Monday, November 28, 2011

Is this the off season?

I did a 4 mile run this morning exactly at the speed I intended to (about 9:30 min/mi). It just seemed a bit harder than it should have been, as have my last few runs. Due to the weather and the lack of daylight, I just haven't been getting the mileage in that I did earlier in the fall. My long runs have not been as long and overall, my running has been less frequent. I feel like I am now in "maintenance mode".

There isn't anything wrong with maintaining, it is much better than quitting, which I did last year after a two-month trial of running. One of my key motivating factors has been improving and getting better / faster. I'm not certain that I will be able to do that over the winter if I can't get enough running in.

I do have some plans to combat winter and the "off-season". They include: more gym work, more running on the dread er.. treadmill when running outside is not practical (both at home and at the gym), using Wii Active 2 or other "video game" software to do workouts and to keep scheduling races. I have no races scheduled and, while I hoped against it, I do think I need to have some sort of race goals. Should I shoot for an early spring half-marathon? Do I keep doing the occasional 5 or 10k? Not sure, but I think I need to put some goals back into play.

Any ideas from my few, but loyal readers? :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Went to a nearby state rec area for a group run on the "mountain bike" trail. The group ended up being very small and, other than me, the few people who showed up were quite advanced. I was only able to keep up for a half mile and then they pulled away. As I haven't been able to get many runs in recently and likely because I did some gym work on Thursday, my legs felt heavy. I realized early on that there wasn't going to be any way I could do the entire hilly, 10 mile trail run (at least in the amount of time I had available this morning) and I didn't want to be several miles out on the trail and run out of gas. I turned around after a couple miles and ended up doing a respectable 6 mile run.

With this run, I exceeded 400 miles for the year. Oh yea.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I am Iron Turkey.... Man

After some debate, I decided to go to Dexter (near Ann Arbor) for the 2011 A2 Turkey Trot. They were offering both a 5k and a 10k race and something they called the "Iron Turkey", which was running both races back to back. I decided to do the Iron Turkey, as I thought it would be a good challenge.

I arrived early and picked up my bib and two t-shirts, one yellow short sleeve one that all race participants received and and the brown, long sleeve Iron Turkey shirt for those doing both races. It was quite cold as I did a short warmup and then retreated to the car for warmth.

The 5k race was first and there was a good turnout of over 1000 for the race. Of course, I started out a little fast and then ended up settling into a pace to try to get my elusive 24 minute 5k. The course was a walking / bike path around the center of the park and it was mostly paved and mostly flat. For about the first 1.5 mile, I felt good. Shortly thereafter, my midsection began to hurt a bit and while I tried to put it out of my mind, it slowed me down enough to put my goal in jeopardy.

I was able to pick up the pace late in the race, but not nearly enough to get below 24 minutes. My normal end-of-race charge was kinda weak and I finished with a time of 24:39, a personal record. While I was determined not to hold back because of the next race, I think that, in the back if my mind, I did. Then again, I ran hard enough to make myself a bit sick. :)

There was about 30 minutes until the next race. After recovering for a few minutes, I went to my car and ate one of those Gu gel packets. It was supposed to be Strawberry Banana, but it tasted like sugar honey goop. I'm not sure how people suck these down during a race, but I needed lots of water to get it down. It didn't do anything magical, but it probably gave me a little bit of energy.

After the start of the 10k, I my quad or hip flexor on my right leg began to hurt. This is a pretty normal thing, but I knew it was going to slow me down. While I had thoughts about a certain finish time, I realized early on that my goal would be mainly to finish. I figured I would be satisfied keeping a good "training pace" and I did that, finishing in 57:30. This wasn't a great time, but considering it was the second race of the day and my first 10k, it was fine.

I ended up 121st out of 293 Iron Turkey participants. Overall, it was a good day. I'm not sure if I will do any more races this year. If I do, it would likely be a silly race like the one where people run with the Santa Suits on.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I take the worst finish line pictures ever....

