Monday, December 31, 2007

Year in Review...

Miles- 1940
Time- 321 hours
Pace- 9:56 average
Races- 21. I think.

Major new things explored:
Triathlons (Yay!)
Smartwool (Yay!)
Mizuno Breath thermo (eh)
Handheld hydration (good)
Mountain biking (not so good)
Trail Running (Big yay!)
Speedwork (yay- but dangerous)
Racing flats (Yay!)

Things to look forward to:

North Carolina Running
More base training, 70-80+ mile weeks
Improved bike and swim technique
Brooks shoes

I know I'll miss all I left in Michigan- Friends, work, family. A great trail I was getting to know really well. Races and paces to PR. But there really are times you just have to move on, and see what the new year might hold.

Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Training methods...

When I started off running, I had no idea what i was doing. I didn't have a class (like ones sponsored by many a running store) or book to follow- I just hopped on a treadmill and tired to figure it out as I went. It worked out okay, although it would have been a lot better if I had known what I know now.

go figure.

Anyway, my first marathon training was using the Galloway method, which involves long long runs (up to 28 miles) and walk breaks. After lots of training errors, injuries, and yada yada yada, I ran and did pretty well. At the very least, I was pretty satisfied.

The next time I ran that race it was more a hodge podge of training- I had speed work once a week because that's what my running group did. I ran the long runs (no longer than 20) and charted out a course to put in miles and not overdo. Tri training cut into the miles, but I didn't mind because it was another fun way to do stuff with friends. And I did well, cutting over an hour off my marathon time.

And now I'm doing base miles- average 9 to 9:30 pace, slowly building to a 70 miles/week average. Once that becomes old hat, I'll decide whether I want to push it up more or start doing speed training. It'll be hard, I think, juggling the new commitments of job and keeping an apartment and everything. I'm not exactly sure how to balance all that.

But this is a new phase- new way of training which I've never really investigated before. It's kind of exciting, and I've always enjoyed running for long periods of time. Last week's 60 miles was tough in some ways, and the traveling isn't going to make for an easy time getting my miles in this week or next. But the week after is my first ultra, so I can chalk it up to "tapering" and think of the miles I do then as base building, as well.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Goals Revisited

On July 14th I wrote an entry about goals; figure it's time to revisit them and see how I've done. here are the short term-

1- Run 2000 miles in a year.
2- Run a sub-50 minute 10K
3- Run a half marathon sub-1:45
4- Run a sub-4 marathon.
5- Run an ultra, either a 50K or 50 mile.

1- Close, but no cigar. I'm at about 1900 miles for this year, and might make it to 1950. But that's okay- I'll have next year and I'm sure I'll get it if I want. Triathlon training might take over.
2- Yah... 42:38 on 12/16, though I've run sub 47 a couple of times this summer.
3- no, but no half marathons since June. My first half of Detroit was close: 1:48 or so.
4- Detroit, 3:39:16.
5- I'm on schedule to get it done Jan 5, 2008.

What I'd like to see for next year:
1. Sub 40 10K
2. Sub 1:35 half marathon
3. Half ironman finish
4. Sub 3:20 marathon
5. 50K finish

If I really get into triathlons:
5. 1500 miles running, 1600M swim in <45 min, 56 miles biking in < 3hr (or so)

5b. 2000 miles running

Anyway, those are my (shorter term) goals. If you read my blog (and I know at least one or two of you do!) I'd like to encourage you to post yours! I hate the phrase "if you shoot for the moon, you may hit the stars" because you'll probably just burn up in reentry or land with a decided splat.

I like better: "if you shoot for perfection, you may achieve excellence" if you don't take perfection too obsessive/compulsively.... "Pound stupid and penny wise" comes to mind.

But best is "If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong!" For a flexible standard of "fun." Injuries are not fun. Slogging through a tough run isn't fun. Realizing that the race isn't between you and the others running it with you, but you against the race itself- that's fun. Realizing that the road is both ally and enemy in this sport- that's fun. Overcoming adversity- especially in the company of good friends- that's fun. As is achieving goals.

Which is why I do a post like this every so often. Hopefully in six months I'll be able to look back and see how I've either gotten closer or achieved some of these. But even if not, just stating them can be helpful...

Monday, December 17, 2007

RUT team run...

I have a new favorite running quote:

"Any idiot can run a marathon. It takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultramarathon!" (unknown- a cursory web search revealed nothing)

So it was on a Sunday where 4-8" of snow had already been dumped on us, and the forecast threaten up to 10" more, four intrepidly foolish souls decided to run Pontiac Rec, a 10 mile loop of hills, twists and turns.

It's my home course, and I've run it dozens of times, but this put a whole new spin on it. Not just because of the snow, but (first) running it with significantly more experienced trail runners than I and (second) going around clockwise rather than counter clockwise. Old terrain seems bright and new.

I had water, and I'm glad I brought it. I had Yak Trax, which helped too- though they tended to wander on my feet. Bit annoying. I didn't have gaiters, which I'll have to look into the next time I go for a run that has snow occasionally deeper than my knees. And I had that wonderful threat, from my friend G~, who at the end of the run said "I'll get you for this!"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Last 2007/Michigan race...

Jingle Bell 10K
Race Stats:
Time: 42:38, a 3:35 second PR!
Pace: 6:53
3rd AG

"All I want for Christmas is a new PR"

That's what was going through my head today as I did the Jingle bell 10K. It's my last race in Michigan, and many of my running friends were kind enough to join in just for that reason- though we're all racing fools. :)

The day was pretty cold -low 20s with a 10 mph wind making things interesting. I changed my mind about three times when trying to figure out what to wear, but one thing I was happy to put on again (that I haven't since this summer) were my racing flats. I haven't done a short road race or speed work since September, and giving up 4-5 ounces per foot made a big difference.

Smartwool socks, CW-X tights, Sugoi top and a smartwool headband completed the picture- all in black. If I didn't get a PR, or even run the race well, I still looked good, and that's almost as important, right? :) I donned my race number and a bell that they handed out so people would know exactly when I'm trying to pass them.

The 5K and 10K all had a mass start, and it was a double loop 3.1 Mile course, relatively fast and flat on suburb roads. My hope was a new PR, but I was uncertain if I'd be able to achieve it- I haven't done anything but easy to moderate runs since my October marathon. Some hills during my trail runs, some faster work during group runs when I had to stop and tie my shoe, and then catch up- but for the most part, easy, relaxed, and low stress base building has been my training lately.

I usually go into a race with three goals- one where I'll try not to feel disappointed "This wasn't my day" goal, a race went pretty well with a few snafus goal, and a "Yay!- I'm not sure I could do that!" goal. My times respectively were 49 minutes, 46:12 (new PR) and something in the 45s.

So, of course, I started off fast. A mass start with something like a fun run can be a bit of a headache, especially since I didn't head up towards the front. I spent the first half mile weaving around people, shooting through holes and generally hoping that people didn't make any sudden lateral moves while I was trying to pass them. My garmin's lap pace kept saying sub-7, which I very much thought was too fast, but my breathing wasn't labored, my gait was smooth, and I was feeling pretty good.

Actually, I was feeling very good. As the miles flew by, I noticed myself being in flow- feeling relaxed, calm, and truly enjoying the sensation of moving they way I knew my body could, but just hasn't in a while. Every so often I'd push a little harder and I find myself needing more air than my lungs could provide, so I slipped back into what I thought of as an "easy" pace.

I also cheered/was cheered on by my friends during the race. That was one nice thing about the race course- I saw almost all of them while I was running. Some of us were only a few dozen yards separated, but we still managed to cheer each other on. I really love my running group, and I'm really going to be sad to leave them. But this was a really good race to send me off!

I finished by just passing a friend who recently qualified for Boston (he finished 5 seconds behind me) and another guy who passed me at mile two and I lost sight of until mile five or so. To add to my sense of accomplishment, a lady runner friend of mine spent the whole race chasing me, and at the end she gave me two compliments: that my form looked smooth and effortless, and that I looked really, really good in tights. I thanked her, and I'm sure I'm must've blushed...

One Caveat- my Garmin said the course was 0.07 miles short, which would add 30-40 seconds...

Cross posted to Live Journal's Runner's community

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Good runs...

I had an interesting run last night. It was dark. Rainy. Cold. Perhaps the worst running conditions- just above freezing so the rain got you wet rather than turn to snow. We ran on roads with no side walks, lots of hills and turns. And bridges, too.

The bridges were fun because of the black ice. The black ice was fun because without a noticeable change in the appearance of the ground, the friction between foot and surface went from "normal" to "nothing." This also happened on a few hills, but it was on the bridge we noticed it first.

I'm happy to say that none of us fell, though we all slipped from time to time. We had headlamps and reflective gear and wicking stuff to keep us warm, visible, and able to see, if not dry. And we had a good time. If runs like that don't build camaraderie I'm not sure what would!

In other news, I signed up for the 50K on January 5th. Looking back in history, last year was in the 70s, the year before was in the 30s, and '05 was in the 50s. I'll have a chance to cut out at the half way point (it's a double out and back) and I refuse to let my fears of what may happen keep me from doing something that I'd really like to do.

Besides, having this to be nervous about will help me from being nervous about the move. The classic defense mechanism of distraction. So even if I don't do it, the pre-reg will still be money well spent. :)

Friday, December 7, 2007

I am so flipping in trouble...

So, there's this race in Winston-Salem the weekend I move there, ya'know? It's called the Frosty 50K. 31 miles, which is less than five miles more than a marathon. which really isn't much, except that it's five miles more than a marathon.

Anyway, I was looking the elevation profile from someone who ran part of the course earlier in the year. It was 3,000 feet in 11 miles.

3,000 feet.
11 miles.

I'm not so good at math, but that works out to something like 300 feet per mile, which is like climbing a 30 story building. Every. Flipping. Mile. So if I do my 50K, it'll be like a climbing to the top of 900 floors of buildings which I can't blast down because demolishing mountains without ready access to coal is economically unfeasible.

I nearly hurt myself today doing Pontiac Rec, a relatively difficult trail run that has elevation change of 1,600 feet in 16 miles. One third the elevation change per mile. OMG. I am wuss. I had to walk up a few of those buggers because I just didn't have the steam to run up them. I didn't have the steam to jog up them. When I found myself doing this sort of slow, weak hop barely putting one foot in front of the other, I decided it would be better bitchslap my pride and walk.

Am I going to do this 50K? I really hope so. Am I going to be walking the day afterward?
... Hm. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cold Weather Criteria

One of my favorite tri-bloggers, Elizabeth Fedofsky, wrote a bit about the joys of winter running. I won't repost it here (no really knowing etiquette in the matter) but I will post my additions to her wonderful list of the joys of winter running....

Or had icicles form off both ears and nose. Or untied your tights to take a wee and couldn't couldn't get your fingers to work to tie them back up again. Or designed a spreadsheet to figure out which clothes to wear in what temperature with what wind chill. Or had to revamp said chart. Or been constantly surprised because that chart was right; cold during the first two miles, but fine to warm for the next eight or whatever. Or thanked the coffee gods for someone who designed a travel mug that will keep coffee warm even when left in a freezing cold car. Or stepped into a shower before the hot water has kicked in and still felt like the water was freaking hot because your skin was used to being frozen. Or counted the number of heads that swivel as you do your run, all with the expression: "runners: dey nuz!"

Monday, December 3, 2007

With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain...

So winter's finally here. Its announced its presence by cutting our power twice in the past week. Thankfully, the folks at DTE were able to get it back on in under a day, but it's still a bit chilly to wake up to realize the temperature in my room has dropped 20 degrees or so.

Still, makes for some good running in a slow sort of way. Had a group run yesterday morning- five intrepid souls braved the effects of our promised saturday ice storm to do about eight miles of hills, slush and the occasional car. Three went on ahead, two of us lagged a bit behind and subsequently got lost. Not badly- we were only a little bit off course, but by the time we got done, we were ready to be done.

Smartwool socks helped, as did my underarmor mock turleneck. I wore a skull cap which I think made me look about 12. I also successfully removed a jacket layered under my reflective vest... without removing the vest. A feat not unlike a women remove her bra without taking off her shirt. Not that I've ever seen such a thing. *ahem*

Winter itself hold no real terrors for me; so long as I'm smart about gear, I feel I should be fine. On the other hand, winter drivers...

Friday, November 30, 2007


I almost did it again today.

There was a problem. 3 miles in, I got a call from a coworker asking: "So.... when are you coming in?" I was kind of hoping he was joking, because he's a practical joker that way.

He wasn't.

Did make for a pretty good tempo run on the way back, tho. It's pretty difficult terrain- relatively hilly (for Michigan) with snow and ice to make things interesting. Rocks, roots, and other random bits make for a treacherous path even on good days.

Still, I maintained a 8:30 pace or so for the three miles back, dropping about 2 minutes/mile from the way out. Sadly, though, I was an hour late on the first day of the sale. On the plus side, there were still four or five employees there, and one was kind enough to stay over an extra hour covering for me.

I just don't know if I'll make my 47-50 mile goal this week, though. Oh well, we'll see. :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Winter running

Went for a 10 Mile trail run today; I saw a few hunters, but I don't think they like the cold and snow any more than mountain bikers do. Real temp was about 30 degrees, but with the wind and everything the "feels like" temp was something about 15, with 20-30 mph gusts.

When I got to the parking lot, I had a long moment (maybe three or four seconds) wondering... do I really want to do this? A couple of friends got injured on this trail a few weeks back, and they didn't have to contend with snow and ice.

It was warm in my car. Diane Rehm was doing an awesome interview with James Lipton, the host of Inside the Actor's Studio. And I was feeling that sense of lethargy that comes with drinking way too much coffee yesterday that completely screwed up my sleep schedule last night. I mean, seriously, half a gallon of the evil black elixir of life. Doesn't help with going to sleep, especially combined with a six mile night run.

But then I opened the door, let all the warm air escape, took a deep breath and started.

And you know what? It was a pretty good run. Not fast, nor perfect, and around mile eight I was pretty happy there was only a couple of miles left. But it was good. And I may very well do it again tomorrow, everything going well...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Speed/cadence sensor...

Garmin offers a speed/cadence sensor for their GPS systems; three little bits of plastic and metal that can tell you how fast you're pedaling and the speed you're going. It can be a bit tricky to mount, though, and without an instruction booklet it can be a bit confusing.

Still, after trying to kludge a few things together, I realized that if I stopped thinking two dimensionally life would be a lot better. That is, if I mounted the sensor thing obliquely rather than (granted, how it seemed to be designed) straight upon the chain stay, I wouldn't be required to jury rig anything.

It wasn't really thinking out of the box. It was more like realizing the box was larger than I thought, and If I looked in a different corner, I'd find the answer to the problem I'd been looking for.

I'm sure there's a metaphor for this somewhere, but right now I have to go do laundry of my dirty running clothes. *sigh* that's one sad thing about winter- both the number of layers and the volume of laundry quadruples.... at least, when it comes to my workout clothes. :P

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving/Turkey Day everyone! To celebrate today I skipped out of the race and slept and extra few hours- partially because I really needed the sleep, but mostly because I'm a relatively lazy git.

I go now to do an hour on the bike trainer as penance. Cheers!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Deer firearms Nov 14- Dec 9

Welcome to the beginning of deer season, where northern Michigan is busy and the trail runners are nervous.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Red letter day. My technical/wicking socks have finally pushed the last of my cotton and dress socks out of my daily sock drawer. They've now been relegated to back of my bottom drawer behind my wool socks and on top of my really bloody old blue jeans.

I now have enough Smartwool, Asics, Mizuno, Nike, REI and Wigwam socks to last about a month and a half if I only exercise once per day.

Um... this might be getting a little out of hand...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

upping the miles

In the peak of the marathon season, I was up to 60 mpw (miles per week). After the marathon, I dropped to 20-30. This week I hit 42 or so, and next I hope to hit 46.

Building, always building. What I hope to build to is 60-70 mpw on a regular basis. During the building phase I'm thinking I'll only run one slightly harder run- maybe a few miles at LT pace (7:48 or so) before settling back to my easy 9-9:30.

Of course, when I'm running with a group, all bets are off. Though typically I'm going 10:30-11:30, rather than sub-8 when I'm running with a group- I hate dropping people, having been dropped in the past.

I'm also thinking that I'll count each hour spent cross training as about five miles against the total. If I go harder, perhaps more. I'll try to differentiate it by heart rate, but I don't know how successful I'll be. Last week I did 3.2 miles at a 12:30 pace with a HR of 133; the day after I did 12 miles at a 9:30 pace with a HR of 140.

At least, that's the plan. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Decisions are over-rated. :)

I didn't do the 10 mile warm up prior to the race- I just did the race.

It was a lot of fun, and the hot chocolate afterward was a wonderful touch. :) My friend N~ and I drove into the park together to save money on a park pass- it's always a lot nicer to go to a race with a friend. Last year I went alone, and though there were a lot of nice people hanging out, established relationships make life a lot easier.

After a quick warm up and listening to the pre-race instructions (most of which I couldn't hear) the group of us started off jockeying for position. Like many people I think I might've taken the first mile a bit too fast, but it is kind of hard not to when you know it'll be very hard to pass people later in the race and you're running just to warm up. 40 degrees and windy is chilly when you're in shorts! I warmed up nicely, but the first mile or two were a bit nippy.

I cruised up some hills, down some hills, avoided rocks, roots, and runners- took a gulp of water at the first water station without breaking stride and spilling only when I was being deliberate about it. I ran behind a guy for the first couple of miles- he would push himself hard up the uphills but I had to hold myself back during the downhills, and I was content with this situation till I decided it was time to push. My heart rate bounced between 160s and 180s during the time I was following- right about where I wanted it.

Right around mile three I decided to push it into another gear- I was hanging out at about 80% effort and I wanted 85% so I passed him, caught up to another, passed again, and spent about another mile and a half trying to reel in a third. All three were remarkably polite in first checking with me to ask if I wanted to pass, and then stopping and stepping off the path when I was ready. Courtesy is not dead! Even in competition.

Anyway, I finished the race, had some hot chocolate, and waited for the awards ceremony. Sadly, I didn't place. :( Still, I had a great time sitting around camp fire, staring at the flames and participating in the conversations around me. it's a very fall thing to do, and I haven't done enough of it this year. *sigh* Oh well.

Afterward N~ and I went to breakfast and I rewarded myself with three of the largest blueberry pancakes I've ever seen. Honestly, I think they broke the "Don't eat anything bigger than your head" rule. But they were tasty, and I figure I had earned it.

The stats:
Distance 4.9 miles(~8K)
Time 41:52
Pace 8:34/Mile (~5:15/K)

3/16 AG
14/94 OA
12 minutes faster than last year! Some pretty good improvement between then and now, eh? :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

decisions, decisions...

After taking two easy weeks after the marathon, I wanted to get my running back up to my more normal miles- 40 to 45/week- and build from there to 50-60 per week. It's a different philosophical training which I thought would be fun to try- at the very least, it would give me more time out on the road.

