Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The way the web page displays things does not due justice to Heather's trophy which as a first place trophy is rightly much nicer! We are still waiting for Sue's second place AG trophy from the Marine Corps Marathon to show up. Now that should be a REALLY nice trophy!
Amy ran the November 11 Ann Arbor Turkey Trot 5k setting a new PR for the race in 27:33. This is over a minute faster than her 2006 time of 28:44! Nice job. Of course this might mean captain Erica will have to sign her up for some tougher legs in the 2008 RTBR! :)
Heather ran in two races last month. The first was the November 11 New Haven MADD Dash 5 miler which she finished in 41:37 putting her a well deserved fifth in her AG! She then followed this up with a 33:24 5k on November 22 for 10/68 in her AG. This was the famous Run 4 the Pies Turkey Trot down in Palm Beach Florida. Heather collected a pie but alas reports it was a pretty mediocre one! Oh well.
Matt/I ran two races as well. The first was the very same 5 mile MADD Dash Heather was in. My time of 32:31 placed me 11 in my AG and 25 OA. A few weeks later I ran my own Turkey Trot at the Southport 5 mile Pequot Runners Thanksgiving Day Race. Another 5 mile race but this time I finished in 32:01 for a new PR! That was good for 14/509 in my AG.
Cathy (a member of the founding relay team, more on that some other time) ran the 5 mile Pequot Turkey trot as well finishing in 46:25.
Sue also traversed the Pequot Turkey trot route. However, she refuses to say she "ran" it since she was out to have fun covering the course with her daughter who was up for the holiday. No chip, no time, and no official race. But she was there and I did see her as she turned towards the final stretch!
Thursday, November 1, 2007
September 30 the Big Heart Big House 5K took place in Ann Arbor, MI.
Sally ran it in 23:52 for a 7:41 pace to finish 10/182 in her AG. Yes, a top 10 finish! Congratulations!
Now on to October:
October 7 was the date for Connecticut's Ridgefield Half Marathon. Sue and I ran it.
Sue finished in 1:40:46 for a 7:42 pace. That was good enough for first place in her AG! What did the trophy look like? Here it is:
No hardware. Just a $50 bill in an envelope. Probably just as well. Given Sue's already extensive trophy collection this is probably a lot more useful. ;)
Matt (I) finished in 1:29:11 for a 6:48 pace and 5/114 in my AG. Best of all that time is good enough to get me a guaranteed entry into next year's NYC marathon! I am running NY in 2008.
October 21 was a busy day for the fan club with 4 miles races in Trumbull and Branford Connecticut.
Sue ran Trumbull in 27:48 for a 6:57 pace. Way to go breaking a seven minute mile! Naturally she was first in her AG.
Heather ran Branford in 32:54 for an 8:14 pace and 7/22 in her AG. Well done!
Matt (I) also ran Branford. My finish time was 25:36 for a 6:24 pace and 9/160 overall but a mere 4/40 in my AG! Tough AG is all I can say! :) Fortunately the overall winner was in my AG so I actually got to collect the 3rd place AG trophy. As with most races competitors are limited to winning at most one award. Hey, I will take what I can get!
Cathy was a member of the founding RRFC team so I am going to include her Branford race here as well. She finished in 35:09 for a 8:48 pace and 13/36 in her AG. Another well done race!
October 28 saw the 32nd running of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC for which Sue and I have been training these last few months.
Sue what can you say other than she is an amazing runner! Her final time of 3:25:49 for a 7:52 pace put her 2nd (yes you read that right 2nd) out of 439 in her AG! I will get a photo of the trophy once they mail it in to her. Her Age Grade was 79.7% which puts her just 0.3% below what is called "National Class." Basically, it means she competes with the country's best runners. Not too surprising given that she just scored 2nd place in one of the country's largest and most prestigious marathons! Did I mention her MCM time was nearly 5 minutes faster than her last marathon! Details about Age Grading can be found below.
Matt (I) ran the marathon in 3:23:11 for a 7:46 pace. That was good enough to land me in 74/1526 in my AG. I also scored a new marathon PR by just over 5 minutes! My Age Grade was 66.8% which gets me into the category of "Local Class." Heck, I am happy to be in any "class" at all!
