Sunday, November 25, 2012

Deja vu

Again I find myself behind on my race reports and somewhat adrift with my fitness/running goals.  I still owe 2 race reports, one of which was my first ultra.  That being said, after putting together a marathon, a half, a 50k, and a 5k in the span of 6 weeks, I find myself pretty burnt out.  Coming out of Thanksgiving, I did little in the way of diet management and fitness continuity, so to put it bluntly, I'm feeling fat.  Tomorrow I'm hoping to hit the Y early and rekindle my workout spark.  I'm afraid that if I don't I will backslide so far that I won't be able to see my current fitness level for a long time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Middle Half Half Marathon Race Recap

Last Saturday was the 2012 Middle Half Murfreesboro Half Marathon.  This was the second year that I've run this race and if you've read last year's recap, my assessment of the race holds true again for this year's race.  It was a really great race on a fast, flat course with great support.  The first half of the race is particularly great as you get to see lots of scenic Murfreesboro.  The last half gets a little mind numbing as you're mostly out on the highway.  Like the Southern Plunge Marathon, I had backed off training to recover from said marathon that I had just run the week before.  The day of the race, I felt pretty good.  I wasn't feeling strong, but at least I wasn't still sore.  Unlike last week's race, I did not have the same pee pee issues as before.  I did have to make one pit stop at mile 3-ish, but that was the only one.  After that I was able to maintain a pretty decent pace around 7:40 ish until mile 9.  After that I got steadily slower as my legs started to hit their limit.  Around mile 11, I lost my ability to do math, but I didn't stop running.  Mentally it was important for me to keep pushing till I was done, which I did (Yay me!).  I ended up finishing with a time of 1:43:40, 7:55/mile and 27th out of 142 in my age group and 137th overall.  Not a PR, but I'm counting it as a Mental PR as I was able to gut out those last 4 boring miles.  

Notable about this race was the performance of my boy, Albert Cartner.  He rolled out a 1:39:35, 7:37/mile.  I know that he was hoping for better, but that was fast!  His buddy, Kyle Cook, managed a PR (without any tunes as his Ipod died on the starting line!) with a time of 2:00:49, 9:14/mile.  Congrats Kyle!  Congrats also to my fellow attorneys Bill Shick and Matt Bevins, who also ran that day.  I also saw a friend from high school, Amy Meyers, who was cheering on another friend of hers.  How random is that?  Somehow I managed to say hi to her and keep moving on.  She even managed to snag a picture of me at the end of the race waiting for my friends to cross.  Thanks Amy!
I look serious here, don't I?  I must
have been looking for Jim N Nick's cheese biscuits!

One final note...the Middle Half had great post-race grub!  Jim N Nick's barbeque was a sponsor and they had my favorite, cheese biscuits on hand.  I loaded up on them and headed home happy.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Southern Plunge Marathon Race Recap

Last Saturday, I was in rainy and dreary lovely Winchester, TN running my 5th marathon.  Since I grew up in Tullahoma, this was as close to a hometown marathon as I am probably going to get, so when I first planned to run this race, I was hoping to do well.  With that kind of thought, you would assume that I had trained long and hard prior to the race, to which you would be WRONG!  No, no.  Being the cocky jackass busy man that I am, I was not able to get in as much training as I would normally do.  Point of fact, my longest training run was 16 miles, and thanks to a will-sapping chest cold, I had not run at all the week before the race.  Because of these factors, I did not have dreams of Boston qualifier come race day, much less a sub 4 hour marathon.

The weather was rainy and cool.  Normally not a big deal, but it can be a bit depressing for such a long race.  Fortunately, the rain did stop just as we got to the line.  At the line, I saw/met Brent.  He had run the same Kidney Foundation 5K that I had run weeks prior to the marathon.  He had come in first, while I finished a distant second overall.  We talked a bit as we started out. This was his first marathon and he was looking at doing around 9:40's.  After mile 1, I picked up the pace I bit (I still had delusions of sub 9's).  I talked with another older gentleman who was going to run the Nashville Ultra in November, but eventually I left him back also.  This would have all been fine and good if I didn't have this nagging need to pee.  Fortunately the race had port-a-potties at every water stop, which was every 2 miles.

A word about the course:  On any other day, this is a great course.  Lots of rolling hills to break up the run, but nothing terribly steep as to destroy you.  There was a one hill near the end of the race that I could have lived without, but otherwise a decently well laid out course.  On a sunny day, it would have been great to run by/over the lake, but on a cool, rainy day it was hard to enjoy the sight seeing.  They had lots of aid stations, nearly every 2 miles, but the crowd support was a little sparse.  They blocked off one lane of traffic for the runners, which was generally all we needed, but some cars did get a bit close for comfort.

