Sunday, April 27

OKC Marathon

Ryan and I had a good day.
We both scored PRs. Jim(3:52:58) Ryan(4:36:54)
Neither of us expected a good race. I had been sick (temp 101 on Tues and antibiotics) and Ryan was doing his third marathon in less that 60 days. It was raining at the start and windy. One never knows.

I qualified for Boston!

Wednesday, April 23

Boston report, part 2

Thanks to everyone for their comments. By popular demand, I guess I'd be glad to talk a little more about the race.

One thing you don't realize until you've done it is how much is just on a winding two-lane road lined with houses and small towns, completely different from the last couple of miles in the heart of Boston. The start of one of the most famous marathons in the world is literally just a line on the road in front of the Citgo station in Hopkinton. And from there you run through a neighborhood that peters out into a fairly long stretch with nothing but woods on either side of the road. It's a real contrast to the last couple of miles amid the high-rises of downtown Boston.

Wellesley is about halfway. It's an all-girls college. They love the race. They love the racers. 'Nuff said. (I unfortunately missed the one student who was out there holding a sign inviting runners to plant one on her cheek. I heard about this from someone who actually did.)

I overheard a couple of runners chatting near me around mile 10.

Woman: "...yeah, right now we're on a great pace for sub-3-hours."
Man: "Cool. What's your previous best time for a marathon?"
Woman: "3:49."

Unfortunately I didn't get to hear what her training secrets that allowed her to be on pace to shave 50 MINUTES off her PR.

I got the impression from talking to people that Boston must be one of the most running-aware cities in the country, at least as far as the Boston Marathon goes. Even people who would never lace up running shoes unless it was at gunpoint seemed to know a fair amount about the race and its history. The marathon falls on a local public holiday, and there's more than a few families who make it an annual tradition to pack a picnic lunch, drive out to the course, and spend a few hours screaming at runners, even if they have no other connection to the race. It's impressive.

I mean, I saw the evening sportscast on the local Boston news and the reporter, describing Cheruiyot's fourth win, said, "and here's name that's become a household word here in New England the last few years..." and I'm not sure he was being sarcastic.

Anyway, that's just a few random things that came to my head as I was pecking away at the keyboard about Boston. Also, if 45 minutes before the race, you get in a line for the port-a-potties that's 20 people long, at 15 minutes to race time you will still be nowhere near the front and will have a hard, hard decision to make. Especially since the cops are patrolling the nearby woods specifically to foil your plan B.

Watching Boston Marathon

I figure I can offer a different perspective as a spectator at the Boston Marathon, and let me start by saying this: I was totally under-prepared. Actually, I was so under-prepared that I didn't realize it would be a challenge to spot your runner in this race.

At the start, one runner came after another runner. Then came torrents of runners, coming down the street like locusts at the pace for a 3-hour-or-so race. It was impossible to see everyone, forcing me to abandon my plan to take Mark's photo. Instead, I focused on spotting him. I was worried I would miss him because there was hardly enough time for me to scan everybody's face as they came by, racing down the street. Maybe I should have Mark wear a bright-colored top or something that really stands out next time he runs Boston.

Luckily, I got to see him, and he saw me, too. He ran toward me and gave me a big hug before pressing on. I quickly jumped on a train, which was outpaced by the runners. By the time I arrived at the destination train station, I looked up on my watch and knew Mark had already finished.

It took us at least another 20 minutes before we connected. Several times, I stood in the midst of a sea of people, wondering how on earth I would find Mark. I knew then we must develop a strategic meeting plan next time we go to Boston.

Tuesday, April 22

More from Boston

Hey Mark, I think I speak for the others here at Poetic Feet when I say that you can post something new about the Boston Marathon every day for the next several months and we won't get tired of it.

Monday, April 21

Congrats to Mark

Congrats to Mark who finished his first Boston Marathon today in 3:12:37.

It looks like he might have tried to post something earlier so I won't say too much more, except results are up on the web at

Report from Boston

The crappy wireless network here at the hotel has now eaten this post twice, so hopefully the third time will be the charm.

Long story short: I haven't posted around here much because I've been running and running and running. The reason was because that today I joined about 25,000 other people for the 112th Boston Marathon. They say that it's an experience unlike any other marathon. And they're right...from the 8-deep crowds on a hillside at the start in Hopkinton, to the enthusiastic cheering students at Wellesley College near halfway, to the cheering masses in downtown Boston, it's a memorable race. And the fact that it's one of the most celebrated, historic marathons in the world is the gravy on top.

I'd put it out there that I was shooting for a goal of 3 hours, and from the early running things looked good. The day started utterly ideal for marathon running - cloudy/foggy, mid-40s, light winds. The sun burned off the clouds right before the start, but it was still fairly pleasant. I cruised through the first half in just under 1:29 (2:58 marathon pace), and felt great - I was barely even breathing hard.

