Wednesday, March 30, 2011

35,000 miles and counting

During the last 2 miles of my long run this past Saturday, I passed another milestone in my running surpassing 35,000 miles since I began running on June 7th 1977. I had actually attempted running the summer before but after a couple of weeks I stopped. When I made the decision to start again I was committed to continuing with it and recorded my 1st run on the chart pictured above. I chose to make the chart like a calender and have been using the same loose leaf charts now for almost 34 years and I am about to fill up page 178.

At the time I began, things were a whole lot different than they are now. Although I was aware of the Boston Marathon and had been a fan of the Olympics, I did not know a single person that was a runner.I was aware that "jogging" was used by some as a way to exercise. If you notice the points I was recording on the chart, that is from a system devised by Dr. Ken Cooper in his first book "Aerobics" There had been an article in Readers Digest magazine back when the book was written in 1968 and my family had bought the book after reading the article. I was 12 at the time and my brother was 16. Being competitive siblings we of course tried to score the most points counting our basketball , tennis, walking, biking and for a short while our running. Yes,we took a wooden yardstick and measured a 7 lap to the mile course around the perimeter of our 2 acre yard. That didn't last long before we moved on to other things.

So fast forward again to 1977, I re-read the book and devised a plan to add an aerobic component to my fledgling body-building routine. The book really had no instruction on running that I recall, just a study of how aerobic exercise was good for the heart and with charts placed a value on different activities such as bicycling, swimming, tennis , basketball, walking and of course jogging. It would be about 4 months before I would find a Runner's World magazine. It was about 6 months later that I found Jim Fixx's Complete Book of Running and there was no internet so I was having to learn to run completely on my own.

It would not be until March of 1978 that I heard of a "fun run" in North Carolina. Of course there had been other races and there was the beginning running boom, it's just that I had no way of knowing about it. In addition to the charts, I began a running journal a couple for days before that first race. It began as a loose leaf notebook, but in 1979. I started using 6x 9 notebooks. It would be over a year after I started running that I found out about the North Carolina Track Club. I did join but was intimidated by these "real runners" and despite running sub 8 minute pace in club fun runs I would usually end up in last place.

Things are a whole lot better these days. I have so many friends in the NCRC, MTC and VHTRC. I have several regular running partners, mostly my beautiful angels and Princess. There are more races and fun runs every weekend than I could ever possibly run in. With the internet I have a whole online community of runners on Facebook, Daily Mile, and the ultralist among others and limitless resources to peruse at my convenience while relaxing on my couch.

An interesting fact pertaining to the accumulation of those 35 thousand miles is that half of them have been run in just the past 9 years.It was in 2002 that I was bitten by a radioactive spider.No that was Spiderman. Umm, I was zapped with an overdose of gamma rays. No, that was the Hulk. Ok my home planet was destroyed and I escaped to earth and the Sun gave me super powers. No that's not right. Oh yeah ! Due to a small brain and a lack of rational thinking I ran my first ultra while averaging about 20 miles a week with maybe 3 runs of 13 miles and one 16 and one 17 miler in the year leading up to it. And so was born ULTRAMAN !

Looking forward to the next 35 thousand.
Stay Tuned.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tobacco Road Half Marathon 2011

You gotta love it when things go just like you planned and you really have to love it when they go even better than planned. The one big thing I didn't have control over was the weather and it turned out that if I could have, I would not have been able to plan for it to be more perfect than what we had on race morning.

Woke up at 4am and followed my usual pre-race routine and then made the 45 minute drive to Cary to meet up with Ultra Angel, Mountain Girl, Marathon Princess and Mr Minimalist, aka Jenn, Lisa, Karla and Frank, to shuttle over to the race starting area. The temperature was a near perfect 44F and calm, ideal for racing. About 20 minutes before the start, Lisa and I ran a warm-up mile and then made our way to the starting corral. Although there were over 2,000 starters hardly anyone was near the front so I lined up near there behind 1:30 pace group although I was aiming for 1:45. Due to issues with buses bring runners from the satellite parking area we had a 15 minute delay to get started.

Finally we got the command to start and I used my experience of over 300 races to stay calm and go out at a relaxed pace. the first three miles of the race are on roads leading to the American Tobacco Trail. We have trained on the course a few times as well as my running the full marathon last year so a big part of my plan was to use my knowledge of the course to maximize my pacing strategy. I knew the first mile had a few small hills and as always it's good not too go out too fast. To run my goal of 1:45 I would need to average 8:00 per mile pace so I was very pleased to hit the first mile spit in exactly 8:00. Ultraman, the human metronome !

Mile 2 has quite of bit of nice downhill so I hoped to use gravity to an advantage and get a little time cushion without having to increase the effort. By now I was warmed up and everything was feeling good. Legs had some zip and breathing was controlled and relaxed the energy level was great. hit mile 2 in 7:31 and it felt easy. Sweet!

The main reason I wanted to run mile 2 well was because mile 3 is mostly a gradual uphill. As soon as the climbing began I eased off the pace and relaxed enough to make sure I maintained an easy effort and not worry about the time. Once again the plan was perfect as I passed mile 3 in 8:03 for a total time so far of 23:34. As we turned on to the trail I knew that the next mile over to White Oak had an ever so slight incline so I was going to just relax, make sure I was completely recovered from the hill and not worry about pace yet.

Went through mile 4 in 8:13,a little slower than I liked but I knew that for the next couple of miles there is a slight decline so I worked my way around the congestion of runners slowing at the water stop and kicked the pace up a notch. Fell into a nice groove and when I passed mile 5 in 7:46 I was already feeling very confident that I was going to make my goal and so I just put it on cruise control. The next couple of miles were just awesome. what a wonderful feeling to be moving at a slightly faster pace than needed and it seems almost effortless. Days like this are pretty rare and I was really enjoying the day. Mile 6 was 7:49, and then mile 7 was a quick 7:35.

In the next mile the trail would once again begin a slight incline so i was careful to back off the effort just a little bit. Even slowing down I went through mile 8 in 7:53, still adding a little to my time cushion which now was over a minute. Just a little further and we made a u-turn and headed back in the other direction. I hadn't gone too far when I saw Lisa a few minutes behind me . she looked strong and I estimate that she was close to her pr pace.

I was still just cruising along and enjoying looking for other friends coming towards me. Hadn't gone far when I saw Ultramarathon Mom Amy running with Gary and the 2:00 pace group. She was a last minute entry but her training with me is paying off and she looked strong and relaxed. After awhile I was worrying because I hadn't seen a 9 mile mark. a glance down at my watch showed over 11 minutes since my last split so I knew I either missed it or there wasn't one. the course was on a little incline again and I could feel the effort now but hoping I wasn't slowing down.

Finally went by the 10 mile mark and couldn't help but smile to see that I had ran the past two miles in 15:32, a 7:45 pace. Oh yeah ! Just past that mark the course turns off of the trail and onto roads for the last 5k. There are a couple of small hills and now I was feeling like I was racing instead of just cruising along. I could have easily backed off and coasted it in with a time under my goal but that is not in my nature. This is a RACE and if I've got anything I'm going to use it.

Mile 11 was an 8:08 but then I knew the next two were predominately flat or downhill so I pushed it up a notch again and was able to drop it back down to 7:50 for mile 12. There's one very short but at this point a nasty little hill in the last mile but after that it is smooth sailing to the finish. hit mile 13 in 7:55, then made the turn and ran the last .1 strong. 1:43:03 ! Woohoo ! 2 minutes under my goal time and if I had known I was going to be that close I could have found another 4 seconds to go under 1:43.

I quickly made my way through the finish chute and grabbed my camera and ran back to look for Lisa. She was right on schedule and got a new PR, but the battery was dead in my camera so I missed the shot. We had plenty of time before Frank and Karla would be in so we went to put on some warm clothes since it was still in the low 50's and the wind had picked up.