Sue and I also want to thank RRFC founding member Cathy for her on course support. We are also grateful to her sister (Patty) and niece (Karin) and our friend Alton who were there with supplies across the miles as well. They were all wonderful and we could not have run as well as we did without them.
If you are wondering about what Age Grade means the following is taken from the MCM results web page.
"AGE-GRADED" results are calculated using tables developed by the World Association of Veteran Athletes (the world governing body for masters track and field, long distance running and race walking). These tables were first published in 1989 and are frequently updated. The tables can be used in two ways: first, by comparing your time to a standard for your sex and age, you can determine your Performance Level Percent. These percentages can be interpreted as follows:
100% = Approximate World-Record Level
Over 90% = World Class
Over 80% = National Class
Over 70% = Regional Class
Over 60% = Local Class
Sunday, October 7, 2007
September 22: I ran the Flagstaff AZ Half Marathon (HM). This race has what every runner dreams of avoiding: a combination of hills and no air! It takes place at 8000 feet and has vertical climbs totaling 1100 feet! What did I sign up for? I finished with a new personal worst HM time of 1:48:03. But that was good enough for 8 out of 31 overall among the men and 3 out of 16 among men over 40. Did they hand out age group trophies? No! Sigh.
September 30 was a busy day for the team! Just in time for this month's recap we have:
Amy ran the Ann Arbor MI Big House, Big Heart 5K side-by-side with her daughter. Their chip time of 41:20 is pretty impressive for somebody in the middle of grade school!
Heather ran the Niantic Bay 5K. Not only did she run it in just 24:41 for a 7:57 per mile pace she WON her age group! (Stay tuned we may yet get a picture of that trophy to post.) Collecting the trophy turned out to be harder than you might imagine. First they handed her the third place trophy. Looking at the finisher list the race officials discovered the second place finisher was named Matt. Hmm, not too many women named Matt. So then they gave Heather the second place trophy. Only later, when the official results were posted, did she find out that she had actually won her age group. An email to the race director, a few days wait, and the right trophy (the BIG one) finally showed up in the mail.
Erica ran the Niantic Bay Half Marathon (HM) showing that fan club members can run long even without van support! She broke 2 hours with a time of 1:58:12! Better yet she knocked 22 seconds per mile off of the pace she ran the New Haven 20K on Labor Day with a final HM pace of 9:02 per mile! Congratulations Erica!
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
If you have never run a relay like this you cannot begin to imagine the time and effort a team captain needs to devote to the whole process. Like what?
- Do you have 11 friends that can run a half marathon? Can at least two or three of those 11 run a marathon? No? Well start looking!
- How many handy running compatible reflective vests, lights for those vests, and headlamps do you own? None? Get ready to go shopping! Not only that get ready to do some research too. Not all reflective vests are suitable for racing in.
- Do you have a pair of 15 person vans in your garage? No? Ever wonder where you might be able to rent two? This is your chance to find out.
- How familiar are you with the hotels near the vehicle transition areas? Not at all? Think a web based service will help? Think again! You need Grady's Roadside Inn not the Hyatt. Find the town on the map then go to a Yellow Pages website and type in motels. See what pops up and start dialing.
- Do you like to shop for things like bottled water, sports drinks, and high carbohydrate foods that can supply 6 people over 36 hours of running? I hope so because you just agreed to stock two vans with the stuff!
- Do you want your runners to be able to spot your van on course? Yes! How nice. Now go buy things to decorate the vans with.
- Did you know there is a race handbook? Did you know your team is supposed to read it? Do you have a plan to get them to do so? As you might imagine it is very entertaining so your team should jump at the chance. Not!
- Maps! Yes, your team needs course maps and if you are nice road maps that cover the whole route.
All of the above and more Erica took care of.
Oh one other detail. What do you plan to do if one of the vans breaks down after the race when it is ready to leave the beach? Well, the curse of the Green Line did not end with the race. When the group that had planned to drive it back to New Haven tried to start it up and leave the finish guess what? Nothing! It would not start. Erica's husband Chris was kind enough to drive six(?) of us to the Manchester Airport where we picked up a minivan for the drive home. The next day Erica and Chris managed to get an emergency repair job for Green Line. That got it started but the mechanic told them not to let the engine stop prior to reaching New Haven as it likely would not start up a second time. It could have been worse! The van did make it to the finish. Had it died midrace our adventure would have gone with it.
