Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2014 Boston Marathon. Kilts, Kisses and Beer. How I ran a 2:45 in sandals with a smile and zero speed work.

Why do I run Boston?

When the L.A. the marathon rolls around those not in the running community tend to bitch and moan  about their Sunday morning being ruined by 10 minutes added to their drive to church or starbucks.
To me the L.A. marathon is nothing special. It's fun, overpriced and owned by a rich jerk who I won't give my money to.

  Unlike the LA. Marathon the Boston Marathon is held on a Monday which happens to be a local holiday commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord (I bet you didn't expect to learn somthing form this blog) 
How does the city celebrate?

They line up along the streets, this year ONE MILLION STRONG and cheer on the runners with passion like I have never seen in fans of any other race.

Time to pack
Th last 3 races I had worn a Sport kilt in I had won and the last two times I laced up these Luna Venados I set course records.
(Use Sweeney14 to save 10% at Sportkilt.com)
New England isn't exactly known for their produce so I thought I better bring a few avocados as well.

After a red eye to Boston I took the train to Worcester to stay with my friend Heather and her family.
Why don't we start the adventure right here.
Cemeteries seem to be everywhere in Mass.   When ever I go for a run with other people they always  wanna run way faster than me.  I was tired and searched in vain for a Sweeney tombstone to rest my head and soul.
Did I mention there was snow on the ground?  BRRR!

Heather is great host not only did she fill belly with great food ale she also took me the beach in Rhode Island in search of babes?
I've never been to Rhode Island before I wonder what it will be like?
All the babes must have just left. Perhaps I scared them away?
Either that or they froze to death!
Maybe not the beach paradise I was hoping for but still pretty specacular.

Saturday Morning I took the train back to Boston
I stepped off the train at fenway on my way to meeting up with fellow Mas Loco James. and then it was off to the expo for packet pick up
Look how cool we are are?
I finally got a chance to meet Michael Wardian.  This dude would end up getting 3rd place in the masters Division 2:23 and then win the Big Sur marathon 6 days later. Well done dude!

After the expo we decided to walk over to the Commons.
Walking passed the finish line was a surreal experience.  I was about a 1/4 mile away from that spot when the bombs went off last year. If I think about last year I have conflicting emotions.  Part of me gets  very sad thinking about senseless taking of lives while part me remembers the outpour of love and concerns about my safety that' friends and family shared with me when this tragedy happened.
My thoughts from last year
It was a strange vibe being there and not a place I really wanted to hang out at, so we continued on our journey.
Boston Commons.
 It was pretty out but it was also pretty cold.
(what a wimpy southern Californian I am)
I look slightly less shabby than last year

After feasting on an Indian buffet lunch we were off to meet some other  Mas Loco's for drinks at an Irish pub.
Non Vegan Beer  (oh well) I'm loving that fish bladder they use in the filtration.  Even though I have a tattoo of a satyr drinking a Guinness  on my right calf I hadn't had one in years. It was fun night (maybe next time I'll remember to take pictures of my friend's and not just my beer.) I ended up crashing on the floor of James's room.

 It was now Sunday the day before the race and  while James and his wife went off to explore Cambridge I went back to the expo in search of free beer before moving on to a new home.
How on Earth am I gonna finish this giant pour?
Posing with Post.  
This is the dude who started the whole vibram fivefinger phenomena with the aid of Barefoot Ted.  He didn't know me but he knew of me.  Good to meet you Tony and good luck with your new shoe company "Topo"

