Back to training

The buzz and recovery phase from the A1A Marathon has gone on long enough. Back to training.

For what?

Last year's adventure in the record heat wave and hills of the fluid deprived inaugural Georgia Marathon fell on the same weekend as my favorite 10K so I missed it. This year I have four more weeks to get ready.

The Winter Park Road Race falls at a great time down here. It can still be cool out. Spring bloom is everywhere. There's the Winter Park Art Festival and all the baseball spring training, Easter, College Reunion, Spring Break, etc. It's all very exciting. This year I am in.

I have been doing several recovery runs since the A1A. Two days after was for 3 miles. Saturday I went six. Sunday was seven a little faster. Tuesday was four and today was a tempo five. Next week I'll pick up the training plan for 10Ks, starting from four weeks out.

Tomorrow will be a nippy 39 degrees here. One more chance to layer up and run for all I'm worth. It'll be back in the 70s by the weekend.


Where did A1A go?

The phone rang at 4:17 with an automated wake up call that I did not order and which stole 28 minutes of my sleep that I lost again in a relatively equal portion on the race course. I feel for the person who missed his/her wake up call .. not.

It was a still and dark morning but for the downtown lights from night still burning. Bartenders and waitresses were sweeping up the debris from the nocturnal people I never saw this day.

I walked the half mile to the start area and sat on a wall. How warm was it already? Did I really need a shirt? I stretched. I listened to the chatter. I stayed still and calm. I surveyed the scene.

I stripped off my shirt, stuffed it in my check bag and threw it in the box for runners 200-400. I moseyed on down the street looking for my pace time marker. I strolled through the thin trim whippets and found the older, more human runners back in the 9 and 10 minute mile pace lanes.

The sax player pipped out the national anthem. Twice. Amp problems. I spotted the 4:30 pace group leader. I imagined he might be the right man to follow.

My training times since early January were nothing short of sizzling for me. I had developed aspirations of bettering my PR by up to 15 minutes which would put me in Mr. 4:30's company. He looked better than Mr. 4:45 and had a good little crowd around him.

6 a.m. Off went the chairs and hand cycles. Then it was our turn. My shoes felt loose. I thought I might have needed to visit the port-o-let. I imagined niggling issues that went away when I started running.

After one mile Mrs. T surprised me by being up, dressed and on the street to take my picture. I had left her for bed, not expecting to see her until around 10:30. That was a nice surprise.

I stuck with Mr. 4:30 for another mile. He was going out fast I thought trying to make up the three minute lag time from gun to mat crossing. I hung in.

At mile three we turned north along A1A right next to the beach. You could see it all clearly as foreground to the Florida sunrise. I started to relax my shoulders and run evenly. I kept my breathing low and slow.

Time and miles started to pass. I felt fantastic. My splits were staying even and I had gotten in front of Mr. 4:30 by an unknown distance. At Mile 6 the half marathoners split off (3,200 of them) leaving a long thin string of 700 marathoners to continue north. I started to ID my brethren and sistahs with whom I would spend the next three plus hours.

I ran through water stops while others stopped to walk and drink. I grabbed the drink and pinched the top and took on fluids. I was running like the Purple Runner and still ahead of Mr. 4:30. I felt so good I began to think I could beat 4:30. I did not feel taxed at all.

We passed through Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and reached Pompano Beach. The turn around at 13 miles was near. I was still running even splits and had no idea where Mr. 4:30 was.

On the return trip the clouds started to blow offshore and the temps were rising. I slowed slightly to adjust. I figured I had been smart to take advantage of the "cooler" temps early in the race to cover some miles quickly.

At mile 17 I finally walked through a water stop to eat my bloks and have a drink. Every mile required fluids and they were well stocked, thank goodness.

Mr. 4:30 was supposed to go at 10:18 mile pace. I had done each of Miles 1-13 in slightly less. 14-16 were more like 10:45 pace and I started calculating how many miles I could go before he caught me. My Garmin had given me weird readings since the turnaround. It seemed that an extra 0.2 miles had snuck into the course because Garmin and mile markers were not synching.

In Mile 17 I had a bad time that was almost 12 minutes. I may have been confused with the Garmin and mile markers. Regardless, Mr. 4:30 caught me. I chatted with him; asked if he was on or off pace. He said five minutes behind. Uhhh! I stuck with him for half a mile then let him go. I caught back up at the next water stop as he waited on a runner with him. I was doing 11:30 miles.

He took off. I did not. I started calculating how much slower than him could I afford and still PR (sub 4:46). I figured the math would distract me from the growing agony. I took some aspirin somewhere along the line, kept eating bloks and raisins plus alternating doses of Gatorade and water.

Where did A1A go? The 20th mile was not pretty and neither were any of the rest of them. At mile 22 I thought by geography that I was close to the finish. I had done a poor study of the course map because we were routed inland a short stretch to a park that was shady but deserted and quiet. I thought it was maybe a very short loop but it seemed to never end - two miles worth. The eerie solitude of the winding wood whispered to me to walk if I saw anyone else doing likewise. It was desolate, never-ending and mind sapping.

