Running in circles, Part I

For the first time in a while I had managed to successfully and appropriately taper in preparation for a race.  DC was a giant clusterf, NYCM I got carried away with family in town, Grete's Great Gallop I didn't even prepare for, and the Pig I overate at the pasta party and had gurgling toilet issues (remember that?).  But at 5:45am on Sunday, May 16, I was driving down I-95 from Philadelphia to Wilmington thinking that everything had gone smoothly the weeks leading up to this race, that I hydrated and ate appropriately for the proceeding 48 hours, and that I had gotten a rather solid six hours of sleep.  The only thing that worried me was that I hadn't exactly gone to the bathroom as much as I normally would before a race, but I scratched that up to having a body that is used to getting prepped for races and some efficient movement the day prior (I spare no details).

Although race organizers had warned that parking would fill up fast and to use the parking lots that were up to a half-mile away, I tried my luck at the parking garage closest to the starting line.  Sure enough: plenty of parking.  A good sign already.

There were about 30 minutes to go before the start and judging by the line at the port-o-potties that's about how much time I would spend in line.  As I was waiting in line I saw a bird poop on the fleece that the guy in front of me was wearing--an omen?  Perhaps.  A sign of good luck?  We'll get to that later.

I got to the starting line with a couple minutes to spare.  There were only about 550 people running the Marathon, the smallest Marathon I've ever run.  There were about 2,000 Half-Marathoners and Relay runners, but they would each have separate starts after the Marathon--the first start was just for the Marathoners.  

The staggered start was absolutely necessary given the lay out of the course: two laps of a figure eight course with the start, finish, and all relay exchanges happening at the nexus of the eight.  If the pack wasn't thinned out at the beginning, the first pass at the staging area would be an absolute mess.  This was also an element I wasn't looking forward to.  The only other lapped race I've run was the Queens Half-Marathon.  The halfway point of that race was such a psychological trick that I have avoided lapped races ever since.  The Delaware Marathon, however, had three passes by the finish line before the actual finish.  I was going to have to rely heavily on my maturity as a runner to not let those passes trick me.

I kissed Wifey goodbye as they were singing the national anthem, which I could barely make out.  I made my way into the crowd, getting ahead of the 10:00 pace group.  I was posing for a picture for Wifey and barely paying attention when a cannon--a very nearby and loud cannon--fired to start the race.

Note: I'm heading out of town for the long weekend.  So parts(s) II (potentially III) may take a while, based on computer access in the mountains of North Carolina.


Finally: a Marathon PR

It was the race I was underprepared for and the race that I wasn't psyched about--but I'll now remember it as the race that got me into the 3:40s.  Race report (in less than five installments, I promise) to follow.


Music for Wilmington

Even though I put less and less importance on music these days, I still went through the hours long process of creating a custom playlist for the Marathon this weekend (exciting!).  Although I tend to turn off my iPod for large chucks of the race I've learn that I really appreciate a well crafted playlist.  I can just tell when the songs have been ordered to play well together vs. dumping a bunch of random songs on Lenny and switching to shuffle.

Below is the playlist in all its glory.  I went through my now usual process, as described here.

