Friday, August 25, 2006

Penny-pinching news

In my continuing effort to excel at frugality, I discovered that it is possible to find some very good deals on cash-back credit cards. We now have two cards (a Citi Visa and a Mastercard from Chase) that each pay 5% cash back on groceries, gas and drug store purchases, and 1% on other purchases, with no fees. In less than 6 months we have received $300 cash back. I was skeptical until we actually got our first check in the mail, but the credit card companies will actually send us money. There is one thing to watch out for: The best (5%) cash-back cards may have a maximum cash-back payout of $300 per year. We are working around this by getting a new card each time we hit the maximum cash back per year. But I think its well worth the trouble, since I expect we will get about $600 to $700 back this year, for maybe a couple of hours of work.

One place to start looking for cash-back credit cards is to Google search for best cash back credit cards. I think the credit card companies expect that we won't pay our balances in full every month, but we are proving them wrong, and taking their money for a change.

Wool Capital Triathlon, San Angelo, Texas (August 13, 2006)

Wool Capital Triathlon, San Angelo, Texas, Sunday August 13, 2006.
1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run.

This was the first trip to San Angelo for Lisa and I. Its about a 4 hour drive west of Austin. We drove out on Saturday, and stayed at the LaQuinta Inn. Picked up the race packet, and went out for a pasta dinner on Saturday night. Got a good night sleep after taking the usual ambien, and got up at 4:15 am on Sunday morning.

This was a fun race, in a nice park. Its the oldest triathlon in Texas, 19th annual, wow! Overall, a well organized, fun and safe event, as is usual for any race put on by Ironhead Race Productions, with timing being done by Run-Far. It was a fairly small race, with only about 120 entrants. The race started in three waves, four or five minutes apart. The over-40s got to go in the first wave (yeah!), followed by the younger age divisions. The swim was an out-and-back in a dammed part of the Concho river. A new experiment for me: I swam without goggles, which really helped in sighting the marker bouys. A good idea! During the swim, I started slow and then moved into first after a few minutes, and finished the swim first. I focused more on swimming straight than swimming fast. The bike route was a simple out and back. It was windy, mostly a head wind out of the south on the way out; I got to the turn around in 33 minutes, and returned in 30 minutes. I was leading on the bike until Richard Freer and Phillipe Kozub caught me about 3 miles before the end of the ride; they eventually finished 2nd and 1st, respectively. The bike route was pretty flat, but not all that fast, since a lot of it was a bumpy chip-seal surface. The 10K run was an out-and-back on a dirt and sand road, which I found out is affectionately known as the "dirt road from hell". It was dusty and dry with almost no shade, and in some places it was like running on a beach, the sand was so loose. It was hot, but I think I was pretty well prepared for the heat, due to my habit of doing my training runs at 5 pm. I ran in 3rd place the whole 10K, I didn't pass anyone and no one passed me. I crossed the finish line 3rd, but was 4th overall, after the corrections were made for the different starting times. I was the first finisher over 40 years old.

A few thoughts: Doing the swim without goggles was a good idea; I was able to see over the water quite well, and swam straight. It was interesting that I didn't see anyone else without goggles. My transitions were slow, as usual. I rode pretty hard on the bike, breathing hard enough so that it was difficult to drink. I didn't drink at all on the bike until after the turn around, when I finally had a tail wind. I think I did a pretty good job of keeping my head down, and keeping a good aero position. I started the run very easy and relaxed, running the first mile in 7:36, and drinking about 16 ounces of diet coke during the first mile. The last 3 miles of the run were my best (good!). I got to the run turn-around in about 23:10 (this was 3.2 miles), and came back in 20:26 for the last 3 miles.

Here are the results (I'm 4th overall):
Wool Capital Triathlon results

Bike time trial (July 18, 2006)

Just two days after racing a triathlon, I didn't expect to do very well at the Tuesday night time trial. The high temperature today was 103, and it was still about 101 degrees at the 6 pm start. The wind was out of the southeast, maybe 10 mph, so it was a tailwind for the uphill part on the first half, and a head wind on the way back. Somehow I managed to do my best time, 17:58.3. First time under 18 minutes. So that was pretty good for me.
8 mile time trial results

Ironhead Triathlon, Grand Prairie, Texas (July 16, 2006)

Triathlon in Grand Prairie, Texas, Sunday July 16, 2006.
1.5 K swim, 26.0 mile bike, 10K run.