We emerged from the park with two miles to go. We were back on A1A. I shuffled along running "just to the next crosswalk," then walking a spell. Then I lectured myself some more on fighting through the pain. I was losing. I saw my PR disappear and then reset my sights on sub 5:00.

I almost missed the last turn to the home stretch. A finished runner strolling back up-course set me straight. I could now see the finish line a quarter mile away. I expected Mrs. T would appear soon so I kept moving "briskly." She had coaxed some fellow spectators to cheer me in. I smiled for the camera one more time and burst across the finish line like a turtle. 5:01:07.

Oh well. I finished. I felt great for a long distance but I overestimated my abilities and condition. I walled out and was psyched out.

We took finish line photos, grabbed some food and limped to the water's edge to allow the salt water waves to wash toxins out of my sore body. From there we found the car with a few stops to stretch out cramps, then went back to the hotel and down to the pool.

Now you know the rest of the story.

Beach photo above was taken on the wet and windy next day.


It was an A1A weekend

I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale with just 30 minutes to spare before the race expo closed. Thanks to #2 son C., we were delayed at least an hour leaving Winter Park, because he was out a wee too late the night before and very late to work at the museum. I tossed gravel at his window while his mother subbed for him until he had showered and moseyed over.

After a 3.5 hour drive we checked in at the A1A Marathon expo and got the registration info. We visited with Michelle who was swamped with Bondi Band customers the entire time we waited to talk to her. We took a few photos and helped her pack up the booth (very quick and easy to pack up Bondi Bands!)

We checked into the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd. in downtown Ft. Lauderdale and were fortunate to get a corner room (two windows, one facing the pool) on the fourth floor. We freshened up and headed out to find the perfect pre-race repast. A few blocks east we found a fantastic restaurant where we had sidewalk seating and great pasta dishes to choose from. I tried a non-traditional dinner to die for: grlled Canadian wild salmon over smashed potatoes and asparagus spears (protein, carbs, omega 3, veggies!). Ahhh! I had a glass of sauvignon blanc with dinner and homemade triple layer carrot cake for dessert.

I watched Miracle on Ice Saturday night on the telly until 11. It is one of my favorite movies and inspirational for someone about to run a marathon thinking he can do something he's never done before (time-wise). The flick ended at 11 which was a little later than I wished but I stayed awake anyway.

Sunday afternoon we sat by the hotel pool for two plus hours basking in the sun. We ordered poolside room service but it never came so we headed down Las Olas again and ate at Bongos where I had a cheeseburger and Mrs. T. had something else yummy.

We went to bed early and I mean early. I was asleep by 6 p.m. and didn't get up until 8 a.m. this morning. We dressed and packed then went down the street again to the Floridian, a 24 hour local place that had the most delicious hash benedict breakfast. Food tasted really good today.

We checked out of the Riverside and I decided to show Mrs. T the race course along A1A. 10 miles north of Ft. Lauderdale we were in Pompano Beach and at the turn around. Along the way I stopped to snap a picture of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a beautiful little small scale hideaway of beach and pier that struck me as anice place to spend some time reflecting on all the good things in life.

Since we were already on A1A I kept driving along the coast through Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach, Palm Beach, Juno Beach, Hutchinson Island, etc., all the way to Ft. Pierce where we had a delicious lunch at 4 p.m. in the Tiki Bar & Restaurant next to all the yachts in their slips.

Enough of that meandering for three hours, we hopped on I-95 and made it home by 6:15 p.m. to meet my sister inbound from Rhode Island. She's in and out with us through Wednesday doing business all over the state.

Running? Oh yeah. I ran the A1A Marathon. It was hot. It was memorable. It was supposed to be a record-breaking miracle on asphalt. It wasn't, by any stretch. More on that later; unless you can pry it out of Runner Susan or Jeanne who called to hear how it went.


Hitting the road

This will be the last post before the A1A Marathon tomorrow. I'll be back Tuesday to report. If report is delayed too long, call 9-1-1.

Forecast for race day is perfect for spring break but not so much racing. It reminds me of the conditions in Atlanta for the ING Georgia Marathon last March.

Sunday forecast for Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • 6 a.m. 69F, partly cloudy, 87% humidity, wind from the ESE at 8 mph (ocean breeze)
  • 7 a.m. 70F, 84%
  • 8 a.m. 72F, 79%
  • 9 a.m. 75F, 73%
  • 10 a.m. 78F, feeling like 81F, 66%
  • 11 a.m. 80F, feeling like 83F, 62%
And you wonder why I wish the watch had a temperature gauge on it?

I went up to Baldwin Park today with my two dogs to watch the 5-11 year olds run the "Smile Mile" races. Some 10-year old smoked the mile in 5:30. He had plenty left over too. I love to see kids racing.

Mrs. T and I are leaving shortly. First stop will be the race expo to see Michelle and her Bondi Bands and pick up the race packet. I am not in the market for Bondi Bands after getting my haircut Wednesday but it'll be good to see her. We've been in two races over the years - Marine Corps 2006 (13 miles together) and Blessing of the Fleet 10 Miler 2007.

Mrs. T and I will be staying over until Monday so I am packing the beach gear in case we feel like sitting out on late Sunday or Monday morning.

