Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful for TWO PRs today! A TTRR

Today was our local Turkey Trot - A nice 3 Miler (NOT a 5K) that is in its 31st year and draws over 3,000 people. Lots of walkers, dogs, families, etc. But also high school cross county teams running together for fun and the usual serious runners. It is a fun race, and the course is flat (and fast!) No chips, no scoring or placing. So Mr. G would be my official time.
Last night I pulled up my race spreadsheet to see what my course record is. This is my 7th time running this race since 1999, but I found out that my best time was 22:07 from 4 years ago! That is only 7:22 pace, and I have been under 7 for 5K's lately, so despite my post pikermi fatigue, I realized I'd better go get that course record! Not only that, but I haven't run any other 3 mile races since High school cross country, so this could be a true lifetime PR for a 3 mile road race!
So I plotted to go out at 7:30 pace and then pick it up and felt pretty confident!
This morning broke cold, but clear. Near record lows for the area - temps in the low 40s. Perfect for racing! I got down to shorts and a T and did a nice long warmup. Went two whole miles - I don't think I've ever done such a long warmup, but I wanted to get in a few more miles, and work out the kinks since I haven't run since Sunday's Pikermi. Plus it was COLD and the warmup really, well, warmed me up!
Bang! Off we went, and I felt good. Too good apparently as G showed me a 6:23 after about 0.2. Eased off a bit, and found a comfortably fast pace. But I was still in the 6:40's through half a mile. So I readjusted the goals, and decided I could go for sub 7 pace. Went through mile 1 in 6:46. Yes! Feeling good!
I got to run with and pass a couple guys from my running group, and that helped with the motivation. Mile 2 I was staying strong, and went through in 6:53. Coming into mile 3 the pain was picking up, and the legs were getting heavy, but I still had some acceleration in me. It was an out and back course and I was still going by slow walkers with only 1/4 mile to go! Huge parade of people! A really fun festive environment.
Finished strong with mile 3 in 6:40 for a final time of 20:27! (3.02 miles) PR by 1:40!
I want to talk about the feeling in that first minute after the finish line. It is a combination of complete exhaustion as I gasp for air, along with a happy sense of accomplishment. Of course there is pain, but there is also elation. As the pain fades and the endorphins continue, it is one of the best feelings. Everyone around is going through it as well, even if we aren't talking, there is a sense of camaraderie and shared awesomeness. I don't feel I'm explaining it well enough, but I love that minute.
That 2nd PR, you may ask? Well today's 5 miles put my 2010 total to 872 miles - over last year's total, making it my highest year since 1981, so that's an age-group PR for yearly miles. Boo-yah!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am ready for some well earned feasting!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crossing the Country to Run Some Cross Country - A Race Report

Hi Loopies! Well I had a fun-filled weekend, and I finally have enough time to get it down on paper, with pictures, splits, and everything.
In case you're new here, let me say that this was the final race of a busy autumn. After an injury had me out of running for 6 weeks in the summer, I had about 6 weeks to get back in shape, because I had 3 pikermis in 4 weeks! Four weeks ago was a triumphant 1:42:41 at the LA RNR. Two weeks ago I topped that with a 1:41:55 at Loopfest. And now I had one more race at the Tampa X-Country Half Marathon.
This was part of my annual get together with some high school teammates and friends. We play lots of golf, eat, drink, play poker, and always finish with a race. I flew out from LA Thursday and got introduced to the new X-ray process at security. Let's just say that somebody back there got to see the full bangle. Friday and Saturday I put in 36 holes of golf, and cemented my position as the worst golfer of the bunch. Add in plenty of rich food and alcohol and you could say my pre-race planning was not optimal. But I was having a great time.
Sunday awoke with mostly clear skies, a predicted high of 82, and I had some trepidation with my cereal. Well, we were going to have fun. Time was irrelevant, I kept telling myself. But of course, I wanted to beat my last time. Realistically, with the trail running and the heat, I planned to stay near 8 minute pace and just try to stay relaxed and see what happened. Of course there was also the competition, as I had 4 friends running with me, and as the favorite, I kind of had to beat them all. Two of them are at about the same speed as me, so we planned to run together for a while.
So we get to the course, in a big beautiful state park. Lots of trees and meadows. The course is almost all trails - some single track, mostly double. Dirt, grass, lots of roots, but no rocks. Lots and lots of turns and small ups and downs, although no major hills, unless you live somewhere flat - like Florida. I was excited to get to meet another loopster, and I managed to find catchowder before the race started. Not much time to talk but we got a pic. I must add that she seems friendlier and nicer in person than her somewhat more cynical loop persona. (And I love funny cynics) But then that's what people said about me too. Wish we had more time to talk  after the race, but I had to get going and catch a plane.

