Ready to Race

I knocked off 20 miles yesterday in some chilly conditions: low 50s, misty, cloudy, wet, windy. Not too bad unless all you were wearing was a short sleeved shirt and shorts. That was me. I was not shivering but it was close for awhile there.

The good news is that I held or improved my pace through the course of the run. The intervals when I hit the lap button varied but the paces went like this: 10:34, 10:29, 10;49 and 10:26. I felt a surge of energy after I had a bottle of Zippfizz after the first 13 miles. That stuff with its gazillion parts B12 vitamins gets me going.

From here on it's gradual taper until the race on February 17. From the books I am reading I am inclined to up my frequency of running, keeping them short.

Once home, stretched, showered and fed yesterday, I sat in the sun room reading the paper. Then the phone rang and I was off to be quoted in the paper. It was a long day, having run the 20 then standing around to deal with the incident and the media. I had a hard time getting moving this morning.


Park Avenue 5K

My favorite 5K race was this morning. Minutes from the house (10). Always cool weather (50F). Lots of runners and walkers (1,155 men, 1,539 women). Good times. Good times (4 top ten PRs at 5K).

It's my birthday and I immediately showed my age. I forgot my ChampionChip.

I had to re-register just minutes before the race. The only consequence to that was that the corral was very full when I went to line up. They had pace time signs to guide folks to where they should start. I only got up to about the 9-minute pace sign before the crowd was unnavigable.

The first mile was heavily congested not only with slower runners but also the clueless crowd of joggers and walkers who are inevitably unaware of pace signs. I was constantly having to slow down or weave. The first mile was 8:21 and I was 36 seconds behind the clock time.

I had my watch timer set to 8:00 pace. It beeped just before the second mile clock. Thanks to a more open road I had a 7:53.4 time for the middle split.

I passed "Helga from Stockholm" in the third mile (she PRed in 25:04) with a surge that surprised me. I held on to it for awhile and kept pushing down the home stretch, that last quarter mile where you can see the finish line and hear the cheers and announcer calling out names.

I legged it through and over the mats with a 7:35.1 third mile and 0:53.2 last tenth.

Net time - 24:37.
20th of 82 in age division.

I knew in the first mile I had no chance for a PR because of the crowding but I resolved to go hard and see how it turned out. It was such a great race morning.

Today was my 39th 5K race and my time ranked 8th among them. I was about a minute slower than last year which was my second best ever race in 23:36.

I realized while looking through my race records that since late 2005 I have run short distances (10K or less) a lot less than I used to. I've only done one 10K and that was March of '06.

The shift to marathons has taken its toll that way. Not so much in race times but I bet if I worked more on speed all the time I could bust down those 5K and 10K PRs. It's all a matter of what goals you have. I like the marathons. Here's a list why:
  1. Travel opportunities to places I've not seen before
  2. Seeing a city or town in a way nobody else can appreciate
  3. Staying with friends who I might not otherwise ever see again
  4. RBF meet-ups with my world of closest friends - yes you
  5. "Status" race shirts and gear from big races
  6. Training discipline. I might not be out there so devotedly if not for the 16-week training cycles
  7. High good cholesterol counts and low ratios of bad to good, meaning no meds
  8. Eating practically anything I want diet
  9. Self esteem
  10. Holding off the aging process
  11. Glycogen depletion trauma in miles 20-26 is as good as it gets if you like to go to the dentist like I do
  12. Constant source of inspiration and good spirits


Spirit of the Marathon

I thought the movie was okay. It looked like the Chicago weather was awesome in 2005. I am still planning to run it this October. Anybody want to put me up?

The best part of the movie was afterwards when the lights went up and I saw and visited with other runners I know. I saw Maddy and Marathon Chris plus some other folks from Track Shack.

I plan to run the Seasons 52 Park Avenue 5K Saturday morning. Maddy will be there as will "Helga" from Stockholm. I look forward to a fast race in 50F and a Cuban omelette waiting for me afterwards. Then I will enjoy the rest of my birthday and some good pasta chow that night.

Sunday will be the peak of A1A Marathon training with my second 20 miler. I am ready for that. I had a massage today just to get loose and ready.


Long time running

I see where I have not written much about my running since the laptop crashed. Perhaps it is because I have been reconstructing the lost four weeks of records in my Excel files, opening an iDrive storage account, restoring files from my pin drive, reformatting my 2008 files a second time, etc.

So for perspective, there are less than four weeks until my next marathon. I had my first 20-miler last weekend, the day before the Disney race, and I limped it out in pretty warm weather. It took 3:42 which was over 11 minute miles. That's sad but I expected as much the first time at 20 miles and temps in the high 60s/low 70s.

