Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010

Before I get to next year - let me just say that if you thought my 2009 review post was a little lame - you're probably right. I kind of rushed through it because I had other things to do. To make up for this I have put my daily mileage into a google spreadsheet with everything you'd want to know (really, more than you'd want to know) about my 2009 year of running. It even has a graph - I know pretty awesome. I have to credit where it's due - it's based on a spreadsheet I saw on Jake Klim's blog. Obviously the last week is only what I have planned rather than completed - I'm going to have to bump it up a bit to hit 3,400 miles for the year.

As for 2010 - my main goal is running sub 2:30 at Chicago next October. My spring goal is to run a "fast" (~sub 32:45) 10k on the track. It might be on the short side of the races I've been running lately - but, there it's a whole other kind of mental trick to run 25 laps on the track - paying attention enough to the splits to make sure you're on pace but, not enough that you get overwhelmed with how far you have to go.


Other than that I don't have any specific goals for 2010. But, I'm looking forward to an intense summer including my first ever 120 mile week and some training that will make my Boston training blush with embarrasment. It sounds like every decent runner in a 100 mile radius is running Chicago next year (except Arjun of course) - as Ryan would say - "Hoo Hoooooo!!!"

Last Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 10 miles 4X1 mi @ T pace (5:38;5:34;5:35;5:39) 1 min rest - first sub-six min miles since 10/10 over 10 weeks ago - felt heavy; need to lose some lbs!
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 0 miles
Friday: 6 miles 3X100m striders
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: 10 miles
Total: 51 miles

This Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 12 miles 12X400m with 400m rest
Wednesday: 8.5 miles
Thursday: 10 miles 3X2 mi @T pace
Friday: 0 miles
Saturday: 12 miles
Sunday: 4
Total: 54 miles

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowpocolypse

As I was running this morning through the snow filled wonderland of Baltimore - I noticed one thing that was missing. People, especially kids, actually having fun in the snow. Growing up in Michigan I have tons of memories of sledding, building igloos, getting in snow ball fights etc. In Baltimore, heavy snows happen so infrequently that people don't even seem to know how to have fun in the snow - much less have the equipment to do it.
My favorite snowbound story is when I returned to Ann Arbor after going to Times Square for new years eve. First of all - don't ever do NYE in Times Square unless you have electrically warmed socks and a bladder the size of a party balloon. You're basically stuck in a fenced in paddock for over 5 hours. The only thing that saved me is that we were right next to the MTV studios, it was 1998 (turning to 1999), and Jennifer Love Hewitt was hosting in a dress made by someone who took very good measurements.
On the day we drove back it snowed over 20 inches throughout most of the midwest. It didn't get too bad until we hit Cleveland. Toledo to Ann Arbor was the worst - as it took over 2 hours to drive 45 miles. As we got to my friend Steffan's neighborhood - we realized that my parent's Dodge Caravan didn't wasn't going to make it to his parents' place. So, he got out and walked the final few blocks. I drove to my parents' neighborhood and found the same problem. It was after midnight and I don't think I even had a cell phone. So, I drove to where I hoped there would be some activity - the Michigan track house on State street.
Two friends from high school, Don McLaughlin (member of at least two Penn Relay distance medley relay champion teams) and Todd Snyder (he had been 10th at NCAA XC championships that year) lived there. I found Don and a few other guys from the team there having a "good time." Even though I had just driven 14 hours I was kind of energized. One of the guys had a great idea - we should go to another house where several UM track guys lived and cover all the doors with snow so they couldn't get out in the morning.
We then went on to do a few other things that I won't mention in order to protect the innocent and not so innocent. Let's just say that a certain female NCAA national champion threatened us with bodily harm based on some of our activities.
I'm not sure there was a point to that other than I'm an old man (in my running group at least) and old men like to tell stories.

Here is my first "this week and last week" since September.

Last Week:
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 0 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles Striders
Thursday: 9 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 0 miles
Sunday: 13 miles
Total: 43 miles

This week:
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday evening: 9 miles 5X1 mi @ T pace (somewhere around 5:30 pace) 1 min rest
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday morning: 0 miles
Friday: 6 miles 8X100m striders
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: 10 miles 4Xhills
Total: 50 miles

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Year in Review

2009 was my best running year since college. Everything seemed to come together - a lot of that is due to having some great people to train with and this blog probably helped as well - nothing is as motivating as the white hot spotlight of the blog ; )

The place to start are the goals I wrote last January.

1) Run 3,650 miles for the year. I'll end up with ~3,400 miles for the year - so, I missed this by over 250 miles. Of course that's less than a mile a day, so I can't be too upset.

2) Run sub 2:30 at Boston. Again - came up a little short on this one with my 2:32:35. But, given the head wind and tackling the Boston course for the first time - I was again pretty happy.

3) Run 52:30 for 10 miles. I was probably most disappointed with falling so far from this goal. I ran 54:05 at the Army 10 miler. I got a pretty nasty cramp - which probably cost me about 30-40 seconds.

Funnest race: You can't beat Miami in January. A bunch of us went down for the Miami half-marathon last January. The results were somewhat secondary - although my goal was to run marathon pace - and oddly enough I ended up running 1:16:19.

Most disappointing race: Although the Army 10 miler wasn't what I wanted - I was probably most disappointed about the Club Challenge 10 miler. I was sick and just couldn't get moving.

Best new adventure: This would obviously be the JFK 50 miler. I ended up running right around my predicted pace (6:21) - but, I was slower on the Appalachian trail section and faster on the C&O canal path. 50 milers are not going to become a regular part of my running (I don't think I'll do one in 2010) - but, it was a good experience.

Second place Best new adventure: I ran the Great Lakes Relay for the first time - a 10 person three-day relay in northern Michigan. Our team had a great time and ran hard. I'll be doing this race again in 2010.

Wins - Celiacs 10k & Navy 5 miler.

Thanks everybody for your support!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Rhythm of Running

Kendra and I were watching one of our geeky science/history shows the other day. This particular show was about a new theory regarding Stonehenge. The theory was that the stones were fashioned to enhance acoustics of the space rather than for the widely accepted theory that it was related to astrology or the seasons. The show explained that many traditional religions, which they believe to be similar to those found in England 4,500 years ago, use drumming as a way to break into a trancelike state. From this trance it is believed that one can communicate with the dead – or even with the gods.
The program continued by showing an experiment on brain waves under two conditions. In the first condition the participant listened to random traffic noise – in the second condition they listened to the beats of tribal drums. The brain waves were all over the place while listening to the traffic but, they seemed to calm and sync-up when listening to the simple rhythms.
Although on the surface we all give various reasons for running – I think that for most of us it’s something that we can’t necessarily explain – we just know the good feeling we get from it. Like meditation, running can cause us to be more aware of the most essential parts of being alive – our heartbeat, our breathing, our feet hitting the ground. Our brains seem to be designed to react in powerful ways to these simple rhythms.
Having just completed my first 50 miler – I would say that the most unique part of that experience was the ups and downs. As with life – it’s impossible to have a continuous experience over 50 miles. What bothered you at 6 miles is a far off memory at 20 miles. Redemption is possible – you just have to have the patience and faith that you can get back into a rhythm (having people cheer you one doesn’t hurt either).
It’s almost impossible to talk about running and not talk about rhythm. For our hard workouts and races we talk about being on “pace”. When we’re running well our legs feel like metronomes – clicking away almost automatically. The connection between running and rhythm can be extended to the rhythm of training cycles. The Tuesday night track workout – the Sunday long run – it becomes a rhythm that we don’t just feel in our bodies but rather a rhythm that shapes our lives.
The most interesting thing to me about this new theory about Stonehenge is that we need to have others around us drumming along to really feel the beat. Over the last year, which has been my best running year since college, I’ve had a lot of help and some great acoustics. I may not have spoken with any gods, but I did get to connect with life in a deeper way. Thanks to all of you who were a part of helping me find my rhythm!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Thanksgiving to Remember

