Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year In Review

Abraham Lincoln said, “And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

I had a lot of life in 2008. This was probably my best year yet as far as running is concerned. I ran in 19 races and set a new PR in 7 of them:

5 mile – 33:51 RT Turkey Run, Rochester, NY

9 mile – 1:03:22 Resolution Revolution, Indy

15k (road) – 1:03:21 Spring Fling, Plainfield, IN

15k (trail) – 1:07:49 Dino Ft Harrison

marathon – 3:37:36 I Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

3:31:26 CIM, Sacramento, CA

50k – 5:11:24 Another Dam 50, Englewood, OH

Technically I suppose I lowered by PR in the 50k twice if you count the 6:30:34 at Lovin’ The Hills in February. That was only my second 50k and the first was such a disaster it was no feat beating that time. Each trail race is different so comparing times from one event to another is somewhat dubious. Just because the race is called 50k doesn’t mean it’s exactly 50k and total ascent/descent can really throw a wrench into the works. I suppose I could say the same goes for the 15k trail PR. It’s possible the Ft Harrison course is shorter than the others, but I believe I ran very well there, who knows? The only certainty is that I ran the Ft Harrison course faster than last year under slightly worse conditions and I had a better time there than on any other course.

Six of the 19 events were marathon or longer; two marathons, three 50k, and one 50 miler. The 50 miler was my second attempt at the distance and my first finish which was very satisfying; however, I’m going to say the highlight of the year was the La Luz Trail Run in Albuquerque. Sure, it was only 9 miles, but except for about a quarter mile around mile six it was up hill all the way, 4578 feet of ascent.

I’m not a high mileage runner. In 2008 I ran 1,365 miles for a weekly average of 26.25 miles. The highest mileage week was 53.9 miles in week 19 which included the 50 mile trail run. This was my highest mileage week ever and only the second time I’ve ever exceeded 50 miles in a week. The lowest mileage week was zero miles in week 35 which was the week my mother passed away. I don’t know how people run 100 miles a week? I couldn’t do it without causing serious problems in other areas of my life. My wife already thinks that all I do is run. In the last six years I’ve averaged 1049 miles per year so I’m happy if I can manage to run more than 1000 miles during the year. I’ve been able to increase my speed and for the most part remain injury free with low mileage. Lord willing that will continue. The key I think is cross training that includes a lot of core strength work and interval training.

So what are my goals for 2009? Run when I can and have fun doing it, do a sprint triathlon, and run a 100 mile trail ultra. 2008 will be a tough act to follow so this is no time to be resting on laurels. I plan to continue my low mileage training and to focus even more on core strength and with the triathlon looming on the horizon I’ll be spending some time in the pool too.

I’m not going to tell you to have a Happy New Year. Saying have a happy new year to me that sounds as if there is some element of luck to it, that you can only sit back and take what comes hoping it all turns out ok. Instead I’m going to say make it a happy and fruitful New Year!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

"Age is just a number most people forget that. I hear I'm to old to do this or that..That's a bunch of crap." - Catra Corbett, Dirt Diva

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Think I Can

I swam again on Sunday. Swimming is a humbling experience for me. My goal is to do a sprint triathlon this summer; 5k run, piece of cake, 10 mile bike, child’s play, 500 meter swim, BIG PROBLEM! Last Sunday I swam somewhere between 500 and 750 yards. I didn’t maintain my senses enough to be able to keep track of the laps. I followed up the swim with a 4 mile run. This Sunday I maintained my senses enough to count the laps. I swam a mere 800 yards. I was in the water just over 20 minutes. I was able to make it to 500 before I stopped to rest. The first 500 yards took about 14 minutes. I’d like to get that closer to 10 minutes by summer. I think I am improving a little. This week the swim was followed up by a 6 mile run.

