Revenge of the Penguins 20 miler 2013

GEORGETOWN Washington DC, September 15 2013

A very flat race on the C&O Canal Towpath. I’d hoped to beat three hours and was under that pace through about 12 miles, but crashed in the last eight and wound up finishing in 3:19:31. A 20 mile PR by default.

I was accompanied at this race by four FotBs (Friends of The Boss):

    • A. was running her first 10 miler (a companion race to the 20). She finished a little over her goal time, but gained confidence going into the upcoming Wilson Bridge Half.
    • K. and Ca. were using the race as a long training run in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon. They did not run together but finished within a minute of each other anyway, pretty much right on their goal time.
    • Cy. was running her first 20 miler and babying an injured foot. She started out running with K., but K. dropped her when she lingered at an aid station after complaining of dizziness. When A. and I saw K. return with no Cy. and heard what had happened we were a little concerned that we’d later find her floating in the canal. But after about 30 minutes we saw her coming down the trail, finishing at a dead sprint trying to beat out the guy she’d been running with the last few miles.

This was a small race, with only some 300 finishers between the two distances, but the support was very friendly and well-organized. I’d like to do this race again when I am better trained.

Miles this race – 20
Miles raced in 2013 – 231

Parks Half Marathon 2013

ROCKVILLE Maryland, September 8 2013

It was still a little warm, but almost getting down to good running temperatures. This was the first time I have run this race when the course was dry – the previous two times (2010, 2012) were after fairly heavy rainfall.

I am getting to the point where I know this course pretty well, which means I am about ready to stop running this race. It’s a little strange that I feel this way about road races*, but the opposite about races on trails.

I have been injured most of the year and training has been very light, so I didn’t expect to perform particularly well. I lived up to this expectation, finishing in 1:52:23 – pretty much right in the middle of my two prior times. I did manage to run the whole distance without walking, which was encouraging after a rough summer’s results.

*Much of the Parks Half is on trails, but they’re smooth, paved trails.

A few recollections:

  • Around mile 6 it strikes me that there seems to be a lot less music on the course than last year. Just a little later we round a bend and there is a guy in a tuxedo playing a grand piano for the runners. A tall dude running next to me yells out “Freebird!” and I’m thinking “douche” – but then the guy starts to play it! A few runners let out obligatory whoops and somebody asks for a lighter. I immediately revise my estimate of the tall dude’s douche status. This really lifted my spirits for the second half of the race.
  • In the last mile I notice a guy just in front of me is looking rough, shuffling along with his feet barely rising off the ground. Just as I am about to pass him he trips over something and faceplants, landing spreadeagled on the ground with a cringe-inducing “Unghf!” A lame “You OK, bro?” is all I can manage as I nip around to his left. I look back and am relieved to see that he’s back his feet, looking not much worse for wear.
  • Just a little later I see Michael Wardian running back down the course, calling encouragement to us mid-pack runners. I holler out “Mike!” and say to the girl beside me “That was Michael Wardian,” but she doesn’t know who he is. I later find out he finished 15th.
  • The Boss’s friend C completes her first half-marathon in a quite decent time, supported by Boss-friend K. C complains of cramps and soreness, but looks very happy with her achievement.
  • When we arrive at the metro for the ride back to the start I notice an older gentlemen with a race bib gingerly walking backwards down the stairs. He looks like he’s really suffering. I offer my standard commiseration – “That’s how I feel too!” – even though I didn’t really feel quite that bad – and am rewarded with a grin.
  • The Boss sets a new PR for the half marathon distance: 2:18:17.

Inaugural Mt. Nittany Marathon

STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania, September 1 2013

It was too freakin’ hot.

I would not have considered running this event – or any long race where there is a chance of temperatures over 80F – except for a confluence of four factors:

  • I wanted to scout the course* of the Tussey Mountainback 50 miler, which was just a few miles down the road.
  • I had not yet colored Pennsylvania in on my map.
  • I’ve been finding excuses to avoid or cut short my long training runs, and I figured that being in an official event would be good incentive to complete the distance.
  • It was the first year for this event, so at least for one year I can say I’ve run it every time it’s been held.

The organization was outstanding. There may have been more volunteers than runners, and they were uniformly friendly and enthusiastic. The first half of the course was somewhat rural and scenic. The second half was less so. The roads were not closed except for a short stretch in the beginning and another at the end.

Final time, 4:51:26, a personal worst by some eleven minutes, and almost an hour slower than my previous marathon time. From now on I’m sticking to October through April for long races**.

Miles this race – 26.2
Miles raced in 2013 – 197.9

*While I was scouting the course I drove over a rattlesnake which was stretched out in the road. I stopped the car and got out to see if he was OK. He was coiled up and vigorously rattling at me. I figured that if I’d hit him it would have been either his head or his tail, and both parts still seemed intact and menacing. I called it good and skedaddled.

**This is probably a lie.