Sunday, June 01, 2008

A new PR at Newport??

I've been told many times that Newport is a great place to get a PR, but I never would have expected one. I mean this was my fifth week in a row of running a marathon or ultra. I was hoping to do well, but my thought was to run a 3:30 or so. I had absolutely no expectation of running any type of PR. And I don't really know where it came from. Okay, I'll tell the story.

My mom wanted to join me on the trip, so she did. I had her pick me up at work on Friday at 5:30pm, and we drove down. We stayed at a state campground about seven miles north of Newport. We grabbed a bit to eat in Newport after I had picked up my packet. They did not allow you to pick up packets the morning of so that was our first stop. We then set up camp and went to bed.

In the morning I woke up and got ready. My mom dropped me off at the finish area, and I rode the bus to the starting are, which was about 2 or 3 miles away. Once I arrived I saw a lot of yellow (Maniac yellow that is). I had a chance to talk to a few friends beforehand. The weather was very nice, in the 50s and overcast. I was looking for a good run.

Once the race started I was off. I started out running fast. The first four miles were mostly all downhill, and I didn't hold back. In those first four miles I was averaging a 7:15 pace. At this point I was a little worried that I was starting too fast. But I felt so good. So I decided to keep pushing the pace. I figured that if I wanted to run a 3:30 and could run fast for the first 8-10 miles and gradually show down than I could get the 3:30.

So at mile four the race begins a 12 mile out and back section. This section is mostly flat and goes along the river. As a approached the one hour mark, I was curious how many miles I would do in the first hour. I keep running fast, putting in 7:20 miles which was fast for me in a marathon. At one hour I looked at my GPS watch and saw that I had run about 8.2 miles. I was shocked! I was averaging a 7:17 mile overall.

So I decided to just keep pushing and seeing how long I could keep this up. As I run by each mile, I realized that my GPS was saying that the course was short. I've been told that the course was short, but I didn't really care at the time. The reason the course was short is because the course was measured along the middle of the road, but the runners were only given one lane and hugging the inside corner of the road means that you are going to be running a shorter distance.

Anyway as I approached the half way point in the race, I was on pace for a half marathon PR. So in that next five miles I was posting miles between 7:20-7:25 miles. I hit the half marathon marker at 1:35:56. This is a two minute half marathon PR! So at this point I thought if I run a 2 hour second half I'd do a 3:36, which wouldn't be too far of from my goal. But that would be a huge melt down.

So as I went ahead I still felt good and just keep pushing. I had slowed down a bit, I was now running mid to upper 7:20's. As I came up to the turn around I noticed that there were not too many ahead of me. I began to cramp and little in my thighs, but I wanted to run strong through the turn around as there were many fans cheering runners on. I also knew that my energy was running low and that I needed a little boost. So I grabbed a vanilla GU from my belt and consumed it with some water in the turn around on the run. This seemed to give me the boost that I needed.

I, from that point forward I was running in the 7:20's. I did notice a lot of runners behind me on the return. One thing I like about out and back courses is that you get to see a lot of friends running in. I felt great I was wondering if I could keep this going. At this point I was about 17 miles into the run, and just kept pushing.

Mile 20 in any marathon, is always a good check point. Because at that point you have run more than 75% and have just a 10k left. At the 20 mile mark, I looked down at my watch and noticed that I was averaging a 7:21 mile. At the half marathon marker I was averaging a 7:19 mile. That means I had slowed my overall average just two seconds. I realized at this point I was going to run a huge PR. Because with a time of 2:27 I could run a 10 minute mile and still finish in under 3:30. But I not going to settle for anything like that.

About mile 22 or 23, Steve Yee (Maniac #1 and President of the club) ran up behind me. He made a comment about my fast running. It felt good to be commented during such a great race. I asked him, how it was going for him, and he told me he was struggling, but wanted to finish strong. At that point, I used him to push me, and he did the same with me.

I was slowing, running 7:30's. I began to do all the math of the finish and realized I was going to finish in 3:13-3:15. I was so happy and just kept pushing. I crossed the finish line and was so happy. I got my shirt and some food and was congratulated by all the Maniacs. I really felt like I was in a different class of runner, having broken the 3:15 marker.

