Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Over the years, I have run a few large races but the Disney ½ was by far the largest.
I remember getting up at 3:00 AM and not dressing adequately for a surprisingly cold January morning in Orlando.
Then, there was the standing around for 2 hours before the start. Being it was my first time, I road the bus to Epcot verses driving over from the resort. This is one thing that I would definitely change on a future visit.
As race time neared, it was time to make a quick port-a-jon stop. Honestly, Disney knows how to handle large crowds better than anyone. I have never seen that many port-a-jons in place. Even with 14000 people, it took only a few minutes to move through the line.
Next, I dropped off my extra cloths and headed for starting line. Something else to note, there must be at least a 2 mile walk from the parking lot to the corrals. It took close to 20 to 25 minutes. Or it felt like 20+ minutes to me.
Now, the next thing to happen is perhaps the funniest. As race time nears, we all at one time or another have to make that last minute stop. One person is one thing, but what do 14,000 people do.
Fortunately, the sides of roads into Epcot are banked and have a nice grassy area before shrubs and trees begin. People were literally lined up along the edge of the shrubs making that last minute pit stop. I guess this is what is most funny to me.
Because I here at this point have to separate men and women, it is one thing for men to make a quick stop by the edge but for women to me it is something different entirely.
But literally men and women were standing or squatting side by side before jumping up and heading back to their corrals.
It is a sight that I will never forget for as long as live.
Once I settled into my corral, there were a few last minute announcements before Mickey Mouse ignited the fireworks and started the race.
As I remember the first 10 miles were pretty dark. The only exceptions were resort lights, lights in the theme parks, or in the parking lots. I remember running through one section which had no lights and I was not sure where to go.
But the run through Magic Kingdom was really nice. I would do it again just for that experience.
Around 10 miles we were headed back to Epcot where we ran up to the entrance to the worlds before heading back out of Epcot and to the finish. My Donald Duck medal still sets proudly on my shelf. I look at it every couple of days and just smile.
Now I am setting my focus on a new goal - running the Mickey Mouse Marathon. Getting a Mickey Mouse finisher medal is the primary goal but a secondary goal would be winning an age group award in the marathon. 2010 doesn’t look all that promising but in 2011 I will most likely be at the starting line. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Having so many races so accessible is this really good for us? Doesn’t this just promote the opportunity for us to burn out on racing or worse on running?
What happen to actually have down time better known as an off season?
During the early years of my running, Thanksgiving was the last time that my racing flats made it out my closest. Then, they would not be out again to the following spring. Usually this happened some time in the latter part of March.
For the months of December, January, and February, simple easy miles were logged with little thought given to racing. The body and the mind had time to recoup from the stresses and pounding of running.
When spring finally arrived, the hungry grew to see friends that we hadn’t seen in months and test our self as we set new goals for the coming year.
Today, people are racing every month of the year. Some are racing every weekend and still others are racing multi times per weekend.
Would these people not be better served by taking a little downtime? To elaborate, downtime doesn’t have to be during the months of December – March. Maybe taking June through July would be better for some people. Running in cold presents just as many challenges as running in hot weather.
The important point being is does not matter when you take downtime. Just taking downtime is the important. Your body is just like your mind. It needs a vacation from stress too.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Any way, I pushed out the door and headed over to the track for an aerobic workout this morning.
Since my ITB injury, I have laid off stressing my knee with the long tempo runs which have been the main stay of my training for years.
Instead, I have opted for shorter more intense sessions with a recovery period.
The workout today was a two by two mile with five minute recovery. I had never done this workout so I was interested to see how it would feel.
Starting off, I did a 1.5 mile warm up, followed it with some gentle stretching, and completed my warm up with some running form drills. All while the rain was coming down. Honestly, I did have thoughts of getting back in my car and driving home but no, I stuck it out.
On the 1st interval, I felt tight and stiff. The wind blow into my face with each lap but then, you have to expect it when you are running on track. Checking my heart rate on the 8th lap, I was averaging about 170. Not bad considering I ran just ran 11:46 for two miles.
