Monthly Archives: September 2013

Indianapolis Half Marathon, October 20th, 2012

Two weeks after a major marathon effort is the perfect time to set out for a Half Marathon PR, right? The miles are in the legs, the body is lean and ready for a peak performance and your motivation is high! Bring on the Half! Truthfully, I don’t know many coaches that would recommend this approach but since I was traveling to Indianapolis anyway for a conference and there just happened to be a race the day before the conference started…..Why not?
This is how I found myself on the starting line at the Indianapolis Half Marathon just two weeks after running the Chicago Marathon. The week after the marathon, rest and recovery was the main goal and the following week was almost back to normal mileage and had one medium hard track day. On the line for the Half Marathon, I felt good. While waiting for the start, I overheard two runners discussing pace. “Let’s go out at 5:40 pace and see what happens.” said the tall guy in the white hat. I decided to let them go at the start so I wouldn’t go out too fast. At the gun, there was the usual pack of lunatic speedsters. I ran 5:57 for mile one and was in about 15th place. White hat guy was nowhere to be seen. By mile two I had moved into sixth and a guy with an IronMan tattoo surged past me up a hill. He had already passed me twice before and then I caught up to him as he slowed going downhill. By mile five, I was cruising at 5:50 pace and was told by a volunteer I was 4th place. I couldn’t see anyone in front of me and I lost count of who I passed so it was good to know where I was in the field. The course was beautiful with the colorful leaves and (as every race director describes it) gently rolling hills. So far, it was feeling like a strong tempo run and I was enjoying the day.
Then the switch got flipped to chase mode at about mile seven. On a long straight stretch with a downhill I could see the flashing lights of the lead motorcycle. There was a runner right behind him and just a short distance back were the two 5:40 guys from the starting line. I ran a 5:28 mile. (give me a break- it was downhill!) It took two miles to reel in 2nd and 3rd place and when I went by, they were clearly slowing down. I could still see first place but he wasn’t slowing down.
Mile eleven had some hard hills and while I lost a little time, the legs still felt strong driving up the slope. Everything was holding together surprisingly well. There were several turns the last mile and lots of spectators had gathered because there were 5K runners finishing at the same time as the Half Marathoners. 1:16:24 at the finish. That’s a minute faster than I ran at the Tom Walker Half in Gainesville last year!
The race was well managed, fairly small with 1800 Half Marathon runners and 650 Marathoners. The post-race food included a full meal of grilled burgers so I left with a full stomach and a new Master’s PR . If you can find an excuse to travel to Indianapolis next October, I recommend this race. It might not be a true “Destination Race” but Indianapolis is a fun city and the race certainly was well done.
Official Results: http://onlineraceresults.com/event/view_event.php?event_id=9337
http://www.indianapolismarathon.com/results.html

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Disney Marathon, 2013

Disney running

Runners are simply the coolest people on earth and when thousands of runners gather at the Happiest Place on Earth, it is a magical experience. Connecting with many old running friends and new ones made this event special.  As a Gator, I couldn’t be happier for the Hensley family and how well they all ran. My four kids got to meet several of the best runners in the state, a couple of running legends in Bill Rogers and Frank Shorter and they even got their picture taken with this year’s winner, Adriano Bastos.  Oh, and they also got to meet some Disney Princesses, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and more. Before the starting line fireworks, the Disney experience was already in full gear.

My race started well and I settled into a comfortable pace. Cruising through the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, I hit the half marathon in 1:21:05 and was feeling fine. The next few miles I eased back the pace just a little, making sure I’d have something left for the last part of the race. Still running strong through ESPN Wide World of Sports, I soaked in the cheers in the baseball stadium as they called my name out over the PA system. I wish I could say I had fond memories of the last two parks but entering Hollywood Studios, I got the first twinges of cramps. From there, it became the survival run, fighting with my left hamstrings, right quadriceps and eventually the arches of both feet. Ow. That is the Beauty and Beast of marathoning.

The marathon is sometimes an unpredictable dance partner; graceful and flowing and then clumsy, stepping all over your toes. I danced with Beauty for 22 miles and then changed dance partners to Beast the last four.

