Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tucson Marathon

I will apologize ahead of time for my lack of writing skills and lack of total recall. Some things I just don't remember while on the course because they just really don't matter. Here we go…………As some of you know, I was rocking along in my training with huge improvements since my last marathon in April. Solid progress in a 5k, 10k, ½ marathon and 10 miler in that order gave me great confidence 5 weeks out from Tucson. Now I just need to prove myself in the long one. What I didn’t realize was that I injured myself in the 10 miler on 11/08 and further aggravated it by running a 5k the following weekend. That being said, I had only put in 120 miles in the last 5 weeks and my last 20 miler was October 31st.

My goal immediately after the 10 miler was a 2:49:55 based on McMillan race predictor, but Sunday morning I had no idea if I could finish the race, much less break 3:00. I was constantly icing, Kinesio taping, epsom salt soaking, whatever I could do to nurse the right calf and left ankle back. The ankle cleared up fine, not the calf. In 5 weeks, I did a total of 2 runs on the road. The remaining 102 miles were on the TM. My two longest runs during that period were 16 & 13 and both on the TM.

Got in to Tucson Saturday morning. Other than my Stick being confiscated at security because it was considered "a club", the flight in was fine. I momentarily considered testing the club theory when I snatched it back from the NTSA woman, but cooler heads prevailed and I reluctantly handed it back to her. I stayed at the marathon hotel so I checked in, went to the expo, bought a smaller Stick, compression socks and some pain relief gel then back to the room for a nap. Hit the pasta dinner with about 75 other runners at about 6:00 and was back in the room by 7:30. Got everything ready for the morning including the compression socks that I bought at the expo. Considered wearing them, but opted to pass since that was uncharted territory for me. Still brought them along race morning just in case I changed my mind. Hit the sack about 8:00 and fell asleep watching Gladiator.

Up at 4:10, a couple cups of coffee, dressed and out the door about 4:45 to grab an early bus. Figured I would ride out to the start and take a nap. While sitting in the bus and just a couple minutes before it was to leave I realized I didn’t grab my Powerade. Argh! The driver informed me no time to go get it, but there would be another bus. Headed back to the room and caught the next bus, no problem. Nice heated bus and no one sat next to me. I think I was the only person sitting solo on the entire bus. Was I the only one that didn’t shower or what? It could have been the game face, because I put the headphones on, no smiling, no talking, just focusing on the task at hand. That okay, gave me room for my drop bag full of all sorts of stuff. We got to the start area about 6:00 so I just chilled with everyone else for about an hour other than my quick trip out to the porta potties. At 7:30 it was off the bus, strip down to shorts and singlet, gloves. Left the hat and arm warmers in the bag. It was probably 45 or so at that point, not bad at all. We would be fine once we took off.

In line to take a leak one more time, out the door as the National Anthem was starting, make my way towards the front with a lot of "excuse me, pardon me, excuse me", etc. and then we were off. I screwed around too long and didn’t get into position that I wanted. Just behind the 3:15 pace group as we crossed the starting matt.

The miles came as follows:

6:24 (too fast, slow down)
6:36 (better)

Some pretty good drops in elevation here. This was cake, but I knew I need to settle down.


Somewhere her between 6&7 the leaders where coming back from the "out and back" part. I was just hoping the "out" wasn’t too far away. It wasn’t. The leader was a guy that I noticed walking around at the start. He had only about half of an arm on the left arm. An inspiration when I saw him. Even more so now that he was leading the race.

6:47 (headed uphill here – 86 ft ascend)
7:38 (190ft ascend here - GMaclin’s pace band had 7:35 for a 2:59)
13:15 (missed mile 9 marker, 6:36 pace for 2.01) 10 miles

At this point we turned onto the highway which would be one long curve to the left for 14 miles. I was with a pack of about 5 other guys with whom we had al been jockying for position. We discussed goals a bit and all were shooting for sub 3 so a couple of us made to comment to work together. We were moving along pretty smooth and strong at that point. I could feel my right calf a bit, but I wasn’t too concerned. Maybe just nervous?


