Somebody sign Chicago up for some mojo lessons

Everybody tells me what a great race Chicago is. They say the crowds are great. The course is flat and nice. The restaurants are superb. It's well organized. I'll love it, etc. Well, so far, my expectations are going to be easily exceeded.

I read through the race confirmation booklet last night which I thought would inspire me. To the contrary, I felt like I was reading the high school Student Code of Conduct with the applicable punishments for everything that could possibly happen after some miscreant soiled the exhaustive repetitive rules and regulations. I was cringing at how anal it came across. I kept remembering how the New York handbook was informative without finger-wagging.

Wait. What is the race condition at the moment? Are we in a code yellow all over town because of rain?

I was really galled when it said nobody should be on the course offering any food or drink other than that provided by the race. Sure, some risk management lawyer is covering their butt over somebody getting sick for God knows what reason; but good grief. My most memorable marathon race moments include the infamous red cups at Miami, Marine Corps, and Georgia; the paper cup from a resident who shared pineapple slices at mile 18 in New York; the bottle of water in Georgia from a neighborhood group when there was no water from the race because the organizers were unprepared; the pretzels from fans in Arlington late in the Marine Corps race.

I hope it gets better than this. I don't like the Chicago race planners right now. Their booklet was all the fine print blown up to bum us out. I expected a positive welcoming message. It wasn't there.


Feeling it some more

I decided to start tapering today.

My training plan had been for a 19-miler this weekend but I broke it down into the 15K race yesterday and a simple 10-miler this morning. It was nice to sleep in and drive to downtown and not have to run my way there and back.

I still had plenty of that pep from yesterday. I was all over the charts in mile splits; everywhere from 9:03 to 11:07. I averaged 9:41 which is still pretty good for the day after pounding it during a race. The drier and slightly cooler weather is a positive factor. No more heaving heat prostrations.

I found myself running with different people this morning. I started with Father Jack for the first half mile; then there was Cathy W. for mile 2 who just happened to be out on the roads at the same time as me. She used to be really good (BQ good) until breast cancer. I ran with Tim and an Englishman from Nottingham who lost 100 pounds to run his first marathon recently in the Robin Hood Marathon. I like the sound of that one. Then there was the college girl from South Florida who's running Chicago; and Rusty the entrepreneur anatomist/alchemist.

Christy and Chris stuck together. Christy lambasted my erratic paces but I couldn't help myself.

I did vow to not let these fasty race paces influence my pace plans for Chicago. Sure as shootin' I'll go out too fast and burn up. Susan, put a bit in my mouth and hold me back.

After running. Mrs. T had the brilliant idea to go to the beach this afternoon; and so we did. Our favorite beach at the Canaveral National Seashore was closed because the drawbridge was broken. It's the only way over.

So we went to Cocoa Beach and mixed with the rest of humanity, ugly as so much of it is. Regardless, any day at the beach beats chores at home.


Good News Thrice Over

1. The day after I pondered what to pack for Chicago and remarked that it hadn't dropped below 70 since whenever - it was 66 when I went out to run Thursday. It was windy enough that I actually went back inside and dusted off a shirt to wear. It was a most pleasant tempo run of 4.7 miles at a 9:30 pace.

2. Friday I lamented to Mrs. T that Runner Susan had an e-mail confirmation and her race packet from Chicago already and I hadn't heard anything from them at all. "Yes you did," she said pulling some three day old mail out from under a pile she had started on the front table. Mrs. T doesn't know it but she earned 4 demerits for sitting on mail for two days and not saying anything. I mean she KNOWS we're going to Chicago; and I MIGHT be interested in any mail that comes from there. That's enough .......

3. I ran the Miracle Miles 15K this morning and it was a perfect high 60s kind of day with low humidity; a day you find around here in September about as often as Bin Laden is sighted.

One of my school principal runner friends asked what I would be shooting for. I said 9:15 miles, keeping expectations low. She told the others int he group I was fast so I dutifully excused myself and moved towards the front of the starting chute.

With 1,100 racers and from near 100 feet behind the start line, I took off at the gun to find to my utter amazement there were no slowpokes to weave around. I followed a few fasties across Orange Avenue and up Wisteria Ave, turning on Copeland Drive - right in front of our home from the 1980s (a Spanish Mediterranean two-story jewel on the lake and historic register).

I was pleased with my pace on the first mile (8:43) although the Garmin told me the mile was long by a little bit. I had said 9:15 pace to my friend but I really wanted to be doing 9:00s - or better. The second mile at 8:49 made me think many possibilities lay ahead of me.

I felt compelled and succeeded to drop into a steady pace without chasing anybody. I concentrated on keeping my breathing regular and my legs and arms going only forward and backwards - no drifting off a straight line or cross-body pumping. Miles 3-6: 8:55, 8:57, 9:05, 9:04. Nice.

