Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 - A Year Filled with Osom

It is the end of the year and time to celebrate with a look back. It was a fantastic year for me, filled with loop meets, PRs, and magic moments.

First up was a 10K in Redondo where i started a trend by letting the magic gold loopsterfest shirt carry me to a new PR of 44:16.

Next up was the LA marathon, where a heavy downpour just kept me cool and I cruised to a 3:44.

In April I did the Hermosa 5K and just missed another PR with 21:17.

May brought the hilly Palos Verdes Pikermi and I was happy to survive with a 1:43.

My training was working and in June I ran the downhill Fontana Pikermi to an unbelievable 1:32:42! A 7 minute PR!

Summer brought triathlon training and then a series of loop meetups. First up was a meet with TO Superstar in Nebraska where we both earned AG medals and I ran what should have been a PR, but the course was long. In our boxers.

The next week I met up with AtomBuddy and JunBlack back home and I finally crushed my 5K PR with a 20:20. I then celebrated by running the 10K a few minutes later. We all medaled!

And then the following week, I met up with aschmid3 at the ridiculously hard Bulldog 25K trail run. Yes, she chicked me, but revenge was mine in Philly.

September brought my first Olympic distance triathlon in Malibu and I finished strong and happy.

In October I ran another 10K in Manhattan Beach, just missing my PR by 7 seconds on a tougher course. I also met up with loopster IMustBeBananas.

Then I traveled to Kentucky and managed to work in runs with lawrenceaa and my WV loopies, sfschas and runningchick.

Next I had a real breakthrough race at the LA RNR Pikermi, running a 1:35:37 (on a flat course). I was flying!

So I figured I better go ahead and beat that in Philly 3 weeks later. Which I did, with another stunning PR of 1:34:42.
Oh, and I met a few loopsters there too. Best Time of Your LIfe Indeed.

After that, I've done a couple 5Ks on Thanksgiving and Christmas in 21 something, which would have been PRs two years ago, but now qualify as tempos.
Had one last meetup here in CA with JCRunner in December. Too many meetups to count after Philly.

Numbers: With two runs to go, I will be going over 1,300 miles. This will be my best year since 1980. Check out these last 7 years:
2005            225
2006            387
2007            455
2008            607
2009            870
2010          1,015
2011          1,303
I also biked 344 miles and swam 15.4 miles. 14 races. 6 AGPRs. Many, many fantastic memories!
I'm very grateful for my health, for my good fortune to live in a perfect running location, and for the Loop, which has kept me motivated for over 2 years now. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas at the Beach - 5K Race Report

Normally I am out of town for Christmas, but this year we were home alone and with no big plans for Christmas day. So the DW suggested that I do the local 5K, which was set on the sand at low tide, just after sunset. Well, you don't have to say "race" to me more than once, and I was in on the plan! However I didn't want to adjust my training schedule for upcoming marathons, so I went ahead and did my 18+ mile run on Saturday. So this race would be for fun, and I wouldn't worry about chasing a PR on sand.

Saturday night after my long run, we went to church and out to a friend's house, and I started getting a drippy nose. By Sunday morning I was definitely feeling like a cold was setting up shop in my face. Lots of sneezing and sniffling and general misery. I guess that long run wore me down. I had a nice 2-hour nap, and still felt like poo, but I figured a little sea air would be just the thing anyway.

So I found a Christmas t-shirt (cotton!) and a Santa hat and we headed to the beach, arriving just after Sunset.

It was a perfectly beautiful night. Temps probably in the high 50's. The race started under the pier, and would be out and back along the water. They had candle lit luminarias all along the way. We were told to stay to the right of them, so we wouldn't be dodging each other. I did a short warm-up of 1/2 mile and it was time to start.

By this time it was very dark. And we're off!

All runners got glow sticks to wear as necklaces, and that made it easier to see people. It was dark enough where I couldn't really see my footing, and just had to hope there weren't any dips in the sand. Luckily it was perfectly flat and hard - excellent for running.

