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Monday, July 29, 2013

Netflix Movie Monday

My entire life, I've always lived in a redneck state.  Usually you can tell if you live in one if you recognize anyone on peopleofwalmart.com, and living in one of the most obese states is a dead giveaway.  I spent the first 18 years of my life in South Carolina (I'm surprised they aren't in the top 10 for obesity), went to college in Arkansas for four years of undergrad and a year of grad school (#3 most obese), moved to West Virginia for a year (most obese), before heading back to Arkansas for two years and finally settling in Tennessee (#7) for the past fives years. Who knows where I will be down the road but hopefully I'll permanently plant my routes somewhere out West someday (surprisingly, Alaska is the most obese Western State.  Guess they need a little less ice fishing and a little more cardio).

http://timiacono.com/wp-content/uploads/12-04-03_obesity_by_state.jpg

But out of all the states I've lived in, I liked West Virginia the least.  Girls were so bad there that I literally cut my own hair because I just didn't have anyone to impress.  Fortunately I only spent a year teaching fifth grade there.  But this week's movie portrays a crazy, trashy family in the film The Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.

http://www.chud.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/white-logo-lrg.jpg

The Whites are portrayed as America's last outlaw family and are a bunch of Appalachian mountain dwellers, addicted to too many drugs, who share a lot of tap-dancing and ruckus causing.  The documentary follows the family for a year and interviews many of their relatives and townsfolk.


At first you find a lot of humor in the film because the people that are presented don't seem like real life. They are like people you see in some cheesy dark comedy who doesn't really exist.  But then you start to realize they obviously have no chance to become contributing members of society and their children will most likely follow the same path, which is a sad thing to realize.

http://michiganjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/tumblr_lu419rDeQl1r0w390.jpg 

The documentary is an interesting watch not only to see an interesting character study but to see that people really live that way.  It also makes you never want to go to West Virginia.



 

July 22nd-28th Training

Monday: 8.5 miles (6:48); 5.6 miles (6:55)

Tuesday: 6.8 miles (7:35); 8.6 miles with 4x60m sprints. Legs were trashed, so instead of doing hill blasts, I did standing start sprints on the track with 340m jog rest.  The principle with hills and track is the same but the hills are better for developing power/strength and the track is better for raw speed/turnover. 

Wednesday: 10.6 miles with 8 miles medium. Did two of my 3.95 loops again with a .1 mile sprint at the end.  Averaged 5:35 pace with lap splits of 22:34 (5:47, 5:42, 5:45, 5:20) and 22:13 (5:29, 5:32, 5:39, 5:08). Misery Index was 10 degrees cooler than last week (144), which helped a good bit.  My first lap was slower than last week, which I think is a result of the slightly cooler weather.  With medium efforts and slower, I've found that I get rolling a little more quickly in hotter weather, most likely due to my muscles getting warmed up much more quickly. But this session felt much smoother than last time and I wasn't dreading the finish like last week; 6.6 miles (7:00ish)

Thursday: 8.3 miles (6:52); 7 miles (6:45)

Friday: 10 miles (6:56); 4.5 miles with 4xhill blasts (7:01)

Saturday: 12.2 miles with 4 mile race.  Ran the Goodlettsville Classic for the fourth year in a row.  Ricky Lupp wanted me to pace him through the first mile in 5:15 and then work down from there.  I took him out a little too fast in 5:04 and slowly broke away the rest of the way running 5:04, 5:00 and 5:05 for the next three miles to finish in 20:13. I felt really smooth and kept it right around tempo effort.  Normally I run positive splits on this course, with a slow last mile, so today was a good sign; 3.1 miles (7:30)

Sunday: 20.1 miles (6:11).  I reversed my normal 20ish mile route so I could get the flatter side first and then run over some rolling hills and a long downhill finish at the end, after my legs get pretty fatigued.  Felt really good on this run and was rolling low 6:00s a few miles in.  The hills were a little bit tough and my legs felt a litlte banged up at the end, but overall, I felt really smooth and was happy I didn't have any fatigue from yesterday.  Of course the mid 50s dew point helped as well.

Week Total=111.9 miles. I thought this would be my last backsliding week but I feel like I'm slowly getting my fitness back now.  For the first half of the week, my hamstrings were insanely tight and I was pretty trashed on Monday and Tuesday.  I also had some insomnia during the week, which always happens for a few dayswhen I ramp up the training some and my body breaks down faster than expected.  I also got my yearly physical this week and since it's free, I try to add as many things to the blood test as I can.  Iron Panel=ok; TSH=ok; Vitamin D=ok; Testosterone=LOL

Monday, July 22, 2013

Netflix Movie Monday

The movie Super has been popping up on my Netflix screen for the past few weeks but I haven't really give it a second thought.  When reading a thread on mma.tv (sort of like the MMA version of the letsrun.com message board.  They play it smart by having a main, MMA board and a random board. Letsrun, take notes!) Anyway, a few people suggested it and even though my running buddy Vance said it was just "ok" I gave it a shot.

http://getbent57.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/super.jpg

Super is a black comedy that stars Rainn Wilson as Frank, who is somewhat of a boring, unappealing guy who lives a life of dissapointment.  In fact, his two best fondest memories are getting married and directing the cops to a purse snatcher, which he depicted in a crayon drawing that hangs on his wall for inspiration.