Approaching the water stop at miles six I ate a Shot Blok and some golden raisins. By the time I reached the tables I was ready for a wash down with Powerade. I drank some at every stop, only slowing slightly.

Miles 7-9 are where rabbits go to die. I feared a loss of power, mental will and stamina. I worked to keep my stride correct and I found myself just gliding. I kept calming my breathing down so not to overwork. I was feeling very confident and after the first six miles in sub-9:00 pace, I had a notion about PR-ing when I was knocking off 8:53, 8:44 and another 8:44.

We ran by my old house again and the last three-tenths to the finish line. I crossed in 1:22:23 and knew I was sub 9:00 and thinking I might have PRed. I hardly felt spent.

I enjoyed the runner comradery and post-race snacks; saw my neighbor who finished third overall in the women's race. She was complaining about not beating the 2nd place person (she lost by eight seconds) so decided to run home from the race to be mad with herself. That was a good post-race 6.5 mile punishment. I picked up her 3rd place medal and prizes at the awards ceremony.

My time was a PR, by 2:03. I finished 7th in my age group out of 28, and 400th overall.

My reward? I have to go mow the grass and pull some weeds.


I can't remember

The last time I ran wearing a shirt was April. It hasn't been below 70 in forever. What the heck will it be like in Chicago? Maybe I'll pack gloves.


Do you believe in Parrotts?

My Parrott Predictor says I'll be around 4:40 in Chicago. I have never found the PP to be right but that was when I ran lesser distance long runs. Maybe this time it will be more accurate. That would be nice. It would make me smile and keep Runner Susan happy too.

Date Week Total Miles Parrott Prediction
Jun-30 27 17.7
Jul-7 28 25.0
Jul-14 29 30.1 4:39:14
Jul-21 30 32.2 4:42:22
Jul-28 31 38.5 4:21:47
Aug-4 32 41.4 4:32:41
Aug-11 33 33.2 4:37:01
Aug-18 34 33.8 5:02:33
Aug-25 35 34.0 4:30:53
Sep-1 36 39.6 4:32:56
Sep-8 37 29.9 4:49:37
Sep-15 38 35.1 4:45:27

I have been experimenting with three pairs of shoes on my last three long runs. I have three more intermediate distances to do including a 15k on Saturday. Each is auditioning for Chicago.

The favorite right now is a 10.5 Kayano (320 miles) that I raced in in Ft. Lauderdale. I have some 10.5 Asics 2180s with cushioned in soles (148 m.) that I wore Sunday with all the problems with hip, ankle and toes. Finally I have a new pair of size 11 Kayano 14s (38 miles) which have the necessary toe box space but feel big anyway. The 14s in 10.5 were too tight.

Anxiety. Somehow Runner Susan already received an e-mail confirmation and heads up about the Chicago race packet coming by mail. I haven't seen a thing but I refuse to go back and check to see if I am still registered on line. I know they're saving the best for last.

Mapping. Maddy created a map on Google of the race route, a targeted Italian restaurant for Saturday night the 11th, and all the known lodging addresses of RBFers running Chi-town. All my brother-in-law, a former resident of Chicago, can talk about is getting in on the lottery for Cubs play-off tickets, which could coincide with the race. If the Cubs don't get that far, maybe the Southsiders from the junior circuit in white stockings will be playing. He didn't mention them.

Training intervals. I did 7x800s this morning just to see how everything worked after Sunday's breakdown. Things were stiff but loosened up by the time I was done. My intervals were slow but went from 4:38 through 4:21, a few 4:15s to a final 4:01. Through noon, things are healing up. That PR on Saturday may be a push but I will give it a try.


20 is enough

Somewhere in the execution of today's 26 mile run today I made a mistake.
It could have been what I didn't eat last night.
Or what I did eat.
It wasn't the first eight miles that clicked off nicely at even splits from 10:45-11:15.
It very well might have been miles 9 and 10 when I joined my Sunday bunch and got caught up in their freshness (10:15 and 9:34).
I remember attacking a hill with too much gusto.
Mile 11-14 were okay at 10:30 paces.

Then my left hip started hurting. I crumbled through miles 15-18 at a halting pace accompanied by Chris and Christy. After 18 miles I turned off for my final eight, a reversal of the earlier morning jaunt. Then my hip and gasping lungs asked me to slide by the house for some Zip Fizz .... before taking a six mile loop around Baldwin Park.

By the time I reached the Zip Fizz I was 0.2 miles from my house and I said better to heal and run tomorrow than die today and regret it.

I have managed five 20 milers through this training run-up and I know I can go the distance. It just didn't have to be today. In three weeks it matters. In Chicago.

