Thursday, May 29, 2008

Training for the week so far.

Monday: 12.7 miles
A group of us (Steve Hawthorne , Wayne, and Jeff U.) met at Mark's house for a run around Aurora. Here is a synopsis of the discussion.
  • Wayne is old and slow (proposed by Mark, seconded by Steve)
  • Steve has not and will not qualify for Boston (proposed by Wayne, seconded by Mark)
  • Frank does not put in enough miles (proposed by Mark, seconded by Frank)
  • No one but Mark trains right (also proposed by Mark, seconded by Mark)
Tuesday: 8 miles with 3x1 mile intervals
As usual, Tuesday is speed work. I warmed-up with a slow 3 miles, followed by 3 x 1 mile intervals. I was disappointed with the times (5:57, 6:04, 6:02). I could blame the strong winds, but I believe it was my lack of full effort in the two slower miles. Next week, I resolve to keep all three miles in the 5:somethings.

Wednesday: 6 miles running, 27 miles biking
I ran an out and back from Kichler to Hillside Road (Towpath Museum). It was a sunny, slightly brisk day, and the valley looks beautiful this time of year. I rode my bike to work and back. It was a very cold morning (I think we dipped into the 30's), so I decided to take the short, direct route via Pettibone/Alexander/Pleasant Valley, which is about 10.5 miles. I started out at 5:45 AM , so there was very little traffic. Coming home, I left Kichler around 5:45 PM. The traffic that time of day is heavy along the direct route, so I turned north and went through the Bedford reservation. I avoided all the traffic, but had to add about six miles to the route as the path meanders through the metro parks all the way to Solon.


Wyatt sent an e-mail advising the group about a Runners Performance Health presentation at the Cleveland Clinic in Independence on June 9th at 6:00PM. I have registered and I hope some other SERC runners will do the same. The topics are:

Jack Andrish, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon
Heather Nettle, MA, Exercise Physiologist
Basil Strasburg, Physical Therapist

Dr Andrish is himself an accomplished ultra-marathoner, and is well respected in the running community.

Monday, May 26, 2008

This Just In...Frank CAN Run Negative Splits

I've run the Blossom Time 5.25 miler the past three years, but yesterday morning, I was planning to sit it out. I thought I'd ride my new bike to Chagrin Falls, hang out and cheer for my fellow SERC runners, and eat some greasy fries.

Once I arrived in Chagrin Falls, I met Eileen from the club, and she asked if I was running. I said I wasn't sure. She laughed and said, 'You're running.' She was right. I registered, got my number, and did a little (very little) warm-up and a little (very little) stretching. I ran into and talked with lots of SERC runners including: E-speed, Solar, Daisy, Mark, Steve Hawthorne*,
Wyatt, Jeff, Joe, and others. I made it to the start within a few minutes of the start and managed to weasel a place at the front of the pack by sidling up to Wyatt and Steve. After a stirring rendition of the national anthem, the gun sounded.

I had decided to try to run a smart race, just like a decide before every race. I wanted to keep a 6:30/mi. pace to see if I could actually have something in the tank for the finish. The first mile was slightly up hill, and remarkably I hit the mile marker at exactly 6:30. Then I hit the second mile at 13:09, a 6:39 pace. I missed the target by 9 seconds, but that was a very hilly mile, and I miscalculated a bit, rather than indicating that I was fading. I was running hard, but not crazy hard. I think they call it 'under control'. Thanks to that, I was able to take advantage of the downhill in the next mile, which I completed in 6:14. Mile four was undulating, and I completed it in 6:22, and I still felt like there was gas in the tank. I ran the last 1.25 miles in 7.45, a 6:12 pace. I really did it! I ran a negative split in a race. I'd heard it was possible, but I never believe it. Even more incredible, I took first in my division, and come home with a very nice plaque. It was another good day for SERC runners, with many placing or winning in their divisions.

* Steve Hawthorne: Steve asked me why I always refer to him as Steve H. in my blog. I told him that, as a rule, bloggers refer to people by their blogger names, or first names, or initials. He said he was disappointed because he wanted the recognition and publicity. I told him that, from now on I would not only use his full name, but would include a flattering image of his smiling face

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Recovery Week...with a bonus!