The potential difficulty and testing the edge of our running speed and endurance is what makes marathoners so cool. We are willing to risk it and keep going. When runners talk about the “experience” of running a marathon they refer to a challenge and achievement that you can only really relate to if you’ve done it. The Disney “experience” is the same. You have to run through the parks and experience the magic of Disney. There is an exceptional friendly, encouraging atmosphere that permeates the race staff, volunteers, resort staff, and everyone at Disney. The combination of these experiences is the reason why the Disney Marathon weekend has grown into such a huge event. I’m not Happy (Maybe I’m Grumpy or Dopey?) with my time of 2:56 but I will be back to experience the Disney Marathon magic again- next time in a faster time!

The Clark Family with Minnie Mouse!
The Clark Family with Minnie Mouse!

Crescent City Classic 10K, March 30th, 2013 New Orleans

Picture this: Shrimp swimming in butter, red pepper and Bar-B-Que sauce. Corn with mixed veggies and dusted with some Cajun seasoning. Abita Amber beer to wash it all down. The best part is you earned it! That’s a great feeling that is only found in New Orleans for the Crescent City Classic 10K.

Arriving late afternoon on Friday, my wife and I were fortunate to find a parking spot right next to the host hotel. We hurried in to check into our room and then find race number pick-up. With bags in the room and race number in hand, I asked Andrew Lilly, the CCC Elite Athlete coordinator where we should go for dinner. We had recommendations but we were unsure of how close those options were to the hotel. We discussed the restaurant locations while looking over the map of the point to point race going from the Superdome to City Park. Discussing the race, dinner and his arrangements for getting runners and agents back and forth from the finish line in City Park and talking about if I should drive or walk to dinner, Andrew had an idea. He looked at my wife and asked if she could drive a van from the starting area to the finish line carrying the bags of the elite runners. Wanting an easy ride to the finish line, Angela quickly agreed.

The starting area had a large section blocked off with police motorcycles, Shriner’s buggies that would lead the race, a truck for members of the press and other official vehicles including the van Angela would be driving. Dozens of the best runners in the world jogged, ran strides and stretched all around us as Angela got directions for where to go with the van. A field loaded with Kenyan runners prepared for the race and with about 5 minutes to go they all hurriedly pulled off their long sweat pants, and jackets, stuffed them in the van and nervously bounced around the starting line. The temperature was about 60 degrees and I didn’t feel the need for long pants or a jacket but for these runners, warmth was a key ingredient. An announcer interrupted the music playing on the loudspeakers to explain there would be a 10 – 15 minute delay until the start. Some of the busses carrying runners from where they parked at the finish line to the start had mechanical problems. So we would wait a few minutes to allow those runners to arrive. The Kenyans swarmed the van retrieving their sweat suits. They all got fully dressed again and continued their pre-race rituals. During the warm-up I noticed a familiar face. Vladimir Tontchinski, an elite Masters runner from Belarus was at the race. He spent some time training in Gainesville last year and I ran a cool down with him after he smoked me in a 5K in High Springs. Greeting him with a smile, I said I remembered him from Gainesville, Florida. “Ahh! Yes! Tortoise Race!” he responded. We wished each other good luck and continued stretching.

Starting Line of the Crescent City Classic
Starting Line of the Crescent City Classic
Elite runners warming up
Elite runners warming up

Finally the runners were gathered on the line, the National Anthem had been played and it was race time. I stood just behind two rows of mostly Kenyan and Eastern European runners who looked ready to fly. Fly, they did! Shooting down Poydras Street, I focused on my own running and not bumping into other runners. When runners were spread out enough to look up, the flashing lights on the lead vehicle were far ahead and turning left. Wow. Those guys were moving. They went through the mile mark in 4:15, over a minute ahead of me! I got my mile split on Decatur Street, felt good and was pleased with the time. I noted the restaurant I ate at the night before and smiled, remembering the smell of the food. Easy running at this point.

