Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Just six years and forty thousand miles

It's been a while since I've posted anything EV related on this blog.  Mainly this is due to nothing interesting to post.

The EV Saturn Vue has been basically trouble free for the last several years.  Other than a loose tach wire here, a dead 12V battery there, and new tires there has been nothing to keep it off of the road.

It's been six years since I put the Vue into service.  And over the six years I've put over 40k EV miles on it.  This is on top of the over 100k miles it had on it before the conversion.

The only new news for the Vue is that I may be taking it out of service some time in the next year.  Eight years ago when I originally started planning the Vue conversion there were no OEM electric cars available that fit my needs.  Fast forward eight years.

The Vue is now thirteen years old.  Multiple manufacturers offer EV's with more being produced all the time.  And I want one of them!  So hopefully this year, if Elon can get his act together, I'll have a new Tesla Model X sitting in my garage.

At that point I plan on taking the Vue out of service.  Though it works perfectly fine it's tough to sell a converted EV.  I could take the parts and sell them off, but again not a great option.  Instead I plan on taking my F150 truck and converting it to an EV with the parts from the Vue!  More on that to come...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Just An Old Guy Rambling Another Race Report

If a tree blogs in the woods and no one is around to read it does it make a sound?  Put another way I want to again thank my two blog readers (you know who you are kids).  Now onto the race report...
I was looking for a spring marathon and wanted to shake things up a bit.  I had run NJ the last two years, but after last year's "debacle" I decided I needed a change of venue.  Since I missed a BQ eligible time by 46 seconds (damn those bathroom breaks) my search for an early Spring marathon headed south to the Shamrock Marathon.

The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon is part of a series of races held St. Patrick's Day weekend in Virginia Beach. The running festival hosts ~28,000 including the marathon, half marathon, 8k, and various shorter distance "fun runs". Of the 28,000 runners ~10,000 register for the half marathon and ~4000 for the marathon.
Shamrock is a little earlier in the Spring than NJ and offered the hope of slightly cooler temps.  I'd rather run in 25 degrees than 75 degrees so this was a big plus.

The course is pancake flat making for a fast course.  Another plus.
The biggest plus was that it was only an hour away from where my daughter lives.  This meant she could come and laugh at me hobbling at the end of the race support me in my effort.
Example of support (not actual daughter)
The weather forecast called for temperatures in the mid forties all morning with overcast skies.  Perfect conditions.  There would also be winds around ten mph near the beginning of the race and increasing to twenty mph throughout the morning.  Not so perfect.
Marathon morning rolled around and the marathon start was scheduled for 8:30AM.  As per my usual routine I got up about three hours prior to the race, had a cinnamon bun (thanks Ted & Linda) and cup of coffee.  After dressing in the clothes laid out the night before I walked the mile from the B&B to the race start.

It was still dark outside as I approached the race staging area.  As I got closer I was joined by thousands of runners heading toward the start, many of who were dressed in "over the top", St. Patty's day themed, green outfits. The half marathon started ninety minutes prior to the marathon and most of the crowd was headed for the half start.
At 7AM the half went off and what had been a loud, boisterous, crowded circus was now a quiet, calm, empty street. Which could mean only one thing.  No porta potty lines!

With an hour plus to kill I walked to the marathon starting area in order to find a quiet spot to relax.  On the way I managed to catch a beautiful sunrise over the ocean.  I wasn't expecting this since the forecast was for overcast skies.  Luckily the clouds moved in shortly after.
It was a little chilly outside and I was hoping to warm up.  I managed to find a spot to camp out on the lobby floor of one of the hotels nearby the start.

About fifteen minutes before the start I headed out to the corrals to warm up and discard  donate my $20 warm up outfit. I also had an opportunity to meet the pacer and a few others running with him.

