Monday, February 25, 2013

Netflix Movie Monday

I've heard a lot of hype about the Netflix only TV series: House of Cards.  It's an adaptation of a BBC miniseries and it has been getting a ton of good reviews, so I decided to see if it was any good.

It takes place in modern-day Washington DC, with Kevin Spacey playing the main character, Frank Underwood.  Underwood is a Democrat congressman from South Carolina (has a terrible accent) and is the Majority Whip.  If you are like me and had no idea what being the Majority Whip means, you would find out that they enforce important party protocol and procedure and assist the Speaker of the House and Majority leader. And if you are truly like me, you still have no idea what being the Majority Whip means.

Anyway, he wants to be the Secretary of State, but he gets passed over.  Rather than take his defeat and continue on with life, he decides to take revenge on everyone who betrayed him in his journey to become Secretary of State.  And being that he has the dirt on a lot of politicians, he will stop at no end to ruin them.

The first couple of episodes are sort of slow, as they set up the background and nature of the show.  It's definitely more in depth than my usual slapstick shows, so it's not something I could watch while playing around the internet.  But if you shut the computer and pay attention, it quickly sucks you in and shows its promise.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Predators Fangtastic 5k

This was going to be my first real race of the spring season.  I ran this race two years ago and got dropped by Ryan Snellen in the last 1k.  I've been waiting to seek my revenge on him since then but we haven't ran the same race since (well, he ran with his old girlfriend once, so that doesn't count. And another time I ran a 12k, while he was in the 6k, so I can't count that one either).  But Snellen, don't think I've forgotten about you!

My competition this time was going to be Connor Kamm, which was going to be a fun match-up because he's almost the exact opposite of me: tall, knows a lot of Spanish, has lot of hair, is very "fast" and isn't very good looking. I'm just now starting my speed phase and he's at the tail end of his base phase, so I didn't know what kind of 5k shape we would be in.  I don't want to give away my tip-top strategy secrets in-case he is reading this, but I formulated my battle-plan based off each others strengths, weakness and current training (he has his training log online as well).

The course has a bit of a downhill for the first quarter mile or so, before having some tough climbs through two miles, before dropping again for a mostly downhill final mile.  I'm a pretty decent downhill runner but bad at uphills, especially in races like the 5k, where the pace is more intense and requires more power.  That had me a little worried but I was confident in my plan.

On race morning, the temperature was pretty decent at around 30 degrees, but the winds were pretty strong, which would play an effect.  I warmed up with Connor and Ken Sullivan and let Connor know that I would deactivate him on Facebook if he tried to draft off of me.  We jogged around for three miles and then got ready to head to the line, after throwing in a couple of hard strides to get ready for the intense pace.  Too many people sit around before a 5k.  Warming-up is really important, especially when the weather is cold.

Finally it was time for the gun and we were off.  Because I've been gearing my training towards longer stuff, I've not only lost a lot of speed but have taught myself to relax and not force things very much.  In the 5k, I have to continuously focus on putting my foot down on the gas pedal and not letting my mind drift, especially with a guy like Connor, who has a lot of closing speed.  I got out fast and looked at my watch and saw I was right at three minutes in the race.  I wasn't too pleased because it was already hurting.  What is this 5k madness?

I gaped Connor shortly after, which was much earlier than I expected. However, that didn't last long and he caught up to me on a steep hill, which was a swift kick to my confidence.  I was hoping he wouldn't drop me, so I didn't give him an inch.  Even with the hills, I expected to go through the mile marker in around 4:45 but was surprised it was 4:54.  Guess the wind played a bigger role than I anticipated.

Connor was still looking pretty strong and we passed Snellen and Scott Bennett on the side of the road. I really didn't want to get whipped by Connor in front of them, so that gave me some extra motivation.  Shortly before halfway, I was able to gap him again and put on 2-3 seconds.  I tried to make the most of it and stay strong on the hills because I knew I could get rolling the last mile.

I really wanted to look over my shoulder but with a runner as tough as Connor behind me, I didn't want to give him any confidence.  I gave a quick glance after the final uphill and saw I had about 10 seconds on him.  I went through two miles in 9:56 and then tried to run pretty hard over the next half mile, in hopes of breaking him for good.

Finally, I could see the three mile marker.  I heard people calling out my overall time but I didn't really paying attention because I wasn't really focused on it.  I crossed the line in 15:04 and felt pretty decent, and was able to recover pretty well over the last few minutes of the race.  Connor came through in second place in 15:22 and Ken was third in 16:21.