  • Proud Mary; Tina Turner (I can't throw this tradition--every race starts with this song)
  • You're The First, The Last, My Everything; Barry White (before you say "WTF?" give the song a listen, it's a great slow start)
  • Katherine Kiss Me; Franz Ferdinand
  • Dance, Dance, Dance; Lykke Li (an odd choice I'll admit, but I'm testing it out anyway)
  • I'll Be There; Jackson 5 (another "WTF?" moment, but this choice is more about what the song means to me than the song tempo)
  • If Work Permits; The Format
  • Stuttering; Ben's Brother
  • Be the One; The Ting Tings
  • Ulysses; Franz Ferdinand
  • Everybody's changing; Keane (Keane is one of my favorite bands, but I have trouble running to their music.  I'm giving them another shot this Sunday.)
  • Bulletproof; La Roux
  • Two Doors Down; Mystery Jets (one of the best hooks ever--so friggin catchy)
  • Party All the Time; Black Eyed Peas (I have to admit, having BEP on my playlist makes me feel a little bit like a tool, but you can resist the ear candy)
  • Breaking It Up; Lykke Li
  • Young Love; Mystery Jets
  • California Bound; Carolina Liar
  • Fruit Machine; The Ting Tings
  • My Heart Is Breaking Down; Caesars
  • Spaceman; The Killers
  • The Dynamo of Volition; Jason Mraz
  • Uprising; Muse
  • Photobooth; Friendly Fires
  • That's Not My Name; The Ting Tings (I hated this song the first time I heard it, but ever since it has grown on me uncontrollably)
  • Lisztomania; Phoenix (I will have you know that I owned this album before this band was big, I feel that gives me some kind of musical creds)
  • Meet Me Halfway; Black Eyed Peas (once again, not proud, but can't help it)
  • Blinded By the Light; Menfred Mann's Earth Band
  • Homewrecker; Hellogoodbye
  • Home; Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (my current musical obsession; love this song)
  • Wait Til You See My Smile; Alicia Keys (this song makes me really happy)
  • I'm Not Over; Carolina Liar (amazing power song)
  • Resistance; Muse
  • Make It Mine; Jason Mraz
  • Grace Kelly; Mika
  • Evacuate; The Boxer Rebellion
  • Kids; MGMT (I'm super late on buying this song--it's been on my wish list for months--but for some reason couldn't give into social pressure to buy it until last week)
  • The Middle; Jimmy Wat World
  • Spotlight (Twilight Remix); Mute Math (yes, it's from the Twilight soundtrack, don't judge--it was Wifey's purchase)
  • Amame; Juanes
  • Barracuda; Heart
  • Santo Santo; Gloria Estefan
  • Viva la Vida; Coldplay
  • A Little Less Conversation (JXL Radio Edit Remix); Elvis Presley (the king's first appearance in my music collection and a running playlist...might not be the last)
  • Read Between the Lines; KSM
  • Show Me What I'm Looking for; Carolina Liar
  • All Time Lows; Hellogoodbye
  • Always Where I Need to Be; The Kooks
  • Beat It; Fall Out Boy (I have the MJ version, but this one is so much better)
  • Are You Gonna Be My Girl; Jet
  • Any Way You Want It; Journey (yes it's Journey and it's not the last Journey song on here)
  • Animal; Neon Trees
  • Stronger; Kayne West
  • Reptilla; The Strokes
  • I Gotta Feeling; Black Eyed Peas (Jesus, the grammar in the title isn't even right, but I can't resist)
  • 25 Miles; Edwin Starr
  • Don't Stop Believin'; Journey (guilty pleasure at the end)
  • Time Like These; Foo Fighters
  • Move Along; The All-American Rejects


Two weeks to go to Wilmington

In two weeks I'll be about 1.5 miles into the Delaware Marathon.  Logging onto the Marathon's web site this morning I see that they have successfully sold out the event--which is great because the cap on participants is 2,200, so the race will be nice and small.  For comparison, there were roughly 5,000 in my color's starting wave of the NYCM, and there were three colors and three waves.  Since I tend to do better in smaller races I'm really happy about this.

While checking my name on the confirmed runners list I noticed that this race is crazy popular with Fifty State runners.  I assume that's because Delaware was famously without a Marathon until 2004.  But there are some real running nuts here.  Scrolling down the list you see people running their 116th, 227th, and 449th Marathons.  There is even one die hard running his 619th Marathon.  I can't think of anything I plan on doing 619 times in the course of my life--much less anything as challenging as a Marathon.  Also, I would assume my legs would just fall off after Marathon number 500.  Kudos to them for being so dedicated to this sport...and for making my 50 state goal look so puny.

While all this is great, I spent my entire long run yesterday thinking that I couldn't believe I had a Marathon two weeks away.  This training cycle got off to such a bad start with our move, all the snow this winter, and that freaking eye injury, that I didn't begin training in earnest until March.  I'll be glad when this race is over and I can reset my training/running in more favorable conditions.

Speaking of post-Marathon, I've been playing around with borrowing the Summer of Speed idea from Nitmos.  I've only done one 5K and one 10K in my entire running career and it's starting to sound increasingly fun to have a series of smaller races from Memorial Day to Labor Day and then increase the mileage come September for an Oct/Nov race.  It's completely different from what I normally do and that sounds fantastic right about now.