So, race time! I am going to steal Dave Schultz's RR style and go mile by mile:
Mile 1 - 7:54: About 170 people start the half on an asphalt road, and after about 1/4 mile we thin out enough to get on the trails. I am running with K and M, both of who started too fast last year, only to have me pass them in mile 11. This year they vowed to hang back with my pacing help. Garmin says 7:15 early and we ease off and try to relax. Crowded, but not too, as we hit the trails.
Mile 2 - 8:18: Hmm. Feels harder than that. I guess the trail running makes it slower. Still with K and M. Trying to not go too fast. I let them lead for a while.
Mile 3 - 8:04: Really enjoying the trails and scenery. So fun! Feeling good.
Me, M and K

Mile 4 - 7:48: A woman passed us here and we ran with her for a while. Then I hit a downhill stretch and took the lead, and started going after the next runner. I felt good, and said what the hell, let's push it for a while. K and M let me go, and I must admit I was thinking, "good, I can make a break and then they will never catch me. Bwahahaha!" Competition is evil.
Mile 5 - 7:53: Still feel good - reeling in runners, pushing the pace a bit/
Mile 6 - 8:04: Ditto
Mile 7 - 7:55: Still feel good. I am under 8 minute pace and thinking I can break 1:45. I love trails! Is that a smile?

Mile 8 - 8:20: Oh crud - what have I done? Breaking out of the trees, the rest of the race would have a lot more of the open meadows and sunlight. It's getting hot. Suddenly, I am content to stay behind runners and not pass them. The legs are getting heavy. My mojo is fading.
Mile 9 - 8:03: Still hanging on with a couple of other runners. Revising my goals to finishing without walking.
Mile 10 - 8:52: Stopping at the water breaks now, and there was two in this mile. Still moving OK, but wary of the last 3 miles. Take my one Gu.
Mile 11 - 8:40: Taking it one chunk at a time now. Over this rise, to that tree. Everyone else seems to be having the same issues. It is hot. Only a few people passed me in the last few miles. I think of the people doing the marathon, some of whom I am passing. Sounds miserable.
Mile 12 - 8:27: Feeling OK. The wheels haven't fallen off yet. Very thirsty. Still running though. Feels a lot slower.
Mile 13 - 8:35: OK, I'm going to make it. Garmin is over 13, and I see no sign of a finish. What I do see is long stretches of fine white sand that I have to run through! Anger is good motivation and I know I'm almost there, so I keep plugging, even passing some people.
A photographer and crowd noise appears! I throw up a victory pump!

I get to the finish in 1:50:19 (13.41 miles). Considering the heat and the trails I am very content with that. My buddies finished at 1:57 and 1:59, and two more behind that. Later I found I got 5th in my age group, and 32nd male. Top 30 won a thermos. Oh well.
After refueling, drinking a few gallons, and taking use of the open air shower, I felt much better. And I thought of catchowder out there for an extra hour! Ugh. Heard stories from my buddies of woods pooping, and people falling in the mud. All in all, I really loved the race. Soon we had to head back and get ready to go. Six hours later I was on a plane and heading back cross-country. Mission accomplished.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Loopfest part 2 - cause I got more to say

Picture this. You're at a party and you're chatting with Zamgirl about her awesome marathon. Then you turn to your side and talk with running chick about getting to watch a race filled with your best friends. Then you grab some awesome home made cookies from Slake and watch her goof around with Greg and a bunch of loop kids in the back yard. Then maybe you turn and chat with senior runner or atombuddy about the race they ran together, or peek in on sfschas who is working the room like nobody's business, handing out Yuenglings. Then you spend some time with the awesomeness that is mildsauce, who is not quite as crazy in person, but has an artist's gift with facial expression, and thankfully does not make up nearly as many words while speaking as when she is writing. Then maybe you listen to evansjamie talk about finishing her FIRST pikermi, or bask in the real glow of Alice's 600-watt smile. Throw in the pleasure of meeting loop spouses and hearing other sides of their personalities. A little musical interlude with a master violinist and hostess. Look around and there's more loopers - King Coffee, Junblack, ShaunP, Erhead, everywhere you turn. It is head spinning! I feel like Tron entering the laptop and actually entering the mythical Loop. But it is real. Like going to a wax museum full of celebrities, but not only do they come to life, but they tell you they are your best friend.

That's what this weekend felt like.

And it just makes me want to meet all you other guys who weren't there: Ritz and Sara and Dave Schultz and Texas Dan and oh I could go on and on.

See ya.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Loopsterfest and Marshall University Pikermi RR

Well, there's already been lots of gushing, and there will be more to come, and I'll just say it's all deserved. The Loop has created a community like no other, and when we get together it's just magical. Outsiders may not understand when we say we're flying across country to meet a bunch of strangers we met on the internet. But we know. We're meeting up with some of our closest friends - the people we "hang out" with every day - the people who share our passion, understand the craziness, know what it means when we break PRs, or suffer through downtime, or celebrate just finishing your longest run ever. I was incredibly happy, emotional, and just kind of astounded at how amazing and just FUN this weekend was. After finishing my race, I had a huge runner's high, and sharing it with all you folks and seeing you finish was just crazy fun!
OK, now let me tell you about my race.
Race day forecast kept getting colder and colder and it was 20 something at dawn. Made this thin-blooded Californian a little nervous, but without any significant wind, and a little sunshine, it turned out to be nearly perfect conditions. Sure I actually had to wear long pants for once, but I ditched the extra shirt and the gloves by mile 2 and rocked my Team Pikermi shirt the rest of the way. (I got one Pikermi convert who liked my shirt)
Race plan was to go out at 8 minute pace and see how I felt and then do my best. Sassafras and I started together with the same plan and settled in at the same pace. It was great to run together with him. We were talking and having fun. The pace was reasonable and I felt good. Check out these Junblack-esque splits: 8:05, 7:50, 7:51, 7:51, 7:51, 7:49, 7:58, 7:50.
Sass and I were just cruising along. We got to run with ShaunP for a mile or two. The course was littered with loopsters! The only thing that would have been better was if there was an out and back where we could cheer each other.
Eight miles down. Felt great - almost like a training run. The course was virtually flat, and a little bit down for the rest of the way, so I felt comfortable starting to push it. Nine and ten were 7:38 and 7:36. Feeling the effort now but still in good control. We pushed it up a little more. Mile 11 was 7:23. Now I was hitting max effort, but I felt good I could keep it up. However Sass had an extra gear in his back pocket and pulled away. I tried to draft off his energy as long as I could but he disappeared like the Road Runner in a puff of dust! Sand Bagger!
Mile 12 was 7:26 and I hit mile 13 knowing I was looking at a good time. I hung on and posted a 7:22 for mile 13. Just before I reached the stadium I passed a guy in a Batman suit. Because no one likes to get beat by a freaking costume. (Later I found out Spiderman ran a 1:30 or something crazy) Entering the stadium and hearing and seeing Loopster cheers was fantastic! I got to do the finish with a football and run down the middle of the football field to the finish - very cool! Final official time: 1:41:59! A nice 42 second improvement from 2 weeks ago! I'll take it! And I felt good - no wall or significant torturous suffering. The mojo was back!
For over two hours we hung out on the field and cheered for loopster finishes and enjoyed the warming day. Did I mention it was an awesome experience? Later we all partied again at another wonderful spread of food and drink and got to hear SR sing and just had fun as long as we could although we were all getting pretty pooped out.
A big thanks to everyone who made this weekend work! You know who you are. I'll drop some pictures in later once I get home.
Oh, I went out for a Five Guys Burger tonight - my first. Awesome!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Missing - One Mojo - Reward Offered

I'm starting to think 3 pikermis in 4 weeks is a bit more than I can handle.
Fresh off a very satisfactory pikermi on 10/24 (see report here), I had high hopes for a repeat performance two weeks later in West, by God, Virginia. But all of my runs since then I have felt sluggish. I rested three days, did an easy 4 on Thursday, then tried 9 on Saturday, and it was just dreadful! No fun, slow, wanted to quit. I managed to finish, but it wiped me out for the day.
Took two more days off and ran 7 last night, but again, I was sluggish, and it felt a lot harder than it should. I guess that is normal after a hard race that I wasn't exactly properly trained for. But for the week BEFORE a race, it just WILL NOT DO!
So I am trying to convince myself to just make it a fun run. Trot along with some loopers and enjoy myself. Sounds better than pushing myself, suffering alone the whole way and probably not getting a great time anyway. So, fellow loopfesters, please hold me to this strategy! Unless of course I feel mojo-rific after the first mile...
Trying to figure out what to wear in 31 degree temps. Dang cold! It is over 90 today in LA. Wish I could box up10-20 degrees and bring it with me.
If you find my mojo, the reward will be of equal karmic and monetary resale value as one black market mojo.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Halloween Pictorial Tribute to my Dear Wife

My wife's favorite holiday is today, so I will honor her by showing you some of her greatest hits. Not all of these are from Halloween. She delights in dressing up for her day job, at a primary school. Any reason is good enough to dress up.
She is not the girl that picks out the "Sexy Nurse" or the "Sexy Kitten" costumes. In fact it seems like nothing remotely sexy ever comes out of the dressing room. The more hideous the better. And then she "accents" it with facial grotesquery.
Our first Halloween she went as the "before" picture for Extreme Makeover, and I got big points for just admitting I was her date all night long and not slipping out the back door and making a run for it.
So without further ado - my lovely wife!
Ready to do the thriller dance!
Did I mention she was from Kentucky?
Just frightening.
Looks like the Cat got into a bottle.
OK, that's kind of sexy...
One trashy zombie!
Very groovy!
Who's that guy?
What's that, a smile?
Just for fun
What a turkey!
What a joker!
My favorite costume!
I love you, honey!