Sunday, September 27, 2009

Applefest Half Marathon

The Applefest Half Marathon in Hollis is my favorite New Hampshire race and the Falmouth Road Race is my favorite Massachusetts race. I don't know which I like more, but they are always on my calendar unless I am injured. Yesterday was a glorious day for running the Applefest, unfortunately I wasn't feeling my best. After the 21 mile training run last Saturday, I felt great. The next day I spent 6 1/2 hours in my car getting to and from a U2 concert (mini-review) and didn't get home until 2 am. The good news was that with all that driving and sitting my back did not hurt at all (usually an hour in a car does me in). I was ready for a good week of running and looking forward to Applefest. Then everyone in my family got some type of the cold. I did the best with it and it only slowed me down a bit, but it still lingered. I tried to run it off during the track workout on Wednesday (8 X 600 done between 2:03 and 2:11). I ran them mostly on my own as Dan and Joe were faster, but they didn't finish the workout and I was happiest with my final 2:05 run all by myself.

I was still battling aspect of the cold before race time. I took my first medicine early race morning as I couldn't sleep. If I went by how I felt I ran during the race, I would say I was running well and hard. Unfortunately, the clock said otherwise. I was the first to finish over an hour and 1/2 with a time of 1:30:16. It was my slowest Applefest race ever (results). I did finish second in my age group. I ran much slower than I anticipated and I would attribute that to whatever effect running while not feeling 100% would have on a performance. I still loved being part of the race. There is no better race in all of New Hampshire and the Gate City Striders put on one of the best races in all of New England!

I am seriously thinking about running the Cape Cod Marathon in October. It will be almost 30 years since I first ran the race. Back in 1980 it was held on Otis Air Force Base rather than the roads of Falmouth so it was not as hilly. Here is a certificate I have from the 1980 race, I finished 44th out of 241 with a time of 2:51:48 (the website says there were 311 finishers and that 37 were under 2:50) . Marathons were a bit more competitive back then as you had to run under 2:50 to qualify for Boston. Of course, I did not qualify in this race. I don't remember much about the race, except that there were large packs of runners to run with and I had an awful cough and was hacking away all race! Looking at last year's results, there were 896 finishers with only 7 runners under 2:50.

If I do run the race, I might have a chance to place in the 50-year old division. Last year's top three finished  like this:

1 Christopher Rife 50 Tucson AZ 3:07:56
2 John Shepherd 52 Essex CT 3:11:32
3 Marty Ellowitz 54 Hubbardston MA 3:13:02

I last ran the Cape Cod Marathon in 2006 in 3:09:42 in 50 mph wind gusts and two weeks after running the Bay State Marathon (I was 12 seconds faster at Bay State). In 2005, I ran  3:10:27. Hopefully I can get some more long runs in and stay healthy as I didn't do long runs before either of those two races (except for the marathon 2 weeks before in 2006). The one thing I have learned about running the Cod Cod Marathon (and all marathons) is that you have to take the first miles easy. Don't even get sucked into running fast at the gun. It is a fast first 9 miles. Then when you are going well through the hills, don't give in and "go for it". If you save yourself for the last few miles (after Woods Hole) you will fly by tons of beat up runners as you finish strong!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Longest Run of the Year

This afternoon I told my wife I was going out for a run: maybe 8 miles, maybe 16, or maybe more. I felt good once I got going and it was a camera worthy day. The late afternoon sun was peaking through the changing leaves and the solid blue sky made for perfect scenery. The usually stinky stream down by Buckmeadow Road was lit up by the sun with red maple leaves hanging over: simply fantastic. I had some new music on my iPod shuffle (Band of Skulls, The Elms, and Snow Patrol- the opening band for tomorrow's U2 concert that I am going to with my son). I was just grooving along, keeping loose, trying to maintain form, and enjoying the afternoon. After over an hour, I bought a Gatorade at Captain's' Corner and chugged it all down and got back to running. I decided to go further than 16 as I wasn't tired at all, then I decided to go more than 18 even though it was getting dark. Then it got dark so I chose a more well lit route down 111 and ended up at home after going 21 miles. If it wasn't dark I would have gone farther as I had no fatigue. I guess I am now "marathon ready" if I so choose to do a marathon this fall. At least the distance part of doing the Applefest 1/2 marathon next week won't bother me; the speed part will however!

When I got home my wife had already taken off in the car looking for where I might be stuck or lost on the route. Of course she wants no repeat of not paying attention like when I needed to be picked up in the "1234 Mishhap". Next time I won't tell her how far I am going, but maybe how long it might take before I arrrive home.