After awhile we went back to look for Karla. She ran well considering the foot injury and lack of training and look relaxed and smiling as she finished. A few minutes later Frank was done. We spent some time hanging out and visiting with so many of our friends that were there. That's a great thing about these local races. I can't remember how many times I heard people cheering for me at so many places along the course but it was inspiring and greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your support ! And thanks to John Tate for taking the picture above just before the 12 mile mark.

After awhile i took Lisa and the Werners back to their car and then return to wait and watch Jenn finish the full marathon. Sat around with Amy and Charles until it was about time for her. She didn't run as well as she would have liked but as always she ran well and looked great.

On to the next one which just happens to be BOSTON ! Stay tuned

Friday, March 18, 2011

Getting ready for another test at tobacco road half

This Sunday I'll be returning to The Tobacco Road Half Marathon as a final test run before the final phase of Boston training. Last year I did the full marathon where I got my qualifier along with my training partners Karla and Lisa. It just happened that the timing of this race fit perfectly into the schedule building up to Boston so the three of us planned and entered it early to guarantee a spot in the race which once again is full.

As I noted in a recent post , my training has been going well and I just completed another great week of running. Although I haven't focused on this race I would still like t perform well so even though I haven't done a real taper I did back off on the mileage a little bit this week. It looks like we will get lucky with great weather again like last year, with the start in the mid 40's and warming up to the upper 60's but probably no higher than the 50's by the time I finish.

Frank will once again be running the half and since Karla has been dealing with foot issues since last Fall they will probably be close this year. The Ultra Angel Jenn will be running the full as well as Jerry. There are lots of other friends and a big presence from the NCRC so I'm looking forward to a lot of fun Sunday morning !

And in case you're wondering I'm going for the sub 1:45 again. Hopefully with no being sick and no gale force winds I'll be able to do it.

Stay tuned

Saturday, March 12, 2011

5 weeks until Boston, a training update

Although not the highest mileage week I've done I feel that this one may have been one of the most intense and rewarding. After running the 5k last Saturday I had decided to skip my usual Monday marathon pace workout on the greenway and instead just put in some easy miles out at Umstead. But once I got started out there on a perfect day for running and was feeling pretty good after the 1st mile, I got the crazy idea to hammer the course. I was running what I call the "T" route which I have probably done over 50 times in the last 7 years and my best time on the route was set back in 2007. I have not come close to that time since then and was not expecting to come within a few minutes of it on this day. Boy howdy was I surprised when I just kept clicking off the miles and running up the hills like they were bumps. By the end of the run I had beaten my best by nearly 4 minutes ! Talk about a confidence booster !

So Tuesday was suppose to be my day for mile repeats. Probably not a good idea a day after hammering 12.4 miles of hills and I was really hoping Amy would want to wait until Wednesday to do it. No luck, so we met on the greenway with my depleted and sore legs. Amazingly once we got started about halfway through the first repeat I felt great and we did all of them faster than the same workout 2 weeks ago and added an extra one.

Wednesday was tough. I was tired and felt beat up so I just ran an easy 6. Maybe I should have just rested but I wanted to run. Thursday I was feeling a little better and had a fun 10 miler in the rain.

On Friday you would think I would have run easy again but at the last minute I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and do a tempo run while at Umstead. Ok. So I did 2 x 2mile repeats at 10k race pace. Once again I felt great !

Finished up the week with a very nice 12.3 miles on the greenway with Jenn The Ultra Angel. 53 miles total for the week with 3 hard but very satisfying workouts.

Back in November of last year I made out a training plan for Boston that I would begin a week after resting after the Derby 50K. So far I have been able to stick to the plan and have not missed any of the key workouts and on all of the those I was able to complete them at the planned paces. The only workout I had to cut short was a planned 20 miler that I quit at 18 because I hadn't recovered completely from being sick. It seems the timing for getting sick worked out ok because it hit me on what was suppose to be an easy recovery week anyway.

Hopefully the next couple of weeks will continue to go as well as the past three months. After that I'll have 3 weeks to taper before the big one. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

WakeMed Cary Distance Festival 5k

A little chilly and foggy on the drive over to Cary but after checking in it looked like it would be a nice morning for the race. I found Lisa and with about 30 minutes before the start we went for a warm up mile. By then the sun was shining , with perfect temps in the 50's so it was singlet running weather. Today would be my debut racing for The Athlete's Foot Cameron Village Racing Team.

