Weather changes

Sunday turned out to be a beautiful morning to run. It was 62 at 7 a.m. and the crowd on Park Avenue was unlike it's ever been. The regular guys (Chris, Jack and Ed) were there plus Christy but then there were not one but four other women! The guys were actually outnumbered.

I ran eight miles at a 10 minute mile pace in negative splits. The first four I ran with Ed and caught up on his latest travails in the bus transportation business (not so good things going on there) although Ed is the model of a good honest citizen. He just can't rely on many who work in the business. Ed and I pushed a good pace while Chris and Jack got all chatty with the ladies back behind us.

At the four mile fluid stop we downed Gatorade and water. Defying the usual protocol, everyone started running in the no-run zone (5o yards long). I scolded them all to stop but Jack, the eldest statesman and historian of the Orlando Runners Club, corrected me saying when the temperatures fall into the 60s running is allowed. You can learn something every Sunday with this group but I suspect Jack changes the rules whenever it suits him. After all, he is the master of short cuts along the course.

Once we resumed pace I stuck with Christy who was logging her final "long" run prior to running the New York Marathon this Sunday. She has devotedly done her mileage and is fit and ready to rock New York. I gave her my recollections of the course and encouraged her to memorize all the roads and turns so she doesn't fall victim to mental delusion in the later miles. We pushed the pace down into the 9s over the last two miles and came in very strong.

I felt fantastic afterwards and went home to plot my next race and training schedule. Over the rest of the year I am planning a 5K, a 10K/5K double and a half marathon. Past that I am looking at the Gasparilla Marathon in Tampa on March 1. About 1,000 run the full down there and I know some folks in the bay area. It was there, at Gasparilla, that I ran my first "away" race, doing their 15K in 2005. It's crazy how nervous I was back then.



My age adjusted Chicago Marathon time did not break four hours like I wish i had: 4:07:54.88 .

Barack and Hillary were at my place last Monday. Big rally right outside our school board building in front of the arena. I have pictures, just not here. It was quite huge with 40,000 or so on hand. The superintendent let district staff leave at 3 p.m. since those who were leaving needed to get out before the roads closed down. I alternated between watching it all from an eighth floor window and the street.

I ran 4.75 miles this morning at a 10 minute pace. I felt really good afterwards. I am hungry for some more miles tomorrow. I need to load in a training schedule for upcoming 5K, 10K and half marathons this fall.


What's next?

Next involved running some more. I started with a slow test-them-out week of three runs of two, four and six miles. The six hurt after mile 5 as my left knee and right ITB talked to me. I haven't tested them since.
After my first two-miler I went to see Julie for the toxic waste dump massage. Oh, she hurt so good. I was tighter and more sore than I realized and she did me a world of good.
This week has been about tending to medical and dental maintenance that I had deferred until after the Chicago race. So far, all healthy and fit.

So what's next on the race circuit? My agent, Runner Susan, says I should run White Rock (Dallas) in eight weeks or Austin next year. She wants me to come her way for a change. I'd love to but, as I might have mentioned, Mrs. T allowed #1 son to sign up for a three week economics course in January - in Greece. Cha-ching. I have grounded my race tourism for a little while and will stick to local 5Ks and 10Ks; plus the OUC Half Marathon in December. That'll keep me working.

P.S. Go you Rays! You beat my former favorite team, the Red Sox (1967-May 2008), and now face my one-year-wonder favorite team, the Phillies (1964).


Chicago Marathon weekend through the lens

Mrs. T and I enjoyed the Art Institute of Chicago

I also enjoyed a wonderful evening and meal at Mia Francesca with Runner Susan & Michael; and Rich & Katy who picked the restaurant.

I loved the pace tattoos they used in Chicago. If you ran your pace you wear it for a week as a badge of honor. If you stunk it up, you scrub like crazy to get it off.

Mrs. T's brother Rich ran his first marathon. I am sure he caught the bug and will be doing another one soon

We had beers and burgers at the outside grill underneath Cloud Gate (the bean) after the race.


Chicago tidbits

My greatest reward from the race is still on my right forearm. Nike and Chicago offered race pace tattoos which went on very easily race morning. It is still on my arm and other folks' arms unless they used industrial strength tattoo remover. I am still proud to wear it even though I missed the 4:45 goal. In the heat I was happy with having been close.

My marathon photos arrived in my inbox. About 22 of them. None with Runner Susan in the frame! All were after I shed my shirt so they hide few details of of my manly frame. Right. Hey, the tan looks good. Many were taken when I knew there was a camera, hence the smile and lively step in those. The others where I did not anticipate the lens were more honest.