On Tuesday I started to feel sick. I never get sick - but, I wasn't too surprised that my immune system might have been a little compromised from JFK. It started out as head congestion and a sore throat - so, I did all those things you're supposed to do at the first sign of a cold - gargle with warm salt water - take vitamin C etc.
The congestion started to make it into my chest on Wednesday, but I didn't feel too bad. Early Thursday though was a different story. I woke up around 4am with a bad cough and some significant wheezing. I took a theraflu - but, it didn't help too much. I finally took a few puffs from my wife's inhaler. It helped a little bit - I was at least able to go to sleep, but I knew I'd need to see the doctor.
Around 9:30am we got out the door to the urgent care to figure out what was going on - I was having even more difficulty breathing. It was not good. Having difficulty breathing is a really horrible feeling - and the emotional aspect of it makes it worse. As you feel more anxious things seem to close up even more. I had some episodes like this in the past, but much less serious. Because they seemed to happen just as I was going to bed I was diagnosed with acid reflux - basically as I lay flat the acid would get into my airway and cause me to cough and wheeze. I had taken some medication for it on and off for the last few years and I had actually just started back on it a week ago.
At the urgent care they gave me a chest x-ray to make sure it wasn't pneumonia. They also gave me a nebulizer treatment - it's basically a liquid which vaporizes into a plastic pipe thing that you breath in to your lungs. It's basically a more powerful version of an inhaler. Little did I know that I would need 4 more of these treatments over the next 24 hours.
They didn't see any proof of pneumonia in the chest x-rays - the doctor thought it might be some kind of asthmatic reaction caused by an infection. So, I got a prescription for antibiotics, an abuterol inhaler, and prednisone - an oral steroid to reduce inflammation in my lungs.
A few hours after we got home things got worse. I had a nasty coughing attack - I just couldn't stop. Kendra went out to get me something for my cough, but on the way she called the urgent care - they said I should go to the ER right away. So, she came back and we made the thankfully short drive two blocks to Mercy hospital.
I felt a little better just being at the hospital. What most worried me were a few stories I had heard lately about people who had respiratory issues (usually related to pneumonia) and ended up in serious trouble. Apparently once a problem gets advanced enough in your lungs you're pretty much screwed.
The first few hours were pretty much a repeat of the urgent care. A nebulizer treatment, chest x-ray - tons of questions. All this time my parents were on their way from Michigan for a planned trip to Baltimore. Of course we updated them as things got worse. By the time they got there I was hooked up to an IV and had oxygen tubes coming out of my nose. Seeing their 32 year old son in such a state was probably not what they had planned on for their Thanksgiving trip - but, we all tried to stay positive.
The doctor came in and told us that it was most likely something asthma related, which seemed odd to me since I had just run a 50 miler race less than a week ago. But, I guess there are a lot of different kinds of asthma - and mine might not be related to exercise, but rather could be triggered by allergies - or acid reflux - or something else. They were still worried because my oxygen levels in my blood were lower than normal (normal is 95% and above - I was 90-93% without oxygen). So, not only would they keep me until that was normalized, but they were also going to give me a CAT scan to make sure I didn't have a blood clot in my lungs.
The CAT scan was interesting. First - the two girls who wheeled me to the scanning room were entertaining - they felt the need to complain about how they weren't too happy about pushing people around and couldn't wait until they got their nursing degree. The scan itself was odd - to find blood clots they have to pump in iodine intravenously. They give you a lot of warnings of what can happen. Luckily I only had the regular reaction -which is an odd warming sensation that flows through your body. The worst is when it hits your nether region, it feels like you might have peed yourself.
So, after a few hours they said I didn't have a blood clot -but, I do have some kind of "node", which could be nothing - but, I need another CAT scan in six months to make sure it hasn't grown. Great. The oxygen levels still weren't doing too well - so, they decided I had to stay the night. This is the first time I have ever stayed overnight at a hospital since I was born - so, it was a little weird.
After a new doc scared Kendra and me with a few other rare but potentially serious diseases I might have, I got up to a more comfortable hospital bed on the seventh floor around midnight. In order to rule out all these rare issues I might have they had to draw a bunch of blood. Throughout the night they drew blood three separate times - along with two more nebulizer treatments and checking my vitals every once in awhile I didn't get much sleep.
Three more doctors checked in with me the next morning (the final total was six doctors and seven nurses). They seemed to agree that there was some chronic asthma issue going on along with the acid reflux. Finally around 11am they tested my oxygen levels while I was walking around the hall. I passed. Around 2pm they finally let me out - of course along with a few more prescriptions.
The plan is for me to get a pulmonary test in a few weeks to confirm that I have asthma - and then figure some kind of long term plan from there. I'm definitely feeling better -but, I still have a cough and my breathing isn't great. The good thing is that they didn't limit my activity at all - so, I'll probably be back to running by Monday. Obviously I'll be taking it easy for awhile - but, things could be worse.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

JFK 50 miler

I ran 50 miles today. Believe me - I know how crazy that sounds.
The day didn't start out very promising. We only made the 6:20am cut-off for picking up my racing number because my sweet wife insisted that we get a wake-up call in case my watch alarm didn't work - or didn't wake us up (it didn't). Then after some dithering on my part as to what to do with my bag with my shirt - and waiting too long for a bathroom - I found myself 50 meters back from the start line when the gun sounded.


Luckily, a 50 miler is a different kind of beast than the races I normally run. First - I didn't have to do too much weaving to get the pace I wanted. Second - I could see the leaders not too far in front of me the entire time we climbed up the big hill to reach the Appalachian trail. As we first entered the AT - I found myself around 20th place. The course stays on the AT for only a few miles - it then deviates onto a hilly road that appears to be used by hunters (at least when I did a run there several weeks ago). This was good news for me. I was able to pass a few more people by the time we got back to the trail - and I could actually see the second place guy enter the woods for the second time (around 5.5 miles) - I was in about 12th place at this point.
While I was out on the AT today - I came up with a new term for my ankles - "wankles". They are weak. I've never been a good trail runner because I turn my ankles pretty easily. My senior year in college I even had to tape my ankles before every indoor race because my ankles couldn't take even the relatively sharp turns of a 200 meter indoor track. Because of this - I am very timid on rocky trails - maybe I'm weird, but there's something about the feeling of my ankle being bent at a 90 degree angle that isn't very appealing.
So, to make a long story short - I lost a LOT of time on the AT. People were BLOWING past me. I knew this was going to happen - so, I was somewhat prepared psychologically. But, when the dude with tights that looked like Bozo the clowns hairdo passed me I started to get worried. Then the first woman passed me. I say first, because by the time I got to the 15 mile mark when we mercifully joined the even and flat C&O canal path there were four women in front of me. I ran somewhere around 2 hours and 20 minutes for 15.5 miles, which is the time that I would run 20 miles on a easy long run. It was rocky. Picture a field of boulders bordered by trees that produce slippery leaves. This hellish scenario sometime when on for miles.
So, by the time I got to the C&O I was frustrated and a little mad. I was somewhere between 30-40th place - running even slower than I had anticipated. The only thing to do to feel better is start passing people. So, for the next 10 miles I put the hammer down - I had a few splits (if the canal mile markers are to be trusted) that were under 6 minute pace. As I reached handmade sign that said "If you were running a marathon you'd be done by now" I realized that there was no way I could keep this up - and I had passed enough people that I was back into the top 20. So, my pace slowed but I was still under 7 minute pace for most miles.


Even though I slowed a little I kept on passing people who had gone out too fast. Psychologically this was very important. I didn't dare start counting down the miles until I was at least past mile 30. At mile 30 I realized that I could break 6:20 - which was fine in my book because it meant I would cover the last 34.5 miles in 4 hours. Every 5 miles I would check my time - and I kept on pace. That is until the course left the canal path for the hilly roads just northwest of the Antietam battlefield. My sub seven minute pace went to over eight. To try and put some energy into my legs I started downing energy gels every 15 minutes instead of every half hour. The road was lonely. I passed only two people in the last 8.5 miles.
But, as I got to 6 miles to go I started to feel better. And although when I looked at a video my wife took, I seem to be only shuffling along - I felt "dynamic". The last five miles were actually somewhat fun. With four miles to go I saw Melissa, Arjun, Brennan, and Kendra (my wife, who did a great job supporting me by the way). They gave me that last burst of energy I needed. I was able to pass one more guy in with 2 miles to go to get 8th place. The field was pretty incredible (below is a picture of me with Scott Jurek, the 7-time champion of the Western States 100 miler) - and I felt pretty good to be in the top ten with some well known runners.



Will I do another 50 miler? I'm not sure - it's certainly difficult to think about sitting at my computer - dreading getting up because I can hardly walk. But, you never know. If I do I'm going to make sure it's not on a course where my "wankles" come into play.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"It's not your legs it's your stomach"

