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?

Ready to Rock LA

This Sunday is the Los Angeles Rock N Roll Pikermi. I'm pretty excited to run it because I think I am ready to bust out a good one. I have been running up stairs and spontaneously breaking into dance, so those are signs that the taper is working and my energy levels are high!
 (This is basically the extent of my dance moves)

I ran this last year in 1:42, but I was coming back from injury and they totally changed the course. The new course starts and finishes at Staples Center and goes out and back for 6 miles, and then out and back a different way for the rest. Yawn. But we get to circle the Coliseum, run by museums, cruise through downtown among tall buildings, and go over the iconic 6th street bridge. So it should be fun, plus a dozen bands that we pass twice, so there will be lots of distractions. The course is less hilly than last year, so I am looking for a good time.
My B goal is to break a 2-year old PR of 1:39:28. I figure that shouldn't be too hard because I am definitely in better shape now. My A goal is to go under 1:38, under 7:30 per mile, run negative splits, and set a standard that I can then shoot for 3 weeks later in Philly.
Kara Goucher will be at the expo, so I am going to try and get a pic, even if I have to buy her book to do it! DW and I will be greening it up by taking the train to the race, even though it means getting up earlier. It is going to be warm. High of 82, so probably in the 60's and 70's for the race. There will be lots of costumed runners so DW should get plenty of pics. And no, I am not running in costume. I have work to do!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Love, Death and Running

OK, this is going to be long.

DW and I had been planning a trip to Kentucky for her niece's wedding. It was going to be a quick 4-day weekend. But then DW's mother passed away the week prior, and we had to change some plans, give Delta an extra $1,000,000 or so to change our flights and made it a 9 day trip; Funeral Monday, Wedding Friday, more family time in between. I also figured out there may be time for a little loopster side trip in there...So I'll just do this diary style, cuz it's easier for me.

Saturday: My latest goal is to get 4 runs in every week (instead of the usual 3), and with a busy week behind me I had to run Saturday and Sunday to get there. So I went and knocked out a nice 7 miler in the AM before heading to the airport. I had already packed my Garmin so I ran (digitally) naked and just had fun. But it felt pretty fast.

Most of my flights from LA head over the Grand Canyon, and we got some nice pics.

So we get to Kentucky and are relaxing at Sister-in-law's house and we hear from the Bride and Groom that they are heading out for a bachelor/bachelorette night with friends. And then they get a call from the hospital that the Groom's grandmother had an aneurysm and was near death. Party cancelled. We are all just kind of numb in disbelief. She ended up dying 2 days later. So both the Bride and Groom's grandmothers had funerals in the week before the wedding. Such a mix of emotions! Plus lots to do to plan for everything; flowers, locations, food, pictures, agendas, etc, etc, etc. All while planning the wedding and rehearsal dinner (at the house we stayed at). I was more of an observer, but the sense of shock and sadness was heavy, although we mostly just stayed busy and set the emotions aside for later.

Sunday: So it was a good time to run and clear the head and soul. Got out by myself for a long run, planned on mapmyrun. Nine miles through Kentucky suburban streets, enjoying the fall colors and weather. It was rolling hills and turned into a progression run as I felt really good. Check out the splits: 948, 856, 836, 829, 820, 814, 752, 748, 828.

Monday: Planned a Loop Meet with the only local loopster, lawrenceaa. Luckily she was up for it and on a vacation day, so I took my running BIL with me and met Alisha at a coffee shop in Covington at 9AM. She didn't seem too nervous to meet internet strangers. She was friendly and sweet and we quickly started a pleasant run that went over 3 bridges, including crossing into Ohio and back. We run at about the same pace, so we ran and talked and enjoyed the nice day. We went by the two Cincinnati stadiums and along the river, and wrapped it up at only 4.5 miles. Call it an easy day. DW and her camera were not available, so we just got the obligatory posed shot.

Later that day was funeral #1. DW had prepared hundreds of photos on photoboards which made for some good memories. I was a pallbearer for the first time, which was sobering. Then there was a reception. There was tears, there was laughter, there was the pure humanity of dealing with mortality and sharing with others. Then there was cleaning up and handling details like leftover food and flowers and who's driving where. Life goes on.