So far this week, I've done about 38; tomorrow I have a 4.8 mile race planned. However, a couple of friends are planning to do a 10 mile trail run before hand. The race is a trail race. I really enjoy running with these friends. They're planning to do a trail ultra in February, and I'd love to join them. But it'd put me past 50 miles this week.

Decisions, decisions...

Monday, November 5, 2007

The bike trainer is the treadmill of the cycling world.

I spent 90 minutes of my life today, watching the movie Equilibrium and "spinning" I guess you'd call it. It wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. But then, I was thinking it'd be pretty bad.

I chose Equilibrium because it's a movie I didn't have to think about while I was watching, and the fight scenes are prettily choreographed. And I think watching it along side "Through a Scanner Darkly" may be as unwise as watching my "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby" double feature.

But I spun, and it was okay, and the movie progressed as it should. And if I'm able to do it twice a week, or more, I may be able to start next season better able to bike than I left off last.

I still need to figure out how to get my swimming in, however. I really has been weeks since last I was in water. Ah well, I'm sure I'll figure something out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I love spectators. I'm glad they're there, I feel like I draw energy from their cheers, and the louder and more boisterous they can be, the better. I can't imagine what it would be like to stand out side just cheering when I'd so much rather be running. So, hats off to them.

However, if there's one thing I wish they would never, ever say anywhere between miles 20-26 of a marathon, it's this: "you're almost there!" First, it's a lie. Six miles is six miles, and it's a pretty long way. It's about a half hour for even the best when they're fresh, and no easy task after 20. For many of us the last six takes closer to an hour, and if we've hit the wall hard, even longer.

Some schools of thought believe that half of the energy of a marathon is done in the first 20 miles, the last 6.2 is the second half. I fully subscribe to this, if you label "energy" as "mental fortitude." I looked at the splits of my marathon... 8:20 average for the first half. 8:08 over the first 20 (I sped up some, probably foolishly). But the last six were in the nines somewhere dropping my average to 8:22 or so. It was a long, hard slog, and I felt every one of those miles as a battle against my body's desire to slow down or quit.

In no way did I feel "almost" there until mile 26. And even then, when I spied the finish line, it still felt impossibly far away. Perception is messed on both ends, I guess- both mine and theirs.

So, as much I love spectators, I kinda wish they'd save the cheer "You're almost there!" for sometime after mile 26, when it feels a little closer to accurate.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Weird post marathon fact #282

Post marathon, it's sort of weird not to freak out over every little ache and pain. You're sort of in the habit, but then you remember it doesn't matter as much anymore. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why I run

Someone asked on the LJ runner's community why people run marathons- I gave the answer why *I* run marathons. I hope you enjoy...

I think it has to do with addiction, tolerance, and withdrawal. I have to run further and further distances to get the same high from running. The pleasure I got from five miles, so wonderful the first time, soon faded and I needed seven. then 10. 15. and so on. But I can stop at any time!

*twitch* :)

Seriously though, running through long distances tears down some of my psychological defenses and helps me see myself more fully- do I keep myself moving when I hit the wall, or do I quit? Do I have the smarts to realize when pain is a warning sign that shouldn't be ignored? And how do I strike a balance between the two when my blood sugar is plummeting and my legs feel like they're made out of lead?

That's sort of why I like running. Nothing is solved, and usually I end up right where I started. But I can see myself a little bit more clearly at the end of the day. Oh, and I've burned off a bunch of stress and maybe a bunch of french fries, too. And I've made a bunch of good friends who are also marathoners. And I like the medals, and to see myself improve. And it's fun to have a tangible reason to train.

Okay, wow, people really shouldn't let me near a keyboard when I've only gotten three hours of sleep. I ramble, and ramble, and ramble...

Monday, October 22, 2007


First, the stats-

Distance- 26.2
Time- 3:39:16
Pace- 8:23

70/310 AG; 638/3750 OA

A lot of the race is a blur- just mechanically putting one foot in front of the other, trying to maintain good form and a speedy turn over. But I do have some snippets...

Beginning of the race, and a lot of us are having problems with our Garmins locating satellites. I start chatting with the women next to me who's having the same issue. Turns out she's a member of the Ann Arbor program that I'm coaching in West Bloomfield. Out of 15000 marathon, half marathon, and relay people, it's weird that I'd pick one of the 50 with whom to strike up a conversation.

The bridge, and seeing the first hints of morning from between the two countries.

Running fast through Canada; I'm not sure if the wind was to my back, or I hit my stride, or whatever, but the four miles through Canada were all sub-8. I'm thinking I may have paid for this later...

Underwater mile was fast; I love down hills, and I get a huge psychological lift from passing people. Thus, it was almost certainly a too-fast 7:03. but it was fun!

Hitting the 25K mark (15.5 miles) and hearing one guy ask another "Are you Religious?" To which I turned and said "It feels like 'bout time to stary praying, doesn't it?"

Belle Isle. Better than last year.

Hitting the 20 mile mark and thinking: "10K left to go." Normally, I'd think right after this "I can do a 10K!" This time, I thought "I can do a 10K?" Cue Sarah McLachlan's "Hold On" and the lead weights guy to attach anchors to my feet.

I did enjoy running through Indian Village, though mostly (like Patrick McGoohan) I just wanted to get out. Course, as soon as I did I was running straight into the wind on Lafayette. Which um... sucked.

Every mile from there seemed a victory, but would be followed by the realization that I had to run another mile. And another. Till I hit that blessed sign that say "26" and only another .2 miles to go. Three hundred and something yards. When I saw that I started to move faster. When I finally saw the finish line, looking impossibly far away, I moved faster yet. When I crossed the timing mats I was moving at a pretty good clip... 5:30 pace.

I stopped my garmin, and looked: 3:39:16! I really, really wanted to break 3:40, and I did! I would have been content with dropping a mere hour from last year's time, at 3:46. Heck, I'd've been okay with breaking four hours. But hitting the 3:30s... that's something to celebrate!

I do want to send out thanks to my family for putting up with me during training (especially during taper!) my friends for being an great training partners, my 501 folk for being great inspiration, and all ye who may have waded through my diatribes!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hidden Forest Trail Run

First the stats:

Distance- 8.5 (8.2 Garmin)
Time- 1:06:15
Pace- 7:48 (8:05 Garmin)

Ya'know how a roller coaster is a big hill at the beginning, with a series of smaller ones that you take faster and faster? Well, this course was exactly the opposite. It starts off with a relatively easy loop, from which the 2.5 mile people go on to the finish line. Add a slightly harder loop with a more difficult hill for the 5.5 mile people. The last loop has a 150 foot, ~15% grade hill that seems to last about half a mile or so.

It was sort of neat to see both my heart rate and my pace drop as I flew down hill, though.

Anyway, I was 3rd in my Age Group, 27th Over All (out of 111). I got a neat little plaque, and everything! Number two in my AG only beat me by 30 seconds, but he was six minutes delayed on his first loop, and his form as a heck of a lot cleaner than mine. So I'm content. :)

[edit]I looked him up on (also known as athlinks) and saw he's run a sub-3 marathon. so I have no problem getting beat by him, even if it was in the last 30 seconds...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Call it a taper if you like... I'll call it having a cold.

Saturday, it started off as a sore throat. Not a big deal, really- a couple of sprays with the medicine and I was fine.

Didn't feel that much on Sunday during the duathlon. When I finally let myself feel it, it had worked it's way into my sinuses, where it's managed to lodge itself pretty well. I've been taking OTC drugs, and they've helped.

On the other hand, my training hasn't been all that much to write home about- took Monday and Tuesday off, did a very easy four yesterday, and meant to get in six to eight today but didn't think to do it this morning... and it was too late. Oops. So, if four days I'll have racked up four miles running, no swimming, no biking. Not my typical training regimen.

I'm okay with that- my body needs the time to fight off the infection, and I imagine it's also healing itself of the training abuses, too. My legs felt extra springy yesterday, and hopefully they'll feel even better tomorrow.

But with 10 days left till the marathon, I'd better let my body do this right and not screw it over by doing too much too quickly. I was happy enough to let the duathlon go by giving 85% of max effort. For this race... well, my plan is 75% for the first half, 85% till mile 20 and whatever I've got left for the final 6.2.

We'll see if I'm able to hold to it. I've been pretty mediocre at hanging on to plans in the past. :P

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Great Pumpkin Duathlon

It's been a hot day today.

The poor runners doing the Chicago marathon were subjected to some of the worst marathon weather possible- "record high temps" are probably among three of the most feared words in the running lexicon. Right next to "Stress Fracture" and "you'll never run again."

For me, it was better- high 70s to low to mid 80s for my duathlon. The heat did get to me some, but not too badly. Anyway, the stats-

Great Pumpkin Duathlon
Total Time- 2:32:10
Run 1 (5K*3.08M)- 24:16 (7:53 min/mile)
Transition 1- 1:49
Bike (40K*23.17M)- 1:15:39 (18.4 mph)
Transition 2- 1:16
Run 2 (10K*6.12M)- 49:09 (8:02 min/mile)

The distances in metric are what the website says I was supposed to have done; the miles shows what my Garmin recorded.

Overall Impression
I'm really quite happy with my performance. I wanted to be at an 8:00 min/mile for the runs and 18 mph for the bike, and I held to that pretty faithfully. My 10K pace was only 10 seconds off my beginning 5K pace, which is awesome- I didn't go out too fast and I saved some for the second run. The heat did begin to get to me toward the end of the race- I was very happy when I began my last mile. I was even happier when I finished it. :)

Run 1- 5K
It's always hard not to go out too fast when starting a race, and this was no exception. The first mile I had to constantly refer back to my Garmin to keep myself at or around an 8 min pace. It got easier once I got warmed up- but the first bit of a race always feels easier than it should. Of course, I could have run a bit faster, but what would have been the point? I had a lot of biking yet to do, and a 10K run later, and it would have been annoying if I had boinked. Place: 19/27

The Bike
The bike started off... interestingly. We began going down a pretty steep hill, and I had to hit the brakes because I would have been passing someone who took up most of the road- namely, a truck. It seemed I was breaking the vehicular traffic speed limit, maxing out at 37.2 mph on that first down hill.