I spent some time in the finish area, talking with friends. I then meet up with my mom. We drove home at this point, and I was feeling "on top of the world". I enjoyed the rest of the day, and the weekend. A new PR is always a special thing. But for the longest time, I didn't think that a BQ time was even possible, but with a 3:13:19, I'm now so close. Could I run a BQ this year? I don't think so, but with a little training and speed work it's now within reach.

Friday, May 30, 2008

An update on my marathons/ultras

Okay, I'm so sorry. I've been running a lot of races in the past few months, and with a new job, I've been very busy. I hope to be more consistent in my posting. But I do want to get you up to date. So here are a few short posts of each of my races.

Capitol Peak 50 miler
(April 26, 2008 near Olympia,WA)

Time: 10:48:22 (12:58 pace)
nt: 23 of 37 overall

I left late Friday night and drove up to to the start of this race. I did manage to get lost on the way up, as the race started in a forest and I turned on the wrong road and found myself on a service road in the middle of thick forest. Luckily, I retraced my step and managed to get to the start area by dark. I slept in my car and woke up early for the 6am start.

The race was 50 miles with 7,000 feet of climbing. It was my first 50 miler on trails. I found it to be very difficult, but very fun. The big climb was between mile 15-20, and that was hard. But what seemed even harder was an out-and-back section about 8.6
miles long (each way) after the 26 mile section.

I finished in the afternoon, the weather was perfect. Sunny and mild and the views were great. When thinking about the difficulty of this race, I realized that it's likely the second most difficult 50 miler in the northwest (behind White River). I hope to post a faster
time at Mt Hood PCT (appox. 5,000 feet of climbing).

McDonald Forest 50k (May 10, 2008 near Corvallis,OR)
Time: 5:32:17 (10:42 pace)
Placement: 48 of 163 overall

With this race, I just wanted to finish. It's a 50k with 6,700 feet of climbing. It's by far the most difficult 50k in Oregon and likely the northwest. I drove down in the morning, as it's only about one hour and 45 minute drive.

I've noticed that my speed has been getting faster. The weekend before I ran a 10k PR. I started this race with a pack of runners and realized I maybe running a bit fast. I was running 8-9 minute miles for most of the first 9 miles and then the big climbs hit and I had to walk up the hills, but ran down the hills. It was so much fun. I enjoyed the roller coaster
like downhills. Some of the views were amazing.

I finished with a time of 5:32 which was faster then Hagg Lake. With the
climbing I was amazed. I hope this becomes a trend, and look forward to it next year.

Capitol City Marathon (May 17, 2008 at Olympia,WA)
Time: 3:28:26 (7:55 pace)
36 of 315 overall

Two years ago was the last time I ran this race. It's a marathon that has a lot of rolling hills that makes it a challenge. It's also a race where they are very strict about not wearing headphones. Which often pushes me along in races. So I knew I had some challenges to overcome. My goals were to run well. This is only my second marathon of the year. I've run a lot of ultras, but very few marathons. I knew I would break 4 hours, but was looking at the 3:35-3:50 range.

I started out fast and thought that it was going to cause me some problems later. But I figured I would just keep going and see how long it would last. By the half way point I was running about a 7:40 minutes per mile average, which was a PR pace. So I kept pushing but slowed down to 8 minute miles. I ended up finishing with a time of 3:28, which blew me away. I was so excited, this was my third fasted time, and only the third time I've ever broken 3:30.

By the way, on the way up on Saturday I blew out one of my tires. It was destroyed. I didn't know how to change a tire so I made my way to a gas station and they helped me put the spare on and I drove the rest stop and got a little sleep and then ran the race. On Sunday after the race I found that Sears was the only place open on Sunday for a new tire. It all worked out, but was quite an experience.

Forest Park 50k (May 25, 2008 at Portland,OR)
Time: 5:30:34 (10:38 pace)
Placement: 21 of 74 overall

Forest Park is a great place to do trail training. For this reason I have run a lot at Forest Park and know the park and trails very well. Last year I did this race and tied my 50k PR. This year with my increased speed I was looking to breaking that PR. I was ready for it. Then on Saturday night it started pouring down rain. I knew that would keep me from a PR so I decided that I would run it and just have fun.

I drove to the park in the morning, and yes it was very wet. I saw a lot of Maniac friends. It was lightly raining the whole race. This made it hard and the mud made it even worse. I just wanted to have fun and finish in a decent time. At one point about 8-9 miles into the run, I slipped on a wet and slick bridge. But I was okay and just got it down. My time was a decent time of 5:30.