The post race awards was held at Honky Tonk Central, which was pretty cool because you got a free drink, and they had hot wings, bbq and some other good stuff.  Overall, I was pleased to get the win but wish I could have at least run under 15:00. I could definitely tell my speed needs a little bit of fine tuning before I go back into marathon mode again.

February 18th-24th Training

Monday: 6 miles (7:10); 10.8 miles (7:27)

Tuesday: 11.9 miles with 6xhill blast (7:22); 3.4 miles (7:35)

Wednesday: 4 miles (6:52); 14 miles with 10 miles on/off at 2:25/2:40 average (5:05 total average).  I was going into the workout hoping to run sub 5:05/5:25 pace.  Based on where I am in my training right now, the focus was on the fast portion, so I would slow it down, if needed.  Both paces were really easy at first, but I decided to wait until six of them were done until I picked it up a little.  Started running faster and faster at that point and it felt pretty controlled until after the ninth one and I saw Rodney on the last one and he drove beside me in his truck on the last one, which made me run harder.  The last one hurt but overall a great workout.  I don't think I could have done this before Houston.  2:42/2:27=5:09, 2:38/2:28=5:06, 2:40/2:28=5:08, 2:41/2:29=5:10, 2:38/2:26=5:04, 2:39/2:28=5:07, 2:41/2:25=5:06, 2:39/2:24=5:02, 2:43/2:18=5:01, 2:44/2:16=5:00

Thursday: 6 miles (7:12); 3 miles (6:59).  Had a third run planned but I couldn't head out the door until after 7:00pm and it 35 degrees with a steady rain, so I passed on that.  I only got about four hours of sleep last night, so I figured going to bed earlier would do me well.

Friday: No Running.  Went home sick from work and felt like crap.  Body aches, chills, low grade fever, headache, nausea.  Went to bed at 11am and didn't get up or eat/drink anything until the next morning. Mary had something similar to this earlier in the week, so I bet Wednesday's workout, combined with a terrible night of sleep beat up my immune system.

Saturday: 9.3 miles with "10k" (really 5.65 miles, per my Garmin) at 5:10 pace. I probably should have skipped this and almost decided several times that morning that I would bail on it but started anyway.  Connor Kamm won the 5k 45 minutes earlier and was doubling back and I was running "fresh." My goal was to go out really hard, in hopes he let me go.  I felt crappy at first but found my rhythm a few miles in.  They turned us around about a 1/4 mile early on one stretch, which shortened it up a good bit.  Ended up getting the win by a little over 1:30. Really struggled on the two big hills.  No mile markers for some reason.; 3.7 miles (7:01). Felt like crap after this run, with yesterday's symptoms coming back, with the addition of some McDonald's McNuggets being tossed back out a few times.

Sunday: No running. Feel like the sickness is gone but was too weak to do anything except for lay on the couch, watch TV and play Xbox. Appetite still gone.

Week Total= 72.2 miles. Was on schedule for nearly 120, before the sickness curtailed me.  Really pleased with Wednesday's workout and will hit it up pretty hard this next week.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Movie Monday

This week, I'm going with another underated Redbox movie.  Everyone knows about the massive blockbusters but many times, the best movies fly under the radar a bit.  I heard Seven Psychopaths was a pretty decent movie and since it was a comedy, I felt that Mary would like it.  However, she was out before I started it, which is a good thing because she would have hated it.

I didn't know much about the movie going in but it falls somewhat in-line with an action-packed dark comedy.  Maybe something along the lines of a Quentin Tarantino spiced version of Snatch.  It stars a pretty decent cast with actors such as: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walkien.  Mickey Rourke actually passed up playing in the Expendables 2, to take Woody Harrelson's part in this movie, but he clashed with the producer, so he dropped out.  There went some cash!

Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) is the main character in the movie, and is a struggling writer.  He's working on a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths, which tells the story of seven psychopaths (as you could have guessed.) His BFF, Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), is also struggling in his profession as an actor, so he makes ends meet by kidnapping (dognapping?) dogs and then returning them for cash.  He is helped in this by Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walkien).  Billy goes on to kidnap the dog of violent gangster, Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson), which turns out to be a pretty bad idea, as he loves his shih-tzu more than anything else in the world.

Costello begins to track down who stole his dog, which results in the trio of Marty, Billy and Hans heading to the desert and unbeknownst to Marty and Hans, Billy is planning his perfect final shootout.

The movie starts off pretty slow, but it turns into a fun two hours and is well worth the $1.31 that Redbox charged me.  I've never been much of a Colin Farrell fan but Billy and Hans play their roles really well and Billy somewhat reminds me of a more psychotic version of Alan, from The Hangover. It's probably one of the best movies I've seen in a while and is worth a watch.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

February 11th-17th

Monday: 5.7 miles (6:36); 11.1 miles (7:08)

Tuesday: 9 miles (6:44); 6 miles with 6xhill blasts (6:56)

Wednesday:  4 miles (6:50); 11.7 miles with 4.76 mile tempo and 4x200m with 200m jog.  Ran 4:53 average for the tempo with splits of: 4:58, 4:54, 4:54, 4:56, 3:34 (4:42 pace).  Was hoping to average 5:00, so I was happy with the workout.  Ran to the end of LSC and back (3.55 miles) and up-and-down Bison Way, which is a gentle climb a little over half a mile each way. Pretty tired at the end, but I closed pretty quickly.  Gas tank feels very strong and the turnover was easy, but my speed isn't up to par right now.  Ran the 200s between 30-31, which was pretty tough.  Back in the day, I could close out my college workouts with 2-4x200s at 26. I miss that college speed!

Thursday: 4 miles (6:54); 11.3 miles (7:13)

Friday: 5.7 miles (6:41); 7 miles with strides (6:52)

Saturday: 9.5 miles with 5k race in 15:04. Ran the Predators Fangtastic 5k, which was going to be a showdown with my cross-town friend/nemesis, Connor Kamm.  He has a lot more foot speed than me but is in base training mode, so I knew he wouldn't be as sharp.  It was really windy with the first two miles having a lot of uphill running, with most of the last mile being downhill.  Got out quickly and gapped Connor about a half of a mile in.  He pulled up beside me a minute or two later and we crossed the mile in 4:54, which was pretty tough.  We ran together for about another half a mile and he had me pretty scared because the hills were getting to me.  Gapped him again a little bit over halfway, came through two miles in 9:56 (5:02 second mile) and then ran the last mile pretty hard, with a 4:40 split to win by 18 seconds. It felt like I ran a ton faster than 4:54 and 5:02 for those first two miles but the course is certified, so I guess the wind and hills played their toll. Felt good at the end but can tell my speed is really poor right now; 5.5 miles (7:19)

Sunday: 22 miles (6:06). Connor came down to my house for the run and we are going to start trying to train together when we can, since we play to each others strengths/weaknesses, are both chasing the Marathon Trials standard and having a training partner makes life much easier.  We ran The Grinder, which is rolling with 2-3 nasty hills on it.  Felt good and dropped off Connor at 16.25ish with 6:14 average.  I then ran up-and-down Saundersville and got rolling on the downhills with 5:32, 5:33 for my last two miles, with some relaxed effort.  I think yesterday and today show that I'm definitely a marathoner. Long running comes natural, while 10k pace and faster is a real struggle for me.

Week Total=112.5 miles. Solid week with a great workout, decent race and really good long run.  Next week, I'll try to run a little more volume with a half-marathon/marathon workout and a hard, hilly 10k tempo and long run.

Friday, February 15, 2013

It Begins...

Hardcore asteroids in Russia and then someone spears this while fishing.  Coincedence? I think not.  Maybe choosing Slither this week was a foreshadowing of things to come.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dream Interpretation

Even though the readers of this are mainly myself and a couple other runners, I am hoping that one day a Hollywood script writer stumbles upon my blog.  It worked for some guy who posted a storyline about modern day Marines, who traveled back to ancient Greece and fought the Spartans.  It sounds like a dumb movie, but the guy made some cold hard cash for the storyline.  And of course, you have Sophia Stewart, who claims the Coen brothers stole the storyline of the Matrix from a writing she submitted to them back in the 80s.  Since I occasionally have some awesome, random dreams, I figure this would be a good place to put them (and in case a dream interpreter stumbles upon it, feel free to let me know how messed up I am).

In one of my dreams last week, I found myself in a sticky situation.  I was minding my own business when all of a sudden, I was kidnapped by Richard Gecko (better known as Quentin Tarrantino) who is a bad-tempered psychotic individual from the movie "From Dusk till Dawn".  And to make matters worse, he joined forces with the villians from The Goonies and he was taking me back to their hideout in Oregon, so I could be held for ransom.

