Posts Tagged ‘SI Labs Marathon Relay’

Sunday morning marked a milestone in our preparations for New York as we started three straight weekends of racing before finishing our final two high mileage, 22-mile long run weeks and then the final 2 week taper to the New York Marathon on November 6th.

After several high mileage weeks in a row, I wanted to race a bit over the next few weeks to remind my mind, legs and cardio system what it feels like to really “race”.  That is one thing that I found lacking in my early marathon training cycles where I lost that eye of the tiger preparing for only one race after 18 weeks.  It was easy to start clicking off the miles in the marathon forgetting that you need to be pushing it a bit, finding that somewhat comfortable “uncomfortable” feeling where race-pace lives.

Today’s event was a 5-person relay covering 26.2 miles.  My teammates, all over the age of 40 were going for the Men’s Master’s Title in the event that was won last year by my good friend Scott Birk’s team.  Scott, you may recall was the runner who was killed tragically when he was struck by an automobile out on his morning run earlier this spring.

Scott’s team from Riverplace would be our main competition.  They had singlets made in Scott’s signature race-day black color, with his likeness on the front of their jerseys.  It was a beautiful tribute to Scott, and I have to admit it had me a bit misty-eyed when I saw them before the race.

Our team – called, 5 Sorta Fast Old Guys was composed of:

Brendon Cahoon – Running the 12K leg.

Joe Marruchella – Running 10K

Lee Toowey – Running 10K

Mick Swope – Running 5K

David Boone – Final 5K

If we all ran to our abilities, it looked like we would have a chance at finishing under 2 hours and 45 minutes – a pretty smoking fast Marathon Time, which goes to show you just how “elite” the professionals who can run a 2:05 marathon truly are.  Simply incredible athletes.

Pre-Race:  When we arrived on-site Mick, Lee and I who carpooled together caught up with Brendon and set up camp.  We retrieved our timing chip that we would have to pass from runner to runner at the exchange area and got ready for a quick warm-up.

Brendon and I went off for an easy run a little over a mile and chatted about one of the runners on the Riverplace team, Michael Budde.  Michael is a tremendous local runner with a marathon PR of 2:50 in his younger days.  now 44 years old, Michael is the top runner in the age group I share with Brendon, Mick, Lee and David locally.

Brendon was chatting about how he hoped to stay with Michael and keep him in contact during the race.  Brendon said to me, “you know, everyone has that one runner that you just can’t seem to stick with during a race.  The one who is just faster than you, but pushes you to try to hang with them”.

I took a few strides, looked over at Brendon and said, “Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.  I’m warming up with him ….”

It was good for a chuckle, but is 100% true.  Brendon keeps me pushing at these events, trying to close the :05 second/mile gap that he always seems to have over me no matter the distance.

When we got back to the starting area Brendon tucked into the starting chute and got ready for the Air Horn Start at 7:15 a.m.

Leg 1 – 12K:

After a short 5 minute delay as there appeared to be some issue up on the Capital of Texas grounds, the horn went off and Brendon thundered away.  Brendon was hoping to run this leg somewhere around 45:30.  It was a warm morning on Sunday, with temperatures forecast to reach 100 degrees again by the afternoon.  Fall has still not arrived in Austin, and with the 12-15 mph wind that was blowing out of the Southwest, it was going to be a tough day to post a really fast split. 

If anyone was up for it, it was Brendon.

The route took runners West through the circle on Auditorium Shores to the turnaround point and then back past the starting line where we caught a glimpse of Brendon locked into his pace.  Like clockwork, 20 meters behind and to the right of Michael Budde.

As Brendon went off to the capital I had a Gatorade and made my final porta-poty stop.  in 40 minutes or so it would be go time.


I went off for another warm-up mile and got back to the starting area for a quick sip of Gatorade 42 minutes after the race started.  I said a quick “see ya” to Mick and Lee and headed up to the start line.  At 45:30 I started to look for Brendon and a few seconds ticked past.  Just then I saw Michael Budde come over the line in his black singlet and I started to shake loose a bit.  Brendon should be behind him in just a few moments.