The 9th annual Ironhead triathlon was yesterday. Lisa and I drove up on Saturday, and stopped in to visit Lisa's grandmother in Irving Texas, which was pretty much on the way. We went out for lunch, and had a little visit at her house. Lisa's grandmother is almost 92, and seems to be in excellent health, and gets around very well.

We then drove to pickup my race packet, and then to the Days Inn in Arlington where we stayed. The Days Inn was OK. Adequate and inexpensive, but with a bit too much furniture in the room for easily storing the bikes. I rode my bike around the parking lot a little, and then finished organizing my stuff for race. We watched the end of "Shrek 2" on TV. Took ambien and went to sleep around 11 pm.

I got up at 3:45 am and loaded the bikes (my racing bike and Lisa's trail bike) onto the car, and drank my usual race morning diet coke (a coffee substitute). Lisa was up at 4:30, and we were off to the Lynn Creek Park race site at about 5:10 am. I am very grateful that Lisa so cheerfully tolerates this craziness. Lisa helped me pump up my bike tires. Got my transition area set up, got my timing chip, and waited for the start.

It was a pretty big race with about 450 competitors. We started in 4 approximately equal waves (divided up by age), with the waves starting the swim 4 minutes apart. I was in the first wave, with the males over 45 and the 20-24 year olds. I have no idea how they decide to divide these things up. I have mixed feelings about these staggered starts. Its good that it reduces the crowding at the start a bit, but its annoying not knowing what place you are in the overall ranking. But since the groups are divided by age, at least I know how I'm doing in my age division. The 4 minute gap between the start of each wave is small enough that the fast people in the later waves catch up pretty quickly anyway.

I almost did something pretty stupid - I was not paying attention to where the swim start line was, and was cheerfully talking to someone about nothing much when I heard Lisa yell from a distance "Hey David!!!" I looked around and realized that if I didn't move, I'd be starting at the back of the pack, and I had only a few seconds to move to the front. I just barely made it! Actually, I was a little out of the best position for someone of my swimming speed, but it probably only cost me a couple of seconds. If Lisa hadn't yelled to wake me up, I would have had to swim through the whole pack and it would have been a mess.

Once I got started, the swim went pretty well. I got to the first turn in the triangular course in probably about 8th place, and moved up a couple more places before the second turn. The water was warm, and not very clear, so it was difficult to see underwater to find feet to follow. It got pretty choppy when we were farthest from shore, but that was OK, since if it bothered me, it would probably bother most people even worse. I made the last turn in about 6th place. After making the last turn, we had to look directly into the sun (which was still very low over the water) toward the finish line, and I couldn't see a thing. So I flipped my goggles up on top of my head, and found this was much better for sighting over the water. So I swam the last 500 meters without goggles, and went straight for the finish line. I moved all the way up to second place at the swim finish. Lisa took a video of the last few minutes of the swim, where you can see several of the swimmers in front of me zig-zagging in wrong directions, while I passed them by, being the only one without goggles and can see when looking into the sun. Pretty clever of me, I think! I didn't even lose my goggles, they stayed stuck on my cap.

I did my usual not-particularly-fast transition, and started the 26 mile bike in 4th place, but not far behind at all. I passed Lael Martin right at the bike start while he was still messing with his cycling shoes; he's a very strong cyclist and was one of the zig-zag swimmers. I figured he'd be coming up behind me again soon. After about 2 miles on the bike, I moved into second place, and could see the first guy about a quarter mile in front of me. By mile 5, I was shocked to find that no one had passed me yet, and I was gaining on first place, which made me worry that I had started too fast. Then it occured to me that I would see Lisa at mile 13 when the the course looped back near the start, and I thought it would really impress her if I was near the lead, even though I'd probably regret it later on the run. So I picked up the pace, and really concentrated on keeping my head down as low as I could. I caught the first guy at about the 8 mile mark. Being in the lead, I then got to have a personal police motorcycle escort, which was really cool. I zoomed by Lisa at the 13 mile (halfway) mark, first cyclist. Very exciting! At my age, I don't expect I'll get too many more chances to lead a race. I think I slowed down a little at this point, figuring that I was about to get caught anyway (the fast cyclists must be somewhere, I thought). Drank my water bottle, and my diet coke bottle. Kept on pedaling, and no one was coming behind me. After a few more miles, it occurred to me that I might be able to hold onto the lead until the 26 mile mark, where I could impress Lisa yet again. So I decided to ride hard until I got caught. But I didn't get caught, and I came back into the park first, with no one close behind me. Later I found out that I had been the fastest cyclist in my age group, and I had the 5th fastest cycling time of everyone in the race.

