Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday 5Ks and stuff

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and we wish you a Happy New Year. With the baby, work, family activities, colder weather and limited sunlight, my running continues to be erratic. Even so, I was able to run a couple 5k races this month and, as a bonus, both were run at no cost to me!

The first was a trail run at Independence Oaks County Park called the Christmas Present 5k. This race was sponsored by ROTPAC and Running Gear and offered completely free entry to all participants (they did offer some shirts for $10 - $12. They were nice but I passed as I have plenty of shirts at the moment). If this race would have cost anything, I probably wouldn't have gone. This isn't because it is not a good race (it is), but I am nowhere near "race shape".

Enjoying some hot cocoa and snacks after the race.
My wife and two of my kiddies came with me to the race and hung out in the shelter where there were two fireplaces going (thus the name of the area, Twin Chimneys). I stayed in there with them until about 20 minutes before the race, where I tried to warm up. It was in the upper 20's and I was able to loosen up a bit before we started. We all lined up at the start of a path past the parking lot and got moving without much delay.

I started off fine as far as pace goes, but started sucking wind rather quickly. Even though I had been running a bit as of late, the running that I had been doing was at a very moderate pace and not near a "short" race pace at all. The first half mile was about 20 seconds off my best 5k pace and it was just downhill from there. Not literally downhill, because the course was a bit hilly and I didn't enjoy them at all. At least no tree beat me this year. I finished in 25:40. This was my slowest 5k time since...well... this race last year. I did get 3rd place in my age group and won a $5 gift certificate at Running Gear, which I will certainly will use.

The other race I ran was the following Saturday at the Jingle Bell Run / Walk for Arthritis in Bloomfield. This was one of many such races run to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation throughout the country. I ran this race because I won yet another race entry from Renewal by Andersen Detroit.

Me, Santa and Jeff from Detroit Runner
Before the race, I met Dawn and Jeff (aka Detroit Runner) who also won entries from Renewal by Anderson, Matt (Faster than a Turtle) and his wife Janet. It's always good to see people you know at a race!

After hanging around in the gym with the group and Brandon from Renewal by Andersen for a while, we headed out to the starting line. I was hoping to be better prepared for this race than the last, but I was not at all (number of runs between Christmas Present 5k and this race - 0). I was hoping just for a better showing than the previous week. I felt slightly better this race than the last, probably mostly because there were no significant hills in this race and it was on roads rather than trails.

I finished in 24:29 and was surprised that I actually won an age group award. After having some good Tortilla Soup, we waited around about 30 more minutes to collect our awards. Matt and Janet both won their age groups, Jeff came in second in his, and I third in mine (behind Matt).

Picture of the victors shamelessly stolen from Detroit Runner
I don't have much more to add. The races were fun because they were races and were "free", but I was not thrilled with my performance. It was what I expected though, based upon my level of preparation.

My next blog posts will be a recap of 2012 and my goals for 2013. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

New theme song & running updates

Because I am a superdork, I must have my own theme song for running and I switch it up every few months. For the first and perhaps only time, my theme song is an instrumental - "Into the Arena" by Michael Schenker.

I like the title and the feel of this song (Into the Arena). I would like to be announced at my next race with lots of smoke, fireworks and lasers all around as I emerge from the tunnel and head to the starting line. Delusions of  grandeur for sure!


Pandora and especially Spotify have helped me find a ton of music I knew little or nothing about. Through it, I've discovered or rediscovered many bands, including UFO and former UFO and Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker.

---

I've been running lately, but just enough as not to lose too much. I peaked at the end of September and, due to a great number of circumstances, can't get fully back into any sort of running routine. Baby, weather, laxk of daylight, my schedule, family schedule, all together I can't get any kind of regular thing going, but it's ok.

I did do a crazy run on Monday this week. I belong to a local Meetup group that runs regularly at a local Metropark and the one thing I've been able to do semi-regularly is go to the park on Saturday mornings and run with them. Much of the group is training for a marathon, so they actually have been running 18 - 22 miles and I join them for the middle 8 - 10. Anyhow, one member posted about a night run at the Pontiac Lake Rec Area. Since it was so warm (60 in December is tropical), I figured I could go.



Since it is an almost 10 mile trail with no light, I picked up a headlamp after work and got ready to go. I knew this was going to be a challenge, 'cause it was very long for an afterwork run, on a rough trail where it would be damp and dark. I could use an adventure. I met 3 others at the park and after a couple minutes we were off. Not more than a couple minutes into the run,, I had my first fall. I tripped on the edge of the road (not even yet to the trail). I fell "well" and kinda rolled into it. I wouldn't be my last fall...

We were going along pretty well for a while. Because it was dark, there was very little warning when obstacles like roots and rocks were coming. I had almost fallen at least a half dozen times coming up to the 3 mile mark when I came upon the rock garden. There were lots of wet, slippery rocks and I went down pretty hard. I hit below my left knee and my left palm particularly hard. Thankfully, there were people there to make sure I was OK. Being out in the woods, no where near a road, I would have been SOL if I was hurt badly, but I was alright.

If I would have had much of a choice, I would have been done running for the night at that point, but I wanted to finish and also didn't have much of a choice other that to go 3 miles back or 7 miles forward. We walked along (I limped for a bit) for a couple minutes, then I managed to run again. We probably went a bit slower than planned, but it was ok. They let me lead so I could keep the pace (and probably to "find" the obstacles first). It took about 2 hours total, but we made it. I felt a mix of accomplishment and pain.

My knee and hand were pretty bruised and once I got home, noticed that my knee was pretty skinned up. My upper legs were also sore for 3 days but I am now mostly recovered.

I have 2 races coming up: tomorrow at the Christmas Present 5k (free race by Running Gear) and next weekend for the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis 5k (courtesy of Renewal by Andersen Detroit contest). I have no idea what to expect. While I always hold out hope for a magical PR to fall from the sky, I'd be happy to keep the first race around 24 minutes and hope that the second, flatter race is a little better. We shall see!

Into the Arena I go!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Runner / Pedestrian Safety on the Roads

It is time that motorists wake the frak up when driving around bikers, pedestrians and runners!


There have been too many people hurt by careless drivers who don't pay attention to the road, who simply don't care or are completely hostile to bikers, runners and pedestrians on the streets. Unfortunately, I am convinced that things are getting worse and not better.

The final straw was when Michael McKean, aka David St. Hubbins was hit by a vehicle in New York this spring.
Listen, I get it. I drive a lot more than I run. Waiting for someone slow to cross the street is annoying. No one likes to slow down. But here's the thing. How would you feel if you hurt or killed someone's mother, father, sister, brother or kid because you couldn't wait 10 seconds for someone to cross the street or slow down (to the speed limit instead of 20 over)? There is a lack of common courtesy in our society and no where is it more apparent than on our roads. I think about my safety while I am running on the streets of our town often (constantly) and keep my head on a swivel.

I had one experience recently that ticked me off and I knew immediately after it happened that it would end up here. A couple weekends ago, I was crossing a busy, "secondary" street and had the walk signal. I started crossing (after looking) and after I started out noticed a car coming up to the stop light going way too fast, intending to turn right. She didn't stop at all. In fact, she only slowed down slightly to make the turn. Already halfway across the street in my bright red shirt, I kept my eye on the car and made eye contact with the driver. She still kept coming! It was only when I raised my hand in a traffic cop-like manner did she finally stop a couple feet from me. I was TICKED!

I shouted at her "You are ridiculous! You need to watch out for pedestrians!". So it wasn't the most eloquent of statements, but it was all I could think of at the moment and I managed not to curse. I could not say the same for the driver who, in an almost uninterested manner gave me an FU as she drove off. I was mad not so much because she could have hit me, but someone else because of her carelessness. I imagined one of the neighborhood kids, maybe my kids, getting hit because she was not paying attention to her surroundings or traffic laws. They will want to cross these streets soon to get to their friends house, the ice cream shop or the convenience store. It scares me that they will need to deal with crossing these streets...

The thing is, as a biker, runner or pedestrian, even if you're completely in the right, it doesn't matter. You lose against a 3000 pound vehicle moving at a high rate of speed. It's physics! So, what can we do? Seems to me there are but 2 options. The first is to work towards driver education about pedestrians. This could come in many forms. PSAs, social media movements, more education by the state and federal transportation authorities, implementation and enforcement of stiffer fines for bad motorists. This all is tough to do.

The other option is to watch out for yourself as much as possible. The Road Runners Club of America has a few related tips:

  • Run against traffic if running on the road. If running on the sidewalk or multi-use trails, travel on the right and pass on the left.
  • Never run more than two abreast if you are running in a group. Don’t be a road or trail hog.
  • Alert pedestrians when you are passing them – don’t assume they are aware of their surroundings. A simple “on your left” warning will suffice.
  • Be alert on blind curves.
  • Stop at stop signs and ensure oncoming traffic yields to you before proceeding across a road. Don’t assume cars will stop if you are entering a cross walk (Ain't that the truth).
I'll add a couple of my own:
  • Don't get lost in the music with headphones. In fact, if you're on streets, the headphones should be off your ears. I've found that, if I must have music, using the speaker on my phone is ideal. When my surroundings are quiet, I hear the music but am not isolated from the world.
  • Wear bright clothing as much as possible (especially if it is dark, but you want to be visible regardless).
  • Communicate with motorists. I've found that a point to where you are headed or bike-like hand signals work well.
I've thought about trying to write a contract for both runners / bikers and motorists to sign. 

What would the motorists need to offer in the contract?

What would the bikers / runners / pedestrians need to offer?


