Credit for photos: Alan Whalen
Once again, the Eugene / Team Endorpheinds contingent would be well represented on the accurately promoted "Fastest Course in the West," prompting Rage to deem it the "Scandia of Marathons" which anyone from Eugene would know means one thing: On a good day, this bad boy can produce some awful fast times, inducing some serious salivation for anyone who shows up here ready to run, as in the likes of Mssrs. Tod Harris, Gordon Cully, Kyle Gee, Al Whalen, K.C. Taylor, Mark Kalen and The Rage.
On this particular day, the conditions were perfect, set up by virtually no wind, cool temperatures and a crystal blue sky made the generous first half stretch down Fair Oaks Blvd seem like a bob sled course. While three-metal is never a bad play off the tee, as in the case of the stormy 2001 CIM, on this day and on this course you could sense the Team Endorpheinds group fully intended to let the big dog eat today. And as we all left the starting line, we weren't alone. The garbage bags seemed to be defiantly torn off the runners in mid-stride earlier than most years…sort of like head covers angrily being yanked off the driver, despite the usual protest from more than one anal caddy. (Why are caddies so anal, anyway?)
Several stories were about to unfold. Let's get on with it….and see if the caddy was right and these dudes should have been clubbing down, at least on the front nine. But first, here's a rundown on the players:
Defending Champ, K.C. Taylor: With injuries limiting his running to100 miles the previous four weeks, K.C. wasn't looking for back-to-back sub-3:00 negative split "I love me" performances. But no matter what kind of shape he's in, you never count Taylor out. While you're never entirely certain which orifice on his body is currently engaged, Taylor refuses to let his running speak for itself, despite a 30 year plea from his wife that he start doing so. He has the talent and an incredible tolerance for fighting through the rough spots carry him a lot further than most runners, making him awful good when he's not at his best. If he hangs around long enough to get him to the smell the barn zone, anyone who knows Kace is probably looking over their shoulder.
Gee: This would be Kyle's first marathon, and the biggest question mark. But the question wasn't if he'd break three hours. It was how low below 3:00 will he go…and how low should he TRY going. Despite a recent 1:22 half, he'd been slowed by an injury during training, prompting suggestions from the Rage himself of running a tad more acoustically in the first half. But once another one of those Stevie Ray-esk Carpenters guitar rifts gets inside this particular runner's head (especially that ass-kicker on "Good Bye To Love"), an overcooked first half is bound to happen.
Whalen: Despite the distraction of taking on two clueless marathoner wannabe projects (Gee and Rage) while getting himself into Napa-Schmapa shape (e.g. sub-2:45), Al was ready. And without Al, who knows what six other idiots on the road might have done to suppress the temptation of eating every meal at the Denny's across the street the entire weekend.
Harris: Tod was another question mark, not having run this distance for a while, but always runs solid. Runs about as relaxed (e.g. more than one doc has undoubtedly tapped the screen when his blood pressure registers zero) as you'll every see a runner and absolutely refuses to put any pressure on himself. If our pre-game finishing time prediction pool rules allowed me to write down Tod's number, I would have given him a Boston qualifier, for sure. Stay tuned on that.
Kalen: "I just want to run." That's been Kalen's mantra for the entire year. With a sub-3:00 on his resume, Mark runs fast, too when he wants to….and runs best when the right person at the right time calls him a pussy. And there was no shortage of that on this particular weekend. But having Taylor along pretty much means everyone was all smacked out, so Mark didn't get to see much of the rock being run his way. But usually, at some point in a smash mouth game as this weekend was turning out to be, the ball comes squirting out of the pile…right into somebody like Kalen's hands. And Mark's never bashful about waving the rock in all of our faces, all while high stepping it into the end zone.