The run didn't go as badly as I had feared. Between the 1 and 2 mile mark I got caught by the eventual race winner, who was just a 30 year old, so I was still leading my age division. It was sunny, hot (already in the 90s) and almost no shade. But it felt very much like running on the track on a hot afternooon, which is something that I'm familiar with. The best parts of the run were seeing Lisa at the 2 and 5 mile marks. The mile markers were pretty funny, and appropriate for the weather. I checked my watch at every mile marker - a little over 7 minutes for the first mile (drinking a lot), and the rest of them under 7 minutes. I ran the last 3 miles a little faster than the first 3, and was the second person to cross the finish line. When the final results were posted I was 6th overall; a few of the younger people starting in the later waves had faster times than me. There were 417 finishers. I was the first over-45-year-old by about 10 minutes.

It was terribly hot waiting around after the race, but I finally got a "first in age division" award. Lots of people commented that they liked the "sunflower" wheel on my bike. Lisa got some good movies, which were fun to watch later. Lisa said she liked riding around on her trail bike while I was doing the race. The trip home was uneventful, but hot. The high temperature that day was 101 in Austin, and 102 at the race site in Grand Prairie.

Overall, a big improvement over my previous triathlons, especially on the bike.

Total time: 2:14:48
Swim: 24:04
Bike: 1:04:48 (24.1 mph average)
10K Run: 43:24 (6:59 per mile)

Overall results: 6th of 416 finishers, including relays
Age division: 1st place

Here's a link to the complete results (I'm 6th):
Ironhead triathlon complete results

Trip to South Llano River State Park (July 10, 2006)

Trip to South Llano River State Park, Junction, Texas.

Lisa and I went on a one-night camping trip, 150 miles west of Austin, on a mission to see some birds. We found some painted buntings, they are small birds but very colorful. We also saw lots of lots of hummingbirds at a feeder at the park headquarters, and a male woodpecker showing his young one how to find food. A nice park, and we hope to return soon.

Wild Parrots of Austin (July 2006)

A parrot visited our front yard today and ate some of the sunflowers, and Lisa got a good picture. There is a colony of perhaps a hundred parrots living on top of some of the light posts at the UT intramural fields on 51st street. They are monk parrots, which are native to South America. I don't think anyone knows where Austin's parrot colony came from, but they have been breeding and the colony seems to be growing.

Lisa got a good picture of the parrot, which you can see at: parrot

Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon (June 25, 2006)

Race report: Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon, Sunday, June 25, 2006.
1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.
Swim in Buffalo Springs lake, bike and run in Buffalo Springs Canyon and Ransom Canyon.

Lisa and I drove to Lubbock on Saturday. It rained for about half the drive, so it was slow going. Took about 8 hours to get there. Picked up my race packet at the Holiday Inn, then found our hotel and checked in. We went out to get dinner at an Italian place, and ate pasta and bread. Biked a little around the hotel parking lot, and then I had some oatmeal, and then to bed at about 10 pm.

The day started early, up at 3:15 am, and out of the hotel at 4 am. I just had water and diet coke for breakfast. And then more water. And diet coke. Disgusting I know, but it seems to work for me. No food for me before the race. Got to the lake at 4:30 am and set up my transition area. Then just hung out in the dark, waiting and talking to people and drinking water, and going to the porta-potty every 15 minutes or so. There was a thunder storm off in the distance, but fortunately it went away from us.

The swim was a staggered start, with the professionals going in the first wave at 6:30 am, and other groups going in waves 5 minutes apart. I started in the 5th wave, at 6:50 am, with the other old men plus the 25-29 males. The water was cold enough so that wetsuits were legal, I guess the lake is spring fed. I planned to just follow people on the swim, but a small lead group of swimmers in my wave seemed to not want to swim straight. So rather than follow them, I headed straight for the bouy marking the first turn, and actually got there first. The course was sort of rectangular, and by swimming just about straight, I ended up being the first swimmer in my wave. So I was off to a good start! The swim to bike transition went OK, except I ran past my bike and wasted a few seconds. Oh well.

