Thursday, March 27, 2014

Knocking Off the Bucket List

They say life begins at 50.

Well, I think 'they' may be right. Since I hit 50 two years ago (!!), I have been having the time of my life - at least for the running part of my life. Which has become the biggest part.

Take a look at all the bucket list items, and other accomplishments from the last few years:

Fastest times in over 10 years at every distance
Fastest marathon in 17 years to qualify for Boston
Ran Boston!!!
Joined a trail running group
Ran Dipsea! (Double)(Twice)
Ran my first Ultra! (50K)
Became a coach (for 1 person, but hey)

And now this year I have four more big bucket list items ready to go down:

First time pacing at an ultra - Running Mild Sauce through some late miles at the epic Western States 100!

8 weeks later...

First Relay Race!  The grand-daddy of all relays, Hood to Coast, with the most awesome team ever assembled from Loop Superstars!

5 weeks later...

Grand Canyon, Rim to Rim Run! 21 miles of nature's majesty, with a fun group of mountain goats!

5 weeks later...

New York City Marathon!

Yes, I got in through the lottery yesterday, and will be doing my first NYCM. I'm very excited!!!!

I have to think that maybe the good karma I earned from volunteering at races and hosting loopfests helped get me this golden ticket. Now I just need to stay healthy for an epic Autumn!

So what is left on the bucket list? Not a whole lot after all that. I plan to reach my lifetime mileage milestone of running the equator (24,901 miles) in about two months. I kind of would like to do a Half-Ironman some day - probably after retirement. Maybe get involved with coaching kids on a cross country team or something.

Basically, just enjoy everything. Lots of loopfests. Lots of trail races. You youngsters have a lot to look forward to. Getting old ain't so bad. I'm just glad I am now able to afford to do all this stuff, and am healthy enough too.


Running update - The foot is still getting better. I have seen significant improvement the last week, even with increased mileage. Yesterday I ran without my heel pads for the first time, and the post-run PF pain continues to diminish. I am going to keep increasing miles cautiously. Plenty of time to get ready. I want to make sure I get to all these races in fine fettle!

Life is good!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Redondo Beach St Pats 5K Race Report

Back to racing. This would be my first race since October where I would be really racing hard, and shooting for a goal time at the max of my ability. On the other hand, I wasn't stressing too much about it. I am just starting to get back in shape, and had only one speed workout under my belt. This one would be for fun and to see where I was.

But I had goals.

I wanted to stay under 7 minute pace (21:45). That was the main goal. But I was hoping maybe if all went well, I could beat last year's course record of 21:01, when I was similarly just getting back into racing shape. Under 21 would be fantastic! It gave me something to shoot for anyway.

The course was a crooked T. Run out, turn left, out and back and then out and back on the other side, before returning to the start. There was just enough hill to make you hurt, mostly between 1.3 and 1.9 miles, but then a nice downhill from 2.1 to 2.7.

Like so:
These are streets I run all the time so I was very familiar. DW set up at the main intersection so I would go by her 3 times for maximum photo oppage.

I lined up behind the usual kids on the front row, a couple rows back, so I would be good and not get sucked out too fast. That was the plan anyway. I went out controlled and felt good. After a block or so, I checked Garmin, hoping I wasn't TOO slow. G says 6:22 pace.

What?!?!  OK, take it down a little more. I try to relax and cruise. Here I am about mile 0.4. Still more kids to pass. I look pretty relaxed though, huh?

Pace drops nicely until it is more like 6:45, and I realize I need to step it up a little to keep it under 7. I need to bank a little time before the hill.

Last year my splits were 6:35, 7:02 and 6:36. So I knew mile 2 would be slower, but also that mile 3 would let me get it back on the downhill. So I was patient. Went through mile 1 in 6:48. Great. That's just fine.