Tuesday: With a small break in the schedule, I suggested we get away for a bit, so DW and I borrowed a car and drove the 3.5 hours to the West Virginia home of Loopster sfschas. It was my second visit there, after last year's epic Loopsterfest pre-party. The drive was nice, as we got to see lots of Fall colors, and even an Amish horse cart moving down the freeway. The miles of countryside and small towns were a refreshing change for this big city dweller.

We arrived at 5:15 and immediately got into running gear and Sass and I went out around the local roads for 5.4 miles. This was my 4th day of running in a row, so that was plenty for me, and Sass was coming off 18 the day before. We talked running the whole time - race strategy, training, loop gossip (oh yes). Just another fantastic loop run. Wish I could pick one of you to run with every day.
Here we are just starting, and I am already flying!



My favorite shot of the two of us...

The wives got along famously and probably complained about us and our loop addiction the whole time (or more likely just talked about other things). After a quick shower, we met up with more Loop royalty, runningchick and her DH, and then walked 2 blocks to the local pizza joint. Many calories were consumed, and 3 pitchers of Yuengling were emptied.

Then, more obligatory posing. For some reason we had a hillbilly music theme.

Wednesday: Sfschas let us crash at his place, but then we were up and out early and driving back to No. Ky. in the rain. A lousy day, and a good day for a running break. We got back in time for the reception for funeral #2 at the VFW lodge. We did not know anyone except the groom in his family, so we skipped the funeral, but we did meet the groom's immediate family at the reception, and got to know his family through the pictures and videos honoring his grandmother. And there was a ton of food! The saddest moment was when they brought out the wedding gift that grandma had wrapped up before her passing. They opened it and read the card - touching words from beyond.

Thursday: Another really cold and wet day, so I didn't run and decided I would run Friday and Sunday to get my 4 runs in. At night was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Lots more food and drinks. Got to know the groom's family better. People were in pretty good spirits, considering.

Friday: This was to be speed day so I planned an 8 mile run and planned to do miles 3, 5 and 7 at half marathon race pace (7:30). Lots of hills around here and I wasn't sure how hilly those miles would be, but I vowed to make the pace no matter what hills I encountered. Here's my splits: 930, 842, 726, 805, 716, 808, 729, 801. I over achieved on the fast ones, and there were some pretty good hills in there too. Mile 7 especially was mostly up. My recovery miles were still pretty fast too! So I felt good about that one.
Then it was time to get ready for the wedding. It was outdoors at sunset, so was a little chilly, especially for the ladies. About 50 - 55 degrees maybe. But it was quick, and the reception was in a heated tent. It was loads of fun, lots of dancing, eating, drinking - typical wedding really. The funerals did not seem to have an effect other than a few moments of remembrance. I think everyone was ready to have a fun night. Here are some pics:

Saturday: After a late night (including cleaning up afterward for an hour!) we rested Saturday, but then Saturday night there was a Halloween party so we found some costumes in the basement and went out again for more food, more drink, etc. i was Jimi Hendrix' white cousin and DW was Little Bo Sheep.

This guy was my favorite - on stilts!

Sunday called for a long run. I ran with my BIL, who is 60. We did 8.4 averaging 9:23 pace. Nice easy fun run for me. Good workout for him. Then it was time to get to the airport and head on home.
So, that was my week. I come back a little more in touch with my humanity, a little more in love with my wife, and a little more motivated to make the most of what life has to offer. And by the way, I went over 1,000 miles for the year on Friday. I'm on track for my best year since 1980! Now I am tapering for the LA RNR Pikermi this Sunday. Ready to race!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Just Another 10K Race Report

 When you get to my age, and have been running forever, things tend to add up. Luckily I am genetically part accountant, so I keep track of everything. That's how I know that this week's Manhattan Beach 10K is my 222nd road race, 92nd 10K, and the 12th time I have run this race. So you can see why it would be hard to get too overly excited for every single race. And yet, for every race, I have trouble getting to sleep the night before, I obsess over goal splits and strategies, and I get that familiar tummy feeling that keeps me close to the bathroom. Love it! I guess that's why I keep signing up for these things.

