Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Indian Summer Half Marathon (RR)

Is that the sounds of more than one person behind me?   Where did those two guys come from? Really, an all sprint on the last 30 yards?   Wait those aren't the people I passed in the last half mile....

Friday Morning:

"All right!   Let's get three easy miles in as prep for tomorrow's race, no need to push pace, just an easy run to get in the right mind frame." Runner Me says to myself.

"Wait, we have never run the day before a race, won't we be tired and sluggish tomorrow?" The naysayer retorts.

"Look, shoes are on and we are out the door, Runner can deal with those problems tomorrow," runner replies.

Most of the week I was totally oblivious to the fact that I had a race Saturday, most of the month really.  So the thoughts above totally sum up my attitude for this race, a Half-Marathon for crying out loud.
Friday night:   After being informed that my 3 year old was sick all day, dinner plans were left in the air.   I volunteered to grab dinner from a fast food joint after I picked up my race packet.   Nothing says proper pre-race nutrition like a dinner from Jack in the Box.   Food nutrition aside, I managed to do the right things the rest of the night.   Once the kid dos were asleep, I relaxed, watched a bit of TV, and was in bed by about 10.  This being a local race, I knew I could get a good night sleep at home, get up, and have plenty of time to make it to the run.

Saturday Morning:   Alarm buzzing at 6:34.  Who sets their alarm for 6:34?  Snooze for 10 more minutes, get up and get moving.   Want to be out of the house in 30 minutes.   Get moving on morning routine, bathroom, running clothes on, shoes on (as chosen by my 3 year old).  Now, let's grab a quick bite.   Hmmm?  Pop-tart? Perfrect!  Race number...Why is this not on my clothes?   Oh well, I need to go it is 7:25 and the race is at 8!

Get in the car, and BEEEEP! Crap, the car needs gas, well I guess I can fit that in, it is only a 10 minute drive.   After gassing up, where I used the pump time to pin my bib on (see efficiency), I got to the race location at 7:45.  This works out great. Grab a parking spot, run over to the start location, notice I have 12 minutes to go, run over to the bathroom.   Get back, with only 5 minutes to go, having had a decent warm up.

8:00 AM - Off we go!  I stay back the first quarter mile, letting the crowd disperse a bit, so that I can find my pace and go on from there.   About half a mile in I ran through some grass that had just been watered, whoops, now my shoes are soaked, nothing to do now but run! At about the 5k turn-around (seen below) I checked my phone to see pace, 7:57.  Opps, seems I have started out a bit fast, let's just see where this goes as I am feeling great this morning.

A spot near the 5k turn around.  Of course I didn't stop to take pictures today, I was flying!

Miles 2-4 - Nothing much going on. The crowd has thinned, leaving a random collection of people training out.   There are some guys that I pass here, who clearly started much faster than their abilities.   I keep passing people in ones and twos for the next couple of miles.   I pass up water at the first water stop, cause, well, I am feeling great.

Mile 4-6.5 - Around mile four I hear footsteps and voices.   I get passed by a woman in yellow(#1451), briefly, she is central in the plot, and then two other women, whom I don't remember seeing again.   The water stops at 4 and 5.7 miles I grab cups that are unrefreshingly low on water.   Now, I have a habit of taking a slow jog through the water stations in order to drink the water, this doesn't bother me, because drinking the water is important.   The woman in yellow follows suit, slows down and drinks her water, always remaining just behind me.

Mile 6.5-11- Just before the turn around the woman in yellow decides to pass me.   She uses an uphill burst to get past me, normally I do this, but I figured that if she wanted to make her move now that was up to her.   So on we go to the turn around, she passes her family (I assume at this point she is running her first Half) giving high fives all around.   But maintains a steady pace out in front of me.   I use the opportunity to consume my gel after the turn around (Note:  Gels without water are harder to consume).  We come flying into mile 7, I check the phone, distance is 7.1 and time is 58 minutes (this is the last time I check).  Sweet!  I am crushing this right now.   Leaving the water stop at mile 5.7(7.3) I start thinking that I am tired.   Stupid brain, we are rocking, leave this to the us legs and we can get through it.   Better get distracted.   Focus on getting through the next water stop (mile 9) and the final one (mile 11).

