Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - Best Year Ever

I have done these annual reviews for 5 years now. It seems like every year I set new highs for piling up amazing running experiences. But this year definitely tops the list. Hard to imagine I can top this one.

FOUR EPIC Bucket list experiences

FOUR huge Loopfests
A new post-college high in miles with 1,381.

Only one Age Group PR, in the last race of the year, but this year wasn't about speed as much as about just enjoying the hell out of anything that came my way. So let's get started then...

I began the year on injured reserve; Still nursing plantar fasciitis that had me down for about 3 months and hurt for about 8. But I started to "run through it" in January and slowly ramped up the miles. By the time Surf City rolled around, I only had 22 miles in, but I went ahead and ran the 13.1 and managed to finish without re-injuring myself, in 1:48:49. Plus I got to run with the Sauce. Win.
 sc14 045
And of course the loopfest was awesome.
In the Spring I increased the mileage and got back in shape. Got back to regular Saturday mountain goat runs. Threw in a couple of 5Ks for fun.

21:07 and 21:14 showed me most of my speed hadn't left me.
 41914 101
By May I was ready to race hard. Another Loopfest was on tap in Cincinnati, with the Flying Pig. I got to duel with PegLeg and race up and down some big hills to a 1:40:54. And, of course, partying with loopsters is always memorable, heart-warming and mojo-boosting. More new loopsters to meet. Plenty of old friends to hang out with.
 pig 137
pig 099June brought the first bucket list item - the Western States 100! Now I am not ready to run such a long and difficult race. But I was ready to crew it. So I acted as crew for the incredible Mild Sauce, got to hang out with the legendary Matzi, and stayed up all night and got a taste of this epic event.

July brought two more races. The annual 4th of July 5K again showed I was not quite ready for PRs, as I managed a 20:48. Getting closer though.
Then another half in Ventura where I was laid low by the heat, and struggled to a 1:43:11.
I also squeezed in my first 1 mile race on the track in 30 years, and surprised myself with a 5:52!

August brought another Loopmeet opportunity, as RunDanRun and family stopped by. Of course we found a local 10K to race.
Then it was up to Portland. After three years of trying, I was finally able to put together the Dream Team of Loopville All-stars to run Hood to Coast. It was everything I had hoped for. Beautiful places to run. Tons of fun in vans. Pitch black night running. But the best part was the incomparable Loop camaraderie. Great times.

In September, it was time for another Loopfest at Erie. Met some more loopsters. Good times. And my race was a fine breakthrough to a 1:35:14.
Two weeks later I was off to the Grand Canyon, and did a Rim to Rim run that was just amazing. Despite the rain during the climb, it was an incredible lifetime memory.
I tried to follow that up with a 10K the next week, but the legs were still pretty tired, so I cruised to a 45:33.

Oh, and by the way, I was training for a marathon. New York City! The last big marathon on my bucket list. More loop meets.

And the race went great as I powered through the wind and hung on for a 3:36:02. I was one of a record 50,564 finishers. So now I have run in the biggest marathon ever, and probably the most notorious marathon ever (Boston 2013 with the bombs).

A prior commitment meant I had to come back and do a half six days later. And the tired legs responded pretty well in Santa Barbara, allowing me to do a 1:38:51.

After that I survived the Turkey Trot 3 miler in 20:29

And then I finished the year by getting my only age group PR of the year in my 14th race with a 43:08 10K, despite getting beat by a tree.

Last night's run put me at 1,381 miles for the year - the most mileage since 1980.
Hoping for over 1,500 in 2015.

So I am finishing the year healthy, fast, and excited for 2015! So far I am scheduled for a 10K PR effort on Super Bowl Sunday, a Ragnar relay in Miami, the LA marathon and a BQ attempt in March, and the Cherry Blossom 10-miler and Loopfest in April. After that, we'll see!

Thanks for the memories and the inspiration!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Stacking Hay, Laying Bricks, Digging the Foundation...

Scheduled another double this weekend. Ten hilly goat miles Saturday followed by 15 flat miles on tired legs Sunday. That topped off a 2nd 40+ mile week in a row, as I build that base. Because that's what it's all about, as you know. (I don't need to add the link. You're singing it already, aren't you?)