From mile 16 to 21 is a series of hills that keep Boston from being considered a "fast" course, even if it is a net downhill drop overall. These of course culminate in the infamous Heartbreak Hill near mile 20-21. None of the hills, including Heartbreak, are particularly steep, but they are a grind, coming as they do later in the marathon when you're already getting tired, and some of them are fairly long (Heartbreak Hill drags out for a good half-mile or more).

All around me runners started to slow to a walk or even stop completely and massage tired legs, but I was more than a little happy to find that I had the strength to charge up all of them without slowing down (beyond the normal slowing to climb), including Heartbreak Hill. Just over the top of Heartbreak is a downhill that takes you back down pretty much all the elevation you've climbed, maybe even more. And I put it on cruise control and zoomed down the hill, passing runners right and left. I was still on sub-3-hour pace, and I had maybe 4-5 miles left to go.

The course turned right and leveled off, and it was at about this point that my quads decided to check out for the day, seizing up like a rusty car engine. My quads twitched and spasmed, and it became a battle to move forward at anything faster than a walk. It's no exaggeration to say that miles 22-26.2 were some of the toughest running I've ever done in any race anywhere. In a way, it was a silver lining that this happened in Boston, where I could no sooner begin to falter than the crowd several deep on the sidewalk would urge me to get it back in gear.

My three-hour goal disappeared pretty quickly, but I still considered it a victory of sorts that I was able to gut out a 3:12:37 finish (and had I not somehow managed to actually run 26.45 miles I probably could've gotten the magic 3:10:59 re-qualifying time). And it's hard to be too disappointed at managing to run 22 miles of sub-3-hour-pace marathoning.

I have no doubt that some day I'll cross the 3-hour threshhold, but it wasn't meant to be today. In the meantime, I have a bit of unfinished business with the Boston Marathon. Hopefully I'll be back next year - perhaps sharing a room with rslight or bl?

Peace Corps

Well, my medical tests came back today and they were good.

So I sent off all the paperwork and now i just wait some more.

I'm applying to join the Peace Corps and I'm real excited about it.

I'll write more soon.

Tuesday, April 15

Physical exams

This week, I need to see the doctor, the dentist and the optometrist. It's all part of my "job application."

I'm excited but right now with a bunch of medical exams, tests and diagnostics I'm scared and neurotic. Probably more neurotic than scared. What might I have that might prevent me from getting this "job."

I feel fine. I should be fine. All should be well.

But I'm extremely nervous. It's also a "government job" so I'm a little nervous about having all the forms filled out and signed in the right places also.

So, if you're so inclined to pray, say one for me.


Sunday, April 13

I forgot

Today I ran a 21.5 mile run. My fifth marathon is in two weeks. Yesterday I listened to NPR on my way to a 5K race. They were extolling the benefits of vigorous aerobic exercise. Today I hit the wall at about 17 miles and struggled through the “discomfort” to finish my planned run. It was not a pleasant experience - not one I would deliberately repeat. Yesterday I learned from NPR that running improves brain function, especially the ability to do rational thought. After finishing my run today, I went to lunch. While sitting in the cold dinning room, my fingers started becoming numb. It worried me at first until I “rationally” understood that my core temperature had likely dropped significantly after almost three and a half hours of running in 35 degree weather, and that my body’s priority was to supply blood to my core and digestive system thus starving my extremities.
As I was driving home it occurred to me that I needed to share “the rest of the story” regarding the NPR broadcast.

While vigorous exercise may improve rational thought it is obviously destructive to memory. There is no other possible explanation why anyone would be a marathoner. Someone might run one marathon just to prove to prove he/she can. But to run more than one is evidence of clinical psychosis or failure to remember the agony of long runs and marathon races. Since masochism cannot explain the large number of repeat marathoners, the only logical conclusion is that all repeat marathoners suffer from diminished memory capacity. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there is a connection between the recent increases between the rising incidents of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and marathon participation.

Wednesday, April 9

Running Experiment

My physical therapist decided to try a little experiment today. Since I severely overpronate (i've been told I have feet like Calvin), she taped my feet after our session today, and then asked me to go for a run later. I think the idea was to make my arches "arch" a bit more, but I'm really not sure. I just finished 7 miles, and the main things I notice were that the extra "snugness" was quite comfortable to start, but eventually (around mile 3) the outside edges of my feet started to hurt where they were constricted by the tape. I've never tried running with my feet "bound" before, but I don't think it helped all that much (my knees were still aching a bit after the run, which is the main problem I'm trying to take care of with PT). I guess maybe it's a good thing that I didn't quite know what the therapist was trying to accomplish; that way I couldn't psych myself into thinking it was working or it wasn't.