 I didn't plan on staying in Boston the night before the race but because of safety precautions drop bags would not be driven from the starting line to the finish line (well that sucks)  This meant if I wanted to have my cell phone or warm clothes after the race I would have to leave them at the finish line beforehand.
Lucky for me and boy was I lucky my good friends the Miller's offered me a couch bed in one of the most historically awesome hotels in all of Boston.
Life is good!
View from inside  the clock
I decided to check out the observation deck  This was the first time I ever used one of them fancy binoculars and it didn't even cost a quarter.
They said a pair of Peregrine falcons nest at the top of this building.  I didn't see any but what I did see was the end of the line for the pre-race dinner. It wasn't somthing I necessarily planned on going to but since I was so close I might as well.
After waiting in line for about thirty minutes I was finally to the front. Then all of sudden they shut things down right in front of me? At first I was a little perturbed, then after about 10 minutes out popped the Mayor of Boston, Bill Rodgers, and the head of the Boston Marathon.  Each of them gave a short pep talk and then told us they were going to serve us dinner.
 (my bad timing turned out to be good timing after all)
It was pretty cool getting to meet the mayor. I told him the story of how I for years I thought of Boston Red Sox fans as the most annoying fans in all of sports. Then after running the marathon for the first time 3 years ago.  I had received so much love from those same people on the sidelines that my opinion immediately changed and that I even found myself cheering for the Red Sox the next Day at Fenway Park.

In case you're wondering who has that title of most annoying now it's 3 way overlapping tie  between Dodger, Laker and USC fans.
 (says the Angels, Clippers and UCLA fan)
It was also great to see Bill Rodgers again.  I told him how much I enjoyed his book and how much I liked getting to know his brother last year.  Bill had remembered the conversation we had 2 years ago about the Copper Canyons and wished me luck in the race.

One nice thing about the Boston Marathon is that it starts at 10:30 a.m. This meant I might actually get some sleep and I was in bed by 10.pm.

Race Day
The day got off to an auspicious start. Looking out the window of my hotel the air  was tainted by black smoke?  Thankfully it turned out to be a random truck fire. I was out the door walking over to the the Commons for bus pick to the starting line by 6:15.
I bought this fancy Soleus time piece for the race only $7.99 it has stop watch that would tells both hours and minutes (cutting edge technology I tell you)  It might be the only piece of running gear I have purchased in the last few years.  I didn't know it was gonna be so pink though. Whatever perhaps it will put me more in touch with my feminine side.
 (says the dude about to race in skirt, i mean kilt)

After sitting around the athletes village for what seemed like hours It was finally time to walk down to the starting line.
On my way I passed this sign.  
Free Beer!
It took a few steps for that to register and the next thing I know I 'm walking down to the starting line drinking a can of Miller lite.
(Had they handed me a cigar I would have taken that as well but I was kind of thankful that they did'nt)

Before I get to the race Let me tell you about all the speed work and training  I did in preparation for the marathon.
Zip, Zero Nada.
I pretty much never train on roads or trails for that matter.
My left achilles is still pretty screwed up which wouldn't be too much of a factor during the race since it is mostly down hill.  I'm not sure if I have done even one training run this year where I intentionally ran faster than a 10 minute mile. I've ran a little faster than that in races but in training my average pace is easily over 12 minutes per mile (Soft Sand Beach Running)
Now here I was hoping to Average twice that speed.
(Kid's don't try this at home!)

Last year Boston was the only Marathon I ran and I finished in a whoop dee doo 2:52. Because of that I had a rather high number and was begrudgingly relegated to wave 1 coral 2.

Goals for the race.
I figured I could improve upon last years time.  My plan was to go out fast and take advantage of the downhills. Get some Kisses from Wellesley girls high five some kids and smile as much as possible. Had I really been concerned about my time I wouldn't have been wearing a kilt. I wasn't here to suffer I was here to have fun.

Nothing to it but to do it!
The start off the race for me was very slow (I shouldn't be complaining because it could always be worse) Were going downhill and the pack I am stuck in the middle of  runners who want to run a 6:15 mile? I was hoping for more like 5:15. You see the runners at Boston are a lot smarter than I am. (That's not saying much).  Theses dudes actually care about running a negative split. As for me If my body wants to go fast I'm gonna go fast and if it fails on me  later in the race so be it.