Here is the picture Erica took the next day of the Green Line at the finish. Sort of says it all.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Like Paul and the rest of the Orange Line that day Sally had no trouble trouncing her predicted pace, knocking 33 seconds off of it! When she arrived it was Amy's turn after which the Orange Line would be done!
Well maybe. One fear remained. Would the Green Line runners manage to run all of their legs? The news from their van remained grim. While they were all clearly determined to finish their legs they were in anything but the best of shape. The combination of running, lack of sleep, and getting soaked in the rain was not doing them much good. Would they make it? If not how many of us would have to run a fourth leg?
Sue soon found her solution to the potential fourth leg problem. I have never seen her look fatigued let alone exhausted. When I saw her collapse after announcing that she was NOT running a fourth leg I knew I had a chance for this one-in-a-million picture!
Yep, that is Sue! Looks pretty tired to me! Would she have run a fourth leg if asked to an hour later? Well I guess we will never know! :) If you have been reading this blog you know the Green Line pulled through for us and nobody ran anything other than their scheduled legs!
When Amy left for her final leg the sky opened up once again and it poured. We all thought our poor teammates in the Green Line would get rained on yet again. I tell you it seemed that van had a curse on it!
Like the rest of the team Amy also came in faster than predicted despite the weather. While she was at it she picked up a couple of puppy dogs!
By the time Amy's leg came around we had finally figured out that we needed to get the foil seals off the bottles before handing them out! So here she is actually getting water from a bottle you can actually drink from. Yes, we were proud of ourselves for figuring this out! Look, it had been a day-and-a-half with little food, or sleep and lots of running. What do you want?
Once Amy arrived the Orange Line handed off to the Green Line and they took off after Ali. Nature finally came through for them and just as quickly as it started raining it stopped. The Orange Line now took off for the beach and the finish line party and barbecue!
Actually, party second shower first. Our next mission was to find a cheap hotel where we could get a shower. Near Hampton Beach (the finish line) we found one. I told the guy at the desk we wanted to rent it for an hour so that we could take showers and then leave. He looked at me kind of funny, like I must think he is really stupid or something. It was only when the women went upstairs and left the guys at the reception area to watch TV that I think he believed me! Post-showers we went down to the beach to greet the Green Line at the finish.
Before the Green Line arrived it was time to get some final Orange Line pictures!
Sans running outfits from left to right. Front row: Sue, Amy, and Sally. Back row: Paul, Rodger, and Matt. As you can see our road kill counter had a lot of action! Everyone had a collection of bones and puppies by the race's end. A reminder of all the people we saw and met in strange outfits, and oddly decorated vans. Every one of them part of a team that had no doubt spent hours coming up with a humorous team name. But, of course, none as good as the Rosie Ruiz Fan Club!
Friday, September 28, 2007
We met Rodger at about the 3 mile mark and he told us to just meet him at the end. Since his leg was 9.2 miles we decided to partially ignore him. Instead we would drive to the finish drop Sue and I think Paul and Amy off. Then Sally and I would double back to meet Rodger at the 6 mile mark to make sure he did not need anything. Well the first part of the plan worked! Up until this point in the race the Orange Line ran like a well oiled van. We stayed on course and we always hit our meeting points. Getting fancy put a temporary end to that. We missed Rodger as he had already passed the 6 mile mark by the time the van got there. Before we could figure out what happened Sue had already taken off. In the end this did not matter too much. The van headed back to the transition area picked up the crew and headed out to meet her. Still it was our first, and fortunately last, missed meeting.
Due to construction Sue's final leg was rerouted. This turned what was supposed to be an easy 4 miles into a brutal 8 replete with hills. As always though she turned in a remarkable performance!
About those sports bottles with water we purchased the night before -- they came with foil seals that you first had to peel off. Needless to say we kept forgetting to do so. So it is likely that Sue in this picture is trying to get water from a sealed bottle. Sorry about that!