It also put me over my 2012 total of 1,328 miles. I am now at 1,342 and it will be my biggest year since 1980, despite missing most of January, and having only 198 after March. So, yay.

Saturday was another fun trail run, with lots of fun technical single track. And lots of hills.

I ran with two new friends - one from Ireland who was in town briefly. Perfect weather with 50's and partly sunny. I ran pretty hard, walked when necessary, and blazed the downhills.
Pretty beat up by the end, but felt good to be alive. The idea of fifteen the next day sounded a bit nuts, but I am learning that the body tends to respond, like it did last week.

I had a good 2 hour nap Saturday before going out to a party where I had 3 beers and a lot of food, but I was still home and in bed by 10.

Sunday I woke up a bit groggy and sore, but I got myself out the door and back on the usual beach course - 5 miles of wood chip trail, then over to the beach for 9 flat miles at the end. And it went like all my Sunday runs seem to go. Easy slow start where I feel like I can never make it. Gradual speeding up as I start to feel better. Pace drops below where I should be, but I can't help it. Then I hit the beach and somehow I drop to marathon pace. Curse myself, but don't slow down anyway... You've heard this before...

Anyway, it went even better than normal. I found myself well under 8 minute pace, but it didn't feel that hard, so I kept it up. And I held it all the way home. Legs felt tired, but worked anyway. It was a real confidence booster! I started thinking of 7:45 as my goal marathon pace. Calculated, as I ran, that it would get me a 3:23. Sure. Why not? I even pushed it up the last hill. Boom.

So I'm on top of the world. Ready for a bit of a cutback week with lots of family coming to town. Then full steam ahead for marathon training.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mind over Matter, the Flip Side

I'm a big believer that our bodies can cash much bigger checks than our mind wants to write.

But convincing the mind is the hard part.

So yesterday, Speedy Track Club decided to substitute the regular weekly interval workout with a one-mile time trial. I knew about it for a few weeks, but I hadn't really bought in to it. I guess I could run an all-out mile. But I did so well in the summer with the mile (a surprising 5:52) that I wasn't motivated to try and beat that yet. But my training is going well, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

Then JJ posted on Loopville that she did a 5:58. There's some motivation, right? Kind of wanted to beat that.

So I warm up with a mile, and I feel sluggish. Then we do 6x100 accelerations. Meh. Then 6x200 at race pace with 100 jogs. Dang! That's pretty hard work for before a race! I just wasn't feeling speedy. And I think I was afraid of the pain that running sub-6 would bring. Mentally I had already checked out. I was considering bailing altogether and not running it. Then I thought I would just run a hard 6:30 or so. Walking to the line, I still hadn't decided on a strategy.

There are two guys I do intervals with that are normally the same pace as I am. And they are master pacers. Every interval they are right on pace. They were shooting for sub-6. So I figured to chase them for a while and see how it felt. Stay close to 6 minute pace and hopefully I could finish strong and go sub-6.

So off we go, and I slip into my spot behind the fast people and ahead of the slower ones. My pacers were just ahead of me, but already slipping away. And I let them. I had already convinced myself not to really push myself. Fail.

But I was still running hard. Went through lap 1 in 90 seconds anyway. Surprised me a little. So I thought I might as well keep this up for a while. It was hard, but I figured to keep at it as long as my body would let me. Lap two my pacers got a little further ahead (20 yards maybe?) and I ran 92.

Lap 3 I was hurting, but passed a couple people and maintained. Another 92. But now I could smell the finish and pushed on the gas - and there was plenty left in the tank! It was tough, but I was accelerating. I started to catch up to my pacers who had gotten further ahead. I realized maybe I could slip under 6 if I cranked it up. So I did. And there was even more left! On the last stretch I probably made up ten yards on my guys, and Garmin had me running sub-5 pace, but I finished just behind them by about a second. In 6:01. D'oh!

So, last lap 87. And the speed I felt at the end convinced me I definitely could have run faster. Probably a lot faster. I just needed to tell myself to shut up and go out harder and go for it. Oh well. Lesson learned. My negative mind conquered my able body. This time.

Still. 6:01 is pretty fast. And now I want to smash it next year! No reason I can't get a lot faster! (if I stay healthy) 5:30 sounds like a good goal...

Monday, December 15, 2014

12.13/14.13 Marathon Weekend

This is not an official 12/13/14 race entry. Because I am too lazy or stubborn to do any of the fun stuff like make a bib or take pictures.

But I did run like the dickens this weekend, and the mojo train is still rolling! So thanks for the motivation to push myself.

Saturday I joined my Mountain Goats and stretched the run just enough to get up to 12.13 miles. As usual, it was hilly.

 But I felt pretty good and had a great run. It was cold (for us) at 50 degrees, and I think I was the only one in just shorts and a tee. But I thawed out eventually and it was a beautiful day with gorgeous long views from the mountain top. Pushed the pace a bit and finished feeling strong. And I nailed the 12.13 miles. For a bonus, the calories burned came in at 1404. Almost a perfect 1414.


That wiped me out pretty well, so Sunday I woke up a bit sore and tired. But I had committed to 14 more for the 12/13/14 weekend. So, once again, this little community can take credit for increasing my mileage.

I did my normal flat beach run, and it felt good to go on my long route (over 13) for the first time since the marathon. Felt like I was back in marathon training, which of course I am. As usual I told myself to just go as easy as possible, and as usual I went basically the same speed I always go. As I warm up and start to feel good, I just speed up!


Felt great to go sub-8 toward the end and hold it. I took it to 14.13, just because, which made the weekend total 26.2 miles. One of my favorite numbers!

It was another cold (low 50s) run, which was perfect after I got past the first few miles of numb hands. I did both of these runs with no fuel. No GU or anything. I thought I'd give that strategy a try. The first one I did no water as well. Since it was so cool and I didn't sweat as much, it was no problem. Big waves from the recent storm were fun to watch, and there were a few brave surfers out on the 10-12 foot waves. Good times.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Got My Mojo Workin'

I'm on a roll.

Here's some music for the soundtrack of this bloop. You can play it in the background as you read.

After Saturday's surprise 10K PR (race report here if you missed it), I felt pretty darn good! No post-race soreness or fatigue. Still beaming with the afterglow of my result. Normally I would take a day off after a 10K, but I went back out Sunday to add some miles, since I am building up for marathon base-building. The idea was to take it slow and just get some junk miles in.

I did my local wood chip trail run. 8.4 miles, of which 7.7 of it was on wood chips. Mostly flat, soft, easy day, right? I wore my trail shoes. I figured to keep it around 9 minute pace, or at least above 8:30. Well, I felt just fine from the get-go. No tired legs. And I tend to just speed up if it feels good...

Cruising along feeling good! Hooweee! When I feel this good, I tend to start making big plans. Thinking I should add MORE miles, MORE races, faster PRs...I am invincible!


Monday I took a day off, and Tuesday I did my usual group run, which normally becomes a progression run as I chase others in our group. On this day however, other people were doing the chasing. Back on a hard surface and wearing my Hoka Cliftons, I again felt surprisingly good from the start, and just let the ponies run...

And I wasn't really working that hard either! A good comfortable hard, but some left in the tank. More endorphins and happy rainbow thoughts. Cruising those last two miles at 7:30 I thought, "Maybe I can do a whole marathon at this pace - shoot for 3:20 - why not?" and had a big smile on my face all through the post-run beer and dinner with the group.


Still felt good on Wednesday. Legs still feel fresh somehow. So I headed to the track for my interval group. I was ready to throw down whatever they wanted to throw at me. And it was a doozy of a workout! Total of 8 miles with 4 miles of it very fast!  Here are the deets for you track nerds.

3 lap warmup
4 laps of straights and curves, meaning fast strides for 8x100 with jogging curves
800 at 10K pace - 3:23. 1 lap jog
3x400 at 1 Mile pace with 100 jog - 88, 87, 85. 1 lap jog
1200 at 5K pace - 4:49 (6:25 pace) 1 lap jog
4x400 at 1 Mile pace with 100 jog - 91, 91, 87, 88. 1 lap jog
800 at 5K pace - 3:11
3 lap cooldown

So, 7 fast 400s (sub-6 pace), 2 800s and a 1200, plus 8x100. It was fun. I felt like bailing for the last several but I kept walking up to the line and knocking them down. Beast mode.