I've neglected to post my running updates for the week, so I'll make up for that now.
  • Monday: An easy 5.42 miles, just to get the blood flowing and the legs moving, and work out some of the stiffness from the marathon on Sunday. Remarkable, I was not hurting much, but I was tight.
  • Tuesday: 6.5 mile, about the same slow pace as Monday, but with a couple of hills added to make it more interesting.
  • Wednesday: Rest ( This was unplanned. My schedule for the day made it difficult to squeeze in a run, and frankly I was OK with it.)
  • Thursday: 8 miles on the tow path along the canal. Again, at an easy pace. I felt more comfortable with each mile. Spotted a pair of blue birds frolicking in the bushes, many blue herons, and a kingfisher flying low along the canal, looking for a snack.
  • Friday: 7.23 hilly miles of mixed cross-country and roads in the South Chagrin reservation. Beautiful day for an easy run through the woods.
  • Saturday: Trail run with the SERC group starting at Lock 29. Steve led the way. Fortunately, he was feeling less energetic than usual, as he's been working a landscaping job, so we only did 9.78 miles. I wasn't up for a long, hill and dale run. I arrived about a half hour early, warmed-up a bit, and took a few photos. It was a beautiful spring morning, and the fog was just beginning to clear. I took this photo of the river. There was some steam rising from the water, and a heron was standing on the rocks, looking to spear a fish.


And here is the big bonus. I have been looking at bikes, and I finally bought one today. Check it out.
It is a Specialized Sequoia endurance road bike. Its very light-weight (about 21 pounds) and really fits me well. I did lots of research on line and at several local shops, before I finally bought this at Solon Bicycle.
Why did I buy a bike? I simply want to be less dependent on a car. If you've been reading my blog, you know I've experimented with running to work, but the distance is such that this is impractical on a daily basis. I plan to begin riding my bike to work, maybe not every day at first, but I'll see how it goes. Also, I intend to use the bike for all of the short trips around town that I used to do in my car. Living in Solon, I really miss the old neighborhoods in Cleveland Heights and Shaker, where we could walk to the store, or library, or where ever. At least with my bike, I will not have to hop in the car every time we need a quart of milk or a bag of cat food. Another factor is the fitness benefits. Every day I ride to work will add a 40 minute workout in the morning and evening.
Rising gas prices helped justify the cost of the bike and accessories, but that was not part of my original motivation. I don't want to write an essay on social responsibility and the impact of our actions on future generations, although I will recommend a good one. The June edition of Scientific American arrived on Thursday, and reading, "The Ethics of Climate Change" reinforced my decision. It is one of the most interesting articles I've read on global warming/climate change, because it speaks directly to the responsibilities we have to future generations.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mile Pace Analysis Boston V Cleveland

First, I want to thank everyone who posted or e-mailed encouraging words. I know I should be happy with a new personal record in Cleveland, and I am. Thanks for pointing out that I need to stop dwelling on the negative.

And an additional thanks to those of you who read the title and did not immediately close your browsers. I thought it would be interesting to compare my mile by mile pace for the two races, as represented by the chart below.

At first look, I the races have remarkably similar profiles. In both, I was hanging around the low 7 minute, high 6 minute area through around mile 15 (far too fast to sustain), then slowing and cruising into the finish with whatever I had left. You can see the effect of the Newton Hills and Heartbreak in Boston, in miles 17 through 21. The Cleveland pace for those miles did not drop off nearly as much. In both races, miles 23, 24, and 25 were almost identical, with Boston slower by only 1 second, 2 seconds, and 7 seconds respectively.

What do I take from this?
  • I went out too fast again in Cleveland, and didn't leave anything in the tank for the end.
  • I need to settle into a reasonable pace early.
  • I need to put in more training miles. Specifically, I need to do a few more long runs, and pick up the pace for the last few miles to train myself to run faster on tired legs.
  • I should not have blindly followed the 3:10 pace group in Cleveland. I should have trusted my own time keeping and backed off when the pacer was taking us on 6:40, 6:51, and 6:55 miles All but one of the first eight miles were well under the 7:15 pace we should have been keeping.

In other news, I have registered for my first ultra-marathon, the Buckeye 50k. This will be a lovely 31 mile jaunt along the Buckeye Trail in the middle of July. Let's all hope it's a really hot and muggy day! Sounds absolutely fabulous.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gray Day in Cleveland

The phrase ‘Sunday morning in the middle of May…’ might evoke images of blue skies, birds chirping and fluttering among the newly green trees, rolling, grassy hills dotted with white and yellow blossoms, rabbits frolicking, a fawn drinking from a trickling stream. Except in Cleveland, where it looks like this: slate grey skies thick with dark, ominous clouds, rain, wind, 45 degrees. Show of hands, who wants to run a marathon in Cleveland in May?