I hit the 5k mark at 19:05, even at that slow pace I was passing people and the crowd started to thin out. The people on the side lines were amazing and I did my best to give as many highfives out as possible, often running across the street out of the pack reaching down to greet small solitary hand.
I was having fun and my speed was starting pick up a little bit.  I hit the 10 mile mark at almost exactly one hour flat.  Which is right where I wanted to be. By this point I had probably given a few hundred high fives and the race was going great. 

The Sport Kilt I was wearing was slowing me down but was oh so worth wearing.  During the race I received countess smiles, maybe 1,000 words of encouragement "Go Kilt Guy!, Nice Kilt Sir! I Love Kilts!" and even three requests from distinguished young ladies to Lift my kilt. 
(Drawing from 2012 but still works)
I was almost to mile 12 which meant time for kisses from beautiful college girls of Wellesley.  Part of me thinks don't stop you're in a race? 
That part of me is and Idiot and I'm not gonna listen to him!!!
How often are the streets lined with girls begging for kisses?  That kind of opportunity only happens once or twice a month and I'm not gonna pass it up.

First up was a cute brunette, much like one in the drawing whom I gave a quick peck on the cheek.
Girl 2 
cute blond wearing a ton of lipstick this time she gave me a peck on the cheek.  You can still see some of her lipstick in this pic taken a couple hours later after the race.

And finally kiss three came from a girl holding a sign "Kiss Me I'm from California."  I gently wrapped my hand around the back of her head and pulled her in for a loving embrace that made me forget I was in a race if fact it's making me blush just thinking about it.

I was having fun my body was holding up relatively well. and I hit the halfway point in 1:19 slower than I would prefered but I like I said before I wasn't here to suffer.

The second half of the race my pace would definitely slow down a bit. Don't get me wrong I was working hard but I was staying within myself. I heard a few "Go Pat Go's" and yells of  "SWEENEY" from both strangers and friends.

Most of the comments  though were directed in admiration to the Sport Kilt.  However my favorite thing I heard was this one girl when she saw my Luna's.
she said in disbelief
She said it a second time in any even more astonished voice before telling her friend.
"That dude is F*#king wearing sandals."

Besides kissing the Wellesley girls I had another tradition I wanted to uphold.  Both of the last 2 years I had grabbed beer from some frat dudes while climbing Heartbreak hill.  I was looking forward to it but to my my dismay they were nowhere to be found this year.
On the plus side I was moving pretty good and the hill wasn't much work. It wasn't until the final few miles that I really had to work hard.   Because I can't really use my left achilles efficiently I had no spring in my stride from that side of my body and became a little jealous of the runners of runners in maximalist shoes. 
Marathons trash my body more than other type of race. I may have still been smiling but I was gritting my teeth at the same time.
I came in down the homestretch cruising along in no hurry in an official time of
650th place.
When I entered the finishers coral people were hunched over in total agony.  I was happy to not be running any more.  Overall I felt pretty good. Not that I wouldn't feel it later but looking around i was moving better than anyone else I could see.  

If you go to Marathonfoto and see the complete set of pics they took of me at the race nearly everyone one of them I'm smiling in.  That makes me happy and proud of the race I ran ass well as very thankful to the people of Boston who put that smile on my face!

My Luna Venado sandals and my Thirty48 calf sleeves  (Code Pat15 will save you 15%) worked great to help me perform and my Sport Kilt  (Sweeney14 saves you 10%) working equally great to help keep my attitude where it needed to be.
Eventually my buddy James finished the race.
"Good job buddy, Let's go have some beers"
James had a flight to catch so we had to drink fast.
While at the pub I overheard a girl at the next table over talking about how she saw a dude running in Sandals.
10 minutes later James had bailed and I had a group of new friends.
Now it was time to go drink beers with the Miller's. Michael Miller is very loving dude sometimes he is a bit too loving :)
Flashback to Mexico 2012
Who am I kidding.  Kimberly and Michael Miller are two of my favorite people and I am very thankful for them taking good care of me. Some times you gotta take what you can get.
The next day it was off to the the train station for one more trip to Worcester 
There I noticed I was on the front page of the newspaper.  Not really, more like page 17.
Before I forget congrats to Meb on the win.  I root for him to win every race.  He's a classy dude and I'm really happy for him.

