Friday, February 24, 2012

I Do Love Running Fast

I'm starting to understand this running addiction idea.

Long, long ago, like when Jimmy Carter was President, I was a running addict. Six or seven days a week, 50 mile weeks regularly. Of course, I was on a team, so that helped motivate me. But I kept it up in the off-season too.

Since then, most of the last 30+ years I've been running 2-3 days a week, or less. Still a runner, still enjoying running. But at a different level. I proudly posted on this site when I started blogging that I was NOT a running addict. Because those people were crazy.

Well, this past year I have stepped it up. I am running 4 and 5 days a week, plus gym days and some triathlon cross training, so I workout about 6 days a week. Consequently, I am getting in the best shape I have been in since college. My age-graded times are the best since then. More importantly, I have rediscovered the love, no, the passion for running. It seems like I end almost every workout exhilarated, high on endorphins, happy and satisfied, feeling like I could do more. I keep making the runs longer and faster, and my body just responds with "More please". No runs are chores. I look forward to every workout now. Starting to feel the addiction.

So last night was speed day. After Sunday's 21 mile "tempo". I went right back out and did 6 Monday and 7 Tuesday. Gym on Wednesday. Thursday's run was 3x2 mile intervals with 1/2 mile cool downs, 1 mile before and after for a total of 9. I did this workout 4 weeks ago and averaged 7:11 on the speed miles, so the goal was to beat that.

This run went just like the last one, only faster. My first mile was slower (7:22) because it takes me a little while to warm up, but then I got it into gear in mile 2 and ran the last 1/2 mile at about 6:45 pace to finish with a 7:05.

The 2nd 2 mile I started right up at sub 7 and then had to make myself ease off. Ran 7:10 and 6:54! I always accelerate the 2nd mile because I just feel good and I know I can do it. Having this endurance in the tank really makes speed work fun. I can crank it up to a fast pace and just hold it. I love the feeling of flying down the road at sub-7 pace and feeling strong and like I could go forever.

The 3rd 2 mile was similar. 7:08 and 6:54. So my 6 speed miles averaged 7:05, and the last 5 averaged 7:02. And I left a little in the tank too.

Today is my rest day and I almost feel guilty, but I plan to do 10 Saturday and 18 Sunday so I am excited for that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You better come arrest me, because I just killed it.

My run, that is. But before I get to today's felonious activity, let me catch you up on the past week.

After last week's relative cutback recovery from Surf City, I was primed to hit another 50 mile week. 7 on Tuesday and 7 on Wednesday were fine, but I got a minor cold on Thursday so I took the day off. Luckily it passed pretty quickly so by Friday night I was up for getting out there again and knocked off a solid 9 on rolling hills. So then I took off Saturday, so I would be ready for a solid 21 miles today. So 44+ for the week - I'll take it.

So today's plan was 21+ miles at the beach - almost flat. 4 weeks ago I did 20.6 on this course and somehow averaged 8:07 and 7:52 for the last 14 miles. That is under marathon pace. Today I thought about forcing myself to go slower, but I think I've given up on the whole LSD plan. I run how I feel, and that usually means I end up going fast. My relaxed pace has just gotten faster and faster. So I would relax and just run, but I assumed it would be similar to last time - fast.

Temps in the high 50's and sunny. Shorts and a tank top. Two GUs in my belt. Off we go.

First 6 were on the woodchip trail. Cruising along, I did my usual gradual acceleration as I warmed up. 9:04, 8:36, 8:32, 8:21, 8:06, 8:17. Average 8:29

Hit the beach and the pace picked up. 7:59, 7:56, 7:52, 7:45.

Now, my BQ pace is 8:00. My marathon goal is to do 8:15 - 8:00 for the first 6 and then 7:50 for the rest of the way, or as long as I can. I think I can aim for 3:25. Long run training strategy is usually not to run marathon pace. Certainly not faster. But I get into a groove, and it is just very hard to slow down. And then I want to see if I can hold the pace the whole way. So anyway, this happened:

7:40, 7:40, 7:41, 7:38, 7:34, 7:38, 7:45, 7:36, 7:40, 7:39, 7:38

Yes, the last 11 miles averaged 7:39. I killed it. 21.2 miles with an overall average of 7:56, or under BQ pace. Could I have done 5 more miles at 8:00 pace? Well, I believe I could have! Can't wait for the race to hurry up and get here so I can get a full taper, suck in the race time energy, and blow it up! Four more weeks!