Mile 11-13 - Getting through the water stop, I start calculating just how many milestones are left til we can push to the end.   Meanwhile, I have been holding a pace leaving me about 20-30yards behind the woman in yellow (#1451, when you stare at it for 40 minutes you remember it).  As I cruise past the 5k turn-around I know that it is time to start making a move.   I pass a couple of people at the curves in the path near the hotels, then set my sights on the woman in yellow, as well as the guy that keeps passing me (seriously like 5 times in this race this guy passed me).  With a mile to go, I set my path on the inside of the curves and pick up my pace.   I pass the woman in yellow.   Then with a quarter mile to go, pick it up again and pass the guy who keeps passing me.

Mile 13.1 - Is that the sounds of more than one person behind me?   Where did those two guys come from? Really, an all sprint on the last 30 yards?   Wait those aren't the people I passed in the last half mile. In the last tenth of a mile I get passed by two guys that I didn't even know were behind me.   But I did stay in front of the guy who passed me a lot, and the woman in yellow.   Sometime after the last water stop, I started wondering if the clock would have a 4 or 5 in it when I reached the end.   Well, coming up I saw 1:50: and some change. I passed the finish with a time of 1:51:30!!!!!!

This is a PR, by 14 minutes!!!!!

Of course, last time I ran a Half, I did my own virtual race in lieu of traveling to Vancouver WA and missing the birth of my second son.   This so rocked.   Plus I got this - - - -

So as far as PRing goes, I guess the run for fun plan rocks, I have not run a single long run over 10 miles since I ran an 18 miler back in August.   Of course, I want to get faster (shave 6+minutes off of that) and get below 1:45.  So I know that as I get back into training, I will be working tempos and intervals back in.  But for now I am going to revel in a super fast Half time.

Have fun out there!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

After much discussion with my wife and running buddies, I have decided to drop down to the Marathon Relay with my friend.   He and I will split the marathon and each run 13.1.  I am happy with this decision as it has been taxing on me trying to keep up with the volume of running (and time) necessary to accomplish this goal.   I have decided on taking on one big task a year (read trying the training for a marathon) for the time being in hopes of avoiding burn out.   With this in mind I am looking for a Spring/Early Summer marathon to take on where I can begin training in the early part of the year (February).  I am currently leaning towards a redemption run at the Vancouver USA Marathon (I was unable to run the Vancouver USA Half last year due to the impending birth of my second son).

Moving on to different running issues/problems/phobias/general worry.   I have a lingering issue with my right ankle.   I sprained it last summer before I became a runner, and now I have the ability to reinjure it almost at will.   I rolled it climbing off a ladder back in March and was quite concerned that it was more serious than it really was.   Fast forwarding to this past weekend.   Friday we had a yard sale where we took stuff from our house, my dad's place, and my in-law's place and offered to try to sell what we could and donate all that was left, typical yard sale.   Well, I had wanted to get out and run with one of my running buddies sometime that weekend, and offered Friday after the yard sale as the perfect time to take care of this.   So about 2:30 that afternoon I met up with him to tackle an easy 5 or so before heading home for dinner.   Everything was going well up until mile 2.  His dog, leashed, decided that she wanted to run on the outside of me, instead of in between the two of us.   This caused me to step off the running path into the grass trying to make room for him to pull her back in before she tripped me.   Well, turns out there was a small hole where I stepped off the path.  Crack!   Rolled the ankle and spent a couple of minutes trying to see if it was ok to try to move on again.   I managed a couple of quick sprints up the hill to test it's steadiness before deciding to move on and finish out the run.   I managed to finish the last 3 miles of the run, which was good, though the run wasn't the best I have had.

Typically on Sunday's I like to meet up with my other running buddy to tackle a long run.   This Sunday we were going to try to do 8-10.  When I awoke, I was greeted kindly by my 3 year old.   I absolutely hate leaving him to go run on the weekends.   I texted my buddy and asked if we could go a bit later, he quickly agreed.   I spent the next couple hours getting breakfast and an HD antenna with my 3 year old, then happily went out for the run with my buddy.   We met up about 10 with no particular plan in mind.   We decided to run the path across the highway from his place as opposed to wandering down to the river.   Not being in the best mind to go for a run we decided to just do the 5.5 mile loop and call it a day.   Of course as we got to the end of the loop we decided to try to get a full 7 in, ran the short loop of the path again, and cruised in at 7.14 miles.   I don't know what it is about the 7+ mile distance of late, but I have been loving this distance for a run.   Enough to make me feel like I really accomplished something and yet not so much that I am drained from the effort.

If I were ranking runs in ascending order of awesomeness the last few days, today's would top the list.   Since I stopped worrying about speed and other such tings on my 'plan' and have been running my runs how I feel, I have been much happier about a greater percentage of the runs.   This morning, however, I felt the need for speed.   I was out the door just before 6 in the cool 45* morning air. I quickly realized that this morning was meant to be a fast run.   I warmed up for about a half mile, then turned on the burners, finishing the first mile in 8:15, then really wanted to push it for 2 or so before cooling down and getting ready for work.   Miles 2 and 3 were right at 7:50 a piece, and it felt great to be able to run that speed with what felt like minimal effort (gotta love fall temps).  I ran a cool down mile of 8:45 or so, to pull off a 4 mile run in 8:45.  It was awesome, and left me hoping for a good one tomorrow (I actually want to get up and go again in the morning).  Good to know that my ankle is slowing me down any.

Have fun out there!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's About Time

That I posted something.   It's been a week since I changed my approach to training and I have managed to run three times in that span (with another jaunt sometime today).  The run when I feel like it plan is in full and total effect.   I even had one of the best runs I have had in months Saturday morning.

I woke up grabbed the gear and ran over to my friend's place.   He lives a mile away so I always use that as a nice warmup/cooldown, plus he likes to push the pace so it is like a tempo run for the middle distance.   Ran a 5-mile loop with him, and his pup,  through the lakes neighborhood, you know a neighborhood that has large ponds in it with paths winding around the 'lakes' . It was a glorious morning, we watched the sun come up transitioning through a deep crimson through to the orange glow of early morning.   A quick stop to grab a couple of things from his place then I was back at home completing a 7.3 miles run.   I loved every minute of it and it didn't feel like and hour of running.   Those run keep you coming back for more.

After that, I went with my three year old and my father in-law over to Pullman to catch the WSU football game.   Now as opposed to boring you all with the minute details of the game we will surmise it to say that the Cougs rocked.   They haven't looked this good (I know the competition hasn't been super) since I was there early in my college life (2003).  So Saturday was a great day!

Sunday, though, had an air of remembrance and sadness to it.   I spent the morning trying to get the antenna positioned to grab the local CBS station (still no luck) and caught bits and pieces of the 9/11 specials on all the channels.   I had intended on running 7 miles to round out a milestone (more on this in a minute) but both my boys awoke as I was preparing to leave, and instead of making my DW get up and deal with both of them I decided to let her sleep for another 45 minutes or so.   I spent the day doing stuff with my oldest son, watched a bit of football, went grocery shopping, where we saw the local firefighters hang a large US flag across the only major intersection in town.   This prompted questions from my 3yo.  Not that he isn't inquisitive as is, but he really wanted to know what all the flags were about, a question that I had a hard time answering at a 3yo level.   I explained briefly about bad-guys and told him that one day he would understand better, an answer he liked, at least he didn't ask anymore questions. But overall a great weekend.

So this leaves me back at the milestone.   I am approaching 500 miles for the year, was a whopping 30 miles or so away from it at the beginning of the month, and have been sneaking up on it this whole time.   I noticed that I was only 24 miles away last week, and had made up my mind to get past that mark and move on. Well, I guess this is like baseball where a hitter is approaching 500 HRs and gets to 499 and sits for 14 games before hitting 2 in a game to go past 500.  That's me right now.   I have a measly little 2.5 miles left to knock off that milestone, so I think that today (lunch run, or after work) I will go out and knock off a quickie in order to take care of that.