I woke at 4:30AM, slathered Sports Shield lubricant under my arms and around my groin, smeared Vaseline between my toes, and got dressed. I ate a light breakfast: half a banana, 4 ounces of granola, cup of orange juice, 16 ounces of Gatorade. I grabbed my bag (packed it the night before) and drove into town. Parking was no problem; I found a spot two blocks from the start. I put on a plastic poncho to try to stay dry, with a sweatshirt under it to try to stay warm. Neither objective was achieved, as the poncho proved annoying, so I ditched it, and the sweatshirt was not sufficient to keep me warm.

I found a few of my SERC buddies mulling about, waiting for the start at 13th and St. Clair. Of course, the race did not start on time. We stood in the cold wet weather, listening to far too much self-congratulatory speechifying by the race organizers over the PA, before they finally sounded the start. I ran with the 3:10 pace group, knowing I would not end with that group. I hoped to stay with them for the first half.

The course meandered through the near east side, then headed west past the Browns Stadium. After I had worked up some warmth, I discarded my wet sweatshirt, at the mile 2 marker. We ran west on the Shoreway to W.117 St. I tried to settle in, but the pacers were erratic. Our first six miles were:7.10, 6.51, 7.23, 7.02, 6.40, 7.09.

We turned south and east, taking Detroit Ave. back toward downtown. Fortunately, the rain had let up by this time, and eventually stopped. I need to mention that, unfair as this comparison may be, Cleveland is not Boston. Aside from downtown, and a cluster of people in Lakewood around 117th, there were very few supporters along the route. Not that I rely on crowds for motivation, but in this particular race, I could have used any help I could find. I just did not have the energy and drive that I had in Boston. I knew it was going to be a long day.

As we cam back through downtown, roughly mile 10.5 to 11, I was happy to see some people had gathered along Superior Ave, trying to make a little noise. After that, I didn’t see anyone but the runners for the five miles to University Circle. There, we turned north, taking East Blvd. to Martin Luther King Blvd., miles 17 through 19. This was actually the best part of the race for me. The grade was slightly downhill, the clouds occasionally broke to let a little sunshine through, and the scenery along MLK is actually beautiful. Its a meandering old boulevard with beautiful, stone arched bridges, bounded on each side by trees and flowering bushes.

Just before the 19 mile mark, where we turned west along lake, I passed Marc, a fellow SERC runner whom I should not be passing in a marathon. He's a very good runner, in his prime, and I expected he might run under 3 hours for Cleveland. I asked if he was alright, and he said he was OK, just not great. I continued on, and within a half mile, he caught up with me. He ran with me for a bit, and I told him not to let me hold him back. He said that he didn’t have anything to shot for now, since his target time was no longer possible.

We ran together along four mile of Marginal Rd. Marc knew I was not feeling it, and he encouraged me along, reminding me to relax when my breathing was forced, picking up the pace when I started to fade. He stayed with me all the way to the last mile. That would have been one very ugly finish without him. In the final quarter mile, there were more SERC’s cheer and pushing me on to the finish. I crossed at 3:15:01, a new PR.

Since crossing that finish line, something has been bothering me. Instead of being happy and celebrating a new PR, I am disappointed. I am disappointed that I did not have the strength to finish stronger. I am disappointed with my attitude going into this race…that I wasn’t as keyed up and focused as I should have been. I am disappointed that I didn’t stay with the 3:10 group longer. I am disappointed that I had thoughts about quitting during the last six miles. I let myself take this race too easy. I didn’t put enough miles into my training. I am not going to let that happen again.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cleveland Marathon Quick Update

I'm back from the race, and it did not turn out to be a 'Mistake by the Lake'. I finished at 3:14:59, which is a new personal record. I did not manage to run a steady race, once again going out too fast, but this time not quite so crazy fast, and the flatter course allowed me to get away with it. Here are the mile by mile pace numbers, the rest of the story will have to wait. we're heading to Barb's for the after race party.