I loved the food I ate in Chicago. Two dinners were superb. One at 457 Rush at 45 7 Rush Street (Go figure!); and the other Mia Francesca on Clark up in Wrigleyville. On the former, I credit the awning that touted martinis and steaks. That's what Mrs. T wanted before she went in. She had chicken. I had Canadian wild salmon to die for.

On the latter, credit goes to BIL Rich for making the bold decision for all of us on where to have our pre-race carbo loading. The rigatoni was excellent. We had reservations for 5 p.m. We arrived and met Runner Susan outside. The place was locked up and we were a long way from our hotels. Right at 5 p.m. the place opened and it filled up within 10 minutes, I swear. Very popular and good pasta.

The post-race cheeseburger and pint of beer at the Millennium Park Grill under the silver bean were just fine in a great atmosphere. Nothing gourmet about it but it was a nice sunny day after a grueling morning. Anything tasted good and the company was super.

I liked the Chicago subways. I know all the Red Line stops now.

The Art Institute was very nice. I was on my feet staring at awesome art for far too long on Saturday but it was worth it. We had lunch at the cafe there too. Mrs. T loves museum galleries, cafes and gift shops. I'm good with the first two.

Runner Susan has a great hubby. Michael is very good for her and to her. We should all be happy for them, celebrating their anniversary by driving the 531 hours from Dallas to Chicago and back with his bike in their back seat. He even gives her training massages. I gave Mrs. T a quick glance when that fact was revealed. Still no chance.

If you are out of work - or close - I thought of a guaranteed job for life while I was in Chicago: exterior skyscraper window cleaner. That work never ends.

Mrs. T paid $16 a jar for "special" sea salt at Fox & Obel. She bought two. I bought a Nike running top in a very bright blue color at the expo for $55. The expo was big, well laid out and I didn't browse like I usually do. I went Friday, found commemorative race gear in all sizes, then left. We were hungry. Going to the expo on Friday is a big plus. It gets it out of the way and leaves Saturday wide open.

photos tomorrow without any double chin shots of Runner Susan.


I ran the race for which I trained

Chicago did well to over-prepare after last year's debacle. It was unseasonably warm again. The race started with temps in the high 60s and quickly zoomed through the 70s and into low 80s. I saw one bank sign that read 87F but it was officially a high of 84F.
It was sunny and steamy. I stripped off my shirt at mile 4 and gave it to Mrs. T the one and only time we were able to see each other. I picked up a good suntan. Essentially, I was running in the conditions I trained in: hot Florida-like and a flat course.
I ran the first half of the race with Runner Susan at about a 10:40 pace. I was carrying her zip bag of race needs in my pocket while she carried her cell phone. I figured that was how I'd keep her with me and I near her at an affordable pace.
She asked for her bag of stuff around mile 14. I thought she just wanted to take something but once I handed it to her she said she didn't want to hold me up. The heat was starting to get to her and was sounding concerned.
I kept with her for another 2-3 miles and finally heeded her last words, "I'll be right behind you," and kept going. Fortunately for Susan, she finished with a tough 5:11 time while hundreds of others logged DNFs in this one.
I soldiered on the last 10 miles feeling decent. It seemed much like a training run but for all the course adjustments I had to make dodging walkers and slower runners. Despite my official pace it sure seemed like I was passing a lot of folks. The aid stations were always backed up and I walked through many of them after 20 miles.
Hoses were on everywhere. They were handing out cups of ice which I used on the usual cool-down spots. Then I remembered how a colleague at work had a 104F fever two weeks ago and how they cooled him down in the hospital so I tried it myself. It couldn't hurt right? Down the shorts went a cup of ice and I have to say, that is an effective method of recovering from the heat flashes.
In mile 21 I had another Cliff Shot Blok and some golden raisins. A spectator offered orange slices. I had a little surge where I stretched it out. By the 23rd mile though I was miffed because the 4:45 pacers passed me. I knew I couldn't keep up with them. I was running half miles then walking a minute (or more in the aid stations).
Michigan Avenue was the home stretch. The road was wide. The course was more open. The final turn at mile 26 had huge crowds. Up the bridge to Grant Park and running strong across the finish line, I logged a 4:52:29 with which I am quite content, given the conditions.

In the next few posts I imagine I will reflect on the more memorable things from Chicago. We had a good time; had dinner with the Runner Susans and the couple from Schneiderville, Mrs. T's brother and SIL. This is all for now. Time for breakfast.


For those scoring at home

You can sign up to follow me and 44,999 of my closest friends - including steroid paper plate junkie Runner Susan - as we run the Chicago Marathon Sunday morning. Go here to sign up for text messaging, e-mails or pager alerts. Last name - Thomas. First name - David. Bib: 20474.

The race starts at 8 a.m. Chicago time.