Turning left on Esplanade Avenue, I surged to move ahead of a runner who was breathing way too hard for this early in the race. I focused on the pack in front of me which included two women and four men. I wanted to reel them in so I’d have people to run with as the miles got harder. Esplanade is a beautiful street if you look up at the historic houses and other buildings. Unfortunately, my eyes were glued to the pavement because the footing was so terrible; I had to focus on not doing a face plant. It was like running on a cross country course made of asphalt! Despite footing frustrations, miles 2,3 and 4 went pretty smoothly. Passing a few runners and staying focused, the race was going well. Not long after the four mile mark, the discomfort of a hard race really began. I struggled to stay focused and had to use mental tricks of short term goals. Thinking, “Make it to that next turn on pace!” and then shifting the goal 200 Meters further down the road. The sight of the five mile marker seemed to never arrive. The last mile never hurts as much because it will be over soon! Surging into the final mile, I vowed to catch the runner just ahead of me. Finally, in front of the Art Museum at about 5 ¾ miles, I caught him and zeroed in on the next runner ahead. Reeling him in slowly wasn’t going to work since the race was almost over. The last straightaway headed to the finish line, I poured it on, closing in fast. However, the line came too soon and he escaped my final surge by two seconds. My first thought crossing the line was “Should have kicked a bit sooner!” It had been a solid race and I was fortunate to have runners around me the whole way that pulled me on to a strong effort. Official time- 34:15.

The post-race festivities included beer, red beans and rice, music and commemorative posters for the top 500 runners. Angela had arrived in plenty of time at the finish area and actually got to drive the race course there ahead of the runners, with all the streets blocked. We enjoyed the food and company of the elite runners and agents. I had the chance to discuss training with Ian Forsyth who was 3rd place Masters in 31:02. He ran at Michigan the same time I ran at Florida and we laughed about Florida runners racing Cross Country at the Michigan Invitational in snow flurries. Kevin Castille, the Masters Champion in 29:39 (just 2 seconds shy of an American Masters Record) was kind enough to talk training, racing and pose for a picture with me.

Kevin Castille
Kevin Castille and Me

Now, back to the shrimp swimming in butter and Bar-B-Que….

After returning to the hotel, showering and feeling somewhat refreshed, Angela and I walked around New Orleans in search of food and fun. Those are easy commodities to find in the French Quarter! Royal Street had some top notch performers just sitting out in the street on folding chairs. A woman with a golden voice and the fastest fingers I’ve seen on a clarinet was collecting some well-deserved tips. A quartet of men in matching lime green suits sang to the gathering crowd and cracked jokes about how to determine the correct amount to tip. Near Jackson Square a 14 year old boy played trumpet and got plenty of applause. A wedding party paraded down the street with the bride and groom leading the way, waving umbrellas and dancing to the music from the jazz band following them. We discovered fantastic shrimp creole and the redfish special at Coop’s Place. Strolling along, watching the sites we noticed a man in silver clothes with his face and skin painted silver. He looked like a statue frozen on the sidewalk. Suddenly as a group of three teenaged girls walked by he came to life and jumped at them. The girls screamed, everyone on the street laughed at the scene and the tin man held out his hat for tips. These are just a few of the unique experiences we had that afternoon. New Orleans is an entertaining and tasty city.

SHRIMP!
SHRIMP!
Yum.
Yum.

Crescent City food 2

If you go I recommend:

Get a hotel close to the Superdome and walk to the Starting Line in the morning. The Superdome is walking distance to the French Quarter, dozens of restaurants, and other entertainment.

Run hard and go for a fast time. It is a flat course and a good opportunity to PR.

Frenchman’s Market Restaurant- Bar-B-Que Shrimp

Coop’s Place on Decatur St- Shrimp Creole

Walk Royal Street and enjoy the musicians, magicians and other entertainers.

Singers on Royal Street
Singers on Royal Street

Crescent City street 3

Crescent City street 2

Walk around Jackson Square to see lots of great local art.

Visit the Pepper Palace. They sell a huge variety of hot sauces including one you have to sign a waiver for if you want to sample it. Yes, it is really that hot.

You have to sign a waiver?!?!
You have to sign a waiver?!?!

Stop by the Glassworks. You can go into their art studio and watch them make blown glass art.