I was up next. Like the rest of the Orange Line I was pumped for my last leg. It would be the one and only time during the race I would actually beat my forecasted pace.
No doubt one reason I finally beat my pace forecast was that I was being chased! After the first van pass Rodger yelled out to me that a bone was close behind! That meant to move it or I would get passed. A few miles into the run I realized my rival was faster on the uphills but that I was faster going down. The course was 8.6 miles long. Mile 7 to 8 was up a hill and from there to the end it was all downhill. I knew that if I could hold him off until mile 8 I would get to the transition area first. I did, and I did! Heck, I even had enough to surge the final quarter mile or so. I was so proud! Why? Beats me? Earlier I was passed by a guy who I later found out ran the leg at a 5:30/mile pace. The way he blew by me you would have thought I was standing still. Next up was Paul.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Did you know that six people running in sequence can go really far? Yes, this is a little known fact. The result was a much longer drive than we had anticipated to the hotel room all the while chewing up valuable sleep time. Once we finally arrived we discovered to our horror that $130 a night in NH buys a night at one of the worst dives I have ever seen! If you saw Erica's picture you have SOME idea, but it really does not do justice to the place. At this point though the Orange Line runners were so tired it hardly mattered. Some of us took showers and then we all collapsed one place or another. All except Rodger who decided the van looked more attractive. It WAS a close call.
As we were about to announce lights out a call from the Green Line came in. The news was not good. Health problems were running rampant and there was talk of runners have to bail out of their current leg. If that happened everybody would move up a leg in the rotation. Among other things that would have the Orange Line take over on leg 24 instead of 25. The immediate problem was that if we needed to arrive for the early leg we would have to cut our sleep time by well over an hour. First, we be running after just five runners. That in itself would have us on course over an hour earlier. Second, we would also need to drive further from the hotel to reach our new start. The leg 24 transition area was 8 miles about further away from us than the leg 25 transition area. Given how tired we were this was very bad news. The deal Erica and I struck was a compromise of sorts. They would call at 3:30am if we needed to head out early. If we did not get a call we would arrive at around 5:45am at the leg 25 exchange. With fear in our hearts we went to sleep. Given what I know now all I can say is that the effort put in by the Green Line was nothing short of heroic! At some point I hope a few more of them share their stories here.
There was no call. We left the hotel on schedule and headed up to the VTA. An amazing thing happened at this point: despite the lack of sleep, and physical exhaustion the Orange Line was psyched to run! I have no idea why or how but we were all high as a kite and ready to tear up the course.
At the VTA Kathy handed the wrist strap off to Rodger who took off in the dark. Fortunately, dawn was approaching as the light on the back of his vest immediately fell off! A bit of confusion later, Erica and I hooked up and I headed with her to the Green Line. We needed to get the vans together to transfer some items and I planned to lead them over to the Orange Line van. What can I say, the Green Line looked, well, green. :( They were exhausted and clearly physically distressed. I was sure they were miserable too. Amazingly though they all claimed that their spirits were high and that their enthusiasm remained strong. With a smile Ulli held up a now empty box of Imodium AD! You gotta love a group that can run, laugh, and all the while consume Imodium AD like it is hard candy! A little directing later the vans were together and the supplies transferred. Each van then headed its separate way. The Orange Line in search of Rodger, and the Green Line in search of the hotel.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Next up was Sue. While there was some light at the start, by the time she ended it was pitch black. Clouds had arrived leaving not a star in sight. The team now discovered something: all runners and vans look identical in the dark! From the van it was nearly impossible to figure out if an approaching runner was ours until he or she was at the van door. For runners, the situation was no better. While Sue was on the road I got ready and went to put on my Garmin. This gizmo is a GPS watch that tells you, among other things, how far along the course you have gone. My Garmin! Where was it!? From my point of view this was a major crises! I run with it all the time. I count on it to tell me how many miles have passed and how many there are to go! Where was it? Despite turning the van upside down I could not find it. Time for Plan B. When Sue came in I would take the one she was wearing (Paul's). While not ideal it would work. In the meantime Cathy (my wife) called to get an update and remarked that I sounded rather distressed. I told her the bad news but that I could use Paul's. I was still depressed.