Captain Cully: With all of the jockeying for position from the JV squad (e.g. Taylor and Rage, in particular), nobody seems to let Gordon shelve his HTC Team Endorpheinds captain role, even for a weekend. While it might have made those on the varsity squad want to hurl, there's no shame in these two dickheads, and Gordo just takes it all in while these idiots try again to back their way into the '07 starting lineup. Meanwhile, Gordon had other ideas, as in the "I'm-gonna-kick-both-your -asses" variety.
Rage: This would be his first race since turning 50 in October, and was undoubtedly in his best marathon shape ever, with this being his 8th attempt at this distance…five of them on this course. Team Whalen had Rage running over his head, chasing better runners on a heavy dose of hard, hilly 20 milers. But, there are range players and course players. Pretty Porche windshield wiper swings (e.g like Rage's) might produce a nice ball flight (e.g. machine-like low, hard cuts) from an astroturf mat or from Manclark's mowed pastures, but never seem to work with the knarly lies you get from the spinach beyond 20 miles, you know what I'm talkin' about? We'll see.
So, no sooner than we get off the bus, Taylor goes into his usual pre-race routine, which consists of finding someone he knows or doesn't know but knows someone he knows --this time, it's a dude from Boston (Matthew Capstick, running his first marathon) who coaches cross country with Steve McChesney, a fellow Axeman team mate of K.C.'s from South Eugene High School back in the 1970's.
Not having forgotten that Taylor pulled me to a great first half last year when he was in sub-3:00 shape, I was hoping to return the favor this year when he was off his game. But this time, after six miles, he'd met some more people he'd never met before he wanted to get to know: "Rage, I'm gonna watch from back here in the cheap seats." So at that point, I was on my own.
Meanwhile, down the course, the Big Dogs were running well, but not without some turbulence at their assigned stratospheric altitude:
Al had already radioed Oakland Center, looking for vector after flying blind for the first half hour. He hit a flock of seagulls on take off and his heart monitor had suddenly crapped out after the first mile and he had to re-acquaint himself to flying open-cockpit VFR (visual flight rules), rendering his multi-engine instrument rating useless. Nevertheless, a spirited sub-6:00 pace for the first five miles set up a nice 1:20 first half, and banked some serious credits for the second half.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gee was having his own internal struggle dealing with some unanticipated "cabin pressure issues" unable to run as relaxed as he would have had he taken a short break, but still managed to shoot a 1:25 on the front nine.
Rage came in at 1:30, still feeling bouncy and relaxed, suppressing the urge to yell "I'M NOT EVEN TIRED YET! 6:50s still felt unforced at the midway point…unlike last year, when I had to unplug the amps, and play some acoustic all the way to the house.
It seemed that all of Team Endorpheinds were having a good day at the half: Taylor obviously never made it to the "cheap seats" and was less than a minute back at 1:31. Captain Cully, Harris and Kalen were 1:34, 1:38 and about 1:40 respectively.
So I'm running right behind the three hour pace group throng, when suddenly at 16 miles, the pacer walls…and announces he's done. The throng wasn't a throng much longer after that….especially once we hit 20 miles. I was at 2:17 at that point, and felt o.k. Not great, just o.k. Taylor was still in the ball game--one minute back of me at 2:18. I put my head down and headed for Schwarzenegger's front door step. Photo of Alan Whalen (above): The clock tells the story...a 90 second PR
Gee and Al refused to depart from their flight plans and were now on final approach. The only question would be whether or not they would hook the first or second cable on the flat top to keep their birds on the flight deck. In any case, they had emphatically made their case: Al finished in 2:45 (a 90 second PR) and Kyle came in at 2:54 in his marathon debut.
The Rage finished at 3:01 (a 5:00 minute PR) followed by Cully at 3:10, Taylor at 3:13, Harris at 3:19 and Kalen at 3:25.
Race Epilogue: Quote of the weekend: "Hold it. There's a nice guitar rift coming up next. "Kyle Gee, as we turned onto Coburg Road on the trip home in reference to, of all things, a Carpenters song. I kid you not. (Note: In fairness to Kyle, his music selection this time showed a lot more sophistication…with the exception of the glaring absence of any ABBA songs).
