Monday, March 29, 2010

Race Report: Eastern States 20

I went out up to Kittery to run the Eastern States 20 this weekend. I went and stayed with David & Cheryl C. and their kids at their place, had dinner with them but had to run back to Winchester because N brought the kids there after her dad broke his hip Saturday afternoon. So, she headed to Cape Cod to see him Sunday prior to surgery, our kids hung out with my folks, and I headed back to Maine to run. Nothing like a bit of extra excitement before a big run. Luckily, N's dad is doing well, but it was a tense afternoon and Sunday morning.

The run was great in that painful way that long runs are. Temps were mid forties, but there was a relentless, biblically spiteful headwind for probably 12 of the 20 miles.
We ran hard along the Atlantic for much of the race and I was glad to have a companion in David. When the wind got really stiff I lowered my head a bit and repeated to myself "You are small and slight and the wind doesn't know you're here." We set out at a comfortable 9 minute/mile pace and I have to say, that through much of the run I was thinking that I could run forever at 9 minutes/mile.

Then, for some reason, between 10 & 13 I picked up my pace and went harder. I might have unconsciously been trying to expiate last week's bonk, I don't know, but I ratcheted it back a bit and ran with David. Around 14 it started to hurt a bit (paying for my quickened pace) and by about 15.5 I knew it was time to dig down deep. I kept repeating the following things: "Be open to the experience, take what the road gives you, listen to your body." I also kept repeating: "Smooth. Easy. Rhythm." I was misquoting a line from "Born to Run" which goes "Smooth, easy, light, fast." It worked pretty well until I came to the last water stop and as I'd done on others got my Gatorade and walked while I drank. I lost my rhythm and got in a bit of trouble.

My stride was breaking down, my legs weren't moving so well, and the headwind along the beach in Hampton Beach was vicious. The sea was lovely, and the fresh salt air was amazing, and I tried to focus on that and dissociate from the pain in my gams. I was working hard those last 2 miles, but David was hugely helpful to me -- and he helped me tough it out. I misjudged the finish line. I saw knot of people and didn't see runners proceeding up the sidewalk, in the distance so I thought that was the end, and started my final grind about a mile too early. When I had to make an unexpected right-hand turn and didn't see finish line, I stumbled a bit around 19+. However, when I saw the actual finish I picked it up and hit it. A kid in his 20s came in right behind me and he said "I was trying to catch you but you were too fast in that last stretch." I smiled and said "thanks, I didn't feel fast." There was a little post race thing and I got a cup of greasy beef barley, and it was delicious.

It was great to run with David, it was fun to have someone to talk to, especially near the end. When I was in a world of hurt at 18 he quoted Dean Karnaze to me and that helped a lot. So did his carbonara from the night before. What was also hugely helpful was that Cheryl and the kids were all over the race course cheering for us and it was awesome and fun to see them and gave a reason to put on a good show -- though I have to say, I wasn't acting. I was running with smile the whole way, pretty much, and it was genuine.

The race was well run, water stops were well spaced, and we went off on time. The scenery was great and the course was mainly flat -- a few rollers early, a small up around 12 and then a few rollers in 14-16 but nothing major. The Hoyts were there, again (love running with them and really admire them -- it was hellacious running into the headwind, just me, I can't imagine pushing the cart that Rick rides in). I had one more Gu left on me and should have eaten it, I think it would have helped, but I was well hydrated, and today feel less sore than I did last week (though I am sore, this is my longest run this year and I went from 13.1 to 20...). It was a fun run. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned that if you run with a smile, it's true.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday Five

Messed up week, lots of work, Nancy was sick all week and had tons of meetings, I had a ton of meetings. Didn't get as many runs in as I'd have liked, but that's life. I did get in a nice fiver Friday afternoon and felt really good. I'm reading Born to Run" and it's great. I was reading about a woman who was a dominant ultra-runner in the mid-90s, and her description of the sensuality and romance of running really made an impact. It's all about listening to your body every second and dialing it back when necessary, and turning it up when able. It's how you find your rhythm and I have to say that the run started great, it got a bit choppy, and then I found my flow and felt great for the last half. It was fun, and I'm looking to take this attitude into tomorrow's 20. Listen to my body, dial it back, ramp it up, find my flow. I've been espousing the semi-spiritual side of running for a while, and I know inherently to dial it back, but some sort of competitive beast gets going and I want to push it -- I didn't listen so well last week, and got burned. I dialed it up from 4-8 and when things got funky around 9 I didn't listen and blew up because I kept pushing it and didn't listen and ruined my flow. It's not that I dislike competition -- I'm competitive -- but I compete in some other areas of my life and don't necessarily feel the need right now to compete in running. Running is an outlet, a mode of expression, a way of life. I was projecting into the future on my run and thinking how cool it would be to some day run with my kids -- 5Ks, halfs, whatever. I hope I'm setting a good example, I hope I can run well and strong for a long time and imbue my kids with a love of running. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and, as is mentioned often in "Born To Run," I'm going to approach it with an open heart, and run for the love of it, and see where it all goes. I think my goals tomorrow are to 1) have fun and run with an open heart, 2) run healthy, 3) finish strong.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Guess I should have kept a better eye on the baby

Or not left out the eggs
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Always Learning

One thing I really enjoy about running is that nearly every run teaches me something. It may as simple as teaching me that I'm feeling good, or maybe feeling a little out of sorts, or maybe that certain things are not great running fuel. Today taught me that running with both boys in the stroller, on a windy day, while still feeling the effects of my run in New Bedford was not a great decision. Tough run, pretty much unmitigated misery all the way through, with some brief respites as Child 2 chatted with me about this and that. Mark it in the books, but it was a grind, and my hammy is not feeling great right now.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Race Report: New Bedford Half

Last year I wrote a ton about this race. This year I'm writing a bit less but this was an interesting race.

Place   Time       Pace  Gun Time
991     1:48:10.4  8:16  1:49:17.6

I saw the Hoyts again, really cool to run with them, they are such legends, and Dick Hoyt is a majorly driven athlete. This year's race was well run, like last year's, but this year they had start and finish times which was really nice (see above). The race did go off a bit late, but that wasn't a big deal and the day was pleasant.

There are three good hills between miles 2 & 3 and they get progressively longer. I weathered those well, and carried some good speed into the long flat portion of the course -- from about mile 4-6 it's flat, on top of a plateau, then the course drops back to sea level for 7-12 and then climbs brutally from 12-13. I was feeling good through 8, came across ten about 2 minutes ahead of last year's pace started struggling after that as I began to think about time etc, and then the wheels fell of my wagon at 11.5. I bonked despite eating some Gu along the way and hydrating.

My legs felt like they filled with blood and I just couldn't make them move. I walked for about a minute or so, got my legs back and then ran up the last brutal hill -- I broke down at the crest, took ten paces to compose myself, saw the second to last turn up ahead and found my well of strength to finish with a kick. I'd like to tap into that well more often -- I need to find it when I hit trouble spots like I did at 11.5. I'm not sure what it is -- but why I could barely move my legs 1.5 miles earlier and then I'm sprinting I don't know. I really want to find that adrenaline trigger and not require the homestretch. I'm not sure if it's just a commitment to finish strong, put on a good show in front of a big crowd (because I broke down in front of a big crowd) I don't know what it is. If I reflect on it my mind is fairly blank in those final moments, there are no mantras, no exhortations -- just a focus on the finish line and desire to.... I don't know what, be strong, finish strong, be true to myself, honor the race....

I approached today as a total trainer. If I'd trained for this in particular and bonked I'd be irate, but it was a good lesson, a good workout and a decent time. I learned that I'm not ready to run 8 sub-8 miles for 13.1 miles (11.5, yes; 13.1, no). I had one mile on the big hills early that was 9:09, but I had a few between then and 10 that were 7:30-40s.... Looking forward to 20 next week -- paying the price now for good runs in the future. Oops, wrote a bunch.

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Way before the start

Sea gulls cry overhead and the starting area gets put in place.
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Turkey Trot

I got out for one more run this work week. It was a gorgeous day, just begging for a trot through town. My legs were tired today after yesterday's run, so it was a bit of  a grind and my CV was less than I'd hoped for -- though it may be connected to really working the breathing muscles yesterday, perhaps they needed some recovery too. Sometimes, when I run at noon, I find it harder because I'm hungry so my energy level is less. I don't know, I'm an advertising guy, not an exercise physiologist!

Anyway, I went double layer technical tees up top and shorts on the bottom -- the first shorts-run of the year. It's really a glorious day today, despite the fairly stiff breeze that seemed to be in my face at every turn. A very large red tail flashed it's tail and belly above me within the first mile, and that was cool -- there are some very large Red Tails that live at a pond not far from our house and it's always fun to see them. There is also a Goshawk that lives on the next street over from us -- it was in the town paper last week -- and I've seen him around, but I'm not sure that he's the other hawk that I see frequently (it's a wild kingdom out there!). About a mile-and-a-half from the finish of today's run I saw two large turkey running onto the grounds of the middle school -- in the midst of a bustling residential neighborhood. I, of course, gobbled at them and they bolted. Cool run on a great day.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ten On A Wednesday

Well, when the alarm went off at 5:45 I hit snooze once. I turned it off when it went off 7 minutes later, composed my thoughts and hopped out of bed.
I gathered gear which was easier this AM because it was laying around from yesterday. Made, and wolfed, a half a chicken sandwich and headed out the door at approximately I don't know what time.
I trotted out through town, on my way to the bridge in the neighboring town. I passed the 2+ mile mark around 6:43 which means I probably left the casa at about 6:25 ( I really need to get my watch operational).

It was a clear chilly morning and everything was covered in frost. There were many runners out, so I was not alone and I just kept pounding out the miles. I had a couple of epiphanies on this run.

1) There is always someone faster, stronger and better than you unless you are the undisputed best at what you do -- and for those of us who populate the vast middle of Life's Bell Curve, there are plenty better.
The reason for this epiphany was that a totally fit, high-knee-lifting, high-heel-kicking dude powered by me at about the 3+ mile mark. He was fast, and his stride was effortless. It was impressive.

2) Derives from #1: we are all running our own race (and this is a mantra I repeat when running "run your race" "run your run"). What that guy does, what I do, what any of us do doesn't matter.
We run our race, run it as best we can and finish where we finish. The only one I compete with is me. I am, and can be, inspired by others -- the stud who blazed by this morning, David and his quest, Nancy and her enthusiasm, the woman we know who ran all through Chemo. We carry our life with us when we run -- past, present and future, and all of those things add up to what, and how, and who we are when we run.

I reached my destination, the little bridge feeling good. I stopped briefly to chug some Gatorade and eat a Vanilla Bean GU (if you're looking for something easy to handle, and not messy, GU is pretty good -- though they can be so sweet that they are oppressive, this was my first in 6 years!) which I liked, though Fruit Punch and Vanilla Bean aren't really a winning combo. I looked at a flood swollen stream, mesmerized by the swirling water and headed back. I felt better on this run than yesterday's -- it's all about the rhythm. When threes and fives are hard that's a good sign to me.

Keep running.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is That The Sun?

Finally got back out today for a decent five miler though it was sort of arrhythmic and choppy. Unlike David  did not pull a massive catch-up, I just kep on running. tomorrow though I'm aiming for ten if I can overcome the time change ennui that crushes me every year -- my clock is so screwed up it's not even funny. But, I do need to grind out some miles so, tomorrow is a catch-up day. Sunday is the New Bedford Half Marathon, which this year is a total training run as I'm not where I want to be though I think that I can get there. Nice weather helps and seeing the sun this AM was wonderful. This week is all about reclaiming last weeks lost week. Back up the hill we go, just call me the Grand Old Duke of York.... except I've only got one guy, but man do I keep marching him up the hill and down the hill again -- though often it feels we're only half way up so we're neither up nor down. Keep running!

Hey Carolyn, was wondering if we could add one more to dinner on Saturday night: Johnny C. He lives in the DC/VA vicinity and I thought it might be fun to see him and combine a visit with the race. Please let me know if that's doable, it would be a hoot, and mark a different reason for all of us to gather -- it used to be to get loaded, now it's to go running. How the times do change!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not Really A Morning Runner

I've had another insane week but did manage to get out at 6:30 this morning. I got in a solid 5+ and it wasn't too bad in terms of the weather -- fairly mild, some sun. It wasn't a bad run but it wasn't a great run either. I'm just not that into the early morning runs. My mind is pretty much good to go but my body is not so willing, thus disproving the old 60s trope, "free your mind and your butt will follow..." Be that as it may, it's at least good to get out and get running and get it done since the days have been hectic and filled with craziness. My goal really is 4 days each week so, including today's run, I'm running Friday through Sunday with a big run planned on Sunday.