http://cdn3.artofthetitle.com/assets/resized/sm/upload/81/ku/d6/ul/s_frank_drawings-0-1280-0-1024.jpg

His wife gets addicted to drugs and ends up leaving him for Jacques, played by Ted Towse Kevin Bacon.  Frank goes into a depressive state until he feels he is chosen by God to become a superhero.  He accepts his divine role, with the goal of defeating Jacques and getting his wife back.  He heads to a comic book store for some motivation and tips on superhero efficiency and how to best fight crime.  At the comic book store, he meeets Libby (Ellen Page) who helps him begin his quest.

http://www.geekpeeks.com/wp-content/gallery/super-images/2.jpg

Frank dubs himself the Crimson Bolt, starts off with a homemade suit and a wrench and is focused on laying down the whooping on drug dealers, pedophiles and even line-cutters.  It doesn't take much time until he becomes a media sensation and is first viewed as a violent maniac until he starts to win the public's favor.

Eventually, Libby finds out Frank's secret and joins in as his sidekick, Boltie.  Together, they work together to keep the streets safe while planning the ultimate attack on Jacques and his group of drug dealing thugs.

http://cdn5.brusimm.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Ellen-Page-in-SUPER-still-110.jpg

I actually enjoyed this movie a lot of and it feels like a indie and more dark version of Kick-Ass (one of my favorite movies). The violence is over the top and it's pretty graphic and dark, so don't watch it with the mom or junior.  It had me laughing most of the time, has a good soundtrack and is a movie I will be able to watch again and again.




July 15th-21st Training

Monday: 7 miles (7:02); 5.6 miles (7:07)

Tuesday: 10.8 mile medium progression. (6:10).  Plan was three miles at 18:30, 17:15, 16:00.  Ended up running: 18:10 (6:07, 5:55, 6:08), 17:05 ( 5:45, 5:44, 5:36), 5:24, 2:41 (1/2 mile).  Another run cut early.  Misery factor was about 150.  The first two sections were really easy, the first fast mile was on a long stretch with a headwind and on the second mile, I just couldn't get under 5:20 pace without pushing too hard.  It was insanely hot and I got tired of pushing.  Wanted to be a little tougher because I've quit every harder day this summer a little early, but whatever.

Wednesday: 5.8 miles (7:06);  9.5 miles (6:45)

Thursday: 8.1 miles (6:52); 6.9 miles with 4xhill blasts (7:03)

Friday: 10.5 miles with 8 miles medium. Misery index was 154.  Goal was to run at least under 5:50 pace with a max average of 5:35.  Instead of my regular down-and-back route, I made it a four mile loop (well, 3.96).  The loop has a long, easy 1km hill and a long gradual downhills with a couple other smaller climbs and drops.  Ended up averaging 5:37 pace with loop splits of 22:32/22:16.  I felt really good the first loop and the last two miles were pretty tough because the heat was killing me again (I'm turning into a sissy).  I was pretty tired at the end and it was the first run this summer where my shoes were flinging sweat.  I wanted to stop early but had to stop being a pansy; 4.2 (7:02)

Saturday: 6.8 miles (6:52); 7.1 miles (7:06)

Sunday: 16 miles (6:10).  Ran 9.6 miles at 6:20 pace and then into a short fartlek of 10x90s on/off at 5:20/6:20.  Averaged about 5:15 on the fast and low 6:00 on the slow.  The slow was incredibly easy and it felt like I was walking.  However, the fast portion got tough toward the end and ran 5:25 pace on two that had hills.  My endurance isn't bad, but my power is poor right now.  I actually did nine of these because I suck at counting.  Freaking hot and lost eight pounds of sweat; 4.1 miles (7:19)

Week Total=100.2 miles.  Good volume but I'm still getting more out-of-shape, which is expected.  With my P.E. teacher knowledge, I figure this next week will be my last week of losing fitness before I slowly get it back.  I had a ton of trouble with the heat the first part of the week but feel like I'm getting used to it more.  Next week, I'll shoot for 110ish with a medium run,may run a four mile race as a tempo and then shoot for a 20 miler.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Marathon Base Training

With my peak race of the season over, I'm taking some time for recovery and relaxation (well, starting about four weeks ago).  Different people practice different methods when it comes to taking time off. I saw the other day on the Hanson's Twitter that they stick somewhat to the "take one day off for every mile of the race" rule.  So for a half-marathon, that would be 13 days and  a little over 3.5 weeks for a marathon.  Some coaches like to keep their athletes pretty busy and not far away from workouts.  Rather than getting out of shape and building back up, they feel you should recover a little bit and then start stressing the body again.

In college, I would usually take about a week completely off, then run every other day for a week before gradually getting back into the mileage.  It seemed like the perfect amount of time and by the end of summer, I would be somewhat fresh and in-shape enough to be ready for some hard workouts.  Some of my Polish teammates would take six weeks completely off.  One of them would stay in shape by running very little but playing three-on-three basketball, but full-court and playing to 100 by ones. It sounds stupid but they were always ready to roll by Nationals. Enough rambling.