At this point, I can see myself whining "But it didn't feel that fast, officer!" And really, it didn't. My new bike just freakin' rocks!

Not that much else strikes me about it, though- Grand River was both rough and windy, the Kensington hills just seemed to get taller the second time through, and my carefully laid out hydration plan seemed to work- though just barely. Needless to say, I didn't hit 37 mph during the second loop. But I didn't flag all that much- my first loop was in 36-37 minutes, and my second was in 38 and change. I'm not displeased. Place: 17/27

I wasted a bit of time chatting with a women with a beautiful Irish accent during the second transition, even as I was hurriedly taking off my bike shoes, moving my Garmin from my bike back to my wrist, and remembering to take off my helmet. It did take me a mile or so to remember to take of my gloves, which I carried for the rest of the run. :P But I guess I didn't waste too much time- my second transition was still ~30 seconds faster than my first.

Run 2- 10K
For some reason, I've always found that even if I have jelly legs, I still run faster and feel like I'm going slower when I transition from bike to run. Part of it is because I feel like my stride is super short. Part of it probably has to do with my cadence going up, more in line with biking than my normal running. But most of it is the subjective feel of moving very slowly. Even a slow moving bike typically goes faster than all but the best runners.

Anyway, I started off fast, and felt pretty good. My heart rate was at an acceptable speed, and I didn't feel like I was working too hard, so I just went with it. I started dumping water on my head to cool down. It's cold, but it really works! I got a bit nervous as I started passing a lot of people- but many were sprint competitors. Early on, tho, I passed a couple of people in my age group- it's weird, but I felt kinda bad for passing them. Strange, eh? Place: 8/27

They gave out a wet towel at the end of the race, which did wonders to help me cool down. I wiped off all the sweat that had accumulated, cleaned off my face, and threw the towel over my shoulder. About a minute later I noticed I wasn't holding my towel anymore, and had no idea where I left it. I asked a volunteer where I might have put it, and she (about age 14, I think) said very politely- "it's on your shoulder"

I looked. It was. And I said the only thing I could say at this point... "I think I need a nap."

Anyway, I got second in my Age Group, and tenth over all, though it was only out of 27. It was a pretty competitive race!

Great race; but I really think I need that nap now. :P

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Recognizing seasons

One thing I love about being an outdoor athlete- I feel a lot more in tune with the season than I ever did before. Years ago, I could get away with ignoring the leaves changing colors and falling, or the days getting shorter and colder, and stuff like that. Then all of the sudden, I'd be stepping in a two inch deep slush puddle with sandals and be forced to admit that winter has finally arrived.

It's different now. I actually really look forward to autumn, because it means cooler temperatures and that my next marathon is just around the corner. I'm able to appreciate the beauty of the leaves because I'm not unconsciously ignoring their color change. And when they fall and crunch under my bike tires or feet, It's hard not to admit that fall has finally come.

However, I can do without the leaves hitting me in the face when I'm biking- at 20 mph a leaf in the face is kinda disconcerting.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Swim Class!

So I finally screwed up my courage and made it out to a master's swim practice in the area. On the few days when I'm actually able to sleep in, it's hard to set my alarm back 30 minutes to try something new. But I'm almost certain that it'll be worth the effort; the swim instructor is really quite good, and able to build a little bit at a time where even my rather sleep deprived mind was able to follow.

Sadly however, I really have no idea how many laps I did. Many of them were in fins, too, so I'm not certain they count. My big problem is overusing my legs- the form useful in running is not so helpful in the water.

It is interesting to hear swimmers talk about "land athletes" however. It wasn't disrespectful... just a feeling of "ye are different than us." Difficult to put into words, really.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Playing it conservative?

I'm getting more confused about what I should do for Detroit.

Plan was to show up with the 3:55 (9 min pace) group, run for half the race with them, and then cut lose around the half marathon mark. Run seven at a moderately hard pace, and blow out the last 6.2 with whatever I have left- hopefully more than the previous seven.

I imagined doing 3:46, cutting an hour off last year- my current marathon PR. But after running the 20 miler yesterday at an 8:11 pace, and realizing that it would give me a 3:34 marathon if I were able to keep it up for another six miles... it makes me wonder.

What could I do if I blew it out? If I followed my plan, but signed up with the 3:42 (8:30 pace) rather than the nine?

It's a risk.
But most things are.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

20 Mile Training run

I like the 20 mile training run.

It's a warm up, a test, and an affirmation all in one. Though I like and respect the Galloway method of run-walking, and it was useful for me to have done a 26 mile training run prior to running my first full, I think I'm best off if I limit myself to 20s as my long. It just feels easier on the body.

Today was the last of those prior to running Detroit. I've done three prior this training season- one just before jaunting off to California, as well as in the two weeks preceding this one. I think my average paces for them were 9:15, 11, and 10:30- the second two slower because I was running with my marathon training class.

Anyway, this time I ran with my friend K~, who's significantly faster than I am- though she's not actually signed up for a marathon this year. Running with her, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't follow the plan I so carefully devised, but I figured as long as I didn't get injured, I'd be okay.

Anyway, here's the breakdown-

Miles: 20
Time: 2:43:21
Pace: 8:10
Avg HR: 154

We pretty much talked about everything, from politics to family to death, and the miles flew by. On the one hand, it makes it harder to get into that "zone" where everything fades and it's just you, your stride, and the burning in your lungs. On the other hand, it's so much more rewarding to build lasting friendships while out on the run- it's part of what makes running running to me. I'll save my best efforts for the races.

Of course, I came close to following the plan in that I did the first mile in 8:51, the second in 8:27, and pretty much all the rest hanging out around 8:00- some a little faster, most a bit slower.

I also worked on the running while drinking from a cup technique. Still something to practice, but I'm getting better- I only spilled water on myself a couple of times!

Lastly, because I felt I had earned it, I purchased the stick to ease my poor, battered muscles. I swear I had a knot in my left calf muscle about the size of a golf ball!

'Twas a beautiful day for a run. An excellent time running. And I think I learned that I could run a pretty good time in Detroit if I stay uninjured and keep my focus.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


So, I've hit a plateau with respect to my running speed. Even though (according to Garmin) I managed to run a 6:09 mile earlier this year on the track, during speed work yesterday I managed 93-105 second quarter mile intervals, meaning a 6:12 to 7:00 min pace.

Probably due to a number of issues- nutrition, humidity, the fact I was on asphalt and not on a track- these all probably play a role. But I really should face the fact that I won't be getting faster this season. I shouldn't even want to- the stress on the body is big, and since the big race is three and a half weeks away, I should play it careful and not tempt fate.

And the strange thing is, I probably won't tempt fate this way. It's not like I actually really like speed work. I like the results. I like the camaraderie of everyone feeling like they've been steamrolled together. I like the fact that what was normal has become easy, and what was fast has become normal. But I'm not hugely fond of redlining my body in anything other than a race.... it's uncomfortable, and the chance of injury is high.

This summer has, however, been very useful in teaching me what I can do. So to extend the plateau metaphor for a bit, I think I'll stop, take a rest, and admire the view. I'm in this for the long haul. Getting faster is nice, but it isn't why I'm in this, any more than losing weight or getting medals. They are only a happy side effects. :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Things upcoming...

On Wednesday, I'll get my bike from it's one month tune up, and decide whether to spend money on aerobars, and aero waterbottle, and the clips that will hold it all together. I'll also get to go to a swim practice in the morning- first three times are free, then it's $100 for 20 practices. Not a terrible price, to be sure. But I'll have to weigh my financial situation.

On Saturday, I get to do the Running Fit 20 mile training run in preparation for the Detroit marathon. I hope to get it done in three hours or so- my first of the season was 3:05 and was unsupported, in hotter weather, and a more difficult course. But it was the first one of the season, and I was really excited about getting it done.

A week after that is the Great Pumpkin Duathlon a 5K run/40K bike/10K run to which I've been really looking forward. I'd need to practice a lot at Kensington in my Aerobars if I go through with that, but it should be a great event. My hope is to finish in under 2:40, but really I'd be pretty happy with under three.

Then it's two weeks of tapering till Detroit. I plan to take the week prior to the Duathlon light as well... it doesn't really count as a taper, but I'm not racing the duathlon like I raced Heart of the Hills or Angela Hospice or how I plan to race Detroit. I'm just running it for fun.


translation: I guess that means I'll give 97% of my all rather than 100%


Thankfully the fall marathon season doesn't last much beyond fall, ya'know? :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Running Tip #35

How you can tell you may be an obsessed runner-

Did a ~20 mile training run today.
Saw others out running on my drive home.
Was jealous.

I've done two other 20 milers in the past few weeks- each time, it happened. Weird, eh?

Speaking of weird, my quads have been hurting every since Tuesday because of speed work an plyometrics. After doing the long run today, my quads don't hurt anymore. Strange stuff...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wrapping the brain

26.2 miles is a pretty good distance, not matter what you're doing. For a decent mileage car, it's a gallon of gas. On a bike, it's an 60-90 minutes, depending on your speed. It's also the distance of a marathon, and it's sometimes hard to wrap the brain around.