1:27:28 @ 13.1 marker/clock. I knew that a 2:49 was not in the cards, but thought that I would lke to hold this 6:30ish pace as long as possible, see how the body hold up. I was okay with a positive split if it happened, but hoped for something better. Starting to get a little frustrated as we are running into a head wind. I was hoping it would ease up, but not happening. Ditched the gloves somewhere in this area. Me and another guy, Shawn from Pasadena, 42, moved to the front and then slowly pulled away. We had a pretty good conversation over the next mile or so about various including him and his son racing the Baja 500 this past year. Cool! I could tell he was pretty competitive and that was good for both of us.


Somewhere in here around 17 or 18 we passed the early front runner that I mentioned above. No idea what had happened, but he was walking at this point. Never saw him again. Felt bad for the guy.


Things were good until about here for me. The wind was getting in my head and on at least two instances I remember yelling out some obscenities about it then quickly apologizing to my running mate. He was pretty much of the same opinion. Not sure how bad the wind was, but many of us that discussed it thought steady gusts in the 15-20mph range. No idea really other than the Weather Channel predicted 20mph when I checked. The wind blew pretty much from about miles 10-24. The rest of the story is ugly. Shawn and I had seen a 3 guys 100-200 yds ahead of us and said we would catch them, one at a time. From about 14-20 we did that. Of course, after them, there were more, 3 that I can remember so the same thing, go get ‘em. The first two we caught. The 3rd wasn’t so easy.

14:37 (missed the marker again - some had blown over with the wind)

By the 24 mile marker my legs were toast, endurance was gone. I told Shawn to go get him, I had nothing. He reluctantly left and went after the guy. It was the only racer that I could see ahead of us, but I had no idea at the time, maybe top 20-25? I watched Shawn surge ahead after the guy while convincing myself to hold on. From mile 20 on I was just telling myself "see how fast you can do this one, just one more", of course until the next mile marker. No way I was really going to quit, but the quads were really not working for me. As I saw Shawn pass this guy, maybe 50 yards ahead of me at this time I thought fvck, now I need to go get him. It was like a turtle passing another turtle, but I eventually caught him with maybe a little less than a half mile to the finish.

7:34 (141ft ascend here, slow motion, I think a walker may have passed me here?)
7:26 (1.01 avg pace 7:20)

Miles 25 & 26 were pretty tough, maybe worst ever for me. I felt very light headed and the possibility of passing out entered my mind. I could see a few spectators around so if it happened, I'd be okay? Okay, so I passed him, Shawn’s up ahead and will beat me handily, I’ve got no problem with that. He was the better man today. Then my legs just want to quit. I had hit a top speed of 10.1 mph on mile 26 , but must have slowed to 8:30 pace or so once I passed by the guy. Couldn’t keep it up. He went right back ahead with about a qtr mile, damn! Okay he got me, uh no, you can’t do that. I’ve got more in me than to roll over this close. We made the final turn onto the straight away which went from pavement to deep sandy type dirt. Maybe 50 yards. I could hear the announcer "we’ve got a race" and I turned it back on to pass him and edge him out. I crossed the finish line ahead of him by maybe 2 seconds, and then bit the dust.

1:37 final .2
2:57:45 Garmin, 2:57:42 chip time 26.27 on the Garmin

I collapsed to my hands and knees just beyond the finish line and could not get my self up. I crawled a bit struggling to get up, but it wasn’t going to happen. A couple of ladies from the medical team helped me to my feet and walked me around. Shawn was right there waiting. I think he finished 25-30 seconds ahead of me. We were both pretty satisfied at that point. Not sure what the conversation was, but as the medics walked me away, I heard him say 8th and 9th out of 1,246. We finished 1 & 2 out of 110 in the 40-44 AG. I’ll take it. It was not the 2:49:55 I originally wanted, but all things considered, I was pretty proud of the time despite the ugly finish. It was a top 10, something I would never have dreamed about 2-3 months ago, certainly not last year when I was still dreaming of breaking 3:20 for a BQ. Actually went to the searchable results page last night while waiting in the airport and I didn’t have to search for my name, it is right there on the Leaderboard.

