Outback was a Loop

Pre Race. Most races are first thing in the morning but not Saturday's. The Outback Distance Classic serves up a steak and chicken dinner afterwards which most folks prefer in the afternoon. So I slept in. When I got up I sat down and did a timeline for the day so that I could get all my chores and errands done and not end up arriving at the race late. That turned out to be very useful. Saturday's have a habit of getting away from me.
I drove downtown and parked in Thornton Park an hour before the 300 race. I picked up my packet and looked up Rachel's number so that I might know her if I saw her. I needed to jog out a lot of soreness and stiffness so ran off in different directions to do just that. It was a revitalizing warm up. Then I watched the 3Kers finish their race and scanned the 12K crowd for purple Team in Training singlets. I asked a group of 6 purple topped gals if they knew Rachel ... no they didn't. Onward. Then I saw #437 stretching with a friend. A tentative introduction and Rachel and I had met. We compared goal times for the race and I imagined we'd be close with an edge to the younger and harder running Rachel.
The Race. I did one last warm up down the first 300 yards of the race and came back to the start line where all the fasties strut and stretch. I worked my way through the crowd until I found more "athletes" like me and stood still to relax and anticipate. A jazz trumpeter played the national anthem with a lot of feeling in it and everybody applauded appreciatively. There's the gun and we're off. My first mile started unevenly as I tried to find a proper pace for the 12K which is not easy. It's not a 10K but it should be faster than a 15K. And this race day was about 70 degrees and humid so I expected it would sap me if I went too fast.
Mile 1 - 8:53.4. Oh oh. That was almost 30 seconds faster than my 15K first mile at Gasparilla. Okay I'll slow it down a little.
Mile 2 - 8:48.1. You dope. Now you're screwed. Wait. There's Rachel about 30 yards ahead. I'll try and pace along behind her. Skip the water.
Mile 3 - 8:47.5. Well, you better hope you have some stamina buddy. Rachel's still 30 yards ahead.
Mile 4 - 8:44.1. Gotta pop some Gu and drink some water. The humidity's creeping in. The occasional breeze is great for cooling off when I can find it but there are too many secluded neighborhood streets out here. Rachel's moved ahead and running with a national sports announcer from Fox Sports (she doesn't know that, of course). I'm 50 yards behind.
Mile 5 - 9:02.3. We're weaving through brick street lakes and homes. I'm weaving and looking for more water to wash down the Gu.
Mile 6 - 9:14.3. Well so much for negative splits. So much for catching Rachel. So much for going out fast! Dang.
Mile 7 - 9:38.3. Where's the ambulance? Who put that hill there? This is Florida. Where'd the hill come from?
.4 mile - 4:11.8. I think I left a wheel back there. I thought I was bringing it in fairly well but alas, I rolled over the line in 1:07.20.
On the Bright Side. My time was almost 3 minutes faster than last year. That's remarkable. 24 seconds a mile more remarkable. There were 1122 runners in the race and, after I grabbed a bottle of water, I walked off the knot in my hip down towards the start line and, to my surprise, there was Rachel walking as well, with her fellow professor at the local college who came to run with her. We compared race notes which were much the same: went out too fast; tried to run easily but competitive juices took over, very humid, etc. We shared some get to know you conversation and went our separate ways to indulge in the chow and beer. Mmmm. Never mind that Mrs. Thin Trade had arranged a dinner party later in the evening I was not going to be denied my carbo reload and protein charged Outback Restaurant fiesta. I mean, that's why I signed up! I caught up with Paul Kennedy, the sports announcer that ran alongside Rachel, and his boss next to the beer stand. We coifed several frosties and enjoyed the race day camraderie. Another race day is complete and my 3-race series is over too. It was a 9 week run: 5K,15K and 12K. Now what? After a two-week layoff I'll be ready to go again. Let's see what offerings are in today's race envelope?
Later. I was creaking like nobody's business when I got home. I crashed on the bed for 20 minutes waiting for the dinner guests to arrive. I must say though, I did a masterful job of grilling the salmon for dinner. I certainly ate well today and there was lots of chocolate after dinner to chase down the fresh berries and cream.
Much later. Sunday morning I had my first ever MRI. Quite cool. I think I know where techno rock was born: a bunch of MRI technicians thought it up using the thumping beat of their machinery as starter material. I'm hoping the pictures show I do not have a rotator cuff tear and that basic PT will fix it up.


