Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's Downhill to Boston from Here

My packet from the BAA arrived on Saturday.  See the number pick-up card above.  I have been so focused on the system project I've been on the go-live of the system project I've been on for 18 months, I have not had much chance to think about Boston.  We went live on Monday the 23rd, and so far all is well.  Suddenly, I can lift my head up and look around, and do you know what I see?  Boston in three weks.  
The past week was the last of the over 80 mile weeks in the Boston training plan.  Next week will still be in the upper seventy mile range, followed by a couple of taper weeks of mid-fifties and mid-forties.  I don't know what I'll do with all that extra time.  Maybe I'll take-up quilting.  


I spent Monday through Friday in Atlanta on business, which provided challenges to my Boston prep.  I had to find a way to work running into a busy schedule, and find places to run.  I asked around and was directed to a small local park, with a 1.33 mile path around the perimiter.  The course was about half paved and half trail.  There were some hills, which at least made it more interesting.  On Monday, after work and before dinner, I did what was supposed to be a recovery run, but I was so keyed-up after day one of our system go-live, I ran it about a minute per mile faster than I should have.   Tuesday was interesting.  I found a track around a football field for my mile repeats.  I did 3 warm-up miles, followed by 6 x 100 yard stride-outs, then 2 mile repeats, both at 5:48.  I skipped the third mile knowing that I would try to do a very aggressive tempo run the next day.  Wedensday, after a 1-mile warm-up at 7:30, I ran 10 miles at 6:40.  It was about as fast as I have done two miles in...well...a long, long time.
By Thursday, with work going well, I was able to slow down for a 10 mile recovery run at a more reasonable pace.  Friday was a travel day, but when I got back to Cleveland, I ran 6 miles.   I was so happy to be back on the trails on Saturday morning.  13.4 miles of running through the woods will make you gald to be alive.  On Sunday, I ran my last 20+ miler before Boston.  I could not get my butt in gear for the first six miles, which I ran alone before the group started.  After that, I managed a 7:20 pace for the remaining 16 miles.  The total for the week was 82 miles.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Good Week of Running

There has been a gradual but definite change in the weather from bitter cold, gray winter to occasionally sunny, tolerably cold early Spring. Runs are no longer battles against the elements. I can actually focus on the run, not the weather. The result has been one of the best weeks of running I can recall.
It started off with what is by now a routine recovery Monday, 6 miles in the morning and 4 in the evening. Tuesday was a nice day, and the track workout went very well. I ran 3 miles of warm-up, followed by 6 x 100 stride-outs which I ran very hard, then 2 x 1 mile repeats, both at 5:48/min pace. Yes, I normally do 3 of these, but I had a reason to stop at 2. I had it in mind to do a serious tempo run the next day.
Wednesday, I ran a 15 mile tempo at a 6:49/min pace. This was on the advice of both Kam L. and Mark G. The course was mostly flat, but the final mile had a 249 foot ascent, perfect place to put that.
Thursday was a light 8 mile recovery. Friday was such a beautiful sunny day, if only 38 degrees, that I decided to do 12 miles along the canal. It was a great stress reduced. Saturday, was another cold but otherwise pleasant day. I ran 17 miles starting at Lock 29 with Dave P. and Paul R., and joined by Patrick F. and Derek B. Sunday, after very little sleep, I ran 22.3 miles at 7:51/min pace. I did six early miles, then ran 15 miles with a group of SERC runners, then tagged another 1.3 miles on running home.

The total for the week was 93.2 miles.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

5 Weeks to Boston...St. Malachi 5 Miler...and Finally a Nice SUNday

Today was the most beautiful day of 2009, so far, and, I hope, a harbinger of more beautiful days to come. I ran 21 miles, had breakfast with my fellow SERCies , bicycled 8 miles, got the lawn mower running, sat on the patio in the sun with a beer and listened to the Indians (baseball) game on the radio, had a fantastic lamb chops/Brussels sprouts/Au Gratin potatoes/acorn squash dinner, and had a gateau aux pomme dessert (think hybrid apple pie and cake).


Here is the dinner which we ate on the patio, just like it was really Spring already.

