Race Report (or, How I PO'ed my Sister-in-law)

Friday: Picking up the race packet was uneventful. There was a slight miscalculation in getting to the church which was helping sponsor the event,, mainly due to a mapping program, which guided us to the center of an intersection. Very helpful. The packet had some of the standard pre-race swag, as well as the map of the course, parking information, and so forth. Dinner was the obligatory spaghetti, and I spent a good portion of the evening laying out gear, checking weather.com, changing the gear, checking weather.com (again), and so forth. At last, I went to bed, with visions of marathoners dancing in my head.

Lots of pre-race sleep was the plan. The reality was that, as is the case before every new distance race, I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned most of the night, and woke up well before the alarm went off at 5:40. Yes, I could have slept in - it was a 7 am start, and a very small race, that was only 10 minutes away. Anyway, I got up, slathered Glide everywhere, and got dressed, then headed downstairs for a couple of waffles.

By 6:15, I was out the door, with an extra bottle of water and everything I would need (I hoped!) I had been telling the family that my optimistic time was 4 hours, though I might beat it by a few minutes (like 2-3), but that 4 hours to 4:15 would be more likely. I had secret hopes, but didn't want to voice them, lest the racing gods destroy me with a massive blister at mile 17.

The morning was almost ideal - high 40s, but cloudy, and with a light, intermittent breeze, which wouldn't seem to light or intermittent in several hours. Rain was a distinct possibility, but the various forcasts had all placed it in the afternoon. I decided to wear a new, slightly different tech T (cardinal sin, I know, but I figured that it was almost identical to my other ones, so no harm would come - a correct assumption), but stuck with my standard running socks, shorts, and shoes. (I did go for one other new item of apparel, but it worked out okay too.) I was also carrying my fuel belt (2 bottles, both water), a bunch of Gu in my favorite flavors, a bag of Clif blocks and my MP3 player. I kept sipping from a bottle of water, trying to keep warm until gun-time.

As I said, it was a small race - I've heard from various people that only 79 people ran the marathon, though more ran the half (which started at 8 that morning), or the 5k fun run (which started at 8:30). From my vantage point near the front of the pack, that number certainly seemed possible. I took a spot near the front, but had already decided that I wasn't going to get into any speed contests with people passing me - my race stategy was to run as close to 9:00 miles as possible, as consistently as possible, and try to squeak in at just under 4 hours.

I missed starting my watch by a couple seconds when the gun went off, so the times are all a little approximate. I tried to hit the lap button as I crossed over the mile markers, and I know that I didn't stop the watch for a few seconds after I crossed the finish line, so my total is more-or-less accurate. It's certainly not off by more than 10 seconds or so.

