Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why runners stop racing

Why do older runners stop racing. This is a topic that has been touched on several times in our monthly club news letter. After reading about it again and again, I felt I wanted to offer my opinion on the topic and in sight into where I see my self going.

When I started running in 1983, I gave little thought to quiting. In fact I only ran in a local race at the urging of my high school basketball coach. And I would have stopped shortly there after if he had not kept dragging us to races.

Then, some where along the way, I transitioned from someone not planning to run another step to someone that has been running every day since Oct 0f 1986.

Through all those years I have made many friends through running. I greeted them during the first attempts at racing. I watched them as progressed into very good runners. Then, sadly, I missed them as they faded away - not racing and sometimes not even running.

Part of the reason, I think starts with our life choices. As we grow older, we start to settle down and have families. A lot of these family activities take place on Saturday morning - soccer, baskeball, and/or swimming. These activities tend to consume the excess free time that we once used for running.

When I was in my twenties, running, getting another pair of running shoes, and money for races were my only concerns.

Once I got married and had children, I found that were was more to life than just running and races. I found that I enjoyed my daughter's soccer matches as much as I did racing my buddies. Which lead me to take an even deeper plunge, I coached one of my daughter's soccer teams on Saturday morning. Honestly, I didn't miss going to races and I have to say it was the best time of my life.

But there are other reasons why runners stop racing. As we grow older, we tend to slow down. Some runners have more difficulty dealing with ageing than others. Knowing that once they had ran 15, 16, 17 minute 5Ks and now they are running 20 minute 5Ks is too much for them to handle. Rather than face the prospect of running slower, they mostly avoid the situation by staying away from races. I can understand this mindset. Old "PR"s are like ghost of Christmas past, they haunt us in our endeavor to best them.

The last point that I want to make is in regard to "hurt". Perhaps this is what is happening to me. Running by no means is an easy sport. Each stride yields a pounding of 3 times our body weight on our bones and muscles. Pushing our bodies hard leaves us sore and tired. Over the years, it tends to wear on us.

Then, at some point we stop racing because we stop training so hard. Certainly, it is easier to run 8 miles at a comfortable pace than to run an 8 mile tempo run or interval run. Growing older and wiser, all of us at some point ask if it is really worth it.

Maybe we all reach a point where it is easier to just hang the racing flats in the corner. I like running, and I don't see a reason for quiting but I am not so sure about racing. Life is so rich with things to do, I hope I don't spend my entire life pounding out fartlek workouts and long runs.

-BTW I have always had this dream of life on a small Caribbean Island - just fishing, watching the waves roll in, and clouds passing over head. Maybe, just maybe, I will still want to run on those sandy beaches.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mizuno's Body Warming Technology

With my RFYL gift certificate, I picked up the new Mizuno hat and gloves. These two items were made with Mizuno's body warming technology.

Don't ask me to explain it because I have no idea how they do it.

But given that is 43 degrees a couple of mornings back, I decided to try them. Maybe it was not the best day for a test drive but then when you have a new toy, no one wants to wait very long to see how it works.

For my official report, both my head and hands were quite warm and dry for the entire run. Even after taking a tumble in the dirt, both gloves and hat continued to function.

After the run, I noticed that mositure had collected on the outside of the hat but the inside was still dry.

I want to reserve another test day which is much colder. Being that it is December, I should get a new test in very soon and when I do, I will post another update.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Life in Slow Motion

They say that right before your die that you life flashes before your eyes. I don't know if this is true or not. Crossing that bridge is not something that I am ready to try.

But I am convinced that just before any accident happens to you every thing goes into the slow motion.

Back in Oct, an SUV and I collided and I took the rougher half of it. Then, today, I took a roll in dirt while running on the trails North Meck. Park.

Both times, when I realized what was going to happen, everything just seemed to slow down. It was like I could see it happening frame by frame - picture by picture.

In both instance, the same thought raced through my head, this is going to hurt.

And then, it happens and it is over.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Made My Day

I got a Christmas Card from Bob M. and family in the mail yesterday and today I set down to open and read it.

If you remember back a few posts, Bob was looking for help getting shoes for his athletes. I wrote about stepping up to help.

In Bob's Christmas Card, he thanked me again and also enclosed notes from the 2 athletes that got the shoes. I read their notes several times and was extremely gratified to know that the shoes had helped.

Knowing that I made a difference, it made my day.

Christmas comes early for me

This year Christmas came early for me. Back in November I had finished 4th in the Run For Your Life GP series. For my efforts, I got this nice little gift card. It was not a huge amount but these days every little bit helps.

Well, yesterday I made it by the Run For Your Life Store to redeem it.

First, I went shoe shopping and picked out a nice pair of NB 1224. These are newest the line and if they are anything like the 1223 shoe, I know that I will love them. I picked up a pair of 1223 for my marathon training last spring. Every time that I put on these shoes, I just felt like running fast. So, I can wait to start my marathon training in '09.

After settling on the 1224, it was time for some clothes shopping. Now, if you asked me to pick matching pants, shirts, and sweaters, I would not have a clue. But ask me to pick matching tights, tops, and shorts and suddenly I am mister color coordinated. But then, running clothes are much easier to match up when the base color is black. :)

After going through the tops and tights, I settled on 2 pair of NB running tights - solid black with only a NB logo on one leg. I am pretty sure it will match with anything in my running wardrobe. :)

I had heard Cody talking about these new Mizuno gloves and hats. The materials are able to extract heat from the moisture coming from the body and use it to keep the skin warm. They are little on the expensive side, but I decided it was worth splurging. I picked up 1 pair of gloves and 1 hat. I will let you know if the actually work.

With everything hand, I headed for the register. I ended up being just a few dollars over but I reasoned that it was okay. After all Christmas only comes once per year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stuck in Mud

Before I tell the story, yes, it did happen. And no, I didn't think to take any pictures, but yes, I do have witnesses. Megan and Ben saw me.

Ok, now for the story.

Yesterday, I met Ben and Megan for a run on the trails at Ann Springs. I have run at Ann Springs several times but in all honesty, I still don't know my way around. And Ben isn't helping by taking me on a different portion of the trail each time. But this is a different story.

Well, about 3/4 of the way through our run, we hit a patch of the trail that was basically mud and water. I was doing pretty good job of steering through both.

Until, we hit this one really bad and long patch. I was following behind Megan and Ben but for some reason I veered off course and through the deeper sections of the mud.

Did I mention that we were moving a good clip at the time.

About half way through this section, I took about 2 steps and then about 3 or 4 more steps. However, the last 3 or 4 steps, I took without my shoe. Ugh. My Thorlo sock was soaked and had turned dark from the mud.

To make matter worse, I had to walk back through the mud and water to retrieve my shoe. There is nothing worse than feeling mud and very cold water soaking through your sock.

I pulled once, twice, three times before pulling the shoe clear of the mud. Not stuck, it was more like glued into the mud. Staring into my shoe and just realizing then, I now had to stick my wet and muddy sock into a clean inside of my shoe. Mentally, I believe this hurt the worst.

For the next 3 or 4 miles, I felt like I was running with one heavy foot and one light foot.

Events like this just make life all the more interesting and is basically why I like hitting the trails.

I would never have had this experience just running on these asphalt covered trails that we like to call roads.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Over Saturation of Road Races

The Running Journal arrives at my doorstep once per month and I quickly devour the contents. Specifically, I enjoy reading the articles from the contributing writers. One of the contributing writers for the Running Journal is Cedric Jaggers. Unlike my writings, Cedric's columns are always well thought out.

In the December issue of the RJ, Cedric touched on a topic of which I have been following at a distance. In Cedric's article, he noted that he had seen the softening of race times in many races. And that many of those times were slower than he and his wife's PRs. From this point, Cedric took the rest of his column to explain how inducing some speedwork into our workouts might just improve some of these slow race times.

While I agree with Cedric comments. Adding speedwork would be the right step to improve any one's race times and ultimately, the winning times in road races.

However, as I look as this issue, I took a different perspective on it.

Well, let me back up for a second. When I took my first pass at exploring the topic on slowing race times, I took this to mean there are too many road races. And to some extent this is still a true statement. It seems that every organization in America is looking to raise money for their efforts and they see having a 5k road race as the fastest and easiest way to do it. Or at least that is the way that it seems.

But the great thing about being a lonely long distance runner is that it gives you plenty of time to focus one topic and totally explore that topic while on the run.

This morning I went for an 18 mile run so I had ample opportunity to mull over this topic. Mulling it over indeed, I reasoned that it was not so much that the market was over saturated with road races, but that certain weekends were over saturated with races.

During the past year, I know of multiple weekend here in Charlotte where there were 2,3, or 4 races. And I believe at least a few weekends where there were as many as 5 races.

5 races with in the Charlotte area on the same day. Should anyone expect anything other than there to be a softening of race times. With this many race, Charlotte's running scene is just not big enough to adqueately support all of them.