Before planning my base training schedule, I had to choose my "peak" marathon.  My goal is to get in shape to run under 2:15 so I can knock out the "A" standard for the Olympic Trials.  My 63:12 was a huge confidence booster because I've always considered myself a better marathoner than half-marathoner.  I love the stubborn patience and rhythm the marathon requires.  I've always had trouble making moves in shorter races but with the longer stuff, I beat people by outlasting them. I don't really make moves or try to shake people off, I just run hard and hope they eventually fall behind. There's more rambling.

But in choosing my marathon, I was looking at two different races.  The Twin Cities Marathon is on October 6th and they are hosting the U.S. Championships as well.  I've heard that a lot of good guys plan on racing it, so the competition would be very good.  The U.S. only prize money is very generous and with a lot of the elite marathoners running in the World Championships, Chicago and New York, a guy like me would have a shot at going home with a fatter wallet.  But with the race being only 3.5 months after the Half-Marathon Championships, I wouldn't be able to take much time off and would have to jump back into hard and structured training by early July. It would also mean that I would have to do all of that hard training in the heat of summer. No thanks.

The other marathon I was looking at was the California International Marathon on December 8th.  The course is point-to-point, has a net downhill and if you don't have a headwind, it can be very fast. It's advertised as one of the fastest marathon courses in the United States, but I've heard it's somewhat deceiving and has some tough little climbs.  A December 8th race date means that I can take some generous time off and start my marathon-specific training in mid-October, when the weather is nice and cool.  Prize money isn't too deep but I'm more worried about time for now.

After thinking about it, I felt like CIM would be the best pick.  It may not be as deep as Twin Cities, but I don't mind that in the marathon.  With a less deep field, you are less likely to be sucked into too fast of a pace, which hurts you in the shorter races but buries you in the marathon.  And since I plan on racing Boston next year, it works out perfectly.  I have a little over four months in between them, which is a little closer than I like, but manageable.  And since CIM has so much downhill running, I have to train to be ready for that.  And what destroys people in Boston?  The downhill running.  My CIM prep will help lay a strong foundation for my Boston training and should help much race much better there.  Daniel Tapia had a heck of a race at Boston this year and he also won CIM a few months before that.  So hopefully, I will be able to carryover that good training as well. So CIM it is and I'll have the Houston Marathon as my back-up.

But back to my planned base training.  I'm didn't take a lot of time off, just took two weeks of really low volume with mainly easy jogging.  My goal is to lose some fitness, recover a bit and be prepared to start hard, fast workouts in the middle of August.  It's not fun trying to constantly hold your head above water all of the time.  I like getting out of shape because it's motivating to see my times improve once I get back on the upswing.  I'll probably jump into a few local road races, run some moderate progressions and some shorter, steady runs.  I'll also work on my strength through short hill sprints and plan on hitting the weights some as well.  A basic week may look something like this:

Monday: Couple easy runs
Tuesday: Couple easy runs with hill sprints
Wednesday: Easy run; 9-10 mile progression run, broken into 1/3 a little faster than easy, moderate, fastish; weights
Thursday: Couple easy runs
Friday: 8-10 mile moderate run; Easy run; weights
Saturday: Couple easy runs
Sunday: Long run; weights

I'd like to work up to around 120 miles a week by the end of the cycle and hopefully will be somewhat fit by the end of it.  I expect to lose a good bit of fitness the first few weeks, before slowly clawing back.  When it comes to my own individual training I don't look at this phase in the traditional sense (it's different with the runners I coach and probably for most runners in general), which is a time to increase your aerobic system and lay a strong foundation for the season. I look at it as a time to physically and more importantly, mentally recover from all of the hard work from the prior season. I'll do much faster workouts later, more mileage later and dial in mentally later.  There's plenty of time until December.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Netflix Movie Monday

This week's pick would probably be just as entertaining if the actors didn't speak at all.  You have to leave your brain at the door and enjoy the movie for the explosions, action and a who's who of old-school action stars.  Sure, Expendables 2 won't win any major awards and doesn't have much of a plot but it's a pretty fun movie.

http://www.midnightreview.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/The_Expendables_2.jpg

Mr. Church (Bruce Willis), brings the Expendables back again for a mission but the mission goes bad when one of the guys is murdered.  The Expendables decide they don't like that and go on a mission of violence and revenge.  And when things are turned against them from time-to-time, Chuck Norris randomly shows up to save the day (would you have it any other way. 

http://www.ifc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/011812-chuck-norris-expendables-2.jpg

This is pretty much Expendables 1, with a little more action and the addition of Chuck and "The Muscles from Brussels", Jean-Claude Van Damme.  And if your lady friend objects, tell her that Gale from the Hunger Games is in it.  Just don't tell her that he dies.


July 8th-14th

Monday: 5.6 miles (6:57); 5.5 miles (7:30ish)

Tuesday: 6.3 miles (6:57); 3 miles (7:06)

Wednesday: 8.8 miles (6:27) Plan was .7 warm-up, eight rolling miles at 5:50ish and then finish up the rest of the 9.6 mile route easily.  Got in just under 4 miles in the mid/upper 5:40s and then said "enough of this."  Too freaking hot outside.  I was pretty thirsty from the get-go and didn't feel like overdoing this.