(1) 8.38.01 - Oops, a little faster than I wanted. Better slow down. Already, runners are starting to spread out, and while I am towards the front of the pack, I'm certainly not in the lead.
(2) 8.36.94 - Apparently my legs hadn't gotten the message yet. People are spreading out more. A few have passed me, I have passed a few. I've passed a couple more than have passed me, but I'm not gaining on the leaders or anything
(3) 8.16.63 - Legs? I think I said, rather distinctly, to slow down. Actually, I think this section had some good downhill bits, which really help my speed.
(4) 8.40.81 - Finally finding my stride; it's a bit faster than I planned, but feels good.
(5) 8.46.60
(6) 8.31.71
(7) 8.10.02 - Things are really thinned out. Most of the time, I can't see another runner on the trail. It's going to get awful lonely out here, which is going to make a constant pace tougher to maintain.
(8) 8.10.68
(9) 9.00.60
(10) 7.21.08 - I don't know what happened here. I think the mile marker was misplaced.
(11) 8.06.86 - Somewhere around this point, I caught up to a group of runners - PJ, Mike, and Neal. Neal was setting a good pace, and I stick around with them for quite a while.
(12) 8.20.03
(13) 8.29.02 - Just after this marker, I would have set a new half-marathon PR. My time for 13 miles was 1:49.08, and it seems reasonable that my half-marathon time would have been about 1:50 - beating my current, official PR by over 6 minutes.
(14) 8.51.63
(15) 8.58.56
(16) 9.03.96 - I think that turnaround was here or so. It wasn't at mile 13, because the first 5 miles or so were around the lake. Mile 15-16 seem pretty likely, since I stopped to use the porta-potty and lost a couple minutes. I also lost my pace group, but managed to catch up to Mike within a mile or so.
(17) 8.42.24
(18) 8.40.21 - I lose Mike about this point, I think. He had to make a pit stop, but I had found out that he had promised himself he would run this race only if he finished slower than 3:50, since he was using it as a taper run for a 50-miler in two weeks.
(19) 8.41.24 - I catch up to Neal and PJ, and run with them for a bit. PJ's son had joined her (on a bike) at the turnaround, and we all are making good time. Neal has to make a pit stop, and doesn't catch back up to us.
(20) 8.40.59
(21) 8.48.63
(22) 8.58.28 - PJ has to make a pit stop, and I don't see her again until the finish line. I now have no other runners in sight, before me or behind me. Running is now only against myself and the clock - a time of 3:45 is very unlikely, but I am well-placed to break 4 by a comfortable margin, which is a powerful incentive to walk.
(23) 9.19.13
(24) 8.55.52
(25) 9.37.22 - Unfortunately, I take a couple small walk breaks of a minute or so during the last 2.2 miles. Nothing longer than it would normally take me to down a Gu, and something I would not have had to do if I were trying to catch (or avoid being caught by) another runner. I have passed a couple people on the trails, three that I can recall, and they might have been half-marathoners who were still on the course.
(26.2) 11.51.36 - No walk breaks for the final .5 or .75 miles - I can see the finish line, and it's all downhill, literally. I power down the hill, and sprint across the finish line with a strong kick. (I got told today that my wife saw several marathoners come across a few minutes before me. If I had know they were there, I would have been able to squash any tempation to take a walk break and tried to catch them.) My time, when I stop the watch: 3:48.17.

My family almost missed me. My wife, son and parents-in-law had arrived only moments before, and barely got to the finish line in time to see me cross. I did see PJ again - she crossed a couple minutes after me (at most), and got to meet the people I had babbled about for several miles. (Her son had offered to call my family to ensure that they got there on time; but our cell phone is rather intermittent in the house, and I could not recall my in-laws phone number. The gesture was very much appreciated, however.)

I did notice that I often got some strange glances from the volunteers at the water stops (dubbed "Water Troughs", since this is the Equestrian Challenge marathon). I think it had something to do with the fact that I could not simply gulp down the water or Gatorade and dash off - I would stop, refill my water bottle if necessary, thank the volunteers, and look for a trash can. I even got asked on one occasion (at mile 23ish) if everything is okay - possibly because I was walking as I approached the stop (having slowed down to dig out a Gu packet), and stopped for a drink. I assured the dubious volunteer that I was fine, and kept going.

I did manage to score a couple small blisters, and one toenail is kinda messed up, though no more so than after any other long run. I even went out on a dreadmill today and managed a short run, though stairs are a little unpleasant.

So, why the title? My sister-in-law had run a marathon (one of the various Shamrock runs, though I can't recall which right now), and had managed a respectable 4:22. This is pretty darned good, especially considering that she was sick, and had slept in the car the night previous. (College kids - drive all night to go run and then party. Ah, youth.) Anyway, my wife had told Beth that I planned on running my marathon somewhere between 4 hours and 4:30, which Beth took to mean that I would run it closer to 4:30, and she was all set to brag about how she had run a marathon faster than I did. I believe her first comment was, on hearing my unoffical time was along the lines of "$#%(#*(?! When did he get so fast!" If I'd known that she was going to be so torqued, I've had really pushed to break 3:45.

ORN (today's run) 2.5 miles, 20:59, 1 degree on my in-laws old dreadmill.