My main concern now is holding myself back. I can see running 7:30 pace early in the race and not being able to slow down. Yet I worry about those last 5 miles, so I will try to restrain myself. The last mile today I was hitting the wall and it took some extra effort to keep the pace low, but it was good to not see a bonk. Even when I felt like I was fading, my pace didn't really get any slower.

So I am about to get a celebratory giant burger, and then probably a nap. Two more solid weeks of mileage coming up and then the taper.
Time to dance.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Surf City RR - More LoopFest Magic

I came into this race ready to rock a good one. Training has been going great, and I figured there was no reason I shouldn't beat my Philly PR of 1:34:42. Maybe even go under 1:34. So my plan was to go out at 7:25ish, try to relax through the first 4 miles while working the pace down to 7:15, and then knock it down close to 7 flat and hold it all the way in.

On the other hand, my priority has been marathon training, and I just finished 3 big weeks including 20 milers the last two Sundays. Plus I was more focused on LoopFest fun and hosting than focusing on the race.

On the other hand, I had an easy taper week of only 7 on Tuesday and 5 on Friday, so my legs should have enough zip in them. So no excuses.

Race morning the alarm was set for 5, but I was awake by 3:30 and just laid there for an hour. We hit the road before 6 and parked at a lot where we would take a shuttle to the race. The shuttle line was huge, and we waited about half an hour. There were still many people behind us who I can't imagine made it in time for the start. Glad we got out of there before the riot.

One of the big bonuses for me for this race was that I had a Loopy running buddy. MildSauce and I are about the same speed, so we planned to start out together and see how long we could help each other. I would hold her back from her usual too-fast start, and she would.....keep me company. Not many people are more entertaining and fun to hang out with than the 'Sauce so I felt pretty lucky, even though she lost her D-tag and we had to rush around at the last minute and get a new bib. We had to skip the potty lines and just head to the start. Luckily it was easy to jump right in the first corral, and we ran into the DW and Mrs AB just before the national anthem.

Within minutes, we were off! No warmup run, full bladders, whatever, here we go!

Being in the first corral was nice, as crowding was not a problem at all. We settled into a pace that was a little fast, but not too bad, and went through mile 1 in 7:11. I tried to relax and slow down, but it was feeling good. Mile 2 was 7:12. Mile 3 we couldn't help speeding up even more. That darn Sauce would always be a half step ahead - 7:01. It appeared that it was going just like my last two (very successful) pikermis; Way ahead of schedule but feeling good - which meant either another huge PR, or a painful crash and burn. Based on history I liked my chances.

Mile 4 was the only decent hill on the course and I tried to relax going up it, and the pace dropped to 7:16. But then mile 5 was downhill and I hit 6:54. At this point, Saucy started to drop back. I was getting into the zone as I like to use the downhill momentum to get into a fast pace. So I would be on my own.
I was pushing hard but feeling good for miles 6-10. 6:58, 7:04, 7:10, 7:02, 7:02

So I hit ten in under 71 minutes, did the math, and knew I could break 1:34 even if I fell apart, maybe break 1:33 if I could keep this up. But I was tiring. My calves were tightening. It was not going to be easy. Also, I had thought that this out and back run on Pacific Coast Highway was flat, but apparently they added some hills while I was out near the turnaround. What seemed flat going out was actually a little down. And now it seemed like much of the last 3 miles coming back was a gradual uphill.

Well that certainly made it a little tougher. We were running directly into the rising sun, getting hotter and now I had to go uphill. Ok it wasn't that much of a hill, but at that point in the race, it was depressing. I latched on to some other runners and tried to maintain. Miles 11 and 12 were both 7:15. The zip in my legs was gone and I was just trying not to cramp. FINALLY, the road crested in the last mile and I was able to bring the pace up a little bit as I headed in. Mile 13 was 7:00, and I finished up at 6:37 pace with some joyous pumping.

