My Battle with Garbage Bag Batman and How a Portapotty cost me a Boston Qualifier | Posted: 2010-02-21 23:37:27 | 16944 hits | View in Hi-Fi Mode

Did I ever tell you about the time that taking a leak in the actual portapotty during a race cost me a Boston qualifying time?

I guess that's kinda how you feel when you run a 3:11:16. Now, don't get me wrong -- it's cool. I'm already qualified for Boston 2011, so it's all good. Still... lesson learned.

The Lost Dutchman... that's just a great run, but maybe I should back up a bit and talk about PF Chang's first. Let's call this an omnibus report...

Geez... was that marathon nine or ten? Does it even matter anymore?

Finished PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll marathon in 3:09:24... and you can actually see video. So glad I beat friggin' Garbage Bag Batman... and that bald dude, I raced him from the very beginning. I honestly thought I'd ditched him at some point since he sounded like he was gonna die, but there he was, finishing right next to me.

Not my PR on the course, but I qualified for Boston, so I guess I'll take it. I feel like I should've gone a little faster, but I'm satisfied. If nothing else, running long distances is getting predictable -- my time was about what I would have expected.

After the IM and JJ100, I kinda took December off. I was still active -- I was rock climbing and running the dog around and stuff -- but I needed a break. I mean, it's not like I just came off the couch or anything to run this race, but, with the exception of the Castle Hot Spring run, which was amazing, I hadn't done much in terms of long runs in awhile.

That was my fifth PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. I just really like it... the depth of the competition is phenomenal, the crowd is super fun, especially if you're towards the front of the pack. The course is flat and fast and finishes about 2 miles from my house. It always seems well organized. Whenever you're feeling down, some kid will high five you.

Three amazing thing hapenned during this race:

  1. I passed Dean Karnazes in the first mile. In your face, jerk!
  2. I raced Garbage Bag Batman, like, forever. At one point, somewhere deep in the race, we came apon an entire aid station staffed by Batmen. It was like he was home.
  3. I gobbled down a Gu at the aid station around mile 16 and, as I ran by a trashcan about 10 feet away, I threw the used Gu packet at the perfect angle to bank it off the side and into the can. The highschool kids saw it and were all like, "Yeah!!!" There were witnesses. This did happen. It was real.

The actual race went fine... I ran with Sandra and the 3:10 pace crew for the first 10 miles, then ditched them at the aid station and went on ahead. I ended up doing the next 10 with some U of A x-country runner in booty shorts. Obviously, she destroyed me in the end.

I was 227 / 5711 overall, 197 / 3190 out of men, 26 / 440 in my division. Tough crowd. I ran the first 10K in 45:07, hit 20 miles at 2:23:02.

I fell way off the pace in the last 10k, particularly in the last 3 miles or so. All of a sudden, all the guys I'd dropped miles ago started to catch up and pass me. "WTF? Are those guys all getting faster?"

Sadly, no. My calves felt like rocks. I had to choke back a puking feeling at 23, not sure what happened there. I was still moving along so I was feeling good about that, but I knew the 3:10 group was lurking right behind me.

Anyway, kept it together and I feel good about that... but I always feel like I should have been able to hold the pace just a little while longer. Maybe I'll try and practice that.

Finished pretty wrecked... and ran into my brother in law at the finish. He looked pretty good after the half marathon.

I've kind of refined my marathon running technique over the last year and I feel like I've got it more or less down to what works for me. Keep it simple. This time, I did the race with the Ultimate Direction bottle full of water, 3 of those Gu Rocktanes, and a salt tablet around mile 13. I wore the New Balance MT 100's since those are the lightest shoes I have. They seemed to work just fine... although I do wonder a bit about their traction on pavement. I really dig those shorts with the compression layer underneath, especially when it's a little colder.

Next year, though, remind me not to park at the Marina. That's a long walk back over the rural bridge from the stadium...

So... right. That was PF Chang's. Big. Loud. Obnoxious. Fast. Brutal. I have to do it, since it's in the neighborhood, and I do really dig it, but it's not really my scene.

The Lost Dutchman, though... how cool is that race?