Look at that perfect sand. (and the perfect DW)
I felt fine - the cold didn't bother me at all as far as I could tell. My loose goal was to run sub 7, but it was so dark I couldn't see G without pressing the light, so I only checked it twice in mile 1 and then just ran. Seems I know my pace pretty well, because when I checked at 1/2 mile, I was at 6:52 pace, and at mile 1 I was still at 6:54.

There were only about 200 people so it thinned out pretty fast. I caught a few people, but the last mile I was mostly running alone. Mile 2 was 6:55. I felt really good. It was a hard speed workout, without the serious pain of going for a PR. The Kinvaras felt light and fast as usual as I cruised over the sand. The experience of running fast in the dark at the ocean's edge was fantastic! The little line of candles along the way was unique. And the happy Christmas vibe of everyone made for a really fun time.

Mile 3 I went ahead and picked up the pace and ran a 6:41. Finished up at 6:21 pace for a final time of 21:29. Here I am emerging from the dark.

Woo Hoo!

I finished around 20th and got 4th in my division. We hung around in the dark waiting for a medal, but instead they gave all winners a ski hat. I don't have much use for those around here, and kind of wanted another medal for my new medal rack, but oh well.

New avatar perhaps? I don't want to cause any nightmares. Kind of Blair Witchy.
Afterwards I went home and resumed being sick. But for 21 minutes, running gave me a break. Now for a rest day. I think I'll join these two in another nap.

Another perfect SoCal day, so I ran 18.3

Walking the dogs at 6:30, it was a cool 43 degrees. But it was clear skies, and as the sun came up I knew it would be a perfect morning for a long run at the beach. I managed to get out the door before 8:30 and by the time I got home at 11 it would be getting close to 60, on its way to 70.

So it was shorts and a T as usual, as I headed out for some endurance training. I had a plan, broken into 3 sections. First 6 miles would be as easy as I could go, hopefully not much under 9 minute pace. Second 6 miles I would take off the brakes and let myself go and run however I felt. I assumed I would speed up to the 8:10-8:20 range where I usually feel comfortable. Then as I got tired, I planned to do the last 6 at marathon goal pace, or just under 8 minute pace, to work on my pace when tired. This would be an almost flat beach run, so a much easier course than last week when I did 17 at 8:45 over lots of hills.

First few miles  I am relaxing and keeping my stride short and quick. Splits are 9:15, 9:22 and 9:01. I am a little concerned because this is slower than I usually do this section and I feel tired already. Next 3 are a little better at 8:47, 8:41 and 8:51. First 6 averaged 8:59 - perfect. But I don't really feel like I have been holding back at all. Just feel like I'm dragging. This section is almost all wood chips with one big hill, so that does slow the pace a little. At this point I reach the beach and the rest will be along the coast and flat on the bike path. Lots of people are out enjoying the day. Beach volleyballers in bikinis, surfers, runners, bikers, tourists. And lots of runners. It's a happy place.

Mile 7 I am still relaxing at 8:46. Oh well. It is what it is. Let's just get in the miles. But then mile 8 the pace starts to drop as I start to feel better. A little more pep in my step. Mile 8 was 8:18. I stop for a GU and some water, and then I get into a groove. 8:09, 8:05, 8:03, 8:05! Middle 6 averaged 8:14, but the last 4 were 8:05. I'm getting tired, and I am over achieving, so I decide to just stay with what I am doing and see if I can maintain this all the way in. Save the sub 8 for the last 3 maybe.

But I still feel good, so the next three are 8:01 and 7:58 and 8:02. Then in mile 16 my hip starts to really hurt with each step. Fatigue kind of hurt. Plus my knees are complaining. Pace is dropping. I take a water stop and spend a little time stretching it out. Ugh, I seem to be paying for my hubris. Still 3 miles to go and it looks like it is going to suck. I start up again and take it easy, but the stretching seems to have helped and the pain is mostly gone. Eventually I start to pick it up. Mile 16 comes in at 8:20.