For the first time ever, there is video evidence of finish line bangle pumping! Click here for the official pictures and video. You can't miss me toward the end of the video.

Final time: 1:33:18!!! An 84 second PR! 71.2% age grade! And First Loopster!

Here I am near the finish.

Met up with MildSauce and JunBlack soon after the finish, and we headed to the beer tent. The other loopsters gradually filed in, and it was a blast to share stories and successes. It was a beautiful day and we all got to do what we love and share it with a big crowd of similar maniacs. Awesome.

Eventually we all made it to Alice's house for the post-party. TONS of food, everyone was happy, there was football, sunshine, beer, medals. Simply a fabulous Loopy party! And I got to show up in this shirt that I got for Christmas.

Life is Good.

Loop Fest West - A Series of Fabulous Events

(If I had more time and more skill, I would write this blog in Lemony Snicket style, but I barely have time to write about everything, so, maybe another time)

Well. It was just another Loopfest. If you have read about or attended one of the other ones, then you know what this post will be full of. How fabulous loopsters are; how amazing it is when we all get together, and get along so well, and act like old friends instead of strangers, and all that stuff. So, yeah, that is all true. I will try not to be redundant.

So here it is from my perspective anyway.
Thursday night it all started with the arrival of Kynan and Laura who drove down from Sacramento. My DW and I had got the house all cleaned up and ready for 5 houseguests, and prepped for a party. I was kind of nervous, even with all my experience with loopmeets. But the three of us went out to dinner at a place with a rooftop patio right on the beach, and had a great meal and chatted.

Soon it was time to pick up Mildsauce at LAX, and the the 4 of us walked to a local dive saloon, drank cheap beer, and talked Loop smack. It was awesome.

Friday, the other three went up to Pasadena for pumpkin pancakes, and I went back to LAX to pick up KEK. I took her directly (from Wisconsin) to the beach where it was 70 and sunny, and she was eating it up. We did a little beach walk and had lunch and settled into California relaxed mode. Soon her friend Audrey arrived, and we all headed up to Pasadena for a Rose Bowl rendezvous.

At least a dozen loopsters showed up, and after the initial hugs and intros, Junblack led us on a 5 mile shakeout run on the nearby trails. Most of us were in one group, running about 9:30 pace, chatting, joking, getting to know each other. Spirits were high, people were in loopfest-induced euphoria. Mix in endorphins and, well, you know, fabulous.

Then we all headed to Atom Buddy's house where he offered up showers and we must have cycled ten people through one bathroom in 20 minutes. Eventually we headed out for dinner. Table for 19 on Friday night in LA? No problem! Thanks Mrs. AB! A long yummy dinner at Olive Garden was excellent, and we also stopped for some photos.

Saturday was the Expo, which was in a large tent on the beach next to the starting line. We met up with more loopsters. It was fun to see the newbies as they went through the shock of seeing avatars come to life (old hat for me by now). Every single new loopster fit right in and was a welcome part of the group. After we all got our bibs, free stuff and whatnot, JB passed out our LoopFest shirts and we headed down the beach for photos. Hopefully JB will post them soon, because they will be awesome! It was a simply perfect day at the beach, sunny and warm, pretty unusual for February. Everything was coming together this weekend!

Next, we headed to my house, and prepared for the arrival of everyone for the pre-race Pasta feed party. My dear wife prepared a delicious spread, supplemented with delights from several other loopsters, and we all pigged out on lasagna, spaghetti, pasta salad, crab dip, and Nutella cookies. We all got closer and talked race goals, and loop talk, and maybe some non-running stuff occasionally. The DW led a little field trip down to the beach to catch the sunset over the ocean, Mildsauce showed off her Boggle skills and stole my camera, and we all got to hear from TO Superstar what you call a boomerang that doesn't come back.

Around 7, the party broke up because we all had to get our rest for the big race the next day, and that will have be on another post... To be continued...

If you didn't catch my Loop post, you can see many more pictures here.