So many of the runners were from Seattle and didn't know the course that well. The markers the organizers use were moved by some peds and many got lost. But I managed to stay on course. It was a fun and beautiful day.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Andy Carson's 40 miles of Fun (plus a little more)

In February at a Portland Running Company group run, I had a chance to meet Dave & Paula Harkin (the owners). Paula told me about a 40 mile fun run with Andy Carson. I was very interested. Andy Carson is a weatherman for Portland's Fox TV station. He was celebrating his 40th birthday by running 40 miles. The run was benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. While it was not a race, and doesn't count as a marathon according to the Marathon Maniacs, I still felt like it would be a lot of fun.

So Tim Lawson and my
self decided to join Andy. Given that it was a Wednesday, I didn't know how many would be running the full 40 miles. The course was a 10 mile loop around Portland's waterfront. Some people joined for one or two laps. Only eight people (including Andy) ran all 40 miles. Tim and I were the most experienced. I've run 40 miles or longer five times before this run, and Tim has run four official races at least 24 hours, and many personal runs at ultra distances. There were a hand full of runners that had run marathons, and one who had never run over 10 miles. We all survived and had a blast doing so.

I woke up at picked Tim up and was dropped over in the southern waterfront at 7:30am. We had a chance to meet Andy and talk a bit. The run started at 8am with about 40-50 runners. We all had a blast and were excided about the task at hand. We ran the first loop in a time of 1:47:37.

As a note the weather was great. It was mostly overcast and cool in the 40's. There was a little drizzle here and there, but no real rain. The give credit to Andy for that. In the second loop Paula and her friends joined us. It was a large group and more than half were women. It was enjoyable and I would sometimes run ahead
and take a few pictures. With finished a little slower with a time of 1:52:34.

The third loop has a tough one. Many of the runners left after two loops, leaving just the eight of us and a few others including Dave Harkin. A figure there was about 10-12 runners. It was nice to be in a smaller group, because we had a chance to talk more. Dave kept Andy and myself entertained with a few stories. We ran that one much slower and finished with a time of 2:00:25.

I figured the last loop would be fun. Paula and m
any others joined in on the final loop. It was exciting to know that we were close to being done. I was feeling fine and Andy looked strong. The first three loops were all a little more than 10 miles, so the final loop was cut short to make it an even 40 miles. I figure the final loop was about eight miles. Andy's family came and joined him for the final mile and we were finished. We ran this eight mile loop in a time of 1:42:32.

After finishing we hung out a bit, before joining Andy for a shot on the 4 o'clock news. After that McCormick & Schmick's provided a most run meal that Tim and I took part in. Then we said farewell to Andy and the gang before going home.

Forty miles is a strange distance. It's more that 60k, but less than 50 miles. We usauallly join the Portland Running Company on a group run on Wednesday nights, so in order to make it an even 50 miles we did our normal group run, and little extra in order to get 50 miles. For me the extra 10 miles were slow and relaxing 1:39. I ended up running the 50 miles in 9:02. It was a fun day and I'm glad I took the time to do it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rumbling in the high desert

Going into this year, I wanted to run a lot of ultras and get a lot of experience as a trail runner. I also wanted to run most of the Oregon Trail Ultramarathon Series. As a die hard Marathon Maniac, I also wanted to support Sean and run in his race.

On Saturday, I relaxed and mowed the lawn and got ready for the race on Sunday. I ran a short and easy 8 miles in the morning. I left about 2pm. I drove the 3½ hours down to Sisters. It took longer because of the Iris Festival in Woodburn.

I got down there and found the middle school. I decided to sleep in my car in parking lot of the middle school. I saw some others that were doing the same thing. For me it's about trying to save money and squeeze as many races in as possible. I did stop at the McDonald's in Sisters for dinner. I then relaxed in my car until about 10pm, then I went to bed.

I was waken up at about 6am, when the early starters arrived. At that time I got up and got my packet and waited. I watched as the early starters took off. I had a chance to talk with some friends. I saw Olga, Kristen, Bret & Gail, Eric & Michelle, Karen, and some others. It's always fun to do all these ultras, and see people you know.

It was a cold night about 30-32°. Saturday was a very hot day, with a high of 80°. At the start of the race it was about 36°, but I knew it might get warm. So was going to where my black Maniacs singlet, but in the cold morning, I ended up adding my red shirt under it. Looking back I wish I would have just gone with the singlet, because it became very hot. When I finished it was about 80°.

