Monday, October 26, 2009

Hanging Out at the Cape Cod Marathon

Yesterday was a gorgeous day for running, and having decided to run the Cape Cod Marathon (photo gallery from Cape Cod Times) last week I was in the right place when the cannon went off Sunday morning signaling the start of the 32nd edition of the race. I wasn't there to race, but to enjoy the day, have some fun, and see what happened with my body. The sun was shining and a short-sleeved shirt and Triad singlet would be the order for the day and there was no shivering, even before the race started. Having run this course multiple times and it being my hometown, I finally figured out how to survive the course, which can be a killer with the rolling hills in the second half. Go out slower, no matter how much the flat first miles beg you to speed.

At the start, I was talking to a woman from Minnesota named Julie Musselman who wanted to run about 3:20. I told her how to keep it easy and tear it up only near the end. She was at Falmouth to run a good time before going in for foot surgery on Thursday. Well there is an incentive to give it your best shot! I went out at an easy pace, enjoying the crowds at the start. I was was also enjoying conversing with runners around me. As we ran around the Falmouth inner harbor in the first miles, some guy with headphones on was shouting and saying how his time would be unofficial as soon as he was disqualified (a rule for the race). I don't get the need for the headphones at all in a race especially when you are a talker, like he was. Even further, I do not get why he was running if he knew his time would not count upon disqualification. As we hit the Heights Beach area after the first relay transition zone, I was listening to a couple other runners talking and had to interrupt to ask some questions. One guy was pacing his buddy during the marathon. The remarkable thing was he had just run (or raced) 53 miles the day before. I was bumping between runners and conversations. It is rather friendly out there when you are not racing! Eventually I caught back up with Julie, from Minnesota, who was running with another great storyteller by the name of Zeus Estrada. Zeus trains with Bill Rodgers and it is always fun to talk about the greatness of Boston Billy. In fact, Zeus was the person who escorted Bill Rodgers through the 2009 Boston Marathon. I found out he was my age and was suffering a calf injury, which seems to be a common problem for us older runners. I was enjoying the conversations with Zeus and Julie, who knows a lot of the Team Minnesota runners, however I wanted to take a pit stop at the East Falmouth School so I veered off the course and bid them good luck. After a one to two minute break I was back on course.

Next up on the road, I saw a runner who looked familiar, but I wasn't sure as he still looked like he had the stride of a collegiate runner. I greeted him and I was right. It was Andy Rogovin, who used to be one of the top runners on Cape Cod (2nd place in the Cape Cod Marathon in 1983 in 2:30:49) and I am pretty sure a sub 2:30 guy who is also about my age. I remember him most as the guy who took third place in the first Cape Cod Endurance Triathlon (Ironman) back in 1983. I was in that race and ran four more of them. I told him to look up the video of that race that I put up on YouTube awhile back. He is also the guy that beat me when I ran my fastest ever 5 miler back in 1982, 6 days after bombing out in the heat of the Boston Marathon. I ran 26:48 and then broke some bones in my right ankle area the following week playing softball, and I was never to run as fast again (although I think it was more my move to triathlons the next year that slowed me down).

As we headed through the cranberry bogs of East Falmouth, and hit the 9-mile mark I saw that I had a split of 69 minutes. I had no pacing plan in mind and can't do the math of pacing during a race, but this one I could figure. I was on a pace of a little under 3:27 (of course I did have that bathroom break). That was OK with me as I figured I would run around 3:25 today. From that point on, I only recall one marathon runner passing me the rest of the marathon, although I may not have seen some pass. Some relay runners would pass, throughout the race. The race became less busy and there weren't many runners to run with anymore.

I hit the half marathon in about 1:40 and I was not tiring. Unfortunately, my left leg was all off during the race. All the little Feldenkrais movement patterns I hoped to work on would not work as my body ended up all out of whack. I think there was a twist or kink in my lower vertebrae and all the muscles in my lower back were extremely tight. I believe I passed Zeus through the Sippiwisset Hills, but only think it was him because he was wearing compression socks. I did cheer him on. I had been talking to people in the race, but not looking at what they looked like. I was only drinking water and had a packet of "Sports Beans". I decided they were too sweet to eat while running. I think I had half of a GU or whatever they were handing out. I wasn't in need of energy so I was just being careful.

As we hit Woods Hole, I saw three female racers ahead and thought that I would be seeing a good race develop in front of me. The ladies are usually stronger at the end of a marathon, particularly when they are competing with each other. At the relay exchange right after the old schoolhouse in Woods Hole, I tripped on a speed bump in the road. I almost went down as my left leg went back and I lunged forward trying to maintain balance. My back stretched out but was startled. I had to slow down to make sure I didn't hurt anything. I noticed the lunge pulled my left lower back straight and it started loosening up a bit. I quickly caught the three ladies and a few other people and they were behind me by Nobska Lighthouse.