On the way to their hideout, he got pretty hungry, so we stopped by Cracker Barrel for some dinner.  He wasn't pleased with the way the waiter was treating him and if you've seen "From Dusk till Dawn", you know he has a tendency to snap.  Well, snap he did, and he went on a rampage, attacking the waiter and the other co-workers.

While the ruckus was taking place, I managed to sneak out the back.  But when I left the restaurant, I wasn't in Oregon anymore, but by the creek near my childhood home in South Carolina. Richard left the restaurant, got his older brother Seth, and then they tried to track me down.

Luckily I played it smart, stayed off the roads and cut through people's backyards in order to not get spotted.  Luckily they didn't send Sloth from the Goonies after me and I woke up before I was captured.  If that's not a multimillion dollar blockbuster script, I don't know what is!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Netflix Movie Monday

This week's pick, Slither, hits home to me, being it's one of my favorite type of movies (B-horrors) and takes place in the state I grew up in, South Carolina. 

Back in the South Carolina boonies, an alien meteorite crashes into the ground.  Grant Grant (that's not a typo) is frolicking in the woods with the local bar sleaze, Brenda, since things aren't going too hot with this wife, when he says the meteor.  Like any country boy, he decides to visit it to see what it was.  Unluckillingly, he is infected by an alien parasite from the alien metor, which doesn't turn out too well for him.   The parasite goes on to control his mind and body while transforming him into a raw meat-eating, octupus looking individual.

He also goes on to infect Brenda, who now has hundreds of baby aliens growing inside her.  The baby aliens get out and start to infect the town residents. Since Grant is the alien head honcho, he can control them with his thoughts and has plans to infect everyone in the world.  Did I mention that the infected are molding into Brenda, to create an even more massive individual?

Grant's wife can tell something is wrong since he constantly disappears and begins to act weird. She confides in the town sheriff, who goes on to investigate the situation.  They begin to catch on to what's really happening and do their best to battle the alien invaders and save the planet.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February 4th-10th Training

Monday: 9.4 miles (6:39); 5.5 miles (6:38)

Tuesday: 9 miles (6:24); 5.6 miles with 4xhill blasts (7:11)

Wednesday:  4 miles (6:51); 11.9 miles with 6400m progressive tempo, 400m jog and then 4x400m with 400m jog rest. Ran 20:01 for the tempo and felt really good. Was hoping to run 5:10, 5:05, 5:00, 4:55 and ran 5:05, 5:06, 4:58, 4:52.  Started out way too hard on the first lap of the first two miles and had to put on the brakes.  Ran even on the last two.  400s were 63.3, 62.6, 62.5 and 61.XX (watch band fell off on this one but I was a second faster at 300m than I was for the prior two intervals). Felt good on the 400s as well and made sure I ran relaxed and smoothly.  Ran fast without having to dig.  Really good workout overall.

Thursday: 4 miles (7:00ish); 8 miles (7:12)

Friday: 5.3 miles (6:48); 8.8 miles with 4x800m with 400m jog rest. Was planning on 6x800m at 2:15 but it was insanely windy, so I changed it to sub 2:20.  Ran 2:17,  2:19, 2:19, 2:16.  After the 2nd, I decided to just do four of them because I was running at a higher intensity than I planned and my hamstrings were really tired and I felt super flat. Bummed with the workout but I had a good session 48 hours ago, and another hard one in 36 hours. I was also rushed for time and after school, drove straight to the track and hoped out right away.

Saturday: 8 miles (6:59), 5.4 miles (7:13)

Sunday: 15.7 miles (6:01).  Bummer of a run.  The plan was 20 miles with 16-17 miles at sub 5:40 over rolling hills.  Felt really flat and sloppy from the get-go. For the first several miles, it always seemed like I was running into the wind, even though I was changing directions.  I hung out just over 5:40 pace and once the winds went down some, I got down to 5:30ish.  Around 7-8 miles of moderate running, my hamstrings were aching and I started getting really dehydrated for some reason and it was really hard for me to spit, which was just white foam.  Nine miles of moderate running in, I ran up a long gradual uphill, right into the wind again and I was running at a higher intensity than I planned, so I bagged it at 9.7 miles (5:38 average for the 9.7), turned around to run home for some water and was going to finish the 20.  Once I got home, my hamstrings were really aching and I realized if I ran 20, it was just to chase a number, rather than get in what I need.  Second week in a row that I had to axe my long run, but it's not really the most important thing right now, and I have them scheduled for the next three weeks.  I am a bit bummed that I had to end it before I got to the really rolling section, with the two mile downhill at the end but I have to stick to what I feel is best at the time. When I got home, the weather said it was 17mph winds with gusts of 33 mph, so that made me feel better.; 5 miles (7:26)

