Another good year

I finished the year of running on an up note. But first the headlines:

  • I took Mrs. T to the movies last night and we watched Babel which was an intriguing study of four families running into a lot of bad luck; each linked in some bizzare or non-bizzare ways.
  • Son T went out late last night. That was normal but my cell phone beeped at 330am and it woke me up. I tried to call him back but he didn't answer. When I came home from running he wasn't home and I started calling his cell phone every hour to see if he was alive. He had turned the phone off. He finally showed up at noon. I don't use text messaging often enough to have realized he'd told me he was crashing at some girl's house.
  • I am sunburned. I laid out by the pool reading a consuming fiction book, Wild Fire, yesterday afternoon. It was as good as it gets. I haven't laughed so much reading a book in years, if ever. I like my new color too.

So back at running: I woke up right at 700 which was too late to join the Sunday bunch. I ate a Cliff bar, had a bottle of water, packed my cooler and set off to Park Avenue. I got there 25 minutes late.

I entertained delusions of catching the group but resolved this was a good day to get in touch with my pace and form on my terms. I did a lot of that today and still managed to cross paths with Cathy, Rachel, Bob and Chris, though none of them were running in my direction.

I covered 11.3 miles in 1:43:57 which was the fastest pace (9:22/mile) I have covered all year in a training long run. That made me happy.

Everybody be careful tonight. Look out for the amateurs.

Final numbers for the year:

  • Miles - 932; Lifetime (since 1999) - 4,445
  • Average Week - 17.9 miles; Month - 78 miles
  • Races - 2 Marathons (my first ever), 1 half, 1 20K, 1 10K and 3 5Ks. No PRs


I am in

"I pays my money. Now show me what you got. Who's with me?"

ING Georgia Marathon. March 25. Atlanta.


Beating the rush

With new year's resolutions about to come tumbling out of everybody's blogs (everybody being all the folks who have been pretty quiet the last several weeks) I am happy to report I got back on the wagon and went three tempo miles this morning at a 8:45 pace in mild 60F temperatures under sunny skies. I'll do 10 on Sunday too. I am happy that this was a fallback week in the 16 week schedule for the Georgia Marathon.

All hail the good women of the RBF who carry the burden and joy of making Christmas or other holiday festivities so memorable and meaningful which may have meant setting aside their running promises to themselves. I hope you all have a great run soon.

Not to trash all you guys but I heard the wise words of a 68 year old woman at the dinner table the other night who said it took her a long time to realize how much stress she'd put herself through to make the holidays "perfect" for her kids, family and friends which is, of course, impossible. I mean, just think about it. The dear woman has stopped kicking herself and works harder at enjoying it all more than putting it on.

I know I do not speak just for myself so, from all of us - Thanks ladies!


Better when it's over

I lollygagged around the house this morning avoiding my run like a college student with a philosophy paper due (true me, circa 1972). I stayed up late last night and slept in this morning. I ate a proper breakfast and walked the dogs to warm up. It was chilly so I goofed off back at the house when a "live" U2 concert from Italy was on the TV. All I Want is You and With and Without You, among other great tunes, had me mesmerized until 1130.

Then I went to the track for a 3x1600. It was still chilly and very windy. Spits of rain were coming out of the overcast skies.

I went 7:37, 7:46 and 7:56. It was definitely better when it was over. I did not enjoy it today. It wasn't like I overate yesterday or drank too much but I surely had a Santa hangover.

Speaking of Santa. I obsess over numbers. No. That's not exactly true. I respect them. I don't let too many of them get to me. Well Santa knew how much I like numbers so he brought me a Body Composition Monitor that measures my weight, body fat, water composition, bone mass, metabolic age and number of calories I can consume in the next 24 hours to keep the same weight.

After my run today I got on the thing and it told me I can consume 3900 calories to stay at my weight tomorrow; and that my metabolic age is 12. I'll try to diminish your urge to leave a derogatory comment by not sharing the other numbers.

So what did Santa bring you?

P.S. If you're looking for a 930 page tome on the Lore of Running I just finished reading it (got it yesterday) and it should be on eBay really soon. Well, I may browse through it a little longer to refresh my first read.

A few pics from Christmas...


Heavy traffic

There sure were a lot of runners out this morning. You'd think there was a race coming up soon. Let's see here .... oh yeah - Disney! Lots of folks were out on their last long run before the taper madness sets in.

Meanwhile those of us with no plans to run Disney and pretty sure plans about running in the spring showed up at 700 for the Sunday "service"/run. It was only Chris, Marty, Jack and me.

Jack only went four miles before turning home. Marty went six. Chris and I pressed on at a "good pace" according to him. I was just grooving along feeling good. When we got back to Park Avenue there were lots of early risers/shoppers as well as the beautiful people having breakfast on the sidewalks reading their New York Times.

I accompanied Chris running home so I could add an extra four miles to my morning. I added it up: 14.1 miles in 2:12. That was a good pace (9:22) and it didn't faze me at all. I feel excellent.

I intend to add 10% to the length of my long run each week so I can add more aggregate miles and peak higher than the First Plan prescribes. I am on a mission to do well in Atlanta, meaning better than Miami and DC.

I went to the running store the other day for Cliff Blocks (I am a convert from Gu, I think) and browsed through a runner book. It had those conversion tables in the back that tell you what time you should be able to run, given a certain time at one distance. Well, my 5K, 10K and half times all fell in synch. The mary time is so off, it's embarrassing, which is why I am on a mission.

Things to celebrate:
  • the return of daylight and we emerge from the winter solstice.
  • Santa's visit tonight
  • Christmas carols at church
  • A week off
  • both boys home (even if their "party time" is more like Pacific time)


Balmy seven

Thursday morning dawned and it was after 600. With seven miles to run before work I was glad it was the slow week before Christmas.

I went out in the balmy weather and took it easy going around the lake. I was unexpectedly stiff in my back again, as if I'd been booking too many miles. Over the last two miles I found rhythm and pace.

My work week ended nicely. I got my emails down to 20 in the inbox, ticked off a lot of folks who will find requests and assignments when they come back from winter break, finished some tardy assignments of my own, threw away lots of junk mail and visited one of my employees at home who is out indefinitely as she fights lung cancer. Her spirits were good and she looked good too.

Sonny boy #1 repo-ed his car this week so I took the bus and bummed rides home. Today my good friend K. left town for a week and asked me if I'd watch her cat. I asked her if I could borrow her car.

We have a deal and I have wheels.


Holiday lull

Everybody where I work is taking off this week because schools are out. It is a good thing to do. I, on the other hand, have enjoyed going to work and cleaning out my inbox, tossing piles of crap that has been sitting there for months waiting to be tossed, and mapping out things to do when they all come back.

On top of all that quiet at the office I have managed, for the first time in my life, to secure all the gifts I want to give people for Christmas - a week before December 25. That's unheard of. What I like best about it is the incredible vacuum of stress on my brain to think of something to buy that special someone, finding out where it is available, whether it is in stock and when I can get out to buy it. Phew.

Yesterday was Week 3 Repeats Day. I had six 800s to drop on the track. After the extra mileage on Sunday and cutting down a god forsaken bouganvilla bush on Monday afternoon I was stiff and slow to warm up.

I managed to go 3:49, 3:44, 3:46, 3:49, 3:47 and 3:47. I liked the consistency. The 3:44 was a PR and the 3:46 was a top 3 time. In fact, I've never before been able to do more than two sub 3:50s in a repeat set.

Proof positive that being overweight can make you faster.

I went and saw Casino Royale again with son T., one of his Navy buddies who loves weapons and Mrs. T. who doesn't. Everybody thought it was excellent. I appreciated the second showing so I could connect all the dots that did not reveal themselves so easily in the first viewing.

Glory be to the warm weather we're having here in Florida. Lows in the high 50s. High around 80. It's great but there's a front coming directly from Dallas which I blame on Runner Susan.


Check twice. Lock once.

I barely pulled myself out from under the covers this morning. I was having one of those nekkid dreams that Runner Susan likes. I had less than 50 minutes to dress, eat, pack, drop off the pack, drive and take pictures of the holiday lights in morning fog before the Park Avenue gang was off and running.

I stopped right in the middle of the street to take the pictures. Fortunately, at 700, there're few people out on a Sunday morning.

As I pulled up to the curb, my group was taking off without me. I quickly threw my keys under the floor mat, shut the door and took off after them, about a quarter of a mile behind. By the first mile, I had caught up without too much effort.

Swifty Dan was jogging along with my gang. A pair of ultra swifties ran past in the third mile and I challenged Dan to go off with them. He let the temptation pass which is not to say I let the temptation pass when he and I started chatting with Ed and finding ourselves way ahead of Chris, Jack and Marty. We were hoofing it hard to the four mile water stop.

While Ed and I waited for the slowpokes, Swifty Dan was impatient and took off ahead of us. Phew. Wipe out averted.

We all kept going and everybody turned short for six miles except Chris. He and I went on to do the full loop of 10 miles. When we got back to Park Avenue I told him I wanted to go 12 so we started the route over, going out a mile then me doubling back. Chris kept going, on to home.

What I love about the finish, going down Park Avenue at 900, is that the "early risers" who aren't runners can be seen having breakfast and reading the Sentinel or NY Times at their sidewalk tables chomping on a bagel or stack of pancakes. Yes. The beautiful people. Yes. I speed on by, feeling a rush.

Today I had intentions of stretching after my run, changing clothes and heading up to one of the cafes and having some beautiful people time myself. In fact, I swear I saw a triplet sister of Runner Susan.

Alas, I had locked my car keys in the car.

Now, before Thanksgiving this would have been an expensive moment. Fortunately, when son T came home then, I pulled open a little pocket drawer on "our" car and I found a spare key. Until then, none existed as best we knew.

So today, I knew where the spare was - next to son T's pillow back home so I had to run home for an extra 2 miles. I was up for it and made it fine. My time for the whole run was a respectable 2:10, a 9:38 pace.

I just missed out on the beautiful breakfast.

Oh ... and here's a little cadet porn, so to speak. Every year just before final exams and winter break they have a holiday dinner in their dress greys and fire up cigars afterwards. It usually results in a trip to the dry cleaners immediately thereafter.


Ups and downs

Something is happening to me. I reviewed my 2006 stat file (courtesy of Dead Runners Society) and see that my weight has gone up. From January through May I was around 149-150. Then school let out, summer vacation and gin & tonics kicked in and I went up to 156 by the time I left Rhode Island. Within two weeks I steadied and fell to a range of 153-154 for four months. Since the week before Thanksgiving (two weeks after MCM) I have been on a steady climb up to 156-157 and the holidays are just about to begin. I never fret over my weight because I've never had to but this is peculiar.

Meanwhile, on the track and streets of MyTown I am moving pretty fast. One of the 1200s I did on Tuesday was a third fastest at the distance and Thursday's 5-miler (43:35) was the second fastest of those I've done. So either I have been undernourished or I'm in pretty good running shape.

Now if I could just keep the clothes fitting comfortably we'll be alright.

Dream follow up - No I was not naked; in the dream or in the bed.


If it's Tuesday it must be .....

Track Day!

But first I have to tell somebody I had the strangest dream just before waking this morning. It was circa 1985 and I was walking along a cross aisle of a stadium on my way to a since-torn down press box and passing dozens of familiar faces who I knew but haven't seen in many years. They were waving and exchanging pleasantries while a bright aurora light bathed them as I went by. It was spooky weird.

I went over to the track about 600. All I had to do was four 1200s. Of course, I wanted to do them all fast and relatively close in time. I was not quite as happy with the results as last week's 400s but they were satisfactory: 5:47, 5:45, 5:54 and 5:54. Call it almost two pair, 54s high.

The rest of the day was a lot of work. It'll be that way for the rest of the week as I ponder an evergreen message to frame for public consumption. Shoot, I'll settle for a seasonal message.


Georgia training. Week 1 done.

I had to skip Thursday's easy little tempo run for work reasons but I was not to be denied on Friday. I buzzed around the big block (3 miles) in 27 minutes and felt fresh. The afternoon before I was feeling tightness in my chest that gave me pause. I have had it before and sensed it to be stress related. I knew a run would flush it out and it did.

Sunday dawned and I drove to Park Avenue ready for a 10 miler. I wish I had left a little earlier because I would have taken some excellent photographs. The sun was just starting to lighten the sky and the lake was as still as could be with a covey of ducks floating near shore. It would have been a good shot.

Downtown, the seasonal decorative lights were still blazing from city hall all up the street past the park, as far as you could see. It was still dim enough that a photo would have been spectacular. I had the camera but I was late to the meet up.

Chris, Jack, Bob and Marty were the only ones there. It was but 50F and I stripped down to T-shirt while some wore long sleeves and gloves. By the end of 10 miles I was in the right outfit.

At the 5th mile Marty and Jack peeled off and we ran into Seth who sings as a Dickens caroller throughout the season. He turned around and ran the next five miles back to downtown. I had tried to run on his shoulder last week in the half marathon but he always pulled ahead. He did so today too but turned around every few blocks to run back to us.

In the last two miles I decided to stick with him and picked up my pace. We ran off from Bob and Chris and had a good blow for that series of miles.

What have we become? I have pondered recently why I and those I blog with have all become/stuck with running long races (halfs, marathons). It seems we are not so inclined to run shorter distances. Is it because we're always training for the long ones? Or am I just not paying attention to your short races?


Off to a flying start

You ran a half mary in challenging conditions. You can feel gunk in your joints and muscles. For that next run, you think you'll take it a little easy. Break back in slowly. Avoid injury. Recover.

It's the first day of your next 15 week marathon training and the schedule calls for a speed work out of eight 400m repeats. Not a lot of distance but it is eight repeats.

Do you start slowly and work to improve? Do you expect to get top performance through every rep or might you think you'll fade as you tire slightly?

It is 50F and windy. You think you maybe should have worn gloves. That wind is wet and cold. It's 6 a.m., two weeks away from the darkest day of the year. The tail wind is nice but the head wind on the track is like 200 meters of prickly cobwebs.

I took off on the first 400 meters and noted the time to be respectable. I expected my times would get better for another 3-4 reps and then float back up to or over the first rep.

As predicted, the next three laps were slightly better. The next two were as good as the second. I found I was channelling my two secret running heroes, Dianna and jeff, on my seventh lap. I was telling myself to keep pushing. I though to go seven laps fast was a good thing. Surprisingly the 7th was faster than the previous six.

That left me with just 400 meters to go. Could I make it count? Could I do even better? I resolved that nothing ventured results in nothing gained; and speed is what I want to gain. I had no more laps to run after number 8. What reason could there be to leave anything on the track?

Lap 8 was the fastest of them all. It was an all-time PR for me. 1:39.99. In fact all eight of them beat my previous top three 400 meter times.

1.39.99 I have been soaring all day. How sweet it is.


A number of things

1. Casino Royale should have never ended. I could have watched another two hours. Worth the money and time.

2. I start my next marathon training tomorrow morning with some beloved track work: 8 x 400s.

3. I really scrounged for some better news about my half marathon. Here it is: I was 4th among 16 men my age.

4. My next marathon will bump me up another age group. Woo hoo! I'll be the obnoxious brat again instead of the grandpa.


Race Report

Half Marathon

At the first mile I was amazed to have run it in 8:15. I did not think I was going that fast. Shortly after the mark my timer went off to tell me I was ahead of pace. Woo hoo.

I tried to find a comfortable pace without overheating. It was an awfully hot 73F at race time. The course was new this year and I was liking it through two miles. The second mile was in 8:13 - even faster.

I started to worry about going out too fast. The third and fourth miles tracked along the streets I drive home every day from work and it was very familiar. #3 was done in 8:27.

I half hoped/expected to see Mrs. T at Mile 4. I had given her an estimated pass-by time. I passed by in 9:20, obviously slowing. I missed her by two minutes. Her and the two doggies were out for a walk but a little behind my quick start.

I rathcheted down my pace, feeling the humidity and heat. #5 went by in 9:22. #6 was 9:31. The pace timer was beeping way before the mile markers now. I actually felt so tired I contemplated a DNF. I was so hot. I took my shirt off, bunched it up to carry and shuffled on.

I was taking on Gatorade and water throughout the course and never felt a cramp. I passed through some of the new neighborhoods of the course and was encouraged by the better turn out of residents. Bruce Springsteen was out again, as he's been every year, parking his convertible at closed roads and playing "Born to Run" over and over. He made three appearances on the course for me this year.

Mile 7-9:56. Mile 8-9:49. Mile 9-10:46.

This was painful. I saw the Winter Park cross country coach right around then and he pointed out that his wife was just ahead of me. Ahead of me? I was renewed in a quest to find her and catch her. I spotted her and gradually moved up. For a quarter mile I drafted right behind her then pulled alongside.

She didn't notice me for a little while and then glanced over. We exchanged hellos and not much more. I stayed with her for a mile as one of us (I'm not sure who) paced the other. We kind of pushed each other and made some improvements on my time, at least.

Mile 10-9:37. Mile 11-10:06 (uphill stretch).

At mile 11 her husband jumped in to run with her to the finish. I wasn't sure how strong she was and expected he might bring out the best in her and leave me behind; but they stopped at the water station while I pushed through. I think she was trashed by the heat too.

I had some renewed strength and decided to do what I had planned - run 10 miles and race the last 5K. Of course, I only had two left but that's when it struck me.

So Mile 12 was 9:32 and Mile 13-9:32 too. I crossed the line in 2:03.18; which was about as much I as could manage under the conditions.

I felt good afterwards and made a bee-line for the beer garden where I hung out with pals for another hour or more before going home to watch the Army-Navy game.

During the game my friends in Atlanta called and were thrilled to hear I wanted to come visit in March - for the Georgia Marathon. After today's heat I look forward to some cold running weather.


unseasonably warm

Tomorrow's race should start with cloudy skies and temps around 65F. That's a little too warm. Cloud cover is a modest positive.

I had pasta and chicken with lots of cashews for dinner. I figure the salt will allow me to camel up with extra water. I'll sweat out the salt in the race. A bottle of Gatorade just before the race is in my plan.

Hopefully the heat will not prevent me from my intended goal.


Did somebody say fat?

What happened to me this week? Who knows. I skipped running Tuesday for the sake of more sleep. I told myself I'd do it Wednesday.
This morning it was raining so I opted instead to go to the fitness center; but I read the paper too long, had to take out the garbage, walk the dogs, etc. so put my workout duds in the car for an after work workout.
Come whistle time and my good buddy Doug - who I haven't tipped a beer with in four months -calls and we end up at the pub instead of the fitness center.
I got home around 800 and weighed myself - before dinner - and was shocked to see the scales read out eight pound more than I like. Holy donkey poop balls.
I did pick up my half marathon packet today and bought some Cliff Blocks. Does that count for anything good?



First let me say that I must not have as active a life as the rest of you. I thought I was plenty dang busy over Thanksgiving break but I still found plenty of time to visit the blogs to see what you folks were doing. Crickets.

Well I raced and ate Thursday.

Went to the car show on Friday. Mrs. T wants the new VW convertible, the Eos, badder than she wants anything else about now. Son T wants his Sentra back in 18 months. Son C wants his first car - and not just any car - to impress the world. I just need to get to work and back. I may be heavy into the car buying business over the next two years. Ugh.

Saturday was a lazy day with some football watching.

Sunday I ran long with nine other folks. Just about all of them are in training for this Saturday's half marathon so the run was serious. I set my watch on timer/repeat so I could track 9:50 easy pace miles. I hit them perfectly for 8 miles then dropped the pedal and raced to the finish over the last two miles. Covered the full 10 in 1:37.

I am looking forward to the race. After my good showing in the 5K on Thursday I am hopeful for a strong performance over the longer distance. I'll be shooting for a PR to beat whatever the time is over there on the right margin.

Tuesday I'll do some speedwork and not much else before Saturday. I have to go out of town at the end of the week.

I hope you're all fat and happy from the holiday. It'll tide you over until Jon comes back online.


Turkey Jag

Racing. I hit the road (driving) at 645 to head on down to downtown O-Town for the Turkey Trot 5K. I was fueled with a plain bagel and the magic blueberry jam and a cup of coffee. Beans were in my pocket just in case.

It was a nice 47F outside with the sun rising over the treetops - in the east no less. I took a nice warm-up lap around the track at the school where I parked.

Over 3,500 came out to run, no less that 50 of them, it turns out, were former or current Winter Park Cross Country team runners or parents. At the post race mob scene the orange and black was everywhere.

I managed to get tucked in towards the front of the start line pack. The collective body heat kept the chill down. Too many runners were overdressed, I thought, with tights, hats, gloves, double layers, etc. I had on my short sleeve shirt and shorts. I knew it would be fine once the sun rose enough.

The start was clean and not crowded. I was a tad stiff but loosened up quickly. I sensed my pace was high. I pressed on my thumbnails to regulate the breathing. I found myself passing some of the WPCC team alums who were clearly out of shape or training. I wondered how far I'd go before walling myself.

I had my timer set for 7:50 mile alarms. I reached the first mile in 7:53. Nice.

The second mile was slightly downhill. I passed 2 miles feeling strong and fast. 7:38. Wowzer.

The turn for the third mile came sooner than I thought. So did the home stretch turn. I was just cruising along feeling like I was on a high. Third mile: 7:48.

Last tenth: :46.

Across the line in 24:05. A "qualified" personal record. Man, did that feel good.

The PR was actually my second best time ever. The other PR was an insane 23:26 I did in August 2005. I remember just screaming through that race in the summer heat but to have cut :51 seconds off my previous PR was too weird. I accepted it but wondered whether the course was short.

Today I was sure of the distance and proud of the effort. I was ready for some football.

Turkey Bowl. Five families including mine and a handful of other young 'uns get together each Thanksgiving morning for a rousing game of two-hand touch football. We counted off and became Teams 1 and 2. Late arrivals were drafted onto the field in no apparent order. Team 1 ended up with 12 on their side. We only had 10 but it really didn't matter.

Everybody ran around with absolutely no set plays and a lot of laughing and joking. And in a record of achievment, for the fifth straight year, there were no injuries. I will have to say that my thigh muscles and others used to pivot and lunge are a bit sore today. It's a lot different than running.

International Relations. We had Kremena, the internation business major student, from Bulgaria, over for Thanksgiving family dinner. It was nice to share the feast with someone so curious about American customs. For me, it was a great excuse to get out the Atlas and tour Bulgaria on the maps and learn about a place I may never see in person. I love maps.


Glorious running weather

I don't know how it is where you live but today was a great day to run. High 40s rising to the low 50s with a sunny sky and no wind.

I ran yesterday too in similar conditions but waited until it was warmer - late morning - to do six miles.

Anticipating a need to follow my own advice in a half marathon shared with Susie, I thought I should practice what I preach. On my six miler I ran three miles then raced the last three at 5K pace (or close to it).

Today I did the same thing except it was over 12.3 miles (9.3 + 3 fast). The Sunday running club was a chatty nine when we started and dwindled to three by the time I finished.

When I got home I lay on the bedroom floor with the blinds pulled back so I could soak the warmth of the bright sun as the dogs licked the salty sweat off my skin. I fell asleep after awhile and when I woke up to take a shower I came to realize that dog slobber actually leaves a coating on the skin that I suspect is a natural dressing [...and in a blatant effort to attract comments I am using the Runner Susan tactic of posting pet pictures].

If you are like me the three day work week coming up is going to be low impact brain exercise. I am looking forward to Thursday, the Turkey Trot 5K, Turkey Bowl cross country alumni tag football game and a fair amount of consumption.



I went to the track Tuesday. Oh, how I have missed the track.

The sun was coming up over the tree tops. The sky was a stream of morning colors. The Army reservists were out in the parking lot forming up for their Tuesday PE session. The trash cans were full of empty water containers from the pre-dawn marathonfesters. The track was empty and mine.

I have resumed training again. The plan called for 2x1200, 4x400 and 4x200. Since it was my first track visit since the marathon I stuck with target times as opposed to blowing all tanks at puke-speed.

My targets were to go at 8:30-mile half marathon pace - or better. That meant 6:00 1200s, 1:56 400s and :55 200s. No problem. Oh they felt so good.

6:01 & 5:58; 1:50, 1:54, 1:55 & 1:52; and :53, :53, :54 & :51.

I can't wait for next Tuesday.

Idle thought: If the internet went down for a week, can you imagine how many more pregnancies might result?


Back in the saddle again

It was actually moderately warm and humid yesterday when I met up with Rachel, Cathy, Bob, Dave, Gary and Marty for our Sunday morning long runs. I almost left the shirt in the car but opted to stay decent for a change.

We took the 10-mile course around town. Marty dropped out at four miles. Gary turned off at six. Dave turned around at seven leaving me with the girls and Bob. We had a fun time running in alternating pairs, chatting a little.

The ladies are training for Disney and will also run the OUC Half on December 2 which I plan to do too.

I pushed their paces on the back four miles which they appreciated. I couldn't believe how good I felt. The ten went down like a banana split. Mmmm. I haven't had one of those in a long time.

I will resume my training regimen with speed work on Tuesdays and tempos on Thursdays. There're some races to get ready for. IMG Georgia on March 25 seems to have some strong appeal. Any takers? (Runner Susan and Rachel have already spoken up)

Celebration. About 2 pm I headed up to where the cross country team was prepping for their parade. Windows were being painted. Signs and banners hung from cars and trucks. Flags, balloons, streamers, etc. About 60 cars wound their way through town for an hour and ended up at my friend's house for a party.

I was designated chef since my friend's hubby had an uncompromising obligation that took him away from the party. I cooked about 100 burgers on the grill while the coach and several kids got thrown in the pool and otherwise had a good time.

Sleep. I knew it would happen. I was sitting here last night about 730 reading blogs and my eyes kept closing. I went to bed at 745 and slept for 11 hours. Now I have a serious case of bed head and eyes that are "glued" shut. But, boy, do I feel good now.


Did they win States?

Running. I ran Thursday morning for four miles. It felt good once I warmed up. I was surprised to find my right knee still hurts a little when I run; at least when I started running. By two miles it was reasonably pain-free. And I shouldn't call it pain either so let's just say that the odd feelings in my right knee are not invisible to my senses.

I plan to go for 8-10 tomorrow (Sunday) really easy-like. If it goes well I will start speed work on Tuesday and tempos next Thursday and prep for the Turkey Trot 5K and Dec. 2 half marathon.

Racing. You'll remember both my boys ran high school cross country. They've graduated but I haven't. I "adopted" a friend's son (11th grade) and daughter (9th grade) to keep my interest personal.

Today were the state championship finals. My friend and I left the house at 600 and drove 90 minutes to Little Everglades Ranch in the middle of rural west Central Florida. The ranch is 2000 acres of rolling hills and oak trees. On the ranch they race horses on a track that has the contours of the region: a few slopes and hills. It was a beautiful place with a specatator grandstand with terraced levels for viewing and an elevated porch right at the finish line. You could see the entire course from up there....

....if you could see it at all. From the first race at 800 you could barely see the track in front of you because of the morning fog.

The gun sounded about 800 meters away but it took a minute before you could see them coming. For that first race we had no idea how nice the track looked. The Winter Park girls finished 5th which was up from 11th last year at States.

The boys' race was at 900. By then the fog had burned off and you could see everything. The championship was up for grabs among five or six teams including Winter Park. They finished first in districts but third in regionals earlier this month and last. My friend's son was an alternate so did not run.
The starting seven got out strong and stayed in a pack through two miles. Six of them were in the top forty-five runners. The finish stretch was an uphill killer. Our #1 came through the 5K in 16:53. Our next five came in at 17:00, 17:03, 17:04, 17:04 and 17:08. They finished smartly and scored 150 points.

The margin of difference between first and second was four points. The team stood off in a field waiting for the coach to come tell them the results. They were confident and hopeful. He walked towards them holding up four fingers. We watched from a distance thinking at first they finished fourth. Then when they didn't hang their heads but kept listening intently to their coach, we thought maybe they missed winning by four points.

Then you saw the most heart-warming fist-clenching jubilant celebration ever as he told them they'd won by four points. The scene was incredible. Parents, teammates and other runners ran over and were hugging, high fiving and screaming with joy. It was worth the trip over, that's for sure.

This was the fifth state championship for our high school in six years. From 2001-2004 they won back-to-back-to-back-to-back championships. Last year, because of some injuries, they didn't even make it to States. When they took the podium to receive their medals, trophy and applause they stood proudly; and on cue, turned around to show their backs, keeping their trophy facing forward. Coach had planned ahead to deliver a message he believed was appropriate if his boys could pull off the win: "Remember Us"

A question and a statement. Oh yeah! See all the pictures here.

The parade is at 200 tomorrow afternoon. It is an unofficial unsanctioned cacophony of horn- honking cars that drive all the streets and boulevards of Winter Park that have eaten so much of the synthetic soles of these kids' running shoes for the last six months. It started in June with more than 40 of them putting in 500 mile summers plus the rigorous in-season training and races.

They ran in the Manhattan Invitational up in New York last month and found their stride. It all counted today and they were ready. They won it all.

Go Park.


Damn Yankee I am

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I haven't run since Sunday. Maybe tomorrow.

I did several hours of cross training which involved switching channels between CNN election coverage and (mostly) VH1's Top 100 hits of the 1980s. Now I am exhausted.


I'm back

Richie put it out there. Recovery week is a blur.

Monday. Knees creaking. No stairs please. Flight home. My bed. Early.

Tuesday. Work. Ugh. Looking forward to a massage at 430. Sherlene calls and pushes it to Wednesday. Okay. I'll survive. Knees were sore when I got up but once they were moving the soreness went away.

Wednesday. Tired. Massage. Analysis of the knee problem: glute muscle in right butt cheek was source of foot cramps. All connect to the ITB which is what went wack at Mile 25. Figures.

Thursday. Thought about running in the morning but found rolling over a more desirable option. My chest is slightly congested so I am playing it safe.

Friday. Really tired. Went home at 500 and chilled out, finishing up my MCM recaps for the blog.

Saturday. Had a quiet morning. Went shopping for food while Mrs. T went shopping for clothes. Son C called and invited himself out for lunch and a haircut, on me. That was nice. He then borrowed the car. I went to bed at 8pm.

Sunday. Okay. It's time to run again. The Turkey Trot 5K is on Thanksgiving and I have a half marathon in four weeks; plus the inaugural ING Georgia Marathon in March is not that far off.

I went up to Park Avenue at 700 to meet the running gang. A visitor from Ottawa found us on the internet and joined in. We were 10 and many training for the OUC Half on December 3.

The first steps were an awakening. There was definitely some surplus gunk in the legs to shake loose. After about a mile I felt a surge and took off for about 100 yards. It was like blowing out the carbon on a vintage Jaguar XKE. After some teasing from the group I slowed down and worked my way back and forth among the three sub-groups making friendly conversation and giving my accounting of the MCM.

At the 4 mile water stop I found out everybody was going 10 or more miles so I knew they were going to stay slow and steady. I had committed to myself not to go more than six. When we cranked up again there was a pair of fast BQ girls coming up behind us and I knew they would be passing us. I determined that I was not going to let that happen.

For a mile I pushed myself and stayed ahead of the ladies until my turn off. Thoughts pinged off the roof of my skull about how I was running hard this day to make up for my shortcomings in Washington last Sunday. I was out for redemption.

Once I peeled off I kept going hard until my knees reminded me they'd been plenty abused just a week ago. I lightened up the last half mile and cruised in to the finish. It felt great to finish in a running posture. I plan to do that some more in the weeks ahead.

NYC Marathon. I IM-ed with son T in New York who was watching the NYC Marathon on WNBC TV New York, live. He kept me up on the leaders while I fussed over the ING NY Marathon web site trying to track a buddy. The site was not very cooperative. Did anybody else find the tracking to be faulty?


MCM Photos

Me and Bex at RBF Dinner

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
See the rest of the pics here.


Left to my own devices

MCM Part 3
11:13 a.m. - 2:00 and beyond

11:13, Tidal Basin. I was still moving through a headwind along Independence Avenue straight to the river. I downshifted to a slower pace on the premise that I needed to conserve and take care of myself for another 12 miles. I made the turn at the Potomac and slipped around through some quiet parkland to the edge of the Tidal Basin. Spectators were thinning out but there I was jogging along and I heard, "Hey, Mr. Thomas!" and I looked over to see Eric, the son of some of my best friends in Rhode Island. I knew he was in DC for the race to watch his girl friend run. I hardly expected we'd see each other. That chance meeting and greeting made me feel good. I had another fan right after letting Michelle go. Mile 15 - 10:55.

11:24, Jefferson Memorial. I concentrated on smooth strides and as little up and down as possible. I felt good and I was looking forward to the Hains Point experience ahead of me. I equated it to my silent lonely long runs. I passed the Jefferson Memorial just before reaching Ohio Drive. Mile 16 - 11:05.

11:35, Ohio Drive. The drive was more of a lane. There was little distraction other than the occasional runner who stopped in front of me and walked. I was still running but extremely thirsty. I started to feel cramps in my feet. I successfully ran through them at first. We crossed Buckeye Drive just before mile 17 - 12:05.

11:47, Hains Point. It was a mile to the point with a water stop halfway there. I had been sucking on Gu to rev me up some more but my thirst was strong. The lane had narrowed. The golden leaves on the trees in the park that bordered the Potomac were glorious. A sculler was out on the water gliding in some slight chop. The forecast wind must have been behind me. I could hardly feel it. There was a golf course on the other side of the course. This was a peaceful and tranquil place. It was not as grueling as I feared. The water stop was congested. I walked with everyone else and drank water and Powerade. Beyond the stop I shuffled to the point and mile 18 - 13:06.

12 noon, The Long Road Back. Once I turned back towards the district I felt more cramps. This time they forced me to walk. I tried to follow the lead of some Gallowayers to at least give me some structure to my revised plan. The walking gave me energy when I ran. Mile 19 - 12:29.

12:12, Finally Running. The next mile passed another water stop with more walking and finally a return to humanity and fans. As I ran off Hains Point there were very narrow running lanes due to the many fans crammed on the sides to cheer their loved ones. Minding my own business, I trudged on when all of a sudden I saw Susie standing in front of me. I couldn't resist running up to give her a hug and shake David's hand. I asked if she'd seen Michelle. Yes. Just a little bit ahead of me (she lied). How did I feel. I said something like I was okay and getting along fine. She snapped my picture and I moved on. 14:03.

12:26, 14th Street Bridge. I was thinking about how I only had a run around my lake at home to finish the race. That wasn't a far distance. Then it struck me that there were no long boring bridges around my lake. I was struggling some more and was embarassed when Eric from the Tidal Basin encounter saw me again and I was walking. Oh yeah. It's a run, I said and started up again. The foot cramps were becoming more regular and even though Mile 21 was over the river it was nowhere near the end of the highway to Crystal City. 14:10.

12:40, Marines World. I was approaching the four hour mark in the stretch and started calculating my chances for a finish time. I had five plus to go and, at my current pace, I had to only hope I could beat the Miami Marathon time of 5:00. Coming down into the Crystal City Street Spectacular I only noticed two things: wind and Marines. They were more prevalent at this water station for some reason. Maybe it's because I was walking through it. I missed the mile mark and hit the split a little late. 15:00.

12:55, Beer is Good. I had my last Gu before the water stop and soon thereafter came upon the beer oasis. I was still running but I stop for all beer. Even better, some guy was offering potato chips which have lots of salt which I believed might relieve my foot cramps. I took as much as I could carry. The mile went down to the turnaround and back up. There thousands of fans in this area with some sponsored interactive displays and a band to make it seem alive; far more so than the bridge. Mile 23 - 14:13.

1:04, A boring mile. I was not drawing any karma from the loud crowd as I left Crystal City, passing the Marines at the same water station and looping over the interstate towards the Pentagon. I kept alternating runs with walks. Running as often as I could, I raised my pace to give my legs a different feel. Sometimes I find that helps. 14:39.

1:19, Pentagon. I have two miles to go and it's starting to look iffy about beating the 5 hour time. I need to cover the next miles a little faster. The route around the Pentagon was boring with no fans and a lot of police. The sun was beating down and there was asphalt as fara as the eye could see. The road started to swell up and down too. 15:27.

1:34, Crippled. I approached the last mile in a blur. I could not calculate any numbers. I was concentrating on moving forward with the others around me. They did not inspire me either as a lot of my neighbors were walking. That included a Marine wearing an 8th Tanks shirt. We kept passing each other between our walks and runs.

I came along Washington Blvd. to the ramp leading down to Jefferson Parkway. The grade was steep and my right knee revolted. It could not run. I tried. Really I did. What do you do in such situations? I remembered Miami and the pains there. I had vowed then and again now not to race hurt and never run another race. I walked the last mile with my head hung. 21:30.

1:56, Iwo Jima. The turn up to the Iwo Jima Memorial was the last straw. I had every expectation and hope that my walking the 26th mile might afford me enough strength to run the last .2 and across the finish line. As I looked up the hill and stepped forward I felt such pain in my knee that I had to stop and walk up sideways. At the finish I feigned a jog for the cameramen (it worked) and crossed into MCM oblivion. The last .2 - 4:54.

2:01, Done. I got in the queue to receive my finisher medal but was happier about the Marine who gave me an orange. The LT gave me an cut one which I stripped of its skin over the next 20 minutes while devouring the sweet fruit. I headed off to the Autism tent to retrieve my bag. I put on my warm ups and weaved toward the mighty crowds of Ft. Myers Street. My first observation was a lot of folks sipping beer so I followed their drip lines and got a beer of my own. From there it was off to the farthest end of the street to the X-Y-Z meet-up zone, hopefully to find Michelle and anyone else.

I got there and found Richie and Bex with hubby E. It was windy and we exchanged a few race impressions before they headed out. Before they left I spotted Michelle and the Studdlies just a few yards away. We all said hey. A few pics were snapped. I retrieved my clothing and cell phone from Hubby before I hugged Michelle goodbye.

I stood around a little while wondering about Jeanne and Susie. I walked back a little ways thinking I might see them. The Finish Festival was too crowded and I was keen on getting home. I called both ladies and left messages. With hardly any battery strength left I saved my calls for Gil so to coordinate an extraction from the area. It took some time but we were successful. While I waited I had final phone calls with Jeanne and Susie. Au revoir my friends.

I might run this race again some day. I will definitely run another marathon, maybe the new one in Atlanta in March (hilly).


Running with a Running Chick

MCM Part 2, 8-11 a.m.

805. The start line inflatables are icons for how huge the Marine Corps Marathon is for runners. The announcer is telling us it's the fourth largest crowd in marathon history (anywhere). Music kicks in to pump up those of us who might possibly, per chance, still be calm. Ha!

Jeanne and I work our way up the side of the elite runners, the fast runners and the almost fast runners; beyond the Scarlet group altogether. I glanced once or twice at the crowds to see if Bex or Rich are there. Ha again! I see an ambulance in the middle of the runners over the crest of a rise, still a ways up. I am heartened and lead Jeanne on.

810. There's the ambulance. It's the only one around and it has '14' on it. Where's Michelle? I give Jeanne a hug and wish her well. She trudges off to the deepest end of slow pace group runners. I head to the side and look around. No sign of Michelle. I flip open my phone and it rings and rings. Finally she answers and we both start waving our arms in the air to find each other. AHHHHhhhhh!
815. Marines show off their new airplanes in a flyover. Big prop birds. I am curious what their specialty is. I leave my cell phone with M's hubby. He and Dad look relaxed and prepared. Michelle looks confident and focused. I fall into that mentality too. We bid adieu and wade out into the crowd to avoid the barricades down range from us. We kill time talking about our strategy. My watch is set for 9:50 timer repeats. We both expect a slow start and plenty of chances to catch up and maintain the smooth and strong race pace to reach our goals. We both believe we can do it.

840. We move up to the corrals vacated by the Scarlet wave that has already begun. I am wishing I had a 50 gallon garbage bag to haul off all the left behind sweatshirts, caps and gloves. In fact, I think that thought several times over the next two miles as we come across dropped duds for a long ways.

855 Rosslyn. We start, heading out of Arlington Cemetery to Rosslyn in a big slow wave. I avoid clothing, lines of walkers blocking the road, slow runners and the usual congestion of a big race. We stay together and look forward to heating up a little so we can drop our extra clothing. At an overpass, Michelle's hubby and dad were up there all alone. We waved and hollered and Dad unrolled his handmade cheer sign but held it upside down. We and everybody else starting hollering to him to turn it over. We snickered our way under the bridge and he still had it wrong; but eventually the runners behind us all cheered as he finally got it right. That was a hoot. The first mile we took for what it was - slow 11:11.

906 Lee Highway. Traffic was jammed along the highway as we ascended the most serious hills of the course. The road was smooth but the crowd was tough to navigate. There was one runner pushing a three seat jog stroller, two seats filled with kids and the other with supplies. Brave man, he was. At the crest of the hill we reached the two mile marker in 10:55. I was starting to perspire instead of shiver.

917, Mile 3. We zipped through some wide streets with a few slopes and turned downhill to run for the river. The road was becoming less thoroughfare and more residential so we were liking it. Closer to target, we hit the mile marker at 9:59.

927 Key Bridge. The crowd around us had that weekend long run frame of mind, it seemed, cruising along; some feeling frisky and passing in a flurry. There were no spectators, just a shady down slope route to water. I asked Michelle when she expected we might see Hubby and Dad again and she told me they'd be at the Key Bridge. We started to strip off our gloves and top shirts in anticipation. I jumped the road onto a grassy shoulder at one point to pass a slew of slowpokes. M followed. It reminded me of cross country and then of uneven ground and sprained ankles. I got back on the road. Mile 4 and M's men were right at the bridge along with a bevy of supporters. A quick stop to drop clothes went quickly and we had our first on-pace mile of 9:50.

937 Georgetown. Crossing the bridge was pleasant. We were able to cool off finally and the crossing was quick and scenic as we gazed upon the approaching architecture of Georgetown. A sweep down the main business street included a lot more cheering fans, a Starbucks we entertained a thought to stop at, and a realization that we would not be back to Virginia for awhile. Before long we hit Mile 5 in 9:55. M said it was time for Gu.

947 Orange Mile 6. Michelle started talking about the "next port-a-potty" but each one we passed had a line. While in the loop of roads that put us on Rock Creek Parkway I indulged in some orange slices offered by volunteers. Soon we were climbing the gradual slope up through Rock Creek. Fans were along the route cheering, the most successful situated under overpasses where their cheers echoed off the concrete. First wave runners were already coming back down the parkway as we went up. We found some pace and my timer beeped sooner than before as we crossed the marker in 9:22.

956 Rock Creek Parkway. How much prettier could it be running in this park with all the fall colors overhead, woods on both sides, trails off to somewhere and a marching band in the median playing cadence for us? Well we won't call it pretty but Michelle said she was detouring into the underbrush. I did the same and, in granting her more privacy, I went further down the embankment, practically to the creek. Little did I know how badly I needed to go. By the time I got back up to the road Michelle was already running on. She stopped and looked around and my panic abated. We kept on together but lost a minute to the woods. 10:35.

1006 Mile 8. We crested the parkway and turned back down. There was the man with the three kid jog stroller again plugging away. We took water close to the 8 mile mark and were on cruise control. No more clothes to shed. No more potty stops. Let's rock. 9:17. Whoa! That may have been too much rocking.