What really puzzles me, is why do these organizations insist on holding their race on the same date when they are competing against so many other races. I mean, they several things they can do to avoid these overlaps. The least of which is to check with Run For Your Life or Queen City Timing. Either of the entities could direct the organization to a better race date.

I guess maybe the race organization thinks or believes they know better than anyone who will show up for their race. But if they would just listen and take some sound advice, they might find the turnout for their race improves which benefits everyone.

But what can you do. It goes back to that old adage "you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink". From a runner's perspective, we can make our selves available and provide input to these organizations. I know Tim R. does because I have asked him about it. But then they have to listen. In the end, their failure to take good advice only ends up hurting the funding for their organization and probably the ending of the race as well. I guess on the positive side, there will be 5 new races to replace those that go under.

(subject to further editing)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Raining in Charlotte

The weatherman was right on with his forecast. The rain started yesterday and has continued into today. I hate starting in the rain, but if I get caught in the rain, I don't really mind. Getting caught in the rain is just runner's luck. Starting in the rain is just plain hard because you go from dry to soaked in minutes. :)

After nummerous looks out the door making my neck sore the rain slowed down to a light sprinkle around 10:30 AM. I took this as my queue that I need to run now.

I did some quick stretching, found some older running shoes, and some rain repellant clothes all before heading out the door in about 15 minutes.

Everything was going quite well until I hit 6 miles. Then, the skys seem to just open up. I would say that I was then totally soaked but that would not be entirely accurate. I was soaked long beforehand.

With the temps in the 60s my body wasn't accustom to - how should I say it - the warmth. Which means, I was dripping wet with sweat.

After finishing, I actually felt cold. I did a quick change out of the wet clothes and took a hot shower. For some reason a hot shower always makes me feel better. I cannot explain nor do I want to. Explaining it my cause the allure to wain.

Anyway, another run is in the books and it was a pretty good day. I guess turning 44 yesterday didn't end my running after all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Looking Both Ways before Crossing Over

As I get ready to close out the old year of '08 and start the new year of '09, there is one last thing on my running list to do.

Before closing out the old log book, I like to look back at the things that worked and didn't work during my '08 training. Also I want to look at the good and bad races as well. Taking this information in a whole listic perspective gives me an opportunity to over look any one bad period of training or racing and see the grand view. Too often when we look at a situation, we take a myopic view of the situation which leads us down the road an inaccurate conclusion. So by considering the entire year we have a view to analyze our running and draw better/ more appropriate conclusions.

What I will do is jot down a list of the things that worked and didn't work. From this list, I will start to plan my goals for '09. Once, I have my goals in place, I will start think about my training and how I need to structure it to meet those goals.

Coming out of '08 I know I want to run more marathons and see if I can lower my times. Working from the baseline assumption, I think I can run 2 and possibly 3 marathons in '09.

One thing that I learned in '08 is that I don't want two really long races too near each other. Because I ran that 50k then 4 weeks later I tried to run a marathon, it didn't give me time to recover. So with this mind, maybe I should look to run a mid spring marathon and early summer marathon. Then, take short break in June and July and maybe running a few shorter races. Later in either mid or late August begin training for a fall marathon.

Now taking this a step further, I need some target races to run. The Uwharrie Trail is in early Feb and I already signed up, but I will not look at this as much as a race but as a good strength building workout. My spring marathon will most likely be the Shamrock marathon in March. After Shamrock, I am eye balling a couple of late May/early June Marathons. I don't have anything definite at this point. If I run something, it will have to be a race in the northern states. Marathoning in the south during summer is just unrealistic to do. Because it is too hot. Then, later I would like to go back to OBX in the fall, but that is still an open question mark. I hope to have it locked down by mid Aug.

Around the marathons, I will probably in a few RFYL races. I know the 15k in Oct. will be on list but how many others, we will have to see.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Run the Rock 14 Trail Race Recap 12.5.08

Saturday dawned cold and clear as I stepped out of my car just after 7 am. I had driven just about 2 hours to run a trail race in Burlington, NC called Run the Rock. I had never done this race but from other runner's comments Run the Rock was pretty tough.

Racing in December is difficult for me because I usually like to slow things down and spend some quality family time. However, I was forced to change things up due to the fact that I am planning to run the Uwharrie 20 miler in Feb. If you are familiar with the Uwharrie runs, you will know the race is tough to get into and even tougher to run. And knowing that my trail skills really stink, I felt I needed a little extra trail work. Plus, from talking with other runners, Run the Rock would be a nice lead in to Uwharrie.

The race crew did a good job with the race. As I said, I arrived just after 7 am. The sun hadn't come up but these individuals were out there braving the cold and handing the race packets to the runners. Not many times due you see a fully enclosed tents, but that was what they had and it was decently warm inside. The warmth almost matched the warmth in my car, but not quite.

Every race has their most interesting apects and this race is no different. Most races have the out door pota potties. Run the Rock has porta potty trails complete with lighting and heaters. I give them major bonus points for this race attribute.

Because of the cold, I have very slow getting out my car. And, I swaped out my shoes and extra clothes for the stuff that I thought that I would wear during race while still in the car.

I pulled on my garmin and did almost 2 miles just before the race. The legs felt good and I thought this could be a good race for me.

Everyone gathered at the starting and we were offically started my the firing of a cannon. Yes, that is right. They started this race with the firing of a cannon. I had seen them pulling in the cannon while I was warming up and had made a mental note to my self - check out the cannon later. That is just not something that you see every day.

With the cannon shot, we were off. There is some pavement during the first 1/2 mile then it turns in to a field. This is followed by the trail section.

By the time that I hit the trail section, I knew that I was in trouble. I wasn't feeling it in my legs and people were passing me on both sides. Oh, happy days.

Next, came the mud and manure . This was followed by a stream crossing which soaked my shoes. At this point, I was only about 3 miles into the trail. There was some nice open sections to run but most of the trail was true single track. With some sections being so steep, they had steps. I could have literially just crawled up the hill. There was one other section where the they had steps which later turned in to roots that I still treated them as steps.

After just on lap, I could feel the buzzards cycling over head and they had pretty much picked my bones clean by the time that I came around for the 2nd and final loop. Then somewhere along 12 to 14 miles, I forgot to pick up my feet and just kind of rolled forward through the dirt. I didn't injure anything other than my pride. But it just goes to show the kind of race that I had.

Overall, I would give the guys organizing the Run the Rock race a thumbs up.

For my performance, I give my self a thumbs down.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How far can a pair of shoes take you

The Holiday season is now upon us. That means, it is the time of year to be thankful for the things that we have and the family that we have around us.

But sometimes not everyone is so fortunate.

During some of the down time while we were at the OBX marathon, Bob was telling us about some of the runners on his cross country team.

Because family financial situations, some of the runners were running in used running shoes. I am not too old yet, that I cannot remember back to high school and running in the same shoes every day. The shock absorption was long gone before I would stop wearing them.

Going above and beyond, Bob was doing what any good coach would do. He does his best to get the best shoes possible into the hands or in this case on the feet of his runners.

His story seemed to really hit home for me when he told us about this one particular kid that saw running as his chance at getting an education. This kid would do whatever Bob asked in order to improve.

In the week after the marathon, Bob's story kept rolling over in the back of my mind. I enjoy running and felt that I needed to step up to the plate and do something. So, I sent Bob an email asking if I could help and what size shoe did he need most and where could I ship them.

Bob responded pretty quickly and accepted my offer. In his email he provided the shoe size and his address. A few mouse clicks later, I had bought 2 pair of shoes and had them shipped directly to Bob. He emailed my a few days later that the shoes had arrived and were quickly put into use.

I don't think anything could have made me feel any better than knowing these kids were off and running in new shoes.

Now, I am not sharing this story to promote my self, but because I want to encourage other runners help as well. Buying two pairs is not a lot but if those shoes help give those kids an opportunity to improve their lives, then the investment will have been worth.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What is on my mind today

The legs and body are starting to feel much better these days. That being the case, now begins the training and racing.

I am heading to the Shamrock Marathon in March to try for another sub 2:40. But in the meantime, I will be passing the time by running a couple of local races.

Near Burlington, NC is the Run the Rock 14 mile Trail race. I have never done this race so it is should be a lot of fun. That's this weekend.

In late Janurary, Peter @ Vac & Dash pulls a group together to run what he affectionly calls the Idiot Run. This is a run to the top of Morrow Mt and back to the Albermarle Y. Last year, I measured the course to be about 19.6. The run started at 5 am and I was finished by 7:30 AM.

Note, to anyone doing this you. You should wear reflective clothing and take a head lamp. Morrow Mt. is dark at 6 AM on a January morning.

Then, in Feburary I am running in the Uwharrie 20 miler. I thought about opting for the 8 miler, but I needed a long run for the weekend so picking up a tough 20 miler sounded right. And I am going to pass on the Ultras for a while so running the 40 miler never entered my mind.