Recovering from this interval, I did a slow jog lap taking about two and half minutes. I checked my watch again and saw my heart rate had already dropped down to 120. I suspect I could have gone again, but I waited the full five minutes.
On the 2nd interval, I felt looser and smoother. Again, my heart pushed up to 170. It stayed there for pretty much the entire interval. I finished it in 11:39.
Warming down included a mile and half jog on the track and more stretching.
My hamstring was still a little tender from racing last weekend. To compensate for the cold and wet conditions, I wore my 2xU compression shorts during this workout. Any time my legs feel a little stiff and/or sore I pull on the 2xU stuff. It seems to help with the workout and with the recovery afterward.
Overall, I felt good coming out of this workout. My legs were still tired from running 16 miles yesterday, but it didn’t seem to effect them too much. Tomorrow, I head back to the trails. They will be messy and wet. However, getting muddy just adds to the allure of running on the trails.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Last year, we had a team from TrySports but this year it looks like my team members will be off racing else where.
I was out trying to recruit others at Shamrock, but it seems a lot of people are going to be out of town over these two weeks.
I have not given up hope yet. If anyone reading this is interested, let me know.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
In the article, it talked about his most recent drug test. Not only did they want the usual stuff but they wanted a sample of his hair.
This started me down the road of thinking. What if after the Shamrock race, Tim came up to me and said “hey, you are running pretty fast for a 44 year old man. We need to check and make sure you are legal i.e. drug free or drug clean. Plus in addition to the usual stuff, we need a hair sample”.
At this point, I would probably balk at his request. Not because I have precious little hair left and would like to keep what I have as long as possible. But because, what is the point. In my case, I am not getting endorsement deals or big pay checks. :) I am not running world record times. I am simply coming out on Saturday morning and running as hard and as fast I can for what distance the event might be.
Be the question could be asked “how do you know if someone is clean”. How do I know that the extra five beers Chris drank before his race didn’t help improve his time?
I mean what do I really know. Maybe these guys are eating something or drinking some that gives them these great powers to run better.
Should we all be tested after every race? Thinking back now, maybe that kid from Wingate needs to be tested. He certainly looked like Usain Bolt flashing by me during our sprint to the finish.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Young Life 5k is an event that raises money to send kinds to summer camp. Having three children of my own makes this kind of cause is important to me and one worth my supporting.
Similar to the Shamrock race, I arrived early and went through the normal pre race activities. Also like the Shamrock race I did an extended prerace warm up. That is warming up until I see that my heart rate has dropped a good level.
The race involves two laps around Lowes Motor Speedway and finishes by running backwards up pit road.
I did this race the last 2 years but it was always held in June and at 9 AM so it has always been an extremely hot race.
This time temps were in the 40 at race time and only a slight breeze was blowing. A great day for racing.
The start was delayed by 15 to 20 minutes due to the people backed up getting into the speedway. Anyone entering the speedway has to sign a release form. So you can image there was quite a back log of people at the gate.
It is just another reason to not arrive late for a race, but I digress.
Once the race started, I tried to just settle into a good pace. Because this is an event to raise money for kids, there are hundreds of kids entered. And, they take that first ½ mile out as fast as possible.
I caught up with the two leaders coming off the 4th turn. Rather than pass and risk pushing the pace higher, I was willing to wait. I felt I had maybe one or two more hard surges in me so I wanted to use them at the right times.
Coming off the 2nd turn the track fills up as we catch the tail end of the other runners on their first lap. Thinking this was good time; I surged into the lead and used the people running as picks to open some distance between my self and the other runners.
Coming off the 4th I could see my shadow falling on the infield grass. I couldn’t see anyone close behind me. However, I didn't have that secure feeling yet. I felt that I needed at least one more good push down the front stretch so I throw in another 15 to 20 second surge.
Making the final turn onto pit road, I saw the finish clock. Up to this point, I had no idea how fast that I was running because they don’t call splits on the track and I really didn’t want to look at my watch. The time was still under 17 minutes, but I couldn’t cover the last .1 fast enough. I finished 17:06 which was good enough to win the race.
After race, I did just a very quick warm down and added lots of walking. I have a cap of miles to run for the week and had already gone over it.