Today, I am a marathoner

I'm sore and tired (though no longer sweaty and salty, thanks to a shower), so here is the short version:

Today, I finished my first marathon, the EC Trails marathon, which starts in Independence Grove (in Libertyville, Il), and basically goes north to almost the Wisconsin state line. I was hoping to beat 4 hours (which would be my super-happy dance for joy time), but my primary goal was to finish in good form and in good health. I'm happy to say that I accomplished my primary goal, and even my super-happy dance (well, stagger) goal, with an unofficial time of 3:48:17. It wasn't a chipped race, so I might be off by a bit, but I certainly beat 4 hours, and I beat 3:50.

I'll post splits and what not tomorrow, but right now, I'm off to celebrate. Thanks to all those who gave advice and "Good luck" wishes - they really helped sustain me during the hard parts of the race.


No pressure

Tomorrow is the big day, and the biggest load on my mind has dropped - I was thinking that this was a chipped race. It's not. Since I am not going to win any awards, and am not really uber-concerned about my place*, I just have to make sure that I hit "start" on my watch when I actually cross the starting line, as opposed to when the gun goes off.

* I'm lieing a little when I say that - I care, but not so badly that I will join the stampeding herds of runners at the front of the corral. I'm only going to lose 30-45 seconds, and really, my "unofficial" time will matter more to me than any official result. But I still don't like starting in the back, even though I should.


All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go

Well, everything is packed up - multiple shirts, multiple shorts, Gu, Gatorade, Glide, shoes, extra batteries, MP3 player, watch, socks, kitchen sink, hat, fuel belt, extra pairs of almost everything, and so forth. If I thought I needed it, I brought it. I've got more than I need for any one race, but whatever I need as long as the weather is better than 0 Farenheit or so.

Tomorrow, I get my packet, and, 48 hours from now, I will be more than done, relaxing on a chair and celebrating my victory over the marathon. (Note - that's not winning this race; it's finishing this race that I plan on celebrating.)


It's almost race time

ORN: 6.02(ish) miles, 51 minutes, 1 degree.

Treadmill run - the last I will make before the marathon. I'll do a light, short run on Friday, just to keep everything loose, but I won't set foot on the treadmill again until next week; and hopefully, as a marathoner.

I was planning on doing only 4 miles or so at most; my foot had been bugging me earlier this week, and I was prepared to stop entirely and switch to a bike at the first sign of pain. No pain. Nada. Zip. Null. Void. 404 Error. Pain was not found - at least, not in my feet. My knees were a little twingy, but nothing bad or unexpected, really. It's a good sign, actually. Tonight's run was at slightly better than the pace I plan on running (9 minute miles is the plan), but I might be able to run most, if not all, of the race at tonight's pace (8:30 or so). It would be nice - that's a 13-minute(!) difference, so I'm not planning on it or anything.

Regardless of pace, to be perfectly honest, the primary goal is to get across the finish line on Saturday in good form, and free of injury. If I make any sort of time goal, that's gravy.


Stupid warning label

Okay, this has nothing to do with running, but it should be a fun rant nonetheless.

For Easter, my wife and I bought one of those pop-up folding tents for our son. It looks kind of like this:

Now, on the inside, it has the standard "Do not use tent near heat sources or open flame. This tent is not made of a fireproof material, etc, etc, etc." No problem. I fully understand the need for such a warning.

There is also this warning, however:


Combustion consumes oxygen and can produce dangerous levels of carbon
monoxide which could lead to serious injury or death.

Right. Now, to put this in perspective, the tent has an exterior footprint of perhaps 3' x 4' - if I am being generous. If I try, I can fit inside it, barely, and it is awfully cramped. Realistically, very few people are actually going to try and use this as shelter in any way, shape or form, and the ones doing so are probably all under the age of 6. If you trust a five-year-old with an open flame, then really, the warning on the tag isn't going to slow you down one bit.

I suspect, however, that the warning is present for the same reason that my Dremel has a warning that it is not to be used for dental work - because somewhere, some idiot actually tried it, and now the company has to go all CYA.

This bodes not well at all (advice requested)

ORN: 5 miles, 1 degree, 42:29 (or thereabouts), 1 degree.

Tonight was an easy enough run, for the most part, but, after a bit, the top of my left foot began to bug me. It wasn't "OMG! I can't keep doing this pain," or even "Youch, better alter my stride pain," but it is worrisome. I hadn't noticed it when I was running outside, and it didn't bother me on Saturday, but I did have some odd twinges when mowing the yard Saturday afternoon and walking around yesterday. I'm fairly certain that it's caused by my current (well, former, as of twenty minutes ago) sneakers, which were really just a pair of running shoes which hit 300 miles.

I'm hoping that I caught this early enough that it heals up before Saturday - in the meantime, I'm RICEing it (once I finish this), and biking the rest of the workouts this week. Hopefully all will be well by Friday night.


I hate tapering

I am down to less than one week. The last couple weeks have not been fun - runs are cut short, I'm trying to keep things slow and easy, and it's getting harder to do. I'm thinking that a three week taper for a marathon is, at the moment, too long for me - mentally, at any rate. I'm not feeling as fit or a strong as I had been when I began the taper, and I'm actually getting more nervous and aprehensive as the big day approaches. Had I been doing more long runs of 12-14 miles the last few weeks, I probably wouldn't have the jitters so badly.


Semi-offensive ad

My running store sent around a flyer, with the usual deals on shoes, fuel belts, and so forth. It also had this on the front:

[Store name's] Women's Night
. . . you're invited! (If you're a girl, that is.) . . .

We invite you to join us for a fun evening just for girls at [Store name]. No offense to the guys, but - hey - us (sic) girls are typically more aweare of the value of health, exercise and the importance of great relationships. We just are.

There is some additional stuff, telling what will be at the event, but that's not the important part. If this were a general, random, mass-mailed advertisement, I'd chuck it, and maybe sigh and shake my head. It's not - these are sent out to all the customers. I can understand the condescension when you are making a broad market appeal - women, as a group, are generally more aware of the importance of exercise and nutrition. But, when you have a group of people who patronize a running store, then you can pretty much assume that everyone in there understands the value of exercise.

(I'll ignore, for this post, the belittlement of men's relationships. Men's friendships are generally different than women's friendships - yet one is considered worthwhile, and the other borderline dysfunctional, or non-existent. Anyway. . . )

Let's be honest here - there is no way that the store would ever do a Men's Night, where they excluded women, and had an ad copy with something like "We guys are more concerned with competition and performance, and the value of pushing our limits. We just are." It would be decried (and rightly so) as being sexist and bigoted. Yet here we are, with an event that tells me that I am not aware of the value of health, exercise or friendships.

So, I'm off to eat three gallons of double-chocolate fudge ice cream and run as fast as possible. I might get sick, I might pull a muscle, but hey, I'm just a guy, and I don't know squat about such things. I'd invite some friends to come by a pig out as well, but I don't have any of those either, apparently.

Running update

I haven't updated in a couple of days - that pesky thing called real life intervened, and I didn't get some computer time. I still found time to run, however.

ORN (4/19): 47:51, about 5.95 miles. Nice neighborhood route, but sunny and getting warmer. I am definitely going to have to get something to keep the sweat out of my eyes during my runs - one of the worst feelings is wiping sweat out of your eyes just in time to see a truck barrelling down the road toward you.

Speaking of roads - a lot of the ones around here, even in the neighborhood, have no sidewalks. So, I run facing traffic, all the way on the side of the road. And, being much smaller and lighter than the cars coming toward me, I will head onto the shoulder when possible in order to maintain some extra distance. Most drivers are nice, and either slow down, give me extra space, or even both. Some drivers do nothing - and I'm not sure that they have even seen me. A few, thankfully rare, drivers actually crowd the white line, in an attempt to force me off the road. It's rare, but I still see a couple on every medium or long run.

ORN (today): 6.25 dreadmill miles, 53:48, 1 degree. The family went to the Y today, and I decided to skip today's trail run and just do the treadmill. This turned out to be a good thing, since it let me actually get around to mowing the patch of weeds that I laughinly call our yard, and, as I keep reminding myself, it's time to taper. Pull back, run a little easier. Next Saturday will be hard enough, without my showing up at the starting line tired and in pain.


At least I ran today

ORN: 5.6 miles, 46:07, including the time it took my to stop and adjust my shoelaces in the first quarter mile.

I'm not really happy with today's run - I was trying to slow down, and kept fighting the impulse to speed up the entire time. I did go a little slower than previous runs, but not slow enough to sustain it for 26.2 miles (I think), and it felt like I had to force the pace, rather than just run.

It was supposed to be an easy day - I'm tapering, for the love of pete! Why was today so hard, and Sunday night so easy?


Best wishes to everyone in Boston today

Good luck to everyone running it. 'Nuff said.


It's getting easier

ORN: 5.6 miles, 44:18.

Today, I ran the same route that I ran last week. Last week had better weather, because today was warmer, sunny, and had a stronger wind that kept shifting directions. And I ran it faster. I wasn't trying to; it just happened. It's really starting to get me worried about my marathon pacing too - time is running out before the big day, and bad pacing will really mess me up.

I'm sure that, when I am actually standing at the trailhead and the gun goes off, I'll hold back a lot more than when I am starting out on my driveway and only looking at a short distance. And it's nice to be going faster without any extra, noticeable effort.

Maybe I should start thinking about Boston as a "someday, maybe," instead of "only if I raise lots of cash for charity."


Mountain bike trails are evil

ORN: 2 hours, no clue on exact distance, but it feels like it was somewhere between 12 and 13 miles.

I was a bit late in getting up and going this morning, but finally found myself at today's destination: Fort Custer Recreation Area. My original plan was to run both the red trail and the yellow trail (in that order). It's a good thing I did, as you'll see later.

As you can see from the map, the red trail has a lot of switchbacks, while the yellow trail is pretty straightforward. The map doesn't even begin to do the red trail justice, however - it's all uphill or downhill, with a lot of potentially treacherous footing, some steep drops, tough climbs, and you rarely get a break. It was great, and I loved it. A little too much, actually - I started a little faster than I wanted to, and it hurt me a bit in the back stretch, though not as much as the cummulative effect of the constant hills.

There were a few other people out there, most notably three bikers. I could pass them (and did) on the switchbacks and the uphill sections (since they were often waiting for the third biker), but every time there was a downhill stretch, they would whiz past me, always with an apology and a thanks. They were great guys, and I finished the red section not too far behind them; probably about 4-5 minutes, but I started after they did too. (I did tarry a couple minutes to talk with another dad, whose son I had passed just before the trail ended). Anyway, the red trail (which the liars say is just under 8 miles) took about 75 minutes, including that stop, a Gu break, and some slow spots for water.

The yellow trail, actually is the one that gave me the problems. I refilled my water bottles, used the facilities at the trail head, and headed out onto the yellow trail, which is supposedly simple and should have let me make up some time. Instead, I missed a turn, and got lost. Not seriously lost - I mean, I'm running along various trails, so sooner or later, I'd come back to the trail head or find someone who could show me the way, but eventually, after realizing that I had (1) missed a turn; and (2) probably could retrace my steps and get going; and (3) I was only planning on running for about 2 hours today anyway, I just kept going until I had gone about 20 minutes from the start, then turned around and headed back.

I made my time goal of a medium, two-hour run, and I'm mildly happy with the whole thing, especially given some of the terrain conditions on that red trail. I'm thinking about going back a couple of times next week for revenge - I know that I can do that trail faster than I did today. Besides, even though the EC Trail marathon is basically flat (since it follows the Des Plains River Trail), training on hills is sure to strengthen my performance on a flat course.

Plus, it's muddy, branches come at you out of nowhere, and the trail is often not much wider than your shoes, with a steep drop on one side. How could it not be fun?


It canna' take any more, cap'n

ORN: Biking, 18 miles, cruddy hill program, 1 hour, 1 mile run, 1 degree, 6:41.

Well, my mp3 player is full. I even deleted the random 5 or 6 songs that came with the thing, in an effort to squeeze a few more of my songs on there. It's full, and my alternate list is already something like 300 meg. Someday, I'll break down and buy a 5 gig player, but I have so many other kewl toys in mind that it'll have to wait. Besides, I have 500 or so songs on there now - surely that's enough variety, right?

Well, for now, anyway. If ever I start training for an ultra event, I'll definitely consider an upgrade. And, stock in Gu.

Question for any stay-at-home types

Right now, my son is sick, and I had a question for all the other stay-at-home parents (moms or dads, it doesn't matter): What do you do when your kid(s) are sick? I hate to toss workouts (and I did skip yesterday, and felt really bad about it), but I am not going to take him to the Y (and infect every other kid there, despite the fact that some parent probably did that to Kevin), and by the time my wife is home and he has had dinner, etc - I'm getting beat, and it's much harder to convince myself to get out the door and get moving.

Getting up early isn't really feasible - I'm no longer a morning person (if ever I was). I've had several jobs where I had to be at work by 6 am, and while it can be a wonderful, magical time, I've grown used to the luxury of sleeping in until 7 or so, and that's going to be a hard habit to break. (Especially considering that I have a huge problem getting to sleep before midnight or 1 am, no matter how tired I am. I just lie in bed, tossing and turning - it may be 11 pm, and I'm tired, but it's too early for me to sleep.)

Any advice from my regular reader(s)?

Inspiration & depression (from the same article)

The article in question was in today's paper. It's about a local woman who is going to be running Boston on Monday. The inspiration comes from the fact that Boston will be (only) her fourth marathon, and she made the qualifying time.

The depression stems from the fact that, if I am very lucky, and all goes well, my inaugural marathon time might get close to the 4 hour mark, meaning that, if I really pushed, I could break 3:50 before Chicago later on this year.

Of course, since I am (1) about 10 years younger; and (2) male, 3:50 doesn't cut it. I need to go about 2 minutes per mile faster for the entire course in order to qualify - and before someone chimes in with "Oh, anyone can do 3:10 with only a little work," I'd like to point out that no, some of us just aren't fast, either through birth or injury.

I might make it - if I work immensely hard, much more so than her training schedule. Maybe. Perhaps. I'm aware of all the differences between men and women when it comes to running, and aware as well of the effects of aging - but still. . . .it's somewhat discouraging to realize that, right now, my current level of effert would only let me run Boston if a 65-year old man, or a 50 year-old woman.


Planning ahead

With my marathon coming up at the end of the month, I'm already starting to look ahead for some inspiration. I'm contemplating these races, and probably some others. I should try to do at least one every month or so, even if it is a short one like a 5k or 10k.

August: Run Thru Hell (10 mile)
September: The Runner's Edge Trail Half Marathon (my first half-marathon ever, done last year - I want to shave another 5 minutes or more off my current PR)
October: Chicago Marathon (26.2, silly)

This leaves a lot of open time - I might add the Cereal City Classic (10k), the Run to Climax (7k?), or the Fifth Third River Bank Run (25k). The River Bank run is only a couple of weeks after the marathon - but then again, I am certain that I could do a 20 mile run tomorrow, and I ran close to a marathon two weeks ago. I wouldn't win any prizes, but I would finish.


Someone needs to apply the brakes

'cause it sure ain't me.

ORN: 6.37 miles, 51:34, outside with some decent wind gusts. I'm pretty sure that I took off a bit too fast on this one - I was a little ahead of Sunday's run when I hit a turning point, and today was about .75 miles longer. The difference wasn't much, but the extra 5-10 seconds per mile probably slowed me down a bit at the end. I wasn't running on empty, but I had definitely hit a slow spot in the middle of my run, and it took probably a mile or so to get my stride going again.

This change in speed is actually giving me some problems - I used to have a very methodical, almost metrinomic, pace for my longer runs. 6 miles, 8 miles, 10 miles, I would hit almost the same pace per mile for all of them; never pushing much faster, but, once I started doing my long marathon-training runs, I could sustain that same pace to mile 12, 14, 16 and even 20. I'm not sure that I can maintain my current pace for almost 4 hours - and I'm a little aprehensive. If I start out too quickly on race day, it's going to blow my chances of finishing anywhere close to my super-secret goal time. I'd be lucky to finish it at all.

I'm probably going to have to go back to the dreadmill, and locate some definitive mile markers on my outdoor routes, and then try to set a strategy that will keep my pace down on my long runs. It's nice that I'm speeding up - I just kind of wish that it had happened next month. Oh well - I'll take it.



ORN: 5.6 miles (according to Gmaps), 45:39.

I was planning on doing a long run today, but the logistics of it didn't pan out, and so, rather than take no run at all, settled for a fairly quick short run. It was nice to get out and run around the neighborhood, and just get out of the house and moving around.

I'm actually pretty happy with the pace too - it's actually a tad faster than I managed yesterday on the dreadmill, and this was outside, with hills, wind and bugs in my teeth. I even saw a few other runners, a couple of walkers, and some cyclists.

Could I have held on to the pace for another lap of about 2.8 miles? Probably. Sometime I'll have to try it out. Maybe in a couple weeks, when my long run gets down to the 8-10 mile range, I'll give it a shot. Who knows - by then, this pace might be getting easier than it is right now. It's beginning to look like, at least for "short" runs, my pace is definitely improving from earlier this year.


No long run today

ORN: 6 miles, 49 minutes, 1 degree.

I was originally planning on doing my long run today, but logistics have compelled me to move it to tomorrow instead. So, I went on a short run, and, considering the difference between today and Thursday, am glad I did. Today was much better all around - no deadweight in my legs, and everything just "clicked". I wasn't going all out - if it had been a 10k race, I probably could have knocked close to a minute off that time.

Tomorrow is a long run, since, even during the taper, you still do some of them. 16 miles should do it - and I think I can avoid the run/walk routine as well.


Makita's top 10 Challenge

Here is my list of top 10(ish) songs, to contribute to Makita's little challenge.

  1. Superman Theme - it just gets me up and moving. I'm going to try and ensure that it turns up about the 20-mile mark on my marathon.
  2. Movin' Right Along, from the Muppets. Bouncy, upbeat, fast.
  3. Dance Into the Light, by Phil Collins
  4. Don't Give Up, by Peter Gabriel
  5. Learning to Fly, by Pink Floyd
  6. Take On Me, by Ah-ha
  7. Sympathy for the Devil, by Rolling Stones - it's a nice long song, so if I push hard for its duration, I can cover some ground.
  8. Maui Hawaiian Sup'pa Man, by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (also his version of Take Me Home, Country Roads)
  9. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, from Spamalot
  10. Down Under, by Men at Work
  11. I Wan'na Be Like You, from the Jungle Book
  12. Lookin' Out My Back Door, by CCR
  13. Jenny, by Tommy Two-tone
  14. Burning Down the House, by Talking Heads

There are plenty of others - One Night in Bancock, Karma Chameleon, 99 Red Balloons, and so forth, but, to be honest, my current MP3 player has something like 450 songs in it, and I'm not terribly inclined to go through the whole list right now. I know that I have some duplicates, but even after I get rid of them, I'll still have 440 or so - and they are all in my "Short Run List".

Of course, if I ever have one run that actually goes through the entire "Short Run List," it's going to be an ultra-marathon. I'm slow, but not nearly that slow.


ORN: 6 miles, 50:17, 1 degree incline.