Notes. Christy took a wrong turn again this morning or else Father Jack had a bout of sometimers. They both turned into a cul de sac around mile 9 ... I signed up for a 15K race next Saturday. I am going for a PR if my hip loosens up ... I see Julie to work on it on Wednesday.

In remembrance. This afternoon I attended a memorial service. Think back to your college days. You must have had that one professor who turned the lights on for you in your head, right? I bounced through three majors before finding an inspirational man who sucked me into the study of philosophy and religion. It taught me how to think and write. Dean Wettstein was my hero. He even co-officated at my wedding (we had a triple-header). He died in May and today was his memorial service at the college. Nobody cried. We all nodded our heads ... remembering all that he meant to us. Thanks Arnie.


24 days to go

I watched a video of the Chicago course tonight for the first time on Maddy's blog. It's flat; yes indeed.
I wrote Maddy and her clan of bloggers about plotting our Chicago in-residence locations on a Google map so we all know where we are. Maddy's working on it.
I wrote my barely-40 brother-in-law to see what his plans are for Chicago. He lived there once so I am counting on him for inside intel and advice.
I called Runner Susan to talk about lodging and dining and whatever else pops into our heads.
I showed Mrs. T where the museums are on a Google map so she can plan her marathon.
I watched Runner Susan's hilarious Leg Torture #15 without the legs.
I ran an easy four miles this morning after some truly grueling 6x1200s yesterday. Those are the worst but my best was the last one.
I started plotting my food and beverage intakes between now and Sunday's final 26 mile long training run.
I checked to make sure for the third time that I am registered for the race.
I am feeling fit, confident, healthy and ready.
24 days to go.


A short 19.6 mile day

Today was a near repeat of last Sunday's run but for a few high/low lights.

I was late arriving at Park Avenue to meet the Team at 7:00 a.m. I could see them a quarter mile off the start line when I arrived. I took too long eating my bagel and reading the paper at 5 a.m. before knocking off the first 8.5 miles.

I skipped the third mile leg so that I was ahead of the Team at Mile 3. Lytle was the first to come up on me, running with someone I did not know. She mentioned something about spelling her name right on the blog. I got it!

At the 4-mile water stop I caught Lytle and waited on Father Jack, Chris, Christy, Marty and Juergen. We partook of much Gatorade stashed by Jack and other running groups before wandering off to run some more.

Everybody peeled off to run 7 or fewer miles except Chris and Christy again. Now I felt normal. Christy couldn't remember the blog url last week. Maybe now she's on. Christy was directionally challenged a few times today too, not that she hasn't run the course a time or two. Maybe she gets a pass because she's an actress.

I had to stop to re-tie my shoe late in the 16th mile and found a fountain of speed when I restarted. Christy and Chris were complaining for a whole mile. That's how far it was despite the fact I forgot to start my watch again after re-tying the shoe. Thank goodness for Google pedometer.

From the Park Avenue finish line I only had the short two miles home to complete my 19 target miles. I made it without walking other than as scheduled. My pace was under 11:00 for the whole length. It turned out to be 19.6 altogether.


The frog croaked

Tuesday I did 12x400s which went better than last time. Most were around 1:50 with the first and last the best, down around 1:45. I believe I have developed some stamina that should make Chicago seem like nothing worse than a day at the dentist.

While stretching after my intervals yesterday I managed to wrench my back, which hurt until this afternoon. I conveniently had a date with my new girl, Julie, who gave me 90 minutes of purposeful massage. It was delightful. Though, I have to say, a "routine" massage isn't nearly as dramatic a sensation as that one in a blue moon massage that reveals all the crinks and creaks you thought you had but weren't sure 'til it was artfully revealed on the table.

Last night was a tough one for sleeping. After all the tropical storm rains we've had, the critters have been restless. In our case the critters are Cuban tree frogs that come around at night and sit on the lip of our pool - right outside our bedroom window - and start ribbiting up a storm. Needless to say, sleep is not a simple thing under such circumstances. Fortunately for me, I can sleep through most of it unless I am otherwise awakened; as usually happens when Mrs. T is disturbed, which usually results in everyone knowing she is disturbed.

If proper preparations are made the croaking will cease after a little good night hunting. Mrs. T keeps a baggy in the bedroom and if those noisy toe suckers start clucking she goes out there with a flashlight and catches them in her bag, twists the bag up into a knot and, without ceremony, deposits them in the freezer. That not only shuts them up but it is said to painlessly prevent them from ever ribbitting again. Ah, life in the Florida wilderness. It takes a hunter's heart to live down here.


Deploying counter-measures

First off ... a big welcome to any Sunday run lurkers making a visit to the site. You can comment anonymously and I will not know who did it ... except, by what you write, I can pretty much guess who you are ... Chris.