I figured now was the time to start racing, but running with the left leg out of whack was not easy especially since my back started tightening up more after a few minutes of relief. Try this: put a wedge of about 1/4 -1/2 inch in the outer half of your left shoe. Run. You will notice your foot and ankle rolls to the inside and your weight will rest on the inside of your left knee. This will rotate your knee and hip in the wrong way and throw off your stride as well as cause imbalances in your back. Now do that for 26.2 miles and you will know how it feels to run in my body! I was not feeling like going too much faster. In the last few miles, I didn't get faster, but didn't really slow much at all. The pounding and tiredness (typical to a hard marathon) wasn't there, I just didn't feel the need to "go for it". There were three huge puddles in the last 3 miles covering the roads. You had to go to the side of the road to miss them and run in the sand and ruts. With my leg out of balance, I could not run properly in the more "technical" areas and each time I fell off balance and ended up splashing into the puddles.

Then I realized with two miles to go that I wasn't under 3:20 pace, so I just kept an easy pace to the finish line. It ended up being a pleasant day to run, another marathon in my cap, one of my slower marathons, and another learning experience. I had to limp with the tightness in my left glutes right after the race, but otherwise had no soreness, no blisters, no chafing, or anything else unpleasant (except a very salty face). At the finish, I saw former high school teammate Duncan Warden. He did not run the marathon, I think he had been biking along the course, but he was doing something worse than the marathon. He said he was going to bike down to the ocean and go dive into the water. I'd rather run a marathon!

I have many ideas of what is going on with my stride. Hint: I am taking a close look at my left heel, which may be misaligned and creating a lot of my problems. After the race, I was walking around just fine with very little muscle soreness and I still had a spring in my step. Today I was back to normal and ran 8 miles. My quads had a little stiffness, but I could run with a normal (for me) stride. I am considering what I might do this weekend: the Santa Fund race on Saturday, or ... I have always wanted to try the Manchester Marathon. That is on Sunday. I will have to check the weather report. If it is a good day, I might check it out. I did see Jim Quadros after the race. He didn't run, but when I mentioned I might do Manchester, he warned me that that Marathon killed his running. His hips haven't been the same since he did it a couple years ago, although he went much faster (sub 2:50) On the other hand, maybe just maybe the race will fix my hips!

Key finishers at the 2009 Cape Cod Marathon

1 Joseph E. Ekuom 2:33:13
2 Nicolas Karr 2:39:05
3 Benjamin Ndaya 2:41:36
4 Jeffrey Redfern 2:46:50
5 Anthony Crudale 2:50:04
6 Ian Clark 2:51:16
In 1980 I ran 2:51:48 at the Cape Cod Marathon(Otis course) and only placed 44th out of 241 runners- times have changed!
7 Dominique Devin 2:52:02
8 Darren Moor 2:53:50
9 John Piggott 2:54:27
10 Justin Thibault 2:54:49
13 Mary-Lynn Currier 2:56:14 (first female)
14 Megan Malgeri 2:56:53 (second female)
34 John Shepherd 3:10:46 (first senior)
44 Stephan Grilli 3:14:15 (second senior)
55 Julie Musselman 3:17:40 (I hope your surgery is successful!)
62 Adrian Forde 3:19:24 (third senior)
67 Hassan M. Haydar 3:21:45 (fourth senior)
69 Jim Hansen 3:22:44 (fifth senior)
77 Andy Rogovin 3:25:27 (seventh senior)
84 David Birse 33:28:17 (ninth senior-never saw him on the course-would have liked to have said hello)
95 Zeus Estrada 3:30:44 (not bad on a gimpy calf!)
481 Beth Nelson 4:25:43 (former winner of the race and top runner and triathlete from Cape Cod(3 times top 10 in the Hawaiin Ironman in the 1980's, including fastest female marathon 3:17 one year- that was faster than some of the top ten male runner's times!)

Other tidbits:

I have now run a marathon in 5 different decades of my life. I ran my first in Dallas when I was 18 in 1977. I have run marathons (40-50) since then in my 20’s, 30’s, 40's, and now my first in my 50's. Next year I will have run a marathon in 5 different decades (if I run one): the 70's 80's 90's, 2000's and 2010's.


Steve Wolfe said...

Jim, That's a pretty respectable time considering you never really considered it a race. Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself!
Glad you came through in one piece. Don't push your luck with Manchester. Too much, too soon on a pretty hard course. Stick to the Santa Fund. Maybe I'll swing by and take some pics on Saturday.

Jim Hansen said...

I'll have to see if I continue to remain healthy through this week to even think about the weekend. I am a little nervous as my classroom has had a mini-epidemic this week. With 27 kids I have had 6,9,7, and 3 absences over the last 4 days due mostly to some flu. So far so good, but I am keeping my distance and hope the flu soon is gone from here!