How do I relax the day after a marathon?
Welcome to the Purgatory chasm.  Nothing like a nice hike through hell to loosen up your legs.

Well this post is kind of coming to abrupt end. so I will end it with some
thank yous.

Thank you to the  Heather Wiatrowski for treating me like part of the family.
Thank you to James Moore for being a better person than I expect (ha ha) and great drinking buddy.
Thank you to the Miller's for your generosity and kindness.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the People of Boston for all the love and support you continue to give to myself and all the other runners,  I am humbled by each and every one of your cheers. 
Stay strong!

Bonus time
Thank you to the people Worcester  for commissioning this rather peculiar statue

Double Bonus

I think I'm in love.
The end

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Limp to the starting line sprint to the finish. How a dude in sandals set a new course record at a 50km trail race

I limped to the beach
I limped in the sand

I limped through the sea 
then I limped back to land

I limped  to my house
I limped into my bed
Visions of grandeur still danced in my head.
(Shel Silverstein I am not)

I have horrible DNA My body has been falling apart for years and on days I feel 70% healthy I am stoked. On the plus side I do have a strong heart and a stubborn mind. I'm thankful for what I have and try to make the best of it.
(although it sure would be nice to be able to push off with my left leg once again?)
"You get what you get and you don't get upset"
I love saying that to whiney children
usually I am saying it to myself.

The Boston Marathon is coming up is coming up in a few weeks and I should probably do some speed work.  Less than 1/10th of 1% of my training I run at faster than a 10 min mile. Most of the time I'm just cruising on the sand between 12 and 14 min mile pace.
(I'm not very fast but sometimes I like to pretend that I am.)

When I was looking for a race to run the week before the race Director of  the
Beyond Limits Ultramarathon
Asked me if I would like to run i her event?

Would I be writing this race report If I said no?
I decided this race will be one speed workout for Boston
This would be my 5th race in 5 weeks and my 4th Ultra marathon

For some reason I thought the race was near Palm Springs.
"Weather report high of 85 low 50"
It wasn't until the night before that actually looked to see where the race actually was.
Not Palm Springs!
When I arrived at  the Pathfinder ranch at about 7.am. 
(quite a beautiful place I might add)
 the temperature gauge in my car said 28 degrees?
It also turns out the elevation is 4,500' higher than where I live.
(luckily I was blissful ignorant of this until after the race)
With about twenty minutes till the race started I stripped down to my short shorts, my Luna Sandals and Thirty 48 calf sleeves.  It was cold outside and I figured I would use that too my advantage trying to lower my core body temperature so that it would take me longer to overheat.
My plan was to go out at about an 8:30 mile to let achileas loosen up and then get faster as the race progressed.
10 steps into the race that plan was no more.  My adrenaline was flowing and an 8:30 mile would have felt like I was moving backwards. Within a couple minutes I was all alone.
The course was a two mile lap that navigates through a ranch, then off onto some soft sand trails.  Not nearly as soft as the beach where I train  but still very pleasant.
It then finishes up with 1/4 mile lap a tiny man made lake.
(pretty but a little too toxic to swim in)
I had chosen to wear my Luna Venados. At 6mm thick brand new and with the sole compressed they  are about 3 mm and my favorite Luna's to run in.  I have been starting to think that wearing thicker sandals such as Mono has contributed to a degradation in my running form.  The only draw back is that  the venado has almost no grip.

Out in front with nobody to follow I had to navigate 15 or so right angle turns which were well marked.  If I am running at a high speed  in sandals and have to make a sharp turn I must decelerate quite a bit costing me a few seconds each time
15 turns 15 laps 3 second lost each turn = that's over 11 mins added over the course of 30 miles.