On a more positive note; last night I did burpees again. Burpees are an excellent workout. One exercise works, arms, legs, and abs. They are a great way to prepare for Bop To The Top. It’s been some time since I’ve done burpees. I like to do them in the winter months. Anyway I did 75 in 12 minutes 25 seconds. A year ago I needed over 18 minutes to do 75 burpees. Definitely some improvement there. After the burpees I spent 60 minutes on the Wii Fit trying to beat my wife’s time in the ski slalom. Couldn’t do it. Next time I need to do the slalom first then the burpees.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Twenty-One

The weather was not nice here today. Roads in the neighborhood were to icy to run and I didn't feel like driving to the gym because ice was making traffic horrible so, I finally got around to doing "twenty-one" again. Lowered my time to 33:03. This time though instead of doing sit ups I did what I'll call "leg lift crunches". I did 25 squats before "21" and after I did 75 more squats and 80 bicep curls.

I'm thinking about running a 5k race this Saturday. Next up after that is Resolution-Revolution
January 1st.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

6 Minutes 10 Seconds Or 27 Seconds

Had a great weekend in Sacramento even if the weather was pretty crappy. It was cool and foggy the whole weekend. Great for running, but not so great for sightseeing and race spectators. The marathon was very well organized. The expo wasn’t huge, but it was nice. They had several good seminars throughout the day Saturday. Unfortunately I was only able to sit in on one of them. My wife and I were out walking all over. I think we walked at least three miles probably more. I met Catra Corbett at the expo. She is an ultra runner and cross-fit fanatic. I sometimes read her blog for inspiration. I have set numerous PR’s this year in part because she inspired me to push myself harder than I used to think was possible.
The race went pretty well for me. I slept great the night before. Woke up about 4am, ate some pretzels and a hammer gel for breakfast, got dressed and boarded the bus to the start at about 5:15. There were plenty of port-a-potties at the start area. I managed to make use of them twice with very little waiting. I bagged my warm-up suit and then got back on the bus until about 15 minutes before the start. I had a little trouble finding the 3:30 pace runner, Lee Mckinley. By the time I saw him there was no way to get near him, but I was only about 5 yards behind him. After the start I didn’t see him again until about mile 2. I finally caught up to him around mile 3. I started to pull away from him around mile 8 or 9. He caught and passed me around mile 18. I tried to keep up with him, but just didn’t have it. Still, I felt pretty good up to about mile 21 when I started to tighten up a little. I kept pushing though, tried to stay positive. All through the race I kept telling myself “no stinkin’ thinkin” anytime I started to have negative thoughts. I slowed a little in the last 5 miles, but kept pushing. I ended up with a 3:31:26 finish time, cutting another 6 minutes 10 seconds off my PR from a month ago. Ok, I’m a little disappointed about missing a BQ by 27 seconds, but I’m pretty happy with my performance. I ran the first half in 1:44:20 and the second half in 1:47:06. Right after the finish I was sure I was going to throw up and my wife says I looked pretty bad, but I feel pretty good now about 10 hours after finishing, no major aches or pains.

Monday, December 1, 2008

RT Turkey Run

On Saturday November 29th I ran in the 31st Annual RT Turkey Run 5 Miler. The event is put on by the Genesee Valley Harriers Running Club. It was a small low key event, but for only $15 I got a nice t-shirt and knit cotton running gloves. I was not expecting the t-shirt so it was a pleasant surprise.

Saturday morning I got up early to make the hour drive to Rochester with my dad. Unfortunately we discovered there was no hot water so we spent some time investigating the problem. It was looking like I might not make it to the race. Turns out pilot light would not stay lit. We could not do anything about that until later anyway so off we went with the plumber’s phone number in hand. While in Rochester my dad called the plumber and by the time we returned home there was hot water for a much needed shower.

