Posted by: hagengreen | September 11, 2011

The whirl of summer

Guess who’s still around? It sure has been a while! It’s easy to ignore writing longer pieces when there’s so many other outlets such as Twitter to express short but immediate thoughts or information. Add spring, summer, and a crazy period of work, and the blog is too easy to let go. I miss it, so I’m back to entertain, educate, and just do something I really enjoy.

Let’s get work out of the way. I got involved in an experimental project in a small team. We were very much like a startup – moving fast, changing direction when necessary, selling our ideas to others, and staying on a true course until the end. Even when others fell off, I still believed. I kept it going and stood up for what was right, but eventually it gave way. It didn’t work out for the company, for the product, or for my career. But it will come back. When it we ship it one day I’ll let you know and you’ll understand.

Now that’s over, I’ve had a chance to really enjoy what the last several weeks of 80+ degree weather has to offer. All the while I have also been executing on a plan for a major goal this year – the Chicago Marathon. Running marathons is nothing new to me – I’ve done Boston, Portland, Seattle, CdA ironman, several halfs (Wildflower back in April this year), and countless other races. While I’ve had good success with my running career, I never felt like I left everything on a single course. I never gave my best performance. On top of that, my grandfather has been a tremendous inspiration to my athletic aspirations. My goal for Chicago: to leave it all out there and walk away with a time I can be proud to challenge my children and grandchildren with someday. While I keep (somehow) getting faster with age, the time is looming where age will win over my motivation to eek out seconds, save minutes, from my race times. So Chicago – a relatively flat and fast course – is my way to solidify a Green family record in the books.

I’ve been sticking to a fairly rigorous training schedule. I won’t bore you with the details here, but my approach is quite different from other marathons I’ve trained for. The major objectives of my regimen include high mileage, fast intervals mid/later in the mileage, and practicing race-day nutrition on every run over 10 miles. This time around, I’ve found another gear – as I like to say. I’m running casually at 7 min/mile pace. My fastest mile intervals hover just below 4:30 min/mile. Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m cautiously optimistic I will be well prepared for race day without overtraining. A trick that’s worked for me in the past is dramatic reduction in mileage the week before the race while keeping a few short, but fast, key workouts in place.

No matter how hard I train for Chicago, it’ll be a fruitless effort if I start behind 45,000 people. It would be very difficult, not to mention unsafe, to pass thousands of runners. In fact, I believe it takes over 30 minutes for the last runner to cross the start line! My goal is to run Chicago in 2:40 or faster. If I plan on succeeding I’ll need to be towards the front. Chicago, as most marathon majors, accept qualifying times for seeding in corrals. There’s an Elite corral that requires a 2:30 full or 1:10 half marathon time. Wowzers. Corral A is next in line, with times of 1:25 and 3:10. I tried to get into Corral A with my run time from the Wildflower half ironman in April. I didn’t train much for Wildflower, but my run time was respectable for a half ironman with an off road hilly course at 1:31. Here’s my letter to the Chicago marathon organizers pleading for a Corral A but without a Corral A time.

Hi there,

I’m looking to seed myself in Corral A or B for Men’s. Unfortunately I do not have a pure marathon or half-marathon to hand you right now, but my most recent race result was the Wildflower Triathlon – a half Ironman distance – from April 2011. (The Wildflower is an early season race and known for its brutal bike and run courses.) My run time at Wildflower for the half marathon was 1:31 – the result page link is below. I’d like to ask if this can be accepted for me to be seeded in Corral A if possible. I am targeting a sub 2:40 finish time for this year in Chicago. I am going to try to fit a race in before the August 19th cutoff, but I’m concerned I may not be able to find an appropriate race in time.

If you need additional evidence, I did the Boston back in 2007 with a finish time of 2:47: green.

Please let me know if these results are enough evidence for consideration for Corral A.

Thank you, and looking forward to a great race.

Yes, it was a plea and I knew it likely wouldn’t fly. I had a race up my sleeve – the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon – but really didn’t want to pay $100 for a 13.1 mile race on public roads. Call me a cheapo, but running has become a prohibitively expensive sport! (Alright, that’s about $7.63 per mile or around 0.15 cents per foot.) My Wildflower results landed me in Corral B. That means I could be behind 4500 people. No thank you. So I followed through with my plan and ran the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon. It’s a moderately rolling course with a  very scenic bridge crossing around mile 3, and a fast downhill for the last couple miles. It’s also sponsored by Michelob Ultra – and since I want to be like Lance it was a no brainer. Much to my dismay there was no beer at any of the rest stops.

I dropped Jaime off at the airport on Friday late afternoon and then made my way down to the Tacoma Narrows airport which serves as the starting line for the race. I kept things simple and just slept in the car near the start line. It was nice to wake up early and just jog over to the race. The start line was adjacent to a hangar which was used for registration and bib handouts. There were small prop planes all around which I’m sure metaphorically helped everyone out there run faster that day.

A couple minutes before the race started, I got in the chute towards the front. I was amongst a couple Kenyans and other serious looking collegiate runners. I felt a little bit out of place. I knew they weren’t messing around. Just to be sure I was in the right place, I chatted a few of them up and even asked what pace they were expecting to hold. When the gun went off so did the Kenyans. But I was right in their wake. They were in sight until around mile 4. The collegiate guys were right in front of me. We were doing a 5:50 pace for several miles. Near mile 3, I reminded myself why I was running this race and what my goals were. I was there to get into Corral A – meaning a 1:20 or faster. If I kept up a 5:50 min/mile pace, I may cramp or slow down towards the end and end up missing the 1:20 cutoff! I felt pretty good, so I kept the 5:50 pace and was very careful on the nutrition front. I also kept a positive attitude and remembered to just have fun. I set my GPS watch to tick the lap counter every mile. I think I surprised myself with consistent sub-6’s mile after mile. I felt great for the last 3 miles as I hit a consistent 5:30 min/mile pace. I negative split more than expected and felt like I could keep going strong as I made my way into the finish line.

As I came into the finish area there was nobody anywhere in front of me and nobody behind me. If you look at the finishing times, I was 2 minutes behind the previous finisher and 3+ minutes in front of the person to finish after me. I must admit I’ve never felt like a celebrity runner, but I’d like to think this was carved out to be my moment.

I came in 6th place out of 826 runners; 2nd in my age group. My best race to date.

I must say the event was very well run and there were some great people I met and talked to. I can see doing the race again next year because it was such a great scene. Props to the race organizers for making this a memorable, safe, and well executed event.


Onward to Chicago! Less than one month to go!



  1. Nice work, that’s some serious speed 🙂

    • Thanks man! Just having fun. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: