Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Irish Pride 5K Recap

The Father Ryan Irish Pride 5K was November 13, 2011.  As you can see, I'm a little late with this recap.  This was a [post] Veteran's Day race that benefitted the Father Ryan scholarship fund.  This was a small, local race that I learned about during my stint as my kids' cross country coach.  I also learned that several kids and parents from other parochial schools would also be participating.  When I found this out, I knew that I would be running this race.  After all, I have to represent, right?  Word.  The weather was chilly, but sunny.  Nearly ideal racing conditions.  It was a quick little out and back.  Although it wasn't a certified course, I whipped out a fast 5K, finishing in 20:37.  This was a 6:39/mi pace that won me a 3rd place finish in my age group.  It was also a PR!  A nice finish to a fun little race.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Breathe Deep Nashville 5K

Today was the Breathe Deep Nashville 5K.  It was an event sponsored to fund lung cancer research.  I formed an SBA team for this race as this was organized by one of the SBA parents who's on the steering committtee.  The race took place around and in Centennial Park.  Since much of the course was outside of the park, it was a bit hillier than I anticipated, but not significantly so.  Despite a late 9:00 am start, it was pretty cold this morning;  somewhere around the mid-40's.

I knew that there were a lot of races going on in Nashville today, so I figured that the field would be small.  Even so, I hadn't run much since the Lincoln Y Half-Marathon and I wasn't sure how I would do.  Turns out that I was right in that the field was pretty small.  Probably under 500 participants.  Despite the weather and the course, I managed a decent time and finish.  I finished the race in 21:17, 6:51/mi with a 1st place finish in my age group and a 6th place finish overall.

Of note from this race, one of my 5th grade cross country runners ran the race today also.  Today was her 2nd 5k, and she got 1st place in her age group with a sub 30 min finish!  Makes an old coach proud.  When did I get so old????

Finally, a shout out to my homies who finished the Savannah Rock and Roll Half and Full Marathon today and the Ragnar Relay.  Great job everybody!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Race Recap Trifecta

Okay, so I've admitted that I've been on a blogging and training slump.  However in my mind, I still feel guilty about both, so in an act of utter self-congratulatory preening redemption, I'm going to hit you with my last 3 race recaps cliff notes style!

Warrior Dash
Setting:  9/17/11, Manchester, TN.  A beautiful day if not a bit warm.  This was the site for Bonnaroo.
Summary:  This was a 5K obstacle course with about 11 obstacles which included demolished cars, scaling walls, fire and a mud pit!  It was as if Bonnaroo and Cross-fit had an unholy union and spawned a race.  Most notable were the number of grossly obese and out-of-shape people who attended.  Give a man a fuzzy viking hat (looks more like a water buffalo hat from the Flinstones) and he'll try anything.  At one scaling wall, I had hooked my arm under a screaming woman and helped her over the wall.  She was very thankful as I dropped off the wall and ran onto finish the race.
Conclusion:  23rd out of 612 men, age 40-45.  525th out of 6209 overall.  32:48.00 finish time.  9:23/mi pace.  This was a fun race and would have been even more fun had I run it with some of my friends.  Next year, I may race it in the morning and come back wth my friends in the afternoon and run it again!

The Middle Half
Setting:  10/15/11, Murfreesboro, TN.  A perfect day for a race.  Started off cool and stayed cool even after the sun came up.  The course was relatively flat and fast with a ton of volunteers and crowd support.
Summary:  This was the annual half-marathon in Murfreesboro.  This was the race that I had circled on my calendar all year.  Typically I run pretty fast in the 'Boro, so I was hoping that I could break my half-marathon record there.  Despite a light summer training schedule, I went out pretty fast and was able to maintain my pace.  My watch was showing me an average pace of 7:21-ish/mi, but at mile 9 and 10 I started to notice that my measured distance was off significantly from the course markers and my watch distance.  I figured that my watch was off by about .4 of a mile.  Doing even more math in my head, I figured that I would not get my goal time of a sub 1:39:00.  When I hit the finish line, the clock read 1:40:00.  I later learned that the police officers directing race traffic accidently sent the early runners the wrong way, and we ran an extra .4 mile, which explained the deviation between the mile markers and my watch.  All times were declared unofficial as the race directors could not determine who ran farther and who did not (the officers realized their mistake later and directed the remaining racers correctly along the course).
Conclusion:  23rd out of 153 men, age 40-44.  94th out of 1776 overall.  Clock time of 1:40:00 for 13.509 miles, 7:24/mi pace.  Re-calculated time for 13.1 miles, 1:36:56, 7:24/mi pace.  A new PR either way.  If not for the hiccup with the distance, this was a near perfect race in regards to the conditions, course, support, and crowd.  I really enjoyed it.  Except for the distance screw-up.  That really cheesed me off.

The Lincoln Family Y Half-Marathon
Setting:  10/22/11, Phoenix, AZ.  Phoenix in October starts off very cool in the morning and heats up quickly when the sun rises.  By the middle of the race, the temps were between 80 and 90 but there was a breeze that helped alleviate the heat.  The course ran through the South Mountain Regional Park and was lots of rolling hills.  The scenary was beautiful, but it also had a stark, desolate edge to it.  Not nearly enough crowd presence (practically none) for my tastes.
Summary:  I had flown out to Scottsdale for a work conference and learned that this race would take place on the last day of my conference.  Seizing the opportunity, I signed up for it earlier in the year and planned to use it as training run.  This had not taken into account my experience at the Middle Half.  Now with something to prove, I decided to turn this race into a full blown race, but realizing my limitations, I was hoping instead for a strong finish around a 7:30-ish/mi pace.  However the combination of jet lag, a half week of gluttonous eating and drinking, and only 4 hours sleep, and I was lucky to make it off the starting line.  My pace starting out was well below my goal pace and the rolling hills were quickly becoming a challenge.  Like the landscape, the crowd support was bare, which was a big negative for me.  I feed off crowd energy to help me push through some of the harder miles, so when there is no crowd for me to play up to to cheer me on, I start to drag.  And drag, I did.  By mile 7, I was spent and knew that I would be lucky to finish under 2 hours.  By mile 10, I was pretty baked by exhaustion, the heat, muscle cramps, and a slight lingering hangover, and I thought I would be lucky to finish at all.  Pride kept me moving and I did finish the race, albeit much the worse for wear.  I gathered what was left of my sunken pride and my pounding headache and headed back to my hotel to pack up and catch my flight back home.  On a side note, the starter for the race was Wyatt Earp's great-great grand nephew or some such.  He carried on the family name of "Wyatt Earp" and even dressed the part, mustache and all.  He started the race off with ridiculously loud shotgun.  That was pretty cool.
Conclusion:  17th out of 49 men, ages 40-49.  66th out of 327 overall.  1:47:38, 8:13/mi pace.  Not my best time in the world, but not my worst either.  Had I used this race as a pure training long run, I would have been more than happy.  However since the Middle Half, I'm still feeling "unofficial."  I run races to prove myself, and the "official" stamp, as superficial as it may be, validates my hard work and displays for the world to see (at least the parts that decide to check) that I have accomplished something.  So when I string together 2 less than ideal races, I tend to get a little pissy.  Still I'm glad that I got to do the race.  It was fun-ish but hard. 

Next week, I'm going back to my regular training schedule just in time for the Lungevity 5K next Saturday.  Let's hope I'm ready, because I don't know how much longer I can stand listening to my pissy, whiny ass!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Reality Check

The problem with blogging is that at some point you will hit a creative wall and fail in your bloggity updates.  The problem with being a runner is that a some point you will hit a wall in your training and you will fail to keep up your training.  I don't actually like to think of it as a failure but more of the body and mind working together to force you to rest and recover.  After running two half-marathons on consecutive Saturdays, I can confess that I have hit that recovery wall.  This week I have not had the will to muster the strength to go run much at all.  This would be all and good if I didn't prop up the time off from running with a mango key lime pie from Publix nearly every night this week.  A runner is intimately aware of what his or her body can handle.  We know the sound of every creak and pop our joints make as we struggle out of bed.  We search out the familiar tightness in our calves as we stretch before a hard run.  We suffer every cramp and spasm to know when we start to break down.  We know our limits so that we can routinely test them and push past them on occasion.  My reality is that despite my best efforts, I'm getting older and it's getting harder to push my body to its limits. And this week I hit mine.  Hard.  I'm resting and trying not to feel guilty about it.  But in reality I know that I needed the rest.  So off to rest I go!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Non-Competitive Learning Curve

I realize that I'm not always the best judge of what passes for "normal" nowadays, but when people try to tell me that they don't like to compete (in a race, game, etc.) but just have fun, it takes everything I have to hide my look of befuddled incredulity (honestly, most times, I don't hide it all). Can you NOT compete and have fun? I find the idea shocking. What more fun is there than to see your enemies and rivals laid out at your feet awash in defeat? Is it not everyone's dream to stand over your fellow competitors in haughty derision at their loss? Is not victory most sweet stolen from those who are not awesome enough to take it away from you? Playing for fun...and not to win? Sounds like a commie plot to me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, September 16, 2011

Adrenaline Leakage

Tomorrow is the Warrior Dash in Manchester, TN.  For those of you not in the know, it's a 5K obstacle course that includes mud pits, slides, pipe crawls and fire jumping.  Oh...and horned warrior hats.  You read that right.  Horned.  Warrior.  Hats.  You had me at "horned."  To prepare myself for this race, I've considered wrestling alligators, swinging with gorillas and chasing my dog through the doggy park.  This all seemed too 'soft' to me, so instead I decided to cut back on my mileage and weightlifting to run a couple miles with grade schoolers.  I kid.  Coaching the SBA cross country team has been surprisingly invigorating despite the logistics of managing a 100 + strong member team.  Couple the nervous energy of herding small children about, my own over-flowing Joel-ness, and various hardcore rap tunes, and you get one super-pumped warrior-to-be.  The trick of course will be to not do something incredibly stupid tomorrow to try to win.  I promise you this is no easy feat for me.  I can be INSANELY stupid when it comes to competition.  Did I mention that winners get a horned warrior hat upgrade?  Oh, yeah.  IT. IS. SO. ON.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Franklin Classic 5K Race Recap

Yesterday, I celebrated Labor Day by running in the Franklin Classic 5K Run/Walk. If you look closely at the image to the left, you will notice that there was also a 10K. Anyone who knows me would then be asking yourself, "I wonder why this Dingus didn't run the 10K also? Or even both races?" (In my self-absorbed head, everyone is always wondering why I do the things that I do.) This is becoming a very tired song, but again my training has dropped off lately. Not entirely my fault this time (I'm not just watching TV and shoveling pie into my face) as I have been trying to run/organize/coach/herd my son's school's cross country team through this season. So for the last several weeks, I haven't done much over 20 miles with my longest run being no more than 8 miles. Ug-ly.

So in a move uncharacteristic of myself, I used some good sense and logic to realize that I couldn't race the 10K effectively, much less both races, and signed up for the 5K. Even if I totally sucked, I could at least make a good show of a 5K, right? Seemed right to me.

So race day is a dreary kind of cool and rainy day. Most of the rain had let up by the time the 5K rolled around, but it was still "spitting" a bit. I lined up in the 6-8 min/mile corral. RANT: I realize that everyone likes to be up front and everyone believes that they can be run a 4 minute mile. If you're one of these people and you can even come close to a 4 minute mile, I salute you. I can't do that, but I know that I can do 6:50/mi. However if you're one of those people that insist on lining up front and so that you can mark out your walking trail first, I just want to shake you. You people always seem to be right in front of me, slowing me down and breathing my oxygen. It just ain't right. I don't have anything against walkers. I love 'em. I love 'em lined up in the back, out of my way. So do us all a favor and line up where you actually think you will finish. Rant done.

The race went pretty well. I managed negative splits turning in a 6:54, 6:49 and 6:29 (and a 6:16/mi pace for the last .1 mile). I finished 53rd overall (out of 1t 006) with a time of 21:08, 6:49/mi. This earned me 3rd place in my age group and a new PR! Compared to the Goodlettsville 4 Miler that I had run over a month ago, this race was much better. I had really pushed myself and left almost nothing on the course. The field was pretty big, so placing meant a lot to me. Beyond that, the course was challenging but not overly difficult, and as usual the Striders put on a well-organized event. The race benefitted a great cause, and there was plenty of community support. I would definitely consider doing this race again.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Cross Country Dilemma

Before we get started, I could have sworn that "dilemma" was actually spelled "dilemNa" but if Google says I'm wrong, I must be wrong (and the longer I look at it, I know that I was wrong).  On to my self-indulgent ranting!  At some point after my kids' school started, I stopped being a runner and became an administrative coordinator.  Thanks to the political shenanigans of my lovely wife, I am now the cross country coach at my kids' school.  I'm in charge of around 113 kids (the number changes depending on the whimsical nature of kids who want to play with their friends after school and the other kids who want to quit because the coach is a psycho meanie-face) from grades K-8.  Thankfully I have a cadre of awesome volunteer assistant coaches to help me herd cats keep up with the kiddos. 

And while I love running with the kids, I have to admit I don't get to do enough of that.  Most of my time before and after practice is spent making sure that I have plenty of volunteers, that I know which kids have joined or quit, that I have emailed every parent with practice updates, and that I'm sufficiently stocked in forms, first aid kits, water, and cups.  The list of things that needs to get done between practices seems pretty endless and seriously cuts into my running/workout time.

Don't get me wrong...I actually am having a good time.  Since XC (that's how all the cool kids abbreviate it (my lovely wife thinks these are the same kids that spell dilemma with 2 m's)), my mileage has dropped significantly.  Between work, school and having a semi-normal life, I have not had a chance to get in all my training runs.  Worse for me is that I'm having such a good time running with the kids that I want to run all the time.  They're really inspiring when they push themselves hard and suck it up so it doesn't look like they want to quit, even though they're pretty wiped.  Even better is that some of them seem to actually enjoy it!  I miss that feeling sometimes when I'm trying to slog through the hard miles, but when I run with my kids, sometimes I touch that feeling of joy and fun again for the briefest of moments.  And you know what...that is pretty cool.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Goodlettsville Classic 4 Mile Run Race Recap

Another race, another race recap.  This year was another first for me, The Goodlettsville Classic 4 Mile Run.  Even though I used to work in the Goodlettsville area for a year, I had never been to Moss Wright Park.  Of course in those days, I was about 50 lbs. heavier and the only place I ran was to the Krispy Kreme when the hot, fresh doughnuts sign turned on.  In any case, I was back in Goodlettsville for this odd distance race.  By now, you all know the story.  My training to-date has been less than stellar.  My mileage has been short, but I thought the combination of speed work, hill work and weights would help carry me through.  Since this was a Nashville Strider race, I assumed that the field would be large and competitive.  Although it was competitive, it was a pretty small field. 

The race course itself was relatively flat and beautiful.  It was a mix of paved and tight gravel paths.  Fortunately my trail running made those transitions from gravel to pavement easy to manage.  Ultimately, I finished 27th overall out of 169. This won me a 2nd place award in my age group with a time of 28:48, 7:12/mi.  Was this worthy of a top 3 finish?  Apparently, but in hindsight, I probably could have tried harder.  In hindsight, I probably should have tried harder, and it makes me mad at myself that I did not.  Yes, it's nice to win awards and accolades, but if I get them for putting out a second best effort, is it worth as much?  Maybe, but I still won't feel good about it.  It was a good race with a nice course that deserved more effort from me, whether or not my level of training was up to snuff.  Next year, I might race it again, but if I do, I will do it right.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Captain America Review

So the boy and I saw Captain America:  The First Avenger today.  As you can imagine it was a good father and son bonding opportunity.  We shared popcorn, discussed what we thought was cool about the movie and even went to Rick's Comic City after the movie to cap off the day (fyi, Dad's this is a great way to spend the day with your kids.  Movies and cool swag at Rick's.  I highly recommend it.  And not just because I hope to get another 5% discount on my comics.  Wink. Wink).  With a movie like Captain America, you will get any number of mixed reviews from the rotten tomato to upbeat praise of a new action hero.  As comic movies go, this is one of the best that I have seen to date.  I was somewhat skeptical of Chris Evans from his Human Torch days in Fantastic Four, but he beefed up both his physical and acting skills for the role.  The story was a good mix of the classic Cap origin with some modern twists to make the story work and keep the action moving. 

What puts this movie above other summer comic movies this year is that it is not only a comic movie but also a running movie!  True believers, I am here to testify that this is one of the best running movies that I've ever seen.  After Cap gets his amazing powers, the scientist that gave him his powers is killed.  Cap leaps into action, running down the street after the Nazi murderer.  What the sharp-eyed runner will note is that Cap is doing so....wait for it....'cause it's really good...barefoot!!!  Now I understand Evans may actually have worn flesh colored foot boots a la Vibrams, but the message is clear, America's favorite son supports barefoot running!

Now for the rest of the movie, we see Cap running in his trademark army regulation boots, but for a good 10 minutes we were treated to barefoot running Cap.  Even without additional barefoot running scenes, the movie is chock full of running.  When Cap isn't marching or riding his Harley, he is running and jumping full tilt into battle.  The movie trailer alone would be a great advertisement for the Warrior Dash 5K (which yours truly is signed up for in September). 

Now I don't think that the boy noticed the running as much as I did (10 year old boys tend to focus on the derring-do, the heroic stances, and the really cool gadgets), but I think that he got the message.  Listen to the trailer.  A wimpy Steve Rogers explains that once you start running, you can't stop.  Truer words, if I ever heard any.  But what I liked even more was that it was running movie about heart.  Wimpy Steve Rogers didn't become Cap overnight.  He had to train.  Train hard.  He was not the strongest, but he was smart and brave.  He had guts and a never-say-quit spirit that naturally appeals to all runners, even the non-super soldier variety.  It was reminiscent of a less cocky, less hirsute Steve Prefontaine.  Hard work and guts can win the race, kids.  And against Nazis no less!  Hoorah!

With my final words, I say this is a must-see movie for both comic lovers and runners alike.  I dare any runner out there to watch this movie and not appreciate the speed and strength of a barefoot Cap running through the streets of Brooklyn or be thrilled by a suited up Cap tearing into Nazis or even get choked up by a desperate running Steve Rogers running through modern day New York realizing all that he's lost.  If you aren't moved, you must be dead inside.  Sniff.  Truly this is movie for everyone.  Would I pay full price to see this movie?  Absolutely.  I would do it twice and then buy the blu-ray combo pack when it comes out (I don't even own a blu-ray player!).  So there you go.  Captain America:  The First Avenger, the best running superhero movie of the summer.  Excelsior!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Race Apology Recap

If you've been keeping up with my site (and God bless you, if you have, you poor dear), you've noticed a couple things.  One, that I have run 3 races in the last few weeks.  Two, I have not been posting the requisite race recaps (or any other damn thing for that matter).  Tonight, I apologize to you dear readers (this number still remains questionable.  After all if I'm the only one reading this, but reading it on different days, does that count as different reads?), and I will make it up tonight with some speed blogging recaps.  So hit your timers and let's go.

On June 25, I ran the Wilma Rudolph 10K and 5K in Clarksville.  The weather was near perfect, but we did catch some rain at the end of the 5K.  I ran the 10K pretty hard hoping to place in it despite a total (this is becoming a theme for the summer, I'm afraid) lack of proper training.  Luckily for me, I did manage a 1st place finish for my age group (with a 16th place finish overall) with a time of 44:25, 7:10/mi (which also turned out to be a PR.  Yay for me!).  The 5K was a different story.  I was fairly depleted after the 10K but still managed a 2nd place finish for my age group with a time of 21:51, 7:03/mi.  Now that all the soldiers from the 101st are starting to come back home, it looks like there is a lot more competition up there.  I'm glad they're back safe and sound, and almost as glad to have the competition to motivate me to try harder.

On July 4, I ran the I Run For the Party 10K in Nashville.  Having run a fast 10K a couple weeks before, I hoped that would translate into another fast 10K.  Plus I figured all the fast runners would run the 5K.  Shocker. I was wrong.  When given a choice, really competitive runners (at this level) usually go for the longer distance (makes us muy macho).  Duh.  That being said, I did not post a fast time (partly due to my mid-race pit stop at the porta-potty) but finished first in my age group with a time of 46:19, 7:29/mi (Don't be too impressed.  The race only gave prizes to the first 3 finishers, the first 3 Masters finishers and the first 3 Grandmaster finishers both male and female.  The Masters (my group) were all filled out with the other 40 year olds that whipped my ass to the finish line.).

Now I'm about 3 weeks out from my vacation, and I've decided to work on my beach bod instead of my running for now.  I'm glad for the gym time, because I'm just not feeling the drive to put the miles on right now.  Hopefully that will change by August, but right now I gotta get ready for the beach!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Dori Tribute

Today I learned that one of my friends, Dori Brown, passed away after a long battle with leukemia.  If I'm completely honest, I didn't know her very well, but I consider her husband, Jim,  a friend and fellow runner.  We had coached our sons' third and fourth grade basketball team together, and in that time, I got to know him.  My lovely wife knew Dori better than me, personally and through mutual friends.  After my wife told me about Dori's passing, I did a quick, hard hill workout.  This was on the schedule for today, but after hearing the news, my heart wasn't really in it.  I had hoped that the run would help burn out the sadness and anger I was feeling, but it didn't.  Now I just feel tired physically as well as emotionally.  As runners, we're often said to be running to or running away from things, be it a finish line, weight loss, better health, addictions, life problems, or just sadness.  There are no words to express the amount of injustice I feel has been laid at the Brown's doorstep, and despite the number of miles I run, those miles won't change the fact that a family is now without their wife and mother and a community is without a good and kind soul.  My thoughts and prayers go out to my friends along with the thoughts and prayers of everyone else that they know and have touched throughout their lives with their kindness.  If you know the Browns, you can pass along your sympathies and condolences at Run For Dori and find out information about the services as well.  Thanks.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Lakeshore 5K Race Recap

I'm in a quandry.  If I 1) run a 5k, 2) finish 5th place overall, 3) finish 1st in my age group, and 4) get a PR (21:20) in the process but really have nothing to say about the race other than that;  have I 1) lost my blogging/writing mojo, 2) taken short distance for granted, 3) raced in too small of a field, or 4) all of the above?  Seriously, everyone I know that knows how I run a race can guess how this went.  And this race wasn't any different.  It was an inaugural race at the Lakeshore Christian Church to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank.  The field was small and after a quick evaluation of my competition, I was cocky enough felt good about my chances.

Like a text book, I went out too fast at first. However in my defense, it was not my fault this time.  Some yahoo was standing next to me on the starting line, so he was practically spitting in my face with his challenging spot/stance/position.  I can't let a challenge go unanswered, so I hung on his heels till I passed him at the first mile marker.  After that I dragged a little in the middle while keeping the lead pack in sight, till the last mile when I nearly fell apart.  Still I managed to cross the finish line with a great time, and a 1st place finish in my age group to boot (you have to love a small field sometimes).  Other than the place and the time, it feels like I've written this blog before. 

Now would usually also be the time that I vow to run smarter next time to really acheive my goals.  Also some people would say that maybe if I raced smarter, I would have a better story to tell.  To those people I say, phooey.  Yes, I said phooey.  Capital P to the H to the -ooey.  In a long race, you conserve energy to tap into your reserves for those last painful miles.  In a short race, I say go out like a comet, baby!  A short race is about speed!  Gut-wrenching, blistering, pounding-till-you-go-blind, awesome speed!  It's about going fast; chasing your demons and running them down for the glory of winning in some spectacular fashion or burning out in smoldering ball of stubborn stupidity.  Think about it, the word "race" practically demands that I lay it all out on the line (much like that yahoo who stood too close to me at the starting line) and go for it.
Long story short, I'm too dumb cocky stubborn to change my ways with how I run a 5k.  I will probably always 1) give that challenging yahoo standing next to me the stink eye, 2) go out too damn fast at first thanks to my cocky attitude, 3) chug through the middle in blind hope, 3) struggle at the end in a stupid refusal to quit, and 4) hopefully, just hopefully finish big, gratefully, tired, and a better man than when I started. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The 2011 Path to Progress 5K Recap

I promised you a race report and here it is.  Last week I was in Chicago for a conference (Shout out to all my NARCA homies!), and naturally I did some running.  Despite being hungover tired each morning, I would get myself out of bed and hit the streets of Chicago.  I was staying downtown at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker (that's just funny to say.  Admit it!), so I was pretty central to everything on Michigan Avenue.  I ran along the harbor, down to Soldier Field and around Millenium Park a little.  I had a blast, and for most of the week, the weather was wonderful. 

Since I knew that I would be in Chicago, I went to ye olde Internet and found me a 5K, the 2011 Path to Progress run/walk/strut around Soldier Field on Saturday (Actually I thought that I was going to be in Chicago till Sunday and had signed up for the half-marathon and then discovered that I was leaving on Saturday.  D'oh!).  So after a loooonnngggg night of socializing (my lovely wife called it "boozin' &shmoozin'"), I managed to get out of bed, get dressed, hail a cab and make it down to Soldier Field.  Remember when I said that the weather was perfect for most of the week?  Well, it wasn't on Saturday.  The temperature had dropped from the 70's into the low 40's and like a dumbass, I had not brought any warm running clothes ("It's May.  It won't be cold."  Of course, it was).  So there I am trying to register an hour before the race and my teeth are chattering and my hands are shaking (from the cold, I swear) so badly that I must have looked like I was going into epileptic shock.  I was wearing 2 techincal t-shirts and a pair of shorts with my trusty running shoes, but even this was doing nothing to keep the biting winds of Chicago at bay.  So as soon as I got my race T-shirt, I threw it on and thanked God for its heat-retaining thoruoghly abrasive cotton (runners know what I'm talking about.  Tape 'em up boys!).  I briefly toyed with running without it (as I hate to be the guy wearing the shirt of the race he's in), but it was too damn cold.  Fortunately the officials had set up a sponsor tent that offered minimal protection from the wind before the race started, so I hung out there most of the time before the race started.  I did find some reprieve from the cold in the shelter of a porta-potty but I'm afraid that the odor kept me from hanging out too long in there.

When the officials called for everyone to line up, I rushed to the front of the line but not too far up front.  I assumed that there would be a lot of fast people at this race, because I'm in the big city, right?  Well I guess most of them had planned on running the half-marathon the next day, because after the gun went off, I found myself very close to the lead pack.  As the race went on, I was picking off people and digging in for what I assumed would be an ugly race.  I caught a headwind in the middle of the first mile that almost blew me off my feet, but I hunkered down and shortened my stride.  The race started outside Soldier Field and went along Lake Michigan where we made the turn after a mile and half.  Luckily at that point, I caught a tailwind that gave me a decent boost into the third mile.  I was surprised that I was still moving so quickly as my guts were reminding me that I was not very good to them earlier that morning the night before.  As we were winding our way around the aquarium and into the Field Museum Campus, I was gearing up to make my final kick (I wasn't looking at my watch to check my distance.  Rookie mistake) when I almost ran into the runner in front of me and I realized we had just finished the race.  And just like that, it was over.  It felt anti-climatic, but it was fun nonetheless. 

I wandered around the Campus for a bit trying to decide what to do next.  Eventually I decided to head back to the hotel, and when I couldn't find a cab right away, I decided to just run back.  This let me see more of Michigan Avenue, which was a lot of fun.

My splits ended up being 7:02, 7:02, 6:45 and 6:35/mi for the last .1 mi.  I got 1st place in my age group!  When I found out later  that day, I was happy but exhausted from a week of boozin' & schmoozin'.  I haven't received my prize yet for coming in 1st, but it's nice to have the recognition even if I don't get my prize.  My time was 4 seconds slower than my PR, but I'm not complaining considering that I was lucky to make it to the race in the first place.

I loved running in Chicago and my brief time up there has me leaning heavily towards making it my next marathon in the Fall of 2012.  Assuming the world doesn't come to an end on Saturday, I will probably start making my plans.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Race Re-Structuring

After my marathon, I've decided to back off the marathon (and marathon training) a bit.  I had originally planned on doing the Tuepelo Marathon in the fall and then the Disney Marathon (actually both the half and the full for anyone who's counting) in January.  However the date for the Tuepelo Marathon is extremely close to the arrival date of my new nephew or niece (much to my lovely wife's chagrin, my brother and his wife have decided to keep it a "surprise").  Throw in the fact that the CMM just beat the ever-loving crap out of me...again.  So frankly, I'm more than a little tired of training for distance.  Instead, I'm going to be working on speed and strength with just a smattering of distance (I've gotta get ready for the Goofy Challenge sometime).  This means a lot of intervals, more hill work (since I did almost no hill work last year, nearly anything will be a VAST improvement), faster tempo runs (my hamstrings are crying just looking at that sentence), even more gym/home workouts (I have to admit the skeletally skinny runners tend to freak me out.  Guys, lift a weight and eat a sandwich!), and whater ever neo-workout (i.e. torture) I read about.  That being said, I've been doing speed work for the last 2 weeks and it has been enormous fun.  My weekly mileage has been low (14 and 21), and though I feel slightly guilty about that, it has been extremely fun just cutting loose.  So for the rest of the year, I'm sticking with 5k's, 10k's and half-marathons, and then more of the same after Disney in January.  My hope is to do the Chicago Marathon in 2012.  I just got back from a work conference in Chicago, and I ran nearly  every day that I was there.  Running around downtown Chicago was a blast (even slightly hungover), because I could really explore the city that way.  Add in that it was mostly flat with plenty of pedestrian access, so now I have to do the marathon there.  I even did a 5K race around Soldier Field, but that my friends is a story for another day.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Country Music Marathon Race Report

Official subtitle:  "Finished Without Medical Assistance."  If you went just by the subtitle, you would believe that I did not have a good marathon, and looking at my finishing time, you would have ample evidence to support that.  But the truth of this race isn't in the numbers.  This marathon was told, as many are, (painfully) near the end, but we'll get to that later.
The day was perfect.  The temps started out in the mid-50's, I had made it to the parking lot and the starting village in plenty of time to stretch and do my "business."  Wisely I purchased the Publix Platinum Pass which gave me access to the exclusive parking, shuttles, food tent and portapotties.  If that is ever an option at race, I will always recommend it, especially for this one.  Fighting with 30,000 other people for about 200 portapotties is not fun.  I drank some water but really didn't eat much food as I had already had breakfast.  This might have been a mistake as it would be 3 hours between eating and starting my race, but I didn't want to take any chances on stomach issues.  I figured that I had plenty of GU to make up for my nutritional needs and keep me moving through the race.  (Dumbass.)
As for the race itself, what can I say?  Nashville is hilly and if you're not ready for it, it will punish you.  I truly believed that I was ready for it with my knowledge of the city, but during the heat of the day and 3 hours into a 8:30-ish pace, it will remind you otherwise.*  My splits were: 8:30, 8:16, 8:53, 9:11, 8:18, 8;00, 8:18, 8;19, 8;18, 8;13, 8:14, 9:07, 8:10, 8:17, 9:23, 8:10, 8:25, 9:02, 8:35, 8:38, 9:12, 9:29, 10:22, 11:11, 15:13, 26:22 and 13:51.  For those of you keeping score, yes that is a 26:22 in there;  the slowest mile I had ever ran walked in my entire running career.  I had hoped to make this marathon a PR, and honestly believed that going into mile 20 that could happen.  (Cocky Dumbass.)
For the majority of the race, I had been feeling good, not great, but running strong and fairly consistent.  I made a several potty break stops, and I made sure to hit every drink station.  I took my GU at 7, 13, 18 and 21.  I had made it past mile 11, 16, and 18 which had all proven to be game breaking (if not spirit-breaking) miles for me in the past.  Somewhere around mile 16, I had been running so long that I temporarily lost my ability to do math (a common problem for me when I've been running entirely too long), but I had regained it around mile 20 long enough to know that if I held my pace I should PR, if not barely hit my goal time of 3:45.  Until then, my average pace had been right around 8:30/mile and I was feeling happy that I had held onto my pace for that long.  (Jinxed Dumbass.)

It was at mile 21 though, I could feel my legs cramp again.  They were small cramps, nothing that I wasn't used to, so in my head, I spewed some Rated R curses at my calves and kept running.  By mile 22 the cramps couldn't be denied, and I was forced to truly walk for the first time during the race.  I still held on to some false hope that I could pull out a PR if I could walk/run a 10:00/mi pace somehow.  By mile 23, the cramps were quickly moving up and down my legs, and I started to suspect that I was in real trouble.  At mile 23, I ran into another runner who abruptly quit running and started walking in front of me.  We both managed to stay on our feet, but the effort of keeping my balance dropped me to a walk again.  Then on the other side of the street, a runner had passed out on the ground, and I and several runners moving towards medical assistance called out help for her.  By this time I was walking more than I was running, but the cramps were still getting worse.  They would start in my toes, shoot up my calves, and then rip into my quads.  By mile 24, I locked up for the first time.  I stupidly tried to bend down and stretch out my legs and nearly fell on my face for my efforts.  It would have been funny (and today it actually is), if it haddn't hurt so damn much.  My left leg was so cramped that I couldn't set my foot flat down on the ground.  I pushed down on my knee and I was able to stretch out the cramp and start walking again.  Little did I know that this would become a common expercise for me.  I tried again to jog and my legs locked up again.  Bad idea.  I got the message.  10-4 Good Buddy.  Just don't hurt me again.  Mommy.  Swinging my arms, I tried to speed walk, but even that was a herculean effort.  So I resigned myself to limping along at whatever pace my legs would allow.  That was not much.  (Slow Dumbass.)

At the water station at mile 25, I seriously considered dropping out, but I was just too damned close to not finish (besides my lovely wife would have kicked my ass if I had to show up in an ambulance on her birthday).  I grabbed some Cytomax, water and salt and kept walking.  Into mile 26, I was walking, stopping, stretcching, repeat.  More times than I can remember.  I had several people stop and ask me if I needed help.  I waived them off as politely as I could muster and kept moving.  I even had some woman offer to rub the cramp out of my leg  that was visibily moving up and down my leg (it was painfully cool to watch) and a man offered to help me walk up to the top of the hill.  I thanked them but delined their assistance also.  I did take half-full bottle of Cytomax from a finished runner (Thank you, kind half-marathoner) and downed it like a man in the dessert.  At the turn with the last .2 miles left of the marathon, I took a salt packet from a volunteer and limped toward the finish line (When nothing works, they say take salt to help.  Salt is supposed to make you retain water.  It makes my tongue feel shitty and my legs still don't work.  Go figure).  Nearly every runner that passed me into the chute urged me on, and I was both thankful and really f'ing angry jealous of ther ability to still glide across the finish line.  Eventually I did too with a finishing time of 4:26:11. (Cooked Dumbass).
I did not get my goal time.  I did not PR.  I did not even get under 4 hours.  I DID finish.  I DID not quit, even though every step I took screamed at me to do so.  It sounds stupid (I know that I can't believe that I'm saying it either), but I'm proud of myself for just finishing, not letting this race beat me again.  Now in hindsight, I now truly know what it means to "hit the wall."  I thought that I understood the statement before, but this race showed me what it was.  I hit that wall head on, and I nearly did not get back up.  Finishing this race was one of the hardest things that I've ever done, and I know that I'm a better man than I was before for having made the effort (I'm looking at this statement, and I'm thinking what a preachy, self-centered asshat I must be.  This may all be true, but I still don't know a better way to explain it).
*-I will admit that I was undertrained a bit, but that's why I tried to be conservative with my pace.  However there were a ton of people that were chasing speed and were nearly falling down by mile 3. 
Some final notes:  The expo was great. The expo here is always huge and with big names like Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher in attendance, it was running geek heaven.  I also picked up some new kicks.  So awesome expo as usual.
Thanks to all my friends and family, and Nashville in general, for coming out and supporting myself and the other runners.  The crowd support here is amazing and one of the biggest reasons that I enjoy this race.  I love high fiving little kids along the course, and nothing beats seeing my wife and kids waivving to me along the course, except seeing them as I cross the finish line.
Congratulations to all my friends, acquintances and colleagues that ran yesterday.  Whether you walked or ran, you are all winners in my book for getting out there.  Specifically a shout out to my boy Matt, my girl Dawn, Kathleen, Elizabeth, Bill, Charlie, Emily, Jim and my daughter's teacher, Ms. Kenimer.  Great job guys!

Congratulations also to all the kids that ran in the Kids Marathon, including my son and all his friends.  They were all amazing and full of energy!

Next post:  We discuss my plans for the rest of the year and why I may be taking a break from the marathon for a while.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Taper Protocol

Another day down, another day closer to the marathon, another day into Taper Madness.  Once again, I find myself tweaking my training to optimize my training to keep from falling down and crying repeatedly successfully complete the marathon.  My first week of tapering, I shortened my mileage per day, but I did harder, faster runs.  I still ended up logging around 30 miles this week, so it wasn't too bad.  Not too good either, but not too bad.

This week, I figure that I'll do 3 more easy training runs about 5 miles each, but definitely no longer than 7 miles.  Today, I weighed in at 163 lbs, so I'm right at race weight, so no major changes to the diet either.  I need to finish up my marathon playlist, but that's nearly done (I'm almost ashamed to admit the amount of girly, teeny-bobber songs on it.  Almost.).  I'll review the course map a couple times more and re-check that I have all my gear ready for Saturday.  All par for course.  The only change that I'm making is to be in bed by 10:00-10:30 each night, so that I get plenty of rest.

Everyone that knows that I'm running the marathon this coming weekend has asked what's the time I'm shooting for.  My answer has been 3:45:00.  For those of you mathematically disinclined, 3:45:00 translates into 8:35/mile.  Now nothing in my training suggests that I'll hit this number.  If anything my lack of training would indicate that this is either a pipe dream or the wild fantasies of a self-deluded ego-maniac.  I can assure you that the answer is both.  I, for one, have never let reality get in the way of my greedy ambitions, and I'm not about to let it start now.  I could rattle off a list of rationalizations, like this is actually a slower pace than I have aimed for in my last two marathons or that my half-marathon times suggest that this time is well-within my reach, but let's face it, I just flat out believe that I can do it.  If I didn't have that kind of belief, I would never have gotten off the couch to lose those first 10 lbs.  I didn't have that kind of faith, I would never have run my first 5k.  And if I didn't have that kind of stupid confidence, I would never have run my first marathon.  Under 4 hours.  Booyah.

So when I line up on Saturday, I will think of my family and the strength that they give me.  I will thank God for the opportunity to keep subjecting myself to this mental and physical torture.  I will wish that I had all my friends with me and will look forward to seeing many along the course.  And I WILL believe that 3:45:00 is a number that I will see when I cross the finish line.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Tuneless Experimentation

With just barely a week left until my marathon, I've been tapering my runs, but trying to keep up my speed and intensity.  The rationale being that I will be able to go into the marathon rested, but not soft.  Sounds good on paper but as in all things I do, it's a work in progress.  This Saturday, I'll finish up the week with a long run of 11-15 miles, and I'm thinking of doing it tuneless.  Before today, I couldn't tell you the last time that I did any run of long distance without my tunes, but I've been running without music for the last couple of training runs.  Today, I did 8 miles without my music.  I am definitely a believer in the motivating power of music, but I've been listening to my marathon playlist for so long that I'm afraid it's starting to get stale.  Hence the tuneless runs.  And I hate to admit it, but it's been kinda fun running without my music.  I was able to really pay attention to all the sights as I ran through Belmont.  I enjoyed it so much that I'm considering running without my music for the first half of the marathon.  The only problem is dealing with the headphones while on the run.  Do I put them in my pocket?  Do I wear them but not turn on my player?  Decisions, decisions, decisions. 

Just to make sure that you don't think that I've lost my geek cred, I'm only running tuneless.  I'm still otherwise technologically pimped out with my trusty Garmin 405.  At least it was until a few weeks ago before it started to lose power dramatically mid-run.  I've done a hard reset, and I'm hoping that resolves the issue.  However, it does make me wonder if I should sport my Forerunner 305 come marathon day.  Again....decisions, decisions, decisions.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Procrastination Doctrine

For whatever reason, I insist on making things hard for myself by waiting till the last minute to do things.  When I was in school, I waited till after 10 (or midnight) to my homework.  Studying for exams could not happen until I finshed cleaning my apartment.  I never do laundry till I need my lucky shirt the following morning.  Christmas presents should always be purchased on Christmas Eve.  Go to sleep early?  Sleep is for the dead, and I have hours of gaming to roll through!  A marathon in 2 months?  Well I don't have to do a real long run until 3 weeks out, right?  That's completely fine...Sure it is...If you're a delusional asshat.  And that would be me.  I claim this title honestly and rightly.  When they make the call for delusional asshats, I'm ALWAYS at the front of the line.  If I wasn't a delusional asshat, I would have realized that I'm NOT 7 feet tall, NOT bulletproof, and NOT as fast as Hermes himself.  But these things do not occur to me, because...well...I'm me.

So true to form, I did my first long run over 13 miles today with the Nashville Striders.  It was a 20 mile run along the Country Music Marathon half-marathon course with an additional 7 miles of punishment fun thrown in.  Now every training guide in the world says that I shouldn't have done what I did today, but I needed to know how bad April 30 (the Marathon) would be.  After all, if I couldn't do a 20 miler at an easy pace, then there would be no way that I could finish the CMM in any reasonable time (as my lovely wife reminds me, what I consider reasonable and what every other person on the planet considers reasonable are two totally different things). 

I even tried prepping for the run the night before by drinking lots of fluids and laying out all my gear.  I'm not sure why I even bother sometimes.  True to form, I woke up late, wolfed down my breakfast and left half my gear at home (my GPS watch, my wallet, my GU).  Luckily for me I had a spare watch in my gym bag in my car, so I strapped it on hurriedly as I got to the park just as the Striders were starting to leave.  I grabbed some Vanilla Bean GU and took off. 

I learned two things today:  First, I can stomach, and actually like Vanilla Bean GU.  I usually go for berry/citrus flavored drinks, gels, etc., but vanilla bean wasn't too bad.  Second, I learned that I'm in better shape than I thought.  I managed the run at a slow and easy pace mostly around 8:50-9:00/mi for the first 13 miles with the random 8:30 and 9:41 thrown in for good measure.  Then for the last 7 miles, I tried to hit race pace an managed to keep most of miles at right under 8:30/mi.  Other than the usual soreness and exhaustion that comes from running 20 miles, I feel pretty decent.  Luckily for me, I have to spend all day in court tomorrow, so I have to take a rest day and recover.  We'll see how quickly I recover by Tuesday before I make any predictions about the marathon in a few weeks. 

Some might say that I would have had a better run if I had gotten more sleep and made sure that I was more organized in the morning, but that hardly seems like something I would do.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Percy Warner Park Humbilization

This morning I had grand plans to knock out 15 miles for my long run.  I decided to go to the PWP and run the main drive (11.2 miles) and then the remaining 4 miles on the Boulevard.  Yeah, that was a great idea in theory.  In reality, I woke up lat e because I determined it was too cold for me to run.  Now you may like to run in the cold.  I don't like to run in the cold.  I hate to run in the cold.  Yes, I am a big, whiny baby.  Deal with it.  My hope was to keep my pace between 8:30-9:00/mi on average.  There's too many hills later on for me to keep that kind of pace, but if I could keep it fast on the down hills, that would help my average pace.

