Thursday, November 24, 2011

Indian Lake Loop

I'm not much of a Thanksgiving guy. I really only eat turkey if it's fried and I don't like most of the other traditional dishes, except for macaroni and cheese, rolls and a couple slices of pumpkin pie. Rather than sitting around a table eating, I'd rather be up stairs watching TV or playing Xbox and eating some Halloween candy. However, I'm trying to make it a Thanksgiving tradition to run in a race on Thanksgiving.

Last year, I spent Thanksgiving in South Carolina and was going to run an 8k in Greenville, but woke up sick. Two years ago, I ran the Indian Lake Loop and really enjoyed it. I was thinking about running the Boulevard Bolt this year but since Ryan Snellen wasn't racing it and it was more expensive than the Indian Lake Loop, I decided to give my hometown race another go.

I had a really hard workout on Monday and wasn't planning on racing this all-out. I was shooting for somewhere around 5:00 pace, so I was looking to run just under 25:00. Two years ago, I got beat by an out of town guy, so I was really hoping he showed up again this year.

I did my normal warm-up routine and since the Porta-John line was insanely long, I decided to visit a bush before heading to the line. It was hard to camoulflage myself in my neon orange singlet but I did my best.

The race seemed like it was pretty big compared to when I ran it two years ago. There was at least 300 people but I didn't see the guy who beat me a couple years back, which was a little disappointing. When the race started, I let some little kid lead for a little bit before crushing his ego and stealing his soul. After about a quarter of a mile, I was moving pretty quickly and was anxious to see what my first mile split would be.

I figured I was going sub 4:50 mile pace so after the watch went past five minutes, I figured the first mile was long. Unfortunately it turned out there were no mile markers during the entire race. It was frustrating because every race I've ever run has had mile markers and the split data is what gets me from mile-to-mile and lets me assess my performance on the run.

When we were running down Indian Lake Blvd., it turned out the biker had us on the wrong side of the road and instead of reversing it and going back on the other side, he just had me do a 180 degree turn and run back down the road.

After heading back down Indian Lake, we turned onto Saundersville for quite a while. Even though there were no splits, I was pretty sure I was under 15 at what would be 5k and shortly after 15 minutes, I started to struggle a little bit. I did my best to stay relaxed while not taking my foot off the gas too much. It felt like we were running down Saundersville Rd. for way too long and once I hit 22 minutes, I knew the course had to be way long. That made me back off the pace a tad because instead of getting a legit time, I would run something that wouldn't really mean anything.

I crossed the line in 26:25 and it turned out we took a couple of wrong turns and the course was closer to 5.4 miles, which would have resulted in a five mile time of around 24:25. Based off my Team Nashville race, this was a harder effort, which was a little frustrating but I was a little tired from a marathon workout three days beforehand. However, since this was my last race before the marathon, I wanted to get the wheels moving and hurt a little bit and that's what happened.

With just 2.5 weeks to go, it's now time to get a feel for and lock into marathon pace so I can make my assault on 2:19.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Team Nashville 10 Miler

On this weekend last year, I ran the Nashville Half-Marathon. However, the Team Nashville 10 miler took place practically on my home turf and I've always heard great things about it. What made me decide on this over the Nashville Half-Marathon was that it was 1/3 of the cost and you get a hoody, as well as pizza. And not some crappy chain pizza but Painturo's pizza, which is pretty stinkin' good.

I changed my mind back and forth between how I wanted to run. Inititally, I wanted to run this at 5:10-5:15 pace and use this as a harder workout. That way, I could get in a good, long session, and not beat up my legs very much so I could train really hard the next week. The other side of me wanted to use this as a near race effort to see if I could get under 51:00. My next hard workout wasn't scheduled until the next Wednesday, so I would have time to recover. While half-marathons trash my legs for several days, I figured a 10 mile race would be a quicker recovery. However, Wednesday's workout put a beating on my legs, so I decided to go with the more controlled effort.

Looking at the forecast the night before, I anticipated a pretty good temperature, with some steady wind. However, the weather was under 40 degrees and luckily, there wasn't much wind. I wanted to get in about 15 miles for the morning, so I ran just under a three mile warm-up with my token strides and drills. I got to the line just in time and saw a lot of Hendersonville Running Club members, as well as Scott Fanning, who's a really tough Master's runner in the area.

When the gun went off, I got out pretty slowly. I always hate starting off fast and looking like an idiot. After running for the pack for a hundred meters or so, I slowly left them. We ran in the park for a mile, which took me 5:15. That was slower than I wanted and I knew the next mile was pretty rolling, so I picked it up some. I also knew a lot of windy roads were coming up, so I practiced running the tangents, to get a mental feel for it so it's fresh on my mind for Rocket City.

My second mile was a 5:03 but it felt relaxed. I realized nearly everyone feels relaxed two miles into a ten mile race, so I tried to make sure I kept it comfortable but my body was locking into the rhythm and I split 5:04 the next mile. In this mile, we were about to start the four mile Madison Creek Loop. The first part contains a couple very gradual inclines that you really don't notice until you start running fast on them. The first half of the loop climaxes with a short but steep climb before giving you an instant downhill with some additional very gradual declines.

Because I knew the first half of the loop was going to be a little more difficult, I tried to stay focused and not get lazy on the hills and split 5:08 for the fourth mile. I was still running faster than I initially planned but the pace felt so relaxed and even felt easier than a tempo run. The next mile went by in 5:11 and then shortly after, it was time to climb the hill.

At first glance, the hill doesn't really look that tough. As I mentioned earlier, it's a pretty short climb but what makes it bad is all of that slow, gradual climbing you did before that. By the time you start the hill, you realize you're already tired, so it's a struggle to make it to the top. Similar to being stuffed by a plate of spaghetti at Demos' because of all the bread I ate beforehand, I struggled up the hill due to the pre-hill "appetizers."

After getting to the top, I knew it was going to be smooth sailing for a while. I took advantage of the downhill and went through the sixth mile in 5:09. At this point, I wasn't really paying attention to how fast I was running, I was just going by effort. And becasue my watch display only showed the current time of the mile I was running on, I wasn't sure of my overall time. However, I knew I was definitely sub 52:00 pace and still felt really good. I then decided to go for around 51:30.

The new goal most have motivated me because somehow I dropped a 4:52 the next mile. I have a hard time running a 4:52 mile in a 5k, so I was definitely pleased with how relaxed this felt. I also continued to get more greedy because I then decided to shoot for 51:00. It was over a minute faster than my original goal but I wasn't running any harder than what I thought a 52:00 would feel like, so I decided to go for it.

After doing some rough math, I figured I'd need to run in the low 5:00s to break 51. I tried to focus on the next mile and lock into 5:00 pace but again, I got overly excited and ran a 4:42 mile, which was insanely fast. For a brief moment, I debated trying to keep up the fast pace and break 50:00, but I didn't want a few days of dead legs, so I made myself relax and went through the ninth mile in 4:57.

The last mile contains a somewhat tough hill. Even on easy runs, I struggle up it a little bit, so because I knew I'd lose several seconds on it, I turned up the pace a notch. I was surprised with how strong I felt running up the hill and I enjoyed the downhill after it before entering the park for the last minute or so of running.

Coming into the final straightaway, I expected to see around 50:30 or so on the clock, so I was really amazed when I saw it was right near 50:00. I relaxed a little bit and ended up running 50:09, with a 4:48 last mile. A few minutes later, I was told it was a new state record by over a minute, which surprised me because I honestly could have run a minute faster if I would have run harder, not to mention, this was the 7th day of a 121 mile week.