Crescent City Glass

Race Details:

2013 Results: https://www.nolimitstiming.com/results/default.aspx?event=20226&r=4861

Crescent City Classic 10K info: www.ccc10k.com

A Quick Review of My Shoes: Part I- Saucony

This quick post will give you a little information about some shoe styles available at Lloyd Clarke Sports, some ideas for track / tempo workouts and a little insight into my running life.

shoes

Saucony Kinvara 3

I love these shoes. I’ve had 5 or 6 pairs of Kinvaras through the various model revisions and the feel has not changed. Kinvaras are light weight, neutral, with moderate cushioning and a nice fit. I use these as a daily training shoe but also for tempo runs. During marathon training a tempo runs alternate between steady state runs of 5- 8 miles at goal marathon pace or a bit faster or cut-down runs. The cut-down runs are usually 5 miles and start at 5 seconds per mile slower than marathon goal pace. So I might start at 6:15 the first mile. The I cut 5 seconds off each mile: 6:10, 6:05, 6:00, 5:55.

I can put in long miles with these shoes and the cushioning is adequate. Kinvaras have also been my choice for marathon racing shoes. Typical racing flats simply don’t have enough cushioning for me to cover 26.2 miles on pavement and not get injured. Kinvaras have carried me under three hours in five marathons time with a Masters PR of 2:42:20 at Chicago.

Saucony Viratta

The Viratta is a new one in the lineup for Saucony that is very similar to the Kinvara. It is a touch lighter (6.7 oz) and I found the cushioning similar to the Kinvara. It is a neutral shoe like the Kinvara but is more flexible. It really lets your foot move naturally. I’ve only had one pair of these and I’ve probably logged 300 miles in them. I will consider a pair of Virattas for my next marathon because they are well cushioned and lightweight.

Saucony A5 Racing Flat

If you want a light, fast shoe for 5Ks and 10Ks, this is a fantastic choice. I frequently use these for track sessions also. My A5s have done everything from 11 X 400 to 2 X 2 mile on the track. Whether burning fast 400s or settling into 10K goal pace; these feel great. I had the A4 version of this shoe as well and the A5 is quite similar with no major changes. Racing? Yes, these shoes can race! I dropped Masters PRs in the 10K with a 33:44, a 15K PR of 52:42 and Half Marathon PR of 1:16:24. The Half Marathon is a little bit long for these shoes and I felt pretty beat up after the race. So that’s the line for me! Over Half Marathon, I need more cushioning!

Saucony Type A5 racing flat
Saucony Type A5 racing flat

That’s it for the Saucony report. I also have reports to share on the Brooks Pure Flow, Inov8 Terrafly, and others but that will wait for another day.

1997 Steamboat Springs Marathon- By Paul Hargrave

1997 Steamboat Springs Marathon

by Paul Hargrave

It is one of the best race T-shirts that I’ve seen. Runners in colorful attire floating effortlessly down a mountain road lined with pine trees. In the background is a majestic snow-covered peak framed against a blue sky filled with billowing white clouds. The T-shirt and the scenery were certainly the best features of Colorado’s Steamboat Springs Marathon. Unfortunately, the marathon started at 8128 feet, and there isn’t much air up there (at least for those of us who have been living and training at sea level).

Prior to the race, Dan Clark and I had been attending the annual meeting of the Road Runners Club of America in Colorado Springs. The meeting was scheduled in such a way that the attendees could run the classic Garden of the Gods 10-mile race the Sunday following the meeting. This sounded fine to me until I noticed that only a 4-hour drive would take us to the site of the Steamboat Springs Marathon. Neither Dan nor I had run a marathon in Colorado, nor one at altitude. Here was an opportunity and a challenge. Dan upped his mileage from 70 to 80 and finally to 90 miles per week. I increased the intensity of my training, resulting in a strained knee and a longer than usual pre-race taper.

Our drive to Steamboat Springs gave us an indication of what might lie ahead. We drove up and down winding mountainous roads in the rain and dark, arriving at our compact motel room at 10 PM. In an hour we had made our pre-race preparations and were ready for a few hours sleep. My sleep was interrupted at 2AM by the sound of Dan carbo-loading, munching bagels. My alarm went off at 4AM, giving time for pre-race loosening up, stretching and carbo-loading. I jogged along the Steamboat Springs downtown tourist area and startled a fox crossing the street. By 6AM we were aboard a school bus taking us to the start. The bus traced the marathon course in reverse, which included several stretches where the bus downshifted to its lowest gear and struggled upward. This was the 8th of June, but about a mile from the start we noticed patches of snow at the side of the road. Yet at the race assembly area it felt like the low 50’s. The mood was relaxed. We picked up our race numbers and packets from the Course Director who casually distributed them and dispensed vaseline from the back of his hatchback. Dan and I photographed each other with a lake and snow-capped mountain in the background.

