After a two and a half week hiatus, I'm finally back after running a 15K and a marathon, but more on them in a minute. For the first time ever, I tried running intervals during the Gate River Run. I repeated the experiment during the marathon the next week. Even though I had never tried them before (and I know that generally you shouldn't add something new on a race day) I found that I actually enjoyed running them. During the GRR, I ran a 5-minute run, 1-minute walk interval. The next week I decided to walk with a friend who was doing a 9-minute walk, 1-minute run interval. I think I will try to pick up the pace a bit for my next race, but for the Shamrock it was probably just what I needed. One final general observation, which goes for both races; I was really surprised just how many people were wearing their race shirts during the races, though there were fewer in Jacksonville than in both Virginia Beach races. Wearing a race shirt in the race is generally a sign of a rookie; it just isn't done.
The view of Jacksonville from the Hart Bridge above the St. Johns River.
The Gate River Run was on Saturday March 10. It started and finished at the Gator Bowl in downtown Jacksonville, FL. The elite women were given a seven-minute head start over the elite men. This allowed two women to cross the finish line before the first men, though the fastest man turned in a faster chip time by over six minutes. The men's division winner was Mo Trafeh, one of the U.S. representatives to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. I got his picture, but I couldn't quite work up the nerve to actually meet him. I guess I'm turning into a running geek.
As for my race, suffice it to say, I was not one of the elite runners. I started well back of the elites. I got off to a good pace. The first two miles were sub 13-minute miles. The next two were sub 14. After that, I started losing time. I lost a lot of time getting up and over the Hart Bridge. The Hart Bridge, which is incorporated in the design of the medal, is a very tall bridge over the St. Johns River. Overall, though, I was reasonably pleased with my time of 2:14:08. At least that was the time on my watch. Unfortunately, when I pulled up my official time, somehow my chip time and the gun time was identical, even though I crossed the start line long after the gun sounded. No matter though, whatever time I ran was a PR since I had never run a 15K race before.
A sign for me. Almost makes me feel like a real runner.
Even though I was running only about 10% of the time, I still posted a better time than I did at the WDW marathon. Part of that is due to some of the picture taking I did in Disney World. However, I logged a much better time on the back half of this marathon that I did on the back half of Disney World; and I think that this is due, in no small part, to the intervals I ran. In the coming weeks, I'm going to start experimenting a bit more with intervals as the group I'm hoping to run the Marine Corps Marathon with will be running 1 minute running, 1 minute walking intervals.
All in all, I enjoyed running in Virginia Beach. There are stretches that are pretty boring; especially the stretch alongside a swamp on the backside of Fort Story. Most of the run was enjoyable; especially the parts near the water. Once we got onto Fort Story, it turned out to be very pretty. Fort Story, for all you history buffs out there, contains the site where the first English Settlers set foot in Virginia. It also has two very picturesque lighthouses.
The thing that was most enjoyable about it, though, was having a running partner. I got to spend seven hours hanging out and progressing through a 26.2 mile course making a new friend; that's pretty cool. Moreover, that's the kind of thing that running with a group like ROTE promotes. VA Beach was my first race with other ROTErs and I could not be more excited to run with them again. I'll get a chance to run with them in a number of other races this year including, Dover AFB Half, Baltimore Ten Miler and Half Marathon, Philly RnR Half, MCM, and of course the Disneyland Half and Walt Disney World Goofy. I got to meet more ROTErs after the race. ROTErs Megan, Jen and Lauren were waiting and cheering near the final turn. They came and found us at the finish line after Janice and I completed our Marathons. After we had time to clean up, we met for dinner at Baja Cantina on 23rd st (another spot that gets two thumbs up from me). One of these days, I will get around to writing a post where I will wax poetic about the wonders of Running of the Ears. For now, I'll just say that ROTE is a terrific site for those who enjoy running, love Disney, and want a place to meet and be encouraged by people with similar interests. We ate and hung out for about two and a half hours before we broke up and returned to our hotels and got ready to return to real life.
Fast forward a few days. I got back out on the track yesterday and ran a mile. This may not sound like much, but this is much sooner than I usually return to running. It's usually more like a full week between a half marathon and my next run. It was two weeks between the WDW marathon and my next run. I felt a bit sore but good overall. I'm very hopeful I can keep fitness level up going forward. My next race is the Pike's Peek 10K in Rockville at the end of April with my next half marathon in June in Dover DE. In between, I'll be squeezing in a trip to London and Rome. Not sure how I'll squeeze in some running to stay on track, but it's a good problem to have.
One final postscript: In one of the most baffling ad campaigns I've ever seen, Pearl Izumi, a running gear company based out of Japan, has succeeded in ensuring that I will never buy anything bearing their name; even if I eventually work my way into their targeted demographic. To see the ad that just came out check out fellow ROTEr Beth's blog: http://runningwithmickey.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/wow-just-wow/. In short, Pearl Izumi is calling out marathoners that run a 7 hr marathon (a time that I'm just slightly below) as moseyers that are not giving the race their all. Leaving aside the stupidity of alienating a demographic that is much larger than the elite marathoners who comprise a very small portion of each race's field, who are they to say that just because we are running at a slower pace than Boston qualifiers that we are not giving it our all. I find this to be incredibly insulting both on my behalf, and on behalf of many runners who do give it their all to finish at six hours and above. It is not easy to be on your feet for nearly seven hours; it took me until Tuesday to resume walking without me feet feeling sore. I don't care for boycotts, as I generally don't like the idea of squelching speech in the marketplace of ideas. However, in this case, Pearl Izumi has clearly stated that they do not want business from people like me. I'm more than happy to take their hint.