Next Saturday I will do something that on the face of it sounds foolish. I will run almost twice as far as I've ever run in one day - 50 miles. And who knows? It very well might be foolish. But, I have some reasons to be confident. I've gotten some good advice from Baltimore ultra/triathalon "cover girl" Alyssa. I'm pretty much going to follow her nutrition plan - which is 1) drink one bottle of fluid (water, gatorade, or combo) per hour 2) Eat an energy gel every half-hour 3) Take a sodium/potassium pill once an hour 4) Have my wife ready with some "comfort food" if I start feeling bad.
The other thing that makes me feel confident is the training I've done the last several weeks. The first weekend in November I ran 20 miles on Saturday and 20 miles on Sunday. I actually felt pretty good on my Sunday run until Arjun reminded me that I would be running all 40 plus another 10 in one day. I have to admit I was so sore the next day that I couldn't run - but, I didn't drink or eat much during that second 20 miler.
The very next week I ran a full marathon at Harrisburg. The plan was to run just under 3 hours - but, I was feeling strong and I kept seeing people who I didn't want to beat me (guy wearing headphones, guy with no shirt etc) - so, I ended up running a 2:47. This time I stuck with my nutrition plan as described above. The best thing is that I felt almost no soreness the next day - which showed how proper nutrition can be critically important for runs over two hours.
Also, I heard a man and woman near me at the start line before the marathon talking about the JFK 50 miler - so, I chimed in that was running my first one this year. The woman said that she concentrated so much on the trail section in the first 15 miles (it's rocky) that she didn't eat or drink enough - and felt awful later. The guy said that a lot of first timers make that mistake - they have the legs to go 50 miles - but, they don't have the stomach. They get tied up - can't eat - and then they completely bonk.
So, I feel pretty good since nutrition is going to be my focus. I probably won't even measure my progress in miles, but rather how much longer is it to my next energy gel? or have I sucked down enough water in the last 15 minutes?
I've also run or at least seen most of the course. I ran a 20 mile out and back run on the appalachian trail section - which showed me that I will get frustrated in certain areas where the rocks seem to go on for miles, but at least I know what to expect. Yesterday I drove the last 8.5 miles that's on roads and ran 12 miles on the C&O canal path. The canal path has pretty good footing - and I think I can get going pretty well if I'm not too beat up.
When I first signed up for JFK I had no thoughts about competing - just surviving. But, I'm not sure I can run a race and not "compete". I don't know what that exactly means over a 50 mile race. I know I can't go too nuts over the trail section - because if I fall or twist an ankle it could be all over before it's started. I've even resigned myself that I'll probably get passed by some folks on the trail section. But, there's a LOT of running to go after we descend to the C&O canal path - and I figure that's where I can get in a rhythm and pick some people off. While running on the canal path yesterday I visualized hawking someone down or pushing the pace around the turns to hold someone off.
Whatever happens I'm sure it will be an adventure!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Have an Adventure!"

Our fearless leader Ryan often yells this commandment. He is just as likely to say this before a normal Monday night run as before an epic event like "Hubs of Fury". Although not true of all runners - I would say that this need for adventure is what drives many of us. I started running competitively in seventh grade - already by my eighth grade year I wanted to run a half-marathon. It wasn't just any half-marathon - it was the Dexter-Ann Arbor half-marathon. It started in the smaller town of Dexter, MI and ran along the Huron River finishing in downtown Ann Arbor. I felt pretty awful afterwards, but I could say one thing - I had an adventure.
I've thought a few times through the years about running an ultra-marathon, but I didn't sign up for one until last spring. It is the JFK 50 miler - starting in Boonsboro, MD climbing to the Appalachian trail - descending to the C & O canal path near Harpers Ferry, WV - and finishing on roads just west of the Antietem battlefield.
My goal race this fall was the Army 10 miler - so, I haven't done much 50 miler specific training other than the last two weekends. Last weekend I ran ~20 miles on both Saturday and Sunday. For some reason I thought I would be able to run on Monday - but, I was so sore I decided against it. Today I ran a full marathon in Harrisburg. I feel much more comfortable with the distance then even a year ago. It is just a distance - there's nothing too magical about it - just be prepared for it.
It's hard to believe that I haven't written anything on here for over a month. That's by far the longest I've gone since I started this blog a year ago. I'll be posting the next few weeks about JFK - but, I'll probably give it a break again until the New Year. I've done more running in 2009 since college probably - and I have to say that this blog has been a big part of that. It's forced me to make commitments and hold to them. It's also made me think about my training a little more because I know people will be reading - so, thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

At least he didn't have a disease

Up until today my only win in 2009 had been at the Celiacs 10k in Baltimore. The second place was a high school kid with Celiacs who had won Celiacs races all over the country. It was a little embarrassing - that's until I saw I might have a chance to win the African American 5k. I thought, maybe I could dedicate myself to winning small races named for groups of people unrelated to myself. Unfortunately I got second at the AA race - but, the seed had been planted.
That brings me to today - the Navy 5 miler. The race was held near the Pentagon in Arlington, VA. The weather was perfect. I had decided to take it out conservatively, focusing on dialing into approximately the pace that I'll run for the Army 10 miler - if I was close to the front after 3 miles than I'd compete. Luckily it worked out as I had hoped. At the mile I was in third place and I slowly closed the gap with first until I passed him at the 3 mile mark. I knew that there was a decent sized hill during the fourth mile - so, I pushed it hard during that section. At the final turn around I had some distance on the guy in second, who I would later learn is the assistant coach for Navy - but the last mile was a steady downhill. I knew I needed to keep pushing on the gas - I didn't want to let him back within shooting distance.
My high school coach made sure that we knew early on that looking back in a race was not acceptable. The reason is that it makes you look weak to the guy in second. You can give him confidence to think he might be able to catch you. In long distance racing appearing strong is important - you want the other guy to think it's not worth trying to catch you. That's why you should always put on a little surge when you're passing someone. You don't want it to be easy for them to react.
As I was turning the corner to 150 meters to go a kid stuck out his hand - I decided that probably meant that I far enough ahead - so, I slapped his hand. Of course - right away - I was a little worried that he'd come back on me and I'd look stupid. So, I kicked it in. I ended up about 20 seconds ahead - finishing in 26:37. It wasn't a great time - but, I have to say it's a lot of fun winning a race. I even had a guy from the washington post interview me afterwards. DC & Baltimore has a lot of strong runners - so, winning a race is as much about being lucky that nobody shows up as it is running well.
So I've got two weeks before Army 10 miler. A realistic goal for me would be ~54 minutes. At the beginning of the summer I was hoping for a 52:30 - so, I somewhat disappointed with my progress. I'm not quite sure of the problem. It could be that I'm not running enough miles - although after Boston I needed to pull back a little. The other possibility is that my quality days have not been hard enough. I've been running up to three tough workouts per week - which means that they have been less intense so that I can recover. In the spring I might go back to one track workout and one tempo workout per week.

Last Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday evening: 10.5 miles 5X2k 1min10sec rest (6:47.7; 6:42; 6:37.2; 6:33.8, 6:22)
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday evening: 9.5 miles 4X200 (35.6, 36, 34.1, 35.1) 3X1k (3:07.9, 3:05.2, 3:02.2) 2X400 (70.3, 70)
Friday: 8.5 miles
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: 15 miles Navy 5 miler 26:37 (5:24; 5:26.1; 5:19.3; 5:25.3; 5:07.2)
Total: 72.5 miles

This Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday evening: 10 miles Track workout
Wednesday: 8.5 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday evening: 10 miles Hills
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: 9.5 miles Airport 4 miler
Total: 63 miles

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reality Bites

Apparently it was a little premature to say I don't have anything else to write about running. This last weekend I ran the Ryan McGrath Memorial Maryland Championship 5k (Don't worry Ryan is alive - his ACL is not). It was going to be my best chance to see what I could do for 5k this year. The competition was very good - the only question was whether I could stick with somebody - or if I would be in no-mans land.
My recent workouts have been going pretty well - and I thought that maybe I could dip under 5 min pace per mile. My first quarter was 75 - right on pace. From there the four guys in front of me started to stiffen the pace. I did probably the worst possible thing - I didn't completely go with them, but I quickened my pace to a sub 74. The next two quarters were about the same pace - I came through the mile at 4:56. Faster than I had planned, but I felt ok. However I must have relaxed a little because my next two quarters were a 75 and 76.
At about the 1.5 mile mark it started to get a little harder. Arjun said I looked a little less strong at that point - well, I certainly felt it. I was able to keep my 75-76 pace for another two laps and then the wheels came off.
I came through at 9:59 at 2 miles. I knew at that point that it would be almost impossible to get back to under 5 min pace for the last minute. I also got passed and I wanted to go with him, but it wasn't happening. The last mile was ugly on every level. The look on my face, my form, and worst of all my splits. I ran a 5:14 last mile for a 15:52.
I was pretty disappointed. But, it was helpful as I try to figure out my proper pace for the Army 10 miler. It looks like something in the mid 5:20's will probably work. My original goal was 5:15 per mile. I don't see that happening.
Also, it was helpful as a reminder of what I need to do in that situation. Bring it back to the basics - breathing and form. I was thinking too much about splits and how bad I felt.

Last Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 9 miles
Wednesday morning: 11 miles 4 mi T pace 4X200m @ R pace
Thursday: 10 miles
Thursday evening: 4 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 9 miles 5k race 15:52
Sunday: 16 miles
Total: 72 miles

This Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday evening: 10.5 miles Track workout
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday evening: 10 miles Track workout
Friday: 9.5 miles
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: 16 miles 5 miles tempo
Total: 75 miles

Monday, September 7, 2009

Week of 9/7/09

Well, I think I'm going to keep posting my training - even though I might not have a long winded commentary accompanying it every week. Below is my training for the last few weeks.