The race started on the main drive in Camp Eastman and ran slightly downhill to the Lakeside Trail running along the Lake Ontario Shore. The Lakeside Trail is a paved multi-use trail. Running along the shore was nice with a couple rolling hills. There is a nice sandy beach there that I imagine on warm summer days is crowded sun bathers and sand castle builders. The lake was mostly calm but you could still hear the sound of waves splashing onto the beach. After about a mile the trail turned away from the shore and crossed a swamp on the boardwalk shown in the picture. The boardwalk was iced over so I had to slow a little going over it. The next half mile or so was all up hill. At the top of the hill we did a loop through neighborhood streets and then returned to the trail and headed back toward Camp Eastman. My PR pace for 5 miles was 6:51 per mile and I went into this race hoping to beat that. My first mile was a 6:25, but that was fueled mostly by the downhill start out of Camp Eastman. The big uphill in mile 2 really slowed me down at 7:08 and mile 3 was only a 7:01. I didn’t give up hope of a new PR, but I knew I needed to take full advantage of the return down that hill to do it. Of course right at the bottom of the hill was the icy boardwalk. I ran mile 4 in 6:39 so a PR was within reach, but I would have to push it for the last mile in the rolling hills along the lake shore. Listening to the waves splashing onto the beach was inspiring and somehow the power of
the waves fueled me to the finish line with a last mile time of 6:38 and a new 5 mile PR of 33:51. I finished 15th overall and 5th in my age group, so I have some work to do. Fellow Hoosier, John Poray, finished 2nd overall with a time of 26:00.

This was a nice event and a nice course if you are ever in Rochester on the Saturday after Thanksgiving I would recommend this event.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Exciting Developments

Great news! A couple weeks ago I sent in an application for the Brooks Inspire Daily Program for 2009. Yesterday I got an email from the program manager, Steve Dekoker, saying my application had been accepted. They have varying levels of product sponsorship which will be announced in late December or early January. The higher the level the more free product you receive. I assume I will come in at the lowest level which means I won’t get a lot of free stuff, but I will get a 40% discount on my favorite running shoes and apparel. Actually I’m not yet very familiar with Brooks apparel as I don’t believe I currently have any Brooks apparel; though, I once had an awesome Brooks mesh running cap similar to the one shown above. It was very nice, white with the Mini Marathon logo embroidered on it. I loved that hat. Unfortunately, one day my wife’s “therapy” dog used it to floss his teeth. I’m all for good dental hygiene, but that was a little over the top.

More great news! I volunteered to be a pacer for the Indy Runners Mini Marathon Training Program even though I was not planning to actually run the Mini. The program takes place on Tuesday evenings starting January 24th at Hinkle Fieldhouse. I’ll be pacing the 8:30/mile group. I’m very excited about this opportunity to help others train for the Mini and to meet other experienced runners who will be pacing other groups. I think other runners can benefit from my experience, but ultimately I’m sure I will receive even greater blessing from this in return.

I said I was not planning to run the Mini this year, but I guess I became intoxicated on all the excitement of the Brooks ID Program and Indy Runners Mini Training Program and this morning I actually signed up for the Mini. Oh well I suppose there are worse ways to spend a Saturday morning in May.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I just can't help myself

Ok, I was going to take it easy over the next two weeks and rest up for the CIM December 7th. Plans change. We are going to New York for Thanksgiving and today at church some friends who are also going to NY for Thanksgiving talked me into running the RT Turkey Run in Irondequoit on the 29th. It's only a 5 mile race so I guess it probably won't ruin me for the marathon. Irondequoit is a suburb of Rochester. It's a little more than an hour away from where I'll be, but I have relatives in the area I can visit after the race. I think it will be a relatively flat course so if there isn't deep snow or ice maybe I can set a PR for 5 miles. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

2008 DINO 15k Trail Series

The last race of the 2008 DINO Trail series was held yesterday at Ft Harrison State Park. The trail is an out and back with a nice mix of hills and difficult trail conditions. The trail also has a creek crossing about four miles out, which was about a foot deep. I think it took me three or four steps to get across. Because it was raining the entire race my feet were soaking wet even before the first trip through the creek. I ran a pretty good race. I didn’t go out too fast, didn’t fade in the middle. I ran out in just under 34 minutes and back just a few seconds slower. My finish time of 1:07:49 was my best time ever for a DINO race. I like the out and back format because you can see everyone who is ahead of you and behind you. Ft Harrison is no longer military post, but I guess the National Guard still uses a firing range out there. On the return trip you could hear machine guns throwing lead down range. Maybe that’s what made me run fast.