I started from the front of the park and trudged up the first set of hills.  I started out pretty well and managed to stick with my game plan for 6 miles with an occasional potty break and short walk up some steep climbs.  At mile 7, my lack of training was starting to show.  It didn't help that about that time I was hitting Lunsford Hill, a particularly hateful and mean-spirited hill to me.  I trudged it half way up Lunsford Hill, when I had to throw in the towel and walk for a minute.  From there, you can guess the rest of it.  I would try to pick up my pace again with varying degrees of success and just as many failures.  At my worst, my pace dropped to a 10:45 for mile 9.  After that, I reclaimed some speed as I hit the down slopes back down to a 9:10.  I gave up on the last 4 miles as I was going to be late getting back home, and honestly, I was just dog-tired.

My average pace ended up being 9:21/mi for 11 miles.  I didn't hit the pace I wanted and I didn't run nearly as far as I needed to run.  Still, I can't complain about the run.  It was a hard course and my time was decent, though disappointing.  It does mean that I need to re-adjust my expectations for the marathon though.  Before this run, I was hoping for a 3:30:00 marathon, 8:00/mi.  Now, I think that a 8:30/mi-8:45/mi is probably more realistic.  I have about 3 more weeks left of training before the full, so I'm doubtful that this will change.  Now I just have to explain that to my brain.  Sadly that is a losing battle.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Post-Disney Re-Integration

I have returned from the land of the Mouse, and though I did not run a damn lick hardly at all, I had a super-awesome time with my family and friends.  We rode a ton of rides, and my son even rode Space Mountain for the first time.  Now that I'm back, I feel ready to get back into it and tackle that pesky marathon that is waiting for me on April 30.  My training this week has even been decent despite the craptastic weather that we've had lately.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not delusional enough to believe that it won't suck (I am delusional enough to believe that fairy dust will make you fly however);  I know it will.  But before now, I was kinda dreading it.  Now, I've made peace with it, though it's looming out there and I'm ready to have fun with it.

And speaking of delusional fun from the world of the geek, I saw Sucker Punch tonight, and big shocker coming...wait for it...wait....I loved it!  I had read the reviews giving it all the approval of Jim Tressel trying to delete his emails, but a movie about crazy, hot chicks with big guns and swords.  And steam-powered Nazis.  And killer robots.  No one could have kept me out of this movie.  Believing that the movie would be a steaming pile of poo, I was pleasantly surprised to find a fairly decent movie.  If your level of expectation is pretty low (like mine was), then anything better is step in the right direction.  Given that, I really dug this movie.  It was so over-the-top that not once did I have to suspend reality to buy the story, because the delusional flights of fancy (or wanton violence) lifted me of that burden.  The hyper-kinetic fight scenes were ferocious and smooth like some weird chainsaw wrestling match with fairies.  Unlike his other movies like 300 and Watchmen, this movie lacked the brutality and intensity of those films.  I don't want to give away the movie, but if I have to complain about anything, it would be this:  There was not enough wacked-out delusional violence and destruction.  Slipping between the levels of reality, though an interesting story-telling device, would bring my adrenaline rush down  faster than Space Mountain, and I was left wanting more insanity.  I probably would have liked it more if the fantasy of the sub-realities had come crashing through into reality more like a crashing log flume than an illusion for coping with atrocities and pain.  Still, I enjoyed it as much as any Wild Ride that had to end too soon.  Much better than I expected.  Definitely a rental, and possibly a matinee.

Will it win any Oscars?  I doubt it, but I'm sure that I'll add it to my collection of movies when it makes it to DVD.  That being said, my lovely wife reminds me that I loved Wrath of Khan also, so my taste may be questionable.  Just saying. 

(And yeah...I did it.  I wrote a blog about Disney, running, and Sucker Punch and made them all relate together.  That's just the way I roll.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Racing Season Initiation

Well the 2011 Racing Season has started out for me as somewhat of a mixed bag.  Yesterday, thanks to a  change in schedule, I was able to race the Tom King Classic Half-maration.  This was my first year running it, and thanks to a fortunate alignment of the stars and planets, we had pretty decent weather this year.  In years prior, it has been cold and/or rainy.  Yesterday it was a sunny, but windy, 58 degrees with the temps climbing up into the 70's by midday.  I was pumped to be racing again but also tense and unsure as I was going into this race fairly undertrained.  I was cocky enough to believe that my prior training and overall fitness might land me a PR, but in my heart, I knew that I just didn't have the mileage or endurance yet to roll out an awesome race.  It was this nervous anticipation that sent me to the "little runner's room" several times before the race and which I assume led to my undoing.  My plan was to start off with 8:00/mi pace for the first couple miles and then work down from there to 7:50's for 4 miles, then 7:45's for 4 miles and 7:40's for the last 3.1 miles.  This actually was a decent plan, and I was able to pull it off for the most part.  At mile 6 I noticed that my pace had picked up steadily to 7:40 for that mile, and thinking that was too fast to maintain, I tried backing off.  Miles 7-9 were definitely more reasonable with a 7:43, 7:46 and 7:45.  It was at mile 10 that things fell apart.  I was starting to feel the cramps set into my calves, and by the time I transitioned into mile 11, I had a nasty side stitch that was threatening to tear the whole thing apart.  I sucked it up, called myself every conceivable bad word in the dictionary, and tried to regain my pace.  By that time, the damage was done, I was dehydrated and I eked out a miserable 8:17 for mile 11.  I pulled it together to get a 7:55, 7:37 and 1:27 for the last 2.1 miles but I was moving on sheer hate for my weakness and stubbornness to finish.  In hindsight, I was still too slow in the middle miles for mile 11 to have made much difference, but in my race clouded brain, mile 11 was the one that did me in.  I ended up finishing with a 1:43:07, 7:53/mi pace.  No PR but I was darn close (1:42:00 last year).  So considering that I could have used more mileage training, I can't really complain about my results.  The day was a bit hotter than expected, I pee'd way too much before the race, and I needed more training, but I only missed my PR by 1:08 minutes.  Not too shabby for my first race of the season.