At 8am, we started off. I had no real goal in mind. A 60k is an odd distance, more than a 50k, but less then a 50 miler. And this year, Sean had to cut the run short, so it was only 34 mils. I went in thinking of it like a 50k.

I started out fast. I didn't plan it, but I was running with the flow of the group. I knew the mileage at each of the aid stations, so when I got to the first aid station, I realized I was running fast. At that point just 4.8 miles in I was running an 8:10 pace. I felt good and decided to keep going strong.

Leading to the next aid station, I slowed down. In this 3.4 mile stretch I ran a 9:37 pace. It began to feel warmer. There was a little more climbing in this section, but it really wasn't that bad.

The third aid station, was a water only station, and I would hit this one twice, on both sides of "The Grunt Loop". I was really nothing more than a marathon like water stop. At this point I had run 11.4 overall, and was averaging an 8:51 pace. I felt good.

The "Grunt Loop" was cut short due to some snow closure in part of the trail. So I don't know how hard this one is normally, but the shortened 2.4 mile loop was a challenge. There was vertical climb for about a quarter of a mile. You are hiking up a rocky climb. It was very different, but fun as well. But besides that climb the rest was easy with a few patches of snow, which felt great. At the 13.8 mile mark I was averaging an 8:51 pace.

Between aid station 3 and 4, I ran a short version of the third stretch. It was only 2.4 miles, and still kept running strong. I was really enjoying the afternoon.

From the "Grunt Loop" we basically ran all the way back the same way we came, until the turn off. So leading up to aid station 5, it was already covered territory. I ran slower as the heat was becoming a bit much. I ran a 10:03 pace in this section. At this point I was 19.2 miles into the run and was running a 9:07 pace. At each aid station, I was taking a GU, which gave me energy to keep going.

The next section was a long one. It was 6.6 miles and had a lot of climbing. It seemed like it went on and on. I had to walk up some of the climb. It was a challenge, but I just kept moving. My time for that split was a 10:22 pace. Which was good. At aid station 6, I had run 25.8 miles, and I was only at 4:03:21. I was so surprised, because my marathon split for this run, would be a trail marathon PR, if it were officially recorded.

Leading into the final aid station, I ran slower than I thought. My biggest problem was that I was getting tired, and was exposed to the sun. At aid station 7, I was at mile marker 30.2 and looked forward to finishing.

The final strength went by very fast. It was 4.1 miles long and I was able to do it in under 40 minutes. At the end you do 3/4 lap around the track and are done. I finished in a time of 5:29:51, which was a pace of 9:37. I was handed by Peterson Ridge socks and enjoyed some relaxing time.

I was told by runners with GPS, that it may have only been 33 miles, but I can only go by what I'm told. So I'm counting this as a 34.3 mile run. Because they did not officially record splits, I can't count them, but I did run PRs in the trail marathon (4:07:12), and the trail 50k (4:59:09).

I chatted a little with some friends, took a shower at the middle school and drove home. It was smooth ride home, and enjoyed having had taken the shower.

It was a very fun time, and enjoyed every minute of it. I would highly recommend this race and look forward to it next year. Now I need to rest up for the Andy Carson 40 miles on Wednesday.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Dizzy Daze PR!

In the past few months, and the last few weeks, some would say that I have gotten a little "loopy". Well my race this weekend was in Seattle at Green Lake. It was 10 laps around Green Lake for 32 miles, which is a little more than a 50k.

I wanted to find a way to cut the cost of my races as much as possible. With the cost of gas around $3.30-$3.50 I want to get my races in cheaper. So instead of driving up on Friday, I decided to drive to Olympia and spend the night in car, then drive the rest of the way. It worked out well. I slept at the rest stop at mile marker 95 on I-5. It was cold and I woke up about every 3 hours or so.

I arrived at Green Lake about 6:20am. The race was set to start at 7am. I check in got my bib. It was nice to so many other Maniacs. I even saw tc, who ran at Pacific Rim two weeks ago. He was going to do the 100k, which made me wonder if I should have, but I thought a 50k would be smarter.
My goal for this race was to set a 50k PR. It's a flat road course. So I thought to myself, "if I can run at the same speed as a road marathon and hold it for another five miles, I could run between 4:30-4:50."