Depending on the weekend, I may do the Shamrock 4 miler here in Charlotte. I really hoping to make the marathon my first road race of the new year. But as you can probably tell, I am flip floping. Then there is the RFYL GP series. Running the entire GP series was really tiring this year, so I am not sure that I am up for running it two years in a row.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Running IQ - II

After writing my previous blog on Running IQ, I couldn't stop thinking about it. And as I did so, I begin to wonder if I had taken a too strict approach to what it means to have a high Running IQ.

So in this blog, I would like to take a step back.

In the simplist explanation possible what does it mean to have a high Running IQ.

If I take into context of how others describe sports related IQs, here's what I now think is a demostration of a high Running IQ.

A person who has a natural high Running IQ is probably relatively new to running but is able to listen to and understand their own body's feedback while training and possibly racing. By listening to this feedback, they are able to sucessfully reach their goals.

Not perfect, I think is says what I want.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Running IQ

This past weekend, I was watching a college football game and the announcers talked about a player having an high football IQ. Then last night, during one the college basketball games, again announcers talked about a basketball player having a high basketball IQ.

To my knowledge, I have never heard of a runner being described as having a high Running IQ. I suspect that has more to due with the limited amount of TV coverage and analysis given to running as apposed to other sports like football and basketball.

But this did start me thinking, what would it mean to have a high Running IQ. Again, this is probably something that pretty much open to interpretation. And everyone will have their own perspective of what it means to demonstrate a high degree of running knowledge.

Now, that I have given you a level set, let me be the first (well maybe not the first) to suggest what it means to have a high Running IQ.

A high Running IQ could probably span anything from diet to stretching with running included in the middle. From my perspective, a high Running IQ covers three areas: Training, Racing, and Recovery.

So what does it mean to have a Runner IQ related to training. Well, the runner must understand the principles of conditioning and how it effects the human body. There are a lot of ways to gain this knowledge. Most of them involve reading running magazines and attending clinics. But this is just part of it. They will need to demonstrate this knowledge through the results of their training. The main point of any training program and thus a high running IQ is to have a training program that allows the runner to improve while keeping them healthy.

Then what does it mean to have a Running IQ related to racing. From my perspective, this runner needs to demonstrate during race that they understand what is going on around them i.e. how the other runners are performing. Based of this information, they are able to react in such a matter that improves their chances of besting these other runners. Now, there are many ways to do this i.e. throwing in surges or running just of another runner's shoulder. The key here is that they make decisions during the race that put them in the best position to be most successful.

The final attribute and arguably the most important of a high Running IQ is recovery. Knowing how to train hard and how to race well are very important to successful running but recovery also has its place as well. Knowing when to back off and allow the body rest and start to rebuild is a crucial aspect any Runner's ability to run well. Being able to recognize when a recovery i.e. downtime is needed and take this downtime is the best technique to demonstrate high recovery running IQ that I know of.

So there you have it, three areas to determining if a runner has a high running IQ. Or this is how I would describe a runner having a high running IQ. I suspect when you break down most runners, you will find they will do well in most of these categories. For my self, I do well in two of the three phases. Taking downtime has never been a strong suit of mine. I also suspect that you will have your own opinion of what make a high running IQ. That is what makes this country great.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

OBX in the Rearview Mirror

Two weeks have past since OBX. My body appears to be returning to some level of normalcy. My legs have repaired nicely. My hamstring is no longer sore. Although, my hips still feel a little tight. But the good news is that this tightness goes away after the first mile or so of a run.

The only other thing that I can cry about is this nagging cold. As I understand it the body's immune system dips down after these type of hard events. When it does this dip, it makes you susceptible to colds. Right now, my cold is just in my eyes and sinus. I will give it a few more days and if it doesn't improve, then I will make an appointment with my family doctor. I am sure that he will have something to knock it out.

Other than this cold, my sleeping and running are returning to normal. I sleep about 8.5 hours last night which is a full hour longer than usual. As for running, I met Jeff C. at Latta Plantation for 10 miles which was my longest run since the marathon. The trails were in fair shape. They had blown the leaves off of some of the trails. While some of the other trails the leaves were so thick that you cannot see the rocks which provides plenty of opportunities for flexing the ankles.

I think I will stick to the North Meck Trail for a while longer.

My plan includes another week of recovery so I will keep the mile down, but I will throw in a couple of fairly short-long runs (relatively speaking). Probably on Wednesday, I will do 14 and 12 on Friday. The other days will remain 7 miles including Turkey day Thursday. With no plans to race on the roads, I am enjoying this downtime. It give me a chance to do some things that I don't normal do and best of all enjoy this holiday season.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

RFYL Awards Banquet 11.18.08

After a long year of racing on the Run For Your Life Gran Prix Series, everything finally concluded on Tuesday night with the Annual GP awards Banquet. The event started around 6 pm and the awards were given out around 7:30.

Complements need to go out to both Run For Your Life and Brix Restaurant for pulling all of this together. Invites came out a few weeks ago and there were a huge attendance this year.

I always find these non running events interesting. Usually the only time that I see most of these people is on Saturday morning at the races. They are almost always dressed in their running clothes. So when I attend events like this, I sometimes don’t recognize them. Even thou, I know them well. They just look so different in their street cloths.

As for the banquet, Brix provided several different types of pasta and pizza buffet style. It was difficult making a selection because there were simply too many options. However, for the ones I did try they were very good.

After everyone had a chance to enjoy their food and talk with their follow runners, Tim started the awards ceremony.

First, they had drawings for door prizes. I won a Respect bag, shirt, and bottle of Respect.

Next, they gave out awards for everyone running all 9 races. Being a gluten for punishment I was one of these individuals. The award was a nice one shoulder Run For Your Life Sling Bag. We had the option of picking either Blue or Red. I chose Red as it was closer to my favorite color.

After that they went through the awards starting with the Overall Male and Female. Then they moved to the masters and age groups. With a lot of the runners, Tim had some interesting story to tell about them. I just happened to be one of those runners. Hummm, I never thought that I was that interesting.

I guess I need to give a shout out to myself here. I was lucking enough that I finished 4th overall in the series. Bob M. was the overall male. Paul M. and Robert M. were the 2nd and 3rd place runners. While I came in 4th and Greg I. came in 5th place. Interestingly, Paul, Robert, and I were only seperated by a few points. Actually, Robert and I were only seperated by 1 point. When I saw Robert, I laughed and told him next year that I was going to make up that one point.

This was my best finish ever in the GP series. I had finished 5th and 7th a few years ago. I don’t run all of the races every year, but when I do, I have been fortunate to run well in the series.

When the awards ceremony concluded, everyone made their circles to say good bye. Some runners were heading off to continue training and racing either for a Turkey or Santa Run or possibly an end of season marathon. While others like my self are resting after a long year of racing.
Happy Holidays to everyone

Sunday, November 16, 2008

OBX 1 week later

Just over 1 week has past since I ran the OBX Marathon. As much as I wished that my disappointment in my race performance had subsided, it hasn't.

But I have not jumped back into full fledge training. Experience has taught me that I do need to recover and I realize if I want to do another marathon in the spring that I need to recovery properly now.

All of this week and all of next week, I am keeping my mileage down. Then Thanksgiving week, I am going to get it up to 60 miles and with a long run of 12 miles. This is tentative at this point, but it should be something close to it.

For my next marathon, I am going to do some things differently. I am going to get some help setting up my training schedule and workouts.

For good or bad, I gotten a lot of feedback from others. The common theme has been that I over did it. Running a 50k, 15k and then a marathon in 4 weeks is a lot. And trying to run them all hard is probably not a the most realistic objective. But what can I say. I have always been one to push to myself to the absolute limit. My feeling is that if you don't set the bar high, then what is the point. And, I do realize that setting it too high is not the right approach either. That is where I think having an objective opinion looking at your training schedule is going to help me.
Before I wrap this up, I should also say that the my recovery is coming along. I did 47 miles this week. All of the miles were very easy. My blisters are healing nicely and the soreness is mostly gone. My left hamstring is still tender, but it doesn't hurt unless I really stretch it out. And to make a funny, I think I made my self more sore working in my garge and mowing my yard than I did running 26 miles.
That's it for this week, I will probaby blog something next Sunday to let everyone know how my recovery is going.
Later and may your trails be smooth and dry,
Cool Down Runner.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

OBX Marathon Recap 11.09.08

The OBX Marathon '08 is now history and I have another marathon under my belt.

Heading into the race, I realistically had set three goals for myself. I wanted to run under 2:40. I wanted to win the Open Masters Competition and I wanted to win the USA T&F NC Masters Marathon Championship.

I was able to accomplish to 2 of the 3 goals, but I missed the goal that I wanted most. I didn't get the sub 2:40 that I wanted. My finish time ended up being 2:42:45. It was disappointing but not the end of the world. I will recover in the coming weeks and I am already planning go for a sub 2:40 in spring.

For the better part of the race I was on pace to run sub 2:40 through 23 miles, but I hit the wall. Or in this case, I hit the bridge. The OBX marathon has a 35' bridge rise at 23 miles. It took me 6:58 seconds to crest the bridge and the damage had been done. From then on, my legs were not the same. I ran the next 2 miles in 6:57 and 6:56. My final 10k was 42 minutes.