Week Total =106.3 miles. Pretty decent volume but I wish two of my workouts would have been better.  My hamstrings started getting really achy/tight the second half of the week, so I need to be careful with that.  They most likely are hurting due to weak/inactive glutes.  I'll have to take my easy days extra easy the next couple of days so I can bounce back.  At least Wednesday was a good motivator.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Frog Stretch

I really hate static stretching.  I find it to be boring and a lot of research has come out over the past few years stating that it doesn't help prevent injuries or get you ready for physical activity.  People are gravitating more towards dynamic movement to get the muscles loose and ready for action.

While I think static stretching is a large part, on the way out, I feel it can still be beneficial for people who are overly tight in certain areas.  For runners, tight hips and weak glutes are turning into a major issue.  A large part of this is a result of sitting down all day while working away for the man.  This is an even bigger issue for cyclists, who sit down on the bike and shut off the glutes.

Over the years, my hips have become super tight.  It's hard for me to get to a parallel squat and if I get in a deep squat, my legs feel like they are ripping.  When I run up steep hills, I look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame because it's too hard for me to "stand tall".  The other day, I read about the frog stretch, so I decided to try it out.  Right away, I could feel extreme tightness in my groin/adductors, which is the exact area that gets super tight on hills.  This stretch is a more extreme and less sissy version of the butterfly stretch.  Since I ain't no stretching expert, I decided to leave it to YouTube to show you how to properly do it.  This has no turned into one of two stretches that I've been doing consistently lately.  I guess I could do more, but I don't want to be an overachiever (or one of those yoga sissies). So here is a very charismatic fellow showing you how to properly do it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Zoo Run Run

Thirteen days after the Houston Marathon, I decided to jump into the Zoo Run Run for the third consecutive year.  I am debating running the Boston Marathon on April 15th, so I need to stay in touch with my speed, just in case I go through with it.  Heck if Yuki Kawauchi from Japan can pop out constant world class marathon times left and right, I feel like a controlled 5k won't be too bad.

For the two prior years, the Nashville Striders have timed the event, but this year, I Run for the Party took over.  While I enjoy the race itself, especially the post-race food, I really don't like the course.  It's run through the zoo and it is extremely twisty with a ton of sharp turns.  The first mile isn't that bad, but from then on, you can't run for more than a few seconds without making a sharp turn.  Because of that, I wasn't looking for a fast time but was planning on running a little harder than half-marathon effort. 

Traffic was insane coming into the zoo and instead of my planned fourish mile warm-up, I only had time to cram in two miles, with no strides.  I ran most of the warm-up with Ashley Evans and then ran into Nashville's #1 most active roadracer, Jacob Carrigan and a high school kid I've gotten to know over the last year, Kevin Barrett and my friend/triathlete, Chris Hanson.  I took a spot in the second/third row and then we were on our way.

I hate starting off fast in Nashville races, so I took my time working to the front and took the lead about 1/4 mile in and right before you enter the back part of the zoo.  I tried to find my rhtyhm and get my legs turning over.  I was worried how they would feel post-marathon, especially with not running any real "speed" work in a few months but they felt surprisingly good.  I went through the first mile in 4:45 and was feeling pretty strong.

Once the twisting-and-turning started, I lost a lot of my speed and rhythm and once I found it again, it would be time for another sharp turn, and I would start over again.  Somehow I came through two miles in 9:38 and was still feeling good.  At that point, I felt like sub 15 was a possibility, so I decided to keep up the effort, and seeing where it put me.

I felt like I was losing way too much time, but I went through the third mile in 4:53 with a three mile split of 14:31.  I then saw I had a realistic shot at breaking the 15 barrier, so I picked it up. When I rounded the final turn, the finish line was further down than I thought and I saw the clock just over 15:00, with about 50m left of running.  After I crossed the finish line, I walked around for a couple of seconds before realizing my watch was still running and I stopped it on 15:15.  I started it with the gun and since it took me a second or so to cross the timing mat and since it ran a few seconds post race, I felt my chip time would be around 15:10 or so.  When the official results came out, it was listed as 15:16, which is definitely wrong. If I pay $44 (which is about a year supply of McDonalds McDoubles) for a 5k, I feel like I should at least get an accurate time. But guess not.