Still feeling good, but tired, so I'm thinking I'll take two days off before I tackle a long weekend. For 12/13/14 I'm thinking 12.13 goat miles Saturday and 14 miles on Sunday.

Life is good.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Early Christmas Present (10K RR)

When I signed up for this 10K, I had just finished an unsatisfying 10K in over 45 minutes in October. I had worn out legs from the Grand Canyon trek, so my excuse was valid, but I wanted another shot to run a fast one. The fact that in the 5 weeks before this new one I was running a marathon, a half, and a 3 miler didn't seem to bother me.

So I signed up, forgot about it, did all the other races, and now here I was. Still with tired legs, or at least a good excuse. Actually I've been feeling better lately, so I still had hope.

Here's the course. The start/finish is at the top. We head South before turning inland for a couple out and backs, and then finish along the beach.

It's basically flat, but the little bumps were noticeable.

I got there early, but I parked over 1/2 mile away. So I had to run to the start, get my shirt and bib, and then, since my sherpa took the day off, I had to run all the way back to the car, and then back again. So, I had 1.8 miles of warmup! Normally I would run maybe a 1/2 mile warmup for a 10K. But it was probably a good thing, and I was able to enter 8 miles in the log, as I build my base.

This was a Christmas run, so lots of costumes and fun. They gave Santa hats out to everybody, and medals to all finishers, 10K AND 5K! First time I got a medal just for finishing a 10K. I don't think I like this trend.

My goal was to beat my over-40 PR set last year, of 43:14. That is just under 7 minute pace. So I wanted to start around 7:15, and then work down to sub-7 by mile 3. But after last week's sluggish Turkey Trot, I figured my chances were pretty slim. I really just hoped to stay close to 7 minute pace and keep it under 45:00, maybe under 44:00.

As I did my strides I saw a couple Korean guys who looked serious. One was "motivating" the other with lots of loud Korean pep talk. I figured they would be among the leaders.

Off we went, and I was pretty good about not getting pulled out too fast. Still, first look was 6:41 pace, so I tried to relax and bring it down. I let lots of people go by me, plus we started up a little hill, so I was soon at 7:00 pace and sticking with that. Went through 1 in 7:01. OK, let's just try to hold this...

Mile 2 I tried to maintain, but it was getting hard. Garmin showed a 7:09, but I hit the 2-mile mark at 14:02, so I hoped that G had a glitch and was running short. Mile 3 had a very gradual uphill, but it was enough to break my spirit. I felt like I was fading and the pace was too fast with too far to go. I was just hanging on and G said I was near 7:20! Again, that didn't sound right and I guessed it was wrong. But I didn't know, so I just kept pushing.

Just after the first turnaround I saw some running group buddies not too far behind me. That woke me up, because they had no business being that close to me! So I stepped it up a little. That and the slight downhill helped, and I started to feel better, and I hit the 3-mile sign in 21:06, so apparently I was still very close to 7:00. G beeped in a good 50 yards later with 7:11.

As I came up to the first turnaround, I saw the leaders. An African guy was WAY ahead - he won by almost 3 minutes. I didn't see the Koreans, but I could hear the shouting. The "coach" was keeping up a constant patter of...something in Korean. It was loud and urgent, like GO, KEEP GOING, HARDER, (I'm assuming) and it never stopped. They were over 100 yards ahead of me and I could hear it. Finally as I neared the turnaround I saw them. Looked like a Father-Son combo. The kid looked to be a teenager, and Dad was staying a step or two ahead and just giving him heck. Reminded me of Roger...

During miles 3 and 4 I gradually reeled them in, so I could hear this the whole time. Other runners and I would make jokes about it. Mile 4 I felt better and started to think I could do this. I just needed to hold on to 7:00 pace a little longer and then I could accept more suffering in the last 2 miles and go sub-7. The adrenaline seemed to over-rule the fatigue and I felt good. Plus I caught the Koreans at mile 4.

The kid was hurting. Literally whimpering. I knew that sound, and I felt his pain. he had gone out too fast, and was just suffering through the 2nd 5K. And Dad was not letting up. It wasn't mean shouting, but he was trying to keep him going as hard as he could. But he was fading and I moved on by. By the end of mile 5 I was out of earshot, which meant he was at least 200 yards back. But I had a 6:58!