More from Gee: "…IT STARTS WITH A TWO! - Kyle Gee, to no one in particular from the backseat of Whalen's rig, borrowing a quote from one of K.C. Taylor's numerous celebratory rants from a year ago. It spoke volumes of what he had just done in his marathon debut. Photo above: Medic!...Rage staggers after a 5 minute PR (3:01).
Steady As He Goes: Tod Harris runs a Boston Qualifier and didn't even look like he was tired.
Cully Report: It took 25.5 miles, but Captain Cully reeled in Taylor and went on to meet the young guy's Boston qualifying standard.
Axeman Connection: Matthew Capstick finished in 3:05 in his first marathon, and can't wait to tell Steve McChesney about those Axemen he ran into at the start.
Rage Race Report: 2005 California International Marathon
While this year’s Eugene contingent at the 2005 California International Marathon didn’t include every age division, it came awful close in covering four decades.
And they all had their stories about how they got to this years’ starting line…including three idiots who otherwise would still be trying to put on their tire chains north of the Californian border had it not been for that merciful Oregon State Trooper.
The cold air prior to the start was about as thick as the bullshit flying around as runners waited to the last possible minute before stowing their gear on the busses.
Fortunately, the psychological damage resulting from the unusually amplified bullshit level was minimal…unless of course, you happened to be former Stanford great Gabe Jennings trying your best to blend in to the port-a-john line. What he got instead was an impromptu interview with self-appointed on course commentators (Taylor and Boz), who couldn’t resist confirming first hand that Jennings had indeed left his bongo ensemble in the Stanford student section years ago, and they wouldn’t be making an appearance anywhere along the course.
But as any runner knows, at some point come race time, bullshit walks and it’s time to run…and this time, it was the Granddaddy of all race distances: The Marathon. We’d trained, traveled, roomed, dined and whined together…and now, it was time to run…all twelve of us.
It was The Rage’s fourth CIM, and seventh marathon, none with too impressive of results, managing to break 3:10 (barely) once in three previous attempts on this very fast course. Out of the Eugene contingent toeing it up today, the Rage’s was one of the weakest P.R’s in the field…and the marathoners were licking their chops: At last, this skinny little shit will finally “Know what WE’RE talkin’ about!" You know what I’m talkin’ about?
But there ain’t no violin section in this band. And in case you’re dumb enough to ask, they’ll gladly show you where the wuss section is (e.g. wuss (woos) n. Slang. 1. a weakling; wimp. [1980-85; perh b. wimp and puss1] 2. a seldom used, little known but frequently played instrument in marathons, requiring very little wind to play).
As expected, Boz and Josh Masterson (coming off a nice 3:07 at Portland) went out early, followed by veteran and talented age-group marathoners Bob Harms and Joe Canale. Taylor and I hung back as did Thomas Kruezpeintner (who started the race despite being sicker than a dog), followed by Gordon Cully, Mark Kalen, Jeff Walker, Scott Priaulx and Juan Welsh.
It didn’t take Taylor long to figure out that the CIM course is notoriously fast, giving runners some generous downhill sections in the first half, balanced with some good uphill portions. How fast is it? "This is cheating!" he said as we made our way down the early sections of the course. Even so, it took him well over three miles to catch Canale and Harms, with Boz and Josh still at least two hundred meters ahead of us.
A first 10k in 41-something didn't even register with Taylor as he was too busy trying to think about what next to say to yet another person he assumed wanted to talk to his sorry ass, slapping hands with the Sacramento area spectators lining the course and repeatedly reminding them who will be hosting the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Boz, Taylor and Rage went through the half split in about 1:29:32 with Taylor continuing to chat away like he was out on another Sunday run…while always subliminally calculating the distance between him and Masterson’s chiseled frame, running in complete, relaxed control.