Last Taper Run

I went out for an "easy" 4-miler as my last tune up before Saturday afternoon's 12K. So what did I do? I floored it. I came in about 15 seconds per mile faster than I wanted but I still felt okay. Now I'll lay off until the race.
My previous afternoon long-eys (to approximate race conditions) found me dragging (a) from the heat and (b) from worn out legs brought on by the day's chores and activities. Maybe I'll stay up really late on Friday and sleep in until noon. Yeah, that's the ticket: a late brunch, some ibuprofin and stretching before the race. Sounds like a plan. Chance of happening? Slim to none but we'll see how it goes. This race isn't so important for the time (it was Gasparilla's 15K in Tampa) as it is about the steak dinner afterwards. The forecast is high 60s with cloud cover. Not bad but still a sapping heat factor.
Gotta love Susan's pics from Californ-eye-ay. She's having some fun!


Alleluia. We're Cured!

Okay. Here's the story. My back hurt all day. I milked the hurt for all it was worth as Mrs. Trade was painting a bedroom and, gosh, I just didn't think I could contribute much without falling over, writhing in pain. Well, I did change out some electrical outlets, take down the blinds and help load the paint roller (some contraption that sucks up a tube full of paint and then feeds in into the roller somehow). I fixed the refreshments and went to the Publix for groceries and beer. (Needed that beer to watch the Daytona 500).
At 330, near about race time next weekend I said to myself what I'd been thinking all day: the only way to cure a bad back from running is .... to go running again! Alas, I did go for a 4 mile jaunt. The first mile was a wincing stiff exhibition of tolerance and worry. The second mile was a warmed up improvement and the third mile was some 10K pace chugging. For the last mile I dialed it back to avoid the stress of finishing with a grimace.
Amazing how limber I became from that run. I could stretch again without pain. If anything the back pain migrated slightly up to my middle back which is nothing my massager can't handle. I'm cured!
Now if only Jon in Michigan could apply the same remedy to his back we'd all be better off.
Weight. I've been meaning to comment that I've been losing weight without any notable explanation. I'm down 10 from a year ago and 4-5 below what I was in August when I started the new job - and stopped taking lipitor for cholesterol. Connection?


Fast Back Pain

Speedy Day. I woke up Friday morning feeling less creaky than usual and just slightly stiff. I was thinking today would be good for some 4-3-2-1 speedwork. I stretched a bit and jogged on over to the track. I did a 1600m, 1200m, 800m and 400m series with a lap or less jog between segments. My times were as good as they typically are: 7:50, 6:04, 3:56 and 1:48 so I was believing all systems were in good working order 8 days out from the next race.
WARNING. WARNING. Back Pain Ahead. Next thing I know, I get out of the car at work and my back feels like I'm strapped to a metal plate. I can't localize the source of the pain but I can't bend over. It hurts when I cough. It's verrrrry annoying. I took ibuprofin and put heat on it this morning. When I've warmed up by normal movement it doesn't hurt so much but I'm beginning to think that after the 12K next Saturday it'll be time to shut it down for a 2-week rest period. My body's talking to me. I can hear it.
Gentlemen. Start your engines. The Daytona 500 is about to begin. It's a celebrity showcase.


Lightfoot Listening

I laced 'em up Tuesday morning while it was still cool out. I can't believe I'm saying this but I'm going to miss the cool/cold weather of winter here in a few weeks. I ran through Baldwin Park at a swift pace with feather light legs pumping away and regulated breathing. I couldn't have been happier.
Today I had no time for anything but squiring around a reporter from National Geographic who was absolutely fascinating to listen to as he relayed his well worn stories of the world and his global social and political philosophies that have evolved from those travels. Somehow, to my pleasure, he enjoyed my company and accommodations made in researching his story on the schools of Orange County. It was as great as day as I could imagine without running.


