Saturday, August 25, 2012

Knocking Out Another PR

 Race day broke cool and overcast - another perfect race morning! Makes for gloomy pictures, but I certainly had no heat complaints, with it being August and all. It was probably low 60s.
In case you missed my last post, here were my goals:
D Goal: Under 44:16 (7:09 pace) - New 10-year PR!
C Goal: Under 43:25 - Sub 7:00 pace!
B goal: Under 43:00 (6:56 pace)
A goal: Under 42:00 (6:47 pace)
My dear wife decided to come along and take photos. Then after we arrived we were happy to see loopster AtomBuddy had made the trip to the beach. He wasn't racing, but got in a beachside workout and hung around to see how I did. The two of us did a mile warmup together.
I love this one. Note the seagull between our heads.
And then it was go time. My plan was to be a little over 7 for the first mile, and then try to get under 7 for the rest of the way. As usual, adrenaline took me out a little fast, but G warned me, so I dialed it back and tried to relax. (What did we do before Garmins? Went out too fast for too long, is what I did.) Felt comfortable as the pace slowed and went through 1 in 7:08. Perfect
I was already passing people, and decided to keep track of my place. At the first U-turn at 1.3 miles, I was 39th, so as I passed people I counted down. No one passed me the whole race until the last 100 yards. G had me at 6:59 for the 2nd mile, but at the official 2-mile I was 14:12. I was working pretty hard here, but the pace wasn't dropping below 7. Mile 3 was 7:04. I was moving steadily at the best pace I thought I could handle, but sub-7 just felt too hard with so long to go.
Still, I was passing people and feeling pretty good. I reset my goals by forgetting about A, but still thought I had a shot at B since I planned to pick it up in the 2nd half. And the last mile has a nice downhill. Here I am at 3.5. DW framed this nicely with the ocean, the palm trees, and the No Stopping sign. Nice.
Mile 4 was 7:01. I was picking it up, but the pace just would not drop for me. But I was definitely starting to work harder. Mile 5 was a slight uphill, but I managed a 6:55. Here we go. That's better. I could taste the finish now, so it made the suffering more bearable. Gotta have a flying pic!
Then I hit the little downhill and then it was under a mile to the finish. G had me at 6:40 and I was working hard to maintain that through the flat. Boy, that last mile seemed to take forever, as I was running on fumes and wanted it to be DONE! Mile 6 was 6:43.
Then I saw that JunBlack had made the trip to get some photos. He and AB were rooting me on.
AB had his hand up for a high five, and I saw him, but I just honestly didn't think I wanted to spend the energy in that last 0.2 miles to lift my arm. So I left him hanging. Then I saw this series of photos, and I can't help but chuckle. AB slowly drops his arm and his head and looks so sad. Sorry Mark! Hehehe. I'm sure he understands.
So the last .24 was at 6:14 pace and I finished in 43:16. So I managed to get two of my goals, and left the other two out there for another day. I'm quite content with a 60-second PR and a sub-7 pace! Sadly I finished 4th in my AG and missed the top-3 medals by about 45 seconds. But I have enough medals anyway, right?
AB and I did a mile cooldown, and pledged to see each other down the road at another race.
Now it is back to marathon training! Six weeks to go. Looking forward to knocking out 20 next weekend.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Apparently my Garmin runs Slow in the Heat

Not sure if you guys have the same problem, but when it is hot out, my Garmin says I am running slower than my perceived effort tells me I am running. Since my internal clock is a fine-tuned machine, I'm sure it must be a Garmin electronic issue with the heat slowing down the clock or something. Maybe I'll write Garmin and ask them.

Since I returned from vacation Wednesday night, I've been busy trying to make up miles. Thursday I did 7.5 at 8:17 pace. Friday I hit the gym. Hard. This weekend were the hottest days of the year. It was near 85 here at the beach. And I hardly ever run when it is over 75. But I needed miles, so I did 7 Saturday. Garmin showed 8:35 pace, but it felt more like 8:15. Dang heat!

Then Sunday I needed to work in a 19 miler (rounded up to 19.2 to make it another 'marathon' weekend). It was hot, humid and sunny, and my course has little shade, so the 75-80 degree temps probably factored to a heat index of, I don't know, 140? I got up early and out the door by 7:15, but I guess I should have got up at 5.

Went topless again, and was feeling OK, even though Garmin was showing me slow splits.

9:13, 9:03, 8:45, 8:42, 8:31, 8:55, 8:44, 8:30

This is my usual progression, but about 30 seconds/mile slower. Although I didn't feel like i was slacking. I wasn't pushing that hard either. I stopped frequently for water at the many water fountains. I got a little groove going for a while. But then I got hot.