Week of 8/17
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 11 miles 5X1 mi (5:02.4; 5:00.5; 4:57.2; 4:54.0; 4:55.4)
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 10 miles - sore & dehydrated only did one two mile repeat (11:17) and about 800 meters of the second - live to fight another day
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday: 12 miles 12X400m 400m rest (73.5; 70.4; 69.1; 69.3; 67.5; 67.9; 67.9; 67.8; 67.9; 67.0; 67.0; 67.7)
Sunday: 17 miles
Total: 82 miles

Week of 8/24
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday: 9 miles
Wednesday morning: 5 miles
Wednesday evening: 11 miles 4X1 mile (5:25.9; 5:22.2; 5:18.7; 5:12.2) 1 min rest + 2X1k (3:06.9; 3:07) with 3 min jogs 4X200m (36.8; 34.3; 35.0; 33.3) with 200m jogs
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday evening: 10 miles
Friday: 20 miles
Saturday: 7 miles
Sunday: 0 miles
Total: 76 miles

Week of 8/31
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday evening: 12 miles 10X1k (3:14.9; 3:13.5; 3:13.4; 3:12.5; 3:11.7; 3:08.5; 3:06.7; 3:05.0; 3:04.5; 2:58.8)
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday evening: 9 miles hills
Friday: 10 miles
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 20 miles
Total: 84 miles

This Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 8 miles
Wednesday morning: 11 miles 4 mi T pace 4X200m @ R pace
Wednesday evening: 4 miles
Thursday: 12 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 10 miles 5k race
Sunday: 17 miles
Total: 75 miles

Friday, September 4, 2009

Now for something completely different

You may have noticed that I haven't posted for awhile. Kendra and I have been out of town a lot lately - so, I decided to give myself a little break. But, I also just haven't had much interesting to say in regards to running. I've really enjoyed the blogging process, but I've decided it's time to move on to another topic. I came up with an idea - I'm not sure it will be great - but, it's something.

Awhile ago I decided that I'm not going to drink alcohol during the month of September (four days down!) so that I could be in the best possible shape for the Army 10 miler. In the last two days I 1) read a few chapters in the book Roads to Quoz by one of my favorite authors, William Least Heat Moon. These chapters were dedicated to a woman who lives incredibly simply. She's basically like a nun. Taking as little from the world and giving as much as she can. I was inspired. 2) watched a "Mega Disastors" show about peak oil. I've been reading about this idea for probably five years, but it reminded me how rough life could become.

So, I decided to abstain from something that I have dependence on, but know in my heart probably isn't good for me or the world. It's kind of a year of Lents. Yes, Morgan Spurlock did something similar - this is going to be better - but, I can't promise it won't be less preachy ; )

So, here's the list - for more info visit my new blog. I welcome any suggestions on new ideas. This list is very open to modification.

September 2009: Alcohol
October 2009: Clutter
November 2009: TV/Movies (does not include sports)
December 2009: The internet
January 2010: All animal related products
February 2010: Food prepared by others
March 2010: Purchases other than food/housing/clothing
April 2010: Trash
May 2010: Transportation that uses oil
June 2010: Time (volunteer once a day)
July 2010: Processed food
August 2010: Food made more than 100 mi away
September 2010: All of the above (except possibly animal products)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Don't wish the time away"

As I was sweating through my first yoga session since June, the instructor said the title of this post. Ok - I know - meditation and yoga groups are full of platitudes and maybe this qualifies. But, maybe the platitude is in the eye of the beholder - or maybe we just all need to be reminded of very simple, yet important truths from time-to-time.
There isn't anything that marks a good race from a bad race more clearly than whether you are engaged in what you're doing versus going through the motions. Once your brain clicks into "waiting for the finish" mode nothing good is going to happen. The instructor's point was - if you're already here why not make the best of it?
A lot of life is like that. Very rarely are we in situations where our mind is completely in the present. Too often we think of ourselves as chess players - always three moves ahead. Not that life shouldn't involve planning and preperation, but first and foremost life is meant to be experienced. If we're always thinking of the next job, the next race, or even just the next day - we can miss out on everything the present can offer.
As for the recent past - I ended up making the executive decision Saturday morning at 6am that I'd rather sleep than drive 45 minutes to a 10k. When I woke up I felt slightly guilty - so, I decided to do my 20 miler. I didn't finally get out the door until almost 9am - which meant I didn't finish until almost 11:30am. I ran a point-to-point course, starting in Dagsboro, DE and attempting to finish at Rehoboth Beach, DE. Well, my calculations were a little off - because at almost 2 hrs 30 mins of running I was still a few miles south of Rehoboth. Thankfully I had brought my cell phone - so, I called my support vehicle (my wife) and impatiently waited it out in the shade of the scrubby trees along highway 1. It was a great beach day - not so much for a 20 miler.
Even though I brought water I was still pretty dehydrated the next day (when it was even hotter). So, I did something I haven't done since June 21st - I took the day off from running.

Last Week
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles 16X400 (first 4 76-77 second 4 74-75 third 4 72-74 last 4 66-71)
Wednesday: 9.5 miles
Thursday: 11 miles
Friday: 8.5 miles
Saturday: 20 miles
Sunday: 0 miles
Total: 73 miles

This Week
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles track workout
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 14 miles 4 mi @ T pace 4 min rest 3 mi @ T pace 3 min rest 2 mi @ T pace 2 min rest 1 mi @ T pace
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday: 12 miles 12X400m @ R pace
Sunday: 17 miles
Total: 85 miles

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dancing with Pain (and his little brother Fatigue)

Pain is necessary to sustain life. Without it we wouldn't learn a lesson from touching a hot stove - we'd just think it was weird that our skin was smoking and turning black. Without pain we might try to run on a torn ACL (who would do such a thing?). Lots of athletes are "tough guys" when it comes to pain - they say things like "pain purifies" (direct quote from my high school coach). I don't go quite that far - but, I do think that most endurance athletes have a slightly different relationship with pain than the average person.

Actually using the word "pain" is probably a slight overstatement for most workouts or races. I would say I feel "discomfort" from running, but it's not like a burning poker is being shoved in my ocular cavity. As runners we have to respect "pain", and yet at the same time ignore it to a certain degree. Even if we try to push out pain it surfaces in our running form - which leads to over compensation injuries. So, we try to be both sensitive to pain and above pain. It's an odd dance.

Sometimes even more daunting is understanding how to deal with fatigue. On Thursday I was feeling like taking a nap instead of running a tempo workout. On my warmup I was thinking way too much about how tired I felt - the result? I ended up running too hard - in fact I ended up running most of my mile splits faster than what I ran for a 10k today. I should be running tempo splits at about 10 mile to half-marathon pace.

So what do I do about it? I've still got 8 weeks before the Army 10 miler - so, how do I give my self the best chance to perform on October 4th? Right now - I think I'm probably pushing myself a little hard. Not that I don't expect to feel some aches and pains at this point in my training - but, I want to trust my "coach" (Jack Daniels' book). And according to him - I need to dial back the intensity on most of my workouts.

Last Week
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles 1200 3:54 1100 3:33 1000 3:12 900 2:52 800 2:33 700 2:10 600 1:52 500 1:30 400 1:10.3 300 50.4 200 32.5 3X100
Wednesday: 11 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday afternoon: 10.5 miles 2mi easy 3mi (5:22.2+5:27.3+5:29.1 = 16:18.6) 3 min rest 2mi (5:19.9+5:19.9=10:39.8) 2 min rest 1mi (5:07.8) 2.5 mi easy
Friday: 9.5 miles
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: 11 miles Harris Teeter 10k 33:17 (5:29.8; 5:22.8; 5:33.1; 5:20.6; 5:11.0; 5:09.4; 1:10.2)
Total: 74 miles

This Week
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles 16X400
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday afternoon: 12 miles 8X1 mi @ T pace 1 min rest
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday: 12 miles 10k dewey beach
Sunday: 20 miles
Total: 90 miles

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fun weather fact

Today the mean temperature did something that it hasn't done since January 16th - it went down a degree (82 to 81 degrees - mean temp on 1/16 = 36 degrees). It won't really matter on Tuesday night at the track when it's supposed to be ~90 degrees - but, it does mean that the long dog's mouth of a Baltimore summer is slowly moving out.

Not that I'm complaining - I'd rather carry some water on a run than be forced to the treadmill because of ice on the roads, but it isn't exactly ideal for racing. However, I will be racing next Sunday for the first time in over a month. I'm running the Harris Teeter 10k next week in Leesburg, VA. I don't know exactly what to expect - but, I think I am ready for ~32:30. My JD inspired training has been going pretty well, so far. I've had some aches & pains, but nothing major. A cold water bath seems to take care of any soreness.

Today I ran one of my hardest long runs in awhile. I sprinkled in some 2 mile tempo sections into an 18 mile run. Overall I was pretty pleased - but, my second miles were consistently slower - which is not ideal. The big question will be how well I recover - this was my first week of seven planned weeks in a row at over 80 miles. The planned high week is 90 - so, nothing close to as "big" as my Boston training - but, it's more intense.