At the 46:20 mark I saw Brendon come into view – I ran out into the road, shot a quick two fingers in the air for Dom and took two quick hops into the air.  Brendon came across the line at the 46:30 mark, about 1 minute slower than anticipated which told me everything I needed to know about the route.

It was going to be hot.  Probably measure a bit long and the climb up Congress to the Capital was going to be punishing.  Boom goes the dynamite.

Leg 2 – 10K:

I grabbed the timing chip strap from Brendon and took off west toward the circle.  Waaaaay too fast, but I knew that was going to happen.  I have been having trouble settling into anything but 5K pace over the first half mile lately, and as I closed quickly on the runner from the Riverplace team, I knew I had done it again.

The first half-mile split came in 2:52, much faster than the 3:05 I was hoping for.  I slowed coming out of the turnaround and fell into a much more steady pace.  Just lock in here I thought and keep it steady.

Unlike a lot of short race courses, this route had a lot of technical aspects to it.  Two cone turnarounds, a long climb up Congress Avenue which would be close to 100 feet of “ups” in just under a mile, and a long rolling hill section over mile 5, when a 10K runner’s legs start to leave them.

I hit the end of the first mile with a time of 5:57.  I had made a correction, but was still a bit too quick at this point.  Going to pay for that later I thought. 

As I made the turn up toward the Capital which loomed large up on the hill I stayed steady and my next half-mile split was spot on at 3:07.  The hill got steeper as we approached the Capital grounds and I knew I would be giving back perhaps :10 or :12 seconds over this section.

3:16, 3:15 to the top, climbing a little over 82 feet.  Solid, now it was time to try to get back on pace.

The next three and a half miles would start with a run down Congress.  I decided to play this a little bit conservative as the temperature was in the upper 70’s and I would need to save a little bit for the return trip up Cesar Chavez to the 1st Street Bridge.

3:08, 3:08 – back to back identical splits as I took a splash of water at the aid station and tried to keep steady. 

3:11, 3:11 – again smooth turnover and identical spits, but I was starting to lose a little steam as we reached the final turnaround.

Just 1 1/2 miles left before the final .20 mile kick to the finish.  I grabbed another splash of water and followed the center line of the course back towards the 1st Street bridge.  I thought about last year’s Run for the Water 10-Mile race that features the same route to the finish line and let my mind wander back 11 months before.  A much cooler day where I ran a fast 1:03:57 on the 10-mile course.

3:08, 3:11, 3:12 were my final 1/2 miles as I hit the middle of the bridge, crested the last hill and started to push to the finish.

I had be measuring the course a bit long throughout the race and it proved to hold true as I made the final turn off of the bridge and headed back to the transition area.  I hit the 6.2 mile mark about 100 yards from the finish line and ended up with a distance of 6.28 miles.

Final Time for my leg:  39:23 – 6:17 pace.  I was hoping to run 6:15 and fell just :02 seconds/mile short. 

All things considered after a tough week last week and a 22 miler on Sunday, hot weather and a hilly course, I’ll take it.  that same effort should bode well at the IBM uptown Classic if the weather cools off a bit before next weekend’s race.

Leg 3 – 10K:

Lee posted a 10K time of just over 40:00 minutes.

Leg 4 – 5K:

Mick ran a tough 5K leg that measured long at 3.25 miles in just a hair over 20 minutes.

Leg 5 – 5K:

David took the timing chip for the final leg and he too finished just over 20 minutes.


Our team time of 2:46:55 was good enough for 1st place in the Men’s Masters Division as we were able to edge out the Riverplace team who finished second with a time of 3:02 and change.

On a hot, steamy, windy Sunday 5 sorta fast old guys ran a full marathon at just under 6:24 min./mile pace – not too shabby.

The best part of the day was honestly spending some time with some good friends and making a difference along with the other 2,500 competitors for the races charity – Junior Achievement.  The real winners of the day.

I’d be lying though if I didn’t admit that winning was pretty darn satisfying.  If we want to defend our title next year, we better hit the training hard.  I think our showing up and taking down the team from Riverplace was akin to poking a sleeping tiger with a stick.