Mile Pace/Mi
1 7.10
2 6.51
3 7.23
4 7.02
5 6.40
6 7.09
7 6.55
8 7.09
9 7.15
10 7.18
11 7.11
12 7.00
13 7.09
14 7.18
15 7.34
16 7.38
17 7.28
18 7.25
19 7.35
20 7.29
21 7.34
22 7.36
23 7.48
24 8.06
25 7.53
26 7.24
26. 2 7.21

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cleveland Marathon, or My Personal Mistake by the Lake

This afternoon, Sue and I went to the pre-marathon expo at the convention center to pick up my race packet, grab some freebies, and see if there were any deals to be had among the vendors. As we walked around the expo, we met up with other SERC runners, including: Steve and Mark G., Steve H, Marc A., Barb B., Jeff U., and Wayne V. I think we have a total of 22 from our club running on Sunday.

We checked out the deals the vendors were offering. I saw Jodi at the Fleet Feet booth, and he gave me a nice deal on some Body Glide, and threw in a Brooks reflective vest for free. I also found a deal on 2.3 pound can of Endurox R4.

Sooooooo....I came to the pace group booth, and was confronted with the decision that I have been avoiding since I signed up to run Cleveland. Last Sunday, Steve H. asked me if I would run with him in the 3:10 pace group. Hahahahahahaha. Steve was actually serious, but it was a ridiculous thing to ask. Just three weeks ago, I ran my fastest marathon at 3:16:55. There is no way to trim 7 minutes off fastest marathon I have run, doing it on less than a month's recovery, on a gimpy right knee, and a strained, sore left Achilles. I told Steve he was delusional, and I would be very lucky just to come close to my Boston time. didn't say that. I actually said, "Sure'. Then I said, 'Let's do it'. Then I smiled. I smiled like the idiot that I am.

Sooooo...back to the pace group booth. I stood there, knowing I had put myself in a situation with no way out. The guy working the booth asked, 'What's your target time?' Without hesitation, knowing I had made a commitment to Steve and I had to honor it, I looked him in the eye and said, 'Is there a 3:15 group? wait, there is no 3:15 group, is there? OK, wait. So it's either 3:20 or 3:10, huh? Gimme a minute. Alright, ummm...threeeeeee.......ten. Yeah, 3:10."

Done. Nothing left but to run the race. See you back here at this blog on Sunday evening, by which time my Cleveland Marathon will have given new meaning to the old Cleveland moniker, 'Mistake by the Lake'.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Speed work...only slower

I am supposed to be tapering for the Cleveland Marathon this week, but I didn't want to blow-off the Tuesday speed work entirely, so I decided to do my 3 x 1 mile intervals, but run them about 10 seconds per mile slower. That worked well enough, with the miles timing at 6:08, 6:15, and 6:10. With three miles of warm-up, 1/4 mile recovery between miles, and a mile of cool-down, it came out to about 7.75 miles. Seems unnecessary to say my left knee and right Achilles were hurting, so I won't.

Today (Wednesday), I did an easy 7 on the tow path. I'll run Thursday and Friday, then take a day off before the race on Sunday. I am not feeling the energy that I had for Boston. Several people have asked me about my target, and I don't now how to answer. I suppose, given the flatter course, I should be shooting for a personal best around 3:15. Maybe before the start of the race, I should decide on my plan and my pace. Or not.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another Good but Challenging Weekend

On Saturday morning, I wavered on doing the Lock 29 run, with Cleveland Mara only a week away. It had been raining, and I knew it would be a mucky, tough run. I decided to suck it up and go anyway. Turned out to be a mucky, tough run. I wore my Nike Humaras, which are the best mud shoes I have every owned, and that helped, especially in the really wet, swampy, shoe-sucking mud. The footing on the hill climbs was undependable, so of course there was much slipping and sliding. 13.2 miles of that over a couple of hours really works you legs. Click here for a satellite image of our route.

On Sunday, I ran the Mom's Day 5k in Independence. Eileen from our club runs the race which she established in memory of her parents. There were about ten of us from SERC there, and we all did well, winning or placing in our age groups. I got there in time to do a few warm-up miles, then some strides before the race.

In keeping with a very consistent adherence to the three F's approach to racing ("First Fast, then Fade"), I went out too fast, doing both of the first two miles at 6:00 minute pace. I finished at a shade over 19:00 (official times are not posted yet). It was good enough for first in my age group, so I didn't blow the race entirely.