I slowed down along one section to listen to a couple of dueling woodpeckers. One would rat-a-tat-tat and the other would answer from another tree -- it was some sort of territorial thing, and it was very cool. I couldn't see them though which was disappointing.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

52,800, At Least

I headed out this morning for my first official long run of this training session. I had in mind to do 10-11 miles, and had no real time in mind, except to keep it around 90 minutes.
It was a beautiful day under crystal clear bluebird skies and the temp was a very comfortable 38 F. I carried 20 ozs of G2, a cliff bar (peanut butter choco-chip), my mobile and wore a hat gloves, shell polypro shirt, tights and base layer briefs -- much stripped down from earlier in the week. I headed out through the center of town and into the next town over. The wind was a mellow breeze out of the S/SW. The streets of our town were quiet with only some dog walkers, a few runners and a few motorists (one of whom did manage to cut me off as she pulled into the lot of the YMCA....awesome).

I have a 5 mile out route to a distinct landmark -- a bridge -- in the next town. It's part of a longer continuum of out and backs that if I ever geared up for it (mentally and physically) would net a 22 mile long run through three towns and some very scenic neighborhoods. Today's out and back though was just to the bridge. As I neared the bridge I felt good. I decided to go closer to 11. So, rather than stopping at the bridge to eat the Cliff and drink some Gatorade I took a left and ran down a path. The town next to us has a great system of walking trails across the town. I sort of power walked, slow jogged while I wolfed the Cliff and chugged some fluid and then picked it up again. I ran next to a nice little brook, crossed some streets, and followed the path which eventually had me running on top of the Lake Cochichuate Aqueduct for a little trail running. I came back to the main drag that I followed out, and then headed for home. I felt good throughout though my quads were a bit sore -- I went from being "kind-of-running" to at least 28 miles this week, with a  stroller run on Saturday.

At about the 40 minute mark I found my rhythm and just kept on rolling. I love it when that happens. I heard loads of Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Crows, saw several Mourning Doves, a huge Red Tail and, what I think, though can't be sure because I couldn't see its rump, which is always white, a Northern Harrier. I enjoyed today, but am glad that it's over, though. This was a good week of running accomplishment and I feel very much back in the saddle. I covered the ground in about 90 minutes, maybe a bit more, but I'm not sure how far I actually went, though it was 52,800 feet, at least.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Running Buddies

I took full advantage of the gorgeous day and headed out in the late morning with two of my favorite running buddies: Child 2 & Child 3. We headed out on our usual stroller run route and I felt pretty good at the usual turn around that I pushed it out to the turn around that makes it a 5.4 mile run (depends on the mapping tool I use). Rather than turn right around Child 2 inquired about where the turnaround road went. So, after a brief pause to drink some water we headed down the turnaround road on a little running adventure. We crossed a couple of small streams and paused to look at them -- Child 2 loves "bubbling brooks."

The loop eventually brought us back to the center of town and we headed home on the road we went out on. Total distance was just shy of 6 (5.88) which may be my longest stroller run. I felt good throughout, though I was sucking wind at the end -- i was coming back harder than I went out. We sprinted downtown to see the train come through, and generally had a fine time. Child 2 chatted with me throughout and Child 3 was chattering and making noises and pointing at everything he saw. It was a fun run. Getting ready for 10 - 11 tomorrow.

I posted this on my other blog as well -- I don't have enough posts in me to write something different everyplace I go...

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Pushing the Stone Uphill, Again

I got in two decent length runs this week -- Wednesday and Thursday mornings. I felt better yesterday than I did today and actually cut a bit off today's run. I've determined that the only time that I can reliably find the time to run is in the early morning and so I've been rising right around 6 AM and hitting the road by 6:10 AM or so. MY body and my mind are not psyched. I need to do this to get out there and get in the distance so I've got a good couple handfuls under my belt, will go Satureday and do 10-11 on Sunday.
Last year I trained up to about 16 miles for the Vermont City and flamed out -- I started well and ended poorly, removing myself from the race and deferring until this year. SO, this year, I'm hoping that my poor training start ends well and brings me in relatviely strong to VT City. With New Bedford half in two weeks, Eastern States 20 in 3, Cherry Blossom in 5 I should be pretty good to get in at least one more 20 before Memorial day, and am shooting for three. Loved that Karno quote in David's last post. IF you put in the training you've got nothing to fear -- it's just necessary to make time for training. I'm feeling confident and seeing the path ahead. Time to execute.

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