Archive for marathon
In this City of Love, even the Paris Marathon gets a love story. This year, a young married couple would win the overall award and first place female award. Paul Lonyangata, with a time of 2:06:10 and Purity Rionoripo at 2:20:55 shared a blissful win.
Now, from a voice far back in the pack, what was I doing here? In a spur of the moment decision, I signed up for Paris shortly after 2017 registration opened. I may be getting soft, but I also bought a premium package which included a pre-race and post-race changing area, a bag drop and refreshments in the tent. And with a warm morning, 60 degrees F at the start, I removed my warmups and used the bag drop long before my corral was scheduled.
With close to 44,000 runners starting, groups were moved from Avenue Foch, around the Arc de Triomphe and into corrals on the Avenue des Champs Élysées. This cobblestoned boulevard is beautiful and wide, allowing runners space to spread out. We ran past the Place de Concord and the Bastille before heading into the Bois de Vincennes past the beautiful Château de Vincennes. The woods offered some welcoming dappled shade. We moved on to a long tunnel where the air felt thick, but out we came to the bright sunshine on the opposite side.
On the course, water is offered in small plastic bottles every 5K. Beware if you run this, stations are only located on one side of the street, and until you get there you don’t know which side. Midway through the race, stations included oranges and bananas, sugar cubes, and toward the end, some sort of nut mixture. Around mile 17, there was a station serving an energy drink I wasn’t familiar with. I knew better than to try it.
Limiting my intake to water and some quickly grabbed orange slices now and then, I depended on the endurolite capsules and honey stinger energy chews I brought with me. Gatorade is not easily found in Paris. I was pleased to see their booth at the Expo and picked up 3 bottles of the cool blue, one of which made the 26-mile trek with me.
Somewhere around Mile 14, I took my first fall in a road race. A woman a couple of feet ahead of me fell directly in my path. I tried to maneuver around her, but it was too late. We were packed in tight enough that there was nowhere for me to escape. Going down, I was sure the marathon was over for me, but managed to break my fall with my hands. We were both able to continue running. Other than a palm a bit swollen with road rash, all is well these days later.
Running along the Seine, the cafés were full of fashionably dressed Parisians cheering us on as they sipped their cappuccino and wine. We passed the Eiffel Tower, following the Seine west through the strong crowds that were crouching in close on both sides of the course. There were sections where only two to three runners could pass through at a time. If that sounds odd, picture scenes from the Tour de France where spectators are pressing out in the road, only in this case it isn’t fast-moving bicycles but back-of-the-pack runners struggling to maintain pace through the spectator gauntlet.
Finally, we are headed north toward Bois de Bologne. It is a beautiful wood but not many spectators, making it difficult for some runners to stay motivated.
Many were trudging along in a slow walk. Though my pace had slowed, my legs still felt good and I had to zig and zag through walkers to maintain any kind of a running pace.
Performers along the course were wonderful, but my favorite was the drag queen troupe at Mile 25. After passing them, we were soon moving around Port Dauphine to the cobblestones of Avenue Foch.
The finish line was efficient and I moved quickly through: water, finisher medal, shirt and food. I found my way back to the premium tent where a wonderful array of hot and cold foods and some sweets were available. I nibbled on a few things and chatted with other finishers.
And my time? 4:46:59, the slowest in about 10 years. I could attribute that to the heat (79 degrees F as I finished), to lack of speed work or interval training while an injury healed, but age is probably the biggest factor.
I was surprised at the low number of women running this marathon, less than 25% of the total runners. Most marathons I run have been around the 50% range for men and women.
The Paris Marathon get high grades for an interesting and scenic course, quality premiums, reasonable entry price and is well managed. There are metro stops near the start/finish making transportation convenient. If you’re looking for an international marathon, give it a try. Why not?
January is slipping away too quickly. It’s high time to take that 2017 roughed out race plan buzzing around in my head and put ink to paper. Here goes.
FEBRUARY – Squirrelly Trail Twail Wun 1/2 Marathon – I register for this every year, but haven’t run it. Each year there is either a last minute conflict or the weather is brutal. Maybe this year.
MARCH –Naked Bavarian 20-mile trail run. This will be a good opportunity to do some trail as one of my 20-miler marathon training runs, and to prepare for my May hike. I’m not sure how the name of the race came about. Since this is March in Pennsylvania, I doubt that I will actually see any naked Bavarians. If I do, don’t expect photos.
APRIL – Paris Marathon – my destination marathon for 2017. Say no more. The portion of the course on cobblestone may be tough, but I’m looking forward to the last few miles through the Bois de Boulogne. I’m working on my training plan and brushing up on fledgling French.
