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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Past and Future

Today is about two things. The first is a look back at the event surrounding the Livestrong Marathon. The other is a look ahead at what's next.

I don't have too much experience with marathons as of yet, but I'll become something of an expert in them over the next couple decades, so I figure that I should do an official review of sorts for each one, if only for my own reference in the future. So, apart from my performance there at, here is what I thought of the entire event.

We'll start on Friday, at the expo. I wanted to get there relatively early, before all the 5 o'clock people got off work and headed down. The goal was to beat the rush. I failed in said goal.

Though it would be much worse throughout the rest of the weekend, traffic was already pretty bad outside the Palmer Events Center. Fortunately, they did have police support, and it kept things moving relatively efficiently. Sure, it took us a few extra minutes to actually get into the parking garage, but I felt that the information on the website aptly prepared me for what I needed to know.

As for the expo itself, I was honestly a little disappointed. To be fair, it's mostly because I haven't been to one of these expos before and I oversold it to myself in my head. The messenger bag we got is nice, and it's timely for me, because mine is starting to fall apart. I was glad to get the Spibelt, though I hated actually running with it. I've got to figure out how to wear it correctly, I guess. I'll give it some more time before passing official judgement on it.

That was really all the swag that we go. I've been to other expos for other industries, and they're passing things out all over the place. Everything at this particular expo was for sale, sure, but there was very little in the way of samples. I think I ended up with a honey-something bar and a Soy Joy.

I did get some good information about a number of different upcoming races, including one that I'm thinking of signing up for in November, but we'll get to that shortly. The Austin 10/20 sounds particularly interesting, even though it's not a marathon. Hey, I never said I wouldn't do other races, too.

I think what I was hoping for were more item-specific booths. Instead of a bunch of retailers, I wanted someone from, for example, Saucony, or Garmin, or IronMan or any of the hundreds of brands of running merchandise that I have yet to explore. I can go to a running store any day of the year, but when I go to an expo, I want to talk with experts and get their opinions on the latest advancements in running technology, even if I can't afford them. But like I said, I've never been to one of these before, so I'm not sure if that's par for the course, or if this one was lacking.

The bright spot for me was the packet pickup, which was clearly marked and far enough removed from everything else that there was no crowd and no problem. I waited about 90 seconds to get my number, and they had everything organized and waiting.

From what I understood, the traffic on Saturday was absolutely brutal, with some people waiting as long as an hour just to get into the parking garage. This is less the fault of the marathon crew and more of the city, I suppose, but it's something to keep in mind.

Now, for race day, I must say I was thoroughly impressed by the whole event. It seemed to me that everything was well-marked and that it had all been adequately explained online beforehand. To be fair, I just followed the crowd through most of the morning, but still, there didn't seem to be too much confusion.

The course itself was very challenging, particularly miles 9-15. The bad part of my race came later, but it was because I spent what was left of my energy on those miles. For me, it was the rolling of the hills that burned me out.

To say that it was hard does not, by any means, imply that I think it was a bad course. Though it got a little lonely on the backstretch, the course scenery was varied and interesting. There were some lonely miles, but for the most part, there was great crowd support, and I must say, I was thoroughly satisfied with the water stops. They were ample, well-staffed, and energetic. They provided boosts when I needed them most. There were plenty of toilets to go around, too, which can really make or break an event.

Post-race, my only real complaint was that no one really told me where to go. If I hadn't run a marathon before, I might not have gone in search of a finisher's t-shirt. For my one suggestion to the Austin crew, I would advise the people handing out medals to direct the runners on what is next. Fortunately, I found my way after asking someone where they got their spiffy new t-shirt.

The medal is fantastic. I got out my old Columbus Marathon medal when I got home, and the two don't even begin to compare. The shirt is great, though I liked the half-marathon finisher's shirt better. And it really doesn't get cooler than being congratulated across the finish line by Bart Yasso, Runner's World's Chief Running Officer. That was the perfect little finisher on a wonderful event.

And it made me excited for the next one, which will be...


The Seattle Rock 'N Roll Marathon on June 25, 2011!

This is very exciting to me for a number of reasons. First, I've never been to the state of Washington, let alone Seattle, so I'll get to spend some time in a place I've never been. We've got family up there, so that will cut down on the room and board portion of the trip. Also, I've heard great things about the Rock 'N Roll Marathon series, and I have a few of them on my list of races to run, so I'll get to see how I like it.

Even more than that, I've found a new training program that I think will better prepare me for race day. It's an 18-week plan, and the race is a little over 17 weeks away, so you know what that means? Training starts Friday. Today I rested most of the day, and then we decided to walk the pup to doggie training class tonight rather than drive, so I got a 4-mile walk in (with hills) and I didn't feel like I was going to die. Tomorrow will be a bike day at the gym, just to get the muscles used to working again, and we'll see how I'm feeling come Thursday morning. Either way, I've got a five-miler on Friday to be ready for.

But wait, there's more!

I recognize that an ambitious goal is nothing without ambitious action, so I've set out a plan to do three more marathons before the year is out, two of which I will be signed up for by tomorrow. Seattle is first, and then comes the Marine Corps Marathon, which opens registration at noon (central) tomorrow. It sold out in 6 days last year, so I'm getting on it right away. This race will be approximately 18 weeks after Seattle, which gives me plenty of time to go through an entire training program again.

But here's where it really gets interesting: the fourth marathon that I want to run this year is the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which happens at the end of November. That's only 4 weeks after the Marine Corps, but I feel by then that I'll be in such great running shape that a quick turnaround will be possible. I'm going to wait a couple weeks on signing up for this one, though, just in case I find that my recovery from Austin takes longer than anticipated. I'm still learning these things.

So, there you have it. For the past, I give the Livestrong Marathon a B+. For the future, I'm coming to Seattle.

And for the present, I'm going to sleep.

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