Coming off the bridge, I tried picking up the pace, but my hamstrings were really starting to balk. Rather than continuing to push, I tried to just survive to the finish. I didn't want to push to the point where my hamstring locked up all together. Maybe it is a personal thing, but I never even considered quiting. I would have gotten to the finish even if it meant crawling. That is just me and the determination that I have to push my self.

In those last 2 miles 2 runners would passed me by. I wanted to go with them and not being able to hurt mentally. In retrospect, they ran the smarter race. They saved their big push to the end and they caught me.

As for the race and the course, I thought they were great. I loved seeing the people dressed as Pirates and playing music along the course.

I found the course for 1st 13 miles to be tougher than the 2nd half. Because it was tougher, it took more out of me than I thought. Definitely, I will keep this in mind for next year.

The trail section was not really as bad as I thought. The road was pretty compacted and the short rolling hills actually felt good to my legs. My pace really didn't fall off that much. Maybe 10 seconds per mile. Now on the 800 meters section where it was wood chips, I lost about 30 seconds - running a 6:30 mile. The toughest part of this section was the first little hill which is maybe 30 to 50 yards long.

During the 2nd half there were a few neighborhoods where there were medians. I took the wrong side on one of them which added some time to my finish efforts.

Then over the last 10 miles, there were a lot of 1/2 marathoners on the course. Most if not all were walking on the inside of the road. I went to the outside which was a mistake on my part. By running the outside of the long gradual turns, I was adding a ton of extra distance. When I reached the 24 mile by the Garmin, I was nearly 200 to 250 yards from the 24 mile mark on the road. In contrast during the 1st half of the race, my Garmin was almost exactly on the mile marks. Later at the finish, my Garmin said that I had run 26.45 miles.

In hindsight, I should have run the inside even if it meant getting into the grass. It would have been better to run a little in the grass than add that extra distance.

To the race, I don't think they could have done it any better. Everything seem to go like clock work. The start was on time and well organized. There were people at every turn and plenty arrows directing the runners.

There was an ample supply of porta pottys at the start and they were providing food and water to the runner even before the race.

The marathon finisher medal also something that I want to specifically point out. The medals had a great design on them. I am reminded the Disney Pins and Medals which is a high bar to match.

As for my body, I am still a little sore from the race. My left hamstring is the most sore. I can hardly run the "Stick" over it. I got 2 blisters - one on the inside of my right foot at the ball of the foot - the other is on the left foot on the middle toe just at the toe nail. That is the worst of my physical woes.

I ran the race in the Nike Lunar racers. This was on the 2nd race that I have run in them. I believe it was the right shoe for me. I am going to put them up for my next marathon.

Other news and notes, we stayed in a beach house with some other runners. I have never spent so much time with other runners and talked so much running. And it was great meeting runners from different areas of the country.

And my compliments to Ben H. for the pictures that he took of me during the race. Ben was leap frogging over the race course to watch Megan run. As you get tired, it is kind of nice to see a familiar face and get some encouragement. My thanks goes out to Ben. Also I need to give a shout out to Janna - Cody's wife - who was at the 22 mile point.

Moving forward, I hope to run to OBX next year. I would like nothing better than running the course under 2:40.

That is about all that I have for now.

I am taking some down time and sticking to the nice soft trails for the next couple of weeks. And I am not doing any hard running for at least the next month. :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

17 Hours left until OBX

All of the work is finally done and there is nothing to do now but rest.

The last 24 hours has been pretty a blur.

Chris and I hit the expo last night and picked up our race packets. Then, walking around the expo we saw a large group of venders and some really good stuff on sale. I am a big a collector of hats so when I saw the OBX marathon hats, I had to have one. Before you ask, it was $20.00.

After the expo Chris and I stopped by a pizza and pasta place. The pasta was good not great, but good.

We capped the evening off by heading over the sponsor and athletes meet and great dinner. This was helded at the Pengiun Isle Grille and Bar. The food provided was buffet style. I highly recommend the roast beef and ham biscuits. I thought they were great.

Then it was back to the house. Several more runners showed up. We shared the house with a husband and wife from NY. A father and son from PA. Bob Marchinko and his family arrived pretty late. I was up until almost midnight talking running. Talk about being in a running meca, it was great.

This morning most of the older people were up early while the younger people were sleeping late.

This morning, it was time to review starting area of the course. I had did the last 3 miles of the course which is virtually flat yesterday afternoon. There might be some head or cross wind blowing in those last few miles. We have to see. The first 2 miles of the marathon course are slightly up hill. Driving over the 3 through 7 it appears to flatten out. As I was driving along, I noticed several sections where flags were blowing into direction that the runners will be going to tomorrow. I hope the wind reverses in the morning.

Once I had finished reviewing the 1st half of the course, I made a couple of more stops. I picked up some gifts for my daughters. I could not return home without bringing them something. Driving a little further down the road, I found the same pasta place from last night. I figured it was my last chance to tank up.

My plans for the rest of the afternoon are lay on the couch and watch Nascar and UNC football.

Before I go, let me add my accessment of the course. My gut feel is that the you are going to lose some time in the first 3 miles and through the gravel and trail sections. What I am not sure is how much I can make up in the rest of the course. I guess we will find out tomorrow morning.

My goals are 10 mile 60 minutes and 20 miles in 60 minutes. I spend the last 10k digging deep trying to break 2:40.

Wish me luck. I will update by blog and log book sometime late Sunday night. I have to be back in Charlotte to work Monday. It is a 6 hour drive back.

Friday, November 7, 2008

1 Day left until OBX

OBX here I come or better yet, here I am.

Driving into into Nags Heads, NC was great. The entire area is absolutely beautiful.

As I set here typing this blog, I have a great view of the ocean. Nothing makes me feel better than to hear the sounds of the waves hitting the beach.

I have already checked out the last 3 miles of the marathon course and have settled in to the beach house. The anticipation is starting to set in on me. I am ready to get this race on.

At the moment, I waiting on Chris and Sarah to finish their run. Then, we are going to hit the expo and grab some pasta dinner.

Afterwards, we are heading over the Penguin Isle SoundSide Grill & Bar to meeting with some other runners. It should be a fantastic time. I believe it last from 7 until 9 pm.

From there is back to the beach house and get some rest. I never sleep well the night before a race and with this being a marathon, I will not sleep much Saturday night.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

2 Days left until OBX

I didn't have much time to think about the race today as work kept me plenty busy. I did get an email with the race logistics in it.

The email detailed out the places to stay and travel between the Friday dinner, the expo, and the race on Saturday morning.

I was shaking my head with the 6:15 drop off for a 7:20 race. What am I to do for 65 minutes. :)

As for everything else, I have it all packed up in the car. If everything goes well, I will be on the road and in the OBX by noon or so tomorrow.

-btw Maybe just a few butter flies.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

3 Days left until OBX

This morning, I did my last major workout before OBX.

I went down to the McAlpine Greenway because it most closely similates the road and trail sections for OBX. Prepration is everything if you want to do well.

Today, my fartlek workout consisted of the following:

5 minutes with 2 minute recovery

4 minutes with 2 minute recovery

3 minutes with 2 minute recovery

2 minutes with 2 minute recovery

and 1 minute with a 2 minute recovery.

My warmup consisted of the first 10 minutes of the run and the warm down was whatever that was left up to 9 miles miles. I believe it was about 30 to 32 minutes. My total time for the workout was about 67 minutes.

One of the things that I enjoy most about running at McAlpine is the changing of the fall colors. If you run the back half of the 5k course, then you would see the yellow leaves all around the trail. I could probably do that loop 50 times and enjoy it with each and every loop.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

4 Days left until OBX

Last night I got an email distribution about the OBX marathon. Before I knew it, I felt a nervous feeling in my stomach.

They had provided a picture documentary of the marathon course and I could not help my self. I had to checkout the course. I especially wanted to see trail section.

If there is any place where everyone will lose some time, it will be in the trail section.

We will see.

Monday, November 3, 2008

5 Days left until OBX

With 5 days left before OBX I just want to hold off any last minute injuries and colds. I am usually do not have a germaphobia, but lately I found my self washing my hands a lot more frequently.

This is just part of the things we do when we don't want to waste all of those hours that we spent running those tempo, progressive, fartlek, and long runs for the last three months.

My legs are starting to feel good. While the runs have not felt easy, I have noticed that they have gotten faster. Which I believe is an excellent sign.

This morning I stopped by the McAlpine Greenway for 9 easy miles. It was relatively quiet. I only saw one other preson running and just a few people walking their dogs.

As for the marathon, I am not nervous yet, but I suspect it will start to happen as the start time draws near.

I am heading out early Friday morning for the OBX. My plan is to get in 4-6 miles on Friday. I would like to run them from the starting line. That afternoon, I want to drop by the expo and pick up my stuff.

Then Saturday, I want to run the last 2-4 miles of the finish. This was I am familiar with the starting and finishing areas of the race so I am less likely to encounter any surprises. As for the rest of the course I will drive the course on Saturday morning.

For the reminder of Saturday afternoon and evening I plan to do nothing more than lay around and rest. Most importantly, I want to stay off my feet. Walking around can deaden the legs and it is not a feeling that anyone wants right before running 26 miles.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

6 Days left until OBX

After watching the NYC marathon this morning on Universal, I headed out for my run.

It was absolute fantastic watching how those great NYC Marathoner burn through the miles and make it look easy.

Through all of the running that I have done, I don't believe I ever looked as good.

My workout today called for 10 miles. I didn't feel smooth and fluid through the first 5 miles but then I started feeling better. I ended up running about 75 minutes for the entire 10 miles.

My body doesn't feeling the greatest, but that could be a good sign. I normally don't feel the greatest before I have a good run. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

7 Days left until OBX

This morning, I headed out before daylight for my last semilong run. With only 7 days until OBX, my long run for this weekend will be 16 miles.

I covered the first few miles around 8 minute pace. As usual, the pace continue to drop and I felt better with each mile. I closed the last mile in 6:37.

Although, I must say my legs were a bit sluggish. I am hoping this goes away by next Sunday.

On a side note, I have to say that the compression shorts and calf sleeve work really well during cold weather. This week the temps have been in the mid to lower 30s and each time that I ran in just the shorts and calf sleeves, I felt fine. To my surprise, my knees, even thou exposed to the cold air, don't feel the cold.

Friday, October 31, 2008

8 Days left until OBX

I got an email from one the guys at the OBX marathon which listed several of the runners in the master category.

Wow, these guys have put in some really fast times and I am looking forward to racing against them. It gives me a great opportunity to see how I match up against other masters runners from around the country.

Hopefully, I will have some time on Friday to meet them at pre-event meet and greet.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

9 Days left until OBX

This morning, I was up and out the door early. I hit the Mallard Creek Greenway just after 7 AM. The air was crisp as the temperatures dropped to about 31 degrees. And there was just a hint of frost on the ground.

For today, I had a fartlek workout scheduled. This workout includes 8 x 2 minutes with a 1 minute recovery. Normally, I do this workout at 5k pace. However, today I was browsing through the laps on my Garmin and all of the intervals were done much closer to mile pace than 5k pace. I crossed my fingers that this is a good sign going into the OBX next week.

During the cool down portion of the workout, I noticed the leaves on the trees were starting to change colors. Some were a tint of red while others had this perfect color of yellow.

For some reason, I just wanted to take a moment then and soak up the beauty of the fall in the Carolinas.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10 Days left until OBX

This morning I headed over to Latta Plantation for an early morning run on the trails. So early in fact that the sun had yet crest the horizon.

As I was cruising along with my head lamp giving out enough light that I could see the road in front of me, I started let my thoughts drift to other topics.

Back in the summer, I joined the Mangum Track Club. My impressions of this club is that they like races that are long and I mean the longer the better. Whether that means biking, running, and/or swimming, they do it all.

Well, I met one member that was training for a triple Ironman during the Shirt Run. Last night, he emailed out a recap of his training and of the race. I was simply amazed to read how much effort that he had put into this race and how tough the race was on him.

I took solace in the fact this individual over came so much just to get to the finish line. It makes me think that I am a bit selfish. I put in my own efforts to run a 50k or marathon and fret about how well that I will do. This individual's swim time was longer than it took me to run my 50k.

In my opinion he is on a whole different level. The time and energy given for training must have been enormous. What is even more incredible, is that he talked about another race in Mexico which is basically a double - triple Ironman.

I have the utmost respect for these people and their ability to endure. We should all have this fortitude in our daily lives.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

11 Days left until OBX

Earlier this morning, I was out on the Mallard Creek Greenway running my tempo run. The sun had not rose above the horizen yet, so there was just enough light to see the path in front of me. The temperature was also a bit chilly as they had dipped down into the lower 30s and with the wind blowing upper 20s here in Charlotte.

I was quite comfortable running except for my hands. Because I was hitting my splits every 1/4 mile to capture the split time and heart rate, the fingers on my right hand were exposed during the entire run. Don't worry, I didn't get any frost bite. I have those gloves and look like mittens, but covers folds back to expose the ends of the fingers. I wish I knew who create this glove. He or she gets my vote for best running accessory in cold weather.

I didn't wear tights either. With the cold temps kicking in, I am finding that my calf sleeves and compression tights keep my legs i.e. lower body at the perfect temperature. And, I don't seem to notice the knee area being exposed. Possibly, this is due to all of the heat being released from the legs as I run.

Well, I covered the 8 mile run in just over 48 minutes. My heart rate just bubbled over 160 for the run. I could have pushed harder, but I went on effort and so I walked away from the workout still wanting more.

Thoughts on the Run.

Monday, October 27, 2008

12 Days left until OBX

The days continue to pass and OBX is getting closer.

I am a little late updating my blog tonight because it was a busy day at work. Also I was doing a double workout today.

To recap, this morning I covered 9 miles on the McAlpine Greenway. Then, after work I did another 12 miles on the bike at the Huntersville Business Park. Neither workout felt very hard to me. Actually, I could probably have pushed both a lot harder. But I didn't.

I will rise early in the morning. Tomorrow, it is tempo Tuesday. I want to get in one last hard effort before the marathon. I will not push it to the max because first and foremost of the up coming race, but also because in Charlotte tomorrow, the weatherman is calling for the temperatures to be in the low 30s. As the temperatures drop, it gets harder to pull those really good efforts out of the bag.

Rest and Intensity are the keywords for this week

Sunday, October 26, 2008

13 Days left until OBX

This morning, I headed out for a 13 mile run. The rain had moved out of the area yesterday afternoon so today dawned bright and sunny.

I am a big believer in doing loop course so today was no different. I made a big loop heading north, then west, south, then east, and back north and west. So it was essentially, a counter clock wise loop. The course took me from Mt. Holly Huntersville Rd to Sunset Rd to old Statesville Rd and then back home.

Part of the course was into a head wind. For the fist time, I didn't really mind. I suspect OBX will have a significant head wind over the final miles and today gave me a small sampling of what it will be like.

My body still feels sluggish during the earlier miles. I am starting out much slower than I do normally. I hope it is just part of bouncing back from the 50k. Two weeks have pasted since the race.

The only blister that I go has healed. By the way, my lip is healing quite nicely from the bike accident. The stitches are gone and I can shave again.

It did leave a small scar but I tell people that it just adds to my rugged good looks.

For the coming week, I have 70 miles on the agenda with two high intensity worksouts. Tuesday, I will be doing a tempo run and Thursday, I will be adding a Fartlek workout. Next, Saturday morning, I will be heading out for 16 mile run.

Otherwise, I will be dropping the mileage down and trying to rest as much as possible.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

14 Days left until OBX

Yesterday afternoon, I swung by the local shoe store and picked up a pair of NB 1224. The NB 1223 have become my favorite running shoe last spring when I was training for the Snickers Marathon. The NB 1223 just seem to make me feel fast when I am running and I specificially use them for my long runs. When the new version became available, I put a todo my list to get the new pair.

Also I stopped by the ThoroLo store and picked up two pair of compression socks. For the past 10 years, I have running in nothing other Thorlos and rarely get blisters on my feet. And with the marathon, coming up I decided to wear some compression socks around for the next 2 weeks.

This morning, I headed over the Huntersville business park for my last 20 miler before OBX. I started around 5:40 AM. Jeff C. met me about around 7ish and did the last 11 miles with me.

The rain was threatening when I started but nothing came down until about 5 miles into the run. From that point, it was just a steady shower. Lucky for me, it wasn't too heavy so my shoes really didn't get soak. Soaked running shoes are the worst to run in. They are definitely heavier from the water and create great conditions for blisters even with Thorolo soaks.

Later today, I want to swing RFYL to pick up some stuff and then spend the rest of the day resting.

Friday, October 24, 2008

15 Days left until OBX

The days continue to count down to OBX. I have to say that the excitement is starting to build in side. Even thou, I am only a few days removed from running my 50k and then 15k later. Definitely, it is funny how mentally we can turn things around with a few days of rest.

I am in my first week of my marathon taper so my mileage is down to 80 miles this week. Today, I only ran 9 miles. This is really helping my legs. The soreness continues to go away from the thighs.

I attribute this to in part some rest miles but also I got a massage yesterday. I ususally feel a bit sluggish the next day and today was no exception. However, it does make my legs feel a ton better. I am certain that I could have sustained the mileage that I have run without getting all those weekly massages.

I am heading into 20 miler tomorrow. If the weather man has his way, it will be a wet 20 miler but that is okay. Running in the rain is always a fun run for me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

16 Days left until OBX

My legs are feeling better today. The soreness is abeiting especially in my thighs.

The days continue to count down to OBX.

For today, I did a fartlek workout.