My goal at the beginning of the year was to run 600 miles, or 50 a month.   Knowing that I am 102.5 miles from that goal is an amazing feeling.   I will be knocking out the 600 sometime early next month as I taper for the local marathon at the end of October. I have made no plans for November or December yet, though I will try to keep a solid base so that I can start building up next season.   I will run 4 or so local races during the winter months (5ks mostly).

Ok enough for now.  Have a great day out there and HAVE FUN!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Burnout? Funkytown? How one run helped.

Right now I hate running!   Stay with me, I have a solution.

Hate is too strong a word.   I don't like running.  That's not true, I still like running, I just don't want to run.   Perhaps I just want to do something else with that time.   Perhaps, I took too many days off in the last two weeks, a total of 4 runs from August 22 through September 5.  Perhaps it is the rigors of training for a marathon (way harder than I had thought after training for a Half) coupled with rasping a young family (3 yo and newborn).  Whatever the problem is, running seems like work right now, and I don't want to get up and do it, I would rather sleep, play with the kids, try to take care of the house (why is there so much to do?), or play video games.   So with that, and stresses at work, we are starting conceptual design on our project finally, but the company is looking at lay-offs it seems that there are pressures from many sides. 

I imagine that all runners out there have experienced this phenomenon (the I don't want to run phenomenon, Burnout is appropriate I beleive).  Some would say that this is a funk, a stay cation in funkytown if you will.   But it doesn't seem that way to me.   My runs the last couple of weeks have been great (when I wanted to or actually did go do them), I feel fine, I feel strong, my desire is waning

For example, last weekend I took the family on vacation to our cabin in Montana, a great place on Lindbergh Lake.   I ran one time.   Once, for 8 really awesome miles, they really were great.  The road through the forrest was cool when I ran, which had a positive effect on my run (faster than I thought in the higher altitude), very hilly, but an easy trail run on the dirt road at the lake.  I loved being out in nature, and would seriously consider moving out east (or at least to the mountains) to do more trail runs.  But the rest of the weekend I just wanted to relax and enjoy time with my family.   So I did, throwing away a 10 mile run.

Monday night I bought a new video game, Tuesday morning running be darned.   I have been up late playing it for a few nights now, which is the reason I ran yesterday afternoon in the heat.   That run may have actually turned the key for me though.   It was hard, because it was 95* outside and I didn't really want to be running in the first place.   But a funny thing happened during the run, I started thinking about my next run (tomorrow an amount of miles or time to be determined when I get out on the road).  And I have plans to run with my running buddies Saturday and Sunday I am not doing the 14 mile run on Sunday, I would rather go do a shorter run with my friend and enjoy it instead of worrying about trying to cram 6 miles in before I meet up with him. 

So here is the new agenda.   I am going to enjoy running, which means trying to reach mileage as described in my training plan, but not fretting over what type of run it is.   So if the schedule calls for 6 miles of intervals and I don't feel like them, then fine, I will just go try the 6 miles however I feel like.   I will focus on a few key runs, the final 20 mile run I have scheduled for Oct.9 being the last before tapering.   The Half-Marathon rave schedule in two weeks that I am still looking forward to dropping 2 hours on.   And next week's long run, which will be 16-18 miles depending on the week's running and how I feel Sunday.

Things not to worry about, speed, don't know that I am going to improve much speed wise between now and the end of October, especially as this will be my first marathon, and the goal is to finish!  This will give me a goal for next time.   Plus I can look forward to next year and how to train to increase speed over long distances.

So with those three key runs, and a bit of mental toughness, I will be able to complete my first marathon at the end of October  Between now and then, less focus and worry over the miles and training plan, less worry over the house stuff, and more trying to relax during my free time.

So hopefully with this new approach I can get back to running happy. Remember - Have fun out there!