Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chicago Marathon Taper Time

This morning, I ran my last longish (19 miles) run before the Chicago Marathon, and so begins the pre-marathon taper time. If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that means only one's time for our official taper mascot, Tippie Tapir. For those unfamiliar with the term 'taper' in the context of running, it is the period, usually two weeks, prior to a race, in which you gradually reduce your mileage. For those unfamiliar with the animal 'tapir', here is an excerpt from Wikipedia.
Tapir: (pronounced as "taper") A large browsing mammal, roughly pig-like in shape, with short, prehensile snout. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. Their closest relatives are the other odd-toed ungulate mamals, including horses, rhinoceroses, and marathon runners.

I have given some thought to a target time for Chicago, but am not ready to commit to one yet. I think I'll try to run smarter than I did in Cleveland. If you remember, in Cleveland I tried running with the 3:10 pacer for as long as I could. I did end up with a 3:15 marathon, a couple of minutes faster than Boston, but I paid a price. The last six miles of that race were the worst I have ever experienced. I was very close to hitting the wall in that race. It might be smarter to try to keep a 3:15 pace, and if I have anything left in the last few miles, try to pick up a minute or two.

On Saturday, I ran 13.15 miles on the trails with the Lock29 group. Again this week, the group was sparse as many area distance runners were participating in the Akron Marathon. Congratulations to all of our SERC runners who ran Akron, but I have to make special mention of Barb Broad. She won the women 55-59 age group with a 3 hour 33 minute time, twelve minutes faster than the second place women in her age group. She is phenomenal...dedicated, hard working, disciplined, and flat-out fast. She is also warm, kind, and always positive and supportive. She is one of the reasons I am proud and happy to be a member of Cleveland Southeast Runners Club.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chicago Build Up

This will be a brief update. Everything is fine. Eighteen days until Chicago and all systems are 'Go'. My training summary for the last seven days is shown to the right...75 miles for the week. The weekend was tough, with a 14.5 mile trail run on Saturday and a 22 miler on Sunday. It was an odd day on the trails, with both Godales missing. (Mark is in Greece for the Spartathon and Steve couldn't get a ride. ) Paul R. led the way and we kept a good but not crazy pace.
Sunday, I was back on the road in Solon with the SERC group. I kept about an 8 min pace for the 22 miles. Not fast, but it's not supposed to be. I worm my fuel belt, with water bottles filled with Heed. I did take one Vivarin at 16 miles, and I took some electrolyte pills, getting my body accustom to what I'll be taking in Chaiago. I wore my Nike Free's, because I've decided that these will be my shoes for Chicago.
As you might know, this is a more unstructured, very flexible and light-weight shoe. Some people warn that it provides little cushioning and will lead to injuries, but I've found that overly padded shoes with traditional heels interfere with my mid-foot strike, and cause me to heel strike. I think the Free's help me keep maintain my form and stride, which is probably more important in prevent injuries than having extra padding.

Monday was a light recovery day. Intervals on Tuesday went very well. My miles times were 5:46, 5:59, 5:53. Thanks to Tim Hackett for pushing me to run that 5:46 mile.

I said this would be brief.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Midweek update: Free Shoes (Yea!) and Speed Work

Last night, I reviewed the trail shoes on the Montrail website, and read reviews on various trail shoe websites. I selected the Montrail Streak. It is their lightest weight trail shoe, which works best for me, yet it still has all the traction control and additional protection of a traditional trail runner.Thank you Montrail, for sponsoring the Punxsutawney 50k and awarding free shoes to the winning team. I cannot wait to give these a tryout on the local trails. I already have a pair of Nike Humara trail shoes, but since Humaras are almost as unstructured as the Free (think bedroom slippers with a swoosh logo), they are not idea for the more rocky and rough trails, and they are very poor if your run happens to include some roads. I am hopeful that the Streaks will give me a good option in those conditions.


In my previous post, I described our trail run Saturday, a mudfest with lots of hills to complete the package. Sunday morning, my legs were telling me to give them a rest already, but with Chicago looming n the 3 week horizon, I needed to do a minimum of 20 miles. I got out early and put in 7 miles before the SERC group started, then ran 12 with the group, and tagged on the last mile alone. I arrived back at home at about 5 minutes before 10:00 AM, which put the pressure on since I had to be showered and ready to leave the house by 10:00. (Sue and I drove to The Pub to watch a rare match televised on Setanta featuring the mighty Queens Park Rangers. The match was live from Loftus Road stadium in Sheperds Bush. It was great to see the place again. Of course, we dismantled the befuddled Saints, 4-1. We are now 5th in the table and looking very promising for promotion.)

On Monday, I did a 6 mile recovery run, and felt much better for it. Tuesday at the Track was back on track after a few weeks off. I warmed-up for 2.5 miles at a slow pace, did some stride-outs to prepare, and then ran three intervals of one mile each with a 400 yard recovery between. The first was 5 minutes 49 seconds, and the second and third were both 5 minutes 55 seconds. It felt good to get below 5:50, and I thank Steve Hawthorne who ran that first mile with me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Additional Thought on Punxsy...Review of the Week...