I finished the series in 8th place over all and 1st in my age group.

Last winter I increased the amount of strength conditioning I was doing and I think that made me a better runner this year. This winter I intend to focus even more on conditioning and cross training. Today I did a crossfit WOD called “Twenty-one”.

20 push ups, 1 sit up
19 push ups, 2 sit ups
18 push ups, 3 sit ups
17 push ups, 4 sit ups
16 push ups, 5 sit ups
15 push ups, 6 sit ups
14 push ups, 7 sit ups
13 push ups, 8 sit ups
12 push ups, 9 sit ups
11 push ups, 10 sit ups
10 push ups, 11 sit ups
9 push ups, 12 sit ups
8 push ups, 13 sit ups
7 push ups, 14 sit ups
6 push ups, 15 sit ups
5 push ups, 16 sit ups
4 push ups, 17 sit ups
3 push ups, 18 sit ups
2 push ups, 19 sit ups
1 push up, 20 sit ups

You do this for time. A really fit person can do it in less than 20 minutes. It took me 38:09 and my arms feel like lead which doesn’t make typing very easy.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Outback Scramble

Ran the Outback Scramble today. First time I've ever run this race. It's a trail run, but without the trail. They just use pink tape to mark a course through the woods. Up and down steep ravines, through creeks, over/under downed trees, through fields of tall goldenrod, just about anything goes. I don't even know what goldenrod is, but those were some really tall weeds. They mark a new course every year. Some of the hills had ropes to help with the climb up. I wound up sliding down some hills on my butt. Along the course they distribute various hats. If you pick up a hat and are wearing it when you cross the finish line they deduct a minute from your time. I picked up a viking hat very early in the race and had to carry it the whole time until I approached the finish line. The course was somewhere around 4 miles. This event is all about raising money and food for Gleaners Food Bank. If you bring in canned goods you get $5 off your entry fee. The three entrants who bring in the most food get a head start. The three brought in 57, 39, and 21 pounds. I took in 15 pounds. I ran a pretty good race and managed to finish 10th place over all out of 316 and 2nd in my age group.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

I really enjoyed this marathon. The weather was nearly perfect, the course was awesome. I don’t normally pay any attention to the sights and sounds along the course, but for some reason yesterday I did and I really liked what I saw over much of the course. The volunteers were great. I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers of vocal, supportive spectators who lined the course. It all added up to produce one awesome marathon. I think I’ll run this one again next year.

At the start I lined up about 10 yards back from the front runners. Then the 3:30 pace runner came in and lined up right behind me. I was hoping to finish in 3:30 or less so I was thinking I just need to stay ahead of this guy. I did stay ahead of him until around mile 19 when I had to stop at a port-a-potty. As I stepped out and started running there he was with 4 or 5 other runners. I managed to get a little ahead of him, but then he passed me. A little later he was all alone and I passed him, not because I was getting faster, but I think he was running out of steam. I was able to stay ahead of him for the rest of the race, but unfortunately I didn’t beat 3:30 finishing at 3:37:31. Not sure when he finished. I felt really good in the first half and probably ran it a little too fast. Around mile 8 I came along a couple fellow DINO runners and chatted for awhile. One wound up finishing in 3:15. According to my watch I ran the first half in about 1:41, but the race results have me at 1:39:15. I was still on 3:30 pace through mile 23, but then the wheels fell off. My legs got really tight and I couldn’t go fast anymore. I kept running though, I never stopped running. I thought I was taking enough endurolytes, but probably could have used some more. I probably should have taken the hammer gel I was carrying, but after mile 20 I was feeling a little nauseous. I mistakenly grabbed a Gatorade cup around mile 21 and nearly gagged on it. Luckily it was a small cup and was less than half full.

I’m a little disappointed, but I knocked 23 minutes off my marathon PR so I’m pretty happy about that. I’m running another marathon in December. This time I’ll try to hold back a little more in the first half and hopefully wind up with a better finish time.