This workout involved running 4 x 5 min @ 10k pace with a 2 min. recovery. I felt pretty good during this workout and probably could have completed a couple of more 5 min. intervals, but I didn't.

I have done the hard work and so now the focus is on intensity. What I don't want to do is over do these workouts and leave my self tired on race day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

17 Days left until OBX

They say that adding extra sleep time can aid in your recovery. I believe them when they make these type of statements. But it doesn't help when you wake up a 5:15 AM and cannot go back to sleep.

After deciding that more sleep wasn't going to happen, I stretched out my tired muscles and used the stick on my legs. Everything seemed in working order.

The sun was still a ways from rising over the horizon.

I checked the temps. It was a nippy 45 degrees. Once I knew the current temperates, I then worked on figuring out the appropriate cloths to wear. Something that keeps me warm but doesn't over heat me toward the end of the run. I usually follow the old adage "cool at the start then toasty during the run" .

On Wednesdays, I usually to a 10 mile trail run at the North Meck. Park. Being that it was still dark, I was not going to be deterred.

I spent the first 45 minutes of the run working on my ankle flexing but I otherwise stayed on my feet.

I always find it fascinating to watch the transition from night into day. As you are cruising along on the trail trying to pick up roots and rocks, then suddenly the dawn happens and you can no longer even see your head lamp against the ground.

My legs are still a feel heavy and sore from the past two weeks but they do appear to be recovery well. If all goes well, they should be ready by OBX

Have a great day running.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

18 Days left until OBX

The days are counting down.

Today, my schedule called for hill repeats. I have this nice 1/4 mile hill that I like to do in the Huntersville Business Park.

Normally, I do this type of run in the morning but today work came first so I ended up running this evening.

I felt a bit sluggish and it took a while before I felt smooth running up the hills.

For the workout, I tallied 10 miles and 8 x 1/4 mile in repeats. It was not a great work but it wasn't bad either.

I am always a sluggish after working all day and then trying to head out for a run.

More tomorrow

Monday, October 20, 2008

19 Days left until OBX

19 days are left until the OBX marathon. So rest, rest, rest is the most important thing on the my schedule now.

And believe me, I needed it.

I finished off my last really long run yesterday i.e. Sunday - 22 miles.

After running so many long runs this one wasn't really that bad. Today, my legs are a little sore and stiff. I didn't do enough stretching either Saturday or after the run yesterday. My legs are paying for it now.

Like most Mondays this fall, I run at McAlpine. For the most part McAlpine park is pretty much flat.

But anytime I can avoid the roads and run on the dirt then I try to do it. It is just so much easier on the legs.

I found some more pics from the 50k so I drop one on this entry.

If all goes well, I will blog each day leading up to the marathon and then a few days afterward. Thus documenting my thoughts and worries as I handle the road a head.

May your trails be smooth and soft.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

LungStrong 15k Recap 10.18.08

The LungStrong 15k race morning arrived clear and cool. In fact, it was probably the coolest morning since I ran the Shamrock run in the spring.

Megan, Ben, Mike, and I headed out for a few warm miles. Megan and Mike looked fast. They seem to be bouncing along during the warm up. On the other hand, I felt like I was running through sand.

As the start neared all of the usual suspects were at the starting line. I spotted Steve Spada warming up and he looked fit as usual.

The first mile was unusually slow. Steve and I seemed to always be locked together. We covered the first mile in just over 6 minutes.

This was little slower that I wanted to run so I started to slowly pick up the pace. Reflecting back on it, I probably should have waited a few more miles before trying to push it.

Mike B. was long gone by 3 miles.

I kept pushing the pace through 4 miles and caught up to Paul M. and another guy running with him.

I worked my way by Paul. He was having some foot issues so he wasn't his usual fast self.

Miles 4, 5, and 6, I pushed the pace along. But once I hit miles 7, 8, and 9 mile legs started tightening up. My legs just weren't ready to handle this type of workload after the 50k last weekend.

I knew Steve would be close behind and probably gaining all the time.

When I hit the 9 mile, I really picked up the pace and pushed it to the end. I ended up being on a few seconds in front of Steve and Chazz Hinkle.

After the race Ben, Megan, Jocelyn, Mike and I did another 5 miles warm down.

We then headed over the awards. I picked up a $50 dollar gift certificate to RFYL and a medal for being the 1st Male Masters run.

Mike finished 5th overall and ran a great time. Megan was equally fast and won the womens race.

So now tonight, I am taking a deep breath. The RFYL GP series for 2008 is behind me. Based on my calculations I finished 3 overall in the standings but we have to wait on Tim's calculations.

The mental and physical fatigue from marathon training and my heavy racing schedule has has a toll on me. The OBX marathon is just over 3 weeks away which is a good thing for me. Both mentally and phyically I need some recovery time so I can bounce back and be strong.

That's a wrap for now.

Friday, October 17, 2008

15k Run Evening Before

The weather man is right on with the forcast today. The rain started this morning and has lasted through out the day.

I suspect it will be nice with the temps in the 50s tomorrow morning. If it is raining, it should be a plus for me. I like racing in the ran.

During my run this afternoon, my legs still felt heavy. I just don't feel fluid and fast but tomorrow is another day. I still have a night's rest so we shall see.

15k Run tomorrow

The Lung Strong 15 is tomorrow morning and while I am looking forward it, my concerns are starting to rise.

Unlike the 50k where I was worried about finishing because of the distance, I am more concerned about how my body will stand up for the race.

After my bike accident on Monday, I wasn't feeling any of the effects outside of a busted up face. But after about 48 hours, I noticed my right knee had this stinging feeling and my left thigh was really sore.

I have been doing the usually stuff -rest, elevation of the legs, lots of ice and Advil. Also I got a massage yesterday evening.

Seems like I created the "Perfect Storm" as people now so fond of saying of running. Doing two hard race inside of 7 days, plus continuing my marathon training, and cap it with a bike accident. You would think that I was trying to really injury my self.

If I can just make it through this weekend, my running should improve. I will be starting my taper for OBX. The mileage will go down but I will keep the workout intensity the same. My body will hopefully respond well to it over the next 3 weeks.

I will recap how the 15k goes some time over the weekend.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Big Race Weekend - 15k

This is a big race weekend for me. Since March of this year, I am been running the Run For Your Life GP series. The final event a 15k run is this weekend.

The series is mostly made up of 5k but it does have a couple of 4 milers and 10k.

But each year the GP ends with a 15k run at Lake Norman.

My most fierce competitor this year has been Steve Spada. Steve and I have been running neck and neck almost every race. Because Steve and I are about the same age, it adds to the level of competition. I am sure he tries just as hard to best me as I would try to best him.

Since the Shamrock race in March, our race time have only varied by a few second in most race.

Now, we come down to the last race of the year and either of us could take the top masters prize.

Steve is a tough competitor both physically and mentally and he will be giving his all this weekend. For myself, I hope to just stay close to him. After pounding my way through the New River 50k last weekend, Steve will definitely have a leg up on me from a general fatigue perspective.

Personally, I just hope to survive it all. I am not sure what I was thinking when I put a 50k, 15k and a marathon all with in a month of one another. I certainly like to challenge myself, but definitely, next time I need to spread out these events. I am not getting any younger.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Progressive Runs Revisited

Earlier in one of my blogs, I wrote about the progressive or at least what I had learned from reading about progressive runs.

In a more recent article I read about a coach using progressive runs in a different way. Instead of using 1 run per week where the runner does a progressive run. This coach professed that runners should do more progressive runs per week.

For example if you run 7 days a week instead of doing just 1 workout as a progressive run for say 40 minutes. You should switch to running 3 runs per week but of 15 each. The total time is what accounts the most. Therefore, running 3 x 15 ends up being 45 minutes of high intensity work over the single continuos 40 minutes. These 15 minutes could be at the end of your normal daily runs say on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I have not tried this approach but during my spring training plan, I intend to try this approach. As I get older, I am always looking for ways to both increase my training intensity while not increasing the overall load on my body. I think breaking progressive runs across multiple non consecutive days may be the way to go.

Just more food for thought from the world on running.

Bike Accident

I was recovering quite nicely from the 50k this past weekend, but then accidents do happen. I was out for a 12 mile bike ride on Monday evening. I was in the last two miles and as usual I cycle around this loop in my development.

The first loop went smoothly but on the 2nd loop an SUV appeared where I was expecting it. I shoved my bike to one side. In doing so I shifted my head and torso to the opposite side and right into the back of the SUV.

Some how my feet came out of the toe clips and I was standing there beside the SUV. It took a minute for me to shake of the loose cob webs.

I touched my face and blood covered my hand. I thought at first that I busted my nose. Being a total idiot, I still have a couple of miles to ride so rather than heading straight home, I continued the ride with blood pouring every where.

Enough, that I have to clean if off my bike. For my jersey, I will probably never get out the stains.

Once home I cleaned off the blood. I didn't have a busted nose but I did have a nasty cut between my nose and lip.

Prudenance kicked in and I headed over to the urgent care office. They finished cleaning me up and put 5 stitches in my lip. I have to tell that the needle they used to numb the area around the cut hurt worse than the crash.

