Friday, April 27

Tomorrow!

Rain! Rain! Rain! The forecast says that we'll be in it, under it, and through it for the entire distance of the race tomorrow. Yikes. I am on my way to find some gaiters and perhaps a lighter poncho than the one I have--I really couldn't find anything at the expo yesterday. I did get a chance to drive the course with several of my students who are running with me up to the halfway point. It was a good mental exercise and excellent for the morale.

Thursday, April 26

Two Days to Go

After I teach my classes today, I head off to the marathon expo to pick up my race number and packet, see the exhibits, acclimated my students to the pace teams, and absorb some of the energy and excitement that the expo always exudes. One thing I will be looking for is rain gear--the forecast is still calling for rain on Saturday. Ugggh.

Wednesday, April 25

Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!

Former Tennessee Titan Eddie George is running in this year's Country Music Half Marathon. The fan favorite and all-time franchise rushing leader, who ran for 10,441 yards in his NFL career, will attempt to complete the 13.1 mile race this year, the marathon next year, and eventually to qualify for the Boston Marathon by 2009. According to a story in today's Tennessean, Nashville's daily newspaper, Eddie has trained well and is up to the challenge. This is gonna be fun!

Three Days to Go

Well, rain is back in Saturday's forecast--scattered showers with a high of 72 and a low of 49. I guess I'll have to break out the rain gear after all. According to the official marathon website, registration is now "over 30,000." Oh my!

My final short run this morning, was a nice little tune up. It was very humid and about 64 degrees. Hopefully, Saturday will be somewhat cooler, otherwise we're all going to be laboring to stay hydrated. My ankle feels a bit better--but still not 100%. Overall, I'm feeling great and looking forward to the Expo tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 24

30 Thousand!

The surging popularity of the Country Music Half Marathon this year will swell Saturday's crowd to a total of more than 30,000 runners according to a report from today's Tennessean, Nashville's daily newspaper. Registration was capped at 20,000 for the half marathon--add to that about 10,000 who have registered for the full marathon. Wow! There may very well be a whole, whole lot of weaving and navigating through a dense pack for the first 12 miles or so. Amazing!

Four Days to Go

The latest weather forecasts look excellent. With the marathon start time at 7 AM, temperatures should be in the upper 40s. By the time I arrive at the finish (hopefully somewhere between 11 AM and noon) it should have warmed up to nearly 70. And right now, rain is not expected to a factor at all--we'll have thunderstorms for the next three days or so but then the skies start to clear by Friday. Thanks be to God. 26.2 is enough to worry about without also having to take into account inclement weather.

Monday, April 23

Five Days to Go

My schedule this week is very hectic--with teaching, speaking, and a host of meetings. That is probably just as well. It should keep me so preoccupied that I won't have time to be nervous. I plan to do a couple of easy runs of three miles or so over the next three days plus a little cross training on the balance ball and the eliptical. That's it. I am counting on a strong taper to not only get me good and rested but to also help my ankle heal up.

Sunday, April 22

Six Days to Go

Just six more days. I can hardly believe the marathon is here, I'm in my taper, and I'm already planning logistics like parking, connection points, and on-course hydration and nutrition.

I've pretty much settled on all my gear choices except those special items having to do with weather oddities. Hopefully, there won't be any weather oddities--though thundershowers and heat are both likely to play into the race at some point--this is Tennessee in April after all.

At this point I really do feel good. My training is done. And now it is just a matter of getting good rest and some good carbs this week.

Saturday, April 21

In Just One Week

One week from today, the Country Music Marathon will once again be staged on the streets of Nashville. The current forecast--always an iffy proposition this far out--calls for scattered thundershowers. Oh dear. I think I better prepare better than I have the last several years when rain caused delayed starts and soggy socks.

My taper is now in full force. I was away for most of the weekend speaking in Atlanta and got in only one token easy run.

The countdown has begun.

Thursday, April 19

9 Days and Counting

Just a little over a week from now I will be attempting yet another marathon. I've done 14 half marathons and 5 full marathons since I started running just over three years ago now. They never seem to get any easier. And I never seem to get over the sincere certainty that I just won't be able to pull it off this time.

My training has gone pretty well right up to this taper. I never did any long runs over 18 miles, which is probably a really bad mistake. But, it simply has not been possible--because of time and my own physical limits. At any rate, it is too late now to try to pack in the miles.

I did a laborious 10-miler today, in the face of a strong wind. I'd hoped to go about 14 or 15. So tomorrow, I'll give a long run one final shot. I am speaking out of town this weekend and then I have an unusually busy week ahead this next week, so tapering should be no problem whatsoever.

I think that given my level of conditioning I should be happy with a finish any time under five hours. But, knowing me, I won't be that reasonable. Anything less than a PR will be a disappointment. We'll see what happens.

The Marathon

On this day in 1897, the first Boston Marathon was run from Ashland, Massachusetts, to Boston. Winner John J. McDermott ran the course in two hours, 55 minutes and ten seconds. A few years later, the start would be moved to the town of Hopkinton--in order to conform to the newly established international distance for the marathon.

Interstingly, the distance has varied wildly throughout the history of the event. The first modern Olympics in 1896 had a marathon distance of 24.85 miles. Then, over the course of the next seven Olympic games, there were six different marathon distances. The marathon at the 1908 Olympic Games in London began at Windsor Castle. The planned course was extended by 385 yards from its set 26 miles so that the runners would cross the finish line directly in front of the Royal family's viewing box in the Olympic arena. Thus, the length became 26 miles 385 yards (which is why many marathoners to this day shout out "God save the Queen" when they pass the 26 mile mark). In 1921, the International Amature Athletic Federation (IAAF) set the official distance by the Queen's standard, and so it has remained ever since.