This is from the finish of the Rugged Man race. I don't know why it looks like I have a big ol'belly. I really don't, especially after running all year. I was busting tail to the finish, thus the strained look on my face and my glasses are almost falling off too. It appears my right leg is just DESTROYED, but it was really just a very small cut and a scrape - at least maybe that looked rugged.

Looking back, I'm not thrilled with my time or my finish (12/20 men 30-39). It was my first real trail race, so I'll cut myself some slack. Just like at Warrior Dash, I let the bunched up group ahead of me dictate my pace. I need to run my race, not someone else's.

Anyhow, I have a couple race options this Saturday. I could go to Midland for a half marathon or I can go to Dexter and do a 10k OR the IRON TURKEY which is a 5k at 9am, followed by a 10k at 10 am. There are a couple other 5ks which are closer, but I would rather run a longer race. We'll see.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rugged Man

Today was the Highland Rugged Man Trail Race. It is a 4.8 mile loop, primarily used as a mountain bike course, located in Highland Rec Area. The weather was perfect for running, partly sunny and right around 50 degrees at race time.

Learning from last weekend, I arrived early with plenty of time to warm up (even though it wasn't nearly as cold as last week). I hadn't run outside for about a week and wanted to get moving and breathe in some of that cool morning air. While I thought I was a bit out of practice, I felt really good at the start of the race.

Every trail or cross country style race I have done so far seems to have a long jam at the start, and this was no exception. The trail was tight and narrow, leaving little room to pass. As I knew I was in for a long race (longer than a 5k anyway) I wasn't too worried about passing people and passed only when people were much slower than the pack or if they pulled themselves aside.

I ran with a pack of about 10 people for much of the first couple miles. Not the leaders - probably 2 or 3 groups behind. Based on the terrain, I was good with the pace. I was expecting less of an overall elevation change than at Pontiac Lake, and that held true. What I didn't expect were all of the twists and turns and smaller but more frequent elevation changes. There were few straight parts and, when you were "rewarded" with a downhill run, it was rocky and rooty. For a person who runs about 90% on roads, this was a bit tough. Rugged Man was, in fact, suitably named.

I was going pretty well until just after the 2 mile mark, where I fell. I didn't fall hard and wasn't hurt too badly (small knee scrapes and a slight strain on my right quad which always gets strained anyway), but it seemed to throw off my rhythm. I lost my pack and never did catch up with them. This didn't not ruin my run, but I think this fall and another wipe out by another runner later in front of me cost me my 50 minute goal (which really wasn't based on anything anyway). Miles 2 to 3.5 were tough as the terrain got even hillier and I recovered. I seemed to get back into a groove around the 3.5 mile mark. I was in my usual "no mans land" with few runners anywhere near me, but I was able to push myself. The terrain improved as well and there were actually a couple straightaways and downhill sections that were not too rocky.

Near the end of the race, I saw a few people in front of me around a curve, but I wasn't able to catch them. I was able to put some distance between me and the small pack's footsteps behind me. Once I crossed the last little bridge, I sprinted like a madman towards the finish, even though there was no one near me. (I probably look like a goofball, but I don't want to leave any time on the course coasting to the finish.) I guess that is my thing now - if I have anything left at the end of a race, I'm gonna use it. The argument could be made that, if I can run that hard at the end, I should be using more energy earlier. Maybe so, but I don't feel like I am holding back.

I finished in just over 52 minutes, which is just under the average time for all males from last year's race. I expect that average to be pretty close this year. That seems about right and it is just where I am at this point. I really want to be good and, with continued effort, that time will come, but it has been a long road to average and I am pleased with this race and my overall efforts.

I may do the Midland Half-marathon or another race next weekend. I really want to do the half-marathon, but I don't think I've been putting in enough miles to feel like I am still well trained for it. I'm confident I could do it, but I want to do well (as in beat my Brooksie Way time and try to beat 2 hours). I hope to decide by mid week based on how I feel, the weather, etc. It isn't the off-season yet! I feel like every race I get to do from now on for the rest of the year is a bonus and I plan to be thankful for running them, no matter the result.

Congrats to Matt at Breaking Point 315 for his fine showing at Iceman (bike race)! Can't wait to read the full report.