I want to give a shout out to Smick. Met her after the race walking around. I was looking around for a blonde wearing pink and thank goodness for printed names on our bibs or else I would missed her. I enjoyed the conversation and I'm sorry the day didn't play out as well as you had hoped. Also, didn’t know that Spinderella would be racing, but I believe I saw her hanging out near the back of one of the buses just before the start. I hope you had a great race.

A PR by 19:42 and a lot to build on for the next one. Sunday’s race gives me some confidence that the 2:49 is possible on a great weather day with a good training cycle.

So Boston is next with a coupe of halves before then. In my training this past cycle, I kept trying to get up over 70 miles a week, but couldn’t get there. A tax practice, DW with her own career and 4 kids keep us busy. 60 & 61 were my two high mileage weeks back in October. My thinking last night was to just stick with it. Longer tempo runs, get all my 20-22 milers in and stay in the 50-60 mile range for 12 weeks. If I can’t get a 2:49 with that, I probably never will because I’m not getting any younger and life isn’t stopping for me any time soon.

I want to thank all of you guys from the 3:20 thread that have been a huge support to me and have had all the confidence in the world in me. Thanks to those of you from the Boston threads that have chimed in as well. It truly means a lot to me. Shawn, while not a RWOL guy, still want to point out that he was a huge help. We pushed each other pretty good out there and it helped immensely. There was a lot of distance between runners up towards the front. Finaly, DW will never read this, but I still want to acknowledge her here and say thanks as well. She thinks I’m crazy at times for "doing this to yourself", but she is my biggest fan! Couldn't do it wihtout her.

Take care and thanks for taking the time to read this piece.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Comin' Home!

Well, week one of my 16 week cycle came to an end and I am already disappointed in my training. Due to the previous weekends race, my training group opted out of speedwork last Tuesday and then I missed the track workout Thursday due to business travel. 0-2 in that department and now I need to taper this week for a half-marathon. Overall my mileage was about 6 miles less than I had hoped for, but I have to remind myself that it is more than what I am used to doing and the 16 week cycle give me 4 more weeks than my previous 2 training cycles. I just need to be sure that I'm up to full speed so to speak in a couple of weeks.

I'm racing in the Roswell Turtle Half-Marathon on Labor day and it will be somewhat of a homecoming for me. I grew up there and left after graduating from high school in 1985. I haven't run in Roswell, NM since track in the 8th grade. And better yet, last year's winner is an old high school buddy. He doesn't live there but apparently still runs and comes back to compete in the some of the local races. He won the overall in 2008 with a 1:26:36. This is a very small local race that has a full, the 1/2, a 10k and a 5k. Total participation last year was only about 200 for all of the races.

So what's the importance of this race? Nothing really other than it's in my hometown and I might get the opportunity to race against that high school classmate. I haven't seen him since my 10yr reunion. Seems to be the current theme as just last week I had dinner with a friend in San Antonio that I had not seen since that same night. Hopefully on this occasion, he'll see a lot more of me than I see of him. I don't plan on wearing rear view mirrors.

Probably the real importance of this Labor Day jaunt is that it may be a good indicator of my current racing condition. While I was and still am feeling pretty good about my recent 5K time, I'm a bit concerned about my endurance. Race predictors indicate that I should run a low 1:2X:XX half, but I'm not too sure about that. Shooting for a 1:25:XX and anything below that will be icing on the cake. Anything above that will be disappointing, but it is what it is right? If I don't hit my goal, it just means that I need to work that much harder to reach my ultimate goal.