Today's long run of 24 miles loomed in my head like a race distance that needed some attention; as in let's rehearse what we do on marathon race day. That started Saturday by not running and floating in the pool. Sadly the floating part didn't start until 4 p.m. after hacking the yard into shape with the hedge trimmers for a few hours.

I insisted that Mrs. T whip up some pasta for dinner and she delivered very well with some spaghetti and meatballs with salad that tasted mighty fine. I was full, especially after a bowl of fatten-me-up cherry vanilla ice cream ... with dark chocolate syrup. Ummmmn.

I slipped into bed at 8 p.m., read for an hour, then snoozed 'til 4:30. I got up, made it out onto the road by 5:30, set a heading to loop Lake Ivanhoe in Orlando, snake back up through College Park, turn at the Church of the Right Turn and make it to Park Avenue by just before 7:00. Mission accomplished with three minutes to spare. 8 miles in the book with 16 to go.

The Sunday morning con-run-gation was larger than usual with Father Jack leading us in spiritual remembrance of the sweat we were about to break. Ed was back again. Wendy and Mr. soon-to-be-wed-to-Wendy made an appearance for the first time in forever. The lovely Lytle graced us with a return engagement after many weeks away. Chris and Christy were on hand as they have been religiously for many weeks. Those who skipped will not be defamed today. I'll give them until next week.

The run had its moments. Everyone stuck together as I reprised the Zola Budd low-key race appearance again, this time with more details from the race director. Then Ed, Chris and Lytle took off after a mile. I stuck with Jack, Christy and the Wendys. Then an orange-clad sprite of a runner closed on us from behind. Kelly was seeking Chris and the Sunday run crowd. I pointed him out, way ahead of us, so she and I ran together to the four mile water stop.

Kelly ran NYC last fall, as did I, but her experience was nowhere near satisfying. At the park where there's water (is that a water park?) we stopped, talked with Chris, Ed and Lytle, waited on Jack & Co., then drank all his cooler full of Gatorade. The mandatory walk block allowed Ed to recount for all his harrowing exploits as owner/prosecutor of a Bridgeport, CT bus company that the employees turned into a late night chop shop.

At the five mile mark Lytle, Kelly and Ed went short, down Mizell and home. M&M Wendy had fallen off or turned back. Christy, Chris, Jack and I pushed on. I was at mile 13 on my clock.

Somewhere along the way Chris started talking about the hockey mom VP candidate and politics. I listened until he asked what I thought of her and the presidential race. I find Palin palatable until I look at her record; and then I shared with them the insights I had found in a book called the Swamp, a history of the events and politics surrounding the development of Florida. It's all about the water folks; and politicians (mostly Republicans) have rarely shown any serious concern for the environment, hence my inclination to vote Democrat.

I was practicing my race strategy today of running a mile then walking for a minute. It was allowing me to do 11 minute miles which is a little above my race goal but below my worst race paces. It was another scorcher out there with a lot of sun. I was managing fluid intake pretty well. On the 10-mile course there was Jack's Gatorade, a water cooler at mile 5, my ZippFizz at mile 6.7, a cooler of blue Gatorade at mile 8 (the best!) and the water fountain at Rollins at mile 9.3. The run-walk pattern held up well for me.

In keeping with my race day strategy I decided I needed to practice deployment of counter-measures to Runner Susan's hard-body preparations for Chicago. Damn those plates. She's going to be running the whole damn way. I know it.

It was in New York that I had my best race and it was partly thanks to Susan that I did so well. Around mile 19 she gave me an over-the-counter pain reliever so today, at mile 16, I took one too. If I can't feel the pain, I can keep up with her in Chicago.

At Rollins I said goodbye to Chris and Christy then headed on the lonely last leg of my run. I had 18 done and six to go. I managed to keep up the run a mile/walk a minute routine until I hit the wide-open spaces of Baldwin Park. Their trees are not mature enough to provide shade so I wilted and took two walk breaks each mile for the last three miles. Thanks to a stop at Seth's house at mile 20, I took on 12 needed ounces of orange Gatorade.

I finished the 24 miles in 4:26, lost five pounds, yet felt good enough to walk the dogs after I took on fluids and a pool dunk. I have a good food plan working: English muffin with jelly and peanut butter before I run and bacon-egg-cheese English muffin sandwich afterwards, plus yogurt.

Five weeks until the race and one more practice run at race distance in two weeks. Yes - a 26 mile training run. We'll see how that goes. 40 miles this week. 100 to go.

[Jeanne - yeah, I know. This is a tome but I was inspired. It was almost race recap distance.]

Post script - picked up #1 son from airport tonight. He came back from a wedding he was in in Rock City, Illinois. Turns out the bride had just raced in New Haven where she won the 20K national championship. She was a star at U. of Georgia back in the day, as was her groom. I've run New Haven - twice! Jon, Bill J. and Dianna were there this year. Nice race.