Thursday: 10.2 miles. Plan was 3 miles at 18:30, 17:15, 16:00.  Ended up running 18:08 (5:58, 6:06, 6:04), 17:04 (5:41, 5:41, 5:42) and 5:58 for 1.16 miles (5:18 pace).  First two sections were much easier than expected but the heat really started getting to me on the last portion.  The pace wasn't particularly hard and it felt easy on my legs, I just felt like I was pushing harder than I needed to.  It's early on in training, so I didn't feel the need to continue; 3.4 miles (7:27)

Friday: 10.6 miles (6:22); 3.4 miles (7:32)

Saturday: 7.5 miles with 4xhill blasts (6:39)

Sunday: 9.6 miles (6:41).  Since I had two shortened sessions, I was planning on getting a gradual 16 mile progression.  I felt like crap from the get-go, so I just ran easily.  I did some lunges and drills before the hill sprints yesterday evening, so maybe the legs are just beat up a bit.; 6.8 miles (6:51)

Week Total=80.7 miles.  Happy with the volume but didn't like ending my three workouts early.  But it's still super early and I don't like forcing things at this point in my training.  I guess I'm like an almost potty trained kid.  I could probably poop in the toilet if I wanted to, but didn't mind going in my pull-ups this week.  

Spring Training Cycle

This was a long training season and I'm glad it's over so I can relax for a bit.  It actually goes back a lot further than that.  After last year's USA Half-Marathon Championships, I took little-to-no time off as I had plans of running the Columbus Marathon in October.  I got hurt in September for about six weeks, then jumped right back into hard training for the Houston Marathon.  After the Houston Marathon, I was going to take a break but decided to run the Boston Marathon, so again, it was time for hard training.  I continued the hard training all the way until this year's half-marathon championships.  Looking back, I haven't had a few weeks of base training since my knee injury over 1.5 years ago. But here's a quick synopsis of my training, post Houston Marathon. 
  • After the Houston Marathon, I took off a couple of days and then did about 2.5-3 weeks of base-type training. I knew I would lose some fitness, but I wanted to give my body a break and rest, before resuming the harder stuff again.  When you;re new to running, base training is about building up your aerobic engine and you'll be able to gain new fitness.  When you're a little bit closer to your lifetime peak fitness and have a big mileage background, base training is more about recovery and rest, and doesn't need to be as long because you can handle longer periods of increased mileage and intensity.
  • February-Early March: Mileage was around 110, not counting the week I had the flu and another week with a bad virus. Focused on getting some of my speed back.  I hadn't done some short fast stuff in quite some time, so I ran hard fartleks, short-fast tempo runs/progressions, track intervals and got in some easier long runs. And by doing some of the faster stuff and not much marathon-type training, I was able to let my "marathon shape" rest and recover some as I worked on another aspect.
  • Early March-Mid April: Mileage averaged around 110 again with a couple of weeks over 115.  I was very fit at the start of what I planned to be my marathon specific phase.  I was going to spend the last six weeks before Boston working on my marathon fitness, specific to the Boston Marathon course.  The downhills are what makes the course so difficult to attain (well, that's what I hear) so the focus was on building my body for that.  Instead of using my usual 1.77 mile mostly flat road for my marathon workouts, I had hilly fartleks and medium runs planned, tempo runs with uphill and downhill finishes, fast downhill strides at the end of some of my workouts, had a couple marathon-specific sessions planned on a course with very long, slow hills and was doing heavy-weighted (at least for me) eccentric squats at Techa's Globo Gym (squat rack/bench in my garage that I bought from some some dude with a lot of assault rifles that I found on Craigslist).  I guess I got overly ambitious because my body was fried, so I cancelled Boston and went back to base type training for a couple of weeks.
  • Mid April-May: Mileage was 110-115ish.  Did a couple of weeks of speedwork again, ran the Country Music Marathon as a long, fast run, then relaxed for a bit for a few days so I could recover.
  • May-U.S. Half-Marathon Champs: Mileage around 110ish.  DNF'd the 25k Champs, and those last few weeks, I tried to focus a little more on half-marathon pace, while staying in touch with my speed.  Going into the race, I was a little bit worried that I hadn't done enough extensive stuff at HMP.