So almost 48 hours later, I still have this fat upper lip but it seems to be healing nicely. Eating food is a bit tricky as my lips are not their normal size and the upper lip still feels numb.

Lucky for me, I don't run on my lips so it hasn't impacted my training.

Thoughts of a True Runner.

Monday, October 13, 2008

2 days after

I am back in Charlotte now. I got back about 3 pm yesterday afternoon.

As I had planned, I stayed the night in Fries so I could enjoy some time on the trail.

Sunday morning, I headed out about 7:30 AM for what I expected to be an easy 10 miles. However, it turned in 11 because I wanted to run all the way to Fries Junction which is about 5 1/2 miles from Fries.

I kept the pace nice and slow. There was no need to pound out a hard pace. I just wanted the legs to turn over and get the blood flowing in them. Getting the blow in those injuried and sore muscles helps them recover faster.

After the run, I grab a quick bite, changed clothes, and headed out on my bike. While it felt great for running, the temp were a still in the high 40s so it was a bit brisk for a bike ride. Considering that I didn't dress accordingly.

For the both the bike and the run, I just took my time. I enjoyed both the view of the river and the opportunity to look at the leaves. There were some great reds, yellows, and oranges colored leaves. It was absolutely beautiful.

Back at the rental house, I cleaned up, packed up, and headed out.

Oh, yeah, my recovery continues to go well. I am using lots of ice on my legs. Next stop the 15k Saturday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New River Trail 50k 10.11.08 Recap

I just have finished the New River 50k trail race and the wheels are still on the car. By this I mean that I ran well over the entire 31+ miles.

For the rest of the recap, I breakdown how the race day went.

Since I stayed close the starting area, I could leisurely take my time getting to the start.

I finished my stretching and checked the weather again. I was not expecting the weather to change in less than an hour, but I just wanted to reinforce what I already knew. The weather was going to be great for this race.

About 7:35 I headed down the starting area to finish some last minute stretching.

Stan walked up and it was good to see a familiar face.
I looked around and things are so different. I felt a little out of place.

Normally, as the start nears you see people warming up. Some are doing strides.

Scanning around the starting no one was doing any type of warm up and a lot of people were caring water bottles.

I hadn’t planned to carry any water. The info distributed said there would be cups of water at each aid stations so I expected to advantage of this option.

I did take my power gels. The race provided cliff bars and gels among other energy source, but I tend to stick with what I know. Power Gels tend work well with my system and that is most important in race.

Annette Bednosky the race director pointed everyone to toward the starting line about 7:50. She gave last minute instructions and we were off.

I had to smile. It has been a long time since I headed out the first mile of a race and ran the first mile in 7:30 pace. Of course, I was about 17, had just started running and I wasn’t expecting to run 31 miles but rather just a 10k.

Stan and I quickly hooked up and were running 7:30 miles. We were running about 7th, 8th, and 9th at the time.

Shortly after the mile, a few more runners joined us. As they started to pass I dropped in behind them. They were running a little quicker pace than Stan and I. It was probably closer to 7 minute pace.

I ran with these guys for a little while but they were starting to slow. I pulled away and moved into 6th place overall.

We passed the Fries Junction for the quick out and back section. I was about 3 minutes down to the leader at that point and a few minutes back for 2nd and 3rd. I was about a minute or so back of the 4th and 5th place runners.

After the out and back section we crossed the New River heading toward Galax. My splits started dipping under 7 minutes at this point. The funny part was that I was feeling great.

Between 13 and 15, I passed the 4th and 5th place runners.

We hit the turn around and I gauged that I was about 90 seconds behind the 2nd and 3rd place runners.

Part of my race strategy was to push the pace between 15 and 26. I knew this section of the course had a very slight down hill pitch. The pace showed. I went from running 6:20 miles to running just over 6 minutes per mile.

Around 18 miles, I caught the 3rd place runner. By this point, the 2nd and 3rd place runners had separated. About a mile to a mile and half later, I moved into 2nd place. I think the 2nd place guy stopped for water at an aid station while I pushed on through it.

At Fries Junction I was started to feel a little tired. My legs didn’t tighten up but I could tell they were building up lactic acid.

I was still running about 6:20 miles and had about 5 miles left to run.

At this point, I realized that I wasn’t going to catch the race leader and that I had a good lead over the 3rd place runner. Rather than continue to push the pace and possible hurt my self, also knowing that I have a 15k next weekend and OBX is in 4 weeks, I decided to let the pace slow to 6:50 miles.

Looking at my watch, I thought I could break 3:30 (new goal on the fly) if I kept this same pace.

Around the sewage plant, my watch hit 31 miles and I realized the course was going to a little long. I also realized that I had to pick up the pace if I still wanted to break 3:30.

I crossed the finish line in 3:29:23. I had finished 2nd overall and I had run a just 2:52 marathon on dirt.

I walked around for a few minutes. I talked to the people at the finish area. They gave out the awards as we crossed the finish line. I picked us this very nice Nathan Travel bag and my race shirt for my efforts.

After downing some water and trying to stretch out my tight quads and hamstrings, I headed over the community center. Some very nice ladies had prepared some great soups, breads, and cookies. In addition they had plenty of water, bananas, applies, and Propel.

I had the vegetable soup with pasta which I might add was fantastic.

More runners arrived to eat and we sat around chatting about the race.

After getting my fill of food, I headed back to the start area where I met up with Stan and Steve Spencer.

Stan was a little disappointed with his time, but I told him that he shouldn’t be. He had just run the longest race of his life and finished. That in its self is a major accomplishment. We all go into these races with different goals, but the first and foremost goal in my opinion is to finish. Anything beyond this is just a bonus that should be enjoyed.

I chatted with a few other people and headed back to the house for an ice bath. It was cold getting in but after about 20 minutes, it did start to feel good. I finished with a hot shower and followed it by taking an Advil and icing down my knees and hips. Tomorrow is another day and I have to run. It is a must in my life.

Overall, I ran harder today than I wanted. But I completed a 50k and remained in good health. It is another major accomplishment in my life and another ticky mark off my running bucket list.

I will definitely sleep well to night.

50k Race Morning

I am posting this blog after the race because I can not get a connection on my Air Card in Fries, VA. There is absolutely no service.

5 AM is just about here and I am already up and moving around. Sleep is not something that I got much of last night. I guess either I am too excited about the race this morning or it could be just be because I am staying in a strange/different place.

I headed for bed about 9:30 last night but after lying around tossing and turning, I got up to do some additional reading. It took finishing another chapter in the book that I am reading before I felt like trying again.

For a small, small town Fries, Va certainly has a lot of night time traffic. I heard the cars buzzing by the house that I rented on a regular basis through out the night.

As I set here typing this blog, I have pretty good feeling about the coming race or really long run depending on how you look at it.

Preparation is somthing that is done beforehand. To this end, I have already prepared by laying out the clothes, shoes, socks, and gels that I will be using this morning.

The weather website had predicted temperatures in the 40’s for this morning, but over the last few days that has shifted. Now they are expecting the temperatures to be in the lower 50s. This should be just about perfect for running. Although they are expecting the temperatures to rise into the 70’s by mid afternoon, for me, it is absolutely important that I stay on pace. I want to be finished before it gets too warm.

That’s it for now. My next blog will be after the race

Friday, October 10, 2008

50K is 1 day away

Well, it is almost 7pm and I am mere hours away from running my first ultra marathon - albeit just a 50k in Ultra terms. But as I have said it; it will be longest run of my life.

I am getting a lot more nervous as the start time grows near. The butterflies are kicking up in my tummy.

I went over to pick up my number and water bottle. They are giving out the shirts tomorrow after the race. They already had the start finish line banner up.

I stood at the start finish line pawing at the dirt. I was thinking about the physical challenges that lay before me. Every person goes through life wanting to prove them shelves. Each accept and performs these challenges in different ways. For me personally, running is where I accept my challenge and test my self to the limit.

To race, I know my prep has been good and that I am running well. At this point, I have to have confidence that I am done everything humanly possible to ready my self for this run.

Beyond that I have take what comes.

My plan is to run 75, 75, 75, and then hold on the last 1.1 miles. If my strategy goes as planned, I will finish just inside of 4 hours.

Just in time, they are starting lunch from 12 to 3 for the racers. :)

It will be probably 5 or 6 PM tomorrow before I updated my blog with the results of the race but don't worry; I will.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

50K is 2 days away

In less than 48 hours, I will be running the New River 50k. In fact, it is 10:57 AM at the moment. If I stay on pace, I should be about 50 minutes from the finish at this time.

My legs were a little tired this morning morning. So to offset the fatigue, I have been trying to get some extra sleep but sometimes I think it has the opposite effect.

In fact, I have almost come to the conclusion that it make me feel the fatigue even more. My reasoning behind this belief is getting extra sleep takes you out of your normal sleep patterns. Consistency, to me is the most important thing.