As usual, the post-race food was pretty decent, but I was bummed that instead of having Blackstone Brewery out there, like they had the two prior years, they had Michelob Ultra.  And why serve both Michelob Ultra and water? At least choose one or the other!

But all-in-all, it was a pretty encouraging race.  I was expecting my legs to feel flat but they felt good and fully recovered.  It was also encouraging to run a good bit faster than last year (16:18 on a bum knee) and than in 2011 (15:51).  While I feel the course is a bit short, I feel like it's an accurate 5k "time wise" due to the manic turns and super irregular pacing.

Even though I've done this race the past three years, I think I may pass on it next year.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Movie Monday

I decided to take Netflix out of the title this week.  The only films I can find on there are classics that nearly everyone has seen.  When I was stuck home with the flu, I rented a couple of movies from Redbox and was really impressed with Dredd.  It didn't do too well at the box office, despite being a really good sci-fi/action.  Normally remakes are terrible, and Judge Dredd, staring Sylvester Stallone, was absolutely terrible.  But this remake went from crappy to really good.  Hopefully the Evil Dead follows suite.

Dredd is set in the future where the police have the authority to be judge, jury and executioner.  It takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland in an area called Mega-City One.  17,000 crimes a day take place and the latest craze is a drug called Slo-Mo which makes users feel like time is travelling at only 1% of normal speed.

The main character, Judge Dredd, who sounds like a clone of Batman, is given a sidekick for the day as sort of a Judge "tryout."  She is a gifted psychic but barely failed the Judge test.  Dredd is a by-the-book kind of guy and believes she shouldn't get a shot, but he listens to his boss and gives her a shot. The twosome travel to Peach Trees, which is a 200 story slum tower, to investigate a murder.  While there, they learn about a drug den and head to raid it.  They put the whooping on most of the criminals but arrest the man they believe is responsible for the murder.

It turns out that the arrested criminal works for "Ma-Ma", who runs the drug trade and is pretty much in charge of the entire slum.  She doesn't want to risk him talking to the Judges, so she locks down Peach Trees and refuses to open it back up until the two Judges are dead or captured.

The rest of the movie is an action-fest as the Judges try to leave with their lives and their arrested criminal.  I really don't know why this movie did so poorly in the American market.  It is a really good action movie, with a really good plot (now, you just get one or the other) and has great visuals.  While it's not on Netflix, you can get it from Redbox.  I'm not sure if the codes still work, but you can try typing in BREAKROOM or DVDONME for a free rental.  If it works, you can use each card on all of your cards.  Not a bad deal.   

January 28th-February 3rd Training

Monday: No running. Skipped my first run because I felt badly and later on went to bed with a fever, chills/sweats and sore throat.  I even had to miss the last 15 minutes of a two-part Criminal Minds episode.

Tuesday: No running. Went to the doctor and tested positive for the Type A flu.

Wednesday: No running.

Thursday: 2.6 miles (6:44); 5.4 miles (6:44)

Friday: 5.3 miles (6:46); 9.2 miles (6:35)

Saturday: 9 miles with 4.74 miles of 1:00 on/off (5:32).  Goal was to slowly work into this and if I felt good, run harder towards the end.  Felt pretty drained on the first two but I felt better as the workout progressed.  Afterwards, I felt like I probably averaged 4:40ish pace on the fast part but I averaged a little under 4:25, starting out around 4:40 and working down to as fast as 4:12.  Hamstrings were tired on the last few but didn't redline. Pretty windy out; 5.1 miles (7:17)

Sunday: 14.2 miles (6:12). Was planning on a hilly 21ish mile long run.  Felt weak at the start and had to end it early because I was getting really dizzy and lightheaded.  Even had to walk home for about 1.5 miles, and I HATE having to walk. It takes way too much time and makes me feel like I've been completely defeated.  I guess my body was low on carbs from the hard workout yesterday and from fighting the flu. Who knows? Before crashing, I was running low 6:00 pace for a while and it felt super easy. The hill on Long Hollow squashed me and I felt like I was running well over 9:00 pace on Longview. I hate that hill; 5.9 miles (6:58)

Week Total= 56.6 miles. Originally, the plan was to get in the lower 100s with 16-20mx400m@5k pace with 1:00 jog and then a 6400m tempo run with 4x400m@3k and then I was going to cap it off with a 20 miler with 16ish in the 5:30s but the flu defeated that plan. I'm just surprised I got over it so quickly. I had the same thing  last February but had to take six days off and had a fever for five days. This time, I only had a fever for a day and was only in bed for about 12 hours (nearly 48 hours last time). I hate losing this week when I don't have a lot time but I'll take the super fast flu recovery. Next week, I'll see if I can work into the 100s with a steady long run, progression tempo and maybe some 800s at 5kish pace.