It's easy to let things get a little out of control with all the guys on the track each Tuesday - so, I think a key will be to just make sure I'm hitting my goal times and not worry about how many guys are finishing in front of me. Summer might be cooling off, but my training for the Army 10 miler is just starting to heat up! (yes, that might be the corniest sentence i've written on this blog - but, give me a break, I ran a hard 18 miler today! ; )

Last Week:
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles 3X(1200, 2 min rest, 800, 90 sec rest, 400, 2 min rest) (3:48.5, 2:30.0, 71.8; 3:44.4, 2:26.0, 72.6; 3:40.5, 2:21.4, 65.5)
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday afternoon: 10.5 miles hills 6X84-88 seconds
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 11.5 miles
Sunday: 18 miles 2 mi easy 2X2 mi tempo (5:30.0+5:38.4=11:08.4; 5:23.5+5:32.2=10:55.7) 6 mi easy 2X2 mi tempo (5:27.4+5:38.6=11:06.0; 5:17.6+5:33.2=10:50.8) 2 mi easy
Total: 84 miles

This Week:
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles Track Workout
Wednesday: 11 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday afternoon: 10 miles Tempo workout
Friday: 10 miles
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 15 miles Harris Teeter 10k
Total: 80 miles

Monday, July 27, 2009

People who need people . . . to compete, but not too many people

I can't remember where I found this blog post - but, I've been meaning to write something about it for awhile. It's a discussion of a psychology study regarding how the number of competitors affects how hard individuals compete. Simply, we are less motivated when the group size is larger - even if the odds of winning were the same.

That last point is the most important part - because, when it comes to racing, most of us are used to more people in a race means that there are more good runners - and therefore we have a worse chance of winning. But, in this study the same percentage of students would win a prize. It's as if you went to two different races, one with 100 people and one with 10,000 people. And the prize structure was that the top 10% received a prize - meaning that 10 people got a prize in the first race and 1,000 people got a prize in the second race. This study seems to show that most people will be more motivated in the first race than the second.

Since I did write my thesis on performance in groups based on the status of the individual - I have a few comments on this study. First, I am constantly intrigued by how people behave around each other - I many times surprise myself with my own behavior - much less other people. What's so incredible to me is that for the most part our behavior is mostly driven by a very simple concept - we pursue pleasure and avoid pain. But, we quickly understand as children that it's not always that simple. We might want to grab a hotdog off the grill - but, then we feel pain when we touch the grill. Although we quickly understand not to touch the grill - other lessons are much harder to learn - especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships. We constantly make bad decisions or wrong assumptions when it comes to others - even when it comes to people we've known our entire lives.

Given this complexity - some people just give up. They claim they don't care what other people think - because they've "learned" that it's impossible to figure out how others will react to them - so, it's "better" to just give up. Of course people who really take that to heart are usually very lonely and unhappy - most of the rest of us who say that are just kidding ourselves. We DO care what other people think - especially on a sub-conscious level. Studies like this one show how we are constantly monitoring our situation in regards to the others - in this case, we will try our hardest only if the group is small enough that we can't be "anonymous".

Like with social loafing, groupthink, and the bystander effect - we don't care as much about our behavior if we think that both pleasure or pain will be spread out to the group - instead of being focused on ourselves.

Last week
Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles 8X800m 90 sec rest (2:34.7, 2:33.6, 2:34.0, 2:34.8, 2:32.1, 2:29.7, 2:28.2, 2:20.7)
Wednesday: 8.5 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday afternoon: 11 miles 12X400m 400m rest (71.8, 72.0, 70.2, 71.3, 69.7, 69.5, 69.3, 68.7, 68.3, 67.5, 66.8, 66.3)
Friday: 8.5 miles
Saturday: 17 miles
Sunday: 8.5 miles
Total: 75.5 miles

This week:
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles track workout
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday afternoon: 12 miles 4X2 mi tempo
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 10 miles possible track workout
Sunday: 17 miles
Total: 83 miles

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Great Lakes Relay

If I had to choose my favorite “moment” of the great lakes relay it was sitting on the beach – enjoying the best weather of the weekend and a few beverages - socializing with the other teams we had competed against as the remaining 84 teams came through the finish line. The lake was glistening – reflecting a cloudless sky – framed by the huge sand dune bluffs on the shore – and then a dude with a green lycra body suit that covered his entire body including his face ran out on to the beach and started dancing with random people.

It had been a long three days to get to this point. From ~4:30am, when we woke up each morning, until 3-4pm (1pm on the last day) when we finished each day – it was a continuous cycle of navigating/driving, estimating arrival times so that you had the proper amount of warm-up, finding some “privacy” in the woods, making sure you understood the directions, running your leg, warming down, getting something to eat/drink, and helping your teammates to do the same. It was no wonder that we were ready to pass out around 7pm every night.

I ran for “M-10”, the defending champions. Other than myself, M-10 had five Michigan grads, two Calvin grads and two current Michigan State guys. I think at least three of my teammates had run sub 14:30 5k’s this last spring – including a 37 year old. But, there were some other stacked teams as well. The “younger” Michigan team (named “Very Nice” – a Ron Warhurst phrase) had some studs on the current Michigan team – including Lex Williams – who apparently ran the last 5k of the Big 10 outdoor 10k in 14:10 this year. The other main competition was a team of Eastern Michigan current and alumni - including two guys who ran just over 50 minutes at the George Washington Parkway 10 miler in April.

The first day was eye opening for me. Approaching Oscoda High School – I felt like we were in the car convoy at the end of “Field of Dreams”. Before the race my best guess was that maybe 20-30 teams were in the relay – since it was mostly Michigan people and it was about 4-5 hours from civilization (aka Ann Arbor). But, to my surprise, there were 84 teams toeing the line on Friday morning at 6am – meaning that there were 240 cars (3 cars per team) carrying over 800 runners. Organized chaos is a pretty accurate way of describing what I saw on that first morning as people rushed back to their cars after the start to make their way to the correct leg.

Of these 84 teams, only two would receive trophies. One trophy is for the “open” division, which can include up to three females. The females receive a handicap – so, that a team with 7 guys and 3 girls can compete with a team with 10 guys (M-10 had 10 guys). The other division was for “mixed” which was for teams with four or more females.

Most of the legs were on the Shore-to-Shore trail which traverses the state from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan. The trail was originally designed as a horse trail. If you haven’t been to northern Michigan – there is one important feature when it comes to running – the top 6-12 inches of earth is made up of primarily sand. This meant that the constant horse traffic dug a trench about 12-18 inches wide and 2-6 inches deep. Where the sand was really bad and the brush to the sides was relatively light – it was best to hop out of the rut and run along the less sandy sides. The first two days were almost entirely on this trail – and three out of my six legs were on the trail – so I had to get rid of my Patapsco induced phobia of trails pretty quickly.

My first leg was a simple four mile loop on roads – but, even then I wasn’t quite sure I was going the right way at one point. My first turn was onto a “road” that was just two tracks with grass growing in the middle. My first leg was also a little odd in that I couldn’t see any other runners. My goal was to run “tempo” pace – but, not seeing anyone else meant I didn’t run with any real urgency.

My second leg of the first day started very differently with my teammate leading two other runners sprinting out of the woods – I instinctively attempted to put some distance on the other two by pushing hard the first few hundred meters into the woods – but, one guy was right on me. He eventually passed me and ended up gapping me by 15-20 seconds over three miles even though I was going at pretty much race effort. That’s when I realized that instead of 26 miles of tempo effort over three days – quite a bit of it would be race pace because you don’t want to be the guy who puts your team back a few minutes – as you most likely would be greeted with a comment like “what happened, did you get lost?” Sometimes guys who were about to go head-to-head against someone they knew was better they would preemptively state that they weren’t going to get lost – so, nobody should ask them when they were done.

As a team we were pretty happy – there weren’t any huge screw-ups – just a few hiccups. But, in the end the two younger teams were too strong for us after accounting for the handicap – although we ended up with the fastest overall time by ~40 seconds – which is incredibly close since the race was 270 miles long. Overall it was one of the most fun running events that I’ve participated in. It was less like a race and more like a “festival” of running. Of course the other guys were key to the whole experience – not only was everybody good – they were also a lot of fun to hang out with around the campfire.



Last Week

Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles 4X(1000m 500m) (3:12, 1:31; 3:07, 1:29 ;3:06,1:25 ;3:01,1:27) 2X200 (33.8,30.9)
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 6 miles
Friday: 15 miles GLR ~7 miles
Saturday: 16 miles GLR ~11 miles
Sunday: 13 miles GLR ~ 8 miles
Total: 75 miles

This Week:

Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles Track workout
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 11 miles possible track workout
Friday: 8.5 miles
Saturday: 18 miles

Sunday: 9 miles
Total: 75 miles

Sunday, July 12, 2009

GLR week

My TWSS equivalent training group in Ann Arbor, before I moved to Baltimore, included some guys who organize a team for the Great Lakes Relay every year. I always wanted to run - but I always had a conflict. The GLR starts on the east side of the state (about the same latitude as Green Bay, WI) and finishes in Empire, MI on the Lake Michigan side. In between are 264.75 miles broken into 54 legs run by 10 guys.