The Paris photos are from a rainy December visit to Paris several years ago. All are scenes along the marathon course and include the Seine and Notre Dame Cathedral.
MAY – Hike Across Maryland (HAM) This hike organized by the Mountain Club of Maryland has a 150 maximum registration and fills almost immediately. We will be hiking the Appalachian Trail from the Pennsylvania and Maryland state lines to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.The distance is approximately 40 miles. I’m expecting to do this with a combination of trail running, hiking and a lot of grit.
JUNE – Run for the Ages 10K Trail Chase – I spotted the race while adding HARRC races to the RRCA event list. It has an age graded start and runs through Nolde Forest. Oldest female runners start first. Will I be first at the start line and maybe the finish line?
JULY – likely a 5 or 10K on the 4th. We’ll see.
AUGUST – I’m not sure. Any suggestions for inspiration?
SEPTEMBER – This calls for something special to acknowledge my 70th year on this earth. Stay tuned.
OCTOBER – I’ll add in a 1/2 marathon or two. It’s not autumn without a 1/2 marathon.
NOVEMBER – Harrisburg Marathon – Whether I run the full marathon, participate on a relay team, volunteer or some combination of the above, this is a wonderful marathon that seems to have more energy and participation each year.
DECEMBER – This is the time to ease off and maybe add in a 5K for a very good cause.
So there is the plan, but subject to change. Suggestions are always welcome.
Now that I see it in writing, I’m more excited for the year ahead. Will you be running or hiking any of these upcoming adventures?
In spite of everything we throw at her, Mother Earth finds a way to cope and thrive. Regardless of how disappointing we humans can be in our actions, getting outdoors never fails to regenerate hope. Here are a few examples that popped up before my eyes during 2016.
A July run down a country road brings into view a fisherman knee deep in waders. The stone building abutting the bubbling creek demonstrates its own resilience having stood strong for over a couple of centuries.
In August, nature brings us a spider web glistening in the morning sun. While the web may not be resilient, its creator is. A run brought me to an ambling creek flowing by temporarily abandoned lawn chairs.
A November breakfast at a café in the 540 million year old Laurentian Mountains was enjoyed on the warm side of this window.
What have I found to be resilient in December? That we have made it through a trying year with one day to go may be the best description of resilient. Mother Earth is still holding her own and so should we.
If you would like to see the perspective of other writers and photographers, take a look at these ideas on the meaning of resilient.
Seldom do I give advice, but for post-marathon days there is a process I believe is essential: Be moderately active, but as lazy as possible. Take for instance, my Chicago Marathon post-race day plan and execution:
1. Book a flight late in the day to provide some lazy morning time. This allows a runner to wake hungry during the night, dig into their goodie bag of miscellaneous bars and fruit, then fall back asleep until the sun peeks through the curtain.
(Too early in the morning for a goodie bag photo.)
2. Walk out of the hotel with no particular destination other than water and sunshine.
3. Learn something even though you didn’t intend to, such as Chicago’s use of solar compactors discovered on our stroll down the street.
4. Watch a fleet of sailboats patiently wait for one the drawbridges to open.
5. Take a silly selfie.
6. Observe Chicagoans outdoing us in the “kick-back” category as they spend their Columbus day kayaking the river, doing some toe-dipping in the fountains and napping in Centennial Park.
7. Find something you didn’t expect to see. For us it was a building that looked like it has always been in the South Loop, but it wasn’t familiar to me.
We asked a couple of Chicago’s finest who happened to be waiting to direct traffic for the parade route (remember, it’s Columbus Day). We learned the building is the Harold Washington Library Center. After a peak inside (well, more than a peak, we stayed awhile and had to convince ourselves to finally leave), we learned it hasn’t always been here. A research librarian told us it was built in the 1980s and opened in 1991.
8. Enjoy the parade. Step back out in the sunshine, find a place to sit on the curb and watch as bands, politicians and vintage vehicles pass by. Yesterday, you and 40,000 other marathoners were the parade. Today, it’s their turn.
Although primarily Italian American, there was participation from every ethnic and cultural group and political organization I was aware of in this city.
9. Retrieve bags from the hotel, grab a cab for Union Station and wave your sister off on the commuter bus.
10. Depart like a real Chicagoan and take the El train to the airport. (Thank you strong young guy who offered to carry my bag up the two flights of stairs to the platform.)
That’s my strategy for a kick-back post-marathon day. How does yours compare?