It doesn't really bother me in a race this long but adding those seconds in a 5 or 10km drives me bonkers.
As my body thawed out I was moving surprisingly well.  I wasn't concerned about going too fast ( I was only doing the 50km).  As long as I kept my heart rate down I was pretty sure I wasn't going to blow up.  I wasn't racing the field.  I was there to prove to myself I could still run if I wanted to.  I was gonna finish and I was going to finish fast no matter what happened.

90% of the time I have a stuffed up or runny nose because of allergies It's all I have ever known so it doesn't bother me.   I have  developed a method of breathing through  probably out of necessity to keep the snot from falling out.  I also think that raising your cheek bones (You Know Smiling) makes it easier to breath nasally

I finished my first lap in about 13 mins.  If I could maintain  a 15 min (2 mile) lap pace for the entire race I would be happy.

By the second lap I started passing people.
Most runners were there to run 100 miles or for 24 hours. It seemed like I was the only dumbass sprinting around the track.
Although the course was only two miles it had enough dvercity in terrain and scenery to be very enjoyable.  Plus it was fun to see to give and receive encouragement from all the runners I would criss cross with going every which way..

After the first hour I had ran a little over 9 miles. I was wearing a GPS for the first time in over a year and I felt like I was staring at it every two minutes.  I figured this was a good pace and I wanted to run a three hour marathon.

I use to think I could run a sub three hour marathon any day of the week and twice on Sunday but now I actually got work for it. 
Around mile 22 I took my camera out for a loop

Time was flying by, I stayed consistent with my speed and each lap I grabbed half a cup of heed and didn't really need anything else fuel wise. After two hours I had finished 18 miles and then hit the marathon mark almost exactly at 3 hours.
I was slowing down a bit but still moving well.  A big blister had a developed right on my bad achileas. It was tough to tell which was causing me more grief but I only had a few miles left and decided to block out the pain.

Eventually I cruised in with a new Course record 3:36:23
(also a P.R. for me on a trail 50km)
I had surprised myself.  I never rally had to push that hard and I finished the race limping less than was before it had began.
It was time to find a hot rock to rest on and cheer on some friends
"Looking good as always Catra"
 Good job old man!
"Hey dude I don't know you but I like your sandals"

If you do an extra lap around the 1/4 mile lake you get s sticker.  I decided to join this chick after she finished her first 50 km
Kind of stupid but I like it!
(I'm sure the same thing has been said both about me and this blog.)

I had nowhere I had to be so I stuck around all day and all night and got to witness some pretty cool moments.
Like this happy 10 year old dude running with his race director Mama after finish his first Ultra marathon
Likewise the other Race Director Ken's 13 year old son also finished his first 50 km.
If you have ever ran a 24 hour or in a 100 mile race on the west coast you have probably seen the Jester Ed Ettinghausen cruising along with his bells jingling and always with a kind word of encouragement for his fellow runners. It seems like the dude races every weekend, an almost impossible task. How does Ed do it? He does it with the aid of his loving wife Martha who supports him at just about every race with a smile and nascar pit crew efficiency. Last weekend at the Beyond Limits Ultramarathon Martha ran her first 50km and had her husband Ed at her side as she crossed the finish line.

After numerous beers and wine I crashed out from 11 p.m. till 3:30 A.M. when I got up to go help out out at the aid station.
I couldn't wait for the sun to rise.
Eventually it did and when it did it started to rain.

That's when I joined 13 year old Colby as pacer for his last 10 miles of his 100 miler
 The rain didn't last long
And I had lot of fun running with this amazing kid.
Good Job Buddy and good job to Mom who also ran 100 miles.
Thank you to Ken and Stephanie for putting on such a top notch event!
 They have another 100 miler that they host in Las Vegas which  is only $100 if you register by April 14th.
Plus it has Showgirls
(I love that movie)
Jackpot Ultra Running Festival

What a great weekend. I love truly love the Ultra running community that I am a part of!

What's next?
I got no clue! If you need to find me look for the slow dude running at the beach.