Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kentucky Derby Marathon

What a surprisingly fun race!

There were only about 1500 signed up to run the full marathon but 10,000+ others doing the Mini (aka half marathon) so the event had the excitement and feel of a big race without the high cost and hassles. With a seeded runner position (for those who'd run a 3:45 marathon or faster since Jan 2005), I was able to line up less than 5 minutes before the start and hit my desired 9 minute pace right out of the gate -- YAY!

The first few miles took us in a big loop and through Iroquois Park, which was very pretty and pretty hilly. I hadn't done any hill training but had no problems getting up them, to my surprise -- perhaps all the bike riding helped? Whatever, we really lucked out with the weather. It was pouring rain when I got up, drizzling on the bus ride to the start but clearing by race start and a pleasant 55 degs -- Whee! (Sorry this photo is blurry. Except for the start photo, all were taken while running.)

At mile 6, we ran right back under the start sign again and then headed towards Churchill Downs, home of the famous Kentucky Derby. Though I'm not much of a horse race fan, I've always liked horses (used to draw them a lot as a kid!) and enjoy seeing famous sights that I would probably never see otherwise unless I was doing a race. We ran through a tunnel to get to a path on the infield and caught glimpses of some horses on the track warming up (see upper left photo inset). Very cool!

On my way out of the Churchill Downs concourse, I spotted a restroom sign to my left. Unfortunately, I was on the right side of a big group of runners and had to make my way over to the left slowly and then backtrack to it. So I lost a couple minutes there but I didn't care. It was a real restroom with sinks and toilet paper!

After Churchill Downs (mile 9), we headed towards downtown. There were still lots of runners around me and a good number of spectators cheering, too, but I could hear my feet and quads talking to me. You know, you really should have trained on some hills. We are not happy with the pounding we took on the earlier downhills and if you don't take it easy on us, we will make you pay. Uh-oh ...

Just before mile 12, the Mini and Full Marathon courses split and the race took on a very different look & feel. Where did everyone go? To pass the time, I ran alongside a couple guys until around mile 14 where the course began to get hilly again. There were both from the Louisville area but one guy had attended University of Central FL, which is very close to where I live, and knew the flatness of where I was from. The other guy was running his first marathon but had trained on the course and was giving us a history lesson ... Many of the rich folks had relocated here on the high ground here to avoid the big floods back in 1937. Some of these old homes are worth over a million dollars, blah-blah-blah ...

I fully expected to be left eating their dust on the hills but they actually slowed even more than I did and so I ran on alone. We went through Cherokee Park, which looked very similar to Iroquois Park, and here I am going up a good hill. Notice how few there are in front of me now compared to the photo before!

By mile 19, the course had finally flattened out and we were heading back towards downtown Louisville again. Since my feet and quads were still noticeably complaining, I didn't pick up my pace by much at mile 20. There were actually still two more blips on the elevation map coming up, the bridge over the Ohio River into Indiana briefly and then back over it (miles 22-24.5). And, I knew I had the Gulf Coast Tri (GCT), a half iron distance tri, coming up in just two weeks and didn't want to overdo things.

But the big crowd at the foot of the bridge really pumped me up so I attacked the first bridge crossing more aggressively than I probably should have. At the top, I eased up and decided to pull out my camera one last time. The clouds had gone away for the most part leaving blue skies and a very nice view of the river.

Less than 10 minutes in Indiana and we were back on the bridge to Louisville with only a couple flat miles left. The last half mile we were rejoined by walkers from the Mini Marathon and had great crowd support and I was back running in a big race again. I was on track for another sub-4 race time and was not actually bothered much when a woman passed me on the final stretch (she was not in my age group anyway ;-). She was the only woman who passed me the last 6+ miles and I congratulated her on her strong kick after we'd both finished.

Net time 3:56:59, 5/41 4/40 F45-49 (updated 4/28). 15 more states left in my 50-states marathon quest!!

