Saturday, December 31, 2011

Final Race of 2011 on New Years Eve

With the mild winter weather, I decided to run the New Year's Resolution 8k in Flint this afternoon. I'm happy to be able to run outside at all, much less do a race this late in the year (guess you can't get much later). This race was actually warmer than the last 3 I've done, so that was an extra bonus.

I made the trek up to Flint for this race and was looking forward to getting my first race sweatshirt. Unfortunately, it had a hood. I don't like hooded sweatshirts - they are too hot to wear on a regular basis and I can't wear them to work, even on casual day. Oh well... I'll add it to my hooded sweatshirt collection - they tend to stay quite pristine.

After checking in and getting my bib, I went down to the locker room and unfortunately encountered "Naked Gym Guy". Apparently, every gym, anywhere must have at least one Naked Gym Guy on call at all times (I was thinking about the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" audio book we listened to which mentioned a similar phenomenon at the pool locker room). Qualifications for this guy include advanced age, must look like Lou Grant, must be in horrible shape despite going to the gym every single day and must be nude for an extended amount of time for no good reason. This is just uncalled for. Sorry for this but it needed to be said...

Anyhow, I warmed up and the race started. I felt quite good at first and had a decent half mile time. The next half mile felt even faster, but I was a bit disappointed that is wasn't at all. I slowed a bit more during the middle of the race, as I got a pain in my side (seems to happen a lot when I run "fast"). I worked through it and continued through town towards the finish. It was both nice and annoying that we ran into the 5k walkers the last 1.5 miles. They kinda got in the way, but it was nice that I got to pass people, even if they weren't in my race.
I actually did pass some runners near the end of my race and could have passed a few more, but it was quite crowded on the home stretch. I decided it wasn't worth bowling some people over to gain a spot or two (which doesn't really count much when the race is chip timed).

I finished in 42:53, which was on the slower end of my "goal range", but it reflects where I am at right now. I peaked in October and have been working to not regress too much since then. Overall, I enjoyed today's race and am looking forward to 2012.

Next post should be a 2011 recap celebration. Whoopie!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Setting Goals for 2012

When I got home tonight, I really wanted to go out and run, but I just didn't have it in me. Too tired from what seemed like a really long day at work. Too cold outside, too dark, too much trouble to get ready, too many excuses.

I did think about what I planned to do next year and my running goals for 2012. I want to set good, realistic goals that help me to progress. I think I did a good job setting goals for 2011 and I was able to meet or exceed most of them (the 24 minute 5k eluded me, but other than that I did well). So, here is what I've come up with for 2012:

1. Run a 22 minute 5k

Setting this number is a bit difficult. I think, under ideal conditions, I can run a 23 minute 5k now. The fact is that in the last 3 races I had a shot at 24 minutes, I wasn't all that close, with a best time of 24:39. I have excuses for each (oh I just ran a half-marathon last week, oh it's too cold, etc.) but in the end, I didn't do it.

I'm no where near my "potential", but I think a 20 minute 5k is a dream for next year. I would love to say I will be able to do 21 minutes, but after thinking about it, I just don't see it, especially if I'm not as fast now as I think I am. I think 22 minutes, at just over 7 minutes a mile, will be a good, realistic challenge.

2. Run a 1:50 half marathon

This means dropping over a minute a mile from my Brooksie Way time.

3. Place in a "big" race

To my surprise, I placed in quite a few races this year. However, most of those races had 6-8 people in my age group - the most people in my age group when I placed in the top 3 was 10. To define big is difficult. Even though it doesn't have a huge turnout, the Julie Run is big to me. Unless I improve exponentially, I won't medal in a huge race like the Ann Arbor Turkey Trot. I guess I'll know a big race when I see it.

4. Finish a 10k in 48 minutes

My only 10k race was run after running a PR 5k race as part of the Iron Turkey. As such, it wasn't representative of what my finish would be with good preparation on fresh legs. My guess is that I would finish in about 52 - 53 minutes now.

5. Run 900 miles

I didn't want to set a mileage goal, but I think I need to make sure I get enough miles in to meet my other goals. Why 900 miles? It is double of what I did this year and is in the middle of a 15-20 miles a week average.

What no marathon?

The first thing that people ask me after I mention that I ran a half-marathon is "When are you going to run a full marathon". I'm not planning to do a marathon next year. It isn't that I'm not interested or that I think I can't do it. When I run my first marathon, I want to be ready and to do well. Plus I need to smoke Jared from Subway's time by about an hour.

What are your goals? What do you think of mine? Lemme know in the comments section!

Monday, December 12, 2011

"You pass trees all the time. It's only fair that a tree passes you!"

The running Christmas Tree told me as I lamented that I would need to tell people that I was beaten by a tree during the latter stages of the Christmas Present 5k this weekend at Independence Oaks County Park.

Running Gear (the store) put on a free 5k race open to all to thank their customers as, well, a Christmas present. I hadn't really planned to run any more races this year but, as my running opportunities have waned in the past couple months, I thought it would be a good way to make sure I got out and ran.

This was certainly the coldest run I have done this year with temps in the lower 20s. I arrived early, picked up my number and tag, and returned to my car for warmth. I managed to coax myself out for about a five minute warmup before the race started. The cold breezes off the lake, if they were much stronger, would have been horrible, but the gentle breezes served mainly to lightly sting exposed skin.

The race started and we headed down the trail covered by about a half inch of snow. The paved areas were a bit slippery, so I tried to run on the area next to the trail. While I felt pretty good, I didn't feel like I was in race ready mode, so I went a bit easy. As the race progressed, the cold air started to hurt my face and numbed my gloved hands, but I and the other runners persisted. I found a runner that was going about my pace and decided to follow him as closely as I could.

I didn't look at my watch until it beeped after hitting 2.5 miles. I was a bit surprised that it read 22-something at the time, but I probably shouldn't have been. I was going a bit easy and, because of the snow, it was probably harder to push off the ground and generate good forward motion.

It was just a minute later when I was passed by "The Tree". To be fair, he probably would have passed me much earlier without the costume, but still, it was A TREE! (I never did see the guy running in nothing but his shorts. I'm guessing he ran quite a bit faster and was well motivated to do so).

My finish time was 28:29, about 4 minutes slower than my best time this year. Between the conditions and my recent lack of running, I was OK with that. I finished 3rd in my age group and got a five buck gift certificate for the effort.

While my running has been down, I am trying to keep doing something. I have been going to the gym once or twice a week in addition to my once or twice a week of running. I want to run at the gym, but I dislike the treadmill and am not a huge fan of the short track located upstairs. I start with a bike warmup and usually move to the treadmill for as long as I can stand it (never made it more than a couple miles without being bored). Then, I usually head to the elliptical or cross country ski machines, followed by a cool down on the track. Last weekend, I dared to use the weight machines and did a couple sets on about 8 or 9 different machines, mostly upper body stuff. My arms and shoulders were sore for a couple days afterwards, but I hope I can mix the machines in with the other stuff. Maybe I can actually build some muscle.... naw.