About the only bad thing about the day is that I almost potentially got beat up by some fat guy. I was waiting for one of my high school runners to finish up and some guy in a car laid on the horn at some runner who ran in front of him. When the car drove by me, I shrugged my shoulders and gave him a "what's your problem" look. Immediately the driver slammed on his brakes and came out of the car towards me. He was a really big dude but I couldn't tell if he was just fat-fat or grizzly bear fat. He asked me what my problem was and I told him to relax because the guy was just running a race. We debated back and forth for a bit and then he mentioned something about breaking my legs so I wouldn't be able to run. I then let him know there was a bunch of cops just around the turn and threatening someone is a crime. After the situation, I realized that I should have told him that even with broken legs, at least I would still be able to wipe my own butt but the best comebacks are usually thought of after the situation. He then walked back to his car and I may or may not have yelled something about Krispy-Kreme donuts.

If it theoretically did come down to a scrap, hopefully my time getting beaten up and choked on a near daily basis at Westside MMA would come in handy. With a fat guy like that, I guess I would just keep my distance and leg kick him until he fell down or had a heart attack. Who knows. Well, four more weeks to go and things are looking good. I feel like I'm in 2:19 shape now and still have some fitness to gain. I guess I just have to avoid the sicknesses and not get beat up by random fat guys.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Month to Go!

Well, time is winding down. With only one month to go, I don't expect to gain a lot of fitness but there are several things that will take place over the next month before I get to the starting line.

#1. Train Hard. With cross country season over, I now have the time to ramp up my mileage a little bit. And with a little over four weeks to go, I'm experiencing my hardest period of training. I'm trying to get in around 120 miles a week and put on the finishing touches to my cycle. As race day approaches, become familiar with marathon pace takes the utmost importance. Running a few seconds too fast or too slow early in the race can have a drastic effect, so I'm doing my best to learn my goal race rhythm and become as relaxed and efficient as possible at it.

#2. Clean up my diet. For my entire life, I've struggled to eat healthy. I've tried to cut out the junk food but I just love it too much. Not a single day goes by where I don't eat something "bad" for me. And with the heavy mileage, I burn a lot of calories and it's hard for me to maintain my weight unless I snack a lot. Some people might call it binge eating, I call it fueling the furnace. However, my marathon goal is going to be tough enough as it is, so I need every advantage possible. I hope to start the race 3-5 lbs. lighter than my last two marathons, which could give me an extra 30-60 seconds. Those precious seconds could be the difference between running in the Olympic Trials and watching it on TV, while eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.

#3. Get used to my fuel. For my marathons, I prefer to mix a packet of Vanilla Bean Gu into water bottles. And because I struggle so much to drink on the run, my bottle of choice is an empty Tummy-Yummies bottle. They are only about 50 cents each at Wal-Mart, and have a top attached to it, which makes it much easier to drink. By combining the two, it's easier to drink than water because the solution is a little thicker, which makes it come out of the bottle slower. which Before now, I haven't taken in any fuel on my training runs. A major focus of marathon training is to teach your body to react in a low carbohydrate state. By taking in fuel during long training sessions, you may help that individual session but you are hurting your performance down the road. If your body is used to constantly taking any carbohydrates while running, it won't be very effecient when the carbohydrates are running out. I've always viewed taking in carbohydrates during marathon training runs as similar to training for a trail race on the's just not very logical. But to make a long story short, I'll take a Gu bottle or two on some of my training runs to get my stomach used to the contents of the drink.

#4. Practice running the tangents.
I've never been good at angles and tangents. I'm terrible at pool and I made a D in high school geometry (I could partitally blame that on the ADD). A marathon is 26.2 miles when you run the shortest possible route at all times. Not to mention, you have to add an additional one meter per kilometer to account for human error. You frequently hear of people running an extra half mile or more during a marathon, according to their GPS. I think a large part of that is due to their GPS being not 100% accurate and not a result of the runner adding in an extra several minutes of running during the race. However, I feel like you can easily add in an extra tenth of a mile or so if you don't run the optimal tangents. An extra tenth is worth over 30 seconds at my marathon pace, which is a huge chunk of time. As a result, I will practice running the tangents more often on my daily runs to keep the idea fresh on my mind, so I can execute it on race day.