Overall, I finished 8th and 1st in two races this weekend and ran a lot faster than I ever expected. Now, it is to reflect on this accomplish and plan the next steps in my training.
Being that the economy is in the tank lately, it was good to see that 800+ runners toe the starting line. As usual they had the radio guys were out playing music; there were massages, sports drinks, oranges, bread, and fajitas after the race. With these tough times, it was nice to see these people still coming out to support our hobby. And I make a point to frequent there establishments when I can.
But let’s get back to the race.
Going into this race, I really didn’t have any expectations. My only goal was to go out and find a pace that I could maintain until the end. My main concern was how hard could I push my knee and would it withstand the stress of racing.
Arriving at the race a little early, I picked up my number and chip. This was followed by some of the standard prerace line standing needs.
Then there was some chatting with several people that I hadn’t seen in 6 months.
I tried to keep the chatting short but we all know how that goes. From there, I changed out my shoes and headed out for a much longer warm up. I covered the entire 4 miles of the course before the race. I knew I had reached a good warm up point when my heart dropped down.
Next, I changed over to my racing flats. I got a new pair of the Mizuno Rorins. I have to say that I really like them. They felt great on my feet.
I stretched and put in some strides before heading up to the starting line.
We left about 1 to 2 minutes behind the baby joggers. Bobby A. was flying with his baby jogger. I would not catch him until about 2 miles into the race.
Tim gave some last minute instructions and yelled “go” and we were off. I took it out slow. People were passing me on both sides. I saw Peter B. go by. I looked to my right and saw Alana H. go by. She is the 12 year old running wiz of Charlotte these days. And I have to say getting faster.
I was looking for Steve S. to go flying by me. Actually, I was expecting to only see his dust as he faded out of sight in front of me. To my surprise, he was actually running just off my right shoulder.
We covered the first mile and ½ together and started picking off a few people. The first ½ of the course has a lot more down hill which tends to pull people out too fast. Just before the turn around, my legs were feeling pretty good so I decided to take advantage of the downhill and push a little harder. I must have gapped Steve at this point, but I was still expecting him to fly by me on the way back. Steve is a smart runner and runs strong the 2nd half of races.
On the way back I focused on just trying to catch people as they faded on the hills. I caught this kid from Wingate just before the last straight away to the finish. I guess I didn’t time my finish sprint well enough. I passed him but he then passed me back just before the finish. He clipped me by a second. Not bad, considering his legs are probably 20+ years younger than my legs.
Timewise, I finished in 22:48 which was good enough for 8th overall. Chris and Brian from our TrySports team finished 2nd and 4th overall. So it made for a good day TrySports team. Paul M. and Robert M. from the Run For Your Life team made a great appearance finishing 3rd and 5th. Stuart M. took the top honors with a sub 20 minute time.
Later during my warm down run with Stuart, Paul, and Robert I found out that Stuart is training for the London marathon and hoping to run 2:20 or better.
Bob M. wasn’t at the race. I heard that he has some foot issues, but I suspect that he will be back soon and running as fast as ever.
On the women’s side, Alana H. ran 23:26. She gapped the rest of the women’s field by over a minute.. Interestingly, after Alana there appears to be some new faces out there.
Overall, I was well pleased with my effort. My knee withstood the race stress but I did ice it down after the race.
And if you must know, after the race I ran a bunch of errands and then jumped on the bike for some off road riding. But I did remember to stretch before bed that night.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
If you must know, I have been thinking about writing this article for a few weeks, but for one reason or another I kept pushing it off.
Going into the 2009 RFYL GP Series there are certain people that I am expecting to be favorites to win the overall and master’s titles.
Let me start with the overall people first.
For the men, Bob M. Robert M. and probably Paul M. will likely be the top three men. This based on passed performances and the fact that they tend to run the majority of the series races. Bob M. should continue to lead the pack. He tends to be tough wherever he goes and whatever distance he runs. Robert M. and Paul M should not be too far behind. Both runners are steady as rock and run consistently fast.