Now with two miles to go, I feel like I can go ahead and push it a little. My body responds well, and I finish up with 7:56 and 7:50! A 0.3 mile cooldown at 8:54 pace gets me home and I am tired but happy. The thought of going another 8 for a marathon doesn't sound ridiculous. Last 6 averaged 8:01, so I pretty much ran to my plan. Total run, 18.3 miles at an average 8:25 pace.

Feeling good, and ready for a quiet Christmas with my Dear Wife. And a 5K tomorrow.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stacking Hay

It is mileage-building time. Putting that hay in the barn for later use. Had another good week with nearly 38 miles.
Tuesday was my Oops run, where I couldn't help dropping the hammer, and ran the last 3 of my 7 miler at 7:30 pace, with one mile at 7:07. Not a scheduled speed day either.

Wednesday I hit the gym where I am seeing steady improvement on my circuit training routine.

Thursday I got to meet up with loopster JCRunner. His post with pics is here. We met up at 6AM in the dark to do 5.5 easy miles (close to 9 minute pace) in a beautiful section of Palos Verdes. It got light as we ran, and I showed him some cliffside trails and lots of nice homes and ocean views. I was happy to discover that JC is his actual initials, and I wouldn't have to hear about Jesus for an hour. Not that there's anything wrong with that. So it was great to meet another loopster, as always.

Friday I wanted to do 8, but life got in the way, so I rescheduled for Saturday. So I knocked out 8.3 Saturday and tried to restrain myself because I was shooting for 16.5 on Sunday. But I was feeling good and wearing the Kinvaras and ended up averaging 8:14 with the last 3 sub-8.

Sunday I decided to head back up to PV, except instead of driving the 6 miles to the top of the hill, I would run it, then do the same run I did with JC, and then head back. Longest run since March, plus lots of hills. On tired legs. I had just washed the mud off my shoes and they were still soaking wet, so add wet, heavy clunky trainers on top of that. And I would need to carry water so add a couple water bottles too. OK! Ready to stack some hay!

First three were flat to the bottom of the hill: 9:03, 8:47, 8:34

Next three were up the hill: 9:46, 9:10, 9:07

My legs were feeling tired. The hills were a little harder than usual. But I was plugging along.

Next 5 were rolling hills: 8:25, 8:46, 8:34, 8:36, 8:56

At some point I decided instead of 16.5 I might as well do 17. So I ran the Garmin to 8.5 and turned around. I'm all in now. Quickest way home is to run.

Next 3 were downhill: 8:47, 8:29, 8:03

Now there were 3 flat miles left. I was tired, but felt OK so I decided to see if I could run marathon pace (7:55) the rest of the way. I managed to do 1 mile at 7:59, but it felt like an interval. A little too much effort required. So I backed off and cruised it in: 8:48, 8:49

Total run averaged 8:45 for 17 miles. Exhausted, but not completely wiped out. So I'm encouraged, and ahead of schedule.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

LSD? No Thanks. I Prefer Speed.

Sunday is long run day. I always tell myself the goal is to go slow and just put in the miles. And every time it turns into a progression run. This week was no exception.

Plan was to do 15. Longest training run since July, as I start to build toward the marathon. And this after a busy week that would total 39 miles and 2 gym days (and parties the last 2 nights). I felt a little tired at the beginning and was considering cutting it short, but I kept plugging, and inevitably I started feeling better after about 5 miles. Once the pace got fast I decided I might as well challenge myself and keep it there the rest of the way. So here are the numbers:
8:57, 8:56, 8:32, 8:20, 8:14,
8:39, 8:23, 8:19, 8:06, 8:09,
8:03, 7:41, 7:47, 7:46, 7:43
Pretty proud of those last 4 miles. And I wasn't even really working that hard. By the end it felt like just another long run - not the exhausted slog that I have felt previous years when I start extending my long run. Anyway, I am going to keep increasing my weekly mileage and slowly extend the long run, since my marathon is still 4 1/2 months away.