Back to the race:  I did my business, jumped back out to the course and sped up to reclaim my spot in the pack.  Fine, good, great.  I should be good for the rest of the race, right?  Nope.  My nagging pee issues harassed me all the way to mile 15, so every 2 miles or so, I was making a quick pit stop.  My lovely wife has said that if I'm not willing to pee on myself to win a race, I must not be very dedicated and these words haunted me at every pit stop.  Sadly this meant a lot of stopping and starting, which I was sure was going to shred my legs.

About mile 15, I had a wardrobe malfunction.  I wear a race belt that holds my bib number and my phone for my tunes.  After switching playlists, I was trying to stuff my phone back in my belt, when I ripped my bib number so that it was hanging by only one corner.  I tried to ignore it and keep running, but my OCD wouldn't have it.  So I jumped off to the side and tied my bib number up with my waistband and got back on the road.  That was probably at least a good 3 to 5 minutes wasted. 

With my past marathons, mile 18-20 is where everything starts to go into the crapper.  I'm not sure if it was the cool weather, my slow pace, my over-hydration or a combination of all three, but it didn't happen this time.  At mile 20, I saw my son with my friends, the Hamilton's (who were graciously housing me at their lakehouse for the weekend) and again at mile 21.  They were cheering me on, and I think that helped pick up my spirits too.  Sensing that I might not be able to survive the run, I started to run on the grassy shoulder instead of the road where I could.  Under this strategy, I was able to make it to mile 24 before I started to feel the cramps edge into my calves.

It was about this time that I stopped being able to do math.  Runners/racers do math all the time in competition.  What pace do I need to maintain to make this time?  How many people do I need to pass to get that spot?  What tangent/angle optimizes distance and speed?  These are the thoughts (when I'm lucid and actually thinking about the race) that run through my head at various points of the race.  When I can't do stop doing math, that means I'm now on autopilot.  On autopilot, I can keep putting one foot in front of the other for about a mile or two.  After that desperation sets in.  That's when I NEED to see the finish line soon, or I know, I just know, that I will either die or quit (and frankly to me quitting is about the same).  That's when I start bargaining with myself.  "Just hold on a little bit longer, and you won't ever have to do this again."  Or "Finish this, and we can give up marathons.  Marathons suck anyhow. It's unnatural to run that long and that far."  After another mile, the cursing starts.  "Hey Asshat!  Are you gonna quit now and prove to everyone what a gigantic p**censored**y you are?!?  Maybe they will give you a bag of s**censored**t to take home too!  How about we find a 70 year old to push your sissy ass up this hill?"  My head is a messed up and confusing place towards the end of a race.  I admit it.

Thankfully, it didn't last much longer and I crossed the line.  Of course I was shedding heat like crazy, so I grabbed a thermal blanket and waddled over to the pizza table.  I asked the very nice volunteer to open my carton of chocolate milk as I wolfed down my slice of pizza to satiate my snarling gut.  I guzzled down my milk and then waited for my time to be posted.  I finished 4:06:30, 9:25/mile.  That was good enough for 9th out of 18 in my age group and 40th out of 115 marathoners overall.  Could I have done better?  Probably with a bit more training, less potty breaks and no bib repairs, I might have gotten under 4 hours again.  Still I was happy with the finish (any marathon finish is better than no finish) as I maintained a reasonable pace and held "it" together for most of the race.

Despite the weather, I would recommend this race to anyone interested in a marathon.  It had lots of regular support, but not much of a crowd.  The field was small so there wasn't a ton of pressure to blow it out and the course was fairly interesting.  I probably could have used a few less hills, but in the end it all worked out.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

6.30.12 Update

Not much to report.  After the KY Warrior Dash, I decided to go easy this week (actually work and the unbearable, blistering heat decided it for me), so I haven't gone crazy.  I still have a long run that I need to bang out tomorrow, and then I can move all-in into my new training program for the next month or so.  Basically I'm still building my base mileage and my endurance with running 4 days out of the week with a long run on the weekend.  2 days at the beginning and end of the week, I'm working on doing strength workouts at the gym.  These will be full body workouts to maintain my strength as opposed to bulking up like I was before.  I'm at a good place right now, and I just need to maintain my physique without hurting myself.  I have noticed a slight pain in my left elbow, so cutting back now seems like a good time.  Then 2 days in the middle of the week, I'm working on my core and flexibility with a mix of body weight exercises, stretching, plyometrics, and yoga.  My flexibility is for crap, so I really need to focus on this.  Other than that, I've signed up for the Firecracker 5k in Franklin, TN for the Fourth, which should be fun.  This is the first time I've run this race, but I'm expecting plenty of competition since it's a Nashville Strider Race.