The field of 475 runners watched the single wheelchair racer depart. Then we were off, and it was the last I was to see of Dan for the next 4 hours. The first few miles were relatively flat. I went out at what (at sea level) would have been a conservative 8:20 pace, but in the rarified air I was already beginning to struggle. Then came a slight uphill that caused me to slow to 9:15 pace. There was a stretch of unexpected trail running where the road was under repair, and due to the previous night’s rain we had to watch our footing. Then came a steep downhill. I remembered Jeff Galloway’s advice not to brake going downhill but to shorten your stride and keep your center of gravity over your feet. Trying to do this I sped down the hill at 7:20 pace, passing many runners, all of whom got to see me again rather soon. The downhill continued past pine forests and over a bridge crossing a stream swollen with rain runoff and snowmelt. The sky became overcast and threatening, but the rain held off. The miles went by and the effect of the downhills on my quads began their toll. 8:30 miles became 9:00+ by half-marathon, and 10:00+ by mile 21. Then it disintegrated to the survival shuffle with walking breaks thrown in. Four or five of us urged each other on to the next mile marker or the next telephone pole. It was a humbling experience — following five 3:30 marathons in the previous seven months — to be struggling to maintain an 11-minute pace. Dan met me at the finish line, all showered, dressed and rested. He had finished 7th overall in a respectable 2:52, but still tens of minutes slower than what he would have run for a flat course at sea level.

Yes, there are lessons to be learned from this experience. For us mid-pack runners, it is always better to start out very slowly and conservatively, and to factor in race conditions (temperature, altitude) in deciding what is an appropriate pace. You can always make it up at the end. No matter how slowly I try to start out, it always ends up having been too fast. Having a little bit left at the end makes the race far more enjoyable than having to fight for sheer survival. And training for the specific conditions of the race is always wise. Finding the appropriate training hills would have been useful, and getting out to Colorado two weeks ahead of time to acclimate would have been nice, in the best of all possible worlds. For me this was a 3 GU-packet race that cost 4 toenails. But the body regenerates and the mind forgets. I’m already planning the Fall marathon schedule.

Minimal Race Requirements

Minimal Race requirements:

Course Measurement & markings

  • Accurate total distance for race
  • Accurate mile markers on course- Make it obvious.      Use a colorful sign, line on the road etc.
  • Clear marking on ground at every turn- flour      arrows, spray paint, signs, flagging tape, cones, etc.
  • Confidence markers at a minimum of every 100      meters
  • Volunteers present at major turns
  • Appropriate traffic control (Police or      volunteers)
  • Avoid turns for the first 100-200 meters and the      last 100-200 meters
  • Manage the finish chute- Don’t let it back up and      have a long enough chute for the fastest runner not the average runner

Complete course safety checks

  • Appropriate course maintenance completed before      start of race
  • Cutting low-lying limbs
  • Removing debris along running route
  • Flag potentially hazardous spots- roots, uneven      pavement
  • Completing one ‘run through’ of the course before      the actual race

Timing

  • Accurate times (rounded to nearest second for      hand timing or nearest 1/10 of a second for automatic/ chip timing) logged      for every runner- may use chip timing, pull-tags and computer or hand      timing (for small events).
  • Results including times for each runner and age      groups posted online within 24 hours
Chip timing is how you get results up in a timley manner!
Chip timing is how you get results up in a timley manner!

Water stops

  • One water stop approximately every 2 miles
  • No ice
  • Paper cups
  • Adequate volunteers to hand out water
  • Gatorade available for      races over 6 miles
  • Clearly identify Gatorade stops separately from      water stops

Other organizational requirements

  • Punctual Race Start
  • Available bathrooms- at least 1 “seat“ per 100      runners
  • Minimal recognition / ribbons for 5 yr age group      awards (9&Under, 10-14,15-19,20-24 etc)
  • Have a medical plan in place and some level of      medical staff on site: Doctor, nurse, EMT, or other trained first      responder