Life is good.

It's Gotta be the Shoes

(From 12/9)
Warning! This is yet another post about an awesome workout. it seems like every time I do a race or a speed workout lately, I am surprising myself. I just keep getting faster. What the hell is going on? It's gotta be the Kinvaras.

So this week I am running 5 times. Count 'em. 1, 2,3, 4, 5. First 5-run week in 30 years I think. Monday was a gym day. Tuesday was group run. Although I usually end up by myself or with 1 or 2 others after the first 2 miles. This week I ended up alone and pushing sub 8:00 pace for the last 5 of 7 miles.

Wednesday I ran 4 miles easy with the dogs.

Thursday is Speed Day. Decided to do 4 x 1 with 1/2 mile rests. Total of 8 miles. Goal was sub 7 pace. Headed out at 6:30 in the dark, cool night; down to the beach for flat, straight running paths. Each mile was fun, and I felt like I had more to give. I never had to walk during the rests. I always finished strong, and a 1/2 mile rest felt like too long - I was itching to get moving again! After the 4th one, I felt like I could do a few more!

1.3 mile warmup @ 8:25
Mile 1: 6:56
.7 @ 8:29
Mile 2: 6:46
.5 @ 8:50
Mile 3: 6:50
.5 @ 9:23
Mile 4: 6:44
1.1 mile cooldown @9:16

So 4 speed miles averaged 6:49, and I just felt fantastic. Moving along in the cool night air, pushing hard, flying by joggers, but with more in the tank. Next time I do this I am going to go for 6:30 pace. I have a 10K coming up on Jan. 1 and I am just going to KILL my PR. I'm thinking sub 43 is do-able. And a sub-20 5K sometime next Spring is definitely happening.

Hit the gym this morning less than 12 hours later and knocked out another good workout. Planning to do 5 Saturday and 15 on Sunday for a 40-mile week!

It seems like the more I do, the easier it gets. Funny how that works. I think it's banana time.

Office XMAS party tonight. Time to celebrate. Hide the lampshades.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Philly LoopPhest Half Marathon

LoopPhest was kind of indescribably OSOM, but I am just going to talk about the race now, so I don't keep getting choked up. More later on the crazy shenanigans.

My goal coming in was to improve on my shockingly fast time from 3 weeks ago (1:35:37). I felt sub 1:35 was a good goal so I hoped to start out at 7:30 and drop it down to 7:15 by mile 3, hold on through the hills of mile 10, and then try to get close to 7:00 for the last 3.

About 20 of us left the hotel together and walked the 1.5 miles to the start. It was near 50 degrees. Perfect racing weather. I just had a throwaway long sleeve tee over my new blue LoopPhest shirt. I planned to run with Sass but he got caught up in long potty lines, so I lost him. But I hooked up with Corc and ShaunP and Bergeaux and KevHash in the corral, and hey that's Mark Remy over there! The start was smooth and uncrowded and we took off. I immediately lost everyone to other paces but felt good and was loving the race atmosphere with good cheering crowds down a beautiful wide street.

Ran with ShaunP for a little while and then moved on ahead. Pace was a little fast but not bad. Caught up with Corc near the end of mile 1 and we ran together for about 2 miles. At some point I noticed Bergeaux was shadowing me too. It was osom to cruise along with loop legends - enjoying the race, but a little concerned because I was too fast. First 3 were 7:13, 7:12, 7:07. I kept getting close to 7:00 pace and then forcing myself to slow down. It felt like 10K pace - because it was! Yet I kind of felt like I could just keep it going anyway so I just went with it. Just like the last race, I told myself I would either crash and burn or bust out a great time. Apparently this is a pretty good strategy to keep you at the edge.