Now I was heavy breathing and working but still felt in control. I was tracking a guy ahead of me at my speed, and that helped me stay on pace. Mile 2 pace started heading toward 7:00 and we started up the gradual hill. I was working now.
By the time I crested the hill I was starting to go lactic. The "I want to quit" voice was awake and whispering to me. Keeping up the pace was rough. I just thought about the downhill to come and just told myself to hang on. Mile 2 was 7:07. Perfect.

I had been hoping to catch a local friend who is near my speed. He always goes out fast and sometimes I catch him, and sometimes I don't. At the first turnaround he had me by maybe 50 meters. At the 2nd, it was still nearly that much. It looked like I wouldn't get him today. But having him out there gave me some extra incentive to push it and see if it was possible.

Turning around and catching some downhill was sweet. I opened it up a bit and saw my pace was close to 6:30. I was nearing exhaustion and just hanging on, but catching some people. Here I am with 0.4 to go. Note all the little kids have been replaced with fast old geezers.

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All of whom I beat, by the way. Except I didn't catch my friend.

The last few tenths I just pushed it with all I had. Mile 3 came in at 6:39 with the last 0.10 at 5:50 pace!

Final time: 21:07

I was wiped out and gasping, and felt like puking a little toward the end, but within a minute or two it was all good. I was happy with that time. And I'm excited to get back into shape. Got 5th in my AG, so no bling. Top two in my AG were 17:xx!

DW takes any opportunity to be festive.

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And I may have died and went to heaven.
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And for you Surf City vets, Mickey & Molly say hello.
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Now I have 7 weeks to get ready for a Pikermi in Cincinnati with 30 other loopsters. The foot seems to very slowly be getting better, so I am optimistic and looking forward to increasing the training.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Chasing and Being Chased

Just a thought I had while running yesterday.

I have my group runs on Tuesdays. Usually it is just an easy day, and I have no plans to do speed work. But darned if every dang time I end up going faster than planned. I blame the others.

I think it is just human nature. Or maybe my long ago track training and competitiveness kicking in. I usually start out slow and have a little conversation, but then I will see someone up ahead, and I just automatically want to go catch them. Having a rabbit out there in front of the greyhounds just makes you want to go get it! Even when I don't really think it, there is some subconscious desire that makes me speed up a bit. So by mile 2 I am usually working harder than I should. And once you get up to speed, it is darn near impossible to slow down much.

Yesterday was a good example. Mile 1, a pedestrian 9:14. taking it easy, running with a friend. But I was picking up the pace, and left her behind near the end of mile 1. And there was another buddy up ahead...I figure I might as well catch him and run with him. But he is accelerating too...I thought I was controlled, but the pace kept getting faster and faster. Mile 2 came in at 7:58!

By then I had caught him, and we were maintaining 8 minute pace together. I tried to relax and slow down, but...mile 3 was 8:06. I turned back for home at 2.7 and was alone again. No one in sight to chase. I was able to relax. Mile 4 was 8:25. Much better.

But then I heard some foot steps behind me. I looked back and saw a guy about 10 yards back. He was going at about my pace. Whatever, I kept going. But instincts are funny. Hearing those footsteps made me feel like the rabbit being chased. Fight or flight kicks in (Well, flight anyway) And I gradually watched my pace drop. To 8:10, 8:05, 8:00, 7:55. He seemed to very slowly be catching me, but basically staying behind me. And I felt (subtly) the need to stay in front of him. This lasted about 3/4 mile before I guess he had enough and went by me with a surge and I let him go. Mile 5, 7:50

Then I could relax a bit. Jogged up the steep hill toward the end and cruised it in. 8:54 pace for the last 1/2 mile. A nice little run where I felt my innate humanity. Running is fun.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Little Speed

So Tuesday was my return to speed work. With a 5K coming next week I wanted to see what kind of pace I could muster. I went to my normal group run, and decided to go out easy for 3 miles, then turn back, 1 fast mile, 1/2 mile rest, 1 fast mile, 1/2 mile jog in. I hoped to be close to 7 minute pace. That was the plan anyway...

I decided to also break out the Kinvaras for the first time since October, so I would be testing if those hurt my feet more than my heavier Cortanas. I wore my heel pads though.