Random Thoughts about Training
  • Before the half-marathon, I knew my body was getting tired and needed a break.  I had a short break after the marathon, over trained, recovered, sort of over trained again, followed by another recovery.  I knew I was in really good shape in March/April and the last upswing was about getting back into the shape I was just recently in, rather than building new fitness.  It's much easier to go from over trained to fit when you were fit a few weeks ago.
  • I didn't have any flat out races from Houston to the half.  I anticipated having to run all-out at the Murray Half-Marathon but had plenty left in the tank. I was also wanting to run all-out at the USA 25k Champs, but I barely made it halfway.
  • I also only had a couple of workouts that I had to dig down pretty deeply and didn't really have anything insanely hard the last few weeks of training. As I learned in college, digging down too often is detrimental to training.  A lot of people are scared to run too many races, yet they kill themselves in workouts week-in and week-out. I feel that's much worse because it's like racing 1-2 times a week. Maybe I could do that if I did nothing but run, but who knows?
  • My last long run was seven weeks out (20 miles) and I had very few this season.  But normal long runs aren't much of a stimulus for me anymore and I don't need to do many to run fast for the half-marathon and under.
  • It seems like that 63:12 came out of nowhere, but too many things were aligned in my favor.  The weather was good, the course was fast, there were tons of good runners and I stuck to my race plan.  When I think about it, I feel like if I time-traveled to the Duluth race in early April, I could have run 63:30-63:45.  
  • Laying off all of the races helped me out with my peak.  My last race was on Memorial Day, which was at a tempo effort.  Last year, I ran races like five out of the last six weeks before the race. Most of those were at 10k type effort, so they weren't too hard but time would have been better spent working on my half-marathon fitness.  I also did too much speedwork before last year's track 5k in early June, so I think that's why I struggled so badly over the last few miles at this race last year.  My speed was great, but I didn't have that half-marathon/marathon gas tank that I had this year.
  • I was really lazy on my 10 second hill sprints and my core type training this season.  But something new I added was low-rep, heavy squats.  I only did them about once every 10 days and was pretty lazy about it.  I would do a set, take out the dog, do another set, get some water, etc. I wanted to ease myself into it this year and even though I was a bum about it, I moved up a good bit in weight, going from about 135 lbs. my first session to closing out near 200 lbs. near the end.  This season, I was running my 400s 1-2s faster per rep than I was in the fall, so maybe the squats helped out with that. 
  • Lastly, this was my first full year of "sky blue collar" running.  Last year, I had to do my hard workout days during my lunch break and would get in my second runs right before and/or after xc/track practice.  On track meet days, I'd have to  get my mileage in two mile blocks over 3-4 hours.  I would say that pretty much qualified for blue collar status.  Now, I can get in my workouts at home and get in a real warm-up and cool-down. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

USA Half-Marathon Championships, Round Two

All season long, the USA Half-Marathon Championships in Duluth had been the focus of my season.  While the season didn't go as planned (went from focus on speed, to focus on Boston, to no Boston), the goal has always been to be in my peak shape for the half-marathon.  Last year, I finished 15th in 65:01.  If the 2013 field would have been comparable to the 2012 one, I wanted to have a shot at the top 10.  After the field was released, I felt like there was no chance that would happen.  There were over 150 guys and I was seeded outside the top 30 with guys like Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahaman, Mo Trefah, Bobby Mack, Josephat Boit, Shadrack Biwott, and Brent Vaughn gunning for the win.  I felt like there were about 15 guys I had no chance to beat, so my goal was to finish inside the top 25 with a top 20 finish being an "A" type performance.  But to be honest, you can't control or realistically choose your desired place.  All you can do is lay it on the line and see where you stack up at the end.

http://www.american-trackandfield.com/atf/media/k2/items/cache/f63fb9fc1888bac2143cb5d1de3bea0f_XL.jpg

With a rough placement goal, I was focused a little more on my time. The race gave out time bonuses based on your overall time.  Sub 67 got you $250, sub 66 got $500, sub 65 got $750, sub 64 got $1000 and sub 63 got $1250.  I felt like I would at least run under 65, with a focus on sneaking under 64 if the weather would play nice and I ran well.

But what would a major race be without some drama? A few days out, Kate woke up screaming bloody murder.  I laid down beside her, wondering why her breath smelled so bad.  Only it wasn't her breath but the pile of puke I was laying in.  I freaked out, ran into the bathroom and hosed down.  Two days later, Mary was sick with it.  This was like a repeat performance of this past December when Kate got the norovirus from Mary's mom, then gave it to Mary who then gave it to me.  It was the Tuesday before the race and I knew I would probably be puking before I left for Minnesota and probably wouldn't even make the trip.  I slept downstairs and only got about two hours of sleep because I was so stressed out.  I then did what any rational person would do and headed to Wal-Mart for some gloves, face masks, Lysol and a gallon of bleach.  I waged chemical warfare on the house and anywhere I would walk, I would spray a can of Lysol in front of me before advancing.  Wednesday came and I was fine.  I felt like a million bucks Thursday morning and I was on my way to Duluth.  I felt like if I made it until Friday, I would be in the clear (normally it takes 24-48 hours after exposure for you to get sick with the norovirus).

 http://coedmagazine.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/ztop3.jpg?w=600&h=350

Since I don't feel like typing all the details leading up to the race again, I just want to say the people putting on the race do a world class job of making you feel welcome and taking care of their athletes.  Everything is organized, you know exactly what was going on and what you need to do and they make sure you are well taken care of.  I've run a ton of races and while a lot of them did an excellent job executing everything, no one has done as well as Grandma's the past two years.

