Saturday, December 22, 2007

Photos and Funnies from Rocket City

ORN: 8.7 miles, 1:30:59 w/ 5K in 24:57, 7:58/mile

Two weeks ago, we ran in awful heat and humidity in Huntsville. A week ago, I ran in a snowstorm here in West Lafayette. Today, I ran in shorts and a long sleeve T shirt. Gotta love the winter time.

I’m back on a schedule of marathon prep and today’s workout called for 9 miles total, including a 5K time trial. I did an easy 2 mile warm up, then did the 5K. I managed to run steadily, clicking the miles off in 7:55, 8:06, 7:59 and 0:54 (at a 7:04 pace). I beat the 25:15 target time by 17 seconds. That was encouraging. On the remaining 4 miles of the workout the right knee got sore below the kneecap, the same thing that shortened last week’s 8 miler. That was a little discouraging. Yet, I think it will resolve with some rest, ice and Vitamin I.

Here are a few final odds and ends from the Rocket City Marathon, goofy things that don’t really have a category and in no particular order but things that make running fun.

Low Level Market Research. David posted this picture of the pre-race banter in the starting pack. You can see we lined up correctly at the 4:15-4:30 area. Darrell (on the left in the Marathon Maniac shirt) chatted with Wes while David (arms crossed in yellow shirt) contemplatively conversed with Michele. I sat on the asphalt doing my nearly-forgotten ITB stretch. It was fascinating what happened, acoustically speaking, when I sat down. The banter kind of faded and I was in my own little world. It reminded me of being in San Antonio and going from street level down to the River Walk. Everything changed. In the midst of this private world, I did a quick market survey of shoe brands. Dominating the choice seemed to be Asics, with Brooks in second place. Others were adidas and a few Nikes. Why do I remember or notice things like this?? I don’t know…but there you have it. And thanks, David, for providing visual proof!!

At Least She Had All Her Teeth. I mentioned before that one of my favorite things about traveling in the south is eating at Waffle House. I was not disappointed on this trip, having lunch south of Nashville on the trip down and breakfast just north of Huntsville on the trip home. At lunch, I had a new vocabularic experience, in that I have never heard the words “sweetie pie” and “Diet Coke” used in the same sentence, as in “Would you like a refill on that Diet Coke, sweetie pie?”

Did You Ask Your Brother First? You overhear all sorts of conversations during a long race but this one was a bit much. Two ladies were talking away as I eased past them. While in earshot, one of them made an emphatic, loud statement that “My brother’s sperm are just SO weak!” TMI ladies, TMI.

Never Be an Old Dog. I so enjoyed being with so many marathoners for this trip. I learned two very useful things as well. The night before the race, when I first met David, I noticed he has small numbers on the back of his shoes, not unlike the dots I put on mine to label each pair. We got talking about shoe rotation and he shared with me his system for breaking in new shoes and safely extending the life of old shoes. It made a lot of sense and I’m using it now. Later that night, Darrell told me of his habit of always bringing toe nail clippers to races so he can clip off the plastic tie thingies they give you to hook the chip to your shoe. Yeah, I can obsess about that level of detail too. Thanks guys!

Odd Technique, but it Worked. I ran with and near the fellow in the blue shirt (#734) for much of the first 18 miles of the race. I worried a bit about him, as his form wasn’t that good, he looked to be overheating in the long sleeves and he just seemed to be struggling. I lost contact with him as I faded around mile 20. But, around mile 22, I saw him in the yard of a house, flat on his back, his legs propped straight up on the trunk of a large tree, his hands extended over his head. I walked up in the yard to check on him. I asked him how he was feeling. He opened his eyes, gave me a big smile and said “Oh, I am just seeking to regain my energy!” He assured me he’d be OK, so I went on. I did stop and ask a volunteer at an intersection within sight of the tree to keep an eye on him. I really didn’t think he was going to make it. Well, around mile 24, as I kept struggling on, you guessed it, he passed me. The lower part of the back of his shirt was muddy from laying at the base of the tree. He was still running with rough form but moving way better than I was. He proceeded beat me by a full 12 minutes and 10 spots in our age group. I’m starting to look at trees in a whole new way now.

What Time is it Anyway? Late Saturday night, Darrell and I worked out the schedule for Sunday morning to get him to the airport and me on my way home in time. We agreed to try to leave the hotel at 7:00am. I woke up early, showered and dressed. Darrell was still asleep and I didn’t bother him, feeling compassion for his Pacific Time zone internal clock. I worked some email and enjoyed the dark of the room. But, at a little past 7, I quietly greeted him, suggesting we might get going. He asked what time it was and I told him. He looked puzzled then laughed. It seemed he had left his watch in stopwatch mode overnight, not time mode. Since he had run a 4:07 marathon, he thought it was still just after 4 in the morning. This has already become a fun story in our household. Gretchen will comment, on those mornings when it’s hard to wake up, “Gee, isn’t it still 4:07?”

It was a great weekend. Thanks for listening. And persevere, with or without a tree to lean on.


Michele said...

Maybe I should have leaned on a tree!!!

You didn't count my shoes and they are right under your nose.

Backofpack said...

These are the kind of details I love! Thanks for sharing Joe, wish I woulda been there.

Darrell said...

It's great that you went back to recount all these stories. Those are the things that make each marathon unique and we miss them focused on mile splits and such.

I hope you get an extra dedicated set of nail clippers in your stocking on Christmas morning.

WADDLER26.2 said...

Thanks for sharing, Joe. Love the photos and all the details.

David said...

Glad to pass along the shoe tip. I love the story about the guy and the tree. May be I need to start looking at trees about mile 20.

robtherunner said...

Great to hear the little details. Nice 5k time trial as well. Have a Merry Christmas, Joe!

Sarah said...

I love how you notice *and* can remember all those details! Have a Merry Christmas!!

Wes said...

I knew I was missing some technique to get me through the marathon. Maybe its even better if you HUG a tree :-) Nah... Probably wouldn't be able to pry me loose!

David said...

Good outtakes; all thought provoking.

Merry Christmas.

Military Ball coming up here on Saturday. Must polish shoes.