Sunday, May 29, 2016

Running Younger.

No, it's not really normal for someone that has trained and raced for nearly 39 years to actually be able to compete at age 60 with the results they were running 10 years earlier. But  I have been told I am not quite normal in many ways. So, how am I doing it?  I'm not quite sure I understand it myself but I have some ideas that I will share with you.

 For those of you that follow or know me then you are aware that this really began in mid to late 2012. After struggling to show any improvement for a couple of years I was  resigned to the fact that I was really getting slower and no more pr's were coming and I wouldn't ever touch the times from my early 50's. About that time I decided to make another attempt at qualifying for Boston which would require me to run another 5 minutes faster than I had two years earlier.

 I never was able to run that time due to some bad luck with weather and injuries but it was what set things in motion. With that training I was able to shatter my 50 mile pr in 2013 and then in 2014 I shattered my 100 mile pr and also ran my fastest half marathon since 2006 and my fastest 5k since the late 80's !

 Ok, so here is what is causing all this.

 Desire. Attitude. Confidence. Belief. Motivation.

 Before anything training wise would work I had to have an attitude adjustment. The desire was already there because after all these years I still love working hard, training , racing and competing. But now I had to put the hard work first. No excuses.

 Success breeds confidence and with each success I began to believe that anything was possible.

 Motivation? I  still don't even understand what it is exactly inside of me, something from my past that drives me but whatever it is I have learned to embrace it. Of course many outside factors stoke the fires inside even more but I'll keep them to myself.

 Ok, Joey, we get that but can you give us some more specifics in what changed ?

  Well, to start with almost 3.5 years ago I began to add body weight exercises and core work to my routine working up to 6 or 7 days a week for about 30 minutes a day. Soon after I began adding free weights a couple of times a week.

  I cut back on the amount of races, especially the ultras which allowed me to recover more fully and put  more into my quality workouts. Most days I run easy and don't concern mysef with pace but if I have a scheduled hard run it is going to hurt. Going back to belief for a second one of the biggest factors as I have said many times before was when I started running with Laura Frey. She believed  in me more than I did myself and pushed me harder than ever before and I learned so much and gained even more confidence. Even though it has been 5 months since we have been able to run together she still keeps me motivated to get the most out of my workouts.

   Less is more. Along with not as much racing I am not trying to pad my mileage just to be looking at big numbers in the logbook which keeps me fresh. And I don't overdo the speedwork. I have found that just doing a few pickups in the middle of some easy runs helps keep the legs ready to turnover when the time comes without wearing me down. When it is time for real speed work I am prepared.

  And finally Bikram Hot Yoga. Once again thanks to Laura, because I can say with 99.9% certainty that I would never have set foot in a Bikram studio the first time if not for her and seeing the results she was getting. I will probably post more about the yoga soon but for now I will say that my stride has gotten longer, my posture is very much improved and my breathing is stronger and more relaxed than ever after 5 months of regular practice.

 Any questions? Feel free to ask.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

NCRC Classic 10k and training update

 Well, something I'm doing  is definitely working. I don't run many 10ks and really there aren't too many around compared to other distances these days. It used to be the most popular distance in my younger days.

 In May 2009 I ran 49:37 and in May 2011 I ran 48:53. I was in really good shape both of those years but this weekend I ran 47:43 on a much tougher course .
  So how, at age 60 did I run faster than I did 7 years ago and 4 years ago? Ha ! Just a teaser. I'll post more on that in the near future.

 I was really looking forward to this one, my first 10k in 4 years and the first shorter road race of this new phase of my running and racing. I also was hoping to have a shot at the RRCA State Championship for Senior Grandmasters.

 For those of you that follow along you know my mileage has been about 2/3rds of normal, around 35 per week on average and no speed work this year other than a few strides and one unplanned tempo run.  I did get in some hill work but no hill repeats and I did two test runs on the course, one of which was 86F and humid.  Going in I would have been very happy if I could just break under 8mp average.

 So , on race morning it was about 60F at the start and near 100% humidity. Could have been worse. and at least the sun wasn't out ! I did my usual 1 mile warmup about 30 minutes before and then with 10 to go I did another couple of minutes slow with 4 pickups and made my way to the start.

 The race starts down a steep downhill for almost 1/2 mile so I was moving pretty fast even though I was holding back a little so I wouldn't beat my legs up too soon. After reaching the bridge over Crabtree Creek the course begins to climb. A bit steep for 1/4 mile and then the next 1.25 are a long gradual incline to the airport overlook which is the highest point in the park according to my topographic map.

 So anyway I feel ok on the hill and holding back. No need for oxygen debt in the 1st mile. I expected 8 minutes or a little slower but had 7:37 ! Whoa ! Game on !

 Just tried to hold steady effort over the next mile which I hit in 7:54 ! Wow, that is about the hardest mile on the course and I was still sub 8 and by now I am feeling great, in the zone and already confident that there would be no slowing down.  Mile 3 and I kept finding myself smiling. I made that split  in 7:31 and was thinking, I can run like this all day ! Woohoo.

 I held back just a little on mile 4  knowing that after that I would be mostly downhill for awhile and could really open it up. Mile 4 was 7:46 and then I put the hammer down. The next mile I have always called "Easy Street" because of the slight downgrade which is very conducive to faster running. And indeed it was. 7:17 ! And I still had another .75 of downhill before having to climb back up the monster at the end. I was near a couple of other runners almost the whole race and we leap frogged a few times but now the young lady took off and was gone. Ok, not a problem. Then there was  a man I guessed mid to late 40's he passed me but I reeled him back in and thought that was that.

 I got to the bridge and buckled in for the climb.The first .2 is so steep that my heels never touch the ground. I was slowing for sure but still feeling strong. About then the guy passes me back but I can't push any harder and he eases ahead. No worries, I have the Senior Grandmasters wrapped up and I'm running much faster than I dreamed so good for him !

 Finally hit mile 6 in 8 minutes flat and shortly after the hill levels out a bit and I make the turn with about 200yds to go and push it in. Needless to say that I was ecstatic with my time and result.
Tturns out the man who finished 9 seconds in front of me was 53 and first Grandmaster so not only was I State Champion in the 60 and over but for the race I was 2nd place in the 50 and over age group ! Woohooo !

 Ok, about the training.
  On MondayI took a rest from running but did a Bikram class that went for 2:05:00 and I sweated 6 lbs.

 Tuesday was another regular Bikram class and then a strong 6 miles of hills in Umstead.

 Wednesday was morning body weight, then weights at the gym and an afternoon 5 miler on the Neuse.

Thursday was another yoga class and I started up a new routine of the 5 Tibetan Rites. I had plenty of time to run in the afternoon but I had very little sleep for two nights in a row so I rested after work.

 Friday was tibetans, a yoga classs and then a great 6 miles on the Neuse. Amazing what a solid 9 hours of sleep can do.

 Saturday was a long work day but i got in 4 easy miles at home and just some light stretching at work.

 Sunday was the race of course and then 2 hours later I went to Bikram ! And I actually felt pretty good.

 So there it is , 29 miles for the week, 5 Bikram yoga classes, one weights and one body weight session. Not bad for a Senior, Grandmaster.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Getting into a bit of real training now. Update week ending 5-15-16

 I had no soreness at all from the Medoc Trail Race and got started on the week with a strong 6 miles at home on Monday.

 Tuesday was another 6 at home but I was feeling a bit tired even though the pace was still normal.

 I was rushed for time on Wednesday but had already decided to take a rest day.

 Thursday afternoon on a hot and humid day I went for a test run on the course for next weekends 10K in Umstead. I ran well even with the heat and being dehyrated from the start. More on that in a minute. The final finishing hill is nearly a half mile and the first 200yds are so steep my heels never touched the ground ! That is going to be a fun way to finish a race !

 Friday I stopped at the neuse greenway on another muggy day. Not quite as bad as Thursday and with the flat course my pace was quicker.

 Saturday I ran from home in the morning. Nice and cool but still humid.

 And Sunday I was ready to get back to putting in  a bit more distance. It was near perfect weather and as good as you can expect in NC mid May. About 50F and lower humidity. I felt good and put in a very consistent 12 miles at 8:46 pace which was my longest run since Boston 4 weeks ago.

 Ok, about that being dehydrated before Thursday and Fridays runs. I went to two bikram Yoga classes with guest teacher Mary Jarvis. Or normal classes are 90 minutes but these lasted 2:15 and 2:25 and Thursdays was off the charts hot and humid. I lost 6 lbs even after drinking almost 3 lbs of water during and immediately after class.  Lost another 6 on Friday so it was tough rehydrating fully. Finally got caught up Saturday !

 In addition to my best week this year with 41.2 miles, all averaging between 8:44 and 8:57 pace and the two Bikram classes I had a body weight day, 2 weights sessions and a core workout.