Calling today's action up in the booth were none other than Marty Liquori and Dwight Stones. Taylor undoubtedly would have taken exception to Liquori choosing Masterson as the early favorite, and going as far as nicknaming him “The Kid,” speculating that a slew of iron-mans were undoubtedly in his future. Showing no respect whatsoever for Taylor, Stones openly suggested on the air that Taylor could sure use…well…a rather large dose of Dwight’s last name about now if he was going to catch Josh, which prompted an immediate flood of phone calls to ESPN from the Taylor camp.
At that point, Rage began to fatigue and pulled back. By mile18, he slowed to a 7:46 prompting Boz to offer encouragement as he ran by once again.
A brief Rage Rally at 19 produced a 7:09, but was short lived with a 7:34 at 20, and a definite lean toward the sidewalk…never a good sign at this point in a marathon. After an 8:00 minute mile 21, Liquori could barely watch: "I can’t believe this is the 2002 Rhody Run champ. Give me a break. My mom can run better than that." Then, ESPN cut quickly back over to the Taylor, Masterson, Boz stories.
But just when you thought Rage dissing couldn't get any lower, Mrs. Liquori herself phoned into the booth to add to her son/commentator's words on that pathetic mile 21. Word spread like wildfire onto every PDA and web phone on the course. Just as Rage reached for a cup of sports drink at an aid station, a volunteer held up his Blackberry and showed him the news: "Hey Rage. Mrs. Liquori says she can run faster than you….and that you look like shit, too."
Somewhat miffed, Rage immediately responded with a 7:52 for mile 22 followed by a 7:40 for mile 23 and now urging Boz to join him. While Rage refused to comment on the matter afterwards, Bosworth confirmed he distinctly heard Rage say something about kicking someone's mom's ass at the finish as he went by.
However, after all that saber rattling (and a 7:19 spilt at 24, 7:09 at 25, a 6:30 last mile and a 1:14 finish), it still wasn’t good enough for Rage to catch Mr. Harms, who was already shrunk wrapped by the time Rage got in 24 seconds later. Rage did manage to hold off a hard charging Joe Canale, who finished at 3:07, followed by Boz who gutted out a 3:10 after "breaking the wall down and dragging it for 4.2 miles over the last 37 minutes."
Here’s how they all
Thomas' first class ride back to the hotel.
Race Epilogue: Post Race Notes & Taylor Quotes:
Quote of the Race by K.C. Taylor, after being informed he’d run negative splits: “I love me.”
Gabe Jennings recovered from the pre-race Taylor/Boz encounter taking it all in stride to finish second overall in 2:19.
More from Taylor, commenting on the split information provided by the excellent CIM staff at each mile: "…The last time I ran a marathon, I had to keep track of my splits on an abacas." (Note: Let the record show that even including the abacas days, Taylor has yet to record a split on his own wrist).
Question: What do K.C. Taylor and Gabe Jennings share at the 2005 CIM? Answer: Jennings runner up elapsed time of 2 hours, 19 minutes is roughly the same amount of time charged against K.C.'s cell phone plan on the way home, repeating the same story over and over again.
Question: What significance does $647 have on the ride home from the 2005 CIM? Answer: It's the checkstand tab at Costco for one (1) shopping cart topped off with Chevas, Kahlua, Schmirnov and Bailey's required to fill the numerous Holiday orders from up north. (Note: The $647 (tax included) in alcohol purchased also was the closest K.C. could get to matching to his average pace per mile: 6:49. He briefly considered adding a $2 tip...but opted for some mix on the way out the door).
And that’s The Truth. - The Rage (12/11/05)
Clear sign of a mispent youth x 2.
Race Report: California International Marathon, Sacramento, California - December 2001
An ominous greeting at the host hotel entrance.
"Sometimes, you get the bear. Sometimes, the bear gets you." Actor Sam Elliott putting a philosophical spin on The Big Lebowski.