So that is what I did!
In the first lap, I started out strong. Each loop was 3.2 miles. I ran it in 27:52, which was 8:43 pace. I remember thinking that if I keep this pace up I could run a 4:40 race. I seemed to be in the front of the pack which kind of made me wonder if I was running to fast.

In the second loop, I ran even faster. The weather was great, and I was just enjoying the day. In some ways I figured this was just a marathon. I ran in 26:21 (8:14 pace). In lap three I ran a 27:23 (8:33 pace) on track for a 3:43 marathon which is average for me. Leading up to the half way point I ran 25:52 in lap 4, and 26:06 in lap five. This gave me a 2:13:33 first half. There was only one person in front of me. We finished the first half together, but he was still running strong. I knew I couldn't keep it up. So I let him run ahead.

In the second half, I just kept running strong. I was passing the other runners right and left. I was running between 27 and 30 minute loops. I ended up with a marathon split of 3:43:11 (8:31 pace). I ran the second half in 2:22:14 (8:53 pace). I ended up with a time of 4:35:47, which was within my range of 4:30-4:50. I finished in second place to Jake Lin.

I stuck around for hours helping out with recording times, and helping the other runners. I left after Jonathan Bernard finished his 100k in 11:30. It was a fun day, and enjoyed it all.

I then drove to downtown Seattle and checked into the hostel. I spent the night there and attended Mars Hill on Sunday morning. Then I drove home.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pacific Rim 24 hour Race

I had a fun weekend. I know that I have started my last four logs the same way, but it's true. This weekend Tim Lawson and I took part in the Pacific Rim One Day Race in Longview, WA. Months ago, I looked at this race, and thought it would be fun to run a 100k. But after talking to Tim, I realized that running 24 hours was not out of the question.

That said in November I decided to start training. In addition to my normal marathons, I would do one long run a month. (When I say long, it really means "crazy long")

November 17 - Midnight to 4am - 25.62 miles
December 22 - sunrise to sunset (9 hrs) - 50.65 miles
January 18 - 12 hours - 64.15 miles
February 16-17 - every other hour from 10pm until 7am - 34.48 miles

I felt like this would be good training, because each of these runs were at Summerlake Park, which has a one mile loop, just like Pacific Rim.

On Friday, I got everything together and ready to go for Saturday. I knew that since I would be up for over 24 hours, I would need to get everything ready the night before. So on Saturday, I woke up at 6am, had my devotions and got ready to leave. I picked up Tim about 6:50. We then drove the 61 miles to Longview, which only took about 55 minutes. Once we got there we parked and checked in.

My goal was very simple, Run 100 miles. I thought about running 105 (4 marathons), but just wanted to reach 100 miles. Tim on the other hand, had very high goals. He wanted to run 200k (124.28 miles), on the drive up we talked a lot about our goals and ways to achieve them.

Before the start we started to set up a small tent that we could put our own aide in and to change cloths. But the city of Longview would not allow tents in the city, so we had to put of stuff in the tent but did not set in up. As I looked around I noticed that others would have coolers and tables for their aide. In the future I would bring a cooler instead of a box. Others had trailers or RVs.

The weather forecasted was to be wet. It rained most of the way up, and I was hoping for the best. When the race started (it was overcast and cool in the 40's). I felt really good and just felt like running. I knew that I was in for a long (very long) run. But in the start with the sun peaking through the clouds, I felt great. The first 12 miles I was running fast and having fun. I was hanging in with the two other leaders and was running about a 8:30 mile. But I knew I could not (and should not) keep it going. I saw me and warned me to take walking breaks. So in mile 13 I hung back and stayed with Tim. We ended up running together for the next 51 miles.

As we ran we would take a walking break at the beginning of each mile. We ran 9-10 minute miles for the next 15 miles. When we reached the marathon marker we had a time of 4:03:18, which was nice, but we slowed down after that. In the next five miles, I knew there would be a chance that I could set a 50k PR. So I told Tim that my PR was 4:59:31. So we keep pushing and finished in 4:52:44. I had broken my PR by almost 7 minutes. What a great feeling.

To reach my goals of 100 or 105 miles, I had three goals.
1) Run 50 miles within 10 hours
2) Run 100k in the first 12 hours
3) Reach 100 miles by 7am (sunrise)
Tim on the other hand had higher goals. He wanted 50 miles in 8 hours, 100k in 10.5 miles, and 100 miles within 16-17 hours. So my goal was to stay with him for as long as I could (or as long as I felt comfortable).