We interrupt the Running London series to report on the Chicago Marathon. Chicago is the third of the World Marathon Majors I have run and by far the most logistically easy for a mid-pack runner to make her way through.
After checking into a downtown hotel on Saturday, we walked a couple of blocks to the closest pickup point for the free shuttle to the Expo at McCormick Place. We picked up my race bib and shirt, listened to a panel discussion offered by Runner’s World, made our way through the many exhibitor booths and said hello to Adrienne, a hometown River Runners friend . Although a large Expo, it didn’t feel overcrowded and we were in and out in a few hours.
Race morning, I was awake at 5:30 with plenty of time to ease into the day. No need to catch a pre-dawn subway and then a ferry to wait several hours for a 10:30 start, no need to catch a 7:30 bus to ride 26+ miles to the start to wait for my 10:45 start time. Here in Chicago, at 6:30, I merely walked out of the hotel and joined a parade of runners wearing outer layers of throw-away clothing and walking/jogging down Michigan Avenue to enter designated gates to Centennial Park.
I heard the announcer calling runners to report to the the early corrals. That’s not me. I still had plenty of time to drop my post-run bag, get a photo of the sun rising over Lake Michigan and establish my place in a very long porta-potty line.
As we lined up, the temperature was 52 degrees with a cool wind coming in from the lake. My corral was to close at 7:45 and at 8:13, to the rhythm of Chicago blues flowing from the loudspeakers, we were off to begin our run into a tunnel. We emerge on Columbus Drive and the roar of the crowds begin, rivaling spectators on the streets of Boston.
With the exception of a few blocks of the course, enthusiastic people were on the sidewalks several deep along all 26 miles. At a nursing home along the way there were huge signs in the windows and faces of residents and staff waving and cheering. Chicago is that kind of town.
From Lincoln Park to Chinatown, the course moves through a number of neighborhoods, diverse in ethnicity, architecture, cuisine and music along the course to further reflect those distinctions. One of those was my neighborhood many years ago. Nostalgia hit as we moved past the beautiful old brownstones lining the course.
Making our way through the miles, we made more than 20 turns. It’s a plus to be familiar with the course or at least watching a block ahead or so to be ready to run the tangents efficiently. The course is primarily flat, offering enough up and down blips to keep legs from getting stale.
I had heard Chicago is a fast course so I decided to take it slower the first ten miles to avoid burning out. So it was that two minutes after Abel Kirui of Kenya won the 2016 Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:11:23, I was approaching the half marathon mark and moving on to the 25K point when Florence Kiplagat crossed the line as the first woman finisher for the second year in a row with a time of 2:21:32.
I did pick up my pace as planned but stomach cramps around mile 17 and quads tightening up around mile 19 slowed me considerably. Even with that, I was enjoying the race and being among the runners around me from all over the USA and a strong international contingent.
While Still a Runner was, well, still running, the first women finishers in my age group were battling it out with finish times under 4 hours. Barbara Wright of Germany finished at 3:46:02, nosing out hometown runner Nancy Rollins by a mere two second (3:46:04) and Yoko Nishi of Japan finishing 3rdat 3:54:57. Fantastic times in the F65-69 AG.
By the last four miles and after four hours, it was warmer than I like a marathon, but the cool wind off the lake helped. After walk/running for several miles, I ran the entire last mile to the finish for a time of 4:39:04, 14th out of 72 women in the F65-69 AG. The hill I had heard about near the finish was barely noticeable, and I was pleased to be done. I walked the gamut with other finishers, picking up snack bag, finisher medal, heat sheet and a wonderful cold crisp apple that I managed to drop after taking only two bites.
Goose Island had a cold glass of beer for every finisher and from there I picked up my drop bag, (again – no wait, everything very efficient) found a spot of ground to sit down and put on some warmups, munch on chips, enjoy the beverage and talk with runners doing the same. Everyone seemed to be taking their time before leaving the park and going to meet friends and family waiting outside the marathon finish area.
If you like large marathons (Chicago had more than 40,000 finishers), large crowds of enthusiastic spectators, a relatively flat course, and a conveniently located well managed race, you would like the Chicago Marathon.
Have you run Chicago? What was your experience? How did it compare with your other large races?
Come with me on my longest marathon training run through the streets and parks of London. The course I primarily followed was a 20-22 miler found online courtesy of the Serpentine Running Club.
It’s a cool, misting Saturday morning, perfect for a marathon training run. Pacing will be a problem on this route. We’ll just do the best we can and enjoy the route.