 I'm ready to start adding in some workuts and not just putting in the miles now but with a race next weekend on the hills that will be a hill repeats day and no speedwork just yet.

 Stay tuned for more fun !

Monday, May 09, 2016

Medoc Spring Trail race and a training update.

 With training going fairly well after Boston I was getting excited to give the Medoc Spring Trail Race go. The race, a 12k on the trails of Medoc Mountain State Park is modeled after the Dipsea race in California with handicapped race start times based on age and gender. If you are interested in more info click on the links provided.

 I had run on the course a week before and there was already some mud and standing water in some places and with all the rain up until the day before the course was not runnable as planned with the river out of its banks in much of the low lying areas. The RD and crew did a fine job of coming up with an alternate route allowing the race to go on but the new course although only 6.6 miles instead of the original 7.4 was going to be a bit more difficult with 2 trips up to the summit.

 I knew going in this was going to be a real test. I have only been on trails twice since getting injured in April 2015 and there was going to be some serious competition from seasoned trail running specialist. In fact some of the toughest would be starting in my corral including eventual winner Pete Gibson who just the week before set a new USATF State record for the mile in 5:15 ! The race gives awards to the first 50 to cross the line including a hat with your finishing place so I was hoping to get one of those.

 It turned out to be a gorgeous morning with upper 50's and not too humid by the 9am start time. I went for a one mile warmup and felt a bit like a slug. Not a good sign normally but somehow I can usually race well when I feel like that ! And so it was.

 Once our group started with an 11 minute head start on the young guys  I just let the fast ones go so I wouldn't get caught up in the excitement and go out too hard.The course turns onto the trail after just 50 yards or so and right away was a bit of mud and a short steep uphill. From then on mostly a slight downhill grade with a few slight ups and by 3/4  into it some serious mud and ankle deep standing water. Fortunately it wasn't shoe sucking or really slick so I just splashed through. I was a bit surprised and quite pleased to hit mile 1 in 8:26, a pretty fast pace for me on single track.

 The next half mile was more of the same and then we crossed over the bridge and immediately had to wade through mid thigh deep water to get to the summit trail. and then up we went. On the original layout we would have not had to do this climb but oh well. Steep?Yeah. How about 175 feet in 2/10ths of a mile with  bit at a 29% grade with railroad tie steps. Needless to say I walked most of that until it began to level out. The next 1/4 mile is almost flat on an old dirt road. It was dry and fast although still some roots and rocks to look out for. I was very happy to hit mile 2 in 10:11 even with the walking up the mountain !

 I had already caught up to several runners but was having a couple pass me and at this point I had no idea what place I was in. All I knew was I was feeling good and had mostly flat and downhill for the next mile so I was pushing the pace as much as I could. Once the trail turned back to single track, even with the mostly down hill, the footing was still pretty tricky with lots of roots and some rocks along this section. Pretty soon the leaders started coming back up so I was counting spots. I passed mile 3 in 8:42. The last bit of trail down to the bottom was a muddy mess but I plowed through as best as I could. The u turn was slick too ! I was in about 25th place at that point.

 The next mile including all the mud and climbing back up the mountain was my slowest of the day in 10:45 but as soon as it leveled out a bit I was pushing hard again trying to reel in a couple of runners and hold off as many of the younger guys as possible. Even with the steep downhill I was only able to hit 8:51 but I was really happy with that. I am a lot more cautious now and no way was I going to bomb down that rocky descent.

 The next mile was about the flattest overall but it is really constant slight up or down and a whole lot of roots but by now I was feeling at home on the trails and seemed to be back in the groove like I was years ago when I ran trails every week. By now I could see several people ahead and I could hear quite a few behind me and I knew most of them were trying hard to catch me so I was giving it all I could. I passed one more runner right before the 6 mile mark which I ran  in another   8:51.

 We began the slight climb away from the river and then made the turn out of the woods onto the grass field. I felt my energy waning on the wet thick grass but I didn't want to give up and let anyone pass me. Volunteers were there counting us as we went by. I was 34th but the next 4 were right on my heels within seconds of me. I was thinking I would lose another 3 spots but I didn't want to give in easily. I noticed I was gaining on a runner about 30 yard ahead so I just focused on catching them and suddenly I had a surge of energy return.

 I made the pass and the footsteps behind me seemed to have faded. I hit the pavement with 200 yards to go and just hammered.  Yes, Laura I was making that death sound !   But no one was gong to catch me without suffering ! And they didn't  ! I held all of them off and finished 33rd. One of them came up to me afterwards and said he thought he had me coming out of the woods but then all of a sudden he noticed he wasn't getting any closer and then I was just gone ! Woohoo ! Yes, it feels good to be racing hard and no pain !

 This is a really cool race and they do a great job with it. If you like trail racing I highly recommend it. But with that siad, it is back to the roads now with a 10k in two weeks . More on that later

 Leading up to the race I hadn't been able to do any real training. Mostly recovering from Boston so most of my runs were just easy and I haven't done anything longer than the 7.5 a week before since Boston.  I only ran 3 six milers the week before the race and then an easy 3 the day after giving me  just 28.6 for the week but that is cool with me.

 In addition I was able to get to 3 Bikram hot yoga clased, 2 weight sessions at the gym, one body weight workout and one core workout so overall a very good week.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

More recovery and getting excited for whats coming

Recovery from Boston is about done and I'm getting excited with the schedule of events coming up for me. It looks a whole lot different than anything I have been doing for many many years. Yes, I entered and ran pretty well in a few shorter races each year but as you can see from the schedule below, I have nothing planned until at least Mid Autumn that is longer than 10 miles.

May 7th. Medoc Spring Races 12k
May 22nd. NCRC Classic 10k
June 4th. Rocky Mount Mills 5K
June 17th Sir Walter Raleigh Rundown Mile
July 10th. Utica Boilermaker 15k
Sept.11th Oak city Mile
Sept 24th Virginia 10 Miler
Oct.15. Octoberfest 8K
Nov. 13th. OBX Half Marathon
Dec.10th Kiawah Island Marathon.

 In addition to the races above I am hoping to compete on the teack at a few pop up miles and all comers meets and see what kind of speed I can find. But more on the races coming up soon.

 As for the past week of recovery and training, I got in a decent amount of miles, 35.7 but they were all at easy pace.

 Monday was a rest day from running and about 45 minutes of core and stretching at work.

 Tuesday was Hot yoga followed by an afternoon trial run of the NCRC 10k race coming up in a few weeks.

 Wednesday I got in 6 strong but easy miles at home.

 Thursday was back to hot yoga in the morning and 6 unseasonably hot and humid miles along the Neuse. 

 Friday started with a morning weight session at the gym and then a fun recon lap of the Medoc Spring Race course coming up next weekend. Enjoyed the challenge and the puddles and mud.

 Saturday I met Laura for Yoga in Durham and then right after i squeezed in a dehydrated 4 mies before work on House Creek. Easy other than the infamous Hill heading up to the pedestrian bridge over 440.

 And Sunday I was happy to be able to have yet another yoga class with Laura followed by an even more dehydrated 6 miler along the Neuse. Felt really tired even though the pace was slow so I am scheduling a rest day.

 So thats where it is for now. Over the next few weeks I will start some actual training I hope but for now with the next two races on trail and hills I will focus on hills and some strides and then begin with some speedwork at the end of the month.

 Thanks for reading and stay tuned !

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A bit of recovery from Boston and on to new adventures.

Most weeks don't start off with a race, but then Boston is a bit special !  I have been able to recover quickly from my marathons and ultras for many years now but I was even surprised at finding I had practically zero soreness after the race and some lingering pains actually have improved ! Even so, I am being a bit more cautious these days so I waited a full three days off before trying to run.

 Tuesday I did nothing but walk around Boston for a couple of miles like I had done nothing. Even stairs were no problem !

 Wednesday was mostly an easy day with a body weight workout.

 Thursday I was back to Yoga. I was expecting a bit of a struggle with it but had a great class.

 Friday started with weights at the gym and then on the way home I was eager to get in a run. I was expecting a slow dead legged 4 miles but I felt amazing. No soreness and I had zip so I went 6 and the pace was as strong as my normal  everyday runs. And it was fun running in a thunderstorm !

 Saturday Was another Bikram class with Laura. I struggled a bit with a bit of lingering fatigue and a bit dehydrated but had some good stuff happen too. Later in the afternoon I stopped at aUmstead for some single track. Other than the 16 miles of limping at Western States last June I haven;t been on a trail since last April !  It was a bit tough but I took it easy just wanting to get used to dodging rocks and roots again which brings us to the new adventures mentioned in the title. I am racing The Medoc Spring Race coming up in 2 weeks. I'll give more info about that as we get closer.

 I finished up the week with an easy 6 miles at home and another weight session at the gym.

 So I actually had 44.2 miles for the week but that includes the 26.2 on Monday .  And included 2 Bikram yoga classes, 2 weights sessions and one body weight day.

 Hope to get in some good training in the week ahead but I will take it day by day and I already plan to start next week with a day off of running. Stay tuned !

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Boston Marathon 2016. Making new memories.

  I was really having a hard time feeling any enthusiasm in the last days leading up to this years trip to Boston but  I was ready to open up a new chapter on this race and make some new memories. Only problems were I was under-trained and not too confident that my body was ready to hold up to the challenge. And then my training partner Laura , who was responsible for me even being able to go was staying home after 2 months of no running thanks to a persistent bout of pneumonia. Nope, not what I was hoping for at all.

  So, I hopped on the plane Sunday morning determined to make the most of it and give it my best shot and try to have a little fun. Words cannot describe the joy I felt when I landed in Boston and got a message from Laura that she was waiting for me at the expo ! What a wonderful surprise and my mood insantly changed a 100 shades brighter !

 After a bit of a fiasco navigating the public transoportation system ( my fault, not theirs) I finally was able to meet her and pick up my race packet around 3:30. I had no need or desire to spend anytime in the expo so we went for any early dinner, got some photos at the finish line and then I headed back to my hotel to get some rest and make preparations for the next morning.

  With the 10:50 am start I had  was in no rush and was able to sleep until my normal time despite having to get to the shuttle buses and then the ride out to Hopkinton. I wasn't really sure what to expect from the weather. Everytime I looked about every 12 hours for the days leading up to the race the forecast had changed. Now it was looking like a bit warm, close to 70. I'm glad I chose to go with a singlet ! Well, whatever the weather there was a race to be run.

  My plan was to take it easy for the first half and see what was left in the tank. I had a fantasy goal of running my new qualifying time of 3:55 and a more realsitic goal of sub 4 but finishing without dying and running my fastest of three Bostons would make me happy !

 So what about the race?

 Everything went about as expected. It was getting very warm for the start and in fact the high for the day was about the time my wave started. That had me a bit worried so I was going to try to be a bit more conservative and make sure I began hitting the water stops early. The first downhill half mile was steeper than I remembered and although I was holding back it was still an 8:45 mile.

 I really had to go so at 1.7 I stepped off the road for a quick pee and then was back on my way again with mile 2 in 9:05. After that I was really consistent with the effort and the pace only varied a little to reflect the ups and downs. Even though it was warm I never felt like I was being stressed and in fact was feeling quite relaxed. I was amazed that my average over the next many miles was around 8:51, a bit under my needed qualifying pace and I  was feeling like I was out for an easy joggy jog ! I was barely breathing unless I was going uphill !

   Finally around mile 6 the wind started picking up a little bit and made it feel quite a bit cooler. I just relaxed and held steady trying to enjoy the surroundings and cheering fans while my pace stayed remarkably consistent.   By mile 10 it was obvious that the temperature was dropping and I was feeling good and no longer worried about over heating. Now I was looking forward to the trip through Wellesley. Once again they didnt disappoint with loud cheering and offers for kisses. I picked out the prettiest  young lady I could find , grabbed a quick kiss, thanked her and hurried along passing the half in about 1:55:30, a 2 minute cushion on my BQ pace !

  It was still too early to try and push as the miles rolled by and my thoughts turned to the Newton Hills looming ahead. I was slowing slightly but still every mile was buildng more of a cushion. Until 17. A lot of uphill grade but no major hill and apparently I backed off the effort a bit  too much with a 9:33 ! Bummer. and then mile 18 which includes the first real climb after making the turn at the Newton Fire house. I felt pretty strong and ran that mile in 9:11 and feeling confident I wasn't' going to blow up.

 How quickly things can change ! After mile 19 I crashed head first into the wall ! I didn't feel terrible, just no energy and my calves were shot. I was worried they would start cramping but thankfully they never did. Even the slightest upgrade and all power was gone. And I had forgotten how much more climbing there was until topping out at mile 21.

 So I just settled in, accepted what the situatioon was and tried to get it over with as little suffering as possible while still trying to run as much as I could.  I can't say I like being passed by so many people over the last 5 miles but the crowds were wonderful. No qualifier or even sub 4 was coming today  but I  was going to finish and it was still going to be my fastest Boston by a long shot.

 The last 5 miles were quite slow but the crowds were fantastic and grew bigger as the course moved closer into the city. Boy howdy, you can sure see that Citgo sign from a long ways off but I knew it marked  1 mile to the end and I was ready to see Boylston Street. And then finally the turn right on Hereford and left on Boylston and the roar of the crowd. I tried to look as good as I could
as I crossed the line.

 I got a little emotional for just a second and was getting choked up but then I just started smiling as I accepted my finishers medal and made my way through the food and water tables.  I was ready to get on my warm clothes from my gear bag and hurry over to meet Laura in the family meeting area. My phone wasn't working so I couldn't contact her. Luckily I was still feeling great and walking at a fast clip.  Laura was already waiting when I arrived and was surprised to see me looking so fresh and moving so well. We spent a little time getting a few pictures and then it was good bye as she had to get home to family and I had to catch the train back to my hotel.

 All of my 5k splits had been very even for the first 30k so I  am very happy with how I paced myself. Considering the january injury and March upper respiratory infection I am more than pleased with the outcome. My time was 4:12:10 beating my 2011 horror of 4:33 !

 Not sure if or when I will return but you never can tell. right now it is on to new adventures.  Stay tuned !

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The hay is in the barn for Boston and other cliches.( Training update w/e 4-10-16)

 Yep, only a week and a day until the Boston Marathon. At this point there is not really anything I can do to get in any better shape so I intend to be a bit cautious the next week. But hopefully I can get up a blog post just for Boston next week. Until then , here is whats up.

 After a really good week of training and fun at Umstead last weekend I started off this week with a nice 5 miler and  I did make it to the gym for some weights.

 Tuesday was a morning yoga workout. I had planned about 8 miles late afternoon but got called into work so I was rushed for time. Went out for a quick 4 but was shocked at how fast those 4 turned out to be. Averaged 7:47 with the last 2 at 7:30. I haven't run anything close to that fast since my last run with Laura in December before having to take off nearly all of Jan. I really didn't think I could even come close to that pace ! Yes, a big boost in confidence there.

  Wednesday was a very busy day so no run but I  started off with early morning weights.

 Thursday was another morning yoga class and then in the afternoon on a beautiful but windy day I got in that 8 miler I missed Tuesday. Nice strong pace again.

 I started Friday off with a body weight workout at home and then got in a strong 6 miler on the way home from work.

 Saturday morning I had another great Bikram yoga class with Laura before heading to work. I had time to run afterwards but i was tired and the wind was blowing 35 mph so I just went home. Wimped out? Maybe but hey, I am sort of tapering you know !

 And if you are wondering, I am doing rabbit pose under there.  Laura was wondering if there would be enough room but with her incredible flexibility and height in that wheel pose it was no problem at all.  Rabbit is one of the few I can do halfway decent. Here is what it looks like.

 So Sunday morning I got in my last 12 mile sort of long run and then did a 30 minute evening core session with a little bit of yoga stretching.

 So ther you have it. another good week. 3 Bikram yoga classes, 2 weights, one body weight and one core and 35 weekly miles. The most awesone thing about those 35 miles is the fact that the slowest average for any of the runs was 8:51 for the 8 miler. Other than the tempo run the other miles were all around 8:45 which somehow over the past year has become my new normal.

 Check back in a few days for hopefully a Boston preview.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Umstead and Boston plus training and tapering.

Last week was a very busy one with lots of work and my Dad in the hospital most of it but somehow I was able to get things done and get in some fun and some good training.

 I managed two bikram yoga classes, 2 body weight sessions, one weight workout at the gym and 36.4 miles of running in 5 days.

 Over the weekend I was able to get to Umstead to volunteer for the 100 miler. This is such a wonderful event and I look forward to being involved each year whether it is racing or just helping out. My first time helping was in 1998. I didn't return until  I ran it for the first time in 2004 and since then I have been back every year. Its much like a reunion with friends I have met from around the country as well as so many local friends.

  This year I helped Friday in registration, Saturday morning at the aid station two and then returned on Sunday am for a 4:30 to 8:30 shift in timing. I love the variety of opportunities to be a part of it. I really needed to be there this year especially for my soul and I was rewarded and refreshed although there was still a sense of sadness for a couple of reasons.

  After my morning shift I went out for a hilly training lap of the course. It was a gorgeous day, around 50F and sunny and calm. My confidence is still a bit low and I almost bailed and avoided Turkey Creek and make it a shorter run  but I'm glad I didn't. Instead I chose to run the lap in reverse which would give me a chance to see all the runners still out on their last lap and cheer them on while I got in my workout.

  It was great ! I saw quite a few friends out there, got several hugs and I felt great ! What Hills !
 definitely a great run, a lot of fun and a confidence boost going into Boston.

 Yeah, Boston. Only two weeks to go. I wish I had at least 6 weeks so I could be closer to the shape I was in Decmeber but I have to face the reality. So I will do the best with what I have and just try to not do anything stupid. As far as tapering goes, I can't taper much with my training still lower than normal so I am just going to keep doing what I have been doing to maintain my current condition.

 Stay tuned to see what happens next week !

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Recovery and countdown to Boston

 Hard to believe but only 3 weeks now before I head to Boston for the marathon. More thoughts and  details on that coming in a couple of weeks.

I started off this week taking a rest day after last Sundays race but I did get to the gym for some weights. Overall I was feeling pretty good and no problems from the race but I am being a bit more cautious these days. When I did get out for a run on Tuesday it went very well with no soreness.

 I did another 5 on Wednesday and felt a bit better and then on Thursday was a great 6.  One of my best "easy" runs in awhile with the pace being what had turned into my normal easy pace last year before the injuries, about 8:45.

  Friday I decided to try some hills again and went to Umstead, hoping things would go better than my last attempt at hills. And it did. A strong 6 and although the last climb was certainly getting tough overall I did well and even got a segment pr on a short section of corkscrew without trying !

 I rested Saturday, well after a Bikram Hot yoga class with Laura. I wanted to have fresh legs for a long run attempt on Sunday. With the injury recurrence in Jan and then being sick I have only gotten in one  long training run of 15 miles to go along with the 2 half marathons. not exactly how I had planned to prepare for Boston !

 So Sunday despite the rain I headed out with hopes of getting in 18 miles. I was feeling pretty good and holding a steady pace by 13.5 so I made the decison to do the last 4.5 over the hump. My heartbreak hill.  A lot longer and higher than anything in Boston but great training.

 So I ended up with 40 miles this week in 5 days of running. Very happy with that at this point and everything is working well. In addtion I had 2 weight seesions at the gym, 3 Bikram you classes and one core workout.

 Stay tuned as the excitement keeps coming !

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon 2016

" I think if I can breathe that I have a really good shot at running 1:48 to 1:49."

" Yes, breathing always seems to help ! "

 Just a couple of thoughts from messages talking to a couple of friends.

 After suffering through Myrtle Beach Half two weeks ago, I went straight to the pharmacy to pick up my antibiotic prescription. No way am I taking a chance on this turning into pneumonia like the Honey Badger if I can help it.

 Fortunatley I had no more fever after Monday but I was still coughing and tight in the chest for the whole next week. I finally went out on Saturday the 12th for a test run. The first half mile was a struggle with gasping and some coughing but then it got better. I only had a week before WB so I just wanted to take it easy and hope I would feel like racing in another week.  4 and 5 milers on Sunday and Monday each felt a bit better but then on Tuesday I had one of the worst runs in a very long time which didn't do anything for my confidence.

  I rested on Wednesday and then Thursday went out and hoped for the best. Wow, what a difference. Felt great and one of my best runs since starting back a couple of months ago.  One more easy 4 miler on Friday and the decision was to go ahead and race !

 So I drove down Saturday afternoon to pick up my race packet and hang around to watch the 5k before making preparations for the early wake up to get on the race shuttle.

 I arrived at the shuttle area at 5:30 and was pretty happy with the weather. 44F but a bit windy. 10mph with gust around 15mph. Finally arrived at the start about 30 minutes before the start so I went out and did my warm up mile and felt pretty good. But then 10 minutes before it began to rain. We got lucky though, as it was a light rain and would stop by the time I reached mile 3 so I never really got wet. But lets back up a second.

 Ok, so the first mile was a bit slow dodging slower runners and the fact the race makes a couple of turns very quickly which causes some backups. I just relaxed and didn't let it bother me. Plenty of time to make it up later.  Mile 1 in 8:38. I settled in to a comfortable pace and was quite happy to hit mile 2 in 7:57. That felt pretty comfortable and after mile 3 in 8:06 and mile 4 in 7:55 I was gaining confidence and even allowed myself to  think maybe a miracle was happening and I might be able to hold on and maybe run 1:46 !

 But then the next mile into the wind and an 8:13 and I gave up that thought pretty quickly. From that point on I ran what I feel was a very good consistent effort and pace with most of any variation due to which way the wind was blowing. Mile 6 was 8:03 and 7 was 8:16. Mile 8 was 8:10 and it was about this point on the course last year that Laura met me to run in the last 5 miles of the marathon. I smiled at that memory and was thinking how great it would be to have the company again. I was sure the result would be much differnt today. No blowing up the last few miles !

 Mile 9 was 8:18. I was feeling good but about ready to get this thing done. Something screwy with the mile markers at 10 and 11 but when I hit 12 I had averaged 8:11 for those 3. Still staying very consistent. I was trying to do the math in my head as to whether I still had a shot at beating my pre race goal. With about 1.5 miles to go we turned onto the main road and directly into the wind. I thought I had a shot at 1:47?? but I didn't like having to push into the wind to do it.

 So in the last mile I started doing my surging trick that I learned from Laura where I pick up the pace for 10 second burst every couple of minutes and then with half mile to go I just let it go.Tta da ! Success ! Better than I could have hoped for ! 1:47:53 ! Turned out to be good enough for 2nd  out of 15 in my age group and 314 out of 1809 total finishers. Not bad coming off yet another injury for the month of January and then being out sick with an upper respiratory infection for a week ! The future is looking bright again !

 In addtion to the little bit of running in between the races I was also able to get in 4 Bikram workouts, 3 weight sessions and a couple of core and body weight workouts. I have to really feel bad to miss my workouts !

 Stay tuned. 4 weeks to Boston !

Monday, March 07, 2016

Myrtle Beach Half Marathon and some training updates

  When I signed up for this race a year ago I was looking forward to competing in my new age group and take the strength and speed I had been building to attempt a fast time and possible podium finish while using it as a tuneup for  Boston. Well, as you know if you are a regular reader plans haven't gone quite like I would have hoped. I was out for about 3 months last summer so I had to rebuild. Then things were going great, I had a couple of really good Half marathons in the Fall and then boom, yet another set back for 4 weeks to start the year.

 But things have been progressing well the past few weeks and although I knew there was no way to come close to the 1:44 I ran in November, I thought maybe 1:51 was realisitic and if things went really well I might dip under 1:50.

 So, imagine my disappointment to wake up on Friday morning before the race with a 101.6 fever and feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest with a sore throat ! Hours later I finally dragged myself out of bed and decided to go to urgent care to get checked out. With Laura really sick and out of it with pneumonia I didn't want to take any chances.  A check for flu and strep were both negative and the fever was contained so I went to work and although I wasn't 100% I decided to go ahead and drive to MB.

 I arrived at the expo late at 8:15 pm and then went straight to my hotel and went to bed with a 4:30 am wake up call looming.

 Crap, I woke up with the chest feeling worse than Friday but no other symptoms so I headed to the start. A not too cold feeling 38F as I did a warmup mile. Hmmm, not so good. Legs felt great but breathing hurt. Not sure how long this is going to work for me. I should have probably gone back to bed but I was determined to give it a shot.

 I began at a comfortable pace, legs still good but the breathing was harder than it should be this early. Somehow I missed my first mile mark. I was not running with the garmin so I needed manual splits to check my pace. Decided to keep up the effort and finally at mile 2 I was shocked to see I was averaging 7:40. Whoa, I haven't run a mile that fast since the last Fun Friday with Laura right before the latest injury. I sure didn't know I had that in me. I backed off the effort and hit mile 3 in a more sane 8:18, feeling ok but my lungs were not too happy.  I took off my hand socks because my hands were already sweating and aimed them towards a clothes collection box two lanes over. How cool it was to watch them fly across the road, loose their momentum and drop straight into the box !

 The next few miles were pretty steady at just over 8 minute pace. At the 6 mile water stop their was a little incident when a clueless 30 something guy stopped dead in his track and then without looking turned and walked right into me. A collision was unavoidable but my instant reaction was self defense as I shoved him off of me without loosing stride. He spilled his water and hopefully learned a lesson.

 My split at 10k was about 8:05 pace but I knew I was going to be slowing down. At mile 7 we turned to head back and thats when everyone noticed it wasn't quite as calm as they thought. We had about a 9mph headwind the rest of the way. Nothing terrible but enough to feel it and with the cold my hands were soon hurting and I was wishing I had some gloves back. It made for some miserable running for me the remainder of the race.

 I continued to slow down but got into a groove that was tolerable around 8:50 pace. I was really hurting now and it was a struggle with myself to keep going. A part of me wanted to slow way down and take some walking breaks with nothing to prove but I was also driven by a couple of  personal goals. One I won't mention and don't ask was a real motivating force but it was causing me to put myself through a lot more pain than I wanted for at best a sub par time for me. The other thing driving me on was knowing that even feeling like this I had a shot at that sub 1:50 if I just kept going hard.

 With about a mile to go my friend Mike Walsh passed me with some encouragement. I thanked him and told him I felt rough. I was going to be so close so about every minute I channeled the Honey Badger and threw in a 10 second surge. Mile 13 was my fastest since mile 8 but it wasn't enough. My final time was 1:50:15. As soon as I crossed the line I felt like a truck had run me over and parked on my chest. I was very happy to exceed my expectations while running obviously sick but I was thinking that was a stupid thing to do and now I was really going to pay for it.

 I gathered up my food and drinks from the finishers tent and  after a brief moment visiting with Don and Wade I slowly walked to get my warm clothes and then trudged to my car. I didn't think i would make it I was hurting so bad. How did I run and breathe like I did just moments earlier and now I can barely walk and gasp ? Well, I Hope I never have this situation again. I spent the rest of the day hacking up gunk and listening to my chest rattling. Not good. 2 days later now I am beginning to feel a little better after starting on some antibiotics Saturday afternoon.

 Ok,so how about the last couple of weeks before getting sick and racing? Well the week ending 2-28 I got in a strong 38 miles including my longest so far, a 15 miler with a good average pace and a strong finish. Also had another 4 bikram classes, 2 weight sessions and a core workout.

 The week of the race I got in 3 runs and all of them were great ! Feeling strong on hills, nice average pace and the legs and everything clicking. I only did one Bikram class with the race pending and one body wieght workout. Only took a two day taper for the race since it wasn't a primary focus for my training.

 So there we are. I am obviously going to take it easy this week and get well before I resume any hard training but stay tuned. I will get better  !

Sunday, February 21, 2016

I'm liking the trend. Training report w/e 2-21-16

 Yes, I am liking the way things are going but a bit disappointed too. I am very happy with how well the legs and hips are holding up. I'm still not 100% but it is so nice to be able to start running and not be in pain.  What's disappointing is to look back and see how well I was running a year ago and knowing that I am probably 2 months away from being in near that kind of shape again. But it is where I am at and nothing to do but look forward and give it the best I can as always.

 I started off the week with an 11 hour work day and no run but I did get in a body weight workout immediately upon arriving home.

 On tuesday I had a Bikram yoga class and then in the afternoon on a perfect day for a run I did a 6 miler and felt better than I could have hoped. No pain and the best pace since the return to running.

 Wednesday was another long work day but I got in 4 easy  ith some strides early before work and then stopped at the gym for weights on the way home.

 Thursday was another good day starting with Bikram and then a strong 8 miles on a hilly windy course.

 Friday was another morning Bikram class and a late afternoon easy 4.

 Saturday was my long run day. Got in 12 miles, the most since the return. The pace was good with a negative split but I never felt all that good. Did a core workout at home in the evening just because.

 On sunday I did an easy 3 mile recovery run and then headed straight to Bikram Yoga.

 So there you have it. Bumped the mileage up a little more to 37 for the week. Including longest so far, fastest average so far since the return and some strides to get ready for resuming some speedwork soon.
 A body weight, free weights and 4 bikram yoga classes totalling 6 hours. Continuing to learn to enjoy these and the progress being made. I'm really happy that Laura finaly persuaded me to do these classes. This completes 6 week since I began doing them.

 See you next week I hope !

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Now we're getting somewhere ! Training report w/e 2-14-16

 I must say after this week I am finally getting a little confidence back. I was really worried with how hard it seemed to start back running yet again 3 weeks ago. This week has been oh so much better. The legs and hips and glutes are doing a lot better and feeling solid and trustworthy again and I'm seeing some nice improvement in the fitness.

 I started of with week with, tada ! No running

 ON Tuesday I made it to the greenway on a very windy afternoon for a solid 6 miler.

 Went back Wednesday afternoon for another 6 miles in the opposite direction with more stiff winds. I felt great and for the first time since the comeback I averaged under 9mp at about my normal easy pace !

 Thursday was another day off from running.

 Friday although I wasn't quite sure I was ready for it I headed over to the tough hills at the Art Museum. It was tough but I had a pretty good effort and seemed to get stronger near the end of the 5 mile run.

 On Saturday I was hoping to get in at least 8 and maybe even 10 miles. A very cold morning and more stiff winds but I felt strong and made it the whole 10 with the last mile my fastest into the wind ! And best of all and very surprising to me was the average was just under 9mp.

 Sunday was a really cold day, around 22F when I decided to run which was after my Bikram yoga workout. I didn't exactly plan it that way and was just about to run early when I got the message that we were doing the 8:30 yoga class. I had 10 minutes to jump up, change and grab all I needed to carry with me for the day !

 So after the class I had to decide when and where to run. I decided since I was driving right by it to run in Umstead. hmm, not sure how  smart  of choice that would be  with just an hour rest and dehydrated from sweating out 5 lbs in the hot room. Well again it turned out well. I felt pretty good and had a nice run with another strong finish.

 So, a great week with 32 miles, all feeling good and quality pace.

 4 classes of 90 Minutes in Bikram Hot yoga. Seeing some improvement here too. Some big steps in some poses and a little more flexibility in some areas makes it exciting and worthwhile.

 And I was able to get in a good body weight workout and another weight session at the gym.

 Stay tuned and look forward to another exciting week of training with the runner formerly known as Ultraman !

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Another step forward, training week ending 2-7-16

 Another bit of progress with the return to training the past week.  I was able to run on 5 days, mostly just easy stuff. Overall I still don't quite feel myself but a couple of the runs things felt like they were beginning to click a litle bit and I was able to stretch out a little the last mile of those two. I got in a 6 miler on Saturday, the longest since returning last week .

 In addition I was able to make it to 4 more Bikram yoga classes. I am seeing some progress in some of the poses and a little more flexibility in places. I am learning to embrace the new challenges !

 I haven't gotten completely away from the other cross training but the yoga certainly takes up a lot of time and energy. I did get in one core workout, one body weight session and one trip to the gym for weights. Funny thing is that I felt stronger with the weights than I have in awhile soi I guess cutting back a little has helped in some way.

 I really hope to continue to build the mileage a little more in the coming week so stay tuned and wish me luck !

Monday, February 01, 2016

Running again ! training update w/e 1-31-16

 Yes sports fans, I went out for a test run on Monday morning. ended up going 3 miles and everything held up ok.  It did feel a little awkward running again and it was slow but if I can stay healthy that will change quickly I am sure. Over the course of the week I got in 5 runs for a total of 19 miles and each one was a little better. It was a strange weather week too. that first run was at 30F and there was still some ice around from the weekend storm. And the final run on late Sunday afternoon was 66F !

 In addition to the running I got in another 4 Bikram yoga workouts and one weight workout at the gym. 

 Looking ahead I plan just more easy miles in the next week or too before I try to increase too much or worry about the pace but stay tuned and maybe soon you can see something exciting !

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Training update w/e 1-24-16, or not

 As I mentioned in the post of looking forward to the year, I had tweaked my hip and upper hamstring . Turns out to have been a bit worse than I hoped. I was thinking a week off and I would be good to go but it has taken much longer. I tested things on the 7th and although i had a decent pace for 5 miles it hurt the whole time. I have not even tried to run since. It has been feeling much better for the past week now and I am ready to give it a test in the next day or two. I really needed to get things going again for my sanity and for Spring racing !

 I have not been completely idle as you would expect. I have kept up with the core and body weight and/or free weights nearly every day and in addition I have introduced something new to the arsenal,  Bikram Yoga.

 Yes, it's true. Although I have dabbled in some yoga in the past including almost a year of 30 minute workouts 4 or 5 days a week at home a couple of years ago I have never done a class before. Well, actually I did. Nearly 3 years ago I went to a hot yoga class at Arrichion with a friend. It was a 50 minute flow yoga. I lasted 45 minutes and decided I had enough of that !

 Then several months ago my #1 training partner Laura began going to Bikram and fell in love with it. I think she has missed maybe 2 days in nearly 6 months now.  I had been considering giving it a shot so why not now ? So on the 8th I met her at the studio with one goal , last the entire 90 minutes.
 I did survive and what a workout  ! I did have to take several short breaks but I did at least one set of all the poses and despite sweating over 5lbs of water I kind of enjoyed it. Much different than the other class I had done before. Since then I have been to 9 classes in two weeks. I have already noticed a lot of improvement but I have so very far to go.

 Although I can't see myself doing it 7 days a week I do plan to try and get in at least 3 classes a week , maybe 4. It is time consuming and can be hard to squeeze in a class everyday and once  do run again I need that time for training.

 For those that aren't familiar with Bikram Yoga it is a 90 minute session with 26 poses bookended by breathing exercise. Every class is just like the one before it, never varying from the routine. The room is typically around 103-104 F
 Here is a chart of all the poses.Each pose is done twice before moving on to the next. If you click on the picture it will zoom so you can actually read it !

 I do hope to have some running for you on the next update but for now, namaste

Friday, January 01, 2016

So, whats the plan? Looking Forward to 2016.

 Well, I kind of have an idea and I will share it with you. This will certainly be a different kind of year because for the first time in 14 years I have no plans to run any ultras. In case you missed it , Ultraman has taken leave for an undisclosed amount of time but for sure he is not coming back in 2016. Beyond that, who knows?

 So what is going on? Several things were involved with that decision but we won't get into that other than to say  my heart just isn't in it right now.

 The first thing on the agenda is to stay healthy which is not getting off to such a great start. I may have to take off some time for the next week or two. I had hoped to return to the Ocean Isle Beach half Marathon coming up next weekend but that is now out of the plans. So with that let's assume I can resume running and training very quickly.

 No further plans for January other than train. Same goes for February unless I change my mind and find a 10k to run.  OK< back up a second. Goal # 1 is to run as fast as possible at Boston which explains why not much racing to start the year. I am going to maintain focus on the big picture. In years past I had done a lot of racing at least 20 to 25 a year. I did cut back a couple of years ago to focus more on quality than quantity and thats where I am staying.

 Now back to the plans. In March I am signed up for the Myrtle  Beach Half. Last year was the first time I hadn't been there since 2005 and if was still in February I would have probably skipped it again but the early March date fit my training. And thanks to Laura's influence I am returing to Wrightsville Beach again but this time I will just do the half for training. It is a good race and lot of fun and who knows, maybe someday I will do the Full marathon again.

 And then of course is Boston on April 18th. I am hoping for good health, good training and good weather all to combine for a great race !

 After April I don't have any particular race scheduled right now in May or June but the plan is to do some racing on the track, some mile and 1500m and maybe some 3k and 5k's I would really like to focus on getting as much speed out of the old body as possible. And I am sure I will find a 5k road race or two.

In July I am probably going to go run one of the classic road races, the Utica Boilermaker 15k if I can get in.

 August will be still concentrating on faster stuff either on the track or short road races.

 In September I am running the Virginia 10 miler in Lynchburg VA, another classic. If you don't know, I ran it for the 1st time in 1978 and had a fifteen year streak there. I ran it another two or three times but haven't been back since  around 1999 I think.. I am really looking forward to challenging those hills one more time.

 October is up in the air but I am considering the ATT 10 miler or maybe a couple of other road races.

 In November I have signed up for the Half at OBX. I have always run the Full including the first year in 06 and 6 other times. I just couldn't  go for personal reasons this past year but I decided I have to go back for myself and maybe even just to irritate some people. But instead of the full I wanted to do something different and focus on a fast half and hopefully make the podium and train for my next big attempt at the marathon.

 Which will be in December. Leaning towards Kiawah or Rocket City.

 And there you have it. Still a few blanks to be filled in and some things may change as they tend to do.

 I hope to share some miles this year with more of you and i really hope for more miles and fun with the best training partner ever. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015, the year in review

  And what a strange year it has been.  In many ways it has been a tough one and yet in others a very wonderful and rewarding one. As the year began there were so many changes I was facing that I wasn't really sure what I wanted for the most part. I was in really a dark spot in my life continuing from late 2014, the worst in nearly 20 years. But I refused to give in to the darkness. Knock me down and I will fight my way back up and come back even stronger. So I learned to accept the changes forced on me and used the lessons learned with the help of a bright star to light my new path.

  Many things I thought I would be doing had no meaning anymore but they were replaced with new dreams as the year moved on but lets focus on where I was in January. Just two big goals and beyond that nothing much. Qualify for Boston and finish Western States. So that made it really easy to plan the first 6 months of the year, or at least I thought as you will see.

  January started off with just some awesome training. I was really suprised at how quickly I had gotten back into shape after the 2 month hamstring injury  in the 2nd half of last year. The workouts with Laura were amazing and  she was (and is) such a great motivator and cheerleader and refused to let me get down. So with things going well I decided to return to the Ocean Isle Beach Run for Food Half Marathon for a test. As usual it turned out to be a cold windy day at the beach but despite slowing the last few miles I ran a decent 1:45:17 and won my age group. a great confidence boost going into the final 2 months of training for the BQ attempt.

 February was a tough month with lots of training in cold and icy conditions but the training continued to go well. But I had some freaky things happen involving a fall out of my car and off a treadmill among others that started some issues with my upper hamstring not to mention some excrutiating pain from some cracked ribs. But somehow I continued to work. And I decided to race the sweetheart 5k in Rocky Mount. turned out to be a surprisingly hilly course but I ran a strong even paced race in 22:18 and a 2nd place AG award.

 Afterwards the hamstring issue was giving me more problems and things were getting iffy.  Then just as March arrived and just a few weeks to go I was in trouble. I had been seeing John Stiner at Stiner Massage every two weeks since the injury last Sept but I felt I had really screwed up. I called him and made an emergency appointment which I had to drive to in a snow storm but he was able to patch me up and with a couple of days rest I was able to run nearly pain free with a week to go before the race.

 I decided to forgo my plans to go for a pr and just try and get the BQ at the Wrightsville Beach Marathon and hope the body held up.  Tada ! Success. Not the sub 3:40 I was hoping for but the 3:48 was good enough. And it never would have happened if Laura hadn't been there helping me train and then being there for me in the last 5.5 miles of the race. You can get the whole story here at this link.

With the BQ taken care of it was now time to switch focus and prepare for Western States. An easy recovery week and then I begin returning to some trail running and adding in more hills.
 In the middle of April I had the Run the Rock 50k in raven rock State park. IT was a warm muggy day but I still ran and felt pretty good all day and enjoyed about 11 miles of it with Kara but I also had two bad stumbles which did even more damage to my upper hamstring/lower glute area.

 I needed some time off but I was so focused on wanting to be ready for WS so i pushed on. And then it just quit on me. By the end of the month after another trail run in Umstead where I had another fall I was in too much pain and the leg just wouldn't go. I was forced to take time off and hope for quick healing.

 Long story short, I had some serious damage to the area and the healing didn't come quick. I missed the entire month of May and Itried  a couple of test runs but barely made it 1/4 mile before the pain was telling me to walk back home.  Then June came and still the same. A test run two weeks before WS was another total fail so I didn't even try again.

 My dream of finishing WS was gone but I went out there anyway and gave it my best shot which wasn't very much of one limping and falling and re-injuring myself with a dnf at 16 miles.

 July was just another month of rest and healing but finally in the last week I went for a test run walk and made it a mile pain free and within two weeks I was able to run 4 miles and hope for a future in running was returning. It's a good thing I didn't have many plans for the Fall. I had signed up for the Columbus Marathon in October with hopes of improving on my BQ time but other than that the remainder of the year was wide open.

 August was just easy running as I begin to rebuild. I was pretty happy with how quickly my pace returned but the endurance needed some work.

 Finally in September I felt I was ready to resume the Fun Fridays with Laura. I think I had missed that more than anything during the layoff for the injury. I was a bit worried if I could run fast enough and not hurt myself but the first one went great just like always and we had a most wonderful time.

 I signed up for the Holden Beach Half Marathon but knew it would be a slow one as I had not quite returned to racing shape and no real long runs  yet. To add to it the day turned out to be nasty hot and humid and windy ! It turned into a death march and my slowest half in 38 years of running but at least I didn't hurt myself.

 In October I decided to skip traveling to Columbus because I knew I wasn't ready to  race a quality marathon. Instead I opted to return to Danville Va and run a half marathon. Wow, what a difference from the month before. Instead of 78 and humid at the start it was 29F ! I felt great and ran a 1:43 :15.

 In November I normally would be either going to Mountain Masochist or OBX. This year was suppose to a 10th Anniversary run but after the experience after last years race I just couldn't see myself returning and there was nothing to celebrate. So instead I chose to run the Battleship half marathon in Wilmington, a race I last ran back in 1999 !

 I had another good race on  a dreary cool day in 1:44 and was quite pleased with the consistent effort.

 I ended the month with my 12 consecutive Derby 50k. I had hoped it would be a pr attempt but I still didn't have the endurance to match the leg speed just yet and a freaky warm day that had me running shirtless guaranteed a slow day so I just made the most of it and had some fun.

 And that concludes the report for 2015. December had just been a training month to begin getting ready for next year but that is another post. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Summer in December or training update w/e 12-27-15

 The first official week of Boston  training didn't quite get off to the start I was hoping for. After running in long pants and the other winter gear last Saturday and Sunday mornings, Summer decided to make a return at the Winter Solstice.

  Monday was actually quite nice in the 50's and I got in an easy 6 along the Neuse at my normal pace.

 Tuesday and a return to the track. Hard to beleive it was in the low 70's and I was doing speedwork shirtless. Although I was hitting my splits ok for some 800's at 10k pace and 400's at 5k pace it was harder than it should have been.

 Wednesday I was busy and I needed a rest day anyhow with my upper hamstring a bit angry.

 Thursday am was just a miserable morning. 72F and 100% humidity. Bad enough in July but really tough when you are acclimated to colder weather. A decent pace again but it felt like work trying to breathe.

 Friday morning, Christmas morning.  Sadly no Fun Friday this week with just too much going on with the holiday but it was probably a good thing. I felt worn down and struggled for 6 miles at much slower than normal as it was in the low 70's and humid again. No way I could have even run 1 mile with Laura at even our normal warm up pace. At least the hamstring continued to improve.

are those snow clouds? 72F !!

 I was hoping to get in a long run on Saturday, at least 16 miles and maybe more. Another morning of 100% humidity and upper 60's though made for another slow one. I didn't feel bad but just got stuck in a slow groove about 20 seconds per mile slower than my normal. I decided to quit at 12 and save it for a better day.

 Sunday was another easy 6. I waited a little later and the sun came out making the 64F and 96% humidity feel worse but at least I had a bit of zip back in me. I'm sure getting an extra 1.5 hours of badly needed sleep helped with that.

 So, there you have it. A couple of good runs and some miserable running weather for a total of 42.5 miles for the week. The weather is looking like it will gradualy get back into more normal temperatures for the season and I hope with it I began to feel better and able to get in the miles and workouts I have scheduled. Until then, stay tuned. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

And now it's on. Training update w/e 12-20-15

 Well, sort of officially calling this the Boston training kick off week. so how do you start? With a day off ! Yes, Monday was another tough work day and no time even though I tried to get an early start. But rest was a good thing after the strong 16 on Sunday.

 Tuesday it was time to head to the track again. After a 2 mile warmup on the greenway I was ready to go or at least I thought I was. Felt way to hard on the first quick lap so I bailed on the planned 800's and 400's Then I started over again slower with the idea to do some mile repeats. That worked ok but I was still a little slower than planned and working harder for it.

 Wednesday was tight on time but I did get out for 5 easy and I felt surprisingly good as I finished up just at sunset.

 Thursday  was an easy 6 at home. I felt ok but the legs were heavy and no zip although the last mile was decent. Think part of the dead legs was from doing squats at the gym yesterday.

 Then it was fun friday once again ! Yay my most favorite day ! Laura and I were back to our normal time this week and we did the same route as last week

. A little slower this time but we did some pick ups in mile 3 and 4 and then did a slower recovery mile 5 before a strong push to the end.  Once again I somehow rocked another great run with her leading the way. Hard to call a 48:42 10k slow !

 Saturday was another easy 6 at home and freezing temperatures were back after a week of mild weather. I wore long pants and a jacket ! I felt sluggish too and was feeling the hard effort from Fridays hard tempo.

 On sunday, it was a bit warmer at 36F and I had hoped to get in some marathon pace work in a moderate long run. I was feeling pretty good and nailed the workout as planned. 5 easy , then 3 x 2 miles in 16:05, 15:58 and 15:59.

 So there is another good week in the books. 41.5 miles as I slowly build the mileage. I hope to get it back up into the 50's by january if things continue to go well.

Monday, December 14, 2015

enough with the recovery, time to get on with it. training update w/e 12-13-15

 After a great recovery week I was ready to ease back into training and ease it was to start. Due to time constraints and working both jobs I couldn't get in a run on Monday.

 Tuesday I headed to the track for a short but sweet workout. 2 mile warmup, 2 x 800 in 3:34, 4 x 400 in 1:43-1:44 and a mile cooldown. Hmm, a bit harder than expected but it was the first time back on the track in awhile.

 Wednesday was another tough day of work but I was able to squeeze in an easy 5. Surprised to set a segment pr going up house creek hill without trying to.

 Thursday was a planned easy day and I got it with another rest day caused by my car breaking down.

 Almost missed out on Fun Friday. Laura had a busy day ahead but messaged me that if I ould meet earlier we could run. Yay! Whatever it takes ! So a 5:45 start in the dark. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel and we didn't even talk about or plan a workout as we just decided to run and see what happened. Went the opposite direction for a change. Good warmup mile and as always happens I was soon cruising along at tempo pace with a 7:42 over the two hills.

  She wanted to detour through a neighboorhood she likes to do speedwork in and somehow I nailed a 7:33 and 7:39 through there. With about 1.5 to go we ran into Bill and he ran the rest of the way with us. A 7:53 back over the hills. ( I was getting a bit tired) And then in the last mile she had me doing surges and crushed the last mile in 7:20 ! Total of 6.2 at 7:43 average and my best overall with her !

 Saturday was an unseasonably warm and very humid morning. I went for an easy 6 at Anderson Point on the Neuse. I think I had more soreness from FF than I did from Derby !  Felt sluggish and a very slow opening mile down to the river but then I felt good and was crusing at my new normal easy pace and somehow ran an 8:20 back up to the point. Sweated buckets !

 Sunday I was hoping to get in a good long run targeting 16 on another warm humid morning. Wasn't really feeling it and was slow and easy until around mile 5 I finally felt smooth. After mile 8 I decided to see if I could do a bit of an easy progression and was happy the body responded well. After 14 I backed off again and was happy to get in the miles and average 8:54 pace.

 So there it is, a good transition week with 39.2 miles and now  time to get into the Boston training. Stay tuned for more training action !

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Turning 60 and a great training, err, recovery week.

So now I am 60 and moving into a new age group ! I do expect that I will continue to have a lot of tough competition but I am planning to  make the other guys work for it !
 I have been looking forward to this one for awhile now. 60 sounds a lot better than 59 but I'm done now. Lets not have any more !!

 But seriously, I sometimes wonder where the time has gone. I have to say that I am quite proud of where I am  right now. I never would have imagined that at this age I would be in nearly the best shape of my life, Sure, I can't touch the  20 and 30 year old pr's but I can at least be close to some from my 40's and early 50's. and as far as strength and fitness I don't know that I have ever been any been stronger or looked better in my life.  It didn't happen by accident though. If you know me you know that over the past 3 years I have been  doing core, body weight or free weight workouts nearly 7 days a week, sometimes twice a day in addition to all the running and the work has paid off.

 My weight is hovering around 138 now, only 3 pounds more than me at 25 and that is muscle. A little over three years ago I was 148 and no muscle and a  some love handles showing  around the waist despite running over 2,000 miles a week.

 In addition to the fitness I am even happier to be healthy. I know that anything could happen but right now I am  feeling great. I went to the Dr for an upper respiratory  infection after returning from California in the summer and other than that I had not been to a Dr for sickness since an ear infectioin in 1985 !!

 Enough of that for now, how about the "recovery" week

 Well, Ultraman left me some of his super powers while he is off fighting Superman.

 On Monday I took a rest day !

 Tuesday I had the time an desire and amazingly no soreness from the 50k so I went for an easy 4 at home. and wow, the pace was right where it would have been before racing.

 Wed was a  6 miler again at my now normal 8:49 average pace and no soreness.

 Thursday was an easy 5 at Crabtree in  yes,  8:49 average ! 

 I was looking forward to Fun Friday resuming but a little worried if I could hold a decent pace to keep up with Laura. I have never had a bad workout with her before. And, the streak of awesomness continued ! With no planned workout we just ran how I felt and ended up doing a great tempo run for 5 miles after an opening 8:20 mile. We were only off the course pr by 17 seconds but I ran relaxed the while time, no side stitch or nausea coming over the last mile or two. How cool is that ! what 50k?

 Saturday was another easy 6 at 8:47 average on the Crabtree Creek section from AndersonPoint. Notice the consistency?

 Sunday was a gorgeous morning and I went over toward Clayton and ran an easy half marathon for my birthday run in 1:56:23, an 8:53 pace.

So there you have it. A great week, a milestone birthday and big things to come. Stay tuned for a year end update coming soon and looking ahead to the coming year. !

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Derby # 12 and a little training thru 11-29-15

 With the race coming up I planned an easy week, almost a taper !

 Started off Monday with an easy 4 miles at home.