The nice thing about the GLR is that it is run over three days and each day has a manageble number of miles so that you're done each day by mid-afternoon (knock on wood). Much more civilized than the "run through the night" option that lots of these long distance relays seem to use.

As you can see from the voluminous nature of my training summary for last week - I've started to kick up the intensity. The Jack Daniels training book that I'm following for my goal Army 10 miler race suggests running three hard workouts or two hard workouts and a race per week.

Looking back on my marathon training - I had only one week with three hard days in a week. For my 10 miler training I'll have about 7-8 weeks with three hard days. So, although I won't be running as many miles as I did for Boston - it will be an adjustment. Of course no other week will have three "hard" days in a row like I've got this week.

Last Week:
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles 2X(800,1600,800) (2:34, 5:07, 2:30;2:30, 4:56, 2:21) 90 sec rest after 800 & 2 min after 1600
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 12.5 miles 3X2mi @ tempo (5:32+5:32=11:04; 5:24+5:29=10:53; 5:17+5:23=10:40)
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 10 miles 4X(200m R pace 200m jog 200m R pace 400m jog 800m R pace 400m jog)(33.3, 35.9, 2:20.7; 33.1, 34.1, 2:20.5; 32.9, 34.1, 2:20.8; 35.0, 35.7, 2:19.5)
Sunday: 16 miles
Total: 75.5 miles

This Week:
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles track workout
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: 15 miles GLR ~7 miles
Saturday: 16 miles GLR ~11 miles
Sunday: 16 miles GLR ~ 8 miles
Total: 79 miles

Sunday, July 5, 2009

1st loser on the 4th

Yesterday proved why one should never tie one's ego to winning. Sometimes it's all about who shows up.

Yes, I know, that does sound like something only a loser would say.

Yesterday I ran the African-American 5k in Baltimore. The prize for first place was two round trip tickets on Southwest to any place in the country. After looking at the results from last year I thought that I had a decent chance. I thought I could run about a minute faster than the winning time from last year. So, I registered after making sure that most of the guys I knew could beat me were out of town for the holiday or not interested.

Yes, I was running this race pretty much entirely to get some free plane tickets. Usually, I'm not the kind of runner who see how much money I can win at local road races - primarily because it isn't terribly motivating for me. I like big, historic races - where being in the top 100 is an achievement. Not to say that I don't enjoy winning - I do - I just don't want to be "one of those guys" who searches for the "easy money" or "easy victories."

So, in my own world view, I got what I deserved when I showed up to find out that two of the local Ethiopians were running the race. The race was pretty much over after 50 meters - he ended up beating me by a minute. So, very quickly I had to reconsider my goals. I decided that since I hadn't run a 5k for awhile I needed to test my fitness. So, I just ran as hard as I could and ended up with a 15:54 (although the course may have been about 10-15 seconds short). This was about what shape I thought that I was in - so, that was good. And the awards ceremony was awesome. They had a radio personality from Baltimore as the emcee. Judging from his girth he hadn't attended too many races in the past - although he ran the race - coming in last place. He did a great job on the awards - he had a little funny comment for everybody who came up.

One thing I've learned in my old age is that the world is a much better place if you let go of your pre-conceptions of what life should be about. Sometimes people, experiences, jobs etc end up being valuable in very different ways than you first expected. The key is remaining open - and not let disappointment get in the way of having a good time.

Last Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10.5 miles Tempo workout 2X15 min at the magic garden
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 16 miles
Friday: 4 miles
Saturday: 11 miles 5k race
Sunday: 10.5 miles
Total: 71 miles

This Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles Track workout
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday evening: 10 miles possible track workout
Friday: 9 miles
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 16 miles 8 mi of tempo
Total: 76 miles

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Western States

One of our Baltimore running group members did something that is still a completely unfathomable to me - Alyssa ran 100 miles up and down mountains. Her race report is pretty inspiring.

However, I have to say that leading up to the race and during the race I had some mixed feelings about her doing this. Part of me was thinking, "what is she trying to prove?" and "why would you put yourself in a situation like that?" While I was following her progress on the shaky web service of the Western States website, I couldn't help but have the same feelings of having a friend go through a major surgery. It's different than a normal race - you just hope they survive the thing without any lasting ill effects.

But, after reading her report and finding a quote from George Sheehan, M.D. (I'll post a little bio on him later) I feel differently. Yes, some of my change in perspective might come from the fact that she actually survived (and won her age group) - but, I also realize that Western States is in some ways the ultimate test. And I have to applaud anyone who values pushing themselves to the limits (within some bounderies of safety). Although, I don't run ultra's - it's the same feeling of self discovery and challenge that motivates me - and I can certainly respect that. The late Dr. Sheehan's quote sums it up much better than I can.

"We run long to learn our inner most self. In the long run we get down to bedrock. We find courage and strength we never knew we possessed. We give witness to a person we have never been before.

The run is like religion and play. It resembles art and music, it fills an area of life that is of tremendous importance but has no practical value. And like those other similar activities, running is among our most important functions. It helps us discover and form the self, we find where we are and where we are going. We learn who we are and who we might be. The long run is a place of self discovery."

George Sheehan, M.D.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

MIA

So, what's my excuse? Well, there was this.
And of course the difficulty of adjusting to life without fresh pain au chocolats every morning.

Well, I'm back now. This last week was the first time I ran two track workouts in one week for a very long time. I'm going to focus on quality over the next 14 weeks before the Army 10 miler - my weekly mileage will vary between 70-90 per week. A little less than what I ran in prep for Boston - but, most weeks I'll be running three quality sessions per week. So, keeping up with my nutrition and recovery regimine (elevation, cold baths, roller) will be key.

Here's what I've been running the last three weeks:

Week of 6/8
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 9 miles somehow didn't write down my times 1600m @ tempo 2X900;2X700;2X500;2X300
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 0 miles
Friday: 17 miles
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 12 miles Survivor Harbor 7 mile 37:55
Total: 63 miles

Week of 6/15
Monday: 0 miles
Tuesday: 8 miles
Wednesday morning: 4 miles
Wednesday afternoon: 7.5 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday evening: 6 miles
Friday: 18 miles
Saturday: 9 miles
Sunday: 0 miles
Total: 56.5 miles

Week of 6/22
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles 3X2000 6:19;6:23;6:28 4X400 75;72;67;64
Wednesday: 9 miles
Thursday: 8 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 10 miles 4X200(35;35.6;35.8;35.2) 2X400 (68.7;69.6) 1X800 (2:19.9) 2X400 (70;70.2) 4X200 (34.1;34.8;33.9;32.9) rest same as previous interval
Sunday: 17 miles
Total: 71 miles

This week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 10 miles Tempo workout
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 11 miles hills
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 10 miles 12X400m R pace 400m rest OR 5k race
Sunday: 15 miles
Total: 71 miles

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A New Season

I'm not sure why I didn't write about this last week - but, I've now entered my 18 week training cycle focused on the Army 10 miler. Last week was my first hard workout since Boston - and a mixture of fresh legs along with some cash incentives ($7,500 purse Race for Our Kids) prodded me into my first "real" race since Boston.

I knew that my place was going to be completely determined by who showed up. I'm just not in a place yet where I can mix it up with the big dogs. Well - pretty much every runner I was afraid of from Baltimore showed up today - along with a contingent from DC and No. VA (They somehow evaded our police barracade on both 95 & 295). The only thing I could hope for is that several of them would go out too fast and I could catch them on the brutal half-mile hill at the end.

It was not meant to be - other than Kyle allowing me to come within sniffing distance for the first and probably last time it was a pretty uneventful race. And except for a DNF - I was in the same place at a half-mile that I was at the finish. I got second in my age group - in a time that was six minutes faster than that place was last year. Proving once again that races cycle through fast & slow times - and if last year's results were slow you should probably count on them being fast this year.

Last Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 9.5 miles - hills - 7X400-600 meters
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 8.5 miles
Friday: 10 miles
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: 10.5 miles 10k 33:52 (5:11;5:31;5:36;5:28;5:23;5:36;1:06)
Total: 63.5 miles

This Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 9 miles Track workout
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 0 miles
Friday: 17 miles
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 12 miles Survivor Harbor 7 mile
Total: 63 miles

Monday, June 1, 2009

Two great stories of love gone wrong from my home state

One is somewhat related to athletic endeavors. A kid tried to ride a bike 250 miles to his girlfriend's place - when he got tired he stole a car.

The other has nothing to do with running or biking - but, it shows what happens when slick hollywood types come into my hometown and try to steal our women.

The only dude in the room

Last night Kendra and I went to our "regular" Sunday night yoga at Midtown Charm City Yoga. The room was packed as it normally is - but, I noticed something just before the class started. I had the only Y chromosome in the hot/sweaty room full of girls in spandex. Since, as a married man, I no longer notice attractive females - my only thought was that it's too bad more dudes don't do yoga.