Another 85 mile week, but this time with some REAL speed work, not the dubious, treadmill variety of speed work. Monday was a 10 mile recovery day. Tuesday was the first track workout of 2009. It wasn't a perfect day for it, still a bit cold, but it was great to be running on the track again. After 3 warm-up miles at about 8:00/min pace, I did 6 x100 stride-outs, then 3x1 mile repeats with 400 recoveries. The first mile was much too fast, 5:48, and I paid the price on the next two, 6:00 and 5:58. Still, averaging under 6:00/min pace for my first track speed work buoyed my confidence. Wednesday was a slower (8:00/min) recovery 10 miles. I decided to forgo the Thursday tempo run, doing 10 easy miles, since I was planning to run St. Malachi 5 mile on Saturday. Pfitzinger called for a Friday morning 6 miler and afternoon 4 miler, but the weather was so good, I did 6.75 miles in the evening at 7:03/min pace. After the run, Sue made a Middle Eastern rice with turkey, black beans, chick peas, and tumeric.

It was great, and I had more the next day.

On Saturday, I arrived early for the race. I met up with Connie G. and a couple of her buddies, and we ran five miles before the race, trying to follow the course but deviating a bit.
We got caught behind the Columbus Road lift bridge,
which raised when we tried to cross it, and had to wait about five minutes for it to come back down. The weather was cold, but thankfully there was no snow or cold rain as we have had many times for this race. There were a dozen SERC runners there, a good turn-out. I met-up with e-speed, Lou, Daisy and Beth and her lovely mom Cheryl, and a few other SERC runners before the start of the race. The starter sounded and we were off in a huge mass.

The start of this race is always dicey, with about 1500 runners sprinting about 200 yards of downhill followed by a 90 degree left turn at the bottom. Luckily, it went off without problems. I was running hard from the start, as evidenced by my first mile time of 5:38. That is the fastest I have run a mile in...well... I don't know but probably 30 years. Had this been the 29th annual St. Malachi ONE Mile Race, I would have been in great shape. The fact that there were four more miles before the finish factored heavily into my decision to back-off on the throttle. I ran the next three miles at around 6:06. My Garmin says I ran the last mile at 5:53, but either the race distance was slightly long, or there was another problem, because my official finishing time was 30:09. Regardless, I am happy to have a new PR for that distance, holding a 6:02/min pace. All of the SERC runners did well, and needless to say we walked away with the usual SERC truckload of awards. I tagged on a few more miles after to get to 13 total for the day.

Sunday...what more can I say about this? I've been waiting since sometime last October for a day of this quality. I ran 21 miles in the morning, at a pace that by my best estimate was around 7:50/min. (The Garmin was in my car, where I absent-mindedly left it. My car moved exactly 0.00 miles over that time, at a 0.00/min pace.) Despite the race on Saturday, I felt great and was quite fresh at the end of the long run on Sunday. Afterward, at the bagel shop (D & R Bagels), we presented the owner with a framed photo of our club with a nice dedication thanking him for allowing a bunch of sweaty, noisy, possibly smelly runners to congregate in his shop each Sunday.
SERC runners present a very nice photo of...well...SERC runners, to the D & R Bagel Shop owner.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Used to Be Able to Fly Under the Radar...What Happened to That?

Our runing club, SERC, held the annual banquet on Sunday evening at Primo Vino restaurant in Little Italy. It was a great night with way too much delicious food. I am proud to say I was given the Don Stanley Male Runner of the Year award. Truthfully, I was surprised because there are other runners in the club who I feel deserved this more than me. Runners like Tim Clement who won the Burning River 100 miler, Dave Peterman who successfully completed more ultras last year than I ran races of any kind, and Steve Hawthorne who qualified for Boston for the first time and completed his first 100 miler in the same year. The Ruta Kunevicius Female Runner of the Year award was won by Janet Edwards, and I was really happy to see here receive it. Go Janet...and this year will be better still.

Later in the evening, we voted for the club officers. Steve Hawthorne and I were elected and VP and President, and Janet Edwards was re-elected as Treasurer. It was a great night, and I am so happy to have joind SERC a few years ago. It is a wonderful group of runners who thrive on the challenges and competition. I have received so much help and advice from the so many of my SERC friends.