Friday, February 1, 2013

USA Cross Country Championships Predictions

The USA Cross Country Championships are tomorrow morning in St. Louis.  My plan for the fall was to run the Columbus Marathon in October, run the USA Cross Country Championships (obviously in February) and then start my Boston Marathon marathon-specific cycle a week or two later.  As you probably know, I got injured and ran the Houston Marathon about three weeks ago, so the cross country championships was out of the question. 

I was a little bummed the way it worked out and if the race would have been a week later, I would have given it a go.  Yeah, it would have probably been ugly, but it would have been fun.  In college, I was a headcase in cross country.  I hated the uncertainty of the exact distance and pacing, the change in course terrain and the idea that time was irrelevant.  I loved racing on the track.  You always knew where you were in your race, the pace you were running, etc.  As time goes on, I've gone from a data-obsessed time trialer to a pure racer, which is the essence of cross country.
Man, look at Matthew Kisorio's guns. He looks like he's on steroids!

But since I can't lace up the spikes, I can play armchair quarterback and make my predictions of what I think will go down. But before you think I'm an idiot, keep in mind, I won the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Prediction Contest.  That was one of my crowning moments in life but sadly, they didn't give any prizes. Before I make my predictions, I must say that I've always been disappointed that the United States has never made a truly stacked mens team.  We've had several stars go through the ranks but we can't lock them all into one race.  I understand people train in their own groups, it doesn't fit into their training plan, they are pursuing money somewhere else, etc. But man, if they stacked a team, I think it would make a lot of people excited about the sport.  

Onwards to the predictions of who I believe will make the team!  Hopefully all these guys will also compete in the World Championships next month, in Poland but I've learned not to keep my hopes up.

1. Dathan Ritzenhein, Nike Oregon Project.  I've always loved this guy since seeing him race in person way back when I was in high school.  He was tough, gritty and would always punish his body more than his competitors could.  Over the years, he's constantly had to battle through injuries.  But rather than giving up and finding a "real job" he's always battled back to run at a world class level.  He ran 2:07 in the Chicago Marathon this past October, but he's always been a very tough and gritty cross country competitor.  He finished 3rd at the World Junior Championships in 2001 (and maybe he really was the best "junior)", was a former NCAA Cross Country Champion at Coloroad and was the USA Cross Country Champion in 2008 and 2010.  This is his first race since Chicago but this guy is a gamer and I feel he will have no trouble winning tomorrow.

2. Matt Tegenkamp, Nike Oregon Track Club. Another tough and gritty sub 13 5k guy and the world's fastest ginger. He was a member of the Olympic 10k team with Ritz last year, and seemed to be on a different level than Ritz at the time.  He was also 5th at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in 2001.  In 2007, he was 4th at the World Championships in the 5k, which was really impressive at the time. This past fall, he was the US 20k champion and has been training at altitude in Colorado Springs for the last few weeks, and is a member of arguably the deepest and best training group in the United States, the Oregon Track Club coached by secretive coach, Jerry Schumacher..  Teg is from Missouri, so it will be somewhat of a homecoming for him.  However, I don't think he will take-out Ritz this time.

3.  Chris Derrick, Nike Oregon Track Club.  Chris is a Stanford grad and finished fourth at the Olympic 10k Trials last summer. He also had the second fastest US time in the 10k last year, with a 27:31.  While at Stanford, he had a 2nd and 3rd place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.  I have no idea what kind of shape he is currently in but with track season coming up and the fact that he is showing up at this race, he has to be reasonably fit.  Fit enough to snag third.

4.  Bobby Mack, Reebok.  This guy doesn't have the pedigree of the guys I've predicted above him, but he's had some success in cross country and has been racing very well lately.  He was a member of the 2010 World Cross Country Team, the 2011 USA 8k Road Champion and the 2012 USA Cross Country Champion.  He also recently won the BUPA Great Edinburgh XC Team Challenge.  However, I heard he just signed with Reebok, so if his spikes fall apart during the race, he may struggle to finish in the top 10.  That is, unless he wears these.