Before the marathon I was debating whether to go out with the 3:05 or 3:15 pacer.  My tune up runs, specifically a 39:35 10K time trial, indicated I might be able to run a 3:05-3:06.  That would be almost a twenty minute PR and seemed a little ambitious.  Once I got to the corral and felt the wind my decision was made easy.  I knew 3:05 was out of the question and lined up with the 3:15 pacer.
The gun sounds and we're off.  Within five minutes, despite double knotting my shoes, I can feel my left laces slapping my right calf. Sure enough the second knot had come untied.  This is going to be real annoying for  three hours.  Oh well.  I figure I'll wait until I trip to deal with it!  (Luckily I forget about it after a mile or two and never tripped.)
The first two miles go through the main commercial area of VA beach. After crossing a bridge at the south end of town (the only "hill") the course opens up into a more wooded area.  Around mile seven we go through a national guard base with lots of cheering soldiers and a "mini gauntlet" of soldiers.

During mile nine is where I had to take my first "nature break". Twenty seconds later I was back running, but the pace group had decided to continue without me (how rude of them).  This was my first big decision of the race...do I catch up with them immediately or do I reel them in over a few miles.  After doing some quick calculations in my head I decided that catching them over the next three miles was the way to go.


Avg Pace

9 (25s rest stop)

Up to this point the wind had been at our back or we were in a protected area.  After mile nine this changed as we were turned directly into the wind.  To make things worse I no longer had the pace group to draft off. And miles 10 and 11 were on the boardwalk with absolutely no protection from the wind.  Despite this "adversity" I managed to close in on the pace group.  I also saw wife and daughter waiting for me to crash and burn cheering me on at mile 11.  At mile 12 the course turned off of the boardwalk and the buildings offered a little protection from the wind.  By the end of mile 12 I was back with the pace group.


Half split 1:37:51

At this point the pace group was still intact with about twenty runners. I was feeling pretty good and was happy that I could "slow down" now that I wasn't chasing the group.

The next three miles continued into the wind and took us through the north end of the resort.  Miles 16-19 turned west into a protected area and out of the wind.  Up until this point there had always been some crowd support. But once we left town that changed.  The next few miles were pretty quiet, only interrupted by the sounds of shoes hitting the pavement.

Around mile 17-18 I was feeling really strong and knew I could pick up the pace.  I also knew I needed another "nature break" soon. But I dreaded having to play catch up with the group again.  So I made my next "big decision" and decided to pull away from the pace group.  I figured that over the next mile or two I could get far enough ahead, take that quick break, and still not lose ground to the group.


As I stepped back onto the course the group was just passing and I quickly rejoined the back of the pack. We were now at the 20 mile mark and I was still feeling strong.  Only 10K to go which meant one thing...start opening it up.  Which is exactly what I was about to do until....BAM...two things happened.

The first was that our pacer, a 2:40 marathoner, informed us that he was going to have to drop out.  Not the end of the world as the group was still surprisingly intact.  One of the other runners in the group had paced halves in the past and took over from the pacer when he dropped out.

The second was that as soon as we hit mile 20 we hit twenty plus mph winds dead into our faces.  We were now on the cape with the unprotected winds coming directly off of the Atlantic.

At this point the group started to slow down a little.  Part of it was from the wind, but part was from fatigue. I could see some of the runners struggling and slowing down.  I wanted to speed up and not slow down, but I knew that drafting the group, even though slightly slower than the pace I wanted, would be preferable to running alone. I also knew that we would  be on the cape for only about two miles more and decided that drafting the group was a better choice.

21 dead into 20 mph wind
 dead into 20 mph wind


As we neared the end of the cape and turned out of the wind I finally decided to "shift gears" and pulled away from the group. From here to the end of the race I still felt strong, though definitely tired.  I was able to find another gear and speed up, although an "impending" hamstring cramp kept creeping up every time I tried dropping below 7min/mile pace.

Over this part of the course I passed at least thirty runners including the runners in the group. I was only passed by one runner during this time (the fifty year old woman who took over as the pacer when the original pacer dropped out).

This stage of the race was also the part where I passed the slower marathoners running in the opposite directions.  The ones at mile 13-16 on the "out" part of the course.  This is the part of the race where I always say to myself I'm so glad that I'm not going to be on the course for another three hours!
I'm the old guy in the blue about to pass the kid in the red


Official result an almost 11 minute PR with an almost 2 minute negative split and 114th place overall!