First mile was leisurely, but, as often happens on these group runs, I got sucked into running with my peers, and the pace picked up. I was helpless to resist. So miles 1-3 were 8:51, 8:02, 8:07. It was NOT conversational pace, as I was gasping while talking. During mile 3 I thought, well maybe just make this a tempo run...But I tried to relax and slow down, and stuck with the plan. Should have been closer to 9 minute pace, but whatever. I was already tired.

Before the turnaround, I felt the need for a pit stop. Luckily there was a beach restroom right there at mile 2.95, so I took a short sit-down break, caught my breath, and got ready to really push it.

It felt good to run fast. I love it. Like a weight is lifted from me, and I can just GO! For a minute or two. Then my body starts to say, "Hey...wait a minute, I need more oxygen here fella..." First check at pace showed 7:11. Not bad, I could hold that and pick it up in the 2nd half... A little later I check and I am at 6:53. Whoa, howdy! I am happy that I can still run fast! But I try to dial it back a bit. Long way to go.

I held on fine though and managed to push it hard toward the end and finish with a 6:46! Alright, alright, alright! I walk a little and then trot while getting my breath back. Legs are heavy, but, shoot, I just ran 6:46! Feeling pretty good! After 1/2 mile I am ready to go again.

I hit the Garmin and take off. Feels good. After about a tenth, I check the watch, and it is not moving!!!!  Apparently I forgot where the lap button was in the last 4 months! So instead of lap I hit stop, and had to start the timer up again. So this one would be a little long. Great.

Anyway, it definitely felt harder this time. I was hanging right near 7:00 pace and it was WORK. The last 1/4 mile seemed to take forever (since it was over a mile after all), but I hung tough and held pace and finished with 6:55. Man, I was exhausted. But happy. I guess I still have a little speed left after all. Not the sub 6:30s I could do 6 months ago, but not bad at all. And my feet didn't bother me, so that's good.

And I get to run here, in 60 degree temps.


Life is good.

Odds and Ends

It's been a while. Nothing too exciting to post, but lots of little things...

1. Training - It is slow going, but I am trying to work myself back into shape. I finished February with 80 miles, which is almost as much as the last 4 months combined. I feel slow and I'm breathing harder than I think I should have to, but...getting there.

2. Trails - I did my first run with my trail running group, the Mountain Goats, since October. It was great to get back out on the dirt and the hills. Managed to cover ten miles and climb a mountain, but it was tough on me, so I skipped the next week. Hope to be back this week.

3. The PF - Well, I am living with it. Running through it. It doesn't hurt on the runs. It nags a bit later in the day and the next day. I am trying to be better about the exercises. I'm going to keep running as long as it doesn't get worse.

4. Weight - I joined the Loopville weight loss challenge, and another one at work simultaneously. I am at 162 and aiming for 155 by May 1st. I definitely want to shed this tire that is slowing me down. Starting to get a little more serious about what I stick in my pie hole. I CAN DO IT!

5. The LA Marathon is this weekend, and I signed up to volunteer at a water station at mile 10, on Hollywood Boulevard. Should be a beautiful day - 75 - glad I am not running it this year! Too warm. But it will be great to be part of it and watch the 25,000 people go by.

6. I put the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim back on the calendar for Sept 27. That will follow a busy summer of pacing at Western States 100, the Hood to Coast relay, and maybe crewing at the Waldo 100K. And if all goes well, I hope to add a marathon in there somewhere this Fall.

7. My big goal at the moment is the Flying Pig Half. Hoping to get enough speed back to get under 1:40, which is the same goal I have given Peg. So we have a little competition going. That helps push me...

8. Speed work - I have yet to run anything fast since my downtime started in October. But I have a 5K in 12 days, so I am going to do a little 2x1 mile workout tonight, and see if I am capable of sub-7 pace. Just getting to 8 minute pace has been tough on training runs, but intervals are a whole different beast, so I'll see what this old body is capable of at the moment, and let you know...

Have a good run today!