Let’s start just north of the South Kensington station making our way on the street between the Victoria & Alfred Museum
and the ever popular Natural Science Museum.
At Mile 2, we’re moving into Hyde Park.
At mile 3, we’re at the Buck Hill Gate of Hyde Park.
Mile 4 & 5 takes us through Kensington Park past Kensington Palace and its gardens.
By Mile 6, we are headed south looking at the Chelsea Kitchen restaurant across Kings Road.
Mile 7, just down the road we find the Chelsea Football Club.
Mile 8 brings us to Imperial Wharf. And here is where we get a bit confused, with traffic rerouted and pedestrian walkways closed. We’ll put on a couple of miles chasing in circles until a fellow runner helps us find our way to the Thames path.
Mile 10, the rain begins to pick up as we pass the beautiful small Cremorne Gardens. We’ll forego the photo since the rain is hampering the view.
Mile 11, here we go crossing the Thames River for the first of several times on this route. We take the Battersea Bridge across to Battersea Park.
At mile 12 through Battersea Park, there is plenty of open space and beautifully maintained playing fields as well as a fantastic track.
From Battersea, we head back across the Thames on the Chelsea Bridge. The sky in the photo below tells you we have more miles of sloshing to go.
Mile 13, we are passing Pimlico Park. and stopping a moment to enjoy this little jewel. The rain lets up a bit just in time for a photo.
It’s then time to cross the Thames again, this mile on the Vauxhall Bridge.
It’s also an opportunity to see the Thames at low tide.
Through Mile 14 & 15, the crowds along the river are so thick that anything more than a fast walk isn’t possible without moving away from the river and chancing getting lost. (Didn’t I warn about pacing problems earlier?)
It does provide the chance to do some touristy stuff as we walk past the skateboard park
and get a photo with river traffic, Parliament and Big Ben in the background.
By Mile 16.5, we are at the Tower Bridge.
Back in London at Mile 18, we’re making our way across through heavier rain and heavier tourist pedestrian traffic. They are undeterred by the rain so we’re in for another mile or so of fast walk/jogging.
Most of the crowd is here to see London Tower which is worth seeing in any weather with probably 1500 years of history within its walls.
Now heading back to our start up Westminster, we are around Mile 19 and we hear church bells ringing as we edge along the perimeter of Saint James’s Park.
Having picked up extra mileage through our mistakes on the course in Chelsea, we don’t complete the area around Green Park but as we approach Mile 20, we do get a chance to peer in to Buckingham Palace.
Finally around Mile 21, we pass by the Marble Arch and back into Hyde Park.
We run along it perimeter until it joins Kensington Park. Here, we will cross the street and cut around the amazing Royal Albert Hall with the rain still coming down.
Wet and weary, let’s finish up on the backside of the Natural History Museum and call it a day.
Although it was a bit of an unorthodox run, the miles are done. Thanks for joining me. It’s always good to have someone along putting in the miles.
This week I have found a way to do almost any chore while watching television. For someone who, with the exception of a movie or two, can go for weeks without turning on a television, this week I made a reach for new heights.
This anomaly is a repeat of my behavior every four years, and every two years to a lesser degree. The Summer Olympics have captivated me for years. Part of it is nostalgia. I remember a year watching the Olympics with friends who had such enthusiasm, it lit a fire under my mild interest. After another four-year span, I recall kicking back at the midnight hour with the wonderful women in my family watching the women’s gymnastics competition happening on the other side of our world.
Another year I watched solo sharing the big moments with friends and family who were kind enough to share those moments with me over a telephone line.
Then, there were the Atlanta Olympics. A colleague enticed me to join her in participating in security training for the Olympics, spending a week in Atlanta. That experience is worth a separate post, but I will say I learned more about security than I did the Games that year.
There are more than enough reasons to give less of my time to the Summer Games, but the draw to watch remains. It’s as though they reach to me through the screen.
Athletes find themselves competing in less than stellar water, as in Rio, or compete in polluted air, as in China. Still I watch.
Commentators covering the the Games make absurd comments about competitors. Still I watch.
Summer storms knock my satellite coverage out at pivotal moments in competition. Still I watch.
Some of the events are a puzzle to me and I have difficulty following the judges’ decisions. Still I watch.
And here I am with the television humming in the background, watching the last day of swimming, beautiful competitions to watch.
Tomorrow morning, you can find me along with many others watching more than 150 women compete in the Women’s Olympic Marathon.
And where will you be? Watching from an athletic center or health club? Watching at the home of hospitable friends with a large screen tv? Watching solo? Wherever you are, we will be cheering together.