I've discussed yoga in a post a long time ago - I really do think it helped me in my training for Boston. Everyone knows that yoga helps your muscles to become more flexible - but, it also strengthens muscles. It's not just 90 minutes of stretching. There are plenty of "poses" where I find myself shaking uncontrollably, sweat poring onto the mat, as I pray that we'll soon move into "child's pose." There are also poses designed to help your body get rid of toxins - which is important if you're training hard. Finally, it is a great stress reliever - I can't really explain it - but, I always feel less stressed and more ready to face the merde de vie after a session.

This is my first week with a "hard" workout. I have 18 weeks to go until my Fall goal race - the Army 10 miler.

Last Week
Monday: 7.5 miles
Tuesday: 11 miles 8X100m
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 6 miles
Friday: 9.5 miles
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: 17 miles
Total: 63 miles

This Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday afternoon: 9 miles - hills
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 8.5 miles
Friday: 10 miles
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: 12 miles 6 miles tempo
Total: 64.5 miles

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Mad Scientist

A few days ago, I was reading about Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein." It was both the first modern horror story and the first science fiction story. Written in 1818 - it touched on many concepts that would not really be fully explored by literature or science for another century.

Probably the most obvious lesson of "Frankenstein" is the importance of airing out our wonderful ideas with others. This is as important when building a training plan as building a humanoid made from cadaver's body parts.

I'm not saying that you should always bend to what others say - you know your own body better than anybody else - but, by this point pretty much every possible training strategy has been tried. If you don't use what others have learned, you are basically wasting your time - but at least you won't find yourself holed up in a dank castle waiting for the townsfolk with torches & pitchforks. It is, after all, just running.

Last Week
Monday: 6 miles
Tuesday: 8 miles - a few intervals
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 0 miles
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday: 6.5 miles
Sunday: 14.5 miles
Total: 53 miles

Next Week
Monday: 7.5 miles
Tuesday: 10.5 miles 8X100m
Wednesday: 9 miles
Thursday: 8.5 miles
Friday: 7 miles
Saturday: 7 miles
Sunday: 16 miles
Total: 65.5 miles

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Old Man Summertime Challenge

As an old guy you have to find ways to motivate yourself beyond PR's. All of my PR's at 10k and below are now over 10 years old. I could start running ultras - or I could find some kind of simple mathematical formula to find new goals for these distances.

Since running from sunrise to sunset isn't my idea of a good time (for the joys of ultra marathoning see Alyssa's blog) I found a way to challenge myself with some realistic goals at distances that I haven't raced for a long time.

I came up with an idea after running an all-out 400m tonight for the first time in almost 15 years. Somehow I managed to break 60 - which is ~5 sec off my PR (sadly enough). So I thought, what if I gave myself a 5 sec grace period per 400m for all my PR's under 10k? I did the math - and while challenging, I think I can do it.

I might save the 5k and 10k for next spring - but, I'd like to do this for at least the 800m, mile and 2 mile this summer. My goals would be 2:08, 4:35, and 9:36 (based off of 3k PR) respectively.

Next Tuesday - the 800.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mine that Bird

Yes - the filly did win this last weekend, and pretty much from beginning to end. But, even more exciting to me was how Mine that Bird ended up second after being at the back of the pack again. I was ready to give all credit to the jockey for the Derby win - but, the fact that Mine that Bird ran a pretty similar race with a different jockey shows that the instincts of the horse play a role as well.

There are times that horse racing seems somewhat cruel - but, after watching those two races it's hard to think that Mine that Bird doesn't enjoy mixing it up down the stretch as much as we enjoy watching him. I was actually watching the race from a reception that proceeded a lecture by the author Michael Pollan. Pollan wrote "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food". One of his more interesting arguments is that our food system works best when we let a cow be a cow and a carrot be a carrot. Basically, there are natural systems that have developed over millions of years - and we need to respect those systems or else we end up with weaker and less sustainable planet. The problem, Pollan argues, is our hubris in thinking that we can improve upon natural systems. We can't and whenever we try nature eventually punches us in the gut to remind us who's boss.

I'm probably the millionth person to say this, but running is a great sport because it is so completely natural. We are all runners on some level - the design of our bodies is related to this one activity more than anything else. The same is true of horses - which is (along with my wife's favorite activity of low stakes gambling) why horse races can be so compelling. You are seeing another animal doing something very natural and at the highest level possible.

When you run, especially against another person, you are recreating an event that has happened since our ancestors first ran on two feet. We all have that instinctual part of our brains that knew what it was to run with animals now long extinct. When you are able to access that place running stops being a chore and becomes thrilling.

Last Week
Monday: 6 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 0 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 16 miles
Total: 48 miles

This week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 10.5 miles something on the track
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 0 miles
Friday: 6.5 miles
Saturday: 14 miles
Sunday: 6 miles
Total: 52 miles

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Season of Laziness

Today I was supposed to run - but, I didn't. No, I wasn't injured or sick. I took 10 paces out the door this morning and said, "forget it." Kendra and I then went on an unplanned trip to Philly (note: the Eastern State Penitentary is more interesting than Alcatraz) - we came home I put on my running clothes and again took 10 steps out the door and just didn't feel it. I went to the fridge, grabbed a beer and chilled. I actually felt a slight twinge of guilt - but, then I thought - to everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season - and the season right now is laziness.

I remember that my college coach used to say that the best runners are lazy. Not lazy in relation to a lot of people - but, they are able to just chill. Runners who are always on the go rarely perform well. The body needs rest. Jim Adams likes to tell a story about an area runner who ran his best race the week after coming down with the flu. The forced bed rest had actually been good for him - of course when he felt better he started over training again and he never ran quite as fast.

Three weeks ago I ran the Boston Marathon - but, more importantly I ended a 24 week training cycle that was unlike anything I've put myself through in my life. By June I'll be running track workouts and from the end of June until the end of September I'll be running 70-90 miles a week, with three hard days (or two hard days & a race) per week. Now is the season of laziness.

Last Week

Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: 0 miles
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: 0 miles
Total: 33 miles

This Week

Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 0 miles
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: 13 miles
Sunday: 6 miles
Total: 45 miles

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Supreme Victory (over a nice kid with Celiac disease)

It's been just under two weeks since Boston. I've run 43 miles in those last 13 days - a far cry from the end of Feb-March when I was running at least four times that amount in the same number of days. It is a good thing - my body needs to rest - the first day that I felt really "normal" was yesterday.

That being said - my mind isn't so ready to give way to this period of "rest". I have a bit of a competitive side - it's hard for me to sit on the sidelines when there are so many races in the area. So, I registered for the "Making Tracks for Celiac 10k" here in Baltimore. In a compromise between my rational self and my competitive self, I planned on running more of an escalation workout than a true race. The plan was to start out over six minute pace and drop down each mile so that I was only really running all out only the last two miles - when I would let my competitive self take over and have its fun.

The race developed pretty much as I had hoped - except for the cold rain. My first mile was 6:08 - roughly the same pace as the heartbreak hill at Boston - except a lot more comfortable : ) The course was mostly within Patterson Park - a series of turnbacks and loops that made me want to keep the leaders in site so I wouldn't get lost. Over the next few miles my pace dropped to 5:53 and then the 5:40's. By now the 5k runners were long gone - and I saw one runner in front of me.

At mile four I really started to push the pace - and I passed the leader soon after. Taking the lead can put you slightly off balance - because you no longer have someone in front of you to focus on. I was taught to always pass the leader with a surge - then they are much more likely to just let you go. The second place guy stayed close enough to hear his footsteps for about a half-mile and then I started to pull away. My last 2.2 were in 11:24 (about 5:10 pace).

It was nice to stretch out the legs a little, win a race, and get a little money. At least that's how I felt until the awards ceremony. As the MC announced the top 3 names he asked the second place finisher (a high school kid who was very nice after the race) to come over. Apparently the kid is a 17 year old from Chevy Chase, MD and has run many of the Celiac races around the country - mostly because he has Celiac. Even more impressive he has won most of the races he has entered. So, basically they could have had a great story (the winner being a kid with Celiac) and I had to spoil the fun.

I never want to turn into one of those guys who are so addicted to victory that they find every opportunity for a "W". The most notorious guy like this lives in Northern VA. His most reprehensible victory was in a mile track race. Allegedly, he outkicked a 12 year old girl and then pumped his fist Tiger Woods style after he crossed the finish line. Not that I'm anywhere close to being that bad - but, today made me ponder how dark that part of me might be. I don't feel "awesome" about the race - but, I feel kinda good. Is that a bad thing?

Well, now that I got my competitive itch scratched - I'm going to try to keep to easy miles for most of the month of May. But, who am I kidding - I'm not making any promises.

Last week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 0 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: 0 miles
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 6.5 miles
Total: 31.5 miles

Next week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: 0 miles
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: 4 miles
Total: 37 miles

Friday, May 1, 2009

What's next?

Well, the name of my blog means I either need to stop posting, change the name, or start training for Boston 2010. I've decided on the middle path.