 Tuesday I hit Umstead for some hills. Felt really good and the hills seemed easy ! But maybe not the best thing to do before the race.

 Wednesday was a flat easy 5 along the crabtree greenway.

 Thanksgiving Day was another easy 5 along the Neuse on a lovely afternoon.

And Friday was a rest day !

  As for the race, I will spare you the long report . As expected the lack of long runs came into play and the great weather forecast the week before turned out not so good. with sun and low 70's

 I started off at my normal easy pace and after about a mile, Mark Johnson caught up to me and we ran that whole first lap together. I commented to him around mile 4 that I was ok but just not feeling it. This pace should have felt so much easier.

Early miles with Mark Johnson. Photo by Ginger Watson

 Finished that 1st 10,5 mile loop right on pace but I was already sweating so I took off my shirt. Can hardly beleive I would ever run Derby Shirtless ! Usually it's a battle to stay warm !

 By mile 14 and another trip over the Pappy Rabb hills I knew it was over and so after the easy next few miles at 17 I shut it down and began a run walk just to get it done with as little suffering as possible.

 A part of me just wanted to quit and save it for another day at the end of lap 2 at mile 21 but no way I was going to do that unless I was injured so off I went for lap 3, I actually took a little time to talk at the aid stations and get my bottle refilled on this last one. and then after leaving the last one with about 3.3 miles to go I suddenly began to feel a lot better and  picked up the pace quite a bit.

 So Derby #12 is in the books. As always a great little race. Thanks to Mark Long for putting on this gem and all the great volunteers, most of whom are friends. I think the spaghetti lunch afterwards may have been the best ever  and as always the best part is the post run socializing.

 I am very thankful that I made it through the entire race pain free ! So glad everything held up. Big thanks to Stiner Massage for keeping me rolling !

 I am 99.9% sure I want be back next year for #13 as I am taking  time off from ultras for the forseeable future but hopefully I can be one of the volunteers next time !

 I rested on Sunday to complete the week by the way but took a leisurely walk for 3 miles along the beautiful Neuse Greenway to loosen up a bit and enjoy the day.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Good- bye Ultraman.

 Yes, our good friend Ultraman  has to leave us again, probably to fight that pesky Superman one more time. Hope he can return someday but I don't know right now if he will.

 Seriously. No more Ultras, at least for the forseeable future. You people I told today I was retiring thought I was kidding but I am not. And no, this is not the usual joke we all say after a rough day.  Actually I made this decision about two months ago. During the 3 month layoff from the injury over the Summer I had a lot of time to think about what I really wanted to do in the coming year. Well, lots of things but I can't do them all so I have to listen to what my heart is telling me it wants to pursue right now and that is speed. Well, as much speed as a 60 year old can come up with.

  The plan right now is to recover and then begin training for the Boston Marathon in April and a few half marathons will be included in that buildup. I may never go back and I would like for this 3rd trip to Boston to be a fast one !

 After Boston then I really shift gears and get into some serious speed. I plan to race more short distance races and in the summer return to the track for the first time in 16 years and race some mile and 1,500's as well as some track 5k's.

 Beyond that I am not really sure and a lot depends on how those races go . Hopefully I can strike fear into the hearts of the other 60's age groupers LOL !  I may try next Fall and Winter to compete in some of the Running Journal Series races and see how well I can compete there but that decision will have to wait awhile.

 Over the past  nearly 14 years now I have completed about 80 ultras from 50k up to a 211 mile 3 day race as well as some pretty tough 100 milers. I have attained almost all the goals I set out to acccomplish so nothing to prove. I do still have a few dream goals but whether I choose to pursue them at some point I can't say.  The are so many events in gorgeous locations that I would like to run so who knows, maybe someday I will. I can say that the best thing about the ultras for me have been the many friends I have made along the way and many shared miles. I will miss that the most.

 So for now it is time to move on. I do hope many of you will still see me at some other events and continue to follow along as I embark on this new phase and maybe, just maybe someday the fire to run long will return.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Derby Preview and Training week ending 11-22-15

 Yes, it is about Derby time again. For the new readers, that is the Derby 50k, a sweet low key road run in the middle of nowhere put on by Mark Long and the Mangum Track Club. this will be my 12th year in a row in what has become my annual Thanksgiving weekend tradtion.

2014 about 10 mile mark. It was a bit cold.

 I have had some good runs there over the years including a few pr's. I've also had a couple of bad years and I have run with friends in the past in their 1st ultras. It had been a long time since I ran a fast one there, mainly because over the past several years I have either been coming off of an injury or I am a bit worn down from running OBX marathon which I have done 7 years. LAst year I was both coming off an injury, running OBX and then a fast 5 k the week before. No surprise after a fast first 10 miles I slowed down quite a bit !

  This year I was hoping to go for a pr since I didn't go to OBX  but there was the old injury bug keeping me out for 3 months. At least I am healthy now and the training is going great but I have not had time to build up with the long runs. So far I have only done a few 13 and 14 mile runs and then last weekend my longest so far of 16. I wish I could have gotten in a few 20 milers but now I will just have to do the best I can.

  Who knows? I still may have a long shot at the pr but everything will have to go perfectly and then a miracle on top of that. At least the weather forecast is looking great. I'll just run how I feel and see if I can keep from blowing up .

  So, I did have another awesome week of training last week.

 I started off Monday with an easy 4 at home .

 Tuesday was an easy 7 along the beautiful neuse greenway

 Wednesday another run from home on a foggy morning with some strides for a little zip.

 Thursday was an unseasonably warm morning with rain. I needed to get an early start so I drove to the neuse at trailhead. Just as I was walking to the start , Laura drove up. That was a nice surprise so we ran the first 2.5 miles together. As aways a bit quicker than my normal with a 7:38 second mile that felt easy. As she continued on I turned and headed back still averaging at my current BQ pace !

 And then it was time for Fun Friday !  It was a beautiful morning and we planned on some half mile repeats, aiming for about 7:15 pace. Well, I was having a great day and the slowest of 5 was at 7:12 and a couple were around 6:54 pace. We did a recovery mile and then pushed the finishing segment and I got a pr for that and the time for the whole 6 mile route was anothe pr by 15 seconds. I still have never had a bad workout with her and she continues to bring out the best in me and make me smile while iI feel like  I'm about to die.

 Saturday was a recovery day with an easy 5.

 Sunday was back to the neuse at the dam for a 10 miler. I didn;t want to go longer with the race coming up so I thought if I felt good I would do a little faster pace. I felt really good so after 5 I did a tun and burn with the last 5 at a bit faster than marathon pr pace.

 Ended up with another 43 mile week.

 So stay tuned. I hope to have a race report up for you soon. "Until then Happy Thanksgiving !

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A week of recovery fun ending 11-15-15

 After the race last Sunday it was time to take it easy for a few days. The last thing I want now with things going so well is to have to go backwards. The good thing is unlike after the Danville half last month, I was having no pains other than the normal soreness of a hard race effort.

 So I took off monday from any running but I did resume the cross training. On tuesday I was a little rushed for time but wanted to get out on a nice afternoon and was able to squeeze in 4 easy miles at a decent pace.

 On Wednesday I was really surprised to feel so good on my 6 miler in the morning. After warming up I averaged about 8:30 pace for the last 5 and it was almost effortless. I guess I really am getting into decent shape again and the cooler (finally) Fall weather is so nice. Thursday was almost a repeat of Wednesday with just about the same pace for another 6 at an easy effort.

 I was eager to resume Fun Friday with Laura and we were able to meet at the usual early 6:15 am at our normal place on the greenway. IT was perfect weather but only 5 days since the race so I didn;t know what to expect. We didn't plan a workout but just started running and just going to go with whatever happened. I was hoping to at least go sub 8 and after a warmup in 8:27 we just put it on cruise control.
 As always we were having a great time together and somehow I can still smile during a 7:33 mile with her. We ended up averaging 7:41 for the next 4 miles, the strongest tempo pace run snce the comeback and one of our best ever. In fact with a cooldown mile of 8 flat, we shattered the course record for the two of us by 30 seconds and it never felt like I was pushing too hard ! Woohoo !

 I put in another easy 5 on Saturday at the now normal pace, sub 9 average.

 Then Sunday it was long run day. So far the longest run has been 14 miles and I was hoping to get in at leat 16. It was a gorgeous morning and the temps were great, about 45 when I started and 55 when I was done.  I never really thought I was feeling all that good but I just kept ticking off solid sub 9 miles other than the ones climbing over the "hump"  a hill that is Umstead worthy where the greenway moves away from the river for about 3 miles and I felt strong and had a decent pace over them.

 So I ended up with 43 miles for the week. Looking forward to some good weather and some solid training in the week ahead. Stay tuned.