For a dark horse runner, Greg I. could be it. He showed great promise by closing out the ’08 season very strong. If he has been training hard through the winter, Shamrock could be his chance.
Some of the other guys like Ben H., Cody A., and Chris L. could make the individual races very interesting. Each of them is running very well and typically jump into some of the races. Another runner recently joining the TrySports Team – Dan appears to have the ability to push some of these guys. I am putting Dan down as another dark horse to run well.
For the women, I will have to admit that I don’t know them as well. My suspicions are Lori H. will be back again. However, based on early season races, I see Alana H. being very tough to beat. In a Feb 5k race, I saw that she did a 17:30 ish time which is fantastic considering that she is 11 or maybe 12 years old by now. The only female runner that could push Alana would be Megan H. Although, I think she likes running 26 more than just 3.1 miles. So if Megan comes out, it should be a good race.
Note: I got dinged for not adding in the ladies from the TrySports team in my original post so I am giving a shout out to Kylee, Val and Caitlin. I have seen Kylee running log and Caitlin has put in some good race times. Val is the newest to group, but she seems to be hanging with a fast group of ladies. I suspect she will show her speed soon. For my dark horse I am selecting Kathy to show her stuff this year. Going forward, I promise to follow the ladies race more closely.
On to the men’s masters’ ranks, I am putting Steve S at the top of the list for this year with Chaz H. close behind. Bobby A. and Peter B. could be a couple others that could jump in and grab the top prize as well. I put Steve as the odds on favorite based on his late ’08 season races and races from this spring. Steve seemed to bounce back well from his fall marathon with some fast 8k and ½ marathon times.
You are probably asking why I didn’t include my self in that list. I didn’t mainly because my status is still in flux due to my ITB. I just have not done the necessary training that I feel puts me in contention to run with these guys. My gut feeling is that it will be June or July before my knee is strong enough to take on the heavy workouts that I like doing.
For the female masters, I see Lori taking the top honors. She is the fastest female master that I have seen in Charlotte for while. At this point, I have not seen any other challenger to her.
Now having said all of this, we still have to show up and race. And, you never know who will have moved into town in the past 6 months. But by Saturday noon, we will have a good idea who the leaders out of the gate will be for the ’09 season.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Toward the latter part of the magazine I started reading an article about balancing training. They discussed how to get the right mix of hard training and then giving adequate recovery.
As I was reading it, they discussed when the body starts to reap the rewards of a workout. The body just doesn’t suddenly have this new strength and speed immediately after the workout. Depending on the person, it takes about week or more before the body finishes the recovery and adapts to the additional stress of the previous workout. I thought this was very interesting from a couple of points. Point one; many times I have slanted multiple hard workouts in the same week. I might be better serviced to have one really hard workout. Then follow it later in the week with a tough but lighter workout. This could prove beneficial because it actually gives the body the recovery time that it needs to improve. Two really hard workouts if their principle holds true slows the recovery process. For the other point, if you are keying for a major race, perhaps running your last major workout(s) 7 to 10 days before would be ideal. This would give you plenty of time for your body to recover and be ready on race day. If ideas from this article are true, the benefits from the race week workouts don’t have an effect until after the race.
I continued on reading the article and was even more interested in the next point they made. Normally, I follow what is considered a typical training method. I have hard days followed by easy days. They proposed a slightly different approach. They suggested having 2 hard days followed by 2 easy days. Then they followed it with an example that got me. In their example they had a runner racing on Saturday and then following it up with a long run on Sunday. Honestly, with all of the runs and reading that I had done, I never considered using this method. That is even thou; I have been doing it for years.
When you stop to consider the idea behind two hard days and then two easy days, you can see the benefits. After the first hard day, your body is tired. Pushing again on the 2nd days appears to compound the stress on the body. Then instead of just one easy day you now have two easy days for recovery. You are now giving your body 72 to 96 hours of recovery instead of the 48 hours. Now, the other question that comes to mind is why not just train hard every day. I don’t think this will ever work for two reasons. One, the body never gets a chance to truly recovery so you never reap the full benefits of the training. Two, most of our body just cannot stand this type of hard training day in day out. Something is going to break some where.
