Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Few Weekly Summaries

I took the week off, and did an easy 7 with the Fleet Feet group this morning. John's leg bothered him again. Rehab time!

I have some catching up to do on logging miles. Here goes:

Miles the week of March 5-11: 11
Miles the week of March 12-18: 33
Miles this week: 7 
Miles in 2012: 312

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Race Report: Maratona di Roma

In front of the Colosseum before the race
All roads lead to Rome, or at least that is what the shirt says. While you may not see all the roads in Rome during this 42,195 m race (or 26.2 mi), you will see many important cultural and historic sites, all while having spectators yell "die, die, die" as you pass. Don't worry, it means something like 'go forth' in Italian.

Aside from the tourist-dream of a race course (what other race can boast sites like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, or Saint Peter's Square?), there are several important things to note about the Rome Marathon. First, the cobblestones. There are only 7k worth, and they really aren't so bad. Second, the narrow roads. Serious and repeated bottlenecks at the start, and some throughout the race as well. Third, and most importantly, the start time. The race starts at 9AM for the wheelchair division and elites. Mortals start closer to 9:10. The late start time, paired with the warm climate of Rome, makes the heat a major drawback. They do provide 'sponging stations' every 5k or so, but the heat gets bad between them on sunny streets when the wind isn't blowing.

This was John's first marathon, and my first marathon outside northern California, so we decided early on in our training to take it easy and enjoy the sights. In late January, John started suffering from a variety of leg ailments, starting with his left foot and culminating in IT band issues. Needless to say, we decided to take this race very easy so that John could finish his first marathon healthy, and we could enjoy our remaining vacation when the race ended.

We started out at the Colosseum, in the midst of nearly 20,000 runners. The initial bottlenecks forced a few complete stops, and had us at a snail's pace for a while. Once we got going, we held a comfortable 3:50 pace, while  we snaked through the city, seeing landmarks like the Pyramid, Castel Sant'Angelo, Saint Peter's Basilica, Piazza Navona, and the Spanish Steps.

The combination of heat, lingering jet lag, and our vacation diet took it's toll by mile 17 or so, and we slowed to about 3:55-3:58 pace. At mile 20, John got the dreaded hamstring cramps, and we stopped to stretch. We threw in a few walk breaks from there to mile 22. At the 22 mark, we were still within reach of a 4:00 finish, if we held around a 9:00 per mile pace. John needed to stretch again, so he (very kindly) encouraged me to try for the 4:00 finish, and he would be close behind.

That 4:00 finish wasn't in the cards for me this time. I just didn't have the strength to power up the unexpected (though admittedly small)  hills in the last two miles. I came in at 4:02:02, with John not far behind in 4:12:27.

All told, we had a great race, together, seeing some beautiful and historic sites along the way. Finishing by circling the Colosseum, and then walking along the road next to some of the most historically significant places I've been to, made the finish all the more meaningful.

John after finishing his first marathon!

Links to our results (with splits at each 5k and video) are at these links: Kendra and John

 My Garmin report, showing the course, is below:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hello, Rome!

We arrived in Rome around noon, dropped our bags at the hotel, and headed straight to packet pickup.  For some odd reason, the race expo was located all the way on the outskirts of town, in the EUR area. It took about a half hour on the metro and a ten minute walk, and we were there.

We're not in the habit of carrying our passports with us on vacation, but I'm sure glad we did on this occasion. We needed to produce our race entry letters, plus passport, to get our bib packet. Then, with coupon in hand, we received our race backpacks, goody bags, and shirts. A bit of an aside...the race shirts that come with entry are cotton. I ha a coupon for one and John didn't. He had the coupon for the tech shirts we paid extra for. So I got the backpack and cotton shirt, then John got two backpacks and both of our tech shirts. Kinda confusing. Anyway...

We went to the expo, which is fun but a bit less understandable in a foreign language. We had yogurt and Gatorade samples, then looked at booths and got fliers for other foreign races before leaving. When we finally got back to the hotel, we discovered that both of our tech shirts (which we paid extra for) are too small. They are Asics shirts, and we ordered the sizes we wear in the US. I'm not even sure if the next size up would fit! We don't want to waste time going back to the expo, so we're just going to take the loss and not have race shirts, I guess. Very disappointing.

