Sunday, October 28, 2007

Revised Schedule

Some people have asked me whether I'm running Boston. 

 I'm pretty sure I am not. The reason is this: If I do run Boston, I will taper for it and then recover from it, which pretty much knocks out the month of April for training. April should be Base time--not time to be tapering and recovering. I'd like to do some longer winter races--like Derry and Stu's--but only as fun training runs with a bunch of other people on tough courses--and not longer than 30K. I loved running Boston last year, but I think it just doesn't fit with my goals for my summer season in 2008. I am committed to choosing my races this winter, spring and summer carefully, to make sure that they each have a purpose that leads me to the larger goal, and also that they are fun and are truly what I want to do. 

I have done many races in the last few years just because friends were running them, or because I just love racing, or just because... I know now that if I really want to excel I must focus and be less random about my training and my racing. 

So here is my new revised schedule (the first of many, I'm sure!) Jan: Frostbite 15k: Why? It's fun, it's early in the season, and it will serve as a test as to where my fitness is. 

Derry 16 Miler: Why? It will force me to get some endurance under my belt, it will serve as a good, hard training run. 

 Feb: Cape Classic 10 Miler: Why? It's in my hometown. I love this race. It will serve as a tempo run at slightly faster than or at 1/2 Iron run pace. 

Andover 10 Miler: Why? I've never done this and I'd like to. 10 Miles is my favorite distance for a race. Again, it will be a tempo run. 

March: Stu's 30K: Why? It's a tough, long training run. It's fun. It falls at a time when I should be building a strong distance base. 

April: Wrentham Duathlon. Why? Good early season test on the bike. 

May: Westwood 2 Mile: Why? A good speed workout. In my hometown. Goes by my house. 

Sudbury Sprint: Why? First tri of the season! Bring it on! 

Gilio 5K: Why? Get my legs moving for the next weekend at Mooseman! 

 June: Mooseman International. Why? Ange and I are both doing it. Should be a great race. Early season test of endurance. 

Old Orchard Beach 5K. This is a maybe. I'd like to use it as a pick me up for Cohasset the following weekend. 

Cohasset Tri at Sandy Beach: Why? Andy's first traithlon! I can't wait for this one. I loved it last year. It's a beautiful venue for a triathlon. 

July:Goose Rocks 5k in Kennebunk Why: on July 4th. I'll be up in Maine. It will be a speed workout. 

Urban Epic Tri. I heard it might be in July this year! I hope! 

Peaks to Portland 2.2 mile ocean swim. Why? Alina and I planned last summer to do this. It's a great endurance swim. I can work on surviving the open water and on sighting! OP 5K I love it. A speed workout. 

August: Maine State Tri. This is a maybe. If I'm tired I won't do it. I should begin the taper for Timberman. 


September: CELT Challenge. In my hometown. A last hurrah. 

October: Maine Marathon in Portland. My hometown! I've always wanted to run Portland, and next year I will do it! There seem to be too many 5Ks. If I treat them all as speed workouts (or hard tempos) will that work? Also, I don't have any half marathons. Since the 1/2 Iron includes a 1/2 marathon, should I?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Taking Time Off

Is hard to do for we compulsive types. I haven't been doing any really training save a few runs here and there, so I have been spending time instead obsessing about the next year and how I am going to train, execute, and become the next Chrissie Wellington. Don't laugh. You never know. 

I am going to state my goal FOR THE RECORD. 

1. Go five hours for the 1/2 at Timberman. Okay, Okay! I said it! I know it's very ambitious, but I'm dreaming big. It's easy to dream big when you are sitting on your arse contemplating the next season. My two other goals are to: 1. qualify for Clearwater, (which I did this year at Timberman, although I didn't know this at the time. Rolldown continued past five slots for a variety of reasons. But I digress...) 

2. Sign up for Lake Placid 2009. No goal for that yet. I just want to sign up. That in itself is a huge challenge. Hopefully I will get a spot if I set up camp the night before registration in L.P. 

Here is my race calendar so far for 2008: 

January: Frostbite 15K Derry 16 Miler 

Feb. Cape Classic 10 Miler Hyannis Half Marathon 

March: Stu's 30K 

April: Don't know yet. 

May: Sudbury Sprint Tri 

June: Mooseman International Shipbuilder's International 

 July: Peaks to Portland (swim, ocean, 2.2 miles) OP5K 

August: Maine State Triathlon (sprint) Brew Run (5.2 miles) Timberman Half Iron 

September: Pumpkinman Half Iron (MAYBE) CELT Challenge (Sprint) 

October: Portland Marathon 

November: World Championships/Half Iron. 