Race splits (pace computed for each segment):
10K 0:55:29 8:56 pace
15K 1:26:16 9:55 pace (including 2 min bathroom break)
25K 2:21:57 8:58 pace
30K 2:50:14 9:07 pace
42K 3:56:59 8:57 pace
Average pace: 9:03 min/mile

After an ice bath, my quads and feet felt much better but I won't probably won't be ready to race the next bike time trial on Tuesday. By the end of the week, however, all should be forgiven :-)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gearing up for the Derby

What's perhaps worse than preparing taxes? Pouring through over 8 years of statements to compute the cost basis of stocks. Bleah!

Now, onto more more important things ... like updating my blog :-)

Firstly, I finally got around to creating and posting a short video about my team of runners who did the SimplyStu Triathlon recently. (For best viewing, hit the play button to get it started downloading, then hit pause and come back to view it after reading the rest of this post. By then, it should be downloaded and will play smoothly. Duration 1:20.)

For any musicians out there, this was my very first attempt to compose a song using individual loops provided with Mac's Garage Band. It was a lot different than composing music on my electronic keyboard, easier in some ways (various drum kit, bass, guitar and other instrument loops already exist), harder in others (you've got to find them and then put them together so they sound good). Of course, I thought it'd be cool to base the song on a guitar riff that's sort of similar to what Stu uses on his podcasts. Luckily, this video wasn't long enough for me to do anything more than build and then fade out ;-)

Last Tuesday, I ran a 20-miler in preparation for the Kentucky Derby Marathon this Saturday. Since there's only a month in between this marathon and my previous one, the Ocean Drive Marathon, I decided to do just one long run and with the unusually cool weather we had last week, 20 miles in 3:30 did not seem overly taxing. My goal for Kentucky is simply not to overdo things since the Gulf Coast Tri (a half iron) is just 2 weeks afterwards. Last year, I ran 3 marathons about a month apart followed by a half iron distance tri two weeks later and it worked out really well.

The weekend turned out to be mostly cycling. On Saturday, Dave and I rode the Van Fleet Trail, a long Rails to Trails route that we hadn't been on in a while. It's completely flat, has only a couple of intersections to slow down for and only one gentle bend in it. We hadn't planned to ride it fast being that it was our first ride over 50 miles this year and we actually ended up stopping to call 911 just 2 miles into it because of some small fires we saw off to the side (no one and no signs were around saying it was a controlled burn). Still, we did the 58 miles round trip in 3 hours (19.3 mph avg), our fastest time to date and without drafting each other (woo hoo!) There were, however, controlled burn signs placed by the time we got back, oh well ...

Then Sunday we did some intervals on the bike which together with the long ride the day before really wiped out my legs. I could manage only 3 miles on the treadmill that evening and only because I had to report how many miles I ran over the weekend to my virtual running group and didn't want to say ZERO. After all, I was the one who organized the group ... This week I will definitely be resting up for the marathon.

Good luck to Wendy who's competing at the World Masters in Australia this week, Rural Girl who's running the Pine Line 1/2 Marathon this Saturday, folks doing St. Anthony's Olympic Distance tri on Sunday, and anyone else racing. And thank you to everyone who's contributed to the Endurance Sports Bar vault -- Keep them coming!!

Hope you enjoy the video!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Crazy Week Past

Last week ...

Came down with a cold, didn't do as much training as I'd wanted to do, and my step daughter's PhD adviser pulled out on her AFTER agreeing to reduce her workload because she'd been having a really hard time being so overworked, stressed out and sick with strep throat a couple times. WTF?!

On the other hand ...

Got the initial website stood up, got our taxes DONE (woohoo!!), and was feeling much better by the end of the week. Katherine is handling the disappointment remarkably well and looking at other options for her PhD. It may mean I won't become a grandma until later but it's not like I've got nothing else to do in the meantime ;-)

And just when I thought summer was here and it was time to start turning on the A/C, this week we have a cold front with highs only getting up into the low 70s. Perfect for my long run tomorrow in preparation for the Kentucky Derby Marathon on 4/26. For a couple days lifeguards will be bundled up in blankets, cyclists will be wearing tights and jackets, but temps will be back into the mid to high 80's by the weekend and all will be normal soon enough.