In the next 19 miles, we ran a comfortable pace of 11:40 miles. Tim’s legs cramped up a few times. This ended with at the 50 mile mark at 8:33:33, which was about a half hour more than Tim's goal, but a huge PR for us. I broke my PR by 49 minutes. I was thrilled and enjoyed the time.

But Tim was having some stomach problems, and had a trouble using the bathroom. Things were not looking good for him. We slowed down, walking both sides of the loop, but still managed to do 14:23 miles. At about mile 60, Tim told me that he might drop at 63 miles. This would still give him the 100k. When he told me that I knew things were bad for him. This guy doesn't quite easy. He has run 85 miles on a stress fracture and runs when sick and in pain. I felt bad for him.

This left me at 64 miles in 12 hours and I was now heading into the night hours. This is the most difficult part of a 24 hour race. Your body wants to shut down at night, and you are forcing it to keep going. I slowed down, but kept running parts of the loop.

Between 8:30pm and 5am, I was wiped out! In walking I was starting to fall asleep, but my body couldn't run the whole loop. I was drink Mountain Dew, Diet Coke, and Root Beer, also making GU energy gels, but just couldn't get the caffeine boost. Those 8½ hours dragged on, I slowed down to a 16:48 average pace.

But at 5am, I reached the 150k mark (20:10:02 time). At that time, the caffeine started kicking in. I was also motived being only 6.8 miles from the 100 mile marker. I pushed hard to get there and managed to get to the 100 mile marker before 7am. I finished 100 miles in 21:55:02 (13:09 pace). In those 6.8 miles I averaged a 15:28 pace.

At that point the sun was on the rise and I had two hours left. I knew I was going to keep going, but the pressure was less. I ran/walked the remaining two hours. Not only did I reach my 105 mile goal, but also did two additional miles.

I ended up finishing 107 miles in 23:46:24 (13:20 pace). When done I was so happy to be done, and enjoyed the whole experience. Shortly after the race was over they gave awards to the top ten men. I finished fifth place, and received a nice plague. Tim Englund won the race with 121 miles.

Tim and I packed up our stuff and drove home. I managed to stay up for another hour for the ride home. I got home at 11:40am. At that point I took and nap, and relaxed the rest of the day.

I enjoyed the time, very much. Tim wants to reach his goal of 200k at Ultracentric 24 hour race in November. i told him that I would like to run that if I feel up to it. We will see. For now, I'm going to relax this week and get ready for a wild spring.

Check out my splits and other statistics:

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Des Moines Creek / Mars Hill

What a great weekend! A few weeks ago I found out about the Des Moines Creek 6 hour run in SeaTac. I thought that it would be fun to do a six hour run. I will be doing the Pacific Rim 24 hour race in just two short weeks, and though a six hour run would be a good final test for me.

So in planning my trip, my main goal was to cut the cost down. Being a solid three hour drive south of Seattle, the cost can add up. So I with a start time of 9am, I thought of the idea of driving the morning of the race. Wanting to get there by 8am means that I had to leave at 5am and get up at 4am. That is very early for me, but that would mean I would not have a hostel cost for Friday night. I did decide to stay Saturday night. This is because I wanted to attend Mars Hill Church and see Mark Driscoll preach. More about that later.

I worked the morning shift on Friday, getting off at 5pm. Then I came home and got all my stuff ready before going to bed early. In my preparation, I noticed that the forecast was for rain, so I had to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That meant I had rain gear and extra cloths ready to go. I ended up going to bed about 8:45pm.

I woke up to my alarm at 4am. Not used to getting up that early, I was surprisingly not really tired. I took time to read in my Bible, as I do every day. Then I loaded up my car. I left at 5:05am. I had three hours to get there with another hour before the race start. That means that even with some traffic I should still get there in time for the start. In the drive up I was alone and it was also very dark. I had some Diet Coke to keep we awake and my iPod with music. I ended up getting to SeaTac by about 8:15am. With two stops at rest stops to use the restroom, that is very good timing.

I have never been to SeaTac or the Seattle Airport area. As I am traveling more often to the north for marathons/ultras, I am finding myself getting more familiar with the Seattle area. Maybe I could find an accounting job in the Seattle area, which would be great. Isn't Seattle the "Mecca" of marathoning? I counted there are over 45 marathons and ultras in the northwest, and move 35 are in Washington (mainly Seattle area).