1015 Mile 9. So where will we see Dad and Hubby next? Michelle told me exactly where and sure enough they were at the base of Rock Creek Parkway holding up their day glo signs of encouragement. These guys were exhibiting some very punctual performance. We were good, didn't need anything and waved to them as we passed by. 9:31 pace.

1024 Kennedy Performing Arts Center. The air was cooler. The crowds were thinner and the road was flat. It was a nice stretch of running before the Gauntlet of Love up ahead on the Mall. 9:32. Making up time fairly well.

1034 The White House. We had an appointment to see W but we were late so skipped it. The immense and frothy crowds of spectators made running along Constitution Ave. an experience to remember. I soon realized I was running with a celebrity because everybody kept saying, "Go Michelle," or some variation every 40 yards or so. Oh; wait a minute. This savvy running chick had her name taped to her shirt. That's how she does it. Time: 9:08. Good grief. We were smoking. All that smooth, strong and s-l-o-w talk I'd given myself was getting lost in the cheers.

1043 Can I see my congressman? We approached Capitol Hill passing museums and people by the Metro load. We had some water in this mile to cool us down which was becoming necessary. We got back to some reality pace in 9:33.

1052 Smithsonian. The halfway mark was up ahead. As we turned west on the return leg parallel Independenence Avenue I began to feel the forecast wind blow. It started to become an annoyance. Michelle was not as bothered it seemed but I labored a little more to keep up. We hit M13 in 9:58 and a 2:10 half marathon time.

1102 WWII Memorial. I never saw the memorial but it was there, just beyond the Washington Monument. Like the military support team they are, M's hubby and dad were there at the 14th mile marker ready to change out fluid supplies for Michelle. She opted to drop her belt and plug on from there. I took on some Gatorade with appreciation and paused for an unattractive picture (me, not Michelle).

We reached the Studdlies (as Michelle calls them) in 10:57. The headwind must have been a factor. Yeah. That's it. It was then that Michelle asked me if I minded if we went on at our own pace. I said no, absolutely not; and she put in her ear buds and moved on. I slipped in right behind her heading for the Tidal Basin. That was the last time I saw her until X-Y-Z.


This is my (3 part) story and I'm sticking to it

For now.

October 29, 2006, 5 a.m. - 8 a.m.

5 a.m. I woke up too early. So I went to the blogs. That is an easy way to kill some time and calm the nerves.

530 The marathon valet had done everything right for me. My layer-heavy wardrobe was laid out in perfect donning order: Shorts. West Point Army tech shirt. Socks. Kayanos with MCM ChampionChip attached. Disposable long sleeve cotton T-shirt. Army PT warm up uniform (black ankle-zippered pants and gray jacket with underarm zipper vents and light reflective striping). Breathable cap. Throw away gloves.

Applied body glide where it mattered. Loaded up with Gu in shorts hip pockets, sports beans in shorts waistband pocket, camera in zippered jacket pocket, $10 bill and debit card in other pocket and cell phone in pants pocket. Ready for breakfast.

600. Tiptoe downstairs for early morning breakfast party with my hosts' cat. I go for the toasted bagel and OJ. He goes for something really fish smelling that I stay away from. I study maps. I have two places to be this morning and am worried about how it will all work out. Just how far is Place A from Place B and how long will it take to get there among 30,000 or more people in a place I've never been to?

618. Knock on hosts bedroom door and hear him stir. The 15 minute warning for departure. That's all he asked for and all he needed. I finish eating and take a picture of me and the cat having breakfast together.

635. We're on our way. Gil knows the roads and manages to find a roundabout way to get past closed off roads on the marathon route to get me within 200 yards of the Iwo Jima Memorial.

655. Marines are everywhere sipping coffee, going over their briefing, checking gear, looking very ready for the day. I found it curious how many were officers. Lots of LTs. There was hardly a sergeant or corporal anywhere. I even saw a two star general walking around.

So where is Jeanne and the Charity Village? That is mission #1 for me.

It's downright nippy out. I'm shivering. Is it nerves or the chill? I presume the latter. I find the Autism tent and, voila, Miss Get Me To The Church Way Before It's Time is already there ready to go; or rather wishing she could go.

Here's somebody I've known for a year but only met in person 36 hours before and she's hinting as how the nature call has not happened today. I get the message loud and clear and express genuine concern; because I know the difference between running free with an empty load and wishing you could stop the clock and sit on the throne for however long it takes.

715. I grab a water bottle from the tent and check out the other charity runners getting ready. The T.A.P.S. folks are across the way. They are all running in memory of fallen military men and women. I pause to contemplate my good fortune that son T made it through seven months in Iraq.

Jeanne and I wander off to get a cup of coffee on the premise that caffeine has a motivating effect. She sips. I taste. It's Marines field quality mud and I endorse its chance of success for her.

We notice what Jeanne describes as Marines snipers up in a tall tower. I only saw them using binoculars but I was not going to argue with her on that.

720. We are waiting on Richie and Bex. We call Richie. Can you believe he was still in the hotel? He wouldn't believe us when we told him he had 55 minutes to get his butt to the starting line. Jeanne takes all the credit for his making it to the start on time.

Bex is en route but late. We sit in plastic chairs sedately, soaking up the warm rising sun. I am happy to be here where the crowds are thinner and everybody has a friend.

740. Okay Rich is out. Bex is closer but nowhere in sight. Jeanne has come back from an uneventful trip to the port-a-potties. The snipers haven't shot anybody and lots of folks are starting to head down to the start line. I chat with a few Autism benefit runners.

Why am I still here? I still have Mission #2 to accomplish. I call Michelle to see where she is. Approaching the start. I tell her to find a landmark and I'll call her when I get close so we can find each other. I hang up and cuss to myself because the valet failed to charge the cell phone the night before and I am down to one bar. I may need more juice than I have to connect with Michelle now and my host later, after the race. Air time is precious.

750. I take a picture of me and Jeanne from close range just before I say "it's time to go; Bex be damned." She agrees and we start heading down the hill that will be the Iwo Jima mountain for all of us when we finish the last .2 miles of the marathon.

800. We are approaching the front of the double inflatable Marine Corps arch start line. The noise is building. I need to find Michelle so call to get a fix on her location. Near Ambulance 14 on the west side of the road. Roger that.



It was fun running with Michelle for 14+ miles but, after she said goodbye, I shuffled along feeling fine but tired enough to walk a little. Then at mile 25, going down a highway ramp, my right knee said, "NO more running" no matter how much I tried to start up through the pain.
I thought I had an attainable PR (long after I gave up the fantasy medal rounds of 4:15, 4:20 and 4:30). With three miles to go I had a chance. Then I didn't.
It was a beautiful day to race. The course was good throughout. The crowds were awesome.
Best excitement of the race was seeing Eric W. (from RI) twice on the second half of the race who was there cheering on a girl friend; and seeing Susie and David coming off Hains Point. She gave me a hug and took my picture.
Michelle's husband and dad were awesome. They were everywhere and they were prepared with a full game plan of support for Michelle who I admire immensely for her stamina and success today. Ditto to Richie, Bex and Jeanne. Thanks for the comradery.

I'll get that hour later

I am up already, despite the opportunity to have another hour sleep. I am fighting the nerves. Shouldn't this be just like a 23 mile training run? with 3.2 extra? I was composed for that.

And why does Jeanne want to meet at 7 a.m.? The race starts at 8:40.

I have to find Michelle because she is arriving on her own time at a different place. It's these pre-race meet-ups that get complicated and create the anxiety, maybe.


This time tomorrow ....

It will be done.

Today was a beautiful fall day in the nation's capital. I had my host drive me the first 9 miles of the course so I could judge the hills. He offered to make excuses to all of you that, yes, indeed, I did run the race while I slipped away to avoid the hills of Arlington. The first two miles present a 200 foot elevation gain followed by a 3 degree ascent of Rock Creek. By mile 6.5 I will have used hill climbing muscles heretofore untested to such extreme.

Host Gil dropped me off at the Armory to register. The entry line snaked all outside the building. It took 30 minutes to get in but once inside everything went quickly. Running Chick Michelle was already in the Armory with her Army hubby, retired Marine dad and hubby's commanding officer while in Iraq. Only the CO will run the race. Dad and hubby are the elite support team. M and I were excited to see each other and start synching up for the run tomorrow. we have set a 9:45 mile pace as our gold standard. I may talk her down to 9:55 on the watch timer reminder and establish that as the silver medal pace to beat.

I made a technical shirt purchase. They didn't have any of what I wanted in my size so I asked a staff person to check in the back. There were none but he volunteered that that other guy over there might sell me the shirt off his back. In fact he did. So I now own a Staff issue MCM tech shirt. Oo-rah.

We met up with Rich (Plano, TX) at the Armory and called Bex to make lunch plans. We met at a tapas bar in midtown and enjoyed a late lunch and took a bunch more pictures, none of which I can post because the cable doesn't fit in any ports on the Apple. As Michelle reminded me, I am NOT to erase any picture before saving them somewhere. So I am being very careful.