I don't know if it was a subliminal message from the California state flag, but Coop suggested this line as we reflected on what had just taken place shortly after finishing the 2001 California International Marathon.
We were ready for this one.
Coop and The Rage take cover near the start.
I knew Coop was ready after our last interval on the bike path, especially after he thrust out his stomach and demanded that I hit him as hard as I could. I gave him several of my best shots and he just smirked and asked, "Is that all you got, Rage?" After throwing down a gauntlet of my own, all I remember is a nice policeman kneeling over me asking me if I was O.K. I vaguely remember some guy handcuffed in running gear getting really mad when I said I didn't know who the heck he was or why he hit me. Fortunately, we got it all straightened out before we made the long drive to Sacramento, California.
I'm guessing it was about 500 miles to Sacramento from Eugene. I was thinking that the weather would improve the farther south we went. Wrong. In fact, it got worse. We pulled into town with the wipers on full. Winds were gusting up to 40 mph. It didn't seem real cold, but it was in the low 50's and would drop into the low 40's over night. At least it was only Friday, and undoubtedly, it would be better by Sunday. No doubt. After all, we were in California, right?
In our hotel room, we passed the time going back and forth between Arnold Swartzenegger in "The Terminator" and the latest live Doppler radar shot. It was one big green glob covering the entire bay area and extending east to the Sierra Nevada. In the hotel room, you could hear the wind ripping through the trees and blasting against the windows. The rain was coming down sideways.
Somehow, the palm trees just didn't seem to fit.
Ditto all day Saturday. We passed time by doing the usual go-to-the-expo-and-pick-up-the-race-packet-thing and ate every carb we could possibly stand while trying to ignore the weather. We also had fun being skillfully evasive about what pace we were going to run to other fellow Eugene runners.
At 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, the rain appeared to have let up only slightly. The wind looked about the same. We put on our gear and headed out to the busses. It was awful to say the least.
Coop collects his stuff...and his thoughts beneath the capital dome.
At the start, we got off the bus and found a spot to choose our running gear. I opted for gloves and long sleeves under a singlet to add some extra psychological torso protection. I also went with a Gortex hat over the 'ol Rage dome, something I am now certain saved my life. Coop went with short sleeves, hat and gloves. Both of us wore our normal running shorts. I also put on a garbage sack. I gave one to Coop, but he skipped his.
Twenty minutes before the start, an announced crowd of 3,800 "brave souls" (as per the Sacramento Bee) were unmercifully hammered by the worst blast in the last 48 hours. The smart runners found shelter off to the side of the course and would jump in after the gun. The rest of us were left milling around wishing we could just get on with it. Every runner was soaking wet and shivering 10 minutes before the start. In these conditions, volunteers appreciate those of us pre-wrapped in garbage sacks sparing them the hassle of trying to put on wet rubber gloves before they stuff us into the body bags…not to mention a bare handed grip is a lot easier when stacking us in the meat wagon.
I got separated from Coop after my last port-a-john visit and didn't get the chance for the philosophical exchange to underscore the ridiculousness of our predicament before we departed on 26.2 miles of insanity. Finally, the gun sounded, and off we went, directly into the wind…3,800 runners dodging puddles and wondering what the heck they had all got themselves into. I turned to somebody next to me and said "You know, I don't want to sound crazy or anything, but I don't think I would even play golf in this."
I gave up any idea of running in the low three's (the second smartest thing I did all day, next to the Gortex hat) and opted for a modest goal of "finishing strong." I felt really bad for the first timers…as if running 26.2 miles wasn't already hard enough. I really didn't know if I could finish in these conditions. I get cold real easy (please refer to Manciata's scouting report on The Rage, taking special note of the "small gas tank").
I tried to make sure I focused on effort and not pace, but like everyone else, I wanted to get done and get warm again. A 7:08 into the wind told me I needed to quiet things down a bit, but then we turned down wind plus down hill and I was still clueless. It was still howling, raining sideways and I was in need of serious counseling.
