Boston Marathon Registration: OK for me, clusterf*** for some

October 21, 2010

Although I had it marked in my calendar that registration for the 2011 Boston Marathon was opening on Monday, I didn’t make a big deal about it and get up at six am to register. In fact, I forgot all about it until after I got to work. Around nine, I saw a Facebook link reminding me to go register. I followed the link to the page, entered my information — it was pretty easy — hit “yes” on two more pages of waiver-type stuff, then clicked the final “submit” button. I immediately had some little finger spasm and clicked it again. The two clicks were less than a second apart.

This made the site unhappy, I guess, because I started getting error messages. I tried hitting the back button and resubmitting the forms,  but it wasn’t going well. After about 30 seconds of this, though, I got the email that said my entry had been received and gave me my all-important Submission ID Number for use should anything go wrong.

So, I was registered. The only problem I had experienced seemed to be self-inflicted. I was impressed how smoothly the registration web site had worked.

My case was unusual.

Everybody who did get up at six, it seems, got stuck in registration hell. They’d enter all their info, press the button to go to the next page, and immediately be staring at the same form, blank again. People were having to try ten, twenty, or thirty times before the overloaded site worked. Many people tried for a long while, then gave up to go to work, planning on trying again when they got home. After all, last year Boston took about six weeks to fill up. Shouldn’t have been a problem.

A few hours later, apparently (and just shortly before I registered), the marathon web site was modified. The entire site was now dedicated solely to the registration pages. More confusingly,  but there were now two different URLs to get to the registration site. Although they both led to identical-looking pages, one URL worked well, and one still failed most of the time. I fortunately found myself at the “good” URL. Facebook pages and running forums also started to point people to the working site.

With the crowds now able to register quickly, the 2011 Boston Marathon filled up in eight hours and three minutes. By the time the unlucky people without web access at work got home for the evening, it was too late.

Online, there are a lot of angry people. I can’t blame them. There’s also a lot of speculation about what kind of changes the B.A.A. might make to try to avoid this in the future. Many people think they may tighten the qualifying standards.




Shuffling along

October 11, 2010

Since I’m nursing two injuries now (left knee and right foot), I ratcheted down the planned miles for the week, ran only four days, and only did ten on Saturday. I ran the old, familiar Sellwood Bridge to Steel Bridge loop along both sides of the Willamette. I’ve probably run that route thirty times, but its charms still hold up — it’s a flat, traffic-free 10.3 miles with at least eight different urban river landscapes along the way.

I recently read a Runner’s World article about a study showing reduced injuries when running with a shorter stride and faster cadence. I’ve always known that 180 steps per second minute was supposed to be good for speed. I’ve also done faster, shuffling-type runs in the past while dealing with runner’s knee, with some success. I decided to try it again on Saturday.

I quote from the interview section of the article:

When the runners in your study increased their stride rate by 10 percent, they reported a higher perceived exertion. That’s not a good thing for someone who wants to run fast.

That’s right. But we think this is probably the neuromuscular cost of adapting to a new running form. We believe it would fade away after two to three weeks of practicing the new form. It’s easy to learn a faster stride with a metronome, but all our runners tell us it feels “goofy.” It’s a subtle difference that actually feels quite big at first–it feels short and choppy. We put them on a treadmill and video them to show them that they aren’t running goofy at all. And when they see these videos, they agree that they’re running in a normal way. Just with a faster stride.

I believe this is all quite correct. I managed to run 10 miles at around a 7:40 pace using a fast stride. This was the same as my pace during the Eugene marathon. I found it to be a difficult effort, one which I was unsure I was going to complete without slowing down. In the end, though, the difficult-feeling pace turned out to be a sustainable one. I also agree that it feels “goofy.” It felt at times like I was putting one foot down barely past the other. But when I glanced at myself reflected in a building’s windows, I did appear to be covering ground normally.

I feel like both injuries have been recovering well. I think it has helped that I have stopped trying to stretch and massage my legs like crazy during the day. This is my default response to injury — hey, you want to be doing something — and I tentatively think it is harmful. At least, done to excess, which seems to be the only way I know how to do it. For now, I think I will let my regular runs serve for any needed stretching, and leave well enough alone.

The last sandwich before starting a diet is really the key to the whole diet, right?

October 7, 2010

After we got back from our anniversary trip, I could kind of sense that I’d been letting myself go. It wasn’t just during the four-day trip either. No, I’d been snacking a lot and eating a lot of desserts for quite a while. I told myself I would get on the scale the next day and start eating carefully again. But first, I had one more ludicrous meal to get in.

There it is. I don’t usually take pictures of my food in restaurants, but this was ridiculous. This is a triple-decker sandwich from Kenny and Zuke’s. Made with corned beef, tongue, and egg salad. (On rye, of course.) It was bigger than my head. I finished it all except for a bit of egg salad and bread. It was delicious. I know, I know, you think tongue is gross.

The next morning, judgement day, I got on the scale. 158 pounds. 150 was my race weight for Eugene. I guess in the grand scale of things, putting on eight pounds was not that big a deal, but I was still disappointed. I started eating more carefully again. The first two days were easy.

Maybe a lot of the added poundage from that first weigh-in was water, or just that sandwich making it through my gut, because two days later my scale was telling me I was around 153. This was pretty confusing. I know my scale isn’t accurate, but that was a big enough swing that something real must have happened in there. Anyway, I stuck with the dieting, which (of course) has gotten harder and harder as the days have gone by. I’m eleven or twelve days into it now and frequently find myself with cravings to eat a bag of chips, a loaf of bread, a block of cheese, or a sandwich as big as my head. My delightful coworkers have managed to leave cake or donuts on the break-room table almost every day, as well. So far I’ve had the will-power to stay away from that. I did have most of a bag of Trader Joe’s Lite Popcorn the other day. And a few too many desserts at a party Saturday night. And a brownie and ice cream on Sunday. Hm. I’m a terrible dieter.

This and that

October 4, 2010

Saturday I ran 13 miles on Wildwood, from the NW 53rd Drive trailhead, south for about seven and north for about six. Actually, that’s a fib, since I also explored some other Forest Park trails, instead of just sticking to Wildwood. At the end of the southbound leg, I ran up Holman lane and back to 53rd. That is a pretty steep trail there. Then, near the top of Holman, I took a little unofficial trail that eventually ended up dumping me back on Wildwood a bit short of milepost seven. On the northbound loop, I took the Nature Trail and a little of Firelane One on the way back.

I feel like I am slowly building strength and endurance back up, and I am not too worried about my knee. However. My right foot has been hurting a bit. The heel hurts sometimes when I walk on it. Especially in the morning. Say it with me, everyone: “plantar fasciitis.” Again. Yeah, crap.