Piling on Permitted

Lazy. I woke up at 800 this morning with a dog licking my face. He and his friends finally left the room at 830 and I slept until 1100. I haven't done that since forever. Wow. What a treat. I actually slept solidly all night and on my shoulders which do not hurt as much today (certainly not from having done any rehab).
When I got up I had visions of some oatmeal and a run about an hour later. Well I got to sitting out on the deck reading the paper with the sun out. So I took off my shirt and began the 2005 tan. It was glorious. Okay to pile on, you poor folks up north.
Run. It took me a long time to go run. I went at 200 and it was like I was running in mud. I went for 6 miles and had to stop a few times to get my heart rate back down. The heat had an effect I presume. At the third mile I felt best (as I usually do) and burned up my strength too soon. I decide the lack of real food was my excuse. The oatmeal was fine but that's all I'd had since dinner the night before. I ran an hour. Cleared my head of some disturbed thoughts.
Sunning. When I got home I grabbed some water, zapped a hotdog and a beer and sat back out in the sun to read the paper. That was just fine by me. Caught the last 90 minutes of sunshine and it made me feel great.
Bed. To complete my day (600) I got back in bed and watched some mighty fine chick flicks that seem to be on special this weekend before Valentines Day. Nothing like a little more pressure, not that I am too concerned. Ooh; wait a minute. Yes I am concerned. Dang. Never mind.
Okay; time for the Grammy's. Night all.


Too Much of a Fun Thing

Running. Not. I skipped my scheduled run on Thursday and again this morning. What's my problem? Too much blogging and not enough time.
Tomorrow I promise you'll see a report from a long run. I registered myself on the Polar website so to track and record for cyber-posterity all my heartbeats. Now I have a reason to run so I can see how it works; how this lit up box of 0s and 1s reads data off this thing on my wrist. Fascinating. Who figured out how to make this stuff work anyway? Mark must be related.
Food. On the food intake front I have to report too many tempting sweets have been put before me. All the women in the office celebrate Valentines Day with cakes and pies and they did it Friday when my resistance was down (like it's ever up?).


Too Slow

Yesterday I set my heart rate monitor to beep at 80% of my maximum rate, as prescribed in RW. You know. Going for optimum aerobic exercise. Talk about a waste of time! Every time I got up to a pace I like to go at I hear the beeping and have to slow down. It took forever. Mind you, I was full of energy at the end and could have kept going but it was time to take out the garbage, scarf down the oatmeal and take the boy to school. So it was wasted time. Remind to run run like Zap the Locomotive. All out all the time. That's the ticket.
Punch me, Conductor. I'm leaving the station.


Back to Routine

The exhiliration of the Gasparilla Race weekend continued into Sunday as the Red Sox, I mean Patriots, won the Super Bowl. Then the worst thing happened for just about everybody I knew: Monday came. Everybody looked partied out, hung over or tired. I was okay enough to throw on the sneaks and run for 35 minutes. It was a slow start but by the end I was hauling like it was race day again. I liked how I bounced right back from the Saturday race effort and was able to go again.
This morning I went to the orthopedist to check on my shoulders. Both have hurt like hell when I sleep on my side but not at all during the day or when running. I can barely put my suit coat on though. 6 x-rays later and I need an MRI for further evaluation of whether I have a torn left rotator cuff. The bone doesn't sit quite right in the socket. Both shoulders may be frozen too, he thinks. (Hey, this is Florida not the UP!) I'm wondering if it's the latest manifestation of stress in my body. It used to be teeth grinding, then a clicking jaw and now it's shoulders. Maybe if I did some upper body work once in awhile I'd be better off. I think it all started with overdoing the pruning of downed limbs after our 3-hurricane season of 2004. Anyway now I have a months worth of rehab to attend after the MRI.
Next race - Feb 26 at the Outback Distance Classic. I can smell that steak grilling already... but I'll wait for the next one cuz this one'll be too well done by then. Later!