Firk ding blast - if I had actually tried a little harder, run a little faster, I would have broken that 50 minute mark. It's not a big deal, but I've been kind of lazy the last couple weeks, and it really showed today. I could make several excuses - my wife has been gone for most of the last two weeks (leaving me alone with the 2-year old bundle of energy that we call a son), I had stride problems for the first two miles, the Earth's gravitational pull has increased slightly, I was helping pull an Iditarod team, etc.

The reality is that I've allowed a certain degree of laziness to creep into my running over the last few weeks. I had to take some time off due to illness, and slacked off. When I was finally feeling better, instead of really getting into running again, I "eased" back into it. Or, put another way, instead of resuming a training schedule that had me active 6 days a week, I started back up with 3, maybe 4. It hasn't hurt my running, per se, but it certainly hasn't helped it.

I know, I know - I'm supposed to be tapering anyway, and preparing for my race. That doesn't mean that I can't push myself a little on the workouts - today wasn't hard at all, once I got into it, and I could have pushed a little, infinitesimal bit more, and cut off those 17 seconds. I should have.

I'm already concerned that I am going to miss a personal, private time goal by some dinky little amount. I could stand missing it by a minute, but to miss when you are so close? That's what really hurts.


Holy recovery run, Batman

Today was a recovery run from the various and sundry abuses that I heaped on my body this past weekend. I didn't have much of a plan in mind, and that turned out to be a good thing. Within the first quarter mile on the dreadmill, I could tell that I was still feeling the effects of Saturday's long run. My stride was off, my legs felt heavy and sluggish, and everything felt really stiff. Things weren't getting better after a couple miles, and I tried varying my pace from slow to semi-speedy (for me, so ranging from 10-minute miles to 8 minute miles), and nothing was working.

So, after 2 miles, I stopped and switched over to the bikes. Biking went much better - my legs didn't feel suddenly energized or anything, but they certainly didn't give me the same problems. I biked for another 25 minutes or so (no displays on these bikes, but I probably did somewhere between 8 and 9 miles, with a reasonable resistence), and then headed back to the dreadmill for another try.

I only did a half mile, but I did a fast half mile. My legs felt much, much better than they did at any point during my first attempt, though my stride is still a little off. Things should be closer to normal tomorrow.


(Over)Confidence 101

This is a bit belated, but Saturday was another long run. Instead of trying to squeeze in a run before driving for anywhere from 3-7 hours (the current low and high records for our house to my in-laws), I decided to do some trail running once we got there.

Long running story made short - I told my wife to pick me up after 3 hours and 30 minutes. The total time (by my watch) wound up being 3:49, and the g-maps pedometer puts it as being about 24 miles. I was doing well for the first three hours, but then several things all happened at once: I hit The Wall, and I ran out of water. Oh yeah - I wasn't doing my normal long run routine of running for nine minutes, walking for a minute. Instead, I was running all the time, except for the breaks every 45 minutes or so to take a Gu.

I had (with some effort) managed to refill my water supply when I turned around just after 1:45, but it didn't last. About 3:10, I was out of water, and couldn't maintain my constant running. Instead of being back at the rendevous on time (actually, I was looking at the possibility of being there a bit early), I would up losing almost 11 minutes on the return leg. Still, I was feeling better as I approached the finish line - I was only able to keep running for 5-6 minutes at a time, and had to walk for 2, but the runs were getting better, and I was able to run almost all of the last mile.

I think what really got me here was the water issue. On a race, it's not going to be a problem, but I was only carrying 14 oz or so, and didn't really manage to refill them properly. If conditions are similar (but with available water) on race day, I am feeling very confident of the outcome.

Heck, I am feeling confident now. Barring a training accident or some sort of mishap on the course, I am sure that I can achieve my stated goal of showing up, sans injury, and just finishing the race. I'm not so sure on my "ultra-happy, super-great" secret time goal, but it might happen. I've still got three weeks to continue training - though the taper has officially begun.