Nothing is written in stone yet except Timberman. I love planning. All for now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Chicago Marathon Race Report

If it wasn't bad enough that I didn't feel adequately prepared for Chicago, you can imagine my dismay when I realized that the weather reports were accurate, and that I would in fact be attempting to run the marathon in sweltering, humid, city heat. I'm happy to say, though, after all of my fretting I ran remarkably well. I don't know if it was luck, divine intervention, or a fluke, or what. But unlike so many others, I didn't succumb to the heat, and I was able to post a 3:35:35 finish. This put me at 36th in my age group, 235 for gender and 1369 overall. Those numbers seem unreal to me--and speak to the number of people who didn't start, dropped out, or plain weren't able to survive the heat they way I was magically able to. I'd like to say that the numbers means I really was the 36th best female runner in my age group to run the Chicago Marathon this year. But we know that isn't true. I was the 36th best at surviving the heat, however. Compare those numbers to Boston, at which I ran a 3:31:43--five minutes faster than I did on Sunday--and at which I placed 802 in my division, 956 for gender and 5925 overall. I know that Boston draws a more competitive field than Chicago, but still, the difference is staggering.

Here's the gist of the race:
The heat was so bad they canceled the race at 4 hours and forced everyone still on the course to walk to the end. People at the 1/2 way point at 4 hours were bused back to the start. There was no water at the stops early in the course after the first waves of runners came through. I was lucky enough to never have any problem getting water or Gatorade. I guess this was part of the privilege of starting in Corral B and running relatively well. By the end of the day, 300 people went to the hospital--one died, 5, as of Sunday night, were still in critical condition.

The heat was like the air out of an oven -- emanating off bodies, the pavement, the sides of buildings. It was still and hot--75 at the start, 91 (according to a Bank sign) when I hit mile 16 at about 10:15 a.m. People were collapsing, throwing up. It was scary. There were people who were supposed to lead pacing groups who couldn't keep the pace they were supposed to run. I finished with one of the men who was supposed to pace a 3:20 group. Toward the end, with roughly five miles to go, I looked around me and estimated that about 80% of the people around me were walking--and these were people with bibs from corral A, Elites, people with pace markers stating they had clearly hoped to run 3:00 or 3:10. It was honestly like a death march. Runners were silent--.

Ange ran ahead of me most of the way and I found her with about 5K to go. She looked at me and said, "Mary Bancroft, help me through this!" Her last name is Bancroft. She was definitely out of it! I knew she was really hurting, but she's so tough. She stayed with me and kept running, despite the fact that everyone around us was walking. I wanted to try to talk her through it, but I was focusing so hard myself on continuing, that I just couldn't talk. With a mile to go she slowed at a water stop and waved me on. I picked up my pace a little, so eager to finish the race and be done with it. I finished about a minute ahead of her, and then waited for her to cross the line. When she finished she was weaving a little and so hot to the touch--I was sure she had the beginnings of heat stroke. We walked to the medical tent, and though she entered, they wouldn't even treat her! Apparently she wasn't bad enough and the tent was full. They gave her ice and had her sit down. They wouldn't allow me in to be with her, so I went to get her husband to tell her where she was.

Andy had been hoping to run between 2:50 and 2:55, but like so many others, he melted a little more than half way through the race. By mile 15 he succumbed to walking. He walked/ran to the end, finished the race, and crawled under a Gatorade table, which in his delirium was the only place he could find that was shaded. They basically hauled him to the medical tent where they proceeded to drain his toes of blood blisters and water. Apparently he, too, was not bad enough to receive care for heat exhaustion. Talk about a crisis situation!

I broke a sweat within the first quarter mile of starting. We entered a tunnel almost immediately, which was so hot and still and smelly, I wasn't sure I could stand it and it was only 5 minutes into the race! Anyway, I started out, as planned, at 8 min pace and held on until about mile 8 or so. At that point I didn't really feel the heat so much as I just generally felt tired. I knew this meant it wasn't going to be a great race for me. Usually in a marathon you don't feel tired until at least the halfway point. Mile 8 should still feel like you're floating on air! I slowed down to 8:15's and walked the water stops--taking a Gatorade and 2 waters at each one and then dumping one water over my head. People like me are the reason they ran out of water at the stops. I feel bad about that. When I passed Melissa C at about mile 15 or so I knew something was really wrong. Melissa looked like she was just exhausted--and that's not the Melissa I know--the one who definitely is capable of a 3:15. I began to notice that many people around me were dropping out, walking, cramping... By mile 20 I still felt surprisingly okay. I began to feel like I would finish, and I probably wouldn't totally fall apart. I did slow down, but I didn't have to walk, and I didn't think I showed real signs of major dehydration. I, did, however, began to feel like I was watching a movie in which I wasn't really a part. Sure, I was running, but I felt okay, and everyone around me was completely falling apart. It was a little horrifying. At mile 23 I found Ange, and the rest is history.

The whole thing was bizarre--almost surreal in retrospect. I still don't know why I was okay when others weren't. All I can think of is that I took it out conservatively and I am smaller than most everyone so I don't require as much fluid to stay alive.

I wish that my successful race despite the heat means I can go a lot faster--but I'm actually not sure that's that what it means. I DO think I can go under 3:30, but I think I need a lot more training before I can go much faster than that.

And that's the story!