Ah; I love Race Day

Since we last left our valiant runner [X the 3rd person] I ran no more training runs before the race. My legs were feeling grateful and stronger. On Friday morning I packed every cold weather combination of running clothes I own since I knew it would be cold but did not know how cold. So the suitcase was full. I left work an hour later than planned and went to the Track Shack to buy some Gu (plain) for the midpoint of the race. Then I went home to find my confirmation postcard with my registration number and check-in information. I was heading for Tampa by 230 and trying to forget work and thinking about the race ahead.
I knew I might have trouble when I got there because George W. Bush was stumping for his Social Security plan and had Tampa on his itinerary as the last stop after the inauguration speech. Sure as shooting he landed at Tampa Int'l just as I hit the end of I-4 in Tampa. Traffic was backed up. The radio said downtown streets were closed. Bridges were closed and the advisory was to stay away from downtown. Two problems: my hotel was downtown and the president's town hall meeting was in the Convention Center, the very same one I needed to get to to pick up my registration packet. Go to plan B.
I pulled off the interstate and wound my way through neighborhoods Rachel wouldn't like. I found 7th Street and cruised through the popular and scenic Ybor City on my meandering way downtown. Did I mention I had no idea where the hotel was? just a street address and no map.
I turned this way, then that way and was suddenly downtown where, to my surprise, I was on the street for the hotel, just 5 blocks away. I must be living right.
I pulled into the hotel, checked in and went to the room to unpack, watch W wrap up on TV and unwind. My hands were cold as was everything else so I did what any sensible person with time on his or her hands would do - I took a hot bath. I only take baths on special occasions (when I'm not home). It was just the ticket to warm me up. I looked at a map and figured I could maybe walk on down to the Convention Center (a mile away) and find a restaurant to eat at on the way back. W left town and the streets were clearing. I got dressed and started walking. I went past the race headquarters hotel (Hyatt) and got fired up seeing runners everywhere. You can tell runners; they seem to all dress the same and have similar physiques and that look.
At the convention center there was the most amazing expo I've ever seen. This Gasparilla Race is big time. There must have been 1,000 people wandering around, buying stuff and registering. I resisted the urge because the Track Shack GM in Orlando told me the annual sale in March will be HUGE and to wait until then.
I picked up my packet and wandered around. I saw Rachel's name on the roster of runners so knew she would be there. I almost left an encouraging note but couldn't find a pen.
I left the building worried about what I'd eat for dinner. I was a little nervous about my condition for the race. Had I run enough? Would the 4 days off hurt me? Did I have the stamina to go 15K? So, again, I got lucky. I found Hattrick's, a hockey themed Irish bar and restaurant. I bellied up to the bar, as difficult as that is for someone with no belly, but the lovely barmaids made sure I got up there :).
A beer? Sure. The runners next to me were having one. Oops. They were only doing the 5K. Oh well. Do you recommend anything on the menu? Yes; and may I suggest to any of you out there that the Shepherd's Pie at Hattrick's in Tampa is to die for - and to stoke you up well for a race.
I went back to the hotel after dinner and read through the race bag stuff. The obligatory T-shirt, pamphlets, nutrition bar samples, muscle pain samples, Gold Bond powder, coupons, etc. etc. I read the very well done racers' folder and plotted my race day. Uh oh. A stress builder. They gave me a ChampionChip that didn't match my race number tag. My tag matched my personal chip which I had with me but I was confused as to which one they expected me to wear. Now I had to be there earlier in the morning than I planned to clear that up.
I watched the Magic lose to Boston and went to bed with the alarm set for 530. I awoke at 400 and rolled around nervously for awhile then fell asleep about 500. At 530 I thought the world ended when that alarm went off! Ow. I knocked my water bottle off the side table reaching for the infernal clock.
I started eating the breakfast I brought with me: banana, 7-grain bagel, tomato juice and brewed some very good coffee. By 600 I'd eaten and determined the race was going to be chilly at 45 degrees according to the news station on the TV. What to wear? What to wear?
Running along the bay presents the probability of some wind off the water so that would make it colder. I settled on shorts, a tech long sleeve shirt under a polar-tec shirt, a cap and gloves.
My plan was working perfectly. I jogged down to the convention center to warm up. I went inside to check about my chip. There were runners inside the center staying warm, eating, talking tactics and stretching. Everywhere. It was cool. I cleared the chip issue up without a wait. Wear mine.