#5. Last and definitely least, become paranoid. I've runs thousands of miles the last few months and am banking all of my training on this one performance. I usually peak pretty well, which is very important because I need to be in optimal shape come race day. However, early December is a very "sick" time of the year and the viruses and sicknesses are starting to run their course around my school. Even a simple cold could shatter my dreams, so I'm starting to get worried about catching something and am contemplating buying one of those big bubbles and rolling around in that until race day.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lunch Lady Land

Two days a week, I serve a 35 minute shift in the cafeteria. In my own happy world, I wouldn't have to do this but when it comes down to it, I don't really mind that much. In this bad economy, I'm just happy to have a job and if I have to hand out forks, mop up spilled slushies and clean tables, so be it. When I'm in the cafeteria, I either dismiss and spray down the tables, watch the classes in line as they wait for their teacher or hand out items/open random stuff for kids, which is probably my favorite job of the three. I get to move around a lot, talk to the kids some and it's not overly repetitive.

However, sometimes it can become my least favorite job whenever I see a kid with a raised hand at a table, with one of these five items in front of them.


While I guess fruit in sugary syrup is better than no fruit at all, I despise opening these things. They are sealed so tightly that you have to use the strength of a grizzly bear with the gentleness of a baby when opening them. Over 90% of the time I open these, I get showered by the juices contained in the cup. I've even tried poking small holes in the top before opening it, which doesn't really help that much. On the bright side, at least I get a quick, sugary pick-me-up nearly every time I open one.


I hated opening these as a kid and it's still the same story over 20 years later. While kids find this drink delicious, I find it obnoxious. I rarely am able to get the straw through the opening without puncturing the other side. It seems like the company realizes the difficulty of the opening process because some of the flavors have the container spread out at the top with the goal of pushing the straw through the top, which does nothing except bend the straw. I've learned to choose your battles wisely, so with this guy, I've learned to just stick a fork into it (literally and figuratively).


It was tough to choose to choose between #2 and #3 but the Nacho Lunchables take the bronze. This package is somewhat of the same story as my #5 pick, except I find fruit syrup on my hand a little more appetizing than salsa and nacho cheese. I can very rarely open this without the plastic covering splitting down the middle. That means I have to try and reopen it an additional one or two times, which require a visit through the salsa and nacho cheese departments. I guess if I carried some extra nachos with me, these wouldn't be too bad but until then, I am not a fan of these, especially when a certain second grader eats these almost every time I'm in the cafeteria.


Go-Gurt takes the #2 spot because it sometimes takes the extra mile...literally. Of course it says "tear here" but that is more of a Hail Mary suggestion rather than reality. The rare times I can tear it open, I get "yogurted", which can be good or bad, depending on the flavor. You also have the possibility of the kids already chewing and biting on it before asking you to open it. Of course they always deny using their teeth, so who knows the truth?

But most of the time, I have to take the Go-Gurt, walk back into the kitchen, cut it open with scissors and then walk back into the cafeteria. By that point, I've forgotten whose Go-Gurt it actually was, so I just wander around the cafeteria with it until some kid raises his hand and reminds me.


Man, I hate these things and Kool-Aid Bursts is the perfect name for them. While the fruit cup just gets my hand and occasionally, part of my arm wet, these things are usually an explosive, high fructose corn syrup bomb. To open them, you have to twist off the top and most of the time, the bottle is filled to the brim. The bad thing about these is that you can't just hold the top and twist because not enough torque is generated. You have to gently squeeze the bottle while twisting the top off and the second the top comes off, Kool-Aid bursts out of the opening at all angles. I've gotten my hands, arm, shirt, eyes and even my ears wet because of these guys.

I guess if you are able to stop squeezing the bottle the milisecond that the top comes off, it wouldn't be so bad but I'm a physical education teacher, not a rocket scientist. Over time, I've learned the best route is to stack up as many things behind it as possible, reach over a kid and then attempt to open it with the understanding that part of me is going to get wet.

In the future and with many years left until retirement, I'm sure I will wage battle with many other obnoxious items but for now, these are my five most hated cafeteria items.