So, let's see. Goals. First goal is to PR. My (AG)PR set in my last 10K in February is 44:16. However today's course is a tougher one, with lots of rolling hills, and one nasty hill. I think I still have a shot to PR though, since I am on a roll lately. I plot out my typical negative split strategy; start about 7:25, get down to 7:10-7:15 in mile 2, and 7:05 on mile 3, then run miles 4 and 5 at or under 7, and expect adrenaline to bring me under 7 for the last mile plus. The hills were not really taken into consideration, but I knew from previous races that mile 5 would be slower, but mile 6 would be fast. I'm not real confident in the PR, so I tell myself under 45 would be good too. Last year on this course I ran 46:55, although I was just coming back from an injury layoff.

So the day began with a perfect clear day, temps in the high 50's. The national anthem was beautifully sung by the high school choir - something my son had done the last 4 years. I got a little choked up what with him away at college now. Still adjusting to the empty nest. Anyway, the crowd of 3,200 locals included many shall we say not too serious runners. No pace signs. I thought I was doing well by being about 5 yards behind the start but somehow about a thousand people seemed to start ahead of me. So there was lots of weaving for about a 1/4 mile before it got spread out. Of course this always makes me go too fast as I surge into gaps, and I found myself already ahead of plan and then trying to relax and get into an easier rhythm. First mile 7:10.

Mile 2: I am feeling good and still trying to slow myself down. Those darn magic Kinvaras are just pushing my pace! A few hills reminds me that this is hard work and soon I am just trying to maintain the pace I am at. Still, as usual, I will be mostly passing people the whole way, and that helps the motivation. 7:08

Here I am at about mile 2.1

Mile 3: I am slowing and getting the usual mid-race thoughts about why the hell am I pushing myself so hard? what is the point? This really hurts, and there is too far left to go. Ugh! Now I'll never PR so I may as well slow down...If it hurts this much now, just wait for that big hill...7:18

Mile 4: More rolling hills - G still says I am over 7:15. But occasional downhills help my mood. A few guys pass me, and that helps motivate me to keep up. I get to the 4th mile and the clock guy says 29 minutes and I'm thinking oh that's way too slow. I'll never finish 2.2 in 15:15. I failed to remember the 15 seconds of chip time I had banked. Actual split 7:08

Mile 5: Big freaking hill. At the bottom my lap pace is 7:05 but ten steps into the hill and I am already feeling beaten. Hell! Well, just give it what you can, and then it's all downhill from there. I get to the top and G says 7:33 lap pace. Whatever. I let go of the brakes and fly down the steep downhill to the beach. By mile 5 I am down to 7:23

Mile 6 starts with the last bit of downhill to the strand (beach bike path) and then it is over a mile along the strand to the finish. I hit the strand and G says 6:08! I settle back into a more normal pace, but then I get chicked by a hot young thing with a blonde ponytail who I had passed earlier. I realize I still have another gear left and I follow that ponytail for a few blocks. Soon enough I am passing her (and many other people) and feeling fast and strong. The familiar late race pain has jumped along for the ride, but it is manageable and I know I can handle this suffering all the way in. I have enough sense left to notice how freaking beautiful it is as I run along the beach on a sunny morning with clear views of the local mountains. Mile 6 was 6:40 and the last .27 was at 5:55 pace!

G says 44:24. Chip time actually 44:23. So I missed the PR by 7 seconds! Pretty darn close considering how I felt midway though. A later examination shows that G said I ran 7:05 pace for 6.27 while my PR race was 7:06 pace for 6.23, so there's that. I'll give myself a B+. And I beat last year's time by 2:32! I finished 209th of 3,200 and 23rd in my age group, which is the best I've ever placed in an age group in this race. And I would have been 10th in 50-54, and they give medals to top 10 in each group! So already looking forward to next year.

So, I'll take it. Now it is on to Pikermi Training and time to increase the mileage.
Here is the pic that shows the last mile, and is the pic on the t-shirt. Finish is at the pier.