A few strides minutes before the start and we were ready to go. I had noticed while warming up that there were some hills I didn't remember from running the 10K eleven years ago but was hoping the rest of the course may be flat. A look around showed there were probably a little over 100 starters (124 finished) and I didn't notice any really fast looking old guys. Looks can be deceiving though but I felt sure if I ran well I would get an age group award.

I was able to get off to a good start since there's a nice downhill for the 1st 1/4 mile. I used it to get up to speed and was very happy that the legs were feeling good and had some zip in them. Reached mile one in 7:01. I was hoping to be a little faster but that was fast enough to go sub 22:00 which was my goal for the day. The 5k course is an out and back so as we approached the turn around I could see everyone ahead of me and at that point I was in about 15th overall. As I began the return trip I saw Lisa coming. I thought she may have been a little closer the way she has been running lately but she looked comfortable.

My hope that the remainder of the course would be flat was not to be. Although there were no really big hills in the middle of the course there were several small ones and at 5k race pace they hurt and make a difference. I was a little disappointed to hit mile 2 in 7:21. I was still feeling good but I knew now my time goal was not going to happen. No worries though. I was still determined to run as fast as possible and beat as many people as I could.

Just past the 2 mile point a young lady passed me but I couldn't go any faster to respond so I just dug in pushing as hard as I could. As we reached the half mile to go sign it it was now time to have to payback the fast start with the hardest climb on the course back up the hill to the starting line. As expected it hurt, had me gasping and groaning and slowed me down but I knew once I reached the top it was the turn for home and a 2 block downhill finish.

As I made the turn I could hear someone coming up fast behind me. I didn't want to get passed but I was already going hard and didn't want to sprint. Fortunately with about 50 yards to go the footsteps faded. I looked back after crossing the finish and saw it was a teenager. So I finished in 16th place overall, 1st in the 50-59 age-group with a time of 22:29. Very happy with the effort and placing.

I waited for Lisa to finish and then after a little water and catching our breath, we went to run our cool down. That was fun because we ran back onto the course with the 10k runners that go right by the 5k start and run the 5k course for the 2nd half of their race. Our cool down pace was very close to the pace of the runners in the race at that point and because of the out and back we were able to see and cheer for all the runners in that one.

Overall a very good morning.It was nice to see many friends and acquaintances , many which also placed in their age groups. Lisa was 2nd in hers.

Here are the results

On to the next one which will be the Tobacco road Half Marathon in 2 weeks, a last tuneup before Boston

Friday, March 04, 2011

A little test and a little fun

My training is back on track and I'm feeling 100% after getting sick 3 weeks ago so I'm feeling confident as we move into the Spring racing season. Of course the focus is on being in my best shape for Boston right now and so far I have been able to stay on the schedule I laid out last Fall and haven't missed any key workouts.

This Saturday, March 5th I have decided to run the Wake Med Cary 5k for a little fun and as a test to see how the speed is going. I had not included this one in the original training plan but saw a couple of months ago that the timing was about perfect for it. I have never run the 5k at this race before but back in 1999 and 2000 when I was on the comeback from my knee injury (soccer) in 98, I ran the 10K version. I haven't raced a 10k in almost 2 years but decided that the 5k fit the plan a little better.

You may have noticed that the picture above is a little old. I haven't had that dark hair in a very long time. It was taken at the Zebulon Freedom Run 5k on July 4th and I'm almost positive that it was in 1982, maybe 83. If it is 82, then I am in the process of running my 5k pr of 18:40. At the time I was still living in Fayetteville before I had moved to Zebulon. Another cool thing about this race was that my Mother, brother and wife also ran that day. I will not be running anywhere close to 18:40 in Cary this Saturday but you can bet I'll be giving 100% effort.

Stay tuned for the results

Oh, and for you NCRC and Raleigh area runners, that is Jim Young, former NCRC President and owner of Young and Associates timing company just behind me with the cool socks. He will be timing the race this weekend.