I did the run in the Puma K Street shoes, which is the farthest I have run in something so  minimal. I wonder how they would do in the final miles of a marathon. They felt great today however!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Solo on the Track

I was very happy with tonight's Gate City Striders track workout. It was a somewhat chilly night and all the the guys who I usually do intervals with are getting ready for the Reach the Beach Relay this weekend (good luck guys!) or otherwise just didn't show up. I HATE running "fast" by myself. I need someone to push me and keep me on pace. In all my years of running, I have never been able to run intervals using my own pacing and do it well. Tonight I think I did. The workout was 1600 meters (I did 5:46), 1200m (4:21), 800m (2:51), 800m (2:53), 400m (81), and then 200m (are you crazy?- nothing good is going to come out of me running a 200m- I skipped that one). Thanks to Justin Soucy for timing my splits. I am thrilled that I kept on a good pace throughout the workout. Now I just have to figure out how to do the same in a race!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Alliance for Cancer 5K in Manchester

I was looking forward to running the Alliance for Cancer 5k race this morning (results). I have been getting in good training, I have been eating well, and I was ready to see what I could do. After Wednesday night's track workout: 5 X 1 mile (6:13, 6:00, 6:00, 6:00, and 5:54) I felt more than ready to keep a 6 minute pace for a 5k race.
The drive to Manchester this morning started with a drizzle and then turned into a downpour for a few minutes in Nashua before it stopped. Upon arrival the weather in Manchester was just starting to drizzle and would turn into a light rain before the race. This was a NH Grand Prix race but it didn't seem to have as many runners as usual, as other races like the Ollie 5 Miler (part of the USATF New England series) in South Boston took teammates and other runners away.

The course was advertised as flat and out and back and it lived up to that promise. I was feeling very good and loose at the start and could sprint during the warmups rather freely (something I couldn't do just a month ago). I tried to start out easy and kept a few yards behind Tim Burke. My stride was loose and my running form felt under control and I knew I would have a good race as my running was not labored at all. As I zipped to the first mile mark someone clipped me from behind and almost knocked me over as I scrambled not to fall. I hit the mile mark at 5:47 and everything was going according to plan (particularly as the pace felt easy). I haven't felt that good for the first mile of a race in a long time and I was still trying to hold back and keep everything under control.

The race then had a few twists and turns as it started to meander toward a bridge that we were going to run out on and turn around on. Mike Wright had passed me at this point and I had Tim and Mike in my sights to keep pace with (even though I know they are steady starters and fast finishers). But something happened between the twists, turns, and the running on the wet wooden planked bridge. Instead of having the confident stride I started with, I was having a difficult time relaxing into the good running form I needed. I hit the 2 mile in a disappointing 12:05 and running to the 180 degree turn on the bridge and then back against the crowds coming at me made me even less able to stride well. I had lost the form I had during the first mile. Whether my hip got knocked off balance or muscles that should have been loose tightend up, I could not get going, even though I was not putting out the effort or energy of the timed miles on Wednesday. Only two runners passed me after the bridge but I lost a lot of time to all the other runners ahead of me. Tim and Mike were now far ahead. I think I hit 3 miles in a crushing blow of 18:30 something (I can never remember splits accurately while running). I finished in 19:14. I was very disappointed as I thought a sub 19 was going to be easy and I thought I was ready to go sub 18:30. I guess that will have to wait for another day. Meanwhile whatever happened to throw off my form has left me with a lot of work to do tonight as muscle tightness in my left glutes, back, and neck have settled in.

The good thing about the race is that I won my age division and so I received the maximum points for the Gate City Striders in the NH Grand Prix competition.

On Slowing Down:
Of course a 19 minute 5k might just be the best I can do these days. According to this Letsrun thread: "50 years and slowing" it can be very frustrating trying to run fast in your 50's (unless you're a Merra!) and to all you younger runners the slowdown is fast approaching and it is going to take a lot of hard work to maintain the fitness you think would be so easy as you get a bit older. You will also have work much harder on the non-running parts to be successful: diet, weight, strength, mobility, ect.

On Going Fast:
Meanwhile, while Usain Bolt may have broken the world record for 100m last month running 9.58, this cheetah broke the 100m a couple of days ago with a 6.13 run.

Here is Bolt's race compared to the Cheetah's run.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Going Longer in My Workouts

During the past 8 days, I did three 16 mile training runs. It is good to be able to get some distance in, especially with the gorgeous weather we have been having. The middle of the week did not go so well. During the track workout my left hip was slightly off and not bearing my weight properly. The intervals went OK. It was three times a set of a 400, another 400, and then an 800. I was able to keep a few paces behind Mike Wade and Steve Wolfe but the intervals did not have the intensity I would have liked to put into them. The 400's were between 81 and 84 seconds. The 800's were 2:51, 2:53, and 2:47. I changed into an older pair of shoes to warm down and my hip just shut down. I stopped the warm down and let my hip bother me for the next two days over which I did not run. Stretching seems to make it worse so I stopped doing that. I continued doing Feldenkrais and slowly it has been recovering. Then I ran 16 miles on Saturday, 8 miles on Sunday, and then did another 16 miles today. Happily my muscles are not getting sore or tired. I am working on the form I am learning through Feldenkrais practices. I can get one side working well, but I don't have the symmetry to get both sides working fully together yet. However the improvements are coming as I feel very light and I am gliding as I run as opposed to muscling my way through a workout. It is going to take a while, but I like the way things are going.

Speaking of long runs, here is an amazing video of a "Persistance Hunt". If you have read Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" by Christopher McDougall you are familiar with this "primal" type of hunting. In this video tribesman of the San on the Kalahari Desert of Africa run down a male Kudu. It also reminds me of a book I sometimes read aloud to my class called Tracker by Gary Paulson. In this story a boy goes out to hunt a deer to "make meat" for the winter but instead walks it down until it is so exhausted that he can "touch" it. The magic he imagines (healing his ill grandfather) never happens but another magic of accompishing a difficult task which you cannot explain does happen.