5.  Luke Puskedra, Nike Oregon Project.  I don't know a lot about this kid but I like his laid back attitude.  At 6'4", he's really tall for a distance guy but he runs it well.  He ran 1:01 in his half-marathon debut, recently beat Aaron Braun at the Houston Marathon and at Stanford finished 5th, 21st, 3rd and 6th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.  He seems to run well in the big races and with the Salazar effect, I think he will run well here.

6.  Elliott Heath, Nike Oregon Track Club.  Huge talent but is better suited for the 1500m-5000m range.  However, he did say he felt like he would be able to fight for the win, so he has to be confident in his fitness.  He was also the 2011 NCAA 3k Champion and a 10-time All-American while at Stanford.  


Alternate Predictions (too tired to fully type these out and since Mary and Kate are both asleep, I have free reign of the TV and XBox.

7. Jake Riley
8. Ben True
9. Scott Bauhs
10. Max King. I love this guy.  He races on the track, on the roads, on the trails, on the mountains, in marathons and ultra marathons and competes at a high level in all of them..  I'd love to buy this guy a beer one day. 

My 12k Dream Team

1. Galen Rupp
2. Dathan Ritzenhein
3. Matt Tegenkamp
4. Bernard Lagat
5. Ryan Hall
6. Lopez Lomong

Women's Predictions

1. Shalene Flanagan, Nike Oregon Track Club. This is a bit of a no-brainer here.  Was a 2012 Olympian in the marathon and was the bronze medallist at the 2011 World Cross Country Championship and the 2008 Olympic 10k.  I can go on but I don't think anyone will beat her this day.

2. Neely Spence-Gracy, Hansons-Brooks. Neely was an 8-time Division II National Champion while at Shippensburg University.  Since joining the Hansons, she's been on a hot streak.  She ran 32:16 for the Zatopek 10000m (and was also the first American women to win the race), finished four seconds behind Molly Huddle at the US 5k Road Championships and has a PR pr of 15:27.  I almost predicted her to finish third, but feel the move to the Hansons will help her here.

3. Kim Conley, New Balance. This girl had a heck of a race at the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 5k.  She did not have the Olympic "A" Standard going into the trials and was not a favorite to make the team.  However, she had a heck of a kick to squeeze out a 3rd place finish by 4/100 of a second and got under the standard by 21/100 of a second.  Her 5k PR is 15:14 and she's been drastically improving since her college career at UC-Davis.

4. Deena Kastor, Asics. At 39 year old, this lady has been a high level performer for quite some time.  She was the silver medalist at the 2004 Olympics in the marathon and won the 2006 London Marathon in a PR of 2:19:36.  While she's been focusing on the longer races for the past several years, she also has some wheels with PR's of 14:51 for 5000m and 30:50 for 10000m.  Last year, she finished 6th in the Olympic Marathon Trials and was hoping to make the Olympic Team in the 10000m, but had to pull out of the Trials due to an injury.  This is a bit of a gamble pick here, but she is planning on racing the Los Angeles Marathon this spring, so I feel she will be pretty fit.

5. Emily Infeld, Nike Oregon Track Club.  Man, the Nike OTC looks like they will be racking up here.  While running for Georgetown, Emily was the 2012 Indoor NCAA Champion and finished 2nd later that year in the 1500m at NCAA Nationals.  Nearly five miles of racing may be a little long for her, but she has a great training group and should be ready for the task.

6. Sara Hall, Asics. Sara is the wife of marathoner Ryan Hall.  Sara ran for Stanford and my roommate had a crush on her and even made a collage of her for his computer background.  Sara won this race last year, was a seven-time All-American while in college and competed in the Olympic Trials in the steeplechase last year.  While she won last year, I feel this race is more competitive this 
 year, so she will drop several spots.

Alternate Predictions

7. Sarah Crouch
8. Delilah Dicrenzo. The song "Hey There Delilah" was actually written about her
9. Mattie Suver
10. Magdalena Lewy Boulet

My Women's Dream Team

1. Shalene Flanagan
2. Kara Goucher
3. Desiree Davila
4. Amy Hastings
5.  Lisa Uhl
6. Janet Cherobon-Bawcom