At 720 everybody piled out of the convention center warmth to be in cue for the start. Body heat all around me made it bearable. The men started in one location and the women in another. It made sense but seemed strange to me. We were to merge about a mile down the course.
The announcer said there were over 6,000 running the 15K. My biggest race! The gun sounded and everybody started walking. Somebody asked, "Why is it that everybody walks to the start line instead of running right away?" I thought of an answer but kept it to myself.
The first mile wasn't too clogged up and my time was 9.20. In my head I was planning to beat one hour thirty minutes so anything under 9.30 mile pace was working for me. We merged with the women and it was a little more congested and mile 2 was 9.21. Now we were running along Bayshore Boulevard where all the multi-million dollar homes sit with a lovely view of the water. Definitely good scenery as were many of the ladies running. My times improved. Mile 3 was done in 9.10. I started thinking I was going to crash later if I didn't pace myself. I started getting hot too. I was having negative thoughts but just kept plugging away trying to keep up with the woman in black tights, pink top and headphones. I traversed Mile 4 in 9.06. Boy, I was still feeling good too. There was a water stop manned by a local men's club and I don't mean the kind of club where men go to see women, if you know what I mean. The shirtless guy with the tight short blue jean shorts with cowhide fringe and matching boots was a trip. They all smiled affectionately as they handed out water. I stopped for water at 2 of every 3 stations throughout the race to stay hydrated and avoid cramps.
Well; the race is an out and back run so just before Mile 5 I pulled out one of my two Gu packs and started sucking on small amounts of action packed glucose gel. I passed the Mile 5 post with a 9.02 time. At Mile 6 my lap was 9.05 and I was catching back up to the gal in tights and pink shirt. As I sidled up on her left I said she'd been my pace car for about 4 miles and I encouraged her to stay with me. Her reply was that the headwind we were running into was hurting her speed. I was actually enjoying the wind because it was blowing through my shirt and drying me up and cooling me down. I was feeling good.
Mile 7 came and I was shocked to see I was under 9 minutes - 8.59 to be exact. I was only 2.3 miles from the finish. I felt good. I was hydrated. The Gu was working. I was passing people left and right. I remembered to run like my hips were carrying a bowl of water and that I couldn't spill the water. It helped me keep from pounding along, lengthened my stride a little and allowed me to run faster.
At Mile 8 the Polar lap timer said 8.54. This was unbelievable. I was starting to feel a little tightness in my calves but I could see the convention center straight ahead. The sun was shimmering on the bay to my right and I was going to have a good finish time. I was pumped.
Mile 9: Can you believe 8.44? The last .3 miles took another 2.46 and I was over the line in 1 hour 24.26 minutes. Wow.
Time to reload. Banana. Bagel. Gatorade. Smoothy. Water. Wander around and feel it. Incredible.
Then I hear my name. It's John from Casselberry with Pete from Winter Park. John has been egging me on to run a marathon for years and here he was for the 15K. We shared our race stories and times while heading for the post race party in the park along the river by the Forum. What a great race site. From the convention center to the course, the expo, the party, the crowd, we all vowed to come back next year and at least do the half marathon.
After the awards party we met up in Ybor City for Cuban sandwiches and beer. From there it was runner's high ride home. And here I am. I had to write it all down as soon as I could.
Good luck Rachel and Dawn tomorrow!
Thanks for listening.


State of the Running Address

Oops. I forgot my script. Let me jog on back to the White House and figure out why I didn't run today.
Let's see. I was up too early driving the young 'un to weight training and, uh, it was drizzly cool and yucky when I got home, plus dinner was on the table. Yeah; that's it.
Time to re-program the race plan.
I'll sleep on it. Good night.


Sunset Run

Monday morning turned out to be a morning for oversleeping. Faced with putting myself off schedule for my run up to Saturday I resolved to leave work before dark so I could run in the sunset and twilight. Plus it was likely to be warmer.
It all came true except for a hefty wind to accompany the dropping temperatures but it allowed for a peppy run through Baldwin Park. Unlike the morning there were far more people to pass and see including one former pro baseball player who is now a local banker. I think I have his autograph on a ball from 1982 actually.
Well my time was fine and nothing hurt afterwards so I consider it a successful venture. My other motivation was to finish the month with a high mile count. In my last three years of training - and probably the several before that - I had only surpassed 60 miles in a month eight times. January 2005 became the 9th and the 3rd highest overall. And 35 miles would have been more typical in January because of work and my aversion to cold. So this is a good turn of events for me. I may have to buy new treads before the March shoe sale is my only concern.