The Canal Park Lodge, where I stayed.  It was right on Lake Superior and behind an extensive greenway system


Finally, Friday night arrived and it was time to head to bed.  With a 3:45am wake-up, I went to bed a little before 9:30pm hoping it wouldn't be thunderstorming in the morning, which seemed to be the likely scenerio.  The last thing I wanted to do was to head back to Hendersonville without a race in my legs.  I woke up at 2:45am and I couldn't fall back asleep, so I was up and at it.  Normally I'm not a morning person but with a 6:15 race start, I needed all the help I could get.  I ate a Powerbar in my room, chugged some water and then headed downstairs for some coffee and a couple bowls of Lucky Charms. Yeah, it doesn't sound like the meal of Champions, but pre-race, you want to eat easily digestible food, not whole wheat stuff that sits in your stomach and can potentially cause some stomach issues.

http://condensedstew.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/lucky-charms.jpg?w=400

At 4:30am, it was time to load the bus for the ride to the start.  As fate would have it, Josh Whitehead sat beside me.  I always viewed him as somewhat of an arch nemesis due to his wind drafting ways.  But I ended up feeling like a big jerk because he was a super nice guy with a good head on his shoulders. He definitely seems like a family man and is still setting PR's at 35 (had a late start to running). But he did stick true to his tradition of wearing fashionably challenged clothing with this pair of shorts.
 http://cdn.sneakerreport.com/assets/Boa-Galaxy-Split-Shorts-3.jpg


While it looked like the thunderstoms weren't going to be an issue, I got off the bus to a light rain and temperatures in the lower 50s.  Two weeks before, I was running in temperatures in the 80s/90s with dew points in the mid 70s while in Florida and in Tennessee, it's always pretty hot.  Needless to say, it felt like wintertime again and I spent about thirty minutes sitting in a chair with a towel around my legs, shivering.  With about 35 minutes until the gun, I warmed up for an easy 2.5 miles or so with Saucony teammate Jake Krong, who sounds EXACTLY like Jay Bawcom, husband of US Olympic Runner and former college teammate, Janet Bawcom.

http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/news.hjnews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/19/219c1400-ff82-11e1-98dc-0019bb2963f4/5054fcc93f780.image.jpg
He sometimes likes to race with a moose.  Guess he couldn't bring it to Minnesota because you're only allowed one carry-on

After finishing my warm-up, I went to strip down to my singlet and shorts and check my gear bag in before the bag truck took off.  I had plenty of time, but the volunteers did a great job of yelling exactly how many minutes you have left until it left.  With about three minutes until the truck left, I was on my way to turn it in before some lady yanked it out of my hands, gave me a mean mug fit for Compton and snarled that she would take it and that I should have taken it earlier.  I wanted to tell her that I could definitely smoke her in the 20 meter race to the truck but she probably would have decked me.  I remarked to someone that I was glad I didn't have a naggy wife and I was off for a few fast strides to get ready for the start.

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/nwa-1.jpg

I took a spot a on the starting line a couple of rows deep and finally we were off.  Last year, the pace felt so easy at first, but it was too hard and I paid for it later on.  I knew with such a deep field, that people would shoot out even faster, so I made a conscious effort to put on the brakes and catch a lot of the fools later. I'm pretty sure I covered the first 1/4 mile in under 70 seconds, was behind a ton of guys and was probably close to 100th place

http://acourseinlife.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/tortoise-beats-hare-6.jpg

Each mile marker in the race was marked with a tall stack of balloons.  That way, you could see the mile marker from a couple hundred meters away.  I went through the first mile in 4:44 and was probably just outside the top 50, with the leaders splitting 4:21.  I wasn't running with anyone and was just doing my own thing as I slowly moved up the field.  I could see a huge pack of about 20 guys or so about 5-10 seconds ahead of me but I knew it was too early to try to catch them.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-IiTlFrX0DH4/T4G1LNZmepI/AAAAAAAAA7A/moqZZhgtQNk/s320/patience_grasshopper.jpg

At 5k, 10k, 10 miles, there was a clock displaying the overall race time and I went through the first 5k in 34th place at 14:48 (the results now say I was 30th, but they took out all of the guys who dropped out).  I was gaining on the big pack and a little after five miles, I caught it. There were probably 15-20 guys in it and I recognized Andrew Carlson, Joe Moore, Zach Hine, Daniel Tapia, Craig Leon, Sergio Reyes and Tyler McCandless.  There were also a handful of guys from the Boulder Running Company team, but I didn't know who they were.  All of the guys I knew were super tough, so I decided to latch on the back of the pack to calm my nerves a bit.  At first I wanted to pass them, since technically, I was running a faster pace when I caught up, but there was plenty of racing left to do.

I went through 10k in 19th place in 29:54, which was technically a 10k PR.  I feel like I can run under 29:00 but I've never run one on the track and never really raced one one the roads either.  At this point, I was towards the front of the pack.  I had trouble running in the back because I'm terrible at running in packs.  I clip heels, stutter-step, bump into people, etc.  I guess it's because I do almost all of my training alone, so I never get a good feel for it. I could tell the pace was slowing a bit and I was feeling pretty good, so at eight miles, I left the pack in hopes someone went with me.

But I was alone with no one ahead of me close enough to chase down.  It didn't last long as Sergio, Tyler and some Boulder Running Company guy with a bouncy running motion and foamy armpits caught up (Andy Wacker).  It was a bummer at first because leaving someone then being chased back down can be a swift kick to the gut.  My old college self would have been mentally broken, but my patient old-man self tucked in and hung on for the ride again.  I went through 10 miles in 48:23.  I didn't know what that meant, I just hoped it meant I was running sub 64:00 pace.