The course here really favors good bicyclists, which I am not. There were about eight major hills on the 56 mile course, some of which had switch-backs that I found technically difficult. Especially going down. The really good cyclists were just flying on the downhill parts. I am a total wimp on downhills, especially downhill curves, and tend to use my brakes much more than the good cyclists do. I was passed a lot on the downhills. But at least I stayed on the road. It was quite scenic on the hilly parts, with a fair amount of flat over the last 20 miles. It was moderately windy, but not too bad. I passed quite a few people, who were probably from the waves that started the swim ahead of me, but I also got passed by a lot. There were many very strong cyclists here, who I could not stay with at all when they passed me. I took it kind of easy on the last ten miles of the bike, thinking it would be best to save something for the run. Drank a lot on the bike, since the humidity was low. Averaged 20.5 mph for 56 miles, which is about what I expected.

I thought that if I had a really good race, I could finish under 5 hours. When I started the run, my time was 3:14, so I needed a 1:45 half-marathon, which works out to 8 minutes per mile. I ran really easy for the first mile, drinking a bottle of diet coke while I ran. Its weird, but I get diet coke cravings on these long races, so I keep a bottle of it in my transition area, which I drink on the run and drop at the first aid station. Anyway, I expected my first mile of the run to be pretty slow, but it was about 7:30, which was a pleasant surprise. I was passing people pretty steadily. Sometimes I'd run with someone for a little while, and talk a bit. There were some pretty steep up hills at miles 3 and 4.5, and I took a short walking break on the steepest part of each one. I didn't really need to walk, since I was feeling good and running steady 7:30 per mile. But I wanted to be sure I kept feeling good, since I still had a long way to go, so a few seconds of walking seemed a conservative thing to do. The run course was a simple out-and-back, with almost no shade. It was sunny and dry, but fortunately not too hot. Probably about 80 degrees. I ran through almost all the water stops, and sometimes took a cup of water on the run. Had a cup of coke at the turn-around at 6.55 miles. I kept running along and passing people, and very few people were passing me. So this was much better than on the bike part of the course. One guy who passed me at mile 8 was in my age division. Oh well. I walked one more time, for a minute or less, on the last steep hill at mile 9, and then went back to my 7:30 per mile pace for the last 4 miles. So I finished in 4:54, and under my 5 hour goal. My half-marathon was 1:40:15, which I am very pleased with. And I finished in good form, with no staggering across the finish line!

My overall time was 4:54:44.
I was 121st overall out of 777 finishers. I was the 99th in the amateur division.
I was 5th out of 54 finishers in the male age 45 to 49 division.

My splits were:

Swim: 25:09 (ranked 50th overall, including pros, 1st of 54 in my age division)
Bike: 2:44:08 (ranked 197th overall, 12th of 54 in my age division) 20.5 mph average
Run: 1:40:15 (ranked 115th overall, 4th in my age division) 7:39 per mile average

There sure were a lot of fast people here! The race had cash prizes for professionals and Hawaii Ironman qualifying slots for the age-grouper winners, which probably explains the very fast field. In my age division I did pretty well, 5th place. I was just 11 minutes behind the leader in my age group, which isn't very much for a race this long. The people ahead of me are among the best in the country. I had never been in a triathlon where such a large fraction of the field was so fast.

I definitely enjoyed this race, and would like to do it again next year. Hopefully I'll be stronger on the bike by then, but I don't believe I am likely to get technically good enough to ride the downhills well. I just don't enjoy going over 40 miles per hour downhill on a bike. The race was very well organized, and I liked the course. Although I think I would place better on a course that required less bike handling skill. I think my plan to walk for about a minute on each of the 3 hills of the run was a good idea, since it helped me finish strong. I was no worse than about 8 minutes per mile on the run, even on the miles where I walked a little bit.