On an unrelated note, has anybody else noticed how fast Sanoodi has become for route mapping? Since I got my Garmin last year, I haven't needed to use Sanoodi much. But it ended up coming to the rescue today when my Garmin battery died during my run. On previous occasions, it has taken longer for me to map my run than to actually run it! But this time it was blazing, even with the continuous elevation update turned on. They must've upgraded their hardware/software/ISP significantly. Good for them.

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Tuesday, April 8

Hogeye Marathon

Can you believe it? -- Moby, The Stars

I (rslight) completed my third marathon Sunday at the Hogeye Marathon, which starts near the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Hogeye has been called one of the top 10 most difficult marathons in the United States because of its numerous steep hills. It was fun.
It's a small event. There were 67 men and 31 women in the marathon (considerably more in the half-marathon and 5K). The course ventures through very beautiful countryside, passing a golf course, parks, affluent homes and boats on a waterway. Weather was sunny and warm, but not crazy hot.
I suppose this is what they call "no frills" ... no spectators, music, chip timing or costumed characters. But volunteers were caring and encouraging. Roads weren't closed off for this, and a couple of times we were dangerously close to traffic (just a few orange cones sort of separating us from cars).

My legs were extremely sore at the end, and a volunteer had to catch me from falling down at the finish line.
But I got a PR of 4:39:04. (That's more than eight minutes faster.)

Some of you deserve a piece of this cartoonish hog medal I received for your advice after Little Rock. I really tried to pace myself better.
Here's how it broke down. You probably still think I started too fast.
Mile 1: 9:11, Mile 2: 9:55, Mile 3: 9:08, Mile 4: 9:30, Mile 5: 9:34, Mile 6: 9:26, Mile 7: 9:44, Mile 8: 9:44, Mile 9: 10:23, Mile 10: 9:55, Mile 11: 9:54, Mile 12: 9:49, Mile 13: 10:03, Mile 14: 10:01, Mile 15: 10:05, Mile 16: 10:07, Mile 17: 10:20, Mile 18: 10:47, Mile 19: 11:01, Mile 20: 11:52, Mile 21: 11:11, Mile 22: 11:41, Mile 23: 11:24, Mile 24: 11:30, Mile 25: 12:24, Mile 26: 12:19, 0.67 remainder: 8:26.

Running Hogeye was part of my secret plan. Late last year I signed up to run three marathons in two months to qualify for Marathon Maniacs. I didn't tell anyone before now simply because I didn't want to horrify people, but it has been a lot of fun.

Now just one race separates me from maniac status: April 27 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.
I've looked forward to that one for months, and it's almost here.

Potentially interesting side note: I'm also glad to have a new 5K PR of 22:38 after running Saturday's Oklahoma State University Osteopathic Scrub Run 5K in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A race featuring college student volunteers in scrubs!

Thursday, April 3

Overhwelmed by the support

Well, as most of the readers of this blog know, I'm in between jobs right now. Things seem to be going well right now. Here's the top of an interesting story I read with resonated a little with me at this point in my job search/interview process... More to come.

SALEM — Jennifer Jordan was looking for a way to educate her Salem State colleagues about the Peace Corps and the sub-Saharan African country of Botswana, where she'll be living the next two years as part of a public health mission.

So she asked people to join her in a symbolic "Trek to Botswana," by either running, biking or swimming the distance from Salem to Botswana — 7,694 miles — by her departure date on April 16. To her amazement, 30 faculty and staff members got on board.

"I'm overwhelmed by the support you get from people when you go forward with something you really want to do," said Jordan, who works at the college's Wellness Center.....

The efforts of the Trek to Botswana team will culminate at the 12th annual North Shore Wellness Fair and Road Race on Sunday, April 13, at 9 a.m, at the O'Keefe Center on Canal Street.

For more information and registration, visit

Tuesday, April 1

Back in the Saddle

You may recall that I injured my knee during my LA Marathon training...various tendons became inflamed and extremely painful anytime I tried running while wearing my knee braces. And I needed those because of my earlier ilio-tibial band injury, which precluded long runs (mroe than 5 miles) without the braces.

After nearly a month of virtually no running, and another several weeks of physical therapy, I went on my first run with my knee braces. I'm happy to report that I ran almost five and a half miles with no inflammation of the tendons in my knee, and thus no pain whatsoever. I'm continuing physical therapy to see if I can strengthen my knees enough so that I can ditch the braces altogether, but at the very least I'm back to where I was before my injury. I do still have occasional pains while running, but it's really no worse than I've always had; at this point I've just ceased to be paranoid about it. If nothing else, this signifies for me a mental shift from "recovering" to being "in training" again.

So, any suggestions for a summer/fall marathon I should run?