So, as if that was not enough, here is another really cool thing. Back in December, I was interviewed by Richard Lovett for an article for Competitor Northwest magazine. The article was published in the March edition. I just received a couple of copies from the editor. Click on the images to enlarge.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

First Race of 2009...New Magic Slippers...Miles and Miles

We've had this brand-new 2009 for 2 month, and hadn't even taken it for a little street race, until yesterday.  Finally, the Mill Creek Distance Classic 1/2 Marathon in Youngstown gave me the first opportunity to open it up and see what it would do.  The conditions were not ideal, too cold with steady rain which did not stop until around mile 10.   I'll provide a full race report within the next few days, but here is a teaser.  I committed a rookie mistake, which definitely cost me some time, and almost ruined the whole day.   Watch this space for details.

The week was a good one.   I had a passing thought, which I quickly dismissed, about easing back on the throttle a bit in preparation for the half-marathon at the end of the week.  No, best to train right through Youngstown, since that was not really a target race.  Good news...the weather moderated and allowed for some fun running.  It was still cold, mostly, but the snow was gone, mostly.   Monday, I did an easy 10 miles at recovery pace.  Tuesday was a respectable speed day with the following numbers
  • 2 miles @ 8:00
  • 3 x 1 mile repeats @ 6:00 with .25 mile recovery
  • 3.25 miles @7:53
Wednesday, I was feeling good enough for 12 miles at 7:53 pace, but I should have done more.  Thursday, I picked-up the pace to 6:59 for a nice 8 mile tempo run.   Friday, 10 miles at recovery pace.  On Saturday, we had a muddy, mucky, cold 12.5 mile run through the woods.  It was our first real muddy trail run of the year and it felt like it.  On Sunday, I ran the Mill Creek Half-Marathon at a 6:58 pace.  Photos and race report to follow soon.  I did a few warm-up miles before the race, for a total of 78 miles for the week.  

Last Tuesday, I picked up my new pair of Nike LunarTrainers.  You probably know that I love the Lunar Racers, which, after my 3:07 in Chicago,  I dubbed the 'magic slippers'.    I bought the LunarTrainers, a slightly heavier but by no means heavy, training version of the racers.  They have a more traditional upper, and more cushioning, but basically have the fit and feel of the racers.  I have put about 50 miles on them so far.  They did not disappoint.   I ran the Mill Creek Half-Marathon in them, but you'll have to wait for the race report to learn how that went.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pining for Boston, Spring, Warm Sun on my Face...

How badly has this winter in Cleveland affected me?  Forget the physical pain, how much have all those miles in artic conditions warped my psyche, impaired my judgement?  Here is a simple incident to illustrate.  This Sunday morning, I awoke knowing I needed to do about 22 miles, and be home by 10:00 AM, so I got an early start.  I had not checked the weather the day before, so I had no idea what to expect.  To my surprise and delight, it was a beautiful morning.  I dressed and left the house just as the sun was rising.  As I ran, I witnessed the cloudless sky morph from stunning Floridian pink and turquoise to deep blue.  I though to myself several times, "What a gorgeous morning...what a perfect morning for  running."  

It was 16 degrees.


February marks three consecutive months over 300 miles.  That, my running friends will understand, is my tribute to the great respect I have for Boston.  I was humbled by that course last year, specifically after cresting Heartbreak Hill around mile 21, looking at my time, and naively thinking, "I can finish around 3:10, maybe under, no problem."  Idiot.  I finished at 3:16:55.  You see, what I failed to consider at that moment of exhaustion-induced addle brained stupidity, was that I had nothing left in the bank.  I had spent it all to get there, and I had hell to pay for the last five miles.  This year, I've been putting miles and miles and miles into my account all winter.  I know better than to think that this will guarantee a good time in Boston, but not doing it will guarantee it will not be a good time.  Again this year, I plan to run strong through the hills of Newton.  Unlike last year, I plan to have something in reserve when the hills are behind me.  As my friend Wayne Vereb likes to say, "After Heartbreak, Boston's very runnable."  Wayne is a funny guy. 


Training Miles Review for the Week and Month

Total for the week: 87 miles
Total for the month of February: 300 miles

Intervals:  On Tuesday the 24th, I ran 9 miles total, with 3 x 1 mile intervals at 6:00 minute pace
Long Run: On Sunday March 1st, I ran 21.5 miles at 7:39 pace.