So if you have been sleeping 7 or 8 or 9 hours, you should continue with this pattern through your goal event.

Also I believe the same can be said for your eating habits. Don't try anything new and don't change the foods that you have been eating. The worst thing to happen is to have tummy issue before or during the race.

On a different note, I am getting everything together so I can head out for the 50k tomorrow afternoon.

Clothes and Food - etc. ... :) If the wheels don't fall off, I should have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

50K is 3 days away

The time of day is late but I finished my run early this morning. Covering 10 miles and maybe a little more, I did the run on the Nort Meck. Trail. It has become a regular running hole for me. The drive is only a short distance and the trail is very nice.

As the days continue to count down, I am feeling more nervous than ever. Running 31.05 miles will be one the biggest phyical challenges of my life.

I just hope to come through it and still be in one piece.

On a different note, I am already starting my packing.

Running Clothes
Other food to snack on
And my bike, I hope that I feel up to taking a short ride on the trail either Saturday evening or Sunday morning.

I am sure that is some other stuff so look for me to starting making my list. :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

50K is 4 days away

Four more days until I run my first 50k.

My thigh which has been sore for more than a week is feeling much better. I have been icing it several times per day and the soreness is slowly abaiting.

As for workouts, I rode 12.27 last night. I felt a little tired but not overly so. I decided over the weekend to limit my riding from here until the marathon. At 43, running well is as much as about recovery as it is about working out.

While the bike workout don't seem as hard as running, when I limit my bike riding, my running appears to pick up. And with a 50k Saturday and 15k GP race the following week, I really need to concertrate on running well and fast. I hope it is part of a building process that will have me run a great time at OBX.

For today, I am heading over to Latta Plantation to run a hill workout. The Latta Plantation Park has some nice gravel roads so it should be a good workout. Then, later today, I plan to swing by the Y and do a little swimming.

I like getting into the pool because it makes my legs feel better the next day.

Monday, October 6, 2008

50K is 5 days away

Well, I am on the downhill side of my marathon training now. This will be my max mileage week and I will end it by running a 50k trail race in Fries, Va.

Yes, I said 50k.

50k will be the longest run that I have ever done as a continuous run. And if you need the conversion, it is 31.1 miles which is longer than a marathon.

That means at the end of this weekend, I will have passed by the marathon and entered the world of Ultra-marathoning albeit barely.

Being that I have this racing coming I am both a little scared and excited by it.

It is scary to think that I will be running for nearly 4 hours (which is my goal). I know lots of people have run 50k and even longer - 40 miles, 50 miles, 60k, 100k, and 100 milers. But for me, this will be my first foray into uncharted territory. Being on your feet and running for thatis length of time means that I am going to be hurting for sure.

The excitment that I feel comes from the feeling of doing something entirely new. I have been running for over 20 years and have run numerous 5k and 10k. The races are short and the pain is rather limited and is over fairly quickly. But on Saturday, I will push my body to handle 31.1 and hopefully "walk" away in good shape.

The race is on the New River trail. The trail was converted from the rail road bed to the trails. If you read my blog in July, you will know that I spent some time both running on the trail and riding on it. So I am familar with the trail.

The trail is for all practicial purposes flat. Well, it almost flat. The trail follows the New and Chestnut rivers.

The first 5 miles along the New River has a 100ft or so of elevation drop. Then, we run right and run 11 miles toward Galax, Va. I believe there is about a 250 foot raise along this section. The accent is not noticable to the human but when I was running on the coarse, I felt this slight tug as if I was running up hill.

My suspions are that some of the fast times will be recorded between the 16 and 25 miles of the race.

For my part, I will be hearing my Garmin to track my splits for each mile and track my heart rate. I post my data on Saturday night if I can get an Air Card signal.

That is about it for now. I will be blogging each day leading to the race so that I can give my perspective heading into and running this race. I hope to add some recovery comment post race as well.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brixx 10k Recap 9.27.08

On Saturday morning I headed down for the 8th of 9 Grand Prix Races in the Run For Your Life Series. The 8th race is a tough little 10k course in the uptown area of Charlotte called the Brixx 10k.

Looking at the map of the course, Tim and his team had changed the course from the last time that I ran the race. Instead of the long uphill pull from the Central Piedmont campus to the uptown, the course cuts across behind the college and retraces most of the first mile back to the finish. While it doesn’t totally remove the hill because the Charlotte Uptown sets on a hill, it does reduce the grade and length of the up hill running.

I arrived for the race at about 6:30 AM and parked in the 7th street parking deck. It is a great place to park as it is located between the finish line and the starting line.

I met Mike B. and Chris L and headed out for a couple of miles to warm up before the race.

Then it was off to change shoes and some prerace striders. I like to do about 6 to 8 good strides during the last 10 minutes before the start of the race. This helps me feel like I am ready to run fast. Whether it is true or not, I never know until the race starts.

I saw Steve Spada at the starting line and went over to wish him luck. Even thou we are battling for the GP Master’s Title, I want everyone to run their very best.

The verbal commands were given and we were off. I settled in behind/beside Steve and just behind Chris and Mike.

We hit the mile in about 5:45 which felt slow to me. Chris pulled out about 10 to 15 meters in front of us. Mike, Steve, and I continue together. We were catching a few guys as they started to drop off the pace.

By mile 3, I had pushed ahead. Mike joined me briefly then dropped back. As we neared the end of a long down hill, Steve came up on my shoulder and started to up the pace.

I did my best to match his efforts. The course then turned up hill. Steve dropped off my shoulder at this point. I passed another guy and started to make some ground up on Chris.

As we pushed further up the hill, I pulled even with Chris. At this point, I was throwing in small surges. I was hoping to put some ground between myself and Steve and Mike.

When Chris and I crossed over the top of the hill, Chris quickly started to gap me. I tried to stay with him, but he was definitely stronger on this section.

At one of the turns, I saw Steve and Mike were working together or at least running together. I was hoping Mike wouldn’t tow Steve back to me. I know both Mike and Steve are very strong finishers.

I hit the final hill heading back to the finish. Chris was still a short distance in front of me. I used this fact to help drive my self forward. In addition I knew if I let up at any point both Steve and Mike would catch me. Look fo motivation where ever you can find it.

I passed by the 6 mile point and started my closing kick. The last .2 has one corner and then a straight line to the finish. I used the one corner to take a peek out the corner of my eye to see how far Steve and Mike were behind me. They were close but not close enough today. I put in one final sprint and came in just ahead of them by a few seconds.

The Brixx 10k was a good run for me. It was the fastest 10k that I have ran this year - 35:40. That is considering that the course is very tough and my Garmin measured the course at 6.32 miles.

However, I cannot fault the measuring of the course for all of the extra distance. At several of the corners we were asked to run around the outside of the cones. It doesn’t take many wide tangents to soon add up the extra distance.

After the race, Mike and I headed out for 6 more miles of warm down.

When we got back, I stepped into Brixx to grab some free pizza and rigatoni. I had to eat quickly because the awards were getting ready to start.

I received a tiny little medal for my efforts. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. A lot people that ran the race and didn’t win an award unless you count the free food and beer. As I set here thinking about it, maybe free food and beer are not such a bad thing in light of these tough times. Running and the social atmosphere after race can provide a welcome relief from our otherwise busy lives.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

8 x 1200m Hill Repeat

Yesterday, I did yet another tough workout - 8 x 1200m hill repeats.

I have been searching for a nice long hill to run. I was out riding my bike over by the new 485 section last week when I noticed that the the highway construction crew had constructed this road parallel to the US-21.

The road runs for about 3/4 mile in length. The grade starts at about 3% and works up to 11% by the end. Best of all, the road is all dirt.

I drove over and parked about a mile from the hill. I used this mile to the hill to warm up.

I ran each of the repeats between 4:40 and 4:27. Which I think, is very good for me.

By the time that I finished this workout, I was exhausted. The hill was tough enough but something that I hadn't figured into the workout was the wind. I am not sure how this worked out but the wind was blowing into my face with each repeat. Rather than getting frustrated by it, I focused on using it to push harder.

Sometimes you have to turn negative aspects of training into a positive aspects.

10 x 1 mile

As I prepare for the OBX marathon, I am always looking for workouts that help push me toward my goal.

One of the workouts that I think really helps is running mile repeats.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a 10 x 1 mile on the track. Going into this workout, I was shooting to run 5:50 miles for each mile. I was a little concerned that I might not be able maintain 5:50 miles the entire way. I suspected that I might slip over 6 minutes.

I warmed up with a mile on the track.

The 1st 3 repeats were rather tough but then I started to settle down. I ran those 3 repeats around 5:49 to 5:51. The next 3 repeats were in the 5:49 to 5:45 range. This really helped boost my confidence. Then for the last 4 repeats, I did in 5:42 to 5:31. My confidence was getting better with each of the last 4 repeats.

When you start running fast and still feel good, your confidence just explodes. In turn, I think this help push me to run even better.

This was tough workout. But I think, it was great stepping stone as I prepare for my fall marathon.