After I took the Garmin from Sue off I went for my second leg. At this point I discovered that a well equipped team is one that has individual reflective vests and headlamps! Runners sweat! Yes, I know, big news. Putting on the safety gear after somebody else had just used it was just gross! Nothing to do though. The stuff is mandatory. In any case you would be crazy to run without it at night.
Eventually, I made it into the transition area and handed the wrist strap and Garmin off to Paul. There I was greeted with by Sue holding MY Garmin! I had it back! They found it in the van in Rodger's equipment bag where it had fallen in. You have no idea how happy I was to see it. My spirits considerably brightened I went back to trying to get pictures of the team running at night. Alas, this proved nearly impossible absent some easy way to figure out who our runners were which we did not have. After many, many attempts across many, many runners I finally got one of Sally! But, alas, this is it.
When Sally handed off to Amy it was time to head to the next vehicle transition area. At that point the Green Line would start up again and we could get some sleep. We arrived at 11:53pm looking forward to heading off to the hotel that our indomitable Captain Erica had reserved near the next vehicle transition area from where we would start our final legs. Unfortunately, the Green Line was delayed. More unfortunately, the news coming from there was getting worse and worse. Ever more dire warnings that various members were ill and might have to stop running! It was not too early for a very fatigued Orange Line crew to panic.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Here is Erica right after declaring that I would never get this picture! It was not easy. She is quick and I had to run ahead to snap it!
Post lunch it was off to a cabin owned by Sally's family to shower and get some sleep. As they say the best laid plans . . . It turned out the cabin was a bit further away than expected and the Green Line a bit faster! The end result was a quick shower for each of us and then a rapid return to the course as the Green Line announced they would be done sometime before 7:00pm! In fact they would hand over the wrist strap at 6:52pm.
While the Orange Line was happy to hear that the Green Line was swiftly covering the course we were less happy to hear initial reports that some of their party was not feeling so hot. Would we need to run extra legs? Would the rotation be moved up requiring people to suddenly run legs they did not plan to? It was not yet time to panic but it was time to be concerned. Matt
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Go Green Line! By now the Orange Line was tired and hungry. But, boy were we having a good time! Matt
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
One of the most amusing parts of the race was reading the team names and mottoes on the vans. You can find a complete list of team names here.
Some of my favorites: The "GoGo Girls", who run in pink wigs and tutus, Team "Got the Runs" (Van 2 latter re-dubbed "CAUGHT the Runs"--apparently it was going around); "Fat Guys Don't Bonk," "Don't Drink That It's Not Gatorade," and "Snakes on a Van"... None of them top Rosie, of course, but still there are some good ones. Erica
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Sue arrived into the transition area and off I went! Up a road affectionately named the, "Kanc." This is 7.7 miles of highway that climbs 1,500 feet. Fortunately, I had great support throughout. Indeed, the Orange Line support crew worked like a well oiled machine. We were great! :) Prior to when a runner would take off we would get a list of their preferred support stops and what they wanted. No matter what we would stop to check on people a couple of miles in. You cannot begin to imagine how important all this is to whoever is out on the course. Here Sue is handing me my water bottle a few miles into the leg.
There is a bit of relay race jargon that our team took advantage of to help with the team's spirit during the race. When you pass somebody they are known as "road kill." We had no delusions of grandeur and figured we were as likely to be passed as to pass people. So we kept count in both directions! We had a chart to which cute animal stickers were added when we did the passing and Halloween stickers when we were passed. Rodger quickly abbreviated this to "puppies" and "bones." We then made a sport of calling out our puppy and bone counts as the van came by. Encouragement for the runner often include the driver yelling things like "two puppies ahead," or "a bone closing behind!" On the way up the Kanc I scored a total of 7 puppies! Here I am letting the van know the current score.
After my climb up the Kanc the wrist band went to Paul who then had a 4.8 mile downhill jaunt! Our spreadsheet had predicted that he would run it in an 8:45 pace. Instead he toasted the route at a 7:06 clip! At this rate the team might even put in a respectable finish! As you can see he looked great afterwards as well.
Next up was Sally and then Amy both of whom would also greatly exceed their predicted paces!