Now it's time to rest and focus on the morning routine. Dinner with some old college mates is still ahead but I am in for the night. And what more can you ask for when you can have an extra hour sleep before a marathon? Sweet.

The forecast is sunny and 46F (feeling like 40) at the start with winds ranging from 15-20 mph all morning. Temps will peak at 56 (feeling like 51). I think I'll be wearing a cap and gloves. In those conditions I may not toss the long sleeve cover for awhile. We'll see.


Okay. I'm here and, yes, it's raining

Air travel today was a marathon all by itself. I mis-timed my parking and shuttle requirements and missed my 745 flight to Cincinnati that would take me to D.C.. Not overreacting, I worked with a kindly flight agent who scarfed up a seat for me the minute it opened on a booked solid flight to Atlanta, which then routed me to Dulles. I made it to DC just at 500 (four hours late) and crossed the finish line into a comfy chair at the Washington Press Club bar where my good host bought me a beer. Ahhhhh.

By 600 I was at Zola's to meet Bex, Jeanne, Susie, Rick and friends for dinner. Much fun and frolic was had by all. A LOT of pictures were taken but I am on borrowed equipment here and haven't figured out the plug ins so you'll have to go to Bex or Jeanne's site for the glorious photos. At dinner I loaded up on Omega 3 with my salmon entree. Yum.

Plan is to meet up at the Expo tomorrow and have lunch or something. Try not to be too touristy on my feet.

Thanks for the good wishes. I feel ready.


Broken training

Today was the first day I skipped in my training for Sunday's marathon. I had to shuttle Mrs. T and two colleagues to the airport at 6 a.m. and everything since then has prevented a short easy 20 minute jog. I consider that a nothing lost skip.

This will be my last post until after the race unless I am fortunate enough to find a computer somewhere (likely) up in DC.


Firing Up

Jeanne fired me up with her last post about the upcoming MCM race. I am feeling good, strong and healthy. My weight has dipped to about where I want it pre-race (151). I cut out the ice cream other fatty items that sneak into my diet. I hold it to one beer a night, no beef, more fruit and copious amounts of pasta/carbos. [Tangential aside: anybody remember rocket-armed outfielder Bernie Carbo with the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox back in the '70s? Hell of an arm and good power.]

My other principal sidekick, Jason, who did make it to Chicago, PRed in 4:26 or something. Now I have a time to shoot for. He had a good time despite some un-Florida-like conditions (low 40s).

Today was the first cold day in Florida. When I went out at 600 to run for 30 minutes I believed it was in the high 50s but it was actually more like 52. Plus Florida cold is colder than the temperature because of the humidity. It is a wet cold that eats through all clothing. I wore shorts, short sleeve shirt and shoes. It took me almost a mile to warm up and my hands were a bit nipped but, by the time I finished, I was toasty. It was a good sampling of the best DC may offer. Given that, I am confident in my planned race kit; but, as Jeanne recommended, I will pack everything, just in case. I am considering cutting the toes out of some tube socks and pulling them over my forearms until I warm up, then tossing them.

I figured out what the third thing is in my 'Marines' experience. As you may have read previously: (1) was the Marine Corps Band, (2) will be the USMC Marathon and (3) turned out to be Flags of Our Fathers, the movie. Powerful and informative. Nevertheless, I am still backing Army in honor of son T.



Record Heat. No Record Run.

I went downtown for my Sunday morning run to find the streets blocked off. Today is the exotic car show. 250 very expensive and quite a few old one-of-a-kind cars have taken over the avenue. I parked right in front of Starbucks and jogged up to where we usually start and found five others waiting to run.

We moved out as the cars were arriving to be parked, polished and judged. When we came back, they were all in position and sparkling.

In the middling time we went out at a slow pace. I set my timer to repeat every 9:45 in hopes of being at mile markers each time it went off. We did fairly well at that. I will do it again next Sunday in DC at the race to keep on pace.

We are having record heat down here. In the 90s again today and just maybe 72 this morning. I sweated like it was August.

Going slow (9:45-10:00) and only ten miles allowed me to get a sense of the pace I want to try and it left me with legs towards the end of the run. I left the pack with about two miles to go and jacked it up to finish just under 10 minutes per mile. Somehow I lost the 9:45 pace but I do not remember when.

Four on Tuesday and four on Thursday is all I have left. Then north to the chilly and wet forecasted DC area to see Bex, Jeanne, Michelle and Susie, among others.

The President's Own

I took in a concert last night at the high school here in town. You know how life comes at you in clusters of three? Well the band in concert was the United States Marine Band, the one that plays for all the White House and other state functions.
They were wearing some mighty sharp uniforms and played with great skill. The audience got very vocal when they played God Bless America as an encore.
So that is Part I of the Few. The Proud. The Marine Corps Marathon is next Sunday. I wonder whether the Marines will pop up in my life again this week or wait until after the race.


Jeffrey all the way

Mrs. T and I watched breathlessly (me anyway) the last installment of Project Runway. I was "breathless" because I was concerned my boastful prediction that Jeffrey would win could cause me ridicule and embarassment over my presumption to know and appreciate fashion better than Mrs. "Fashion" T.

As I watched the show I was liking what Laura did because it was so ritzy. Uli's stuff was impressive and so wearable. I think we all knew Michael was toast about a month ago. He just lost it.

Jeffrey was definitely going where he'd never been before and it actually looked good to me. After following some of the hyperlink threads Jeanne led me down to read an interview with Laura (on a gay site) I was convinced from what I saw and read that Jeffrey would be the winner. I liked the stripes he put on designs very much.

Meanwhile back at the ranch. We had an incident at a high school on Thursday afternoon that resulted in the tragic death of a teen. The principal of the school is the Dave I occasionally train with. He was at the airport ready to board a plane to run the Chicago Marathon this weekend. He was in the concourse and looked at the TV monitor and saw an aerial shot of his high school on CNN and the unfolding story. He kissed his wife and kids goodbye and headed back to school.

We have both been in crisis control mode ever since. It is over for now but, sadly, so are the lives of two kids (one dead, the other in jail), the peace of two families and the innocence of a lot of students. Not nearly as sad but a true bummer is that Dave won't be running Chicago.

I am still hoping all calms down and nothing flares up between now and Marine Corps to sidetrack me.

I had Sherlene work me over Wednesday afternoon as a final tune up. She said my left ITB was tight.

Yesterday morning I overslept because of Project Runway but still got up and ran 8 miles at a slow pace. It took 1:18. I thought about pushing it but, after a massage, I am usually too loose and not tuned for running. After the events of the last 36 hours, I am plenty tight now. We'll see how my last 10 miler goes this weekend.



I love stats. Which is probably why I love speed workouts. So many repeats to measure and compare!

ITEM 1. The last three speed workouts (one a week) have been 6 x 1200, 7 x 800 and 3 x 1600. Varying distances. Varying aggregate lengths. What's unusual is that my pace on all three has been 7:52/mile.

ITEM 2. Today's 3 x 1600s resulted in my fastest 1600 of the year: 7:44.5 in the second interval - that with a bowl of chewed up Cheerios and fruit bouncing around in my belly.

ITEM 3. Evidence above indicates I am getting faster every week. Today's 1600s were 12 seconds faster on average than my last 1600s. In fact, my last 800s were 6 seconds faster than the time before.

I was annoyed this morning when I didn't have a balanced trio of times. The fastest was nine seconds faster than my slowest. I was also mad I didn't close with my fastest time (I was thinking Flipperhead throughout but couldn't quite get there).

I am feeling as though I am peaking for thise race next week. I have the speed. I am more confident about the distance. I am not so sure about negative splits but that will come down to race strategy.

West Point story. Older son T was in Manhattan this weekend seeing a young lady. Walking along Broadway. Upper west side. Old man walks out of a storefront, loses his balance and falls. Head smashes against a bus shelter wall before it bounces on sidewalk. Before he stopped moving T was in action mode, sprinting to nearest store to call 9-1-1. Asks for telephone. Clerk looks quizzically at him as if he doesn't understand the language. T assesses clerk to be Arab. T says "telephone" in Arabic, the foreign language he chose to study this year. Ahhh! Yes! Emergency responders arrive. Man taken care of. Girl friend duly impressed with hero model who acted on instinct, forged on the battlefield and in military training. Hoo-ah! Go Army. Beat Air Force. Beat Navy.


MCM: 27 miles ahead

Friday was such an accomplishment day. I skipped work. That was a big accomplishment. Then I fixed the sprinkler system that would have cost me $500 if I had bought into what that estimator yahoo told me last Friday. I went to the bank. I bought an external wireless adapter so I could get my laptop back connected to you guys (the internal card went out on me). I changed some lightbulbs. Cleaned the pool. Took the car for a wash. Got all my nagging chores done that I never get to on weekends!