We better run faster of get a bigger stick next year.

Mick, Brendon, Lee and David – thanks for leaving it all out there today.  You guys are the greatest.

One down, two to go on the road to New York.

After yesterday’s 22-mile long run which wrapped up the endurance building portion of the NYC Marathon Training Cycle we are moving on to a three-week stretch of racing each Sunday to put some speedwork back into the schedule.

September 25 – Silicon Labs Austin Marathon Relay

October 2 – IBM Uptown Classic 10K

October 9 – Denver Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon

Three straight race weekends and then two final 20+ mile long runs will take us to a two-week taper for NYC.  I am reducing the taper by one week for New York, feeling that adding a 5th 20 mile long run just two weeks out from the starting line on Staten Island will help us close strong over the final miles in Central Park.

Adding races to my marathon preparation is something that I did for the first time last year competing in the Austin Distance Challenge.  The Distance Challenge was a 5-race event featuring one 10K race (IBM), one 10 Mile Race (Run for the Water), two Half-Marathons (Decker & 3M) and finally the Austin Marathon on February 20th.

I felt like the miles run at race pace really paid dividends during my training cycle as it is so hard to run at “race pace” alone in the morning through a training run.  It takes the spectacle of race day, other runners and pinning a bib on to your shorts or singlet to get that race day mojo going and drop pace that final :10-:15 seconds per mile that make the difference between “running” and “racing”.

Each event will test my readiness in a different way, racing this coming weekend on somewhat tired legs without the benefits of a taper.

Then on to the IBM Uptown Classic where I hope to rebound and make a run at my 10K PR of 38:06 set last October.

Finally the Denver Half-Marathon, run at elevation, which should tell the tale of the tape regarding my ability to punch through the 3:00:00 mark in New York.  1:24-1:25 in Denver means we’ve got a shot.  Anything over 1:25:30 – even at elevation, and it will be tough for me to even decide to go for it on race day. 

Amazing in a footrace of 13.1 miles how much :30 will mean.

But this weekend’s race is an opportunity to shake loose some of the cobwebs from our race legs and have a great time racing with friends.

The SI Labs Austin Marathon Relay is a 5-person relay event covering 26.2 miles in Downtown Austin.  Each runner on the team is responsible for handling their leg of the course, which is divided into a 12K opening leg, two 10K legs and two 5K legs.

Our team comprised of Brendon, Mick, Lee, David and yours truly are running in the Men’s Masters Division – as all of the runners on our team are over the age of 40.  We are running under the moniker – 5 Sorta Fast Old Guys or 5 S.F.O.G.

Last year’s Men’s Masters winning entry ran a time of 2 hours and 45 minutes.  On that team was my good friend Scott Birk, who you may remember passed away on June 13th of this year after being struck by an automobile during a morning training run here in Austin.  The post about Scott’s accident can be found by clicking HERE.

On Sunday, on my left race flat I have Scott’s initials and date of his accident.  On my right instep are Dom’s initials and the date he passed away in August of last year.  With the team we have put together we should be able to throw down a time in the 2:42:00 – 2:43:00 range – which we are hopping will be fast enough to earn us some race day hardware.

I will be running the second leg of the event, the first 10K taking the timing chip from Brendon who is leading things off for us, and handing it over to Lee for the third leg.  Mick and David will run all out over the final two 5K legs and bring home the bacon so to speak.

It is going to be a lot of fun to race with some good friends, and kick off this mini-race season of ours before things turn very serious over the final few weeks leading up to New York City.

As for Boston – we registered for the race just a few minutes ago.  The final spots will be awarded based on how far under the qualifying time a runner ran their qualifying race.  Today’s registration date is for all runners who beat their time by less than 5 minutes, giving out spots from fastest to slowest.

Our qualifying time was 4:59 below our standard, meaning we are at the front of the line for Bibs, only competing with those who ran an identical time as ours.  It looks like we’re in for Boston in April.

Lookout Hopkinton.  A VERY different marathoner will be there on April 16, 2012 than the one you casually threw aside on April 19, 2010.  I look forward to putting a size 9 Adidas Adizero Aegis squarely up your ass.