Monday, September 17, 2007
After a brief team chat we decided not to use the Rosie strategy and thus prepared to run the race. First up was Rodger whose first leg was 6.6 mostly downhill miles. A little before 9:00 he warmed up and then came running to the start. The gun went off at 9:09am and our odyssey began.
You would think that those riding in the van can relax and enjoy the scenery. After all you ARE in a van and the person you are supporting is on foot. Boy would you be wrong! As we soon discovered you are busy nearly every minute of the race. First problem: find a place to stop where we could hand Rodger water on his route. The first leg, unlike most of the race, followed a biking trail and thus vans could only hope to intersect runners at various trail heads along the route. We stopped at the first one we saw but quickly decided Rodger had already passed it. We then drove down a bit further found another trail head and parked. Less than a minute later Rodger appeared, trailing the rest of the pack. We handed him a water bottle and off he went.
Next stop the first runner transition area (RTA). There Rodger would hand the team wristband off to Sue. While we stood around (and as you can see took pictures) we saw one runner after another come through. Where was Rodger? Was he hurt? Had he just falling behind? This was our next lesson, all through the race you see people coming through the RTA. Remember the slower teams started earlier and the faster ones later. After asking around a bit we discovered that we were looking at runners from 8:30 group come through. Whew! Then Rodger appeared! First among the 9:00am starters! Great job! Basically, he told us his strategy was to start slow and then finish as fast as possible. This is generally the ideal strategy in a race, as it typically produces the fastest overall time for most runners, and he pulled it off perfectly!
Rodger's final time for the leg was 0:47:30 for a 7:12 pace! This was way faster than his predicted pace of 8:23 which was based on his recent SF marathon performance. As it would turn out, Rodger would be the first among our many team members that would turn in times which greatly exceeded our pre-race predictions!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Van decoration is both a complex and important process. More important than you might have ever thought! The point of decorating your van is not to just impress everybody with your skills as a stand up comic (although that is, of course, quite an important element) but to also let your runners figure out which van is theirs! Yes, on the road with your van are another 350 or so identical 15 person vans. Absent anything to distinguish them nobody would know which support vehicle is theirs. Actually, while we were decorating we knew none of this. We just thought we would impress people with our creativity, since we certaintly had no plans to do so with out blinding speed! The vans were named the Green and Orange lines after the color of the window chalk we used on each. Here is Paul standing in front of one after the initial round of graffitti was applied:
Behind his shoulder on the small window is a T inside a circle that is the official logo of the Boston subway system. Across the two big windows it says, "Rosie Ruiz Fan Club Riding to Victory."
What's it like to run in the night? Reviews were mixed. A few of us dug it, others were made nervous by the frequent rustling in the roadside bushes. Ulli came face-to-face with something black, white, and smelly. Let's not even think about how that might have turned out.
Hard to appreciate how hectic the night legs are. We "leapfrogged" so the van was occupied with trying to pick out our runner in the darkness and rain (note for next year: distinctive glow-in-the-dark patterns on the safety vests are a MUST), offering water and moral support and bear bells as needed.
The Rockettes of Road Safety:
At least the staff was friendly!
Would YOU sit in this?...
Saturday, September 15, 2007
We met with our first major misfire when Van 2 was a good 15 minutes late meeting Van 1 at VTA 18. Fortunately Runner 7, Ali, had taken her own car instead of riding the Green Line, so was there to pick up her leg just as scheduled. Otherwise, judging from the growls coming from the Orange Line, there would have been significant team-induced injuries. The rain held off until around 1am, and even then there's so many other discomforts to think about that it's barely registered.
Friday, September 14, 2007
... no, not "takes off" as in team defection (though that may happen later)...We're officially ON THE TRAIL with Roger starting us off in style. Pre-race prep this morning included team photos, breakfast at the lodge, Garmin lesson, and pimping out the vans (Thanks Ali!!).
It's a beautiful morning for running and we have high hopes for a fantastic day.
Woke up early to a nice chilly morning. After some rearranging of supplies and van decoration, we'll head to the start for 7:30 am breakfast & team photos.
More to come!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The team's current runner order is:
Van 1 (to be renamed after a Boston subway line)
7. Erica (team Captain!)
As the race progresses we hope to update the site with times, locations and hopefully pictures!