And finally, with this race comes the last time I will taper until the Tucson marathon. I have a few races including a 5K, a 10K and a 10 miler before then, but I've already told myself that I will race those on whatever I've got in the tank at the time. I don't plan on altering my pre-race week for those races. After all, I must keep my eyes on the prize.

Still haven't decided on the shoes for Monday. I just recently received the new Brooks Launches and they look awesome, but I haven't run in them yet. I'm planning on a tempo run this Tuesday so I guess I'll get a test drive, but I'm sort of leaning towards the Adidas Adizero Manas. They are supposed to be good for up to half-marathon distance, but they just seem so light and lacking of cushion. Concerns me a bit for that reason. I do get to run in a Gilbert's Gazelle's racing singlet for the first time. That's exciting. That is my training group that has really helped me in taking my running to another level. Hopefully I don't fall flat on my face and they ask for it to be returned.

Well, that's it for now. Work has totally consumed my life these last few weeks and will do so until October 15th, the extended filing time for federal tax returns. Uggh! This time of year kicks my ass more than any run that's for sure!

Take care!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's in the books!

Okay, the anxiety has passed. I now can say I have a 5K PR in the books. Of course I had my previous 5k time from '06, but who want's to go around posting a 24:23:7 as their 5K PR when they are training for a sub 3:20 marathon?

Okay, so on to the race. It was a pretty nice Saturday morning for a local 5K/10K. It was really nice that the race was started and finished at the neighborhood country club, so just about a mile awas from home. That being said, I drove to the race and warmed up from their with some buddies from my running group. They were all running the 10K and leavng me a the sole sprinter for the day. I could tell from the looks of the crowd assembling that the competition would be weak overall, but with a few young cross-country runners. One of the guys in our group that was not running is a 10K master and he coaches a local private school team. He told me he had a 5 minute miler runnng. I knew I wanted a couple of fast guys, but would this guy be too fast?

We took off on a straight away and very soon I glanced at my Garmin to see we were doing 5:10 pace. There was one other high school XC runner with us. At that point I decided to ease off just a bit and settled into a 5:50 pace. The other two while slowing down a bit, widened the gap on me to about 50 yards. Well, turns out they were both too fast for me, but they was close enough for a while that I thought "just maybe they'll fade". But for most of the run I had more thoughts of "when will I start to fade". The first mile split came in at 5:47. 13 seconds faster than planned, but I thought that was okay. The only way to go sub-18:00 was to go sub 6:00 splits. Mile two marker seemed like it took forever to come around, but finally it did, 5:49. Mile three was nothing more than a brutal attempt to hold on with what I had left. A 5:47 split of which I wasn't aware of until after the fact. I don't remember looking at the Garmin again for pace or time other than total distance at mile at 2.65. When I hit the 3 mile marker I tried to shift gears one last time, but I think it felt a lot faster than it really was. I crossed the line in some severve pain, but seeing my time of 17:44 made it feel just a little better. The funny thing about this race was that other than for a very small stretch where there was a turnaround in a cul-de-sac, I never saw any runners other than the two in front of me. It was almost as if it were a 3 person race.

I was truly surprised as I didn't know if I would be able to go sub 18:00 or not and it was my "everything goes perfect" goal. Well, I guess everything went perfect. So for the rest of the day I relished in my success, but told myself, that's it. Enjoy it today and back to work tomorrow. I've got bigger fish to fry and Day 1 of training starts Monday, August 24th. 16 weeks of training for the Tucson Marathon.

The nice thing about having a valid and current 5K PR is that I can now base my runs on a more accurate number for pacing rather than "I think I can run a XX". This should help me dial in more precisely on my training paces.

I finsihed the week of running this morning with an easy 15.16 at 8:22 pace and 44 miles for the week. While the mileage the last 4 weeks have all be below 50, my local coach wanted that for purposes of having fresh legs to start the 16 week cycle. No going back now, it's been done and he got what he wanted.