The part where I could improve the most is the bicycling. Even if I don't ever get the technical skill to ride well down hill, I think I should be able to get stronger so that I can ride better on the flats.
Overall results, amateurs (I'm 99th)
Age group results, male 45-49 (I'm 5th)
Pro division results

Bike time trial (June 20, 2006)

My first bike time trial with the new wheels. It was somewhat windy, maybe 10 mph out of the southeast, so it was a head wind on the downhill part of the course. I did my best time, 18:05 for 8.0 miles. I think I have pretty well figured out how to do an 8 mile bike time trial, but I'm not sure what this says about whether I'm ready for the bike section of a triathlon.
Results of 8 mile bike time trial

Sunflower bike wheel (June 6, 2006)

The "disk wheel" on my bike is actually a plastic wheel cover from (just $85, and legal for triathlons and bike time trials). The sunflower wheel was painted by Lisa, using a stencil and Krylon fusion yellow spray paint. I used orange spray paint on my previously silver helmet, to make me more visible. Always trying to be safe! With the HED3 wheel on the front, I think this is probably the best aerodynamic benefit per dollar spent on equipment. The bike is a Cervelo Dual, not too expensive either. Now I have just 3 weeks to learn to ride on the new wheels before the Buffalo Springs Lake triathlon. The new wheels feel pretty twitchy in cross winds, and will take some getting used to. I'll get to try the wheels at one Tuesday Time Trial before the triathlon.

5K Open Water Swim (May 21, 2006)

5K Open Water Swim (May 21, 2006). At Lake Travis. It ended up being sort of a "tactical" race, which was a new experience for me. After the first few hundred yards, the really fast swimmers had gone ahead, and I settled in with a group of five guys. The pace seemed a bit slow for me when I was following the group, but I wasn't fast enough to break away from them. So I just settled in and drafted for 2 miles. With about one-half mile to go, I tried to cut to the right and take off from my little group. Only one guy stayed with me, and he followed my feet until the last 100 yards, when he sprinted away. I ended up finishing in 1:21:23, 7th place. This was 4 minutes slower than last year, when I was in a faster pace group and working harder. But I was pretty happy with this effort, since I had a good last half mile. I have been doing mostly just short swims lately, focusing more on biking and running.
Results of 5K open water swim

Shoes for Austin 5K (May 6, 2006)

I hadn't done a 5K in over two years. Or any running race, come to think of it. And hadn't done any real speed work in ages. So I was worried that this would be really slow. It ended up not too bad, an 18:59. My mile splits were 6:03, 6:06 and 6:09, which was OK since the first mile was downhill and the last mile was seriously up. I was in about 20th place at the 2 mile mark, and finished 11th. Good prizes! I got a New Balance sports bag for an age group prize.

Cactus Challange triathlon (April 7, 2006)

Cactus Challenge Triathlon (April 7, 2006). This was approximately a 1.5K swim, ~ 42K bike and ~ 10K trail run. The race used a staggered start, with athletes starting in waves about 5 minutes apart. I started in the "35 & over" wave of the swim, and was the 2nd swimmer to finish in my wave, taking it easy and following the feet in front of me. The bike was 4 times around a loop of a little over 10K. I worked a bit harder on the bike than on the swim. One guy passed me on the bike. I ran well, a little under 7 minutes per mile, which isn't bad for me considering I'm not a very good trail runner (I prefer roads). No one passed me on the run. The results were a bit screwed up, since a lot of the swimmers in the 35&under group turned at a bouy marking the way back, rather than the way out, and cut the swim course short by about 5 minutes, which was pretty easy to do since we were looking straight into the sun and couldn't see very well. Anyway, I was the first in masters (over 40) male, and the results have me listed as about 12th overall out of about 220. Not bad for a 48 year old! I think I would have placed a bit better in the overall if everyone did the same swim. My total time was 2:19:35, and the overall winner was 2:07.

My 3 hour marathon story (February 2004)

My Marathon Story (February 2004) by David Hoffman

First some background:

Two and a half years ago, just before my 44th birthday, I saw my doctor for an annual physical. I definitely felt like I was approaching middle age. I didn't have much energy, my cholesterol was a little high, and the doctor said I should lose some weight. I distinctly remember walking away from the doctor's office feeling really down. Then, I decided I had reached a fork in the path of my life - I could continue on the road to becoming a chubby old man, or I could do something about it. That same day I decided two things - I would exercise every day, and I won't eat junk.

I had been a pretty good runner when I was in my 20s. I had almost broken 3 hours in the marathon twice - I ran a 3:00:43 marathon in 1980 in Lyme Connecticut at the age of 22, and a 3:00:39 a year later (Nittany Valley Marathon, 1981), and also a few others under 3:10, but never under 3 hours. Later I had gradually given it up as pressures of career took too much of my energy. My weight gradually increased, especially as I passed 40 years old. It had always been a regret of mine that I had never run a sub-3 hour, since I probably could have done it when I was younger. But I figured that chance had long since passed by.