On a more positive note, we did but race coffee mugs from the expo store. They are white, have an outline of the Rome skyline, and the words "Vini. Vidi. Vici. Maratona di Roma." on them. Very nice.  We are excited about the race, and in super eating and relaxing mode. Tomorrow, we will visit the ruins- Colosseum, Palatine Hill, etcetera- and then have some Guinness with lunch to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day (and my birthday).  I think I've convinced John to sleep in a bit tomorrow, even! Only one day left!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Venice- the Last Chance Run

This morning we went for our last pre-marathon run. We're in Venice, which isn't the easiest city to run in. The streets are narrow, short and crowded with throngs of tourists. The two miles we needed to do made these obstacles less daunting, plus we started out well before the tour groups descend upon the city and before most vendors open for the day. We started out from our hotel, and went over the Rialto Bridge. Man, was climbing all the steps of the bridge difficult! We went along the water if the lagoon for a ways, then stopped for the view before turning around and heading back for breakfast. I was tired and winded for most of the run, which I hope doesn't portell a difficult race. I think the inordinate amount of sleep I got last night may have been the culprit (nearly 10 hours). Either way, I only have a few days left to rest up! John's knee seems to be better, which is a good sign. Tomorrow, we head off to Rome and to packet pickup soon after. Saturday, we will see the ancient sites, then have an Irish lunch (or at least a Guinness) and rest up. Sunday is race day, read or not!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Florence Overlook Run

We set out in Florence to kill two birds with one stone. First, get in a decent prep run before the marathon. Second, see one of the best sights in Florence when the crowds would be thin. Our run to the Piazalle Michaelangelo met both goals.

To get to the Piazalle Michaelangelo, we criss-crossed through town to the river, then crossed at Ponte Vecchio. We ran down the river for a ways, then began up a slowly ascending, tree-lined residential street. There was even a bike lane! The residential area was very different from the part of Florence we stayed in, and it was nice to see a new area we wouldn't have seen.

After maybe a mile and a half of the slow climb, we reached the summit, which opens up to Piazalle Michaelangelo. Overlooking all of Florence, it is a key vista point and had the hallmarks of a tourist haven. Lucky for us, at 7AM we only shared the view with two other runners.

A view of Florence:
Image credit

Here is the copy of Michaelangelo's David that is in the Piazalle:
Image credit

After a few moments enjoying the view, we headed back down a different route, along a switch-back of decomposed granite pathways down to the river. Then, we crossed back through town, on streets much more full of life than they had been a half hour before. All told, a beautiful and scenic four miles.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just Around The Corner

My next marathon- and John's first marathon- is less than two weeks away. I've been remiss in detailing our training here, but suffice it to say that I've been slacking a bit more than I should (taper doesn't mean skipping workouts), and John has taken several weeks off to rehab his IT band/runner's knee issue.

So, the race is rapidly approaching, and I'm feeling calm. I have enough "hay in the barn" (as a running friend recently put it) to get through the race comfortably. I should be fine going for a sub-4:00 finish. John's injuries seem to be subsiding, and he was even able to run 10 relatively pain free last weekend. We really won't know until we does the race, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that his injuries will be gone and he will be fine on his base fitness and his training up until he stopped a few weeks back.

I'm most excited about seeing the sights in Rome. Napa was beautiful, but running in such an historic city will be great. Also, I'm excited about doing a marathon that is much larger than any I've done. Napa is around 3,000, CIM is around 8,000, and Rome has over 12,000. There are five wave starts, and we're in the third. Hopefully it will be easy to understand!

I will make up for my lack of writing about my training by doing a good race report. I've been asked to do one for the Chips' website anyway, so it has to be good! Here we go!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Weekly Summary

I'm a bit late in posting this, and neglected to share several days worth of thoughts as I go into taper. Oh, well. Here is my summary of last week.

Monday: off
Tuesday: off (too tired for speedwork)
Wednesday: 5 on Stonegate
Friday: off
Saturday: off
Sunday: 13 with FF group

Miles this week: 18
Miles in 2012:  261

Two weeks until the Rome Marathon!