Monthly Archives: November 2013

what’s a wattle anyway?

For the past two years, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving morning with just under a hundred good friends running a marathon in Seattle.  This is the Wattle Waddle brought to us by Betsy Rogers and Matt Hagen.  It’s the kickoff event in the Seattle Quadzilla for those inclined to run four of these in four days.’’

I didn’t have a real goal for today, other than to try to finish in under four hours.  I’d had some ongoing foot and leg pain so I didn’t want to push things too much.  This being a small informal event, it’s mostly about the camaraderie out there.


gasworks park – photo by russ comer

Because it was such a low key race, I enjoyed a nice, quiet drive through the fog over to Gasworks Park in Seattle.  On the way, I reflected on the delicious (but not nutritious) potato latkes my father had made the night before.  I’d definitely carb’d up.


at the start – photo by russ comer

I rolled up to the start about 40 minutes before the start, and had time to collect my bib (and commemorative arm warmers), find my happy place, and settled in for the course briefing by Matt.  The course was pretty simply (out-back two directions on the Burke Gilman Trail) – and started/ended with a jaunt up a hill in the park.


runners off – that’s not a bandit wearing the jacket, that’s our race director Matt, attending to some last minute details. – photo by russ comer

The trick was that apparently at the end we would need to remember to bend down and pick up a ticket at the top of the hill, which was redeemable for a medal.  This requires a bit of bloodflow to the brain, which can be a challenge after running just under 26 miles, but I’d try my best.


top of the hill, during the first mile – photo by russ comer

We set out and 8am sharp, and settled into a steady pace heading north.  By the clock my pace was okay – between 8:30-8:50 for the first eight.  I ran a bit with my friend Rikki, but mostly ran solo as we headed to the turnaround near mile 11.

By now my legs felt a bit creaky, and my feet were bothering me.  This was mostly nagging neuroma pain that I’ve had for several years.  When it flared up, each footstrike would feel like electric shocks to the ball of my foot.  Gritting teeth, I’d press on, and typically it would go away in a few minutes.

Another odd issue was that my heart rate trended high, particularly in the middle miles.  Usually I’m down around 140 on a run like this.  But today my monitor was telling me that I was regularly above 170, although I definitely didn’t feel like that.  My respiration was fine – nice and steady.  I usually see rates like that during a speed workout (this was not).  Because I felt fine (not dizzy, not tired, I kept to just under 9 min/mile heading towards mile 15.

By now my mind was getting pretty restless.  I was counting down to the finish, which breaks one of my rules.  This makes the miles drag on, and decimates the spirit. 

Right about now I caught up with Rikki again, running along with another friend Brian.  I didn’t feel up to talking, but hung with them for a few miles enjoying the conversation.  One of my favorite parts of marathoning is that when we’re out there for several hours, there’s time to talk.  These conversations are about all kinds of things – family, dreams, faith.  It’s often quite wonderful, genuine stuff.  Although I didn’t participate this time, it had the effect of settling me down a bit.


later miles – photo by michael shoe

About this time I passed Gasworks on my way out towards Ballard.  My legs and whole body felt like I’d run over 20 miles.  Which I had.  One thing made me keep at it.  I’d done some mental math and noticed that if I slowed down I’d not finish in under four hours.  reached the turnaround, and plodded along for the final 2.5 miles.

On that out and back stretch, I worked to focus on my form and turnover, and think less about counting down to the finish.  A couple of times I had the urge to walk a bit, but knew that would dash the sub-4 goal.

And then suddenly, I came around a corner, and saw the entrance to the park – almost there.  I made the trip up the hill, picked up my ticket, and crossed the finish in just under 3:55.


race director Betsy Rogers and I sporting matching hats from the 2012 event – photo by Steve Walters

This being the kickoff event for the 2013 Quadzilla, there was a fair bit of buzz about the upcoming events, and some milestones folks were going to hit this weekend.  My friend Laura was going for her first Quadzilla.  Monte was on his way to hitting the Maniac Hall of Fame criteria.  Steve was aiming to complete marathon #200, and half #100 this weekend.  My goal this weekend was simply to round out another year of twelve marathons and ultras.

Today was not my best effort, but wasn’t a bad day’s run.  I hung out at the finish for a few, and then headed home for some dinner. 

charts and graphs for running geeks

Overall, my splits were pretty steady.  Steadily slower as the race went on that is.  I had about a five minute positive split, with the cumulative average pace trending up about 13 seconds from the first to second half.  Seems I need to focus on what the right early pace is – maybe slow to an even nine-minute pace, and then try to pick things up.  This could also reflect that I’m not sleeping or eating well enough.


The heart rate data is a bit interesting.  The overall trend is up, but the max HR I was experiencing looks odd.  I didn’t feel like I was pegging above 170 or 180.  However I remember watching the numbers on the receiver staying up there for minutes at a time.  That’s typically what I see when doing speedwork.