Well, after two years of exercising again, I went from a 44 year old that was barely able to run mile, up to the point where I could think of running a 3 hour marathon again. After a year of training I ran a 3:02:30 at Austin (in 2003), so I figured I had a shot at a sub 3 hours in 2004.

Now for the race report - Austin marathon, Feb 15, 2004:

The weather was just about perfect, 37 degrees F at the start, and almost no wind.

I started the morning at 4:30 am - two cups of black coffee, no food. Not too much water yet, so I don't have to pee every ten minutes. Head for the start at about 5:45 am, with my wife and sister (my sister is doing the half-marathon). Mostly sit in the car for an hour to keep warm, only venturing out for a short jog to get my legs moving. At 6:50 am I head to the start line, carrying two 20 ounce bottles of water, which I drink about 5 minutes before the start. I see lots of familiar faces, from the Distance Challenge race series, and the 30K five weeks ago.

The Austin course is pretty fast, its point-to-point with about a 300 foot elevation drop. Unfortunately, all of the elevation drop is in the first 14 miles. The last 12 miles are rolling, not flat, but no monster hills, just little ones.

I got across the start line in 7 seconds, and went through the first mile in 6:35, a bit fast but not too unreasonable. 40:10 at the 10K split, which is a bit fast for me, but its downhill. I see my wife Lisa with a sign saying "Go Dave Go" at 7 miles (I didn't know she made me a sign!). 1:25:13 at the half marathon mark, which is way too fast for me, but it didn't feel too fast. No real fatigue yet.

I see my wife again at 14 miles, and she hands me a 24 ounce water bottle, which I completely drink over the next half mile. There is a long gradual uphill heading for the turn around at the 17 mile mark, where I get my first hint of tired legs. This is the only part of the course where I can see the really fast runners heading back from the turn around, which is amusing. They sure are fast! After turning around at mile 17, I start heading back myself, and see the crowd of runners behind me (hi Noah!). There is a big pack a few minutes behind me, which must be the 3 hour pace group. I hope I don't see them again until the finish!

My legs are feeling a bit tired at 18, but this is normal, right? I haven't slowed down, still running around 6:40 per mile. But the splits are getting a bit harder to figure, my brain is getting a bit slow. I do a PR for 30K. And 2:12:02 at 20 miles, also a PR for me. My wife has another sign for me at 20 - "Run Baby Run". It seems silly, but it really does perk me up!

Mile 21 is 7:00 minutes - but I figure I can run 7's the rest of the way and still hit 2:56.

Mile 22 has a little hill, which really slows me down. A 7:20 for this one.

Mile 23 is a 7:40, uh-oh!

Somewhere in 24 there is a little hill (or maybe slight upward slope) and it nearly stops me. My legs are absolutely burning now, but the most frustrating thing is they won't do what my brain tells them to! An 8 minute mile. I am doing OK on the flat and downhill, but an uphill slope on mile 25 nearly kills me, my legs just won't move. A little hill at the bridge over the interstate slows me down again, and makes me dizzy. Over 8 minutes for mile 25.

My mile 25 split is 2:50:10 - all I need is to do 8 minute pace for a little over a mile, and I will break 3 hours. Unfortunately, I can barely move my legs, and any slight irregularity in the road surface threatens to send me sprawling. But I am still running (though not very fast). I think I can do an 8 minute mile!

I see Palmer auditorium, the finish line, and my watch says 2:57 and some seconds. I am running as fast as I can, but it is pathetic. Then I can see the digital clock at the finish line, it says 2:59 and something. But I'm not there yet. The finish line announcer asks the crowd to cheer for those trying to get under 3 hours - but the next time I look at the finish line clock I see 3:00:10. I'm across the line at 3:00:41.

But I'm not really disappointed. I know I would have been disappointed if I hadn't given it my best effort. But I fought every step of the way, and never gave up. That was all I had in me.

Now, a few days later, I am pretty much recovered, and I am just amazed at how much better it feels to be 46 years old, compared to when I was 44.

PS - I wonder if I am the only person in the world who has run 3 sub 3:01 marathons without ever breaking 3 hours. That sure is weird!