The Warrior Dash 2012 Lebanon, KY

As I've been saying, I have loved racing obstacle races. I love the physicality of testing my strength (the guns need firing after all!) and fitness as well as my speed. My first Warrior Dash for the year was in Lebanon, KY.   What was great about this race was that I was doing it with some friends. The obstacles were your normal fare of climbing walls (ho hum) and barbed wire-hard dirt-belly crawls (crawling sucks!) along with the WD signature fire jumps (Booyah!) and mud pit.  The real challenge of this race was the course itself (Wicked hard, bro).  The course directors made fine use of the rough and hilly terrain in KY as runners had to navigate several winding cut-backs and single lane trails.  More than once, I was facing a morale-busting (like getting punched in the junk, chief) uphill climb after crossing an obstacle.  When we did have a downhill avenue, it was either through a rocky dried gully bed or down a slick single lane trail congested with traffic.  For instance (story time!), one time I had finished climbing a wall and crested a hill, when I caught up to a group of young ladies walking ahead of me trying to make it down a series of cut-backs.  The trail was slick with mud from runners' shoes and there were large roots and stumps protruding up dangerously in the middle of the trail.  I couldn't go around them even though they were moving single file or I would have likely caused an accident sending them or myself tumbling down the hill.  Granted I needed the break, but I was irritated that I had to stop running.  I realized that I was right though, when I had to gently catch (Watch the hands, chief!) the young lady in front of me when she slipped.  If she had fallen, she would most likely be in the hospital today picking out the wood splinters from her back as there was jagged stump right underneath her (Ouch!).  Still I had a good race and ended up finishing 34th out of 421 in my age group with a time of 33:39.05, 9:49/mi.
Now, I'm not sure what everyone was drinking that day, but there were a lot of wrecks around the race area and it made getting to and from the race more than difficult at times (read:  backed up for hours).  Since I was in hurry to get home (my lovely wife had a ladies night planned), I decided to hoof it back to the car  (tack on another 4.5 miles) instead of waiting for the shuttle buses which were taking forever.  Heading back to the parking area, I saw the reason why.  Several ambulances were blocking the road to the race site because a tractor pulling a trailer had flipped leaving several people in need of emergency care.  It was a nightmare.  Lucky for me that after a mile, I was picked up by a nice gentleman that was taking other runners back to the parking area.  It was a crazy day.

Early on in the race, feeling good, running with my boy, Albert.

Near the end, feeling spent, Albert ditched me about a mile and 1/2 ago.  Bastard.

Crawling out of the mud to the finish.  I'm cooked and covered in mud.  I may be too old for this stuff.  Dumbass.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

6.18.12 Update

This Saturday, I'm running my second Warrior Dash.  This time I'm heading to Lebanon, KY.  I can't wait to hit the course, though from what I've seen of the course map, it appears that I'll be getting bit wetter  (and not in a good way) than when I did it last year in Manchester, TN.  Still it should be a blast as I'm doing it with some friends this time.  Nothing like a little smack talk to make a fun race even more fun.  All-in-all my training has been progressing well, but the summer heat is always a bear.  I'm keeping my mileage generally low during the week and hitting my long run on the weekend.  Still I'm getting over 25 miles a week along with my trips to the gym, so I'm pretty happy (I damn well better be, or what the hell was all that work for?!?).  FYI, for this Warrior Dash, I've decided to go all out.  Warrior costume (of sorts), and even a minor faux-hawk, thanks to my barber.  Now I just need to find some grease/body paint.   Hmmm.....

Friday, June 1, 2012

Current 2012 Race Schedule

As I've said before, I'm not running as many races this year, and it appears that I'm not running a few of my mainstay races either.  This year's Wilma Rudolph 5K and 10K is giving way to the Kentucky Warrior Dash on June 23.  Yesterday I signed up for my marathon for this year, the Southern Plunge Marathon in Winchester, TN on October 6.  Today I also managed to snag a spot in the Murfreesboro Middle Half half-marathon on October 13.  That race sold out within hours of opening up.  It is crazy that a Tennessee half-marathon sells out that fast, but it is a really good, flat, fast race.  I'm also considering the Tennessee Warrior Dash on September 22 and the 50K (that's 31.1 miles for the metrically challenged) Nashville Ultra Marathon on November 3 for my birthday race.  So while the number of races that I'm running has dropped, the one's that I've picked have a fairly high degree of difficulty attached to them.

On an endnote, I really am digging the obstacle course races.  I just did the Ridiculous Obstacle Course Race in San Diego, and I had a blast.  I finished that in 29:08.  Personally, I thought it was harder than the Warrior Dash that I did last year, but then again the difficulty may have been enhanced by my lack of sleep (only 2.5 hrs) and my slight hangover (which contributed to my lack of sleep).  Still it was a fun race and I really enjoyed it.  The fact that the volunteers got into it and tried to slow you down made it even more fun.  It really added to the game show mentality of the race.  Here are a few pics from the race:

After the foam bath, running towards the tube carry.

Riding the tube down the slide!

Gotta get back on my feet and into the race!

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