At this point I had reached the beach. The final stretch was over a mile straight up Venice Beach, so I sensed the finish and pushed it a little harder. The Venice Beach craziness was not in force yet at 8 in the morning - just a few vagrants and some people getting set up. I was chasing a tree...

Some girl in a Christmas tree outfit had passed me in mile 2. It was a little demoralizing. But I started to catch her in mile 5, and by mile 6 she was only 20 yards ahead. So that was my new goal; Do not get beat by a tree. I gradually reeled her in and passed her with 1/2 mile to go. But then there was a surprise turn. (see map)

I figured we were just heading straight up the beach to the finish, but they added an extra turn before the end, and it included a little hill. Ugh, this broke my focus and killed my momentum. And that damn tree girl took the opportunity to re-pass me on the hill. Aaarrghh!

But then we caught a little down hill back to the beach and then there was the finish line, so I tried to find one more gear. But when I did that I got the pre-dry heave feeling, like it would not end well, so I had to back off just a little. Still I was catching her...It was close...

But I ran out of time, and she beat me by a second. I captured this shot from the finish line video. I'm on the far right. That other guy flew by me right at the end too.


However, mile 6 was 6:48 and the final bit was 6:07 pace, and my official time was 43:08! New PR by six seconds!

14th and final race of the year and my first PR. Nice way to finish the year.

I waited around to see the Koreans finish, just so I could tell the kid good job. They came in at 44:32, so it was a big bonk, but Dad looked exuberantly happy. Kid just looked exhausted. Later I looked them up and Kid was only 12! Won his age group. Whatever works.

I ended up 9th in my AG, 124th overall out of 2600+. Very happy with the PR. And I know I can do better if I actually taper. Next race is another 10K in 8 weeks and now I want to go sub-43 there. Hung out after the race with several friends from different groups on a beautiful sunny day at the beach.

Life is good.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Turkeys Trotting

Thanksgiving. A day of traditions. So for us runners, that means a Turkey Trot. A fun way to go out, have some racing fun, and justify the massive amounts of food to be eaten later.

For me, that meant the local 3 Mile race that I have done 9 times now in the last 15 years. It's very low-key, un-timed, with no winners or awards. Lots and lots of walkers and joggers. But of course, I treat it as a race. And my goal this year was a course record, which would be a lifetime PR since no one else does 3-mile races.

4 years ago I ran 20:27. Two years ago I ran 20:16. So my goal was to go sub-20. 6:40 pace. Barring that, I hoped to at least PR under 20:16. I figured I had a decent shot at it.

I had my own personal paparazzo there as well, as in addition to DW, JunBlack showed up to work on his mad photography skillz. He caught me in my pre-race routine as I put on my race-face.

DW caught me as I practiced my levitation

I found a buddy from my track club to start with, and soon we were off! I was somewhere behind this turkey.


But ahead of these turkeys,


Oh, there I am! Still happy and pain-free!

 Which didn't last for long. I kind of got sucked out with the big crowd and my first pace check showed 6:21. Too fast. I tried to relax, and slowed a bit. My track buddy was running with me, but started to pull away toward the end of mile 1. I had to let him go. It was too fast and I was hurting. Mile 1 was 6:37.

Which was very close to my goal of 6:40, although I hoped to do negative splits. But I was already just hanging on. Mile 2 was looking like 6:55 pace, so I tried to step it up a little, but my body was not having it. Just maintaining was the best I could do. Except "maintaining" meant a 6:54 mile 2.

So, it looked like sub-20 wasn't going to happen. But I could still hope for a PR if I could muster a kick. I headed for home, with the last mile one straight, flat road to the finish.

But I had nothing. People were pulling away from me instead of me catching anyone. I was just trying not to give in to the overwhelming desire to slow down and walk. When my extra exertion still showed a pace over 6:50 I think I felt defeated and just hung on the rest of the way. At least I didn't give up. Mile 3 was 6:52, and I finished with 20:29.

Here is a peek at mile 3 pain.


I'm back there somewhere. I ran all of mile 2 with that double stroller guy, and then he pulled away from me. Sad.


So, no PR, but not so far off. Still a good morning's work. Earned some credits for food-gorging later. Besides, there is always another race. Like the 10K coming up next week...