8:18, 8:15, 8:15, 8:17, 8:11, 8:29, 8:30, 8:47, 8:46

By mile 15 I was just focused on getting home safely. Guzzling lots of water. Taking it easy. After 17 I was getting a little dizzy, tingly, nauseous. So I walked a bit, trotted to the next water, and then dunked under a shower there at the beach for surfers. Boy did that cold water feel good! Then I took off my shoes and headed to the ocean. I ran another 1/2 mile or so in the sand and water. Then walked more. And then took a dip in the ocean. It. Was. Awesome. Living so close, you'd think I would dip in the ocean often after runs, but it is a pretty rare thing. After, I just walked the last .7 miles home, barefoot, chafing, a little miserable, but refreshed.

So I only got in 18.3 running miles at an 8:42 average, but I'll take it as a good quality endurance workout. Summer marathon training kind of sucks, but I am looking forward to cool fall temps.

Later I came back to the beach with DW for proper beach bathing and then passed out in a beach chair. Life is good.

Wanna See my Holiday Slides?

 I managed to get away for 9 days on a little family vacation. Brought the DW and the DT, and planned to visit lots of family. Which means time to get dorky in the airport.

First stop, Northern Kentucky, where we visited DW's sister and her niece, who is due to pop a baby out any day now. I had hoped to get in a run with a local running group and meet up with loopster lawrenceaa, but it was 95 and she bailed, and then I bailed. DT and I went to see Batman instead.

The next day we hit Kings Island. Part of the lure to get DT interested in this trip was to hit two amusement parks and lots of roller coasters. Had a good time there; short lines, great rides, got wet. I managed some modified BPs.

The next day, DT and I went out with Nephew to shoot pistols and rifles, cuz that's what you do in Kentucky. I also managed to get a run in with my Bro in Law: 7 miles at 8:33 pace. Then we all went out to the local county fair to get more Kentucky flavor.

The fair was pretty awesome, I must say. A fine collection of fried foods. I had the fried pork tenderloin sandwich, followed by the fried Oreos. The midway was quite spectacular. And the main event was a tractor pull. Now I had heard of these, but didn't really know what it was. Apparently they hook up your tractor (or driving mower, at least when we were there) to a big trailer thing that has a weight which gradually gets harder and harder to pull. Whoever pulls it the farthest before stalling out or stopping wins!

Here was my response.

Got some kettle corn and skipped the henna tattoo booth and got out of town. But first here is a shot overlooking Cincinnati.

Saturday we said goodbyes, rented a car and drove the 6 hours south to Asheville, NC - a lovely drive over the Appalachians. There my parents met us and we spent the next 4 days with them.

Sunday I needed to get another run in, so we went to a local lake in a woodsy residential area and I did 5 laps around the lake for 8 miles while the parents hiked and DW got some sun next to the water. I was feeling good and averaged 7:52 even though it was pretty warm.

After 5 laps I was running out of poses.

Relaxing with the 'rents post run.

Relaxing harder a little later.

The next day it was off to another amusement park, Carowinds in Charlotte. It was also not crowded. The rides were pretty good, but the park overall didn't have a whole lot of personality. I was mainly impressed with my 74 year old pop who rode several of the biggest rides, including this huge one (which was awesome).

Next day was my anniversary (7 years with DW) so we packed it full of more activities. First we went to Chimney Rock state park and enjoyed the views and did a mile and a half hike to a waterfall.

And if you're going to a waterfall, you might as well get in it, right? So I did.

DW came close. No one else around was getting in.

After the hike, we took a 1-hour boat tour of Lake Lure, which had pleasant views, and many very nice houses above our retirement home budget.

Then my parents took us out for a very good French dinner in Asheville.

On the last day, I managed one more 5 mile run in the hills of NC. So I managed 3 runs in 8 days. Luckily, I was due for a cutback week. So now I am ready for 6 weeks of serious marathon endurance training. But that's for another blog.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Galen Rupp is my Hero

After decades of watching Africans win all the big distance races, I had become accustomed to the idea that "they" were just better. Due to millenia of evolution or whatever. Rooting for Americans to even compete with the top Africans was mostly just frustration and embarassment. I had accepted the idea that "we" couldn't compete at the top level.

Then this skinny little white kid from Oregon just trains himself up to the top levels, and with supreme confidence just goes out and kicks butt with the best of the best. Well, it brought me to tears today. So, so happy for him and Mo to share today's triumph together! What a great race!

If he can do that, then it makes it easier for all of us to say to ourselves, "No excuses!"

Just Do It, indeed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

San Fran-tastic!

Well! It was an amazing weekend living in the fantasy world of Loopville. I got away from the real world, drove to beautiful places, stayed at an exquisite resort-like house, hung out with cool runners, and finished up with a fantastic race experience! This is how all weekends should go!

Friday I drove up from LA to Alice's Loop House. After settling in to one of the HUGE bedrooms, Alice and I drove to Santa Cruz to pick up Medievalist (from now on referred to as V). We did a quick tour of the Santa Cruz boardwalk and then found a diner. I felt like breakfast food, but nobody told me this was a vegetarian diner until it was too late. I was stuck with "Fakin Bacon", a sad, sorry substitute for the real thing.

