Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Way to San Jose

Today was the 2nd Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in San Jose. What a fantastic race. There's no question that the Elite Racing musical marathon and half marathon series has raised the bar for every other event and San Jose is quickly becoming one of their gold standard races. Everything was here; great elite field, wonderful weather, and the kind of signature experience that makes everyone feel good.

Lately I've been getting to do some announcing at a few races. Guess the organizers finally figured out that I can run my mouth faster than I can run my feet. It's great fun for me and gives me a chance to see all of the runners and walkers at least twice. This race was even more special because it was the final event for the 2007 Rock Stars; those folks who have run AT LEAST a half marathon at the 5 musical marathons and half marathons. So, they've finished in Arizona, Nashville, San Diego [marathon ONLY] Virginia Beach, Philadelphia, and San Jose. A fantastic accomplishment for a normal human being.

At the sharp end on the men's side, McDonald Ondara won it in 1:01:11, John Yuda came in 2nd with a 1:01:13, and Hillary Kipchumba finished 3rd with a 1:01:32. One the women's side, it was Magdalene Makunzi in 1:09:58, Megumi Oshima in 1:11:14, and Everlyne Lagat in 3rd with a 1:11:35. Everylne, by the way, is the wife of Daniel Cheruiyot who has won ALL of the JBR half marathons. Talk about a family with talent! WOW.

If you're looking for a wonderful fall half marathon you need to look no further than San Jose.

This is a short turnaround week as I get back tomorrow and head back out west for the Nike Women's event next weekend.

I'll see you on the streets.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mr. October

Hey, how about this? I'm actually Blogging on Thursday. That's because my flight to San Jose isn't until early this evening.

There's still a lot of discussion about the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon last Sunday. The images are not very flattering. And, from my perspective, neither is the obvious decision to "deny, deny, deny." We had much smaller issues at the Chicago Distance Classic Half Marathon [owned by John Bingham Racing] this summer and our reaction was to step up, admit what went wrong, and promise to do a better job. I think a large measure of humility would serve everyone well right now.

From early June until last weekend the lakefront running path has been filled with folks training for the marathon. On weekends it was almost silly with thousands of runners and walkers decked out in their "team" singlets running north and south, criss-crossing each other at the water fountains and intersections.

Now, the path is nearly empty. I've had the path nearly to myself this week. Yesterday, the day that Fall finally arrived and the temperature dropped, I only encountered a handful of other runners. While I'm happy to have the space and solitude, there's also a certain sadness to it.

The marinas are starting to empty out. My "anchor" sailboat Redfeather has been put away for the winter. [Redfeather is in the Belmont Harbor at the start and end of my runs. I know when I see her again that my run is almost over] I don't OWN Redfeather, but it has become my favorite boat and her being gone means that the Summer is over.

And I think, as you get older, the end of every Summer starts to mean a little more and I think you feel the loss a little more deeply. When I was younger I thought I'd have all the Summers I'd ever want. Now, I'm not so sure.

What helps is running. Running and walking, really. Getting out there along MY lakefront, looking at MY city, moving MY body is all I can do. Most days it's plenty. Other days, there aren't enough miles to make the feelings go away.

Off to San Jose.

Waddle on, friends.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hot, Hotter, Hottest

I'll get to the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in just a bit. But first: I flew to Phoenix last Wednesday for the SRP [Salt River Project] kickoff to the training for the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon in January. When I stepped off the plane it was about 95 degrees. I know, it's a dry heat! But still, that's HOT!

The kickoff run is along one of the canals that help supply electricty to the city of Phoenix. I'm not a techo-guy, so I don't understand what it is that they do, but it works.

This year's RnR Arizona is going to be the biggest EVER with over 35,000 participants expected.

Unless you've been in a cave you know that yesterday's LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon was nothing short of a nightmare. The record-breaking heat and humidity turned the race into a dangerous situation for everyone involved.

All of us who put on events worry about the doomsday scenario. We all do our best to look at best-case, worst-case, and doomsday possibilities. I think that yesterday's race was beyond anyone's imagination.

My own explanation is that it was a bit like the Katrina disaster. Yes, the organizers knew that the weather would be a factor. Yes, the organizers did make some accomodations. Yes, they did have more water and Gatorade than normal. But, then things just started going from bad to worse.

I spent all day on the course at various locations. By an hour into the race it was clear that there was trouble. Participants were already complaining that there weren't fluids available to them. By the time I moved from mile 8 to mile 14 the situation had deteriorated to the point where volunteers were filling empty water jugs in restaurant bathrooms just to try to give the runners some relief.

By the time the race was "called" and the clocks stops, many of the participants were already in trouble. We diverted those that hadn't passed the 17 mile mark directly back to the start/finish area. At that point I went to mile 25 1/2 to try to help with those folks who had somehow managed to finish.

A couple of thoughts. One, I was extremely pleased and proud of the reaction the Chicago Police, Fire, Emergency Medical, and Transit Authority. With very little guidance, in a circumstance that one officer described as "pandimonium", they worked together to find ways to help the participants. They opened hydrants, cared for downed runners, kept the traffic a bay, brought in extra buses, and more. It was fantastic.

Second, although the event organizers will certainly have to take some responsibility, this truly was one of those situations that is so far beyond anyone's imagination that I'm not sure what more could have been done.

I'm off to San Jose on Thursday [sing along: do you know that way to San Jose?] I'll be back with you from there.

Waddle on,


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Riding and Racing


I know. Blog on Monday and Thursday. Today is Tuesday. I'm sort of splitting the difference.

Jenny and I spent the past weekend going to and from Toronto for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. We've been involved in this race for a number of years and have been really pleased to watch it evolve into on of Canada's premier events. Alan Brookes, race director [pictured] has done a fantastic job of making this race special. This year he got a jewel in his crown with the setting of the Canadian marathon record. It's been 31 years - since the 1976 Montreal Olympics - since anyone has broken the record. I was lucky enough to be on the announcer's stand watching it all unfold on the giant screen TV. It was FANTASTIC.

I also ran the 5K myself and set a "modern era" personal record. 32:10. Well off the world - or even Canadian - record but it felt good. I didn't plan to go for broke but it was a nice day, I've been running very consistently at shorter distances, and thought - WHY NOT?

Since the course was marked in kilometers I thought I'd try to run to the K markers. I set my watch for 7/1 thinking I would see how it went. And, I'm pleased to say, it went GREAT.

It was fun to "race" a little. Fun to mix it up some, chase down some people, keep an eye on my time.

We combined a bit of pleasure with the work and rode our bikes to Toronto. It's Fall here in the midwest and it won't be too long before the bikes get put on the battery chargers for the Winter. The leaves were just beginning to turn and the ride was everything we could have hoped for. Until yesterday.

Then, the skies opened up. We tried to wait out the rain and actually started out in dry conditions but it wasn't long before we were getting pounded on. On a motorcycle, the best you can do in the rain is stay are dry as you can as long as you can. Nothing will keep you completely dry for more than an hour or so.

Today is "catch up" day and then it's off to Phoenix tomorrow. I'll try to get some photos from there. Then, back to Chicago on Friday for the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon.

Waddle on,