It's big enough to be a real race and well staffed with volunteers and whatnot, but since it's capped at 600 runners, it's not too big to have the best marathon start of all time.

Get this: you leave your car at the Apache Junction Rodeo Grounds -- which were pretty far out in the hinterlands of the Valley -- and then they put you on school buses and take you out to the Peralta Trailhead in the Superstitions. It's a total local runners race... so much so that even committed trail runners like Debbie Leftwich descend from the hills once in awhile to do things like this. (She ended up on the bus in front of me.)

At the start, they've set up all these little bonfires. Sure, you get a little bit of bonfire action at a race like the Pemberton 50k, where I'd volunteered the day before... but with a couple hundred people out there, just kinda chatting and hanging out, it's just a really chilled out vibe, waiting for the sun to come up in the Supes.

I ate a couple of sugar cookies, drank a bunch of coffee, and wandered out into the desert to take a leak a few times until it was time to wander over to the start.

The race starts with a shotgun blast then descends I dunno, like 7 miles down a dirt road towards the 60. It's a fast start with enough variation in the terrain to make it interesting. I felt like the MT100's worked well out there... since that's the same pair I've had for the last few months, I've worn them down to the point that they're really just grippier road flats.

By the time we hit the road, the pack had loosened up considerably. I ran reasonably aggressively through this section, feeling very much in my element, occupying the time trying -- maybe pointlessly -- to plot what seemed like the most efficient route over the road.

After such a nice start, I wasn't necessarily looking looking forward to the road section of the race, but with the Flatiron in the background, it was really just a nice little tour of the sleepy little neighborhoods over in that part of town. Volunteers were plentiful, although following my standard plan of running with a water bottle and a bunch of Gu, I didn't really need to stop.

Eventually, I caught up with the second place woman, Susan and ran with her for awhile. She set a pretty solid pace... I guess she just moved to town fairly recently, but she's an endurance horse riding guide who really seems like more of a trail runner than a road racer, so I'm sure she'll be someone to watch out for at future events.

Somewhere in there I took a leak in a portapotty, the move that would doom me to total and complete failure.

By the time the marathon caught up with the half marathon in the last 10k or so, I was still feeling good. The course is surprisingly hilly, but that kinda works for me -- there was none of the monotonous pounding of a flat race like PF Chang's. That part of the race is kinda goofy, just because you get to pass soooo many people. I mean, these are the slowest of the half marathoners, still out on the course, but there are all kinds of interesting people in that crowd.

I plunged ahead, feeling strong. I never hit the wall, never really felt bad... although I also never did catch that guy who passed me while I was in the bathroom. Towards the end of the race, I ran past Ron, who asked me, "Do you know what pace you're going?" and I really had no idea at all.

Unlike PF Chang's which has every mile marked and clocks up all over the place, Lost Dutchman is way more relaxed out about that. I guess every mile is marked, it's just with the hills and the run through the crowd towards the end, it totally takes your mind off the miles. I found it really easy to focus and just run.

Clearly, though, those few extra seconds in a proper bathroom cost me dearly. I finished 17th overall, 2nd in my age group with a chip time of 3:11:16, a 7:18 pace. Honestly, it's funny that I missed Boston qualifying by a few seconds and had I known I was so close, I would've picked it up, but that was a little faster than I'd expected to begin with, so I'm totally satisfied. Perhaps most importantly, I beat all but one girl. (That is, of course, how I measure success now.) They feed you breakfast burritos at the finish line.

Tried out those Moeben running sleeves for the first time in this race. They proved to be pretty comfortable, so... that's something. We'll have to look a the pics from the race to see if they're cool or not. Gotta give a shout out to Joe Galope for the course measurement / USATF certification.

... and while we're giving props to other local trail runners, I haven't had an excuse to mention Jody Chase's Cave Creek trail marathon... but that with 6,800 ft of climbing and multiple wet creek crossings, that thing was bananas. Took me almost 6 hours!

So... in summary, running is going well. Ragnar is next weekend... I'm gearing up for the 50k out in the White Tanks in March, Zane Grey in May, then... finally... Western States in May.


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