I'm planning to do my next one as two half marathons- the first at a decent, relaxed pace- perhaps a bit faster than my first 20 mile training run pace this season. After that I'll try to cut loose a bit, hopefully dropping 30 seconds to a minute per mile off the average of my first half. But I'm breaking it down into manageable bites, and that's how it has to be.

Some look at the marathon this way- half the work is done in the first 20 miles. The rest is done in the last 6.2. That's a little harder to wrap my brain around, but I understand the concept. I ran my first marathon that way- the first twenty I did for fun, but it wasn't till after Belle Isle that I figured out that this was actually going to be work. So I changed my iPod from podcasts and audiobooks to music, put my game face on, and buckled down.

It went well, but I don't remember that much of it. Races can be like that.

But as I was biking with a friend yesterday, I mentioned that I wanted to drop an hour of my marathon PR- from 4:46 to 3:46 as my dream goal. I'm sure I can do it, barring accident, illness or injury. It's just a little hard to wrap my brain around. Like the course.

It's a lot like the course from last year, though without the finish at Ford Field, which was both a blessing and a curse from last year. It'll be nice, and interesting, and difficult, and wonderful, like most big accomplishments.

In one month, I'll have been a marathoner for a little less than a year. Everything going well I'll have finished my third in that time, and in less time than I would have thought possible just a few months ago. And the more I think of it, the less able I am to wrap my brain around it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wet Suit!

First swim with a "real" wet suit (one designed for triathlons). It amazing! I can't believe the buoyancy that it provides the legs, which flattened me out and made me a lot more efficient. Also, it kept me nice and toasty in 65-67 degree water, and I didn't even put on the neoprene cap that I bought to help keep me warmer as the temps fall.

The first few laps were tough though- I haven't swum much in the past couple of weeks, and it's not like I had a lot of muscle memory developed. But after a while my arms got used to the motion again, even while being encased in neoprene. My hips got in on the action, and I felt my rhythm- at least, a little bit.

I have a lot of work to do, though. :)

my splits for ~0.1 mile laps...
4:13, 4:16, 4:17, 4:04, 4:15, 4:30, 3:50, 4:00, 3:50, 3:39

My heart rate for the first five laps was significantly higher (30 bpm) than the second five, and I felt very short of breath after them. But it got better... kind of like running that way. :)

I think I'll try to swim twice a week until it gets too cold, though I could just be fooling myself. With both a duathlon and marathon coming up, I might not have time, ya'know?

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Dances with Dirt (DWD) was about a week ago.

And it may have been one of the coolest running experiences I've ever had. The possibility of death is mentioned three times in the waiver, and the line is quoted on the back of the shirt... though, so far as I can tell no one has actually died during the race.

It's a 100K relay, split up among 5 people. Most do between 10-15 miles. Some get lost, some fall, twist ankles, and get poison ivy. About everyone gets scratched, muddy, and sore. There are lots of hills, trip hazards, and that sort of thing.

The truth is, it's very hard to put into words... the support of running with a team is really, really cool. It's even cooler when we had another group of close friends on another team- we cheered each other when one team or the other hit the relay stop first.

The pics I took are a lot more expressive than I am; if you've any interest, check them out here. Some pics taken by my team mates...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Utah run

I only had a couple of runs while out west; a good one went through the streets of salt lake city into the foothills of the mountains. With the magic of Google Earth, here's the course. The mountains look more mountainy than they should, but (according to Garmin) I started off at about 4000 feet and ran up to about 5000. Tough stuff for a lowlander like myself.

I mostly had to run on Concrete. Ugh. I was a bike friendly town, though- I even saw a few triathlon bikes. *sigh* I long to live in a place where I could safely ride my bike to work. Michigan didn't have that as a priority during urban (or suburban) planning.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I bought another bike today. It's called the Roubaix, named after the destination city of the Paris-Roubaix race in France.

It has character. It has style. And riding a bike like this is better than chocolate, as well as 99% of the coffee I've ever drunk in my time. It's a weird thing to discover that a bike can fit like a glove; it's a measure of my reaction when, when asked how my trial ride was, I had to spend a minute to come up with "it was perfect."

Don't get me wrong: I still love running. But this biking this... I think it may open up whole new worlds. Centuries. Iron Men. Cool stuff like that. :)

Cold showers: It's not just a cure for concupiscence

Like I just said, speedwork is tough.

Right now, my right thigh is hurting like I overused it; thankfully, it feels only like a muscle issue, which heals with the proper doses of rest, massage, and occasionally anti-inflammatory type drugs.

But the best thing I've found to keep this from happening is the first cousin to the ice bath- the cold shower. Aimed directly at the right place for a long enough time, it really keeps inflammation from becoming a problem, even hours after the workout.

Not days, though. Not doing it after speedwork on Tuesday was a mistake; enjoying a long, hot shower compounded the issue.

*sigh* after all I've been though, you'd like I'd have learned by now, ya'know? :P

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday Speedwork

I'm getting fast. Not speed demon fast, mind you; I have friends who can run my mile PR and still hold a conversation. But a combo of speed work, months of hill training, cross training, and a great group of friends all work to help me get my time down.

How much? Well... I'll get to that in a minute.

Strangely enough, I took yesterday off- with rain, triathlon recovery, and a general feeling of malaise being the leading reasons why. Oh, and I think I forgot to drink coffee till afternoon.

Today I went in to work early, did the work thing, and had 2.5 hours to kill before speed work. After an hour of pouring over the tri results, I went to warm up. About Seven and a quarter miles of warm up. :) Every so often I had to tell myself to hold back; run at about 40%, relax, and enjoy the scenery. Kept me at a 9:15 average, with occasional forays into the 8 min/mile land.

Got to the track and heard todays workout: Mile sprint, quarter rest; 2 mile run (clockwise; interesting twist), 800M rest interval, then two 800s with a 400 rest between them.

Tough stuff. But I did well! My first mile was at a nice 6:09, knocking 25 seconds off my previous mile PR set at the Angela Hospice Run a week ago. If I keep up at this rate, I might see sub-6 in October. Um... yeah. wow.

The two mile pace was 6:42; not that far off my mile PR before today. The quarters were 3:14 and 3:02 respectively. The home stretch of my last half- maybe 50-100 meters, was definitely sub-5, perhaps even hitting sub-4 for a few feet.

Let me be honest: I never, every thought I'd be fast. Less than a year ago I was pretty happy running at a 10-11 min/mile pace, and would do my long runs at 12:30 and feel well satisfied. Running at 9 min/mile was fast for me, and averaging 8 min pace for anything over a half mile was something other people did.

But I'm getting faster. And ya'know- it feels kind of nice. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

First Tri!

The Swim

'Twas a tad cold, air temperature-wise. Most of us stood shivering as the race announcer did the announcing thing; I borrowed a page from marathon racing and wore a disposable sweat shirt.

Thankfully, water temperature-wise things were much better. The water was significantly more comfortable then standing about in the air, but this led to something even more scary... wisps of fog making it hard to see much of anything. Buoys, kayaks, other swimmers... everything (at least, from my myopic vision) was pretty well obscured. I found myself swimming off in kind of random directions, as much as 90 degrees from where I should have.

Of course, this happened to me in practice, too, so I shouldn't have been taken too off guard. :P

I did have a scary moment when I caught a lung full of water, and as I coughed, gasped, and tried to suppress my gag reflex, I felt long tendrils of seaweed grasping at my feet. Gross! But worse, it also messed with my kick. Scary! And then, I realized, it was a really shallow part of the lake, and I could stand up, cough to my heart's content without fear of drowning, and even take a bit of a rest. Whew!

I don't know if it saved my life, but it was like that unexpectedly awesome meal when your starving, or a cup of amazing coffee when going through withdrawal. It'd be wonderful under normal conditions; in extremis I makes me wonder if there really might be a benevolent God watching out for me through no fault of my own.

Anyway, I finished in pretty good time (for me) and without swallowing too much water. And my first words when hitting the transition area to the other people around me were: "Whew. I'm glad that's over!"

The Bike

The second leg had us zooming around a subdivision, going through two loops of tight corners, puddles, and the occasional resident who I'm sure will never vote for a triathlon to happen near their place again. Rain pelted us pretty constantly through the whole ride, and the intersection between those starting, those halfway done, and those who were finishing left about a single bike width for each of the above, and an awful lot of congestion.

It was especially scary because it was coming down a hill, and braking was a bit nerve wracking...

But other than that, the bike was nice, relatively flat, well marked and the race volunteers were troopers! The definitely had it harder than we did, standing out in the cold, dreary weather rather than riding through it.

The Run

Strangely enough, the run was my favorite part of the tri. :) The course was about 2/3rds asphalt roads, 1/3 trail. The trail was a wood chip forest thing. There was just something so cool about running through it in the rain- a sort of rain forest type feel that was absolutely flipping awesome!

It was also nice to be able to encourage my friends as I saw them pass by during the run- it's a lot easier to tell if someone is a friend or not at a run speed then at bike speed, especially with rain-fogged glasses.

General thoughts:

I love my friends! They are the coolest people evar! They also all got AG prizes, so they are cool and awesome athletes!
I'm extra, extra glad that I put everything into my car the night before.
I'm also happy that I was smart enough to put my keys and wallet into my jacket; I just wish I had also done so with my camera.
Rain isn't so bad, so long as you're a paranoid person like myself and have the garbage bags, extra set of dry clothes, and the courage to change in front of everyone. :) I did have to use the race t-shirt as a towel, tho...
Need to do more early morning swim practices, as well as more swim practices in general.
I just might be addicted to triathons, now... *sigh* Like I need another addiction. :)

Half mile Swim: 25:54
T1: 3:54 min
12 mile Bike: 35:23 min (Garmin- 11 miles)
T2: 1:18
3 mile Run: 21:06 (Garmin- 2.9 miles)

Anyway, Yay! :) And I feel even better after a nap! :)

Still was in the cellar of my AG; 14/14. Though I was last in swimming by a good five minutes, I was eighth in biking and second in running! Cool, eh? And I'm pretty sure I can only improve on the other two events- and transitions, especially!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Training update

#1 "It's a little spooky, actually..."