My primary reason for writing this article is we often get stuck in the same training patterns day after day month after month year after year. To quote a over used phrase “Only when we start think outside the box do we actually start to change and improve”
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
How much time in your training plan should you set a side to be adequately trained for a marathon? Some people say 3 months. Others say 4 months. I have seen some plans that say 6 months. I even read an article about a runner who only did 7 days of prep for his marathon.
The real answer is it is all depended on the person and where they are in their physical conditioning.
For someone like my self who already has a good running base and runs a lot miles two months provides a sufficient marathon build up.
Let me explain why.
Marathon training is extremely stressful both mentally and physically.
Physically, you are adding more miles mostly through long runs. This tends to beat body down – especially the legs. Then, you are probably adding long repeats of one or two miles on tired muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This raises the risk that the body will break down and result in an injury.
Mentally, marathon is tougher than your normal training. Your long runs grow to beyond 20 miles. For most of us this means runs of two to three hours or more. And, if you are like most of us, you are getting up early to get in these runs. You can only do this training so long before mentally it starts to take its toll. At some point, mentally it just starts to wear you down.
Then there is the fact that marathon training tends to take over your life. You are trying to get extra sleep. You degree of fatigue is much higher. You are watching your diet so that you are taking the right foods for recovery and the right foods so your long runs are uneventful if you know what I mean.
After reflecting on my marathon races from last year, I came to this conclusion. In the spring, I keep the training plan to 8 weeks. But for the fall marathon, I used a 12 week plan. I found that by the 8-10 week point, I was ready to race. Those final 2-3 weeks, I was just trying to not fall apart.
I didn’t get to run a spring marathon so I didn’t get a chance to test my theory this spring. However, I am planning to use an 8 week plan this fall. This will include 3 hard days per week. One of the days will be a long run which builds up about 27 miles. The other two days will be a combination of speed work and tempos. One week my speed work will be dedicated to long intervals and then the following week the focus will be on shorter intervals. The last 2 weeks of the 8 week plan will be part of the taper. Here, the miles will be reduced but the intensity will remain the same.
That’s it. Get in, race, and get out fast. For the week or two after the marathon take it easy. Running is okay but no hard running. It is too easy to injury your self during this period of time.
-just a thought for more highly trained runners.
Yesterday, I went out for my first real post ITB test. I could have chosen any number of workouts, but the one I selected was a 3 x 5 minutes with a 3 minute recovery.
I took my Garmin along to track my heart race and pace.
The first 5 minutes surge was tough. My legs were still the feeling the effects from the weekend rides. The 2nd 5 minute surge felt better and 3rd was about the same.
Looking at my watch, I was probably averaging about 6 minute pace over the entire 5 minutes. My workout was done on the roads and in the neighborhoods near my home so the terrain is anything but flat. I really wasn't worried about the terrain, however. I was looking for how the knee felt and how I felt during the run.
Overall I have to say that I felt pretty decent. I would have liked to run faster but hopefully, the speed will return in time.
The knee felt good. I didn't feel any pain and just to be cautious, I iced down my knee after the workout. Erring on the side of caution is always a good plan.
The next steps will be to introduce some short hills on Friday morning.
-btw did the time change throw anyone else for a loop. I cannot seem to get to sleep at night and struggle getting up in the morning.
Monday, March 9, 2009
While standing at an intersection, I was looking around. I came to realize that runners and bikers treat intersection totally differently.
Let me explain.
When you are running and you come to an intersection. What do you normally do. Some people stop. Others will jog in place. Still others will simply go around the traffic depending on how busy it is.
But when you are riding your bike none of this works. According to the rules of the road, you should ride your bike up to the edge of the intersection and then wait until the light changes. So you really don't have choice. When you come to an intersection, you have stop. There is no biking in place or going around traffic. And it is pretty clear why you have to do this. It is a safety factor.
Don't get me wrong I am for safety. Getting someone hurt would definitely cut into the enjoyment of the workout.
So what are we do. Well, if you are on your bike, follow the rules. Think of the intersection as a break in the workout to grab some water. On the otherhand if you are running, definitely you should look both ways before crossing the street.