Did I mention that Yuengling was the sponsor and post race celebration was beer and Irish stew :-)






  • Chip Time: 3:13:52
  • Gun Time: 3:14:02
  • Total Pace: 7:24/M
  • 7mi Time: 52:28
  • 13.1mi Time: 1:37:51
  • 18.1mi Time: 2:14:16


  • Group: Men 50 to 54
  • Group Place: 10
  • Group Finishers: 170
  • Gender Place: 101
  • Gender Finishers: 1528
  • Total Finishers: 2791

Monday, October 28, 2013

Just Completely Off Topic

Normally this blog is for posts on my electric car. But today I'm going to use if for a race report for 2013 Marine Corps Marathon. I apologize in advance to those who follow this blog expecting electric car stuff...all two of you (thanks kids).

The Marine Corps Marathon is the third largest in the country (30,000 participants). Even at this size it is so popular that it sells out very quickly (just over two hours this year). I decided ahead of time that I would register through the Runner's World Challenge, in order not to have to worry about registration closing.

Along with the guaranteed registration the Runner's World Challenge came with extras that were well worth the slight premium added to the race registration fee. The best of the extras were:
  1. Heated tent at the race start with pre-race food/coffee/Gatorade.
  2. Private porta-potties at the race start (no lines)!
  3. Bag transport from the start to the finish without waiting in line at the UPS trucks.
  4. Reception one block from finish to meet family, pick up gear, change.
  5. A really nice, post run, buffet meal including Jamba Juice smoothies.
  6. Massages, massages, massages!!!!
One other big extra was a meet and greet strategy session that included the race director. This ended up being huge because he shared with us the fact that in the process of marking the new course the mile marker for mile eight was marked wrong. This subsequently threw off all of the markers up until about mile eighteen. The timing mats were in the right places and the course was the correct length. But about ten miles of “informational” markers were not where they should be. More on this in the race report.

The forecast for race day was perfect marathoning weather. The temperature at the start was about 40 degrees and never got out of the 40's during my entire race. The sky was clear at the start, but later in the morning some clouds rolled in, which was perfect cover for holding back the sun. Except for the first fifteen minutes of the race I never needed my sunglasses.

Woke up around 4:30AM, had an Auntie Anne's pretzel for breakfast, and headed out to the nearest metro. By 5:45 AM I was getting off at the Pentagon metro, part of the mass of lemmings headed to the runner's village. It was a good mile walk to the security screening point and from there only a couple hundred yards to the pre-race waiting area. Did I mention heated tent, hot coffee and private porta-potties :-)

Around 7:10 AM I headed out to the starting corrals for the opening ceremonies at 7:20 AM and race start at 7:55 AM. The corrals were well marked, starting with the slower ones in the back and the fastest at the front. As I'm looking for my corral I have to walk through all of the slower corrals since the runner's village is at the back of the corrals. So I start walking...and walking...and walking...and walking. When I finally get to my corral I've probably walked about a half mile through the corrals and I'm almost near the start line.

I was really surprised at being so close to the start because I think of myself as a slow runner. This is because most of the runners I “hang out with” are way faster then I am. I need to start hanging out with much slower runners for my self confidence ;-)

The corrals were well marked with twenty foot tall signs indicating the pace for that corral. This way the faster runners are not slowed down by the slower runners and the slower runners are not trampled by the faster runners at the start of the race. Usually before the start I talk to other runners around me to find out what pace they plan on running. This way I can find a group to run with.

I was planning on running a pace for about a 3:23-3:25 to start and expected most of the runners around me to be about the same. Big mistake. I asked several people around me what their planned times were and got answers anywhere from four to five hours. Additionally I saw lots of people who looked to be in “less than marathon shape” moving to the faster corrals in the front because they were less crowded!

Opening ceremonies for most marathons consist of a local singing the national anthem, followed by the gun to signal the race start. The Marine Corps Marathon national anthem was sung by a wonderful acapella group, accompanied by paratroopers and trailing American flags! The starting gun was a 105mm Howitzer cannon!