I have a Garmin which, in theory, tells me almost exactly how far I've run. I note it all down in an excel spreadsheet which keeps track of me, and I'm pretty relaxed about trying to get exactly ten miles or whatever. If I hit 9.1, I'm happy with 9.1, and I don't feel any need to run an extra .4 miles or whatever. If I hit 9.96, I may run an extra .04, but that's less than an extra minute.

The excel spreadsheet is crude; everything is broken up into four week segments, which any regard to actual months. I just concluded a four week segment and came up with a total mileage of 173.93. I looked at last periods total mileage. It was 173.96.

I find that a little weird.

#2 "miles per week"

Hit 60 miles this week; the most miles I've ever run in a week. How do I feel? Hm... I feel like I could really use a nap. :)

#3 "unintentional PRs"

Did it again today: for a race which I wanted to do "easy", I ran a PR. Not by much, mind you: 46:13 rather than 46:57. But my first mile was also a PR of 6:36, which qualifies at way too bloody fast. My pace did almost drop to 8:00 during mile five, but I picked it up for the last bit to my race average of 7:30. All this after doing an 18 miles yesterday. *sigh*

#4 "Age group"

Last week I won my age group by virtue of being the only one in it. This time, I came in second of six, so I got a silver colored medal and got to stand to the accolades of my dear friends. One, with whom I was honored enough to run the first mile and half, went on to win over all the other females running. And many of the others did well in their age groups, also.

It was a good week, and a great race. Hopefully, I didn't do anything for which I'll be in too much pain this week....

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Training tip #2

What not to do on a 93 degree day, especially during the hottest part of it...

run a 6 mile warm up
do 6 sets of 800 meters at mile PR pace with a 200 meter jog interval
then finally, to wrap it all up, plyometrics

My legs did a 17 mile long run last week without complaining half so much. :P

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Store 5K competition

New thing number one: Cross Country running.

It means grass, rolling hills, and the odd root and rock that the typical road runner seldom comes across. Add a dash of rain to make things slippery and interesting.

New thing number two: a small field.

Twelve runners came together from the three different Running Fits in the Northville area; well actually there were thirteen of us, and one was the owner-boss-guy, so I'm not sure I should count him.

Many were college runners- meaning after the first minute I didn't see them again. Most of the race I was completely alone, which suits me okay; it was a lot like a training run that way.

New thing number three: a steamy finish.

... and no, not in as fun a way as it sounds. But I had wisps of steam coming from off my body after the run, like my skin was smoking or something.

Last new thing: 5K PR.

Last February I ran my first (and up till today, only) 5K in a respectable 25:16, which was my first foray into a race pace of 8-9 min/mile. I haven't run one since, concentrating on longer distances, trail running, and speed work. Yet all that training has seemed to have helped a bit! :) I knocked almost three minutes off my time, coming it at 22:27.

And my first mile (6:50) was only about nine seconds off my mile PR set Tuesday! I was pretty amazed, really. :)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Mark Mellon Memorial Duathlon

The Mark Mellon Memorial Triathlon/Duathlon/Relay takes place in the greater Gaylord/Otsego Lake area, home to D~ my second eldest brother. He and I have run a number of races together, though neither of us have done a Duathlon.

Something I love about doing a new event- no matter how you do, it'll be a PR. No pressure to meet expectations. :)

A few images I'll take from the event:

Getting marked with the euphoria-inducing marker on each calf, thigh and upper arm. It made me wonder: am I going to be able to wear shorts to work next week?

Setting up my transition area, thinking: Thank God I don't have to swim. Air temp is like 50 degrees!

Looking at the tires of my brother's road bike and thinking: I knew I should have asked him if they were inflated enough! They weren't. Made for a difficult run for him at the end- his quads kept on cramping...

Being asked by that same brother to be best man at his wedding, just as we were passing by his house where is fiancee and kids were waiting to cheer us on. Of course, I said "yes!"

Starting the run thinking- I don't think there's anyone behind us...

Run walking through the last four miles. Like I mentioned earlier, constant quad cramping makes makes for a difficult run. On the plus side it was a absolutely beautiful day, sunny and in the 70s- significantly cooler than earlier in the week, and I was able to enjoy it much more than any part of Heart of the Hills.

Finishing last. I've met people who are deathly afraid of this- they'll go so far as to not go to races for fear of... what? I'm not exactly sure. But I can now honestly say that I've done it, and it isn't that bad. Runners are (for the most part) a kindly bunch, and will cheer on anyone working through the same sort of difficulties they too have fought through. For something that can be so competitive, it's awfully supportive.

Winning a pair of tri shorts. It's something I'd been thinking about buying for a little while now, but put it off because I'd have to order it online, they're too expensive, and I'm not sure I'm committed enough. *sigh* Now I don't have an excuse!

Winning my age group. Even if you come in dead last, you can still win your age group if no one else is in it, and I guess none of the other 22 duathlon participants were in the 30-34 male age bracket. Color me so surprised I almost thought they were joking!

Perhaps sooner or later I'll go on at length about the virtues and vices of a "fun run" vs "race" mentality, and how I try to do both. But for now, I'll relate that I found quite a bit of joy in the race today, in the rewards of sticking with friends and family, and enjoying the whole process of a race, rather than just achieving somewhat arbitrary goals.

Though I gotta tell you, I enjoy that, too. :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Training Tip #1

... when doing speed work, don't forget which lap your on. The consequences can be sort of... interesting.

Tuesday is speedwork day, where I and many of my running friends run around in circles as a grand metaphor of life. Faster and faster without getting anywhere, but improving by leaps and bounds- at least, that's how I try to rationalize it when it feels like people have been beating me with sticks.

Oh, and the sun was pretty intense today, too. :)

So anyway, the plan was to do two 1200 meter runs with 400 rest intervals, and then four 800 meter runs with a 200 meter rest interval. tough stuff.

Except I can't seem to count. My first 1200 was fine- 3 laps around and a few minutes rest to have my heart rate come down to something sane. The second... for some reason I thought my second lap was my first, and so I went on to do four. If I had been smart enough to check my GPS, I would've known better. If my brain hadn't been baked out of my head, I might've been able to count to three properly.

But as it was, I set a new mile PR of 6:41, down from 6:52 set at the Huntington Woods race. Oops. :)

So, let this be a lesson to you; Sometimes being absent minded can have some rather pleasant consequences!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Racing. It's a learning process.

So... the grand strategy I laid out a few days ago went bye-bye in the first 30 seconds of Heart of the Hills. Oops. Yes, I did the complete newbie mistake of going out too fast. Yes, I paid for it a little. And though I'm not a race newbie, I am really new to the ins and outs of racing races, rather than running them.

If that makes sense.

Anyway, let's talk about goals. I usually have three: A manageable one if I have a mediocre race; a achievable with a good effort and circumstance, and "pie-in-the-sky" if things go really really well through no fault of my own. My Huntington Woods 3M experience was of the latter variety. If you had asked me two minutes before the race if I thought I could average a 7:07 pace, when my mile PR was 7:30, I would have probably laughed and said "Not a chance." So it can happen. Hopefully more than once. :)

My goals for this race were simple- Primary goal of 10K PR at sub 53. Secondary goal of sub 50. And "OMG" goal of sub 46. I wanted negative splits. I wanted no shin splints. Oh, and to not get passed by a girl. (just kidding!)

Of the three time goals, I beat two, and was 58 seconds off for the third, coming in at a very happy 46:57, or a 7:34 pace. Saying I'm pleased is a nice understatement, and I'll leave it at that for now.

As for the details of the race:
My pacing (after the first mile) was good. Even though the course was quite hilly, (and to be fair to me, the first mile is the flattest of the six) I maintained pretty even splits. How even? Well... you be the judge... 7:09, 7:39, 7:34, 7:35, 7:31, 7:26 and my last .2 was at a 6:13 pace or so. I confess I sped up when I could hear the announcer calling out names and the crowd cheering.

Take off the first mile, and I did have negative splits. I didn't feel even a twinge of shin splints. And I remember being passed by two women; one I lost sight of around mile three, the other I passed about a mile and change from the end. I think it does my ego good to both catch up and to be blown away. Weird, eh?

I placed fifth in my age group, but there was less than a minute and a half between me and number two, while there was six minutes between number two and number one. If I was in the 25-29 AG I would have been first place by over a minute; if I were in the 35-39 I'd have been 10th.

So I'd better get faster before I get older. :)

And yes, I barely remember a thing about the scenery. That's one of the sad casualties of racing rather than running races- everything sort of passes as a blur.

Heart of the Hills was a splendid race, and for a race I'd been looking forward to for quite some time, it lived up to my expectations!

Friday, July 27, 2007

(pre) Raceday Strategies 2

So, I've got a 10K I'd really like to do well in tomorrow.

Is it counter intuitive that I'm drinking Riesling and eating cheese poofs tonight? One of my best training runs was done hung over... and I'm a big believer in never do on race day what you haven't done in training!

"Ah ha" moments: Swimming

It's happened a few times with running, a few times in school, and strangely enough, this last Monday with swimming.

I'm not a natural in the water; sure, during summers when I was a kid I loved to spend time splashing around. But when I was twelve I discovered books, and that was that. It's been a good twenty years since I've been in the water with any sort of regularity, and I've never done it to actually get somewhere.

