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.
Turns 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 !