All posts by Philip Krooswyk

holiday half medal

Foot Traffic Holiday Half 2014 Race Report

From the start, I knew this race wasn’t going to go my way. My wife and I had signed up a couple months prior. She was going to do the 10k and I was running the half. We traveled to Chicago a week prior and on return, we were both miserably ill. I was finally getting over my illness that morning, but she wasn’t recovered enough to participate. I felt bad leaving her in bed, but I was still excited to run in the brisk morning air.

I got to the parking lot much later than anticipated. I had purchased a shuttle bus ticket to get to the starting line. Apparently, so did everyone else. There was actually a fender-bender where a carload of runners had rear-ended another carload of runners while waiting to get into the parking lot. Things were not off to an awesome start.

Eventually, I made it to the parking lot, made my way onto a bus and arrived at the starting line. Three minutes later, the gun was going off. By some miracle, I had managed to work my way up to approximately the front 40% of the runners. I assumed I was in a good position as per my expected pace. I was totally wrong.

First off, people were crossing the starting line all over the road. Many of them were missing the timers on the ground. I’m not sure how the officials didn’t manage to clarify this for all the runners, but it was a chaotic start as people were turning around and trying to go back to the start to get an official time. Shortly, I realized the misery of a mass exodus race start. Within the first 1/8 of a mile, people were walking. Five and ten-wide, sometimes. Those of us looking to actually run this thing fanned out to cover all available space. Some of us were on sidewalks. We had to dodge cars that were parked on the streets. Every corner was risky.

Running around the third corner, a man next to me caught his foot on the edge of the curb and wiped out. I tried to help him up and hand him the iPod he had dropped, but I was bumped along by the mass of runners trying to escape the bedlam. I was at mile 4 by the time I broke free of the herd and was able to settle into my own pace. Unfortunately, I wasted a lot of energy just dodging people and I never fully recovered.

Other than the volunteers and the unique medal, I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this race. In the future, I’ll try to avoid races that don’t have wave starts. It turned out to be a sunny and warm day for mid-December. I know a lot of people were just there to have a fun run. I don’t blame them for that and I’m glad some people seemed to have fun.

By the time I finished the race, I just wanted to go home. I didn’t stick around for any of the post-race festivities. I was also disappointed in my final time of 1:57:12 at 8:56/mile pace. The medal, though. I admit, that is a great medal.

Vancouver Half Medal

Vancouver Rock & Roll Half Marathon 2014

I dragged my wife and two friends up to Vancouver, BC to run the inaugural RnR Half Marathon a while back. The race was run on October 26. After a week of miserable spitting rain and bitterly cold weather, the sun came out for the race and seriously bolstered our moods. My wife ran the 10k and the rest of us lined up for the half.

I was unsure of what to expect from this race. Reports of previous RnR events were mixed at best. Some people loved the party atmosphere while others despised it. I wasn’t really looking to blaze the track, but I was eager to tour Vancouver. I had never been there and I hold that there is no better way to see a new city than to run it. In the days leading up to the race, I had run several routes around Stanley Park and in the city. The only feature I was concerned about was the hills. Vancouver is far from a flat town, but I think that’s part of the fun.

Before the race started, I huddled with a large group of runners warming up at the Starbucks by the starting line. I bought a large coffee just to have something warm to wrap my hands around. I didn’t drink a single sip of it and dumped it in a coffee bucket just before the start of the race. According to the volunteer nearby, that’s what the bucket was there for. Apparently purchasing warm beverages and then discarding them is a frequent occurrence at these frigid early morning events.

I went out fast in this race. I started next to a pacer, but didn’t look at the sign he was holding until well into the race. At mile 7, the pacer finally started to pull away from me and I realized I had been moving at a 1:50 pace, which is well faster than my expected time of a flat 2 hours. Throughout the race, I felt an ebb and flow. When the sun was shining through the clouds and the landscape was especially beautiful or interesting, I sped up. When I was running through parking lots or under highways, I slowed. I didn’t notice this fact until after the race when I reviewed my GPS results.