Anyway, with the triathlon training, I've spent time treading water trying to figure out how to use my arms. How to keep my legs from cramping. when to spot. And most importantly- when to breathe.

It's important, breathing. With running it's easy: just time taking a breath for every second, or fourth, or sixth left foot fall, and after a while it becomes relatively natural. Sometimes I'll be gasping; other times I'll be focusing on using my abs rather than my chest to get air into my lungs. I'll never really worry about drowning while running unless I have a particularly poorly timed drink.

With swimming, as I'm sure the observant reader can tell, it's a little different.

When my muscles got a little bit better at moving in such harmony to let me breathe, it let me focus on getting more air into my lungs, rather than blowing out a half-mouthful of water and then trying to get some air. I was able to relax a lot more, which goes a long way toward energy conservation. And my speed improved because I spent a lot less time treading water or backstroke gasping for breath.

Still, it's just the first baby step to actually feeling comfortable in the water. But it does feel kind of nice to have some improvement, ya'know?

Sunday, July 22, 2007


So, I should probably relate how training is going for my fall marathon(s). On the surface- it's going well! No injuries, no burn-out- I did a 15.5 mile run yesterday and felt great! I felt a bit fatigued afterward, but it is just as likely that the fact that I didn't have breakfast or lunch (I had to rush to go to work) is as probable a reason for the cause.

I also did an 8 mile recovery run this morning, and it went fine. 10:25 pace around a hilly course, and my heart rate average was 135. Essentially, I followed the path of the Heart of the Hills race, which I'm going to try to run my best this Saturday.

I have a race strategy. I'd really like to run the first third of the race in the eight to 8:15 min/mile pace, the second third in the high sevens, and the last third as fast as I can. Hopefully the mid to low sevens, but that's just a hope. Maintaining sub-eight really is what I'm after; hopefully enough to have my average pace below eight min/mile.

I'll let you know how it works out.

Beyond that, my weekly milage has been pretty good. I did 51 last week, while only doing 41 this week. I skipped my mid-week long run, probably because I came home from work a bit too fatigued to convince myself to get out the door. I did go biking a couple of times, so that was nice. I even went swimming for about 10 minutes. *sigh* Baby steps.... a lot like when I first started running.

On the flip side, my average pace is pretty slow. Running with my 501 training class keeps me in the 10:30-11:30 pace. I do make it up during my speedwork. But I really need to add in my Thursday tempo runs. I guess that'll be my goal for next week... this week, I'll take it somewhat easy for the race saturday. I hope.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Speed intervals didn't quite go as planned.

First, instead of doing mile repeats, it was a reverse ladder. We started off with 1200 meters, and then decreased by 200 until we did a 200 sprint.

So much for concentrating on breath. I mean, I had to, but I couldn't compare apples to apples or anything. Mostly I just tried to finish each lap at a good pace, and most of the time I averaged 90 seconds per lap, or a 6 min/mile pace. It'd be more impressive if I could say I did it for longer than 4:30, but I didn't.

Whether I did a 400 or a 1200, I was only a second or two off a 6 min pace.

Except for the 200 sprint. I don't know if it was because it was the last lap and I stopped pacing myself, or if I broke through a mental block, or what, but I did it in 30 seconds, or a 4:00 min/mile pace.

Which, I have to say, isn't half bad. :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Triathlon Training

Running is my passion; it has a lot to do with how I spend my free time, my work, and my intellectual stimulus. It's fun, it's an escape, and it keeps my body healthy when it isn't breaking it down.

That being said, mondays are a cross training day for me, and a group of my friends decided to make it into a triathlon training day. Swimming- I'm taking a while to get into the habit. It's tough- but so too was running when I started. It'll take work.

Biking however- today, biking was fun. In a crazy, OMGWTF Imgonnadie! sort of way. Picture being on a road bike riding seriously for the first time evar. Going down hill. In the rain. 30 miles per hour.

I was breaking the Kensington metropark speed limit on a bike. The ground contact on a good road bike is about the size of two postage stamps. And the rain was pelting me like little pebbles.

It's the first time I ever thought that I might possibly enjoy biking more than running! That darned element of danger...

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I've been thinking a lot about breathing.

It's kind of weird, considering how long I've been doing it, but there are certain muscles I can choose to use, a certain depth, regularity, and timing which all can play a big role in how and how well I run.

The hardest thing, I think, is focus and concentration. If I'm able practice for 30 seconds before I get distracted by something I'm usually pretty surprised. And I really don't know if actively expanding my abs is really helping my speed. But I do know I go from wheezing to heavy breathing when I do it. Of course, it could also be explained by a subsequent drop in my pace.

I'm supposed to be running 1600 intervals on Tuesday, I think. It would be a great place to try to figure it out, if I could compare two intervals breathing "normally" and two focused on ab breathing. If I could keep myself focused on ab breathing for more than half a minute. And if there aren't confounding factors. :P

Saturday, July 14, 2007


So, I guess I didn't know that I had 1000 miles as a goal for the year; it just hit me how happy I was when I achieved it that I achieved it.

But I have been thinking of other goals, more or less seriously-
Run 2000 miles in a year.
Run a sub-50 minute 10K
Run a half marathon sub-1:45
Run a sub-4 marathon.
Run an ultra, either a 50K or 50 mile.

Those are short term goals which I think I could do in the next six months to a year. I may even be able to do now, if I have a good day- though at a risk of injury. I haven't logged long enough long runs lately to feel comfortable saying a sub-4 marathon is in my grasp.

"I'd like to eventually" type goals:
Qualify for Boston
Run the distance of the circumference of the earth, that is: 24,900 miles (roughly)

Lot of factors play in, but that's where I am right now. :)

Milestone brag!

According to my records, today I passed 1000 miles for 2007! If I don't get injured or sick for more than a week or so, I may be able to reach 2000 this year!

Yay me! :)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Raceday Strategies 1

I'm going to have to come up with a pic in the style of indexed, but till then I share a tidbit to warm you-

If you're on your way to an early race, and you really need to wake up, skip drinking coffee. Just spill it on your lap; it's far more effective.

The screaming can be a bit disconserting for the other drivers, tho...

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Hungry Duck half

Yum! Sounds tasty, eh?

Anyway, after a pretty tough five days of training, I knew I wasn't going to race this one. If I broke it down by time, I did two hard hours on Friday, hour and half easy on Saturday, hour and a half hard Sunday, three hours moderate on Monday, and about a half hour of hard intervals (speedwork) on Tuesday. By miles it's 38 running, 30 biking, and .25 swimming.

Not the best way to prepare for a half marathon, but if I wanted a supported long run with friends on my day off, it's a pretty good way to go. I maintained form, listened to my body, and relaxed through much of the race. I actually enjoyed scenery. I also had good conversation with W~, with whom I ran the race.

It was a inaugural, so everyone got a course PR. :) The course itself was well marshaled, except for a snafu where a anther W friend of mine ran down the wrong street for about a minute and a half. The volunteers jumped into a car to chase him down, but the damage was done: he dropped from sixth to ninth overall.

It was also quite hilly, but lots of trees and meadows and stuff as nice scenery. Though I gotta say I still prefer my trails. Trails rock!

Many of my friends did quite well- winning or placing in age groups, though the course was such that I don't believe anyone got a new half marathon PR. I finished dead last in my age group, but even if I ran my half PR, I still would have been three minutes behind second to last.

Not that I feel defensive, 'natch. :P Anyway, pics I took are here:
Hungry Duck run Pics!


Friday, June 29, 2007

catharsis denied... [edited for spelling]

It's been a week.

Some high notes, many low notes, and the last three days have been... interesting. I wonder if they have a betting pool going on at work to see if I'll explode or implode, and what it'll look like. But enough of that-

I run for stress management, among other things. It does wonders to my ability to deal, focus on essentials, and put things in perspective. It flushes out the under used adrenaline, clears my mind, usually puts a smile on my face. I don't remember a time when it didn't work for me, to brighten my mood a little, if not by leaps and bounds.

That is, until today.

The plan was to finish work, go to a metro park, bike ride for 15-20 miles and finish with an eight mile run at whatever pace felt good. Figure the low nine's maybe high eights if I was feeling spunky.

I did the biking, and it was fine... a little under 16 miles in a little under an hour- I averaged 16.1 mph. Not bad for a mountain bike, I guess. Transitioned to running stuff, and set off without looking at pace.

It wasn't a bad run, mind you. I did eight miles in an hour and five minutes, something that would have sent me into spasms of joy not that long ago, and is still pretty neat when all is said and done. Heck, half my miles were below an eight minute pace- something that I've never touched before.

But it's this lingering feeling of dissatisfaction, I guess. I was grinding my teeth as I drove home, for no apparent reason.

Ah well. I guess I'm a victim of the "when all you have is a lead pipe, every problem looks like a kneecap" syndrome. Running and exercise are great tools, but they can't solve all of life's angst.

[edit: maybe a good night's sleep helps- I feel a lot better now than I did a few days ago...]

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Huntington Woods 3 Mile

I hate to say this, but I think I'm a long distance snob. Part of it was because I got shin splints if I took the first two miles too quickly, back when I first started training. Part of it is because I loved the endorphin rush I got around mile four, and then the second one around mile seven.

Hard to experience in a three mile race.

Today I ran a three mile race, and believe it or not, I PRed in a big way. Not so surprising with respect to the race, because- hey, it was my first three mile race, so I could have done it backwards and still PRed.

But I ran the first mile at 7:07. Which beat my previous mile PR by about 21 seconds.