Inspired by the success of the first modern-day marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics, the Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and still ranks as one of the world's most prestigious road racing events.

Monday, April 16

Boston Soggython





Boston's On

Gusts of wind up to 50 miles per hour. Torrents of rain from a pounding nor'easter. Temperatures in the mid-thirties. Two inches of standing water at the staging area. Flooding streams. Extreme risk of hypothermia for 26.2 miles. And twenty thousand other runners who have been looking forward to this moment for at least a year--some, for many years--and not a one willing to quit now. It is the 111th running of the Boston Marathon.

Sunday, April 15

Boston's Weather Woes

This is the year the fleet-footed Kenyans will face a homegrown challenge at the Boston Marathon, and it's not from the American runners or the undulations of Heartbreak Hill. It's the New England weather: very wet and very windy. The blustery conditions are sure to make things unpredictable when the world's longest-running annual marathon leaves Hopkinton for the 26.2-mile slog to Boston's Back Bay tomorrow morning.

A massive nor'easter is already dumping heavy rains on the whole region. So, you can bet running in the marathon this year is going to be anything but pleasant. Forecasts call for 3-5 inches of rain, start temperatures in the mid-to-upper 30s and wind gusts blowing in runners' faces at up to 25 mph. Yikes!

The foul weather is certain to dramatically slow the pace for the top runners--just a year after Kenyan Robert Cheruiyot broke the course record in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 14 seconds. Typically, a slower pace will lead to a more tactical--and a more exciting--race amongst the elite athletes. But, the slower pace is less welcome news for the other 20,000 runners, who will be out on the course longer, exposed to the brutal elements. "The interest is to get them out of the elements as quickly as possible," race director Dave McGillivray said between meetings with state and local officials on how to handle the storm. "With hypothermia, you can't take something to make it go away. You have to get into a warmer environment."

McGillivray said organizers will take buses used to drive runners out to the start and station them along the course, to provide shelter and a ride back for dropouts. More shelters are being arranged in schools and other buildings along the route as well.

Pumps have been stationed at low-lying areas in case of flooding. Ponchos will be provided for workers assigned outdoors. Runners were warned in an e-mail blast today to wear appropriate clothing. But really! What is appropriate for weather like that?

Adding to the logistical struggle with this nasty storm is a new starting time--10 AM for the main field, after more than 100 years of noon starts--that was adopted in part because of a few years of afternoon heat. The earlier start also will allow the cities and towns along the route to have their roads back sooner. But, it will mean that the start of the race may be during the worst of the storm.

I have always dreamed of qualifying for Boston (a very distant and remote dream indeed). This year, I guess I should be grateful that I'll be watching from the comfort of my own home instead (the national broadcast will be on the Versus cable network--the same network that covers the Tour de France every summer).

Saturday, April 14

14 Days Until the CMM

Just two weeks from today! The Country Music Marathon is the really big one for me! So today, I did one of my final tough training days before I begin to taper for the race. It was a rainy, cool, and blustery Saturday. I ran a 10K race first thing this morning--the start was rather soggy, but the hardest part of the rain stopped just before the race began. Most of the course retraced the most difficult part of the marathon (miles 12-16 along the banks of the Cumberland River), so it was good to refamiliarize myself with that portion of the race.

After the race, I changed into dry socks and shoes and ran just over ten miles through the Shelby Bottoms Park--one of my favorite places to run in Middle Tennessee.

So, I got in the equivalent of a 16-miler with some tempo pacing (during the 10K race).

I don't know if I could ever feel really confident going into a marathon--I've done enough now to know just how grueling 26.2 can be. But, I am much further along than I thought I could be. So, I am actually starting to get excited.

Wednesday, April 11

17 Days Away

What a day! Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka's Fenway Park debut was upstaged by Felix Hernandez. The Preds brought the greatest show on ice to Nashville as the NHL playoffs got underway--alas, they were just nipped in an exciting double-overtime shoot-em-up by the Sharks.

And I ran my fastest 5-miler ever! That, after logging (or really, slogging) an 18-miler on Monday. Nevertheless, the legs felt great today.

I've got one more long run before my taper begins. I think I may do the Moosic City 10K on Saturday as a speed workout and then aim at getting in an additional ten-twelve miler immediately afterward. The race is conducted along the last and toughest part of the marathon route so it should be good acclimitization.

Monday, April 9

19 Days Until the CMM

With less than three weeks to go, I feel like I am in great shape to run a half marathon. The trouble is that I have to run a full marathon! Yikes.

I had some good moderate length workouts this past week--a 12 miler and a 9 miler with a couple of 5 milers mixed in. But, because of the busyness of Easter week, I was unable to get in a good long run. So, I saved that for today.

I did great through 10 miles. Then, I started falling apart. Literally. My right ankle. My left knee. My aching back. My wimpy will. Despite all this, I was able to log 18 miles in just about 3 hours at an average pace of just over 10.30 a mile. Now that I'm done, I feel good about it. But, I really wish I had been able to go a little longer and a lot stronger.

Hopefully, I will be able to get in one more long run before the marathon at the end of the month.