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This has become a rite of spring for me. Since I ran my first ever marathon here in 2000 I've come back each year to my hometown marathon (twenty miles from home) with this being my 8th consecutive VCM. Several months ago at the start of the training cycle my goal was a PR here with Boston being a tune up. But something happened after getting a marathon PR last fall in Albany NY: I lost some of the fire. The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day saw me gaining seventeen pounds! Since then I've lost seven pounds but haven't been able to get the rest off. Boston was a disappointment as I ran it two weeks after having the flu. And without the fire in my belly I skipped runs in the worst weather and came into VCM with 215 less miles YTD than last year. So my expectations were to run somewhere in the 3:37 - 3:42 range, about 10 - 15 minutes off that PR from last October. The only problem is two weeks ago I developed a very sore hip, probably from three consecutive hard days including intervals (I know: dumb!).<br><br><b>Pre-race:</b> Up at 5:30 for a breakfast of two Eggo waffles with honey, one scrambled egg, coffee and Gatorade. Oh yeah: the hip was very sore, so sore in fact that I considered not running. But after 2400mg of ibuprofin on Saturday and a short run at 6PM Saturday night I felt it was medicated enough to mask the pain. I took another 600mg of ibuprofin at 5:30 with breakfast then two more tablets at 7:45 with a Kashi GoLean Bar before a .8 mile warm up run. (Don't try this at home! I take full responsibility if I destroy my liver!) The hip felt almost normal and only then did I know I would be able to run. We left the house at 6:20 and arrived in town at 7:05, a bit later than I wanted. Parking is always easy for this race with just a short walk to Battery Park for the start. It seemed mild so I left my warm up pants in the car and the first stop would be the bag drop. I remembered that last year the bag drop line was very long so we were happy that it was mild enough to drop our stuff right away. It was warm enough to even leave my throw away long sleeve teeshirt in my dropbag. We then made our way to the porta potty line which was also relatively short. I heard that they added several more potties at the start this year. Then we made our way over to the old swingset. A bit of info about the swingset tradition: A friend of mine is a weatherman for WCAX, a local TV station. They have one or two relay teams and always meet up at the swingset to pass out the race numbers. A few years ago I told some CoolRunners to meet me there so now it seems to have become the unofficial CR meet up place. I guess we were too late because I didn't see anybody I recognized or even anybody I didn't recognize.<br><br><b>Garb:</b> It all started with the new running shoes. White and orange Mizuno Elixirs, new, shiny and clean, only run in three times. Dark blue and black Race Ready shorts and grey RRS Coolmax boxer brief and a white Coolmax cap. I needed something to match the shoes and my lucky Mizuno Tokyo singlet wouldn't fit the bill. So at the expo I found some white and orange Gizmo socks and an incredibly loud day glo orange singlet. My daughter topped off the outfit with a black, blue, white and orange friendship bracelet that she made for me on Saturday night. I noticed that my Timex Ironman watch was black, blue and orange too. Perfect, I thought. I look mahvelous. Now my hip better hold together. I don't want to be seen limping along in this get up.<br><br><b>The weather:</b> Burlington in late May can see weather ranging anywhere from snow flurries (rare but possible) to 90 degrees (1999 VCM, the year before my first it reached 90). In the seven years I've run it it was perfect twice (low 50's and cloudy), acceptable three times (50's to upper 60's and windy), and warm twice (last year being the warmest). This week we had temperatures in the upper 80's from Wednesday to Friday but the weathermen promised it would blow out and cool down by Sunday. Saturday remained warm with temps in the 70's but as night fell clouds enveloped the area and the temperature dropped and so did the wind. Race morning saw temperatures in the upper 50's with cloudy skies and almost no wind. The relative lack of wind was promising as this area is usually windy in the springtime. The prediction was for it to reach the mid 60's with rain by midday.<br><br>
to be continued...
 