My race plan was to start a little slow the first few miles, then increase my pace and hold a 7:42-45/mile pace till about mile eighteen. After that if I was having a good race I would open up the pace as much as I could. I was looking for a 1:41:30 -1:42:00 for the first half. My “A” goal for the race was 3:17-3:22. “B” goal was 3:25.  "C" goal was BQ (3:30:00).

It took me about ninety seconds after the cannon fired to cross the start line. It takes about twenty three minutes for all of the runners to cross the start line. The first three miles of the course are in downtown Roslyn and were spent passing and weaving through all of the runners who started in the wrong corral, as well as a few zealous spectators who felt that the viewing area extended beyond the curb and onto the road. The only prolonged hill on the course was in the first three miles so the combination of all of these guaranteed the slower first few miles I wanted.

1 8:05/mile
2 7:59/mile
3 7:36/mile

5K 24:29 (7:52/mile)

By mile four the runners had spread out enough that it was possible to find room to run. Miles five through eight were a gentle uphill and pleasant run into Rock Creek park followed by an equivalent downhill from eight to eleven. From there it was fairly flat through Georgetown, along the river, past the Lincoln Memorial, and out to Hayne's Point.

4 7:47/mile
5 7:43/mile
6 7:29/mile
7 7:43/mile
8 7:44/mile
9 7:55/mile

10 7:30/mile
11 7:33/mile
12 7:42/mile
13 7:42/mile

GPS half 1:40:38 (7:41/mile)
Actual Half 1:43:18 (7:53/mile)

At the half I felt pretty good. Unfortunately I was about ninety seconds slower than where I wanted to be and two and a half minutes slower than where I thought I was. In order to get to the “real” 13.1 point on the course I had run about 13.43 “GPS” miles. That's a third of a mile difference or about a 2:30 minute difference! This difference came from a combination of weaving through the crowds at the beginning, not being able to run the shortest route on the course because of the crowds, the inexactness of GPS, and a few quick trips to the side of the road when nature called...

Now I've run enough miles to know that there will be drift between “real” course miles and “GPS” course miles. And I usually will compare my GPS with the course markers every few miles to estimate this drift and adjust for it. The problem was that the mile markers were also “drifting” as I mentioned earlier, per the race director. So I had no accurate markers to compare, other than the timing mats.

At this point I decided I would have to ramp up the speed earlier than I had planned in order to meet my time goal. The next seven miles back from Hayne's point and through downtown DC were fairly flat which helped a lot. This was also where I started reeling in and passing runners in front of me.

14 7:55/mile (nature calling)
15 7:33/mile
16 7:28/mile
17 7:25/mile
18 7:27/mile
19 7:39/mile
20 7:47/mile

Crossing the bridge into Virginia I knew I had only 10K more to go and still felt strong. My focus at this point was to pick a runner ahead of me, reel them in, and keep repeating this process. This is also the point in the race that I spotted the 3:25 pacer. The 3:25 pacer crossed the start line about a minute before me and I hadn't seen the him since about mile three.

The next miles consisted of a climb through Crystal City and a gentle decent out.

21 7:29/mile
22 7:38/mile
23 7:49/mile

It took about three miles to get within about ten yards of the pacer. At this point I was not letting him out of my sight under any circumstances. I even thought about trying to pass him, but this thought was short lived. For in the twenty fourth mile both hamstrings decided to simultaneously lock up and spasm. :-(

I could have stopped right there but I decided to “choose the pain”, hoping it would go away. After a few “choice words” aloud (I apologize to any small children in the crowd) and a minute of agony I was able to slow down and shorten my stride just enough to not have to stop.

The last few miles were basically a combination of pushing my pace as hard as I could, waiting for my hamstrings to spasm, uttering a few more "choice words", backing off my pace, then repeating this process over and over till the end.

The final miles came out of Crystal city, toward the Pentagon, into Arlington Cemetery, and the cruelest last .2 miles of uphill that you will ever see!

24 8:04/mile
25 7:46/mile
26 8:06/mile
27 8:14/mile

Official 3:24:48 26.2 miles 7:48/mile
(GPS 3:24:49 26.59 miles 7:42/mile)

BQ minus 5!!!!