We were now in Duluth and instead of a pack, we were strung out in a straight line.  There was a short hill (for you Hendersonville folk', it was about the size/grade of the hill by the dog park at Moss Wright Park) and if you know me, you know I hate uphills.  My butt is weak and I have tight hips, which doesn't bode well for me on the inclines.  Some short guy took off up it, and I was hoping the group didn't follow suit.  Luckily, they all let him go and I actually was second up the hill.

At this point, I started to get feel the fatigue some and noticed my right arch was hurting.  For some reason, my right glute is a lot weaker than my left and in longer races, it gets pretty worn out and when that happens, I start to overpronate a lot, which puts a lot of stress on that side. It's funny how when you get tired, you start to notice all of the other negative things you should be immune to.  But I quickly reminded myself to stop being a pansy because I only had about ten minutes of racing left and stuck with the group.

I continued to follow them and got a boost of energy as Andrea North, girlfriend of Jake Krong, cheered me on.  We ended up catching Bobby Mack and Ahmed Osman but rather than let us go, they tucked right in.  Tyler threw down a surge followed by the foamy armpit guy.  I was feeling pretty decent at this point, so I debated making a long drive for home.  I took a quick look over my shoulder and noticed about 10 guys right on my butt.  I'm a terrible poker player but I feel that if you are at a table with about ten other guys and you aren't sure how good their hands are, you don't raise the pot, you call and see what happens later.  So I decided to relax and wait.

L to R: Andy Wacker, Me, Tyler McCandless, Ian Burrell, Carlos Trujillo, Bobby Mack
With a little over 1/4 mile to go, Ian Burell and Bobby Mack shot off and then a couple other guys passed me.  I passed those two guys at the start of the homestretch with Bobby and Ian putting a nice gap on me.  I looked over my shoulder and saw the others were fading, so I tried to chase down Ian.  I started gaining on him but ran out of distance at the end (and who's to say he wouldn't have blasted me if I pulled up beside him).



When I crossed the line, I was really pumped.  I had a heck of a race and ran a huge PR.  I didn't know what place I was in or what my time was, but knew it was in the 63:teens.  I called Mary and she watched the finish line camera and thought I may be in the top 10.  When I heard Tyler say he was 11th, I knew I had it.  I was in minor shock because I thought I had NO shot at finishing that high.  It was a satisfying end to an up-and-down season (technically up-down-up-down-up).

Normally I'm trashed after half-marathons but my finish gave me a little bit of mojo and I got in a couple of miles with some of my Saucony teammates.  And I don't feel like typing out all of the post-race stuff again, but I got a cool award at the awards ceremony, hung out a bit with the other athletes and then headed back to Minneapolis to catch my flight.


Glass I got for 9th place

The medal on the left is for finishing 9th.  The one on the right is the finisher's medal
Since I got to the airport early, I took a bus to Mall of America, which is insanely huge.  A little before midnight, I was finally back in Nashville and on my way home.  Not only were Kate and Mary waiting for me, but so was the norovirus, which unleashed it's fury on me the day after I got back.  Thanks to getting sick with it last year, I now have an aversion to ranch dressing (ate chicken wings right before I get sick).  If I now have an aversion to Casa Vieja, I'm going to be extremely upset.  It also caused me to miss the Peachtree 10k but to be honest, I didn't care that much and was happy to start my off-season, take some time off and lose my 4-pack.



Random Thoughts

  • I don't know how I pulled this off.  I felt like my training was less than ideal and I'll have to dissect it and figure out how it worked.  I'll make that the subject of another post.
  • I should have pushed the pace when I thought about it a mile or so out.  Maybe I would have completely died and finished outside the top 10 but I have really bad leg speed and was able to run away from several guys the last 200m.  Maybe that meant I had too much left, who knows? 
  • Everyone who finished ahead of me has run under 28:30 for 10k.  I want to try a track 10k next year, so that gives me good motivation. And I believe other than Shadrack Biwott and Josephat Boit (both recently obtained US citizenship), I believe everyone who beat me has represented the US before.
  • I only get about 1-2 massages a year because life is expensive but I got one the Tuesday before the race.  Normally, I limp out of bed and have to lean on the stairwell when I walk downstairs in the morning but after the massage, I Moonwalked out of bed and tap-danced down the stairs.  I really feel like it helped me for the race
  • Normally I get about 25-30% of my calories from junk food but in the last couple of weeks before the race, I cut it down some and entered the race leaner than I've been all season. Maybe the 1-2 pounds I lost helped and I still feel I'm about five pounds over my ideal racing weight.  
  • I also feel being out of school the past few weeks has helped.  More time to sleep and get in better quality sessions.
  • I normally check my watch a lot during races.  I only have my individual mile time showing and when I hit the next mile marker, I hit the split button so the watch goes back to 0:00.  I find that way makes me really focus on each individual mile and forget about the bad ones.  During a race, I'll check my watch 2-3 times a mile to help me get through it.  In this race, I didn't check my watch until I was in the last mile.
  • Not sure if being self-coached and training alone is a help or hindrance but it seems to be working well for me and it's all I have available to me right now.  