And the gluten-free pancakes were not the best either, but at least the eggs were real!

Saturday morning we got up and planned to do a trail run in the redwood wilderness. Then we discovered JunBlack was on his way! This crazy guy left home at 2AM to drive up here, spend the day with us, and drive home the same night! And when he got here he found out he forgot to pack running gear. But no worries! He said he would run in his jeans. And he did! 5 miles of trails at 8:30 pace in jeans. Crazy dude! Wish I had a pic. Anyway, the run with V and JB was of Rave Run quality - simply beautiful with great trails. I had a little runners high going just enjoying the atmosphere. And this is all right outside V's door at UC Santa Cruz.
After that, it was back to Loop house where another Loopster had dropped in. John Wayne sadly missed the run, but it was good to see him again. Then JB, V and I drove up to SF to the expo, and since V had never been to SF, we gave her the 3 hour tour of the city. Without hardly leaving the car, because there is no parking in SF. Fishermans Wharf! Coit Tower! Lombard Street! Chinatown! Golden Gate Park! And we drove the Golden Gate Bridge and pulled over for photos with all the other tourists. Bet they didn't know there were celebrities in their midst!

Back to Loop Central for pasta loading, and more loopsters dropping in. Red Hat Amy and her DH was there and John Wayne was back with his daughter. Good food, good talk. And some people found time for looping...

Relaxed and watched Olympics. The only thing that would have made this trip better would be to have it be track week in London. Took a dip in the outdoor hot tub to relax and mentally prepare to race. My plan was low-pressure; I wanted to run fast, but I wasn't trying to PR. I am still in the middle of marathon training after all. My goal was sub 1:35, or 7:15 pace. But I figured it was a stretch and was fine with anything sub 1:40. V predicted a 1:34:46 for me.

Sunday we were up at 4:40 and out by 5 for the 1-hour drive to SF. Alice and her DH were excellent hosts, driving up and cheering for us even though Alice wasn't running. I hopped out of the car and headed alone to the shuttles for the 2nd half marathon. We were bused across town to Golden Gate Park, where I got to rest for an hour or so for my 8:15 start. I chatted with some runners. It was low-key and not that crowded at this alternate start line. Beautiful setting too, and the weather was mid 50's and misty. Perfect.

OK, so now, a race report!

First 1/2 mile was downhill and I settled right into 7:15 pace and felt great. But then we hit some hills. Most of this race was littered with ups and downs - mostly not huge, but enough to notice. I would slow and feel pretty crappy on the ups and feel like there was no way I could maintain this effort. Then I would catch a downhill and start feeling great again. We were passing slower marathoners during the whole race, and it was fun to be always passing. It was a little crowded but not enough to really slow me down. The first 6 miles in the park had lots of curves, hills, trails and beauty and was very fun.

Splits were all over the place, but I found I was close to on pace, and figured I could make some up in the 2nd half which was more downhill.

7:15, 7:24, 7:33, 7:17, 6:51, 7:16.

As we got out of the park we entered Haight-Ashbury. Favorite sign: "That wasn't a Clif Bar, it was a hash brownie. Welcome to the Haight!" There were a couple steep downhills here so miles 7 and 8 were 6:58 and 6:45. But then, more ups and mile 9 was 7:24.

At this point I was tiring and just holding on. It was an effort to maintain pace, but I knew if I could hang on I could go under 1:35. About here, some guy wearing a pink ladies frilly outfit went by me and cruised away from me easily. I got trannied! I was jockeying back and forth with a couple guys and that helped motivate me. Miles 10-13 were 7:09, 7:12, 7:16 and 7:06.

The last mile goes right by AT&T (Giants) Park, right along the right field wall next to McCovey Cove. Then it was straight along the Embarcadero to the finish. I had enough left to push it a bit, and was feeling pretty good about my race. Last .23 on my G was at 6:07 pace. I threw up a big BP and crossed in 1:34:46! Yes, V predicted my time down to the second!

(Later officially changed to 1:34:47 - whatever)

No one was there to capture the moment, but later I found out why. V and A were at the awards ceremony for the 5K. Because she won the 5K!!! Loop Mojo was all over the town, as we had people in all 4 races doing great things. It was awesome to see V up on the stage with a giant bouquet of flowers. She was beaming all day.

I picked up a tiny medal for my pikermi. But then I got a ginormous medal for doing the LA/SF challenge having done the LA marathon. That big thing was more in line with how I felt about my race; A new over 50 PR, and a time only 5 seconds off of my Philly time. On a hilly course. yeah, I felt good.
We met up with a couple more loopsters after the race, but sadly could not hook up with a couple other guys in the crowded madness. Eventually we made it back to the mansion and celebrated with relaxing time, a BP and some wine.

Yes, it was a sanfrantastic weekend!