At mile five, we turned back directly into the wind which would dog us all until the finish. Brown rivers were flowing in the streets. Lots of runners were still wearing their garbage sacks. I passed one guy with garbage sacks wrapped around his shoes.
At every aid station, I stopped running, grabbed two sports drink cups and made sure I drank every drop. At one hour, I consumed my first goo packet. After eight miles, I felt o.k. Not great, just o.k. I knew that was not a good sign. The sky ahead was dark and the trees were bent over. I was running slightly bent forward, keeping the bill of my hat down focusing on the pavement about 10 feet in front of me, barely resembling a runner. The gusts would hit and I would feel like they were knocking me back. I hardly looked from side to side. My shoes were saturated with water and felt like lead weights. I could feel the water squeezing up between my toes with every foot strike. I tucked behind groups when I could, but refused to have any pace dictated to me. I was just trying to finish.
The mile markers were poles with large banners that looked like perfect sails. I was amazed to see that most actually remained standing.
At the half, I was at about 1:35 and I didn't have a clue what it meant, that is, is that good or bad? Way ahead of me, the leader had made an early exit to the meat wagon at mile 17, telling his wife "I am very cold. The last 10 miles, I have been freezing." It took him 30 minutes before he could stop his hands shaking enough to hold a cup of coffee. Two more elites peeled near mile 20.
By mile 17, I had drank so much that I had to step into a port-a-john. One knows he has seen better days when he doesn't want to come out of the port-a-john. The sky was like Louis Gossett Jr. with a hose over my head, demanding I drop out. "I WANT YOUR D.O.R, RAGE!" I took my time in the john. It felt great in there. I finally came out and said to nobody in particular, "I WANNA FLY JETS!" I thought I'd try to take it to mile 20. At mile 18, I normally would have joined my fellow runners with some of my best 40 yard perjury for the on course photographer, but today all I was looking for was double fisting more sports drink.
When I got it to 20 miles, I was at 2:27, and my legs were already dead. At that point, I decided I was going to finish it. At mile 22, I had no comment on the motivational quote of the day: "You're almost there! Only four miles to go!" Oh man, I shouldn't let that one go, but I was too tired to comment. When Coop came by, he didn't miss a beat: "No. It's 4.2 miles to go and no, I am not almost there!" Right on, Coop!
Halfway through mile 25, I had to walk yet again. I was disgusted with my pathetic effort in the smell-the-barn zone, and so was Larry. I don't know Larry. He jumps onto the course and starts "motivating" me.
"Oh, man! You can't quit, now 1490! Come on! One foot in front of the other. See? Just like this…" At that point, I tried to run away from Larry, but all my speed was gone and he managed to keep pace with me. "I'm Larry. It's o.k., man. (At this point, I expected some kind of intervention was about to take place, and some of my childhood friends and family were about to appear). "If you can't talk, that's o.k. I understand." You're going to make it, o.k.? That's better. Don't stop. You are looking good!" I felt like an idiot. I wanted to say "Thanks, Larry. But if I were you, I'd get the heck back on that sidewalk before Coop comes through."
I finally turned the corner and saw the best finishers shoot I had ever seen. Waiting for the ceremonious finishers medal, I couldn't resist doing my best Rocky Balboa: "Adrian! Adrian!" but nobody got it. A volunteer replied, "The medical tent's full, buddy. Move it along." The number you might ask? 3:17.
runners awful glad to have cold, wind and rain
The amazing Coop finished with PR (3:36) and asked, "What the heck did that mean?" In my book, I'd say about a 3:28 or so, especially given that the winner finished in 2:22, which was about 8 minutes slower than what the course normally produces. 2,700 runners finished, leaving 1,100 who didn't show or dropped out.
To sum it up, the winner, Bruce Deacon of Victoria BC, called it "…the grossest wet day I've ever run in."
And that's The Truth.