FYI most pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training (including the Red Sox today) so spring is near as is the Boston Marathon.

I promise to call all my peeps who have asked for race reports sometime Sunday. See ya!


Taper week

I did my last "long run" of 10 miles yesterday. It was perfect weather. Upper 50s. I didn't think I was going fast but it went by at 8:58 mile pace. That got me thinking (I know that can be dangerous).

I've used the FIRST training method for the last four marathons I have done. The pace for my runs over the last four weeks seemed especially fast by comparison so I had to check it out.
  1. My last 10 miler was 50 seconds a mile faster than the last two.
  2. My last 15 miler was 35 seconds a mile faster than my next best one.
  3. My last 20 miler was second only to training for Georgia this time a year ago, by 45 sec/mile.
  4. My next to last 15 miler was 20 seconds/mile faster than the best of the previous trainings.
I think I am ready to kick some South Florida sand. I will be running solo. No pals or friends. Mrs. T will be there but on her own. If she's smart she goes to the mall while we're all out there running. That's okay. I am ready to run one on my own.

I have new Kayanos (XIII) to wear with 20 miles broken into them. I am good to go.

Good luck to Runner Susan on Part Two of the Crazy-thon. May her blisters disappear and the route be all downhill in Austin.



Since New Years my habits have changed. You may have noticed. I have not posted as often.

The principal reasons for not posting can be traced to my laptop crapping out and an assortment of books I wanted to read that I finally got around to reading over winter break. The pleasure of reading books and the monthly Runner's World have been a distraction.

The laptop I use now is limited in its abilities as are mine to upgrade it. I should just go out and buy a new one but I am waiting to hit the lottery first. Shoot ... I don't even IM with Runner Susan anymore because I haven't downloaded the program on the laptop.

Regardless, I am still running. In fact I'll be enjoying the ocean breezes of the Atlantic next Sunday in Ft. Lauderdale for the third annual A1A Marathon. It's the smallest marathon I will have run so that will be a different experience. I do fear the crowds of the half marathon runners getting in my way at the start but that should just keep me bridled from going out too fast. I do not expect too many spectators either. I hope towards the end of the race - when the sun is up (6 a.m. start) - there will be a few bikini-clad fans on the beach to urge me on.

I have been spending several thoughtful moments as I drift off to sleep planning my race strategy. That has to be a good thing. Maybe I won't forget when I start running.

I am also already looking forward to Chicago because of the friends who are going to run it too: Susan, Maddy and B-I-L Rich so far. Are you?

I have been way too good the last two weeks staying away from the normal adult beverage that tastes so good after a long hard day at the office. It's helped bring my weight down a little too. I sense I am heavier than ever for this marathon. I will have to do some research and check that out.

This past week: Tue-3x1600 at 8:05 pace (slow); Wed-3 miles easy; and Thu-8 miles tempo at 9:15 pace. This weekend will be a short easy run today and a hard 10 miles tomorrow. Weather is perfect with low 50s in the morning.


Speak, oh masters of the universe

I did 7x800 intervals last Tuesday which were satisfactory in the 3:45-3:55 range but then wasted a scheduled four mile tempo run on Thursday by simply going easy. I didn't push myself at all. 9:51 pace, which is definitely easy.

Today called for a 15 mile long run, stepping down from last week's last 20. Next weekend is just 10 and the following Sunday is the marathon.

I opted to warm up with a jog to downtown from the house. The first mile was at 11:00 and the second at 9:40. I arrived to the applause of a large crowd of runners (10-12) who waited an extra six minutes for me to get there. I was late.

Having already warmed up I had groovy legs looking to stretch. At the first intersection, that same pack of fasties that merged with us two weeks ago turned the corner again. I was already ahead of my usual group and several of them made the effort to run with me and the fasties.

I wasn't looking behind me. I love the sound of people chasing me. I kept moving and staying ahead of the crowd. Two fasties passed me in the second mile while the rest stayed on my heels. We were moving at a sub-9:00 pace.

It was then that I had to decide. Do I run a marathon training long run or turn it into a forceful tempo run for 10 miles? With the second group of fasties still behind me, my competitive juices kept pushing me forward.

At the four mile stop, we had arrived at an 8:57 pace. At the seven mile stop, it was an 8:52 pace. The final three clocked at a 9:01 pace. I was feeling exceptional for all but the last half mile. I knew I had spent myself. The humidity was causing me to breathe laboriously but I still felt good.

I had some water and started jogging the last three miles towards home. They went by at a 10:29 pace plus I accompanied a newbie jogger who I inspired to take up running a year ago. He manages 30 minutes a day at 9:00-9:30 pace. I gave him kudos and encouragement and eventually pulled into the my neighborhood with a sore cramping left calf.

I waded in the pool's cold water which felt very good. I stretched and, while doing so, marvelled at my fast twitch muscles still vibrating in the feet and calves.

So ... do you think I did right by turning the long run 15 into a tempo 10 plus warm-up and cool down? How will it affect my racing condition?


Call me crazy .... Chicago

First thing I did this morning was sign on and sign up for Chicago.

October 12

... come heat wave or Arctic blast.