And above all err on the side of caution and be safe. You can never control what the driver of that car is doing but you can control your own behavior.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
However, I have been watching his running log and knew that his conditioning has been improving. In mid Feb, he ran a 26:40 ish time at the Winter Flight 8k. From reading his running log, he wasn't pushing.
Then today, I got word that he really blow out the pipes on a tough 1/2 marathon in 1:13:51. I know the course is tough from running it in previous years. If he been on a faster course, I think we would be talking about 1:11 or possibly 1:10.
What is really good about Ben's race is that it helps set the bar higher. Cody and Chris now have another person to push them to greater heights.
Now, what I would really like to see is the three of them go head to head to head on a fast course.
But best of all, these type of runs put the TrySports team at the top of the list for teams in Charlotte. I know of no other team that has this many fast runners.
For my part, I just need to brush of this ITB injury and show that I am worthy as well.
Good Running and Racing
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Some times, it feels like a struggle no matter which way that I do it.
Last night, I ran on the Mallard Creek greenway. Basically, I did the entire greenway plus some of the neighborhoods to cover the 16 miles.
For some reason, I don’t feel that I am striding normally on my right foot. But then, maybe I am super sensitive to it. I seem to notice every little ache and pain during the run. Not to mention, my foot falls appear to be louder with the right foot. But like I said – I am super sensitive to every little thing.
My run really wasn’t that fast – about 7:50 miles. However, I really felt drained afterwards. I suspect my running base has dropped off from my marathon base in the fall. I should have probably expected this to happen. And, it will take a while to build it back.
So my goal for the next three weeks is to continue with the 16 milers on Wednesday. I have no plans to run them really hard. Rather, I just want to get the distance in and spend the time on my feet.
Sometimes it is easy to forget – I didn’t loose the running base over night and I cannot get it back overnight. It will happen but being patient is really hard.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The problems that I encountered were with some fallen trees. I guess the snow and ice took it toll. Several trees had fallen across the trail so I was climbing through, over, or going around the depending on what looked like the best path.
The creek crossing was another story. There are 3 big rocks that aid runners in crossing the stream, but with all of the rain and snow, these rocks were under water. Jumping over really isn't an option for me. I don't have any of Carl Lewis' leaping ability.
So I figured I would hit the middle rock and hope I didn't get too wet.
Things went fairly smoothly. The toe of my shoe got soaked and then quickly froze. This was the first loop. On the 2nd loop, I wasn't as lucky. More of my foot got wet and froze. Running got a little tougher as I finished the last couple of miles with one heavy frozen shoe.
That was in the morning.
The temps never did get above freezing at least as far as I could tell.
About 5:15 I headed over the Huntersville business park for a ride. Now, this was cold. I had to stop and change gloves after just a few miles. I had bought these new gloves at TrySports and I think they will work well when the temps are in the 40 and above. But freezing and below, they just don't keep your hands warm.
I also bought some booties to go over my bike shoes. Now, I have to say they kept my feet warm and actually made me look pretty cool when I am riding. I had seen some of the professional riders using them so it prompted me to try them.
I want to give some props to Sugoi for their stuff. I am now using their tops, shorts, gloves, socks, and booties. So far so good, I am very happy with their gear.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Last night after The Amazing Race, I took a peek outside the front door. The rain had changed over from a steady pour to a ton of the hit stuff.
The darker looking picture was taken about 9:15 PM on 3/1/09 last night.
The lighter picture was taken about 8 AM on 3/2/09 this morning - just before I headed out for my run.
I stayed away from the the black clear patches of ice. They didn't offer much traction. The whiter patches of ice and snow gave much better footing.
The running was a lot tougher along the major roads. The snow plows had came through. Basically, the snow plows had doubled the depth of the snow. It does provide the hip flexors with great workout.
I got into trouble once. I stepped into slushy snow pile which soaked my right foot. But the good news was I was on my way home when it happened.
Otherwise, I was able to stay up right for the entire run.
There were a few strange looks from several people. I guess they were having trouble standing up and thus wondered how I could be out running.
You know - I was wondering the same thing.
test some data