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conclusion:<br><br><b>The race:</b> After my warm up run I walked up to the back of the pack and tried to squeeze my way up to the 8 minute mile pace sign. The runners were packed in tightly with fencing and spectators on each side of the road but I followed a guy who was doing the same thing and we eventually reached a point we thought was acceptable. The DJ from a local AM station was doing a play by play over a loudspeaker and was such a corny jerk. He mentioned some of the local politicians who were running relay legs then we listened to a local high school girl struggle a bit with the national anthem. At 8:00 the wheelchair racers took off. Actally, there were no true wheelers, only hand cyclers, about five or six of them. Then at 8:05 the gun sounded and we were off. It was about a twenty second walk to the start line and we were soon running doing those delicate little quick steps trying not to step on anybody or have our heels clipped by the people behind us. A 90 degree left turn and up Pearl Street for a 1/2 mile then a right turn where it levels off. Mile 1 took 8:31, about what I expected with the crowd and uphill start. Miles 2 and 3 were identical 7:57's as we turned and went back through town with the only uphill part being up Chruch Street Marketplace and the rest being downhill. Then out onto the intervale highway for miles 4 - 8. Mile 4 is the fastest as you go down onto this wide floodplain, it went by in 7:27. This is where there is usually a mass potty stop since it it the first time you get away from the crowds of downtown, but today there were very few people making the pitstop. The intervale section of the course is like a big bowl: you go down one side, run a mile or so, then go slightly up the other side before turning around and going back. The one hill that suprisies most people is the exit from the highway back up into town at 8 miles. It's fun seeing the field here on the out and back and looking for your friends and running buddies. One of those buddies was my DW who was running her 4th marathon and I was expecting a PR from her today. We exchanged high fives as we passed and I yelled out that my hip was fine and I was on sub 8:00 pace. I don't think she got all that. Steady as she goes up the hill and off the highway. Miles 5 - 8 = 8:13, 7:50, 15:52 (missed mile 7 marker). Then it's up Pearl Street retracing the start 1/2 mile and then a fast race down the Church Street Marketplace. This is where you feel like a superstar with people screaming wildly. It rivals Boston for noise and excitement. I remembered to stay on form and not let the adrenaline rush get the best of me. Continuing on the slight downhill slope to Main Street then Pine Street I missed the 9 mile marker so 8 - 10 came and went in 15:43. I've run up and down Pine Street thousands of times since I work within one mile of it and train here regularly. We passed through the South Cove neighborhood and the rolling terrain here slowed my pace a bit. Miles 11 + 12 took 8:02 and 8:14. Then up a small but meaningfull hill and into Oakledge Park for the first section of bikepath. Mile 13 = 8:08 and I exited Oakledge Park at the halfway mark in 1:44:52. Mile 14 is along the waterfront and for some reason I'm always a bit slow here. Perhaps it is all the tight turns along the path, it certainly is nearly completely flat. Mile 14 = 8:17. Then we hit the infamous Battery Street hill. I run this hill two or three times per week so it doesn't scare me. It does look imposing because standing at its base you can see straight up to the top. One thing it does do is slow your pace so you must take into account a slow mile when you are planning your overall race pace. I stayed to the right and had several runners pass me. Being a show off here will only make you weaker later on. Mile 15 = 8:54. Mile 16 includes a final .2 of the hill then is moslty flat. It took 8:24. The next two miles are where you can assess your probablilty of finishing within your goal. If you can get back on your goal pace then you have a good chance to finish well. If you can't get back on pace you need to reassess and make a contingency plan. Miles 17 + 18 took me 8:24 and 8:22. There it goes... No sub 3:30 for me today. Now to find some other way to keep motivated. This "north end" of town is not as scenic and entertaining as downtown but I forced myself to train here a lot so I'd get to know the course well. Through the local residential streets I concentrated on my form and tried to increase my turnover. I got down to 8:12 and 8:10 for miles 19 + 20. Then back out onto North Avenue for the long stretch up to the last relay handoff and another long stretch to a steep downhill and the bikepath. My mind wandered as my motivation started slipping away and mile 21 passed in 8:28. Then up a steep 20 foot entry to the bikepath and an almost unnoticable long incline to mile 22, which took 8:28. With 4.2 miles to go I still had a shot at 3:35 and another BQ (which I didn't need since just getting one last October). That was the goal I had made for myself when I made that mile 18 reassessment. It started raining and I pulled my hat from the back of my shorts and put it on. The rain felt cool and refreshing. I toughed out the next three miles, 22 - 25 in 8:26, 8:32 and 8:32. Passing North Beach and back into an area which I've run thousands of times I knew it was time to hustle or lose that 3:35. I lengthened my stride which would have been suicide if done earlier and came "charging" out into Waterfront Park. The rain hadn't reduced the crowd one bit and I knew there'd be a lot of people watching me some of whom are friends and coworkers. Down the boardwalk I actually caught the 26 mile marker for the first time in eight VCM's and clicked off my split: 8:06. I made the two 90 degree left turns and charged up to the finish doing the last .2 in 1:39 which was actually :03 faster than when I got my PR! My chip time was 3:35:06. It was my second fastest VCM (3:32) out of eight and my third BQ in my last four marathons.<br><br><b>Apres race:</b> I got some food and bumped into Busiman. He had run well but I'll let him give his news. I got my drop bag and put on a dry shirt and jacket then walked over to the entrance of the park to watch for my wife. At about 4:12 I saw her running with confidence. We exchanged another high five as she passed and I triend to run back to the finish area but ended up walking. I could just barely see her as she crossed the line in 4:17 for a nine minute PR. She said she felt great and ran about 2:05 and 2:12 splits but actually sped up quite well for the final 10k. That puts her 12 minutes away from a BQ.<br><br><b>Conclusion:</b> The hip never gave me any trouble but it is sore now. Luckily it seems to be merely sore tendons and muscles and not orthopedic. It should be okay after a few days off. I took two more ibuprofins at about mile 19 and had three Gu's and plenty of Gatorade. Springtime for me seems to not be the best time for a PR attempt. But still this was my sixth fastest marathon out of eighteen. By October I should have my weight down and be ready to go for a 3:25.<br><br>
Splits:<br><br>
1 = 8:31<br>
2 = 7:57<br>
3 = 7:57<br>
4 = 7:27<br>
5 = 8:13<br>
6 = 7:50<br>
7 - 8 = 15:52<br>
9 - 10 = 15:42 (1:19:33)<br>
11 = 8:02<br>
12 = 8:14<br>
13 = 8:08<br>
Halfway = 1:44:52<br>
14 = 8:18<br>
15 = 8:54 (Battery St. hill)<br>
16 = 8:36<br>
17 = 8:24<br>
18 = 8:22<br>
19 = 8:12<br>
20 = 8:10 (2:43:00)<br>
21 = 8:22<br>
22 = 8:28<br>
23 = 8:26<br>
24 = 8:32<br>
25 = 8:32<br>
26 = 8:06<br>
.2 = 1:39<br><br>
TOTAL = 3:35:06, 31st AG out of +/- 120.<br><br>
Next marathon for me and DW: San Francisco, July 29. No big goals there, we'll be on vacation!
 

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Congratulate Mrs Wu for me. And great job yourself! It just goes to show that the last several years of dedication could pull you through a winter long rough patch.
 

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Congrats to you and Mrs. Wu. <img alt="hello2.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/hello2.gif">
 

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Good job, Dr. Wu! <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"> Your report makes me think a full might be in my future at some point. I must say that running in a crowd does make the miles go by faster for me.
 
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