I have a few additional thoughts regarding the Punxsutawney 50k last weekend. I've had difficulty explaining to people who are not distance runners why I was so happy with a 4 hour 59 minute finish in a 50k (a bit more than 31 miles) when I run marathons in 3 hours 15 minutes. After all, 50k is only 5 miles more than a marathon, right? So why would I be so pleased to finish nearly and hour and 45 minutes slower when its only 5 miles longer?

I could have gone into wordy descriptions of the unique challenges of ultra-running, but at the risk of sounding preachy and loosing the few blog-readers I have, I went a different way. I created the following graph to help make my point. The Boston Marathon is an infamously hilly marathon, so I compared the elevation profile of Boston to the profile of Punxsy.
(Click on the graph for a larger image.)
If they were amusement park rides, Boston would be the KiddieLand Kozy Koaster, and Punxsy would be the Vortex 3000. To further my point, I'll reference an article in this month's issue of Runner's World. It is titled, "Sublime Climbs: The greatest, most daunting hills in U.S. races". They describe Boston's Heartbreak Hill, which you can see between miles 20 and 21 on the graph, as rising 88 feet in 0.37 miles. By contrast, one of the Punxsy hills called Two Beers rises more than 300 feet in 0.35 miles...and to double the fun, you get to climb it twice.
Hills aside, and additional miles aside, most marathons are run on paved roads, and ultras are almost exclusively on trails with stones and ruts and mud and muck and...alright already, I think I made my point. So please, don't ask me why I am happy to have finished in 4:59.


As you might have guessed, this week I have cut back a little on my mileage, but not for the reason you might think. The day after Punxsy, I ran 10 miles with the SERC group and actually didn't feel too bad, although it took me longer than normal to get loose. I did 6.5 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, taking Tuesday and Friday off. I did about 13 very wet and mucky trail miles today, and did not feel too bad. The two days off were not actually for my legs, which feel fine. I've been struggling with a very painful left shoulder which got so bad that I couldn't take the pain while running, and I was having trouble sleeping. I don't know how I injured it, but the pain started about two weeks ago, and slowly worsened. As of the end of the day Friday, it was feeling better, and today better still. I just wish I knew what I did to it.


The following article appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today. Connie Gardner runs with our Lock 29 trail group on Saturdays. She is one of the toughest and most talented runners in the world, and it is great to see her receive some recognition. Good Luck in Korea, Connie.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Punxsutawney 50k Race Report

  • Paul, Dave, e-speed and I carpooled to Punxsutawney on Friday.
  • We met up with more SERC runners in there, including Judge McGinty, Carson, Suzanne and Bob Pokorny, Tim H.
  • I am not positive, but I think the pre-race spaghetti dinner may have actually been Ramen noodles with ketchup. Below is a photo of Dave, me, Paul, and s-speed at the dinner.
  • For dessert, there were groundhog cookies. I know you think I'm going to say they were made with real groundhog, and that would have been funny, but no. They were made of polystyrene, with a Crisco icing.
  • We met Punxsutawney Phil at the pre-race dinner. He's a fat rodent with a beautiful coat, and no sense of humor.
  • I forgot to have my coffee on race morning. (More on this later.)
  • The Punxsy trails starts out hilly, gets worse, then get ridiculous already. The hills have funny names. There is nothing else funny about the hills. Because much of the course is a loop which you have to run twice, you get to climb most of the worst hills twice.
THE HILLS:  Seatree's  Two Beers   Yellow Bus   Cry Baby  Buck Run
  • There was a photographer waiting at the top of Yellow Bus. Here are photos of e-speed, Paul, and I which he took. I could not find a shot of Dave, but that may be because he was moving too fast to be photographed.
  • I ran a slow first half, around 2 hours 35 minutes by my estimate. I didn't feel bad, just not as energetic as usual. (Remember the comment about missing my morning coffee?)
  • I rebounded in the back half of the race. (More on this to follow)
  • I LOVE Endurolyte Capsules. I took one every half hour, and never felt even a twinge of the leg cramps that made my Buckeye Trail 50k so frustrating.
  • I finished strong, actually feeling better as the day worn on. The last three miles were may fastest of the day, by far. I crossed the finish line at 4 hours and 59 minutes. That's right, I got my sub-5 hour 50k. Crossing that finish line, with about 15 people cheering, felt as good as crossing the line at Boston. That's the thing about ultras. You gotta run one to understand.
  • Our team, representing Vertical Runner, took first place, and we all won Montrail trail running shoes. Here are the complete race results. Bob P. came in 4th overall, Dave was 7th, e-speed and Carson were 13th and 14th, and I was 18th. Paul had a terrible day, with stomach problems followed by leg cramps. Despite that, he fought threw it and finished 33rd overall. Way to tough it out, Paul.
If you want to see all photos from Punxsy, click here. (The first 25 are from Punxsy; the rest are various SERC photos.) I might (will) have more to say later, but please accept this executive summary for now. I need to get to bed.