E-speed and me at the start. We both went out too fast, and we both were disappointed that we didn't finish stronger. Look how focused I am. I am thinking, "Stay under control, finish strong." My legs (not shown in the picture) are thinking, "Let's run like we're being chased by hungry cheetah for the first couple of miles. It'll be fun."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Only Good News Today

First and most important, congratulations to Wyatt (There Are No Limits) and Anne on the birth of healthy, happy baby Noah today. According to Wyatt,
"He is 20.25 inches long and 7 lbs., 13 oz. and a completely healthy, happy little baby boy. He has a cute little dimpled chin, long eyelashes, and lots of hair, which he'd better enjoy while it lasts. He's a Hornsby, after all!"

I believe I do see something of a resemblance.

(Wyatt, this is what happens when you don't send a photo of the baby with your e-mail. I am left to my own imagination...and Photoshop.)

In less important news, I followed-up my intervals on Tuesday with a moderate paced 6.5 miles on Wednesday. On Thursday, I had intended to run a 6 mile tempo run, at my target for Cleveland, about 7:15 mile pace. My mile splits were as follow: 7.03, 7.03, 7.00, 6.57, 6.54, 6.58. The pace overall was 6:58. Although I wouldn't claim my recovery from Boston is complete, I absolutely feel stronger. Look out Cleveland!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fast Frank, Freakin' Flying

It's Tuesday, time for intervals at the track. Remember how bad my Achilles hurt last week? (You did read my post last week, right?) This time I was more careful. I got there early and ran some warm-up laps before Mark and Steve, then Wayne arrived. I did about 3 miles of warm-up and felt good. I stretched for about 5 minutes, then did my stride-outs before the first speed mile.

I was determined to have a more productive session this time, so I swore I would not go out too I went out too fast on the first lap. I adjusted, and finished with a rather remarkable 5 minute 50 second mile. I cannot remember the last time I had a mile that fast. After a 400 yard cool down, we started the second mile. I knew my second mile would never be as fast as that first one. I was thinking 6:05, but I managed a 5:57. With consecutive sub 6 minute miles, I had to try to run the last one under 6. After a 400 yard recovery, we started the third mile. I ran four very even laps and finished at 5:56. Three consecutive miles in the 5:50's. That hasn't happened in a few years.The Achilles and knee were both complaining, but I chose to ignore them and let them argue between themselves. I did about a mile and a half of cool down, then hit the shower.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


This morning started ominously. At 5:30, the skies were gray and a cold wind was blowing from the north. I wore my long sleeve Boston Marathon 2008 shirt and another under it, but still felt under dressed. I drove by and dropped a Gatorade at the 9 mile mark, then parked at the plaza to meet up with the group. The few early arrivers were trying to keep from shivering. Paul Romanic, Steve Hawthorne, and I decided to do a few warm-up laps That seemed to help, and when the group eventually got started, I felt alright.
It was an odd day Normally, we go out slow (except for Eileen who has only one speed). Typically the first mile is at around 7:50 pace, but today we were uner 7:00. I blame Wyatt who shot at of the gate like he was running the Kentucky Derby. I caught Eileen, and we agreed to keep a more reasonable pace. We ran the rest of the morning together.
At about the 8 mile mark, the skies began to clear, and the sun broke through. By 10 miles, the sun had won the battle, and the clouds were beating a retreat. It made for perfect running conditions. We finished 14 miles, and met up with the rest of the group at the bagel shop.
The day kept getting better. When I got home, I watched the first half of Liverpool v. Man City, a relatively meaningless game as neither team could change their fate, although City will definitely sack the manager. (Sven, we hardly knew ye.) The future looks bright for Liverpool, especially with the young Torres. So at the half, I turned it off and we went to Lowes to buy landscaping needs.

We scored a real bargain, finding a two year old Cleveland Select Pair tree for only ten dollars. I dug hole about two feet in diameter by about two feet deep, added some better quality soil, and planted it at the back, near the patio. After that, I cleaned the patio, retrieved the sun umbrellas and lounge chairs from the shed, and generally set everything right for the outdoor season.

That done, I fetched the radio, PC, and a beer (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale which I highly recommend as one of the best domestic pale ales.) I planted my butt in a lounge chair, turned on the game, and sipped at my ale, and started updating my blog. That's where I am now, on a gorgeous, sunny, warm, spring Sunday afternoon in Solon, Ohio. Here is the view from my perspective.