I went back to look at my training prep for New York last year. What did I notice? I ran a few more miles this year than last but at a more than marginally slower pace. I didn't want to know that but I do now, so I am anxious about what pace Susan and I will settle on. She thinks she's going to PR by 30 minutes on the course she PRed a few years ago. I'm not so sure.

Weather forecast is now for warm weather: 60s and 70s. In fact, we're in ALERT LEVEL YELLOW-MODERATE danger status. Back up the Gatorade truck.


Worry time, right?

I am starting to worry about those "micro-tears" in my muscles that may not heal by Sunday. What can I do? What happens if they go macro on me?

I slept great last night, in my own bed, especially after Mrs. T got up early to deal with a headache. The problem is getting good sleep the rest of the week. Why?

The Rays are in the A. L. Championship Series!!!!!!

Because they'll be on TV and I will be watching. Clearly there will be no baseball fans left in Chicago.


Great Getaway

I haven't seen any kiddy field trips since I arrived in St. Augustine. That's a plus. It is a small scale historic enclave on its own inlet, near the beach. The tourists are light this time of year so it's quite pleasant. Mrs. T calls it a bohemian sort of place, in the vein of Key West. I must say I haven't walked by or seen so many embracing couples in the middle of an alley or looking out over the water. Must be a popular romantic destination.

I partook of the museum activities but most enjoyed going for an eight and 10-mile run yesterday and today. Each time I crossed the Bridge of Lions, ran by the renowned St. Augustine lighthouse ("allegedly" haunted), and down the quiet, secluded road into Anastasia State Park. It's a two-mile road that ends at the beach. The sand dunes are full of sea oats. The waves were rolling in. There were maybe 4-6 people as far as the eye could see as I ran along the beach for another mile. Sunrise was very cool.

I am done running "long" until this time next week. Forecast for Chicago is a race morning 46F and a high of 64F. I expect Cubs fans will still be hiding in their closets, unless the White Sox fans push them out for their own miserable off-season. Go Rays! I want to hear more cowbells!


Somebody stop me

Since I vented about the authorities who I will avoid in Chicago I did some decent 3x1600 repeats on Tuesday then spent the rest of the day dreaming about seeing Julie for a massage at 4 p.m. She did for me everything I needed, especially when she announced with a few meaningful pressure moves that my left side had "issues."

We're talking from the left hip to the ankle, including the calf and shin. The knee is fine. Something was going on with a couple of muscles down above the ankle that work better when separated. They weren't. Needless to say Julie worked me over expertly and sent me on my way with a bottle of water and helpful instructions to drink a lot of it and take the first run easily after the massage.

I took ibuprofen to help with inflammation and drank; mostly beer (baseball play-off games) but beer is mostly water, right? I blew off running Wednesday morning because my legs were stiff and sore when I got up. I figured a rest day was in order. Thursday was much the same so I delayed all running until today.

I am off work as I accompany Mrs. T as the spousal unit/trophy hubby to some museum professionals' conference in St. Augustine for the weekend. I expect to be reminded how much I despise 4th grader field trips when we tour the city.

So I went out this morning for the easy four-miler I was to have done Wednesday. Tomorrow I'll try the eight-miler I was to have done yesterday and Sunday I'll do the 10-miler on the books for that day. There. I'll be all caught up and maybe three to four pounds lighter.

Somebody stop me from eating! Since doing 20 miles two weeks ago the body still wants to eat but the mileage has diminished and the taper madness has begun. At least I had some quality runs racing last weekend and on Sunday.

Politics. I was invited to a viewing party for the VP Debate last night. The price of admission was to bring Mrs. T since it was (a) a party for women and (b) required a few more red state women than were likely to be there. The party was designed to be a bipartisan crowd complete with yard signs and hand-made signs supporting both sides.

In these very partisan times, it was a rare occasion for a bipartisan party, hence the presence of a local daily newspaper reporter, an NBC affiliate's cameraman and a team of three reporters from the Guardian in London that flew in from Washington to cover the curiosity of American electioneering and partisan politics here in a battleground state. They found it curious that a bipartisan crowd could be assembled for such a high intensity debate.

I stayed away from the reporters as much as possible but Mrs. T was quotable. She dropped a line about Palin being a diamond in the rough that ended up in the local paper. Next I expect to read about her in the Guardian because that crew had her in a corner for quite awhile.

There were two viewing rooms, the Peanut Gallery and the Silence is Golden room. The yackers and hecklers were in the Peanut Gallery. I retreated to the quiet room so I could here them go at it. Most of my roommates wore blue name tags and were not very kind to the good governor of Alaska. Women can be quite nasty, I found. Both of the VP candidates did way better than I expected but I expected much less of Palin. The CNN undecided Ohio voter opinion meter was the hit of the night for me. I wonder in the handlers will tell Sarah to drop the "maverick" references now.