The course was really great running through town. The streets had character, the roads were flat, there were lots of people cheering. I was having a blast. Bergeaux and I were moving through the field. Mile 4 was 7:19, and then I really got into a groove going through downtown. Frequently I would exhort the crowd to cheer by raising my arms ala Ryan Hall, and they would respond, and I would get a boost and speed up. Miles 5, 6 and 7 were 7:05, 7:01, 6:55!!!  I went through the 10K only 4 seconds off my 10K PR! I was getting tired and was still worried about the pace, but last race's experience helped me feel confident that I could hold on.

In mile 5 I went by JB who was doing the marathon. Since he is obviously way faster than me - I was concerned, for both of us! Later I went by another looper in the Loop shirt, Royal Dryness. It was so cool to see loopsters on the course. I ran with or passed 6 during the race.

Mile 8 we hit the first hill and my legs started complaining. But it was short and followed by a nice downhill. Mile 8 was 7:26, but mile 9 was back down to 7:05. Bergeaux slipped ahead over that hill, but within a few minutes I had more company as sassafras pulled up alongside. I was still racing, and hurting, so we weren't exactly side by side chatting. But we pushed each other for a few miles.

Mile 10 was the BIG HILL. Hadn't seen it ahead of time so no idea what to expect. Well, it was longer than I thought! I just tried to hang on and keep moving and get over it, knowing that it would be downhill the rest of the way. Once I cleared it and got my breath back, I felt like it would be a good race. Mile 10 was 7:30, and mile 11 had a nice steep downhill that I owned like a bat out of hell. 6:52

At this point my legs were pretty shot and I was just trying to hang on. Then my calves started to cramp. At first they were just twinges so I eased off a little. Then at about mile 12.4 I had a full spasm and had to pull over and stretch it out for 5-10 seconds. Mile 12 was 7:08. Mile 13 I really wanted to push it in but I had to baby my calves so I slipped to 7:32. The finish was very cool, the calves were good little cows and didn't spasm again, and I managed a 6:42 pace for the last chunk. Final time, 1:34:43! BP, PR, etc...

I hooked up with Sass and Bergeaux and others after the finish. Congratulated Medievalist on her osom race. Then hung out and waited for more loop shirts to arrive. Got to share race stories with, oh, 40-50 people over the rest of the day. Racer's dream day.

Celebrated til almost dawn...
Still riding the high...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Flying Through LA - A Rock 'n Roll Race Report

 I came in to today's race ready for a good one. Magic Loopsterfest shirt? Check. Magic Kinvara shoes? Check. Magic Kara Goucher signed bib? Check. Fast course, good weather and solid training? Checks all around.
My goal was 7:30 pace, get under 1:38 and crush my 1:39:28 PR. DW and I took the metro train to the course, which saved us from the hassles and cost of parking and traffic. It was a great way to go. We got off the train, 1 block from the start. RNR had everything running smooth as usual. There were no bathroom lines! They probably had 200 port a pottys. I chose to go in corral 2, even though I was placed in corral 1. I wanted to  avoid a fast start. Here I am practicing my BP.

Warmed up a little in front of Staples Center. I'm already flying!

The start was great - uncrowded from the beginning. The first 6 miles were completely flat and I settled into a comfortable pace First mile 7:24. I kept trying to slow down but couldn't get any slower. I hoped for 7:45 for mile 1, but oh well. I was comfy.
Mile 2 was more of the same, 7:26. Mile 3 we circled the LA Coliseum. Every time we heard a good band, or got water, or saw the leaders go by, or got lots of cheering, which was often, I would speed up. I just couldn't get my pace down. Mile 3, 7:13. About here I decided that apparently my body did not want to run 7:30 pace, so I would just have to roll with it, and either flame out, or bust a really good time.
Miles 4, 5 and 6: 7:21, 7:18, 7:12 Still feeling good. Not sure if I could hold on, but the pace seemed reasonable. I noticed one guy was tracking me as I moved up in the field. Finally I started talking with him and we ran together for about 3 miles. It was helpful to keep me on track. There were lots of people in costume, which made for some nice diversions. How about this guy?

