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.