The crowd was great the entire time. Many cheering folks with cowbells in hand made even the most remote areas of the race feel welcoming and encouraging. Perhaps my favorite moment came around mile 11.5 when I was starting to fade. A wild man dressed like a deranged yellow superhero with a cape came rushing past me. He was holding a little stuffed monkey up and talking to everyone he passed. When he reached me, he held up the animal and said in a high-pitched cartoonish voice, “Hey, I hear there’s gonna be bananas at the finish line!” Maniacal. I was happily distracted for a short while watching him say random things to the others he passed.

The last mile of the race outlines Stanley Park and the water. It’s a beautiful place to run. The home stretch was teeming with cheering people. Vancouverites were out in force and their support was greatly appreciated. I pushed my pace for the last mile and wound up finishing at 1:55:26, with a pace of 8:49/mile. It wasn’t my best half marathon effort, but I was quite happy with it. After the race, I found my wife and enjoyed the post-race activities. Our friends had started in another wave and shortly they joined us for a photo.

Vancouver Rock and Roll Half

Cabs were scarce, so we wound up walking back to the hotel. There were dozens of people looking for taxis. If you do this race, plan ahead to have a gear bag with warm clothes or some arrangement for transportation. I was freezing after the race and the walk did nothing to keep me warm. I made the mistake of showing up in shorts and a t-shirt and didn’t bring anything to keep me warm after the race.

All in all, this was a great event. It was a fun way to see the city and I enjoyed the music along the way. The other runners were all very friendly and I’m excited to see more of Vancouver and Canada at large. I wouldn’t rule out running a marathon here in the future. Also, I highly recommend checking out Lynn Canyon Park and the beautiful suspension bridge and creek there.

Lynn Canyon

Portland Marathon Finish Line 2014

Portland Marathon Race Report

I’ve been meaning to write up a race report for the Portland Marathon for a while now. This was my first marathon. I ran it on October 5, 2014. It was the hottest Portland Marathon on record. I came in with the hope of finishing in 4:20:00 or less. I wound up finishing the race in 4:12:34 with a pace of 9:37/mile.

The entire event was a great experience. The signup, expo, and organization were all top notch. At no point was I confused about where to go or what to do. My wife was able to meet me at my starting corral before the race for last minute nutrition and clothing discards. I was nervous as I approached the starting line, but I settled myself down with the mental reminder that I was about to enjoy four solid hours of running. I get excited for a nice, long run. I can’t be the only one, right?

One of the early highlights for me was running through Chinatown. The drummers and dragons put on a great display and the sights and sounds charged me up. I felt like I was cruising and not crowded at all in the first mile or two. In fact, my only problem was my attire. I had lost a considerable amount of weight during my marathon training and my shorts were much too baggy. I took 10 Gu gels with me and it took all of 100 feet for me to realize that my pockets weren’t going to support my nutrition. I wound up holding several of the gels in each hand for much of the race. I have since purchased new shorts.

My proudest, if not smartest, achievement of the race is that I never walked. The lead up to the St. John’s Bridge around mile 15 is a tough hill and nearly everyone else was walking it. I probably should have saved the energy, but I made an agreement with myself before the race to run the entire thing. Part of me feels that walking at least part of that hill briskly could have saved me from the wall I hit a few miles later. By mile 18, I was struggling and my pace was falling off with each minute. Despite the wonderful cheer squads and Widmer Bros. beer crew pushing me on, I was fading fast. The sun was beating down by this time and I found myself bouncing from one side of the street to the other, trying to find shady spots on the road. In the end, I wandered around so much and took so many corners poorly, I ran a half mile more than the expected 26.2. Lesson learned. Run straight and watch those tangents on the corners.

With each of the last few turns coming back through downtown, I expected to see the finish line. I had my heart broken again and again. By the time I finally saw the finish line, I didn’t have the energy for a big final push and I stammered across the finish line exhausted, but elated.

My wife and friends kept tabs on me throughout the race and met me at the finish line. I used Nike+ during the race to track my progress. I also paired Nike+ with Facebook so my friends and family could cheer me on during the race. Nike+ doesn’t always get rave reviews, but I appreciated the cheering feature very much as the surprise crowd noise and cowbells got me through some dark moments. I used my wife’s photos and videos to put together a video of the event below. All things considered, I’m thrilled with this race and highly recommend the Portland Marathon to first timers and veterans alike.