I had originally told him that I wanted to focus on a 3:05 goal for Tucson. He told me last week that he predicted a sub 18:00 5K and when I texted him yesterday, his response was "I told you I know my students, let focus on 3:00"......doh! While I'd be lying to tell you I didn't have desires to go sub 3:00, I didn't expect the training to be for a sub 3:00. It will just add to the pressure of expectations. Makes me nervous, but it's a good thing. A motivating factor.

So Day one tomorrow calls for an easy 8 and then track work on Tuesday. Looking forward to a couple of good weeks of training before a local 1/2 marathon on LaborDay in my hometown of Roswell, NM. This will be another fitness test for me. I think a half will give me a better idea if a sub 3:00 is possible or if the 5K time was just a perfect day for me. I haven't lived in Roswell since 1985, but checked out last year's results and a high school buddy of mine won it in about 1:26. I'm hoping he's there this year. Haven't seen him since 10yr reunion and he allways used to get the best of me as a youngster. It's my turn. I guess my goal will have to be sub 1:25 or sub whatever _______ does?

Until next time, take care!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The anticipation.......

Well, it's gonna happen this weekend, finally a 5K that I can run. Seems like I've had something going on about every weekend that there has been one locally (not that there are many), but not this time. Will I be ready? What is my goal? How will I pace myself? Even if I know my goal pace, can I hit it? Geez, this is just more than I can stand. And I haven't even considered what I'm going to wear??? Okay, I didn't say that. I believe a training group singlet, the West Texas Gazelles will be my choice of top. Shorts of course and my super fast Adidas Adizero Manas.

No matter what I decide on pacing strategy or goal time, one thing is for certain, I am almost assured of a PR if I can cross the finish line on two feet. I've only run one 5K before, 2006, and my time was 24:33.7. Glad they got that .7 on there.

Seriously here, I'm concerned about my pacing as I don't have 5k experience. I'm worried about two things right now. 1) Going out too fast, and 2) going out too slow. Other than that, I feel pretty good. Sounds a bit silly, but I am concerned that in effort to go low I may not be able to contain myself at the start and end up falling off pace in the end. My other thought is that if there is not any quality competition there, I could possibly go out too slow and end up having a little gas left in the tank at 3.1. The reason for that concern is that I live in somewhat of a small town and you never know what the participation will be like or what fast college kid will be in town for the weekend. As much as I don't look forward to it, and quite honestly even dread it just a bit, I hope I'm hurting like a mofo at the finish line. I don't want to cross the line and later think to myself that I left a little out there on the road. I don't want a finish-line picture with a smile.

One of my favorite quotes is by Steve Prefontiane, legendary Oregon State runner from the 70's......"the only good race pace is suicide pace and today looks like a good day to die". I wish that I was confident enough to go out and do that, lay the hammer down, but I don't know if I can. I just hope I don't die and fall short of my expectations. More importantly, the expectations some of my friends have of me for this grand event. Truly a supportive group of great guys and gals from the RWOL 3:20 thread, but perhaps a bit more confident in me than I am? That's okay because I think they will help me to push harder when I'm pounding the road Saturday morning.

I'm really hoping for a couple of strong runners to be there that I can chase or at least "race" with. I don't care about where I finish overall or in my AG. Those would be nice, but I'm more concerned about my time. Where do I stand physically and what can I expect in the future based on my present condition? That being said, I need a couple of young bucks up front. A rabbit. Even if I don't catch him, her, them, whatever, just as long as they push me to my limits.

My goal, uh, goals? Let's get that over with now. A) 18:00, B) 18:30, C) 19:00. I think that 18:30 is possible, but would be tough. An 18:00 would require one hell of a day for me. Everything would have to go right and even then I'm not sure I'm capable. Again, then inexperience has me a bit uncertain of what to expect. And while a 19:00 would not be too shabby, I think I would truly be depressed if I went anywhere above that based on my previous training runs.