Tuesday it was 40 degrees as I hurried out to the track to put in 12x400. I liked the cold, wore tights and warmed up through the first few laps in a windbreaker and cap. By the fourth lap I was down to just a long sleeve shirt and the times were great with a second-best-ever time of 1:37.5 on one lap. My average pace for the dandy dozen was 6:55 mile pace with only the first lap over 1:45.

Thursday it was rainy so I put off my 5-miler until Friday. It had warmed up again to 60 and I ran it in 49:38, a9:36 pace.

Today another front came through and when I went downtown for my long run it was windy and 47. I forgot my gloves and wore shorts, cap, and extra T-shirt on top of my long sleeve tech shirt. I kept them on until the 7-mile stop when I shed the cap and T-shirt.

My group was of good size this morning and we were all anxious to get moving and warm up our bodies. At the first cross-street another group of runners - all fasties - turned onto the avenue. In the interest of staying warm we fell in with the fasties heading up to the golf course. Some of them moved out ahead of us but everybody else kept up a strong pace which we maintained.

I looked at my watch and we were rolling along at sub-9 minute pace right through the first four miles. Everybody stopped for fluids. I did too but felt compelled to move out first and let the fasties chase me down. After two miles I was still ahead of them. Finally two guys flew by me and I expected the rest of them soon. My pace was still sub-9. At the next drink stash stop I had held the rest of the fastie pack off, covering the 7-mile route at an 8:47 pace. This amazed me. I felt so good and was singing the praises to myself of training with faster runners to push my abilities to a higher level.

The last three miles of the 10 mile route were no less exhilarating. I crossed the finish line in 1:30 ... except I wasn't finished. Left without anymore pace rabbits I went out for a recovery five miles to close out the morning. It took me another 48 minutes but I never lost stamina. In fact I did the whole run with no Clif Blok Shots or anything else. I had water and half a bottle of Zipfizz (loaded with B12, B6 and Vitamin C).

Monday is a holiday so I am chilling here watching NFL playoffs and looking forward to sleeping late tomorrow, a short work week, a 5K race on Saturday morning, my birthday on Saturday with a heavy carbo loaded dinner at night before my second and final 20-miler next Sunday.

Sounds like a plan.


Disney Marathon

I have always said I would not run the Disney Marathon. I still hold to that but it cannot be said it is not well run and fun for many. Richie came to town and we visited at the Orlando Ale House then went out to the Wide World of Sports to check out the expo. I took #2 son so he could see what a marathon expo looks like. He gave it thumbs up. As Richie put it so aptly, I ran into a lot of people I know and we all visited. I kept introducing Richie, by virtue of his A corral placement as "my friend from Dallas who will be running with the elites tomorrow." All were dutifully impressed :)

I didn't sleep well Saturday night and got up at 4 a.m. for breakfast. I read the paper until 5 a.m. then realized I'd be late for parking and the start. Oops. I sped on out to Disney and was detoured towards Magic Kingdom parking where I just happened to get in a queue with a line of employees all coming to work. That got me some close in parking and no fee!

I staked out a spot at the 9 mile mark at the Transportation Center and enjoyed the spectator side of a marathon for the first time. Did you know when you spectate at a marathon that you can leisurely talk to your neighbors? I enjoyed that.

The leader came by mile 9 in 45 minutes. He was way ahead of #2 but as hot and humid as it was I suspect he slowed down before he finished.

Richie wanted to stay with the 4-hour pace group. His text message alert at mile 5 said he was there right at 45 minutes. Sure enough, when he came by at 9 he was just a dozen yards behind the pace leader.

From there I strolled over to the other side of the employee parking lot and took up a position at the half marathon timing mat. A high school cross country coach from my town was there listening to all the chip beeps. I joined him to wait on Rich.

A few interesting characters came by. There were two Speedomen and one Superwoman to go along with several Minnie Mouses, pirates and Goofys. Oh my.

Rich came by and I snapped his picture. I hollered his name but he was in a zone. I jumped into the street and chased him down, coming up next to him and asking how he was. It took him a moment to snap to and realize it was me. He said it was hot. I agreed. He tore open a gel and kept up his 9:00/mile pace. I told him I'd see him at the finish and let him go.

I hopped the monorail back to EPCOT where the winner had just come in somewhere around 2:25 or so. I sat in the grandstands and took in all the finish line hoopla. The Disney folks don't set aside a lot of space for spectators at the finish. It seems to be all about the runners, which is fine.

As the 4:00 pace group came across the line I saw a guy I thought to be Ritchie come in at 4:01. Same dark colored shirt and shorts, I thought it was him. Must have been his twin brother since the guy never replied to my hollers.