I was Eric Barnes, Monte, Rob Hester, Steve Yee, Van Phan, Marilou Russell, and other familiar faces at the race. Even though I live in Portland, I feel like I'm getting to know so many of the Seattle Maniacs. The weather was chilly, but dry. On the way up it had been raining, but once I got there the clouds were starting to lift and it felt great.

I checked in and got ready to run. The race was off to about a three minute late start, so that meant we would have an extra three minutes at the end. The course was a four mile trail loop that made lots of turns, but the course was very well marked. There was also a short loop of 1.1 miles once you didn't have enough time for a four mile loop. When the race started I was behind Eric and Rob. I tried to keep up, but was starting to fall behind. About half way around the first loop I let them go. I finished with a time of 34:11, that was about ten minutes faster then I was hoping for, but if felt great.

I ended up running again a 36:7 lap the second time. My goal was to run 32 miles or 8 laps, and at that rate I would be running 45 minute laps, so I was off to a great start. The weather was turning out to be beautiful. There was no rain and sun was even shinning.

In the third and fourth loops I ran a bit slower at 39:47 and 41:19. These we both still faster then my 45 minute goal. I even took my camera on one of the loops and set in up to take a picture of me on the course (using the self timer). I wanted a picture of me and knew there wouldn't be any photographer. I realized at that point that many of my fellow Maniacs were not running the full six hours, but instead just getting the marathon mark in.

Heading into the half way point I was running very smooth. I ran 44:09 in the fifth loop, which would end up being my slowest. I ran three more loops to get me to the 32 mile mark. In those three loops I ran 43:36, 43:46, 43:38. I was amazed that each time I finished one the time almost the same. It felt great to be running so consistent.

So know having met my goal of 32 miles, I had 33 minutes left. So I moved to the short loop. Hoping to get two or three loops in. I started out into the first short loop and ended up running it in 12:05. In the second lap I ran fast wondering if it would be my final lap. I ran it in 10:39. Now I had a decision to make, should I go for one more? I had 11 minutes and was wondering how strict they would be about the cut off time. I decided that I was done; I had done 34.14 miles in 5:49:18. That was very fast and fun. I didn't really notice a really slow down. I was happy and enjoyed the post race area.

As I think about it more, and think I should have done one more loop. I know I could have and had enough time, but oh well. I grabbed some tootsie rolls and water and headed out.

Know I headed up to Downtown Seattle. I drove to the Seattle Hostel at Pike's Place. I didn't have a hard time in finding a parking place. But once I got into Seattle it starting raining. But the rain (and hail) was short lived. It was off and on. I walked a block to the hostel. I ended up spending the night working on homework and relaxing. I went to bed about 10pm.

At 6am, I woke up and read in my Bible (started the book of Joshua). It was a good start to a good day. I loaded up my stuff and check out about 7:15. Then ate some breakfast and took off. I left about 7:30 and drove the 15 minutes to Ballard area of Seattle.

Ballard is the main site of Mars Hill Church. I have been listening to Mark Driscoll's sermons for months and have looked forward to seeing him preach. I have heard that parking is bad and that it can get crowded so arrived early (too early). I got there about 8am for the 9am service. I ended up doing a little homework in my car, before going in and finding a spot about 8:30.

Mars Hill is very different from my home church. It's more modern and the style is a bit different. Maybe that is what I like about it. The service started at 9am. There had a few announcements and an opening song. The Discoll come up and spoke. It was so cool to see him preach instead of just listen. I really felt at home at the church, and I know that if I ever get a chance to live in Seattle I will be attending Mars Hill Church.

He spoke on worship and the regulative verses normative principle, then got into what worship is all about. And then touched on the Grace of God. I enjoyed hearing about how God has blessed the church. The Grace of God is amazing. That fact that God, being just and holy would come to earth and give up His only some so that, a sinner like myself could be saved is just amazing! I praise God for people like Mark Driscoll, and Mars Hill for taking on the job of being the Gospel to the city.

I headed back after the service at 10:50. I stopped twice, once in Tumwater for gas and once in Centralia for food at Arby's. I ended up making good time arrived at home at 2:20pm.

It was an awesome weekend; I look forward to the Pacific Rim 24 hour in just two weeks.

Check out my splits/statistics: