiers even though you can use races from actual half marathons right up to anything short of a marathon and on roads or trails as you please. I had seen a natural opportunity, starting with Vancouver, to take myself from the basic qualifying level (Neptune) to Level Four (Jupiter). Details will follow, but the plan involved running four halfs or better in a total of 15 days. I mention this because you must clearly pace yourself and not get too excited in any given race. I suppose running the first 5K of Vancouver pretty much as hard as my hairy old legs would go, would not actually qualify as ‘pacing myself’. Still, it was an intentional decision. I knew very well that I would have to back off or pay dearly, if not that day, then surely sometime in the two weeks to follow. I have to say it was fun while it lasted though and was my fastest 5K (even if it was a split) since 2010.

Forerunners gang at Eugene Marathon

Forerunners gang at Eugene Marathon

The next of the four races was the Eugene Half Marathon on May 10. It was another pretty nice racing day, although maybe just a touch warmer than previous Eugene Marathons I’ve experienced. What made this one fabulous, apart from the fact that it is one top notch racing event, was that something like 28 of my Forerunners Clinic friends had chosen to do this one. We had a ball meeting up and comparing notes. Results were spectacular for the group with multiple PB and BQ performances. Of course my result was a tad bit slower, being second of the four races I was to run to achieve my Jupiter status.

Getting ready for the Sage Rat Half

Getting ready for the Sage Rat Half

The next week I somehow found a small race weekend in/near Prosser, WA. Let me say if you want a fun and family oriented weekend racing event, the Sage Rat Run is something you will want to look at. I had chosen the Sage Rat Half Marathon for Saturday, May 16 and the Dirty Rat 25K on Sunday, May 17. And, yes it was my first back to back races of such distance. Some felt it might be a first sign of senility, but I assure that on Sunday I was able to remember pretty much every step of the half marathon done the day before! Especially as I made my way up the 1,000ft climb that begins the Dirty Rat 25K. Until I reached the plateau at the top of that climb, I was probably first among those questioning my own soundness of mind (and body).

When all, and I do mean ALL, was said and done, I had run four half marathons (or better) in 15 days and had attained my Half Fanatic Level Four status. And, I suppose in an attempt to prove that I haven’t totally ‘lost it’, I have no intention of pushing to a higher level in either Marathon Maniacs or Half Fanatics. Really, I don’t!

Celebrating our first race done together!

Celebrating our first race done together!

I took a well-deserved rest until early June, when I ran a true career highlight race – the Giant’s Head Run. It is a quirky little race, being not 5K, but rather 5.4K. It was one of (if not THE) first races I ever did, way back around 1984 or 1985 when we lived in Summerland, BC, where the Giant’s Head Run has taken place for many years. Although the course has not really changed, it seems the distance has, or at least got more accurately measured. Whatever, the point was I ran it with our grandson, Charlie. It was our first race together, but hopefully not our last. Charlie says we are doing it again in 2016, so who am I to argue? The complete story can be seen HERE. That was June 6th.

2015 was to be ‘The Year of the Half’ and a race I have done at least six or seven times is at the end of June, the Canada Running Series, Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. Obviously, I think it is a good race to run, but this time decided to change it up a bit (being still a little drained from the exploits of early May) so opted for the 5K event instead. In hind-sight, my decision was brilliant. It was one very warm day! Running 5K looked like a very sound decision, and it was kind of fun. With all my longer distance racing goals of the last couple of years, running a 5K was truly something different.

Judi and me at Big Cottonwood Package Pickup.

Judi and me at Big Cottonwood Package Pickup.

At the end of June, I had my second cataract surgery, requiring three weeks of no sweat life, literally – NO sweating allowed. That was followed by some travel, complete with challenges for running, although I got a fair few in despite other demands on time and strange territory. All of this notwithstanding, my surgery date was moved up 3-4 weeks re the original plan. We had booked in for the Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon in early September. Both my wife, Judi, and I were going to do the Half. She is an avid walker and Big Cottonwood has a time structure that welcomes walkers. I felt that the downhill nature of this course was an opportunity to book a pretty nice half time. HOWEVER. With the change in surgery date and changes to the course that seemed to make it easier for someone who loves running down, I was seduced into running the marathon (again). There was just enough time to train up, even if it would be to minimal readiness. I couldn’t pass the chance and knew I was taking a chance. I kind of lost the bet in the end, but don’t regret the decision a bit. What the heck, I can at least say I ran a marathon at age 70!

A really WET turkey, trotting!

A really WET turkey, trotting!

While the Goodlife Victoria Marathon (weekend) has been a family ‘go to’ race for many years, I would have been all alone this time. I realized that I had an opportunity to run two races I had never done before and to add a couple of 10Ks to the list for 2015. First up was the Granville Island Turkey Trot. The main reason I’d never done it, despite the fact that we lived right beside Granville Island for a bunch of years, was that we were always in Victoria for either the half or full marathon the day before. Apart from the fact that I have seldom raced in such wet conditions, the race itself was great fun and I got to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen for some time.

The next ‘new’ race was the James Cunningham Seawall 10K. For no particular reason, I had never done that race. Of course, one reason was that while it has been going for decades, we didn’t live in or near Vancouver for a good part of that time. Although for most of its life it was not a 10K, upon being amalgamated into the Rock ‘n’ Roll series, it was tweaked up to a full 10K distance in 2014. The first year it was run in tandem with the Oasis Vancouver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (I ran the inaugural Half), but in 2015 it was moved out to Saturday thus allowing anyone who wanted to do so, to run both. My May experience of completing the Rat Deux being the back to back event for 2015, I passed on the opportunity. That was the last weekend of October and let me just say that it was truly fun to race the full Seawall, something I’ve never done, even though I’ve run many races that use part of it. While it was a wee bit cool at the start, it was another great running day, and for the second time in 2015 I got to do a race with Judi, who walked.

Dawn breaking over Negril and the Reggae Marathon course.

Dawn breaking over Negril and the Reggae Marathon course.

That brought me down to my final event of the year, the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. It is a long story with many facets to explain the whys and wherefores of it, but I am on a five year streak of doing that race. Negril, JA calls itself the Capital of Casual, and that whole vibe is surely part of it. So are the friends made and maintained through the Reggae Marathon. One thing I know for sure, even though the course is pancake flat, you don’t run it for time. Even if it does start in the relatively cool pre-dawn, it is still 23C up to 26C (this year) at the start. But, time is never what it is about for most people and the race continues to grow, reaching some 2300 registrants in 2015.

My 2015 experience at Reggae Marathon, as most call it regardless of actual distance run (- in my case this year, 10K) was once again right at the top of the heap of races for me. I really wanted to have a podium finish, being the young guy in my new M70-74 age group and was thrilled to come second, and NO, not second out of two! It appears that six started and at least five finished. Except that it was just a very personal ‘completion’ sort of goal, finishing on the podium was really neither here nor there in the great scheme of things, but I was still thrilled to be able to do it.

So, that was it for 2015. Ten races in all, each with a different purpose and pretty much every one of them with a deeper personal meaning than just another race to add to the total. At my age it is nice, maybe even important, to be running for some reason other than to add to the statistics. Oh, anybody who knows me or follows this blog will be well aware that I AM all about the stats, in terms of keeping track. That said, I don’t run races FOR the stats.

I am really not sure where I stand on total races run, but the number TWO HUNDRED is a reasonable estimate. Because I ran a lot of my early races in the mid-80s, I am fairly sure I’ve lost track of a few and have no way to go back and check. Never throwing anything away, I tend to have a pretty good idea how many I did from old logs and race results I still have, but it is really more of a minimum. Depending on how you score multi-leg relays, I am either just at around 200 races or well over and into the 220-225 area. The total itself doesn’t matter, other than maybe I’d like to celebrate a little when I go through 200 events, but it is a good many races and because I count 26 full marathons, one 50K ultra and at least 36 half marathons among the total, it is a considerable distance raced – some 1900km in those events alone. There are lots of 5Ks, 8Ks and 10Ks in there too, but they don’t add up nearly as fast! Whatever, let’s just say my races have covered a bit of distance over those many years.

Finishing the "Dirty Rat 25K" and doing my best "Bolt"

Finishing the “Dirty Rat 25K” and doing my best “Bolt”

Way back when I was middle-aged and just getting started in all this, and even though my PB times were fairly respectable, I was running with a bad crowd (fast) and never seemed to finish high up in my age group. I hatched a plot back then to just keep running until everybody else called it quits! I think it is starting to pay off! In 2015 I completed 10 races. Out of those ten, I managed five podium finishes with one first, three seconds and a third. Am I proud of coming first out of one at the Dirty Rat 25K? You bet! I was the one guy had the guts to get out and do it, and especially proud of the back to back, of which it was part. There were actually a couple of other races where I was fourth or fifth that just may have been superior results in that the field was considerable in size. Clearly, my times aren’t great, but I’m out there doing it and it is just plain fun to collect something more than the finisher medal from time to time.

Let’s face it, if racing isn’t fun, you should find a new hobby!