On a final note, the really cool thing about running in my hometown is that I get to race/run with fellow local bloggers/celebrities (Most of the people I follow seem like blogging celebs to me), some of which I consider good friends.  For instance, I saw Donna, whose blog is (Mis)adventures in Running.  She has had an amazing running career transforming herself from a couch potato to a running coach/fitness guru/motivator/inspiration in just under 4 years.  I used to work with her husband in Clarksville, and not only has she inspired me with her progress, but she's impressed me by how many converts she's managed to pull into running.  She had a fair contingent of her running pupils taking a shot at the race.  I saw Melanie, who writes Life is a Marathon.  While I don't know her personally, I've followed her blog for a couple of years.  She seems amazingly friendly and in January, she did the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World (something I'm hoping to do in 2012).  I saw her prior to the race and at mile 2, I managed the nerve to tell her that I enjoyed her blog as I passed by.  Finally, I saw my friend Jim, who writes Run for Dori.   He helped coach my son's basketball team last year, and he is a good guy for someone who is so tall and imposing.  His wife, Dori, is fighting leukemia, and he has used running to raise money and draw awareness to causes to fight and cure cancers.  Whenever I think about how much I've accomplished, I think about what Jim has done to use running to really help others and build a community of support.  So to my friends and fellow bloggers, let me say that it was really cool to share my experience with y'all yesterday.  Thanks!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Widget Re-Assignment

Last week my laptop was struck with a virus which forced me to re-format my harddrive and re-install my OS and all my apps.  Usually big fun, but of course, I hadn't backed up any of my browser bookmarks,  (PSA:  Always backup, backup, backup!)  so I've been spending a small portion of my week re-installing drivers, apps and bookmarking my favorite sites (like this super-awesome blog site, dontchaknow!).  In the transition, logyourrun.com now doesn't want to play nice with Garmin Connect.  So now, Logyourrun.com is not importing my runs from my Garmin.  Lame!  Fail!  Boo!  Hiss!  I checked all the obvious settings, but nothing has changed in any of my accounts.  Ugh.  Not wanting to devote more time than necessary to this little picadilly, I've decided to move my tranining info over to dailymile.com as Garmin Connect doesn't really have the import functionality that I need.  Dailymile.com seems to be adequate.  I miss all the minutiae of detail from logyourrun.com, but dailymile.com makes it much easier to sync my workouts.  All in all a decent trade-off.  I haven't gone to the Y at all this week.  Epic fail.  But I did some pilates/body weight/dumbbell exercises at home to supplement my runs this week.  Virtual Hi-five!  I finalized my registration for the Tom King Half-Marathon next week, and though I'm no where near ready, I'm looking forward to racing again.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Obligatory Update

Like my blogging, my running has suffered of late.  I wish that I could say that I was overwhelmed with work, basketball coaching and other sickness, but mostly it was laziness and video game playing.  It's shameful how easy it is to blow off a workout session to level up my newest character on DC Universe Online (fyi, I'm on the Zero Hour server.  This game is AWESOME!).  However looking over my calendar, it occurred to me that I have a marathon to run in  two and half months, and my longest run, until today, had been 7 miles.  Throw in that I can't run my first two races of the year because of scheduling conflicts, it would be wise of me to defer my marathon.  But as my lovely wife has often told me, wisdom has not always been my strongest quality.  So today, I ripped out 10 miles at an 8:32/mi pace.  I'm feeling it now.  And it feels a lot like a large full bag of feces.  A very, very FULL bag.  For the week, I did 31.23 miles at an average pace of 8:39/mi.  I did 10 minutes at the Y of weights and about 5 minutes of light weights at home during The Biggest Loser (afterwards I ate some ice cream while I watched the weigh-in.  Good times).

On a more positive note, yesterday was my son's last basketball game.  As most of you know, I was one of the coaches for the team.  They won in a spectacular fashion with the other team cursing and gnashing their teeth in frustration (and that was mostly the other coach!  Not my fault, I swear).  They ended the season 6-4, and frankly I was surprised (happily) that the won any games under my watch.  That just goes to show how talented the kids and the other coaches were!  Go Bears! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

End of the Week Recap 1/16/11

This week I did 18.15 miles at an average pace of 8:32/mi. Not too bad. I tried a little speed work (as in almost non-existent), but I think that I need to lay off the speed work till I get my endurance back up. Interesting (to me, but not to anyone else with a pulse), I stealthed in a long run unintentionally! I had intended to get in a nice 6-7 mile run on Friday. My run was fair, but with my wonderful Garmin 405 (that I got for Christmas!  Thank you honey!) on the lap info screen, I didn't notice that I got in 8 miles! My longest run for the year so far (I know, I know...2 weeks. Big whoop.), and it felt good to get in the mileage. I did about 75 mins of cross-training and weight lifting. I'm starting to feel buff again, but not quite beach ready yet. So the re-tooling of the "Gun Show" continues on! Updates as they develop!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

End of the Week Recap 1/9/11

First week of the year, and it was a decent comeback. I did 16.84 miles at 8:22/mi. I also managed 2 hrs of cross-training. My weight was back down to 166.8 lbs from a ridiculous 173 lbs after New Years. I'm trying to stretch at night and do some core work to reduce injury. So far, so good, but that being said, I'm sitting here with an ice pack on my shin. So an easy day tomorrow if the snow holds off. Have to remember, nice and easy. Going for the distance. This is harder than I recall.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Race Schedule

Well, I've fleshed out my schedule as much as I can at this point, which you can see on my blogsite.  Most of it is still unfinished as many of the races that I want to do haven't posted any information yet.  A few notables:  The 8th Annual Race Judicata is on February 26, 2011, which unfortunately is the same day as my daughter's last basketball game.  I may only run the 5k this year, so I can make it to her game.  Maybe I'll get 2 suckers teammates and we can enter as a team.  Hmmm.

I'm currently planning on doing 2 local half-marathons, the Tom King and the Middle Half, that I have not yet run, so those should be fun.  They're both allegedly very flat and fast.  I'm taking another stab at the Country Music Marathon, and hopefully it won't be the disaster that it was last year.  My intent is to use it as a training run for my fall marathon.  So I'm looking for a nice, easy FINISH that doesn't leave me completely dead.  That leaves my big marathon, which should be the Tupelo Marathon.  Registration isn't up yet, but in the past they've had the coolest looking shirts and finisher medals (a skull and crossbones!).  Even though it is supposed to have some rolling hills, that will be the marathon that I look for my fast time this year.

The race I'm looking forward to the most is the Warrior Dash.  Not only does this race have fun obstacles like barbed wire and fire, but it has lots of adult beverages and a cool buffalo hat!  There's even steel viking hats for age group winners.  Throw in that it's near my hometown and I'm so there!  I considered wearing a kilt in the "traditional style" but I think that my lovely wife would probably frown on that.

Finally I'm also considering the Disney half and full marathon in 2012.  It doesn't really count for this year, but I'm keeping this in mind for later as I don't want to finish the year either completely dead or injured.  We're planning on making it a family thing with my wife and kids and my brother's family and also watch me kill myself run.  I want to run the half (on Saturday) and the full marathon (on Sunday) to get the coveted Goofy Medal.  My lovely wife thinks that this would be a bad idea (granted this is not the first time that she's said that I've had a bad idea).  But seriously, if I'm going to go all that way to run, shouldn't I go for it?  I say, YES!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Running Geek Upgrade

Well, it's 2011 and I'm still cobbling together my race schedule for the year (i.e. sweet-talking my lovely wife into letting me run some of the crazier races), but I have figured out my goals for year.  As stated, I've decided to keep 2011 within more reasonable boundaries.  First off, my plan is to get my weight down to 160 and keep it there.  Ugh.  I can't believe that it's even gone up.  Moving on!  My race goals are simply put:  to be faster than I was last year in every race distance.  

Along those lines, I'm scrapping any formulaic training program and using my own what-do-I-feel-like-doing-today methodology.  That being said, I will incorporate one day of speed/hill work and one long run.  I'll also be working up my distance to get closer to 50-60 mile weeks, but at much slower paces than I did last year to reduce injury and increase recovery.  Throw in a decent amount of cross-training/weight lifting to build strength, endurance and overall fitness, and I think I have a recipe for a decent year (consequently, this is close to the same formula that I used 2 years ago to get here).  And add in a name change to the blog for some added motivation, and we're off! 

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