When I heard the count I thought "OMGWTF I'M GOING TOO FAST AND I'M GONNA CRASH AND BURN" and I was kind of convinced that I'd get shin splints and my last two miles would be at a 15 minute pace. So I eased up a bit, and spent about half of the second mile trying to slowly catch a couple of friends of mine who I saw only a few hundred feet in front of me.

No shin splints, thankfully.

I caught up with them, chatted for a bit, and finished the second mile in 7:24, which would have been a new mile PR if I hadn't run the first mile. And I thought... "Hm. A mile or so to go. I have a mile left in me. I wonder how fast it'll be?"

Also, I experienced something curious a couple of times when I was running. I think I was in "flow" whatever that means. But it was like I was entranced. My breathing was a lot more regular and even, and I could feel my footfalls were lighter. I have no idea if I was running faster at those times, or not. But it felt really good.

It was great to have some friends there, both on the course and to hang out with and cheer for those who got awards. If I hadn't had pacers, I'm sure my pace would've dropped significantly from 7:24, maybe to the eights. So, much kudos to GG and GG!

On the minus side, I really can't say a think about the neighborhood that I ran though. People said that there were a lot of pretty houses and yards and stuff, and I don't remember any of it. I remember waving to the volunteers and thanking them, a hill, a couple of turns, a golf course and the finish line.

A very new, very different race experience, though Dexter-AA was pretty close. My final mile was at 6:52, a new mile PR by about 36 seconds. My final time was 21:24, according to my garmin, with an average pace of about 7:08, about a minute faster than my goal.

And yes, I'm geeked. :) I guess endorphins aren't necessarily attached to miles, ya'know?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Relativity Speaking

I don't remember much from my physics class, but one phrase sticks in my mind. My professor was babbling on about Einstein's theory of relativity, and the fact that it can be summed up in one statement:

You Can't Feel Speed.

Now, it didn't make me sit up and take notice, and I didn't have a light-bulb moment all of Einstein's theories made sense were suddenly made clear. But I do understand that riding in a car at 60 mph and flying in a plane at 600 mph feels about the same.

I found, however, this has absolutely nothing to do with exercise.

Today I did 10 miles on my bike, transitioned to running stuff, and did a 4.5 mile run. And I can honestly say that I felt like I was barely crawling along when I was running, even though it was just a tad slower than my 10K pace, and about a minute and a half faster than my target pace.

I tried to slow myself down. I failed. I tried to feel like I was going fast. Failed at that, too. So I just ran along at my "feeling" slow but "relatively" fast training run. And now I know something about doing triathlons... I'll never feel as fast running as I do riding a bike. If I were to try to do so, I'd probably be quite SOL. :P

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Training Last week...

It was a good week. :)

None of the runs were a *long* run, but all of them were at relatively easy, enjoyable pace, aside from the speed work. And since it was bloody hot and I felt like I was coming down with a cold, I cut the intervals short (4X400, rather than 6X400).

I also enjoyed doing three bike rides; about 10 miles apiece, at about 14-15 mph. It's really nice to train outside my specialty, because I don't feel the compulsion to push like I might with running. Eg, if my heart rate is in the 130s during biking, I'm happy, while running in the 140s seems low.

Anyway, the stats:
Distance- 38 Miles
Time- 6:22
Pace- 9:56 min/mile

The funny thing is, beside the speed work day, every single other run was with a group. Just with Running Fit, we had a five group runs this week... It's not like I'm a part of multiple clubs. Just one, whose members (I guess) are as obsessive as I am. It's really pleasant to think that I ran 32 of 38 miles with friends.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Overtraining and Sickness

As Freud said: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Something I'm not noted for with respect to running is objectivity. When I look at myself, my training schedule, and how I feel, I'm about as blind to my own faults as is humanly possible.

That being said, it should be no wonder that I've been prone, in the past, to overtraining. I get sick and have to take a couple of weeks off. I get injured and I have to take a couple of weeks off. Possibly both some day, thought that's not happened- at least, not yet. *knocks on wood*

But sometimes, even if I do everything right, I can get sick. Something comes up, and my immune system just can't seem to fight off a virus, or germ or whatever. Typically my body is healthy enough to beat them down, but not always.

So anyway, I've got a spring cold now. I'm pretty sure it's not due to overtraining, but I really can't be sure. It's possible that after the last two races, my body just decided to say "heck with it! I need a rest!"

I do kind of wish, though, that instead of getting sick or injured, my body would just write me a letter, or something. *sigh* If it does decided I'm overtraining. Because, ya'know... this being sick thing kinda blows.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Tapers and recovery; recovery and tapers

Taper weeks drive me batty.

Recovery weeks are a little better. This week has been both; recovering from Dexter-Ann Arbor half and preparing with Flirt with Dirt, a little 10K I'll be running tomorrow morning. I've barely run at all this week, and even if I race tomorrow I'm still not going to be doing all that much afterward, with working and all.

Of course, I have no idea how I'll do tomorrow. I'm thinking between 49-55 minutes, giving me a minute/mile range. Trail running is harder, but I ran a half faster, so it might even out.

I'm a bit nervous.

[update] 53:11.80! I'm well content. :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pronghorn Antelope

Have you ever heard of the Pronghorn Antelope?

They aren't really antelope; their sight is about eight times more acute than ours, even as they have a 320 degree field of vision. Also, they're able to run 10K in about 10 minutes.

Scientists really have no idea why; the only faster land animal is the cheetah, who are native to another continent and are sprinters anyway. No North American land predator even comes close to the speed, let alone the staying power. In physiological terms, their oversized lungs and heart give them a Max VO2 of about 350; roughly seven times that of a decent casual athlete.

Why would they develop to be some of the best runners in the animal kingdom? Usually there's some easily explainable rational need. Usually some set of circumstances, once explained, make it all understandable.

I'd like to speculate that it developed these marvelous qualities because somewhere up the evolutionary tree someone decided that it's fun to run. It isn't always about running away from predators. It isn't always about getting the trophy. Sometimes, it's just about being out there pushing yourself because of the sheer joy of movement.

There are some great races coming up this summer; Flirt with Dirt, Dances with Dirt, the Crim, Labor Day 30K, Towpath and the Freep. I'm looking foward to all of them. But I very much rejoice each day as I'm able to head out the door, ready to conquer another run in the life, one breath at a time.

Dexter Ann Arbor Half!

The Dexter-Ann Arbor has come and gone, along with the runners, the rain, and my (to date) best half marathon experience yet!

First off, the stats:
Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 1:54:00 (chip time)
Pace: 8:43/mile

The day broke muggy and warm, cloudy, windless and stifling. The half marathoners were bussed to far away Dexter (well... 13.1 miles far) to much merriment and anticipation. I was seated next to W, a first time racer. I could tell when she very politely held up her chip timer and said: "Excuse me, but do you know what this is?" Well... that and I had asked her a few minutes prior, but that's beside the point.

She was full of questions about running and hydration and using Gu and stuff like that, and I was happy to relate all that I knew. I don't know if it helped her at all, but it helped distract me considerably. After venting my wisdom (about 30 seconds) and the wisdom of my running friends (the rest of the trip) I gave her the one piece of advice that I thought would be most important to her: this above all else- don't go out too fast. Warm up slowly, don't give into temptation to keep up with all those who might pass you in the beginning.

Strangely enough, I sort of managed to follow my own advice, though not completely. :)

I met up with some of my running group friends- it's always nice to chat with running buddies before a race. After a 20 minute delay for a tree being down on course, we started. I ran the first two miles with a friend R, who kept a steady pace through the race. It was her first half marathon, and she was running just to finish. Also, she didn't know that she'd be free to run it till Wednesday last week, so she wasn't able to train like she might've wanted.

I ran my first two miles at a calm 10:30/10:15 pace, with an average heart rate in the 130's and 140's respectively. After stopping for a quick drink of water, I went off too quickly. Oh well, irony has always been my friend. I try not to dwell to far into hypocrisy... or if I do, try not to reflect upon it too much. It would depress me.

My third mile was 8:08 pace, as was my fourth. I stopped off for Gatorade and water, and lost maybe 15 seconds coughing because I'd forgotten how to swallow correctly. Oops. Still, I managed to keep my pace relatively consistent. I had a few miles in the 8:40 range, but a lot of that might have been due to the hills... I think there were more hills this year than last, though I could be wrong. There was certainly more humidity- of that, I'm certain. :)

Another nice thing about starting off slowly is the psychological boost given by passing people for almost the entire race. I'd see someone up ahead. I'd focus on them, giving them names like "white singlet" or "red hat" or "nike symbol" and I'd slowly reel them in, hoping to pass them. One person in particular, "nike symbol" passed me at mile 10. For some reason, this got my blood going, and was just the boost I needed to finish the race strong.

The race ends with a relatively (for Michigan) substantial hill at the end. I knew I was pushing myself a bit when I looked at my heart rate just prior to the hill and saw I was at 190 (my predicted max heart rate is 187). But I felt fine- just a bit out of breath. I slowed down a little at the start of the hill, and let myself be passed by a few who were starting their kick early. About half way up I started to really work my legs, finally crossing the finish line at about a 5 min pace and a heart rate of about 204.

This is the first race where I really "raced" in that I tried to push myself to (or maybe a bit past) my limits. In the last three or four weeks I've done speed work. I told people I had a goal time (1:50 dream goal; 2 hour "more realistic" goal; and "I'll be happy with" goal of breaking last year's 2:08:54). And lastly this is all part of my hopes of eventually getting a BQ.

I really do consider myself well satisfied. :) Many thanks to T for waiting after her race (on the day after her birthday no less!) E, K and R for feeding me dinner afterwards, and to you for actually reading through all of this! :)