Here I am at mile 6 - I'm still flying!

After 6 miles we headed into the downtown tall buildings and a decent little hill. I think the buildings wreaked havoc on my Garmin because I ended up with 13.37 miles and I was hitting all the tangents. So the splits may be a little fast. Still, mile 7 was 7:17 uphill.
Then we turned on 3rd street and headed downhill and saw a tunnel. It was maybe 0.2 miles long and the entrance reminded me of an entrance to hell. I found this pic on line, but there are even more cracks now, so it looked like descending into a dark evil place.

It was fun to run through and the downhill was sweet, but I knew I would be coming back this way which meant a nasty little hill in mile 12. Mile 8, 6:48!
Mile 9 was 7:11 and I was still feeling pretty good, but holding back some for the miles and hills to come. In mile 10 we hit the 6th street Bridge. The pretty pic on the website shows the flat bridge, but on the other side, there is a steep hill to get up to it! It looked pretty nasty when I saw it, but I worked up it at about 8 minute pace, and finished mile 10 at 7:34.
Now we got to turn around and head back. The view was beautiful! The LA skyline, with mountains behind, and perfect blue sky. I was feeling good and shouted out "Beautiful" but got nothing from the runners nearby. So I passed them. I was passing runners the whole race, as I like to do. Cruised down from the bridge and did mile 11 in 7:07.
By now I knew I was getting my goal. I was over a minute ahead of schedule at the true mile marks, and did not feel a collapse imminent. I got back to the tunnel, and the hill did not look nearly as bad as I feared, especially compared to the hill I had just done at the bridge. So I cruised on up and started pushing the pace for the final push. Mile 12, 7:21.
We turned the corner and I saw a beautiful downhill road, 3/4 mile straight to the finish line. I opened it up and let the magic take me in. Mile 13 was 6:16, and another .37 at 5:52 pace!!! I had plenty left! Which just means I can push it a little harder in Philly. Here I am flying toward the finish. Check out that air! I don't think my feet touched the ground all day!

Official time: 1:35:37!!!!!
PR crushed by almost 4 minutes. Average pace 7:18. Confidence gained, priceless.
Caught up with this guy, who ran 1:33!

So yeah, very, very happy with this one.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

For Kara Stalkers

 Got to spend a leisurely couple hours at the LA RNR Expo today. Went by myself so no one was rushing me to get out. So my lunch consisted of lots of free samples.
I did get my first pair of tights, which I plan to be rocking in Philly.
But the highlight was getting up close and personal with Kara Goucher. She did a little talk and Q and A for her sponsor, Nutrilite of about 25 minutes. There were about 100 seats in front of a little stage there in the expo. The front row was empty so I took a seat there! She made eye contact with me often while talking since I was about 8 feet in front of her. Got a few pics.
I was sitting next to another guy and we started talking. After Kara was done, we got in line for signatures and photos. My new friend took my pics, and I took his. Then he said, you seem familiar. Do you write a blog? !!! My first random Loop recognition! Turns out this is the exact same guy who recognized Alice last year at this same event! He lurks but doesn't post. Anyway, we talked about running a lot (of course). He is looking to run 1:24!
Anyway, so I get up to Kara and tell her I'm from Minnesota (like her) and she goes "Bangle! I know you. I love your blog!"
OK, just kidding.
But at least we shared something, and when she signed my race bib, she wrote "Go Minnesota!" and put a little heart before her name, so I'm just saying...
She seems very sweet and nice, as you'd expect. She is training for the Olympic Trials Marathon in January, and just switched coaches 2 weeks ago (which you can read about in her blog)
Then I hung around to see the next speaker, Josh Cox! So here's one for the ladies.
Good looking guy. He runs like 160 miles a week! He seems like a MBA consultant type. Very professional and type A. But very friendly. I didn't wait to meet him personally.
So I'm psyched to run tomorrow. I will have Kara's name virtually right over my heart (on my bib), so that has to be worth at least a minute, right?