Another Zone Experience

I wish I could express what it is like to be in the marathon zone. Whenever it happens, it makes all marathoning so worth while.

I don\’t have a family, so I\’m happy that I got to spend Thanksgiving running marathons with my marathon family. It is so cool to see a small crowd of marathoners get together for multiple days of races. Some of these people are Texans and I see them at Texas marathons; but some are from out of town and I see them when I go out of town. Angela, Clyde, Robert, Ila, Maggie, Kevin, the guy from Mumbai…

I ran 2 marathons. The first day, I played it safe as usual. I set my Garmin for 3×2; then easy jogged for 3 minutes and fast walked for 2 minutes. I finished day 1 in good shape in 5:42 (not counting pit stops). Then chilled in my hotel room.

Day 2, I felt good. I was surprised that my big toes seemed pain free. The usual blisters were not there. At the start I took off running easy. No walk breaks for 8.7 miles at 11:20/mile pace. Then my head did some math and figured that even if I did the 3x2s, I\’d only lose about 3 minutes per lap so I might as well take the walk breaks.

But as soon as I started the walk breaks, my running speed took a quantum leap. I mean, I was flying whenever I was running. I became free. I thought, \”well I don\’t have to do another marathon tomorrow so I might as well let my body go.\” And I did. I began to run just for the pleasure of running. I had one line of a Christmas tune going in my head. Otherwise, I had no presence of mind. I was sheer movement without ego. Man, I loved it. Even with the walk breaks, I still managed an average pace of 11:20/mile. I finished in 5:05 (including pit stops).

What was also cool is I somehow got it in my mind as I came in sight of the course clock, that I could beat 5:05. I actually sprinted the last 0.2 of a mile or so. I haven\’t sprinted in a long time. I haven\’t just ran full out in forever. It felt awesome to just let go and go. Are 57 almost 58 year olds allowed to do that? For no reason! I mean, there were no awards for this and I wasn\’t passing anyone. It was only for myself.

I\’m pleased to say that nothing got injured either. I\’m going to run tomorrow. I\’m going to consider running fast in my next marathon in 3 weeks.

It About the Buckle

Racing season in Texas is winter for everyone else. Summer is just too hot, day and night, for racing. Any racing I do in the summer is in some other state. Racing season lasts until April or May; though May races have to start at 5 am.

This weekend I did my first 2 races of this year\’s racing season. Long ago, I had a discount to do the Jackalope Jam, a timed race. I signed up for 24 hours hoping to do 100k and get a belt buckle. In the mean time, the Houston running festival in December is offering attractive Texas themed buckles for the marathon. In 2014, I traveled to Calgary hoping to get a buckle. But it was their 50th anniversary and gave out huge bronze buckles which are not able to be worn on a daily basis. Rats! Last year, I went in the Fort Worth marathon to get a marathon buckle. But, while pretty on the front, the working part on the back was dis-functional, so it couldn\’t be worn as a buckle. Rats!

I have 3 honestly earned race buckles. But I wanted another.

A few months ago, I realized that the Jackalope Jam was the same weekend as this year\’s Fort Worth marathon. So if I failed at Jackalope, I couldn\’t turn around and go to Fort Worth. However, I could just do a marathon at Jackalope and also go to Fort Worth. I also realized I didn\’t want to hurt as bad as 61 miles would hurt. However, I have done several multi-day marathons this year. I really enjoyed the Fort Worth marathon last year and didn\’t enjoy the Jackalope at all.

So, I opted to do the double marathon and get my buckle from Fort Worth.

Yes, it is all about the buckle:

And what a pretty buckle that is. So worth it. I love it.

For this weekend, I had a secret performance goal: how quickly could I do 2 marathons. See, the Jackalope had a 6 hour time limit and we had to do 27 laps to get a 26.2 medal. So I put a little pressure on myself to get done in time, including pit stops. Fort Worth is the better course for running fast but it was on day 2. I finished Jackalope with 27.8 miles (according to my Garmin) in 5:37 using 4x1s. That is outstanding considering I did have to hold back for day 2; and it was hot after the first 3 hours. For Fort Worth, I decided to set my Garmin for 3x2s. I wasn\’t in any hurry and wanted a low impact day. I took the early start to get more time in the cool morning and to relax on finishing time limit. But still, I finished the race in 5:35. It must be that whenever I was running, I was moving well.

My friend Angela, who was at Fort Worth, said I was looking strong.

I realize I like going fast. I\’m not sure how much fast my legs can stand. And I\’ve decided that I\’ll get to 100 marathons in this life, but no need to hurry. I\’ve adjusted my racing season accordingly. I have another double marathon over Thanksgiving, but that is mainly to enjoy a group of people I know will be there. But for December, I decided not to do a double and instead, run fast at Houston Running festival. I did really well at that race last year and want to try again. And in February, I\’ll do a fast half marathon instead of a slow full.