Then around 5 o'clock I went over to Mrs. T's museum office and whisked her off to Park Avenue for a sidewalk cafe cocktail and appetizer while the world whizzed by. That was followed by a stroll looking in shops which resulted in a skirt in a shopping bag that was not for me.

Dinner followed in the college dining hall we spent a lot of time in 35 years ago, although it's a new building now. I can remember strutting on the tables back then in the Mr. Legs competition. I won, of course. I think I have a picture somewhere to prove it too.

For my indulgence on this evening, we took in a soccer game won by the hometown boys in the last 90 seconds on a penalty kick.

Running. So many people I saw Friday night asked how I was doing and how my running was going. Mrs. T was quick to tell them I was running 15 miles Saturday morning which I had not committed to do - in my head. I was thinking more Sunday when I'd see the usual crowd. I had no "date" for Saturday.

When I got up today I thought of Flipperhead racing in Hartford so wistfully imagined I might catch some of her good vibes. I was not really mentally psyched to go but I did anyway. Breakfast was quick. I read Dianna's blog and the WTIC Hartford radio web page. With my cooler packed, I headed out the door. It was about 10 miles later that I realized I forgot to Body Glide my nipples. Ouch.

My goal was to try throttling down my pace, as if it were the first 15 miles of the marathon. After last week, I knew I was going too fast. I was concentrating on keeping my shoulders low and my left arm to be more the leader arm moving forward instead of the one that veered across my chest.

I caught myself dragging rubber too often and picked up my feet more. Then I caught myself running in the yellow zone, above the green (that's tachometer talk right there). The left arm was hitching too high and inwards. I basically examined my mechanics for a good portion of the run. My goal was about 2:30 for the 15 miles.

I pulled in at 2:26 which was faster than everything I have done to this point in long runs which may explain why I am stiff and dragging today. I did not finish in a flurry but I was certain I had some left. It may not have been at a satisfactory pace but I am pretty sure I could have gone 26.2 if necessary.

I realize I am not in peak shape like coach jeff would have me if I was his client but I am in better shape than I had me back in January. This marathon training is like anything else. A little experience can make a world of difference in the training and mental approach.

Next tasks to tackle: enduring the taper, estimating the weather conditions for DC at the end of October, packing right and eating right.


Training is habit forming

The running routine is medicinal or addictive. I haven't decided which. Maybe that's what Runner Susan lacks: the strong addiction.

Tuesday was, as always, a delightful speed work day. I popped out seven 800s at a 10 second per mile pace better than the last time I did 800s; around 3:50 each. After doing the 23 on Sunday I thought I'd be stressed and unable to go. How wrong. I was raring to go.

This morning I only had a measly four miles to run at tempo pace so I just zoomed through that in short order. It was the second fastest tempo pace of the year for me.

I remember in January when I was less than three weeks out from running Miami and I had so many issues. This time around I am just feeling great with no sore spots, health, equipment or life issues.

The Friday night get together with RBF Washington is coming together thanks to Bex. My hosts are cued in and ready to have some fun, even join us for dinner. Another old college acquaintance will come over to see me. Susie and David are coming up from F-burg.

This is going to be fun so long as the Marines don't shoot me for wearing my West Point-Army shirt.


Glad to get that behind me

Thursday was a 5-mile tempo run. I smoked it in a top 3 time.

Today I approached my last long run as if it were race day by wearing the same outfit I'll race in. I blew the breakfast part when I had cereal instead of a bagel with my secret blueberry jam. No matter. I loaded up the cooler with water and Powerade; planting it behind the wall where I usually stash it.

The plan was to run eight miles at 515, solo in the dark , but by the light of a Grove Dock full moon. I ran in reverse direction for the similar leg scheduled at 700. I flew around the town, only seeing two groups out early. My pace turned out to be a too fast 9:15.

Back near home I rehydrated and headed for downtown. I realized I would be too early, given as how I'd gone out too fast, so I put an extra mile on the run, getting me up to 11 before meeting up with the Sunday crowd.

I had never seen so many show up on a Sunday. There were ten of us! I urged them to start up so that I could keep the juices flowing. It did not take long before I was ahead of them all with Tim by my side. He's running NY and had been out two weeks with the flu.. This was his first day back and he was only going 12.

We covered the six miles he needed to finish his 12 at a 9:30 pace. From there on I was on my own. I kept at the Gu and drinks along the route. When I hit 17-18 miles my legs started to tire. My pace downshifted. I had to deal with it mentally as if it were MCM and not Miami. None of my muscles was ripping although I had occasional cramps in my feet. They subsided as I pushed on back downtown. Finally there, I had another 10 in the books.

Could I make it home for another two miles? Well yes but it wasn't pretty. I realized that stopping is a bad idea. When I did, for water late in the run, I figured a way to get back up to running without hurting myself.

The first 20.9 miles was 3:24.22. With the last of it I was home in 3:46.37. Average pace of 9:56. Michelle - I went out too fast. We need to save ourselves for the end. Okay?


Addicted, loose and injury free

Tuesday I woke up before 500 and was ready to run. I am getting addicted to this stuff. I keep waking up early, wanting to run. I had some breakfast - I do not skip those anymore - and jogged up to the track for some 6 x 1200s.
The Marathonfesters were there in full force doing 8-10 x 800s. Many of them are ready to taper for Chicago or are close to peak conditioning for another fall race. The moonless dark scene was full of anxiety, speed, limping, sweating, gossiping and comradery.
They're not my crowd but I know some of them. One fellow who's son runs cross country asked if I wanted to join him with his buddy for some 800s. He said they were pacing at 4:15. I knew he was training for his first marathon with some trepidation so I opted to decline because I was running 1200s. I refrained from telling him I like to do my 800s in 3:50 or less.
Still, he jazzed me up. My first 1200 went down in 5:39. Geez, I had five to go.
They got progressively slower and I averaged 5:53 for the six pack, topping at 6:04.
By the end of the day it was time to go for a massage. I had added this one into my schedule because I was so cramped up and sore two weeks ago. To my credit I stretched it all out and nothing really hurt when Sherlene layed into me. I have to say, though, I was ready. Everything she did was like a Christmas present I always wanted. Every touch made me relax and go "mmmmmmm."
She told me I was in pretty good condition, well hydrated and had only one spot to be concerned about, where the quad connects to the knee on my left side. If I stretch right I'll be right.
Thursday was a 5-miler with a few Florida hills (not much higher than speed bumps). I warmed up slowly, listening to all my joints crack - something that happens to me after a massage. I am too loose. By the end I was cruising. I covered it in less than 44 minutes which I never did late in my training last January.
Back then I was fighting through all kinds of muscle issues and barely winning the training war. I won that one but lost the marathon. I expect better in DC. Hoo-ah.


Fooled you. Fooled me.

I went to bed at 10 last night after a light dinner with some noodles in it. I figured sleeping in would be nice.

4 a.m. I am awake. I kept my eyes closed until 430 and decided time was a-wastin'. I got up to run.

I moved quickly to be across town by 530. Dress. Eat. Pack Gatorade and water on ice. Drive. I arrived before Jason came outside and David arrived. These guys ran Miami with me in January and will run Chicago in three weeks. I was gambling that Jason - the precision expert - would know exactly when I could drop off from their 20-miler and get my 15 in. He sure did.

We moved out in the dark on two 8-mile loops of College Park in Orlando. Jason is in better condition than the last time I saw him. Dave is the firebrand rabbit he always is. To my advantage neither one of them was going to outrun me today because they had four extra miles to do after the two loops.

We disected all things related to public schools, other principals who run, the rise in real estate listings and marathon prep. The water stops worked out well. The construction port-a-potties were in the right place for one of us who ate a lot last night.

Last week when I ran two 10-mile loops with Sue I suggested we run the second loop in reverse, which made the scenery very different. Jason and Dave bought into the same suggestion today and it was a welcome variation, in my opinion.

In the last mile I was feeling very peppy - as if I could go the 20 with them with no trouble. Then I thought about how training is designed to prep you for the race, not tomorrow's training run. So - I told Jason and Dave I was going to turn it up on the way back to the corral. They said go for it.

It was awesome. I moved out, turning my legs over faster and stretching my stride. I had all the stamina I needed and, in about 3/4 of a mile, I put a minute between me and the guys; and I could have still gone on.

Jason said it was 16 miles. He said our time was 2:45, more than 10:00/mile, but about 15 seconds faster than on last week's 20. Which remnds me ... something I remember from last Saturday with Sue was the quiet synchonized pace we kept. For long periods our footfalls were identical in the early morning whispers of a waking town. I marvelled at the sense of common purpose and effort.

I went with the new Kayanos today, favoring them for race day too. What I have to do is stay out of the old shoes. Nothng hurts and Sherlene will make it even better on Tuesday.