Thursday, October 6, 2011

Death of a legend

Yes, I'm talking about my GPS watch, don't judge me. Exactly one week ago, September 29th, Kenenisa Bekele Ellenberger shorted out. He was 6 months old. Yes I named my watch. Again, haters gonna hate. So, Belke was my Garmin 205 and despite the fact that I hardly ever used the heart rate monitor and rarely used the GPS, I got one anyway. So, since I never gave a real review, I'll give a quick one now.

First, who would think a running watch isn't suited for water? Somehow the 205 isn't. Not only did I have to clean out the charger/ sync cable contacts on the back of the watch every couple weeks, but the screen got condensation on the underside of it after a while, which was pretty annoying since I couldn't clean that off. Its not like I went swimming with it ether- I mean, I remember two giant rainstorms I ran through wearing it, and I would occasionally forget to take it off and shower with it, but still. As far as size, it was fine. I mean, I had a 310 until it got stolen, so I'm used to big and heavy. The GPS reception was really hit or miss. Usually it worked, but there were certain spots down by the Mississippi where it would drop the signal. It would also take about an hour and a half to find a signal if I hadn't run that previous day. So, bottom line is this is a solid GPS, I guess, but not for $250, that's pretty ridiculous. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pulled hamstrings and broken dreams- Twin Cities Marathin Race Report

So the course starts outside the Metrodome and is actually pretty well organized. I took the light rail to get there, and it was actually pretty slick. The Metrodome is open so I chilled out in there for two hours, listening to Rise Against so loud that no one would come within a three foot radius of me. But better yet, all the Metrodome bathrooms are open, along with a ton outside, so there's hardly ever a wait. So you start off on 6th street, then make a left on to Hennepin and make your way through a neighborhood. That's your first dose of real crowd support. There are some hills, but you're feeling good enough and the pack is so tight that you don't really feel 'em. The pack actually starts stringing out a little, then clumps up around mile 3 for the first water stop (they only have the water on the left side of the street, which was my one gripe).

From there, the pack stays bunched around lake of the isles and the rest of the chain of lakes. Its pretty flat, but I mean, if you were a veteran I'd go out fast at the start and slow up around the lakes; I was boxed in and couldn't go anywhere for at least a couple miles. Have you ever read Duel in The Sun? remember the cover where Beardsley an Salazar have to run single file because the crowd is packed so tight? Thats kind of what it was like through the lakes. You then go through a seemingly never ending stretch from miles 7-15 where you hit Minnehaha parkway and lake Nokomis, where the crowd support is sparse at best. Miles 15- 19 are the Minneapolis side of the river, and there were a ton of people out. I couldn't really see because salt was dripping into my eyes from then on, but I'd ran that stretch a million and a half times in training, but for a first timer it could be a little disheartening since you pass by the lake street bridge, which would cut three or four miles off the run.

Miles 20-26 are along Summit Avenue and if you're in good shape, this part of the race can really lift you. If not... See, Summit is a deceptively long hill that really doesn't look bad at times. From mile 21-23 its a clear hill that you can see coming. Apart from that it kind of sneaks up on you. At Mile 25 it gets good. From the top of the hill you can see the giant blow up Minnesota Viking in front of you as the "go pack go" chant surrounds you. To your left you can see down into St. Paul, and thats when a bunch of the marathon first timers I was running with start crying. Don't. From John Ireland you run under the gigantic American flag at mile 26, and then its a straight shot to the finish line.

As far as how I did, well..
Oonce again the Matthew Ellenberger racing strategy worked to a tee: start out at a good pace, then burn up at the end. This time it was a monumental collapse in the second half. So, I went out for the first half in 1:47-ish, which was right on my goal of 3:45. From there, things went downhill fast. I saw my dad at mile 15, and then felt something pop in my leg- just a little twinge, but I knew I was in hot water. I walked the rest of mile 16, mile 17, and most of 18. I felt bad. I felt defeated, but whatever. I figured it would get worse before it got better, no matter what I did, so I settled into a pattern of running for two miles and walking one for the last however many miles. It was pretty disheartening when I got to Summit, for two reasons: One, I love that stretch. I remember three years ago when I did the 10 it was one six mile long party. For some reason, it wasn't that cool this year. Second, I live on Cleveland Avenue, two tenths of a mile away from Summit, so I told all of my roommates to come out and cheer me on. When I ran by, they weren't there. That's when I knew I had blew it. I was about half an hour off pace so I really can't blame them, and its actually good that they didn't show since I probably would have asked for my roommate's bike to ride to the finish an he probably would have given it to me.

I was kind of disheartened though since I kept telling myself if I could make it to mile 20 in decent shape, I could finish on emotion alone. To make matters worse, the sun came out and it got hot. I took on a ridiculous amount of water but even so I wasn't sweating. Figure that out. 40 degrees at the start and near 80 at the finish. I think that was when I told myself "f--- it, I'll either finish or pass out, and either way you have the family record." (My dad ran Twin Cities three years ago and passed out at mile 17.) So I ended up running the last 4, the last mile with a guy who actually friended me on facebook the other day (weird since I can't remember the personal details of anyone let alone run straight that late in a marathon).