Although training will still be the focus of the blog - I want to explore a topic that interests me - group training. I have a masters degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and my thesis was on how status of people within groups affect performance within that group. Also, I work for OptumHealth (sister company of UnitedHealthcare) - a company that delivers disease management, wellness programing, online wellness content etc. - basically we are trying to improve the health of our clients and consumers. And finally, I've been lucky to be a part of several groups/teams as a runner - these affiliations have always helped me as a runner.

All of these experiences have led me to believe that group training is a very powerful tool in maximizing performance and fitness. In fact, I think it's the key to improving the low levels of fitness that we see in the US. We need to help people to form groups that meet regularly and support each other as they find out how to live healthier lives. I first started working in the health management field at the University of Michigan, at a research center directed by Dee Edington - who is one of the most respected people in the field. One concept that he discussed often was that improving health isn't just about lowering healthcare costs - it's about improving the "vitality" of our country.

I just found out about an interesting program that Baltimore is starting a program to reduce cardiovascular disease in Baltimore - part of the program is reaching people in the community through churches and barbershops - which seems like an interesting idea. If anybody knows more about this program please let me know.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Marathon Photos

I'm sure that it will be a few weeks before the official photos come out - but, I found a site with a huge number of pics from the marathon. They are by a group headed by a runner named Jim Rhoades - who I guess just takes these for fun. I found myself on page 16 of the 30k and pages 3 & 18 at the 20 mile. I couldn't find myself in any of the 1 mile marker pics - but, I was on the other side of the road and running in a big group - so, I probably got blocked from view.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Recovery

Since I work from home, and apparently have no life outside of running, the last two days have felt like I've been sick. There have been no long runs or two-a-days or hard workouts - just working, eating, drinking, and sleeping. Of course this is a good thing - but, it's an odd adjustment. I can't even seem to get off my good nutritional habits as much as I hoped - yes, I've had a few ice cream & brownie sundaes and some good beer - but, most of my meals are still straight out of my plan that Melissa helped me with - what's the fun in that?!!

I've elevated my legs a few times and had a cold water bath last night. Next week, after my muscles have healed a little, I'm planning on a massage.

Tomorrow is my first run since the marathon. Given the amount of soreness that I have right now - I'm not sure that I'll be able to make it the planned four miles. We'll see.

In the longer term I'll be running only easy miles until June. My mileage will be increasing from 30 miles next week to 65 miles the last week of May. I'm trying to give my self plenty of time to recover - because from June - October I'm planning a lot of intense training - not as many miles as I've been running for Boston, but a larger percentage of hard mileage.

This doesn't have anything to do with my recovery - but, I realized today that my time at the Miami half-marathon, which was planned to be at marathon pace, was only three seconds off the pace I ran at Boston (Miami - 1:16:19; Boston - 2:32:35) - weird.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Race

My first conscious moments of April 20th, 2009 were sometime around 1-2am. I woke up in the middle of the night as I normally do before a big race. My sub-conscious seemed to be pleading with me to be cautious - as my first thoughts were regarding the Miami half-marathon I ran in January. I ended up running with a marathoner for a few miles - and as I turned off to the finish I had pangs of guilt and sympathy as I realized he had many painful miles ahead.

Today, I would be switching places with that runner. The only thing that could at least buffer the pain I had in front of me was to be smart at the beginning. The start of a major marathon is like the beginning of youthful love. You want to throw yourself into it fully - not thinking about the consequences or the possible pain that your thoughtlessness might cause in the future. As those of a certain age know, the wisdom of maturity is born from pain that follows such foolishness.

My second awakening was at 5:20am. I drove to a T stop and rode it to the Boston Commons where I would catch a bus to the start at Hopkinton. The bus ride was another reminder to be cautious. The ride takes close to an hour - and has all the riders asking "I have to run all the way back?"

I found a relatively empty set of porta-johns. Not to be too graphic, but along with eating right - making sure that you are as "empty" as possible is a big key to having a good race. I quickly found my friends and we joked and laughed as we lay on the wet grass. The area eventually became so crowded that I decided to head for the buses where I would drop off my gear bag. In it was warm clothing, my training shoes, a little money and my cell phone.

I walked down with others to the start at the town square of Hopkinton (pop. <15,000). The area had the feel of a small town festival. I watched the women start at 9:30am - after some stretching and resting I walked over to my corral. Fortunately, my bib number allowed me to get into the first corral behind the elites.

As I sat, stretched, and sipped on some water a volunteer asked me if it was my first Boston. We chatted a little bit and she told me that the elites were going to pass right on the other side of the french barricades beside me. Apparently they used to bring the elites through the cemetery - but, some of them complained that it was bad luck. So, they changed the route so that they passed next to the first few corrals of runners.

10-15 minutes before the start I saw Hall, Cheriyot, Sell, and others comes towards me. Both Hall and Sell were very pumped - they high-fived us as they passed. Then my friend since childhood, Todd Snyder, came by - he was in the zone - and I had to shout his name a few times before he looked up and noticed me.

Several minutes later the gun fired and we were off. The first few miles were a blur - but, I stayed pretty relaxed. The road was crowded - but, I was able to run my pace without being blocked or pushed.

As the miles went by runners started to coalesce into groups like a stream of water forming droplets - these groups were formed, in part, because of the wind. People were less willing to run by themselves. I had promised myself that I wouldn't freak out if I found myself by my lonesome. I was able to do some drafting - but, I didn't surge to the next group when I found myself alone - I just tried to keep the same level of effort.

My first 10 miles were very close to my goal of 57 minutes. That first hour of running was spent running through small towns and longer stretches of woodlands, over creeks, and alongside small lakes. In more open areas near the lakes it was evident that the #1 opponent for the day would be the wind. It wasn't a blow you over wind - but, it did provide some drag.

Around the 12-mile mark was the infamous "scream tunnel" as Welleselley College. It was pretty crazy - they take their unofficial responsibility as the cheerleading squad of the Boston marathon pretty seriously.

The next major milestone was the halfway mark - 1:14:48. Although, I knew that I was about 30-40 seconds slower than I planned - I felt strongly that I could run a faster second half. Usually in a marathon, I'm questioning what I got myself into at the halfway point - so this was a good sign.

Since the 10 mile mark I had been 20-30 seconds back of a big group. My plan was to pass them by mile 15 - but, I hadn't made much of a dent. In the second half of the 15th mile there was a long downhill to the Charles River - a downhill that belies what's to come. The bridge over the Charles River was a bridge to pain - within a few steps after the bridge I was on my way up the first of the four Newton hills.

The group that I had stalked for the last five miles melted around me as I powered my way up the hill. I felt stronger after 16 miles than any other marathon I've run. At 17 miles was a slight downhill - I saw Melissa cheering off to the side of the road. She was one familiar face out of a sea of strangers - I went over to the side of the road and gave her a high five. In my distraction I missed the 17 mile mark - the only one I missed in the entire marathon.

I hit 20 miles in ~1:54:30 - just 30 seconds slower than I had planned. I felt strong enough at that point that I still thought I could edge under 2:30. Soon after came the infamous heartbreak hill - I've heard a lot of people say it's not that bad - but, I certainly wasn't disappointed by the challenge.

Yes - most of the last five miles is downhill - but, there are some rolling hills I didn't expect. I still thought I had a shot of running under 2:30 until I got to the hill at mile 23. At that point I knew it just wasn't in the cards. The wind worsened after heartbreak hill and my legs started to stiffen. I didn't completely throw in the towel - I tried to key off some other runners and finish strong - but, I slowed pretty substantially in the last few miles. Given that I didn't have a shot of sub 2:30 I decided it was better to enjoy the crowds and the experience instead of killing myself.

After crossing the line I slowly made my way to the buses for my gear bag. Every 15-20 feet a medical volunteer asked me if I needed any assistance. The Boston volunteers are the best in any race I've participated in - they love this day and give it their all to make a good experience for the runners.

Eventually I got a massage and a woman who thought her job was a good excuse to torture helpless runners drained and cleaned out my blisters.

Overall the day was a great success. Yea - it would have been nice to not have such a strong headwind - but, looking back on my first post outlining my goals - much more has gone right than has gone wrong since November.

Some people mistakenly believe that the marathon is an individual event. But, I've been lucky to run with a very supportive group of people without whom I could never have PR'd today. And of course everybody who has offered their support in the comments on this blog and in person. It's been a great adventure. Thank you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ready for a burger and a beer

It's odd writing this thinking that my journey that started in November is now over. It's not a bad thing necessarily - I'm happy to have a little more free time and eat some very bad food for a few weeks : )

I'm fairly happy with my overall time - given that we had a 10-15 mile an hour head wind for 26.2 miles. I'll write something a little more detailed tomorrow - just thought I'd post something for anyone interested in my total time and/or splits.

5:48 5:43
5:36 5:48
5:36 5:32
5:33 11:45 (two miles - got distracted high fiving Melissa)
5:47 5:43
5:41 5:54 1:54:34 for 20
5:45 6:10 heartbreak hill
5:48 5:46
5:46 6:07
5:45 57:05 for 10 5:55
5:41 6:16
5:40 7:47 last 1.2 miles
5:43 2:32:35