On to the rest of the week, the last before my official Tucson training starts. My coach asked me to drop my mileage down to the 40-45 range to be sure that I had some fresh legs for the beginning of the 16 week plan. Honestly, I haven't seen it yet, but should be getting a copy any day now. It will be coming from Gilbert Tuhabonye of Gilbert's Gazelles in Austin, TX. My weekly training group is being trained by him in a roundabout way and I am now having him develop my plan based specifically on the Tucson course, my past performance and my desired goal time of which I am not yet sharing with the you.

I should hit somewhere in the mid-40's this week and then it will go up from there with what I have been told will be several weeks in the mid-70's. This training cycle will be the longest that I have ever had in my short marathon career as well as heaviest in mileage. In my previous two marathons most of my weeks were in the low to mid 50's. My first doesn't relly count because that was a few years back and I only trained to just finsh under 4:00 which I did. I'm a bit excited about this plan as well as concerned. It's always a challenge from a time standpoint to get my running in, Core Performance training, and still have time for work and the family. Right now work is brutally busy so it leaves me a bit anxious as well as excited.

Well enough said for now. I'll be back this weekend and you'll find out if this if this turns into the "Fantastic 5K" or the "5K Fiasco".

Take care and thanks for dropping by!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Here we go!!!!!!!!

Post number one. Numero uno! I don't even know where to begin or why, but it seems to be the next logical step in my evolution into a runner. I've run for a number of years, but most of those were sweating out two or three miles that felt more like six or seven a couple times a week. It was not until a few years ago that I dialed long distance running my first marathon (Austin '06) and not until after hitting 40 that I started taking it seriously.

Something about 40 made me start looking at life from a different perspective. I started to think about my own mortality and lack of personal accomplishments. Having already run one marathon just for the sake of running one, I decided running the Boston Marathon would be my next personal goal. I would need to knock of just over 21 minutes from my first marathon to qualify at under 3:20:59. Tough I thought, but doable. In April of 2008 I decided to pick up the running again and increase mileage for a while. Eventually I built a base of mileage and trained for the Rock-N-Roll Arizona marathon using the Pfitzinger 12/55 plan and ended up qulaifying on my 1st attempt in Phoenix in January '09 with a 3:19:04. Wow, what a feeling of emotion that came over me when my wife Gina joined me just beyond the finish line. To top it off, the Steelers won the AFC Championship that night by defeating the Ravens and we wathced it from the hotel room while recovering.

I had already decided before RNR AZ that if I qualified I would wait and run Boston in 2010. Well, within 24 hours I had changed my mind and 2009 was looking like my next race. So a couple weeks of recovery and I ramped up the training again for 12 weeks, the last month of which was horrible due to work, but I knew I could at least go and finish the race.

What an experience! For a guy that had run two marathons, a couple of 10k's and a 5k, Boston was larger than life. I knew it was big, but I didn't know how big. I ran it, pr'd with a 3:17:24 and became officially hooked on the race. Running down Boylston street towards the finish line was again an unbelievable feeling and sense of accomplishment. The fans all along the course were unreal and the screaming girls of Wellesley were amazing. The whole Boston exerience is just difficult for me to put into words.

So fast forward to today and this is were I am. I thought I would have moved on to my next goal, a 50 mile race and then eventually a 100 mile ultra, but Boston has got a hold of me and for the time being I want to keep going back to be part of this great tradition. I want to leave it all out on the course with the best race I can run. I want to have something that my kids talk about with their kids when I am gone. Something that their dad did that they can be proud to say they saw him do something he truly loved and took great pleasure in doing. And maybe, just maybe something we can someday do together?

I'm just a couple weeks out from starting my trianing plan for the Tucson Marathon which is on December 13th and then Boston is next on April 19th, 2010. My goal for Tucson is 3:10. If I hit that, then I'll shoot for 3:00 in Boston. Not sure it's possible for me to cut that much time in that short of a period, but I won't know I don't try.

That's enough for now. I'll post about my training plan, progress and whatever else happens to be on my mind over the next several months. In addition, I will introduce my fund raising attempt that I hope will benefit from my new-found love of running.

Take care!