16 minutes later Richie was in. We met up in the post-race area and sat down to debrief. The medal was huge with a XV hanging off the bottom to signify the anniversary of the race. Richie swore off any more marathons. Okay, who believes him? He better take up NYC if they call.

While sitting there I saw Seth, a local runner I see on many Sunday mornings. He was carrying a big old plaque for having competed in his 15th straight Disney Marathon. Pretty cool.

It's just noon but I am exhausted. It was a long race just as a spectator. Good job Richie!


Crashed and burned

DANGER DANGER As if a 70 car pile up in the smoke and fog was not enough of a bad omen, my laptop died in its sleep last night.
I was nowhere near the fatal calamity that closed the interstate for 36 hours but it was a true downer. As for my files and records of running this month ... lost. And a bunch of holiday photos may be toast too.
I hate it when this happens. I will limp along on the ancient HP with no bookmarks until Lassie comes and fixes the Acer or I wipe the cobwebs off my wallet.

I have 20 to run tomorrow, then have to dig a hole in the ground under my pool deck and find the leaking pipe to stop the emptying-ness that greets me every morning.
The only bright spot is the chance to see Rich tomorrow afternoon. To do that I have to put the bones on the rack early so I can get an early start tomorrow.

Can you imagine an 8-year old bringing a revolver to school? Happened here yesterday. Where do these kids get their parents and guardians?


Away from the computer

I had such inspiration last weekend to post some offbeat news but it is fleeting.

I ran 15 on Sunday and 4x1600 yesterday. Both were older man slow.

Tomorrow I will crank out eight before work. I am treating this as a practice race week as far as sleep, food and mental approach. Why? Because I have my first of two 20 mile long runs on Saturday.

After the long run I hope to catch up with Richie who's coming to town to run Disney on Sunday. I have half a plan from an inside source on how to "follow" the race more closely than the support crew-unfriendly Disney race allows. We haven't seen each other since MCM in October 2006.


So many questions

1. So if you are someone who likes to run with headphones/earbuds, do you like to race with them too?

2. If you like to race with headphones and had a free entry into the Minneapolis Twin Cities Marathon would you race? Headphones are forbidden on the course and those confirmed to have used them (photos/videos) will be disqualified.

3. Do you think wearing headphones is a safety hazard?

4. Do you think headphones are less of a hazard in a controlled route race?

5. Do you find those who wear headphones to be a hazard to you on the course/road?

6. Spirit of the Marathon is screening in theatres all over America on January 24. Are you planning to go? Is it sold out yet where you are?

7. Have you ever heard of a one-time-only screening of a film before? Unusual to me.

8. Have you ever seen a running watch that gives you an air temperature reading? That would be cool.


Blue in an upset

I am not from Michigan. I am from the Northeast yet I have found myself rooting for the Big Ten teams every year in the Capital One Bowl (well except for Ohio State). This year it was unranked Big Blue from Ann Arbor against the Heisman winner-stocked and 10-point favored Florida Gators.

It was a fantastic game with lots of amazing offense, some mind-numbing turnovers and some polar-opposite defensive efforts. Michigan's quarterback Henne was superior to Tim Tebow, late of the New York Athletic Club, in the passing department. Much of the Wolverine success was due to its offensive line blocking. Henne had all day.

Tebow was rushed often and pancaked more than once as he let go of several weak throw-away passes. Michigan made it close by turning the ball over on two fumbles and an interception. The Gators surprised with a fake punt to keep a TD drive alive. It was a great game.

Michigan 41, Florida 36. Sellout; predominantly orange and blue. Pre-game and halftime (non-school band) shows were entertaining and not too contrived. Michigan's "Hail to the Victors" is still ringing in my head.

National Guard Army Blackhawks provided the pre-game flyover which made me proud. Seeing Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr go out a winner made me happy. After 25 years in the college football business I never knew a finer man who was a head coach than Lloyd Carr.

Running. I started the New Year off on the right (and left) foot. T and I went to the track for some intervals. He had resolved to run every day this year. I would bet against it if I had a taker.

I had 8x800s to knock out which was asking a lot after last night's festivities: movie with Mrs. T (Atonement, good one) and champagne at midnight with her and T.

So I did my 800s while T did his own sets, mostly 200s and 400s at sub-6-minute pace. I cranked all mine out below 4:00, with an average of probably 3:55. They were hard after that 18-miler two days ago. It was still high 60s here when we ran. Mrs. T joined us by walking laps with the two fox terriers as we ran. It was a family affair.

Cold weather. I don't know what the rest of you are getting but our 80s of Sunday will be in the 20s on Thursday morning. It hasn't been that cold in Central Florida since 2003.