2012 vs. 2013 splits  Weather was about 5-10 degrees warmer in 2012
1.  4:41-4:44
2. 4:50-4:50
3. 4:49-4:45
5k: 14:50-14:48
4. 4:55-4:49
5. 5:02- 4:56
6. 4:50-4:46
10k: 30:12-29:53
7. 5:01-4:57
8. 5:04-4:53
9. 4:59-4:52
10. 5:05-4:50
10 miles: 49:17-48:23
11. 5:07-4:50
11.9: 58:52-57:23
12: ?-4:47
13:?-?
Final: 65:01-63:12

Monday, July 8, 2013

Netflix Movie Monday

It's always my mission to find a TV show that both I and Mary likes.  That way, I can watch it with her, rather than stay up for an extra hour or two to watch it on my own and go into chronic sleep deprivation mode.  I've been wanting to start Friday Night Lights for a while and finally got around to it last week.
http://flavorwire.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/friday-night-lights-show.jpg
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it but I was actually sucked into it pretty quickly (and Mary liked it as well, to boot).  I feel like I'm sitting back watching high school drama, but hey, it's rated at 8.3 on imdb, so it can't be too bad.

The show centers around the Dillon High School football team in Texas.  You'll quickly learn that in Texas, football isn't just a sport but a major religion, with most of the townspeople being fundamentalists.  Coach Taylor is the new coach in town and quickly feels the pressure as he is expected to do nothing less than compete for a state championship.  He does his best to fulfill his role as coach without selling his soul and sticking to his morals.

The athletes on the team see their role as football players as being their main focus and destiny in life.  But like all high schoolers, they struggle with many issues, such as: performance enhancing drugs, "regular" drugs, bullying, trying to fit in, economical issues, etc, etc.

I'm surprised I like it so much because I only like a few of the characters.  I'm also surprised the show did so poorly with ratings, despite performing really well with critics and winning a lot of awards. But I've enjoyed most of the first season so far and look forward to finishing it.


July 1st-7th Training

Monday: 5.5 miles (6:42)

Tuesday: 4.4 miles (6:59)

Wednesday:  No running. Felt like catching up on Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones was more important than catching up on mileage.

Thursday: 8.4 miles with 5k race in 15:53.  Ran with Drew for about 3k, then Koko caught up.  Threw in a hard 600m and gapped him a good bit.  Garmin watch band broke in the last mile, so I had to go back for it. I ran this race hoping they would have a gift card to a running store because I need some new shorts, but they didn't. At least I got some free Chuy's.

Friday: 7.5 miles with 5k in 16:40ish. Don't remember the time.  Ran with some high school kids for a little over two miles and then left them.  Gotta defend my work town!

Saturday: No running. I hate running in the rain and it rained all day. Yeah, I was a sissy, but it's the off-season.

Sunday: 9.5 miles (6:24)

Week Total: 35.4 miles. Lowest mileage week in a long time.  I was planning for around 60 miles or so, but was mentally lazy.  Training hard is physically taxing, but moreso mentally.  I needed a break and don't really have any desire right now, which is fine for this point of the year.  Next week, I'll get in a couple moderate runs and shoot for around 80 miles (if it doesn't rain).

Monday, July 1, 2013

Netflix Move Monday

I never thought I'd find a movie that would be as "bad" as Troll 2, but I came pretty stinking close with Miami Connection, which was written by and stars YK Kim.  It was filmed in 1987 but quickly disappeared.  Kim spent a cool million on the film and expected it would explode into the national scene, only to be told it was trash and one of the worst movies ever.  And it did disappear, until someone bought it on Ebay for $50, which got the movie rolling to its cultlike modern-day status.

http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/underwire/2012/11/miami_connection_lede.jpg 

The movie is about a rock band/group of orphans/University of Central Florida students who are all Taekwondo blackbelts.  I guess during the 80s, people still thought it was an effective means of self-defense and hey, it looks cool.  
 http://twi-ny.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/miami-connection.jpg

The band seems to be a decent group of guys and even their rock songs sing about being friends for eternity.  They seem to be happy, positive people until a group of ninjas takes control of the drug scene.  Dragon Sound's (the name of the band) next act is to defeat the ninjas, thugs and everyone else involved.

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/121108011845-miami-connection-film-still-story-top.jpg

You wont find anything Grammy winning in this flick, but you will find tons of terrible acting, cheesy special effects, embarrassingly catchy 80s songs and a Korean guy named Chang (who could've guessed) laying down some whoopings. 


June 24th-30th Training

Monday: 9.6 miles (6:37); 5.5 miles (7:21)

Tuesday: 7.5 miles (7:08); 4.5 miles (7:29)

Wednesday: No running. Came down with the puke bug I spent last week trying to avoid.  Better now than last week.

Thursday: 4.6 miles (7:13)

Friday: 3.9 miles with strides (7:05). Was planning on some 400s, but legs felt really drained.

Saturday: 4.2 miles.  Started a workout, but legs didn't feel like moving.

Sunday: No running

Week Total: 39.8 miles. The plan was to run Peachtree but I decided to go ahead and start my break.  Mentally, I'm pretty worn out and my body got pretty jacked up with the sickness. Not sure how many miles I will run next week, but I'll get in some easy mileage and may do a 4th of July race for fun.