Time to catch up on my blog reading and see how everyone who did IMAZ fared this past weekend!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Dare to Dream Big

Did anyone see the latest issue of Parade Magazine in their Sunday paper?

Usually the most useful thing to me in the Sunday paper are the coupons but this week's Parade front page story caught my eye. It was about Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch's last lecture. He'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told he only had months to live.

Why'd it draw my attention? Because Randy, Dave and I used to all work in the same field of computer graphics and virtual reality research many years ago. I'd read a number of papers he wrote, attended conferences he was at and I think he was one of the referees on a journal paper Dave and I co-authored. I remember him being one of the good guys, brilliant but very approachable. He is also our age (late 40's) and there's nothing like seeing it happen to one of your own to make yourself feel mortal ...

I loved many of Randy's last lecture points because they were nearly the same as those I adopted after my dad died of kidney cancer back in 1992:

Always Have Fun ... Dream Big ... Ask For What You Want ... Dare To Take a Risk ... Look for the Best in Everybody ... Make Time for What Matters ... Let Kids Be Themselves

Before then, I was a stubborn workaholic and a control freak who was destined to be miserable and probably dead from stress by age 40. It took seeing someone like myself (my dad) taken away by cancer for me to realize how short life was and that I needed to make some changes to mine. I used running to deal with my grief and have used endurance sports over and over again to build a new, much healthier and happier me.

And so I hope to pass on torch by creating a new website that will feature everyday athletes and their stories to provide daily inspiration and motivation for others:

The bar's vault is now OPEN and accepting contributions from YOU, the community. To add a link to it in your side bar, just copy and paste the following HTML code:

<a href="" target="_blank">
<img width="180"
Bar operations will begin on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, 2008. I hope all of you will be a part of it. Mostly, I hope all of you will dream big and not let anything stop you from achieving them.

BTW, Randy is still with us and still fighting for his life. His latest entry in his journal, dated April 2, 2008, said "I hope to be back on the bike in a week or so." Way to go, Randy.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Opening Soon!

Update: Just saw that TriSaraTops is the winner of the second Team Evotri slot -- CONGRATULATIONS SARA!

Thank you again to everyone who voted for me. The winner of the second Evotri contest has not yet been announced but it was not me, unfortunately. I got an email from them today saying someone else's vision for bringing together the endurance sports community was found to be the best fit for the team this year. I'm sure it must be great!!

In the meantime, I am going to launch my plan regardless. What is it, you ask?

I'm opening a cool new hangout spot:

This will be a website that will bring together in one spot photos, videos, podcasts, blogs, people profiles, ANYTHING online that has to do with everyday endurance sports athletes like us. And with help from you, the community, to fill the bar's vault, I will be serving up some of the best to provide inspiration and motivation every day:

Movie Mondays (must-see videos)
Talk About Tuesdays (gotta-listen podcasts)
Who's Who Wednesdays (people, clubs, groups that rock)
Thoughtful Thursdays (tips, questions to think about)
Foto Fridays (great photos)
Saturday Stories (cool reads)
Sunday Specials (announcements, polls, comics, whatever!)

It'll help fill the big gap between all the individual blogs, podcasts, videos, photos, etc., that are out there and the bigger-name websites that focus most of their attention on top athletes, product reviews, coaching tips, etc. In a fraction of the time it'll take you to find them online, the bar will connect you with some great athletes and stories that may never make the cover of a magazine but may be just what you need to get you moving. No memberships will be required and you won't have to be a blogger to contribute or participate!

In addition, I'll be organizing 2 friendly challenges:

1) Improve yourself through endurance sports (lose weight, quit some bad habit, overcome limitations/fears, meet some big goal, etc)

2) Help or inspire others through endurance sports (raise funds for a cause, start a training group, organize some event, etc)

Stay tuned for more details!