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Group Therapy

After about a month off, I'm back running semi-regularly. One thing which has helped is running with a group the last couple Saturdays. I never thought I needed to run with a group regularly, but it has its advantages. The main one currently is to help me simply get out there and get the miles in.

This is not what a group run looks like in Michigan in November

As an example, it was pretty crummy out this morning. It was at or below freezing, windy and there was a light snow. While I would hope otherwise, I think I may have skipped the run or would have run later and scaled it back without the group. With it, I ran 10 chilly miles and, for the most part, enjoyed it. I certainly am happy I got the miles in. Other benefits include meeting new people, keeping a more steady pace and generally pushing each other.

I don't necessary want or need to run with a group all the time, but once a week or every couple weeks is helpful.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Baby Hiatus


I accustomed to getting a weekly "Awesome Training" e-mail or something to that effect from Dailymile, one of the sites where I track my running. This week, I received the e-mail above, because, for the first time in 1 1/2 years, I had no workouts last week and I haven't run in over 2 weeks.

I have a good excuse, my baby girl was born 2 weeks ago. My wife ended up having a C-section and then came down with an illness a day after we got home, so I've been the primary baby / house / kid wrangler since baby girl arrived. I have had a few opportunities to do something, but just haven't been able to get myself out to run.

I hope to get out and resume running soon. I have decided not to race the Iron Turkey this upcoming weekend, as I don't want to spend money on a race when I don't think I'll do well or be satisfied with the result. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to still race once or twice before the end of the year.

I'm thrilled with my expanded family, but am looking forward to getting back to my running routine.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hidden Forest Trail Run

For some reason, I felt the need to do another race for the third weekend in a row. I was feeling like I had mostly healed from the half marathon and knew some others that were going to run the Hidden Forest Trail Run at Independence Oaks County Park, so I decided to go for it.


One aspect of the race that was appealing to me was the price. They offered a no t-shirt option for $7 ($10 late registration like I did) or the race with the shirt for $17 ($20). I went without a shirt, though they were nice, long sleeve shirts (some women I knew at the race commented that they didn't like the colors). Based on our family's finances, I am becoming increasingly price conscious when it comes to racing. It's hard to harp on others spending money when I am spending on "non-essentials" like racing (I see it as the cost of maintaining fitness, but that's another topic). The race was run by the Riverbend Striders, a group out of Flushing, MI (suburb of Flint), who put on 8 - 10 races yearly. This race is the southern-most of the races they organize. Apparently, because they aren't trying to make a bunch of money, they can keep their race prices reasonable.

The main entrance to the park was closed because of construction, so we had to take a detour to another park entrance. This detour was on a dirt road and with the recent rains, it was quite bumpy and messy (I still need to wash my car). The registration took place at the Twin Chimneys pavilion, which, in fact, does have 2  fireplaces and chimneys. It was a warm place to hang out and stay out of the drizzle. Happily, the rain stopped prior to the race.

I decided to run the 5.5 mile race as a training for some future 10k. All 3 race distances (2.5, 5.5 and 8.5 miles) started at the same time and with a good amount of runners, the starting line was a bit of a cluster.For some reason (perhaps the detour), the race started late too. Anyhow, once we got going, I was running with a couple of my Brooksie Way running buddies and one encouraged me to just run around the pack and go. After hesitating for a moment, I took off along the side of the trail and passed massive amounts of people (this race had enough people that they should have asked people to line up by pace).

Even though I was passing people, my pace wasn't what I was hoping for and, once we hit the hills, that pace went out the window (it has been months since I ran on a flat course). I struggled a bit more than I was expecting, but started to feel better around mile 3 - before I went the wrong way. There was a fork where one direction when ahead and the other to the finish chute. It wasn't marked well (unlike the rest of the course) and when I was getting near it, I shouted to the volunteers asking which way to go for the 5.5 mile race. Instead of saying "left" or "right", she said "straight", so I continued straight from where I was on the path. Unfortunately, this was the wrong way and sent me towards the chute where the 2.5 milers were finishing. I was ticked and considered just going through the finish and being done. Instead, I ran back the way I came and went the right way. It probably cost me about a minute and, more importantly, I just felt deflated. Running is very (mostly?) mental and I was not mentally strong about the wrong turn. It probably took about a mile after that to quit worrying about the wrong turn.

The second loop was much hillier than the first, with a couple redonkulous hills. I caught several people during / after the hills and started to feel a little better as a result. I had one runner who was probably a tenth of a mile ahead of me with less than a half-mile to go in my sights and my mini-goal was to catch him. I came close and, if I would have done my madman sprint at the end, I would have caught him, but I didn't want to look insane, so I just cruised down the chute to the finish.

My finish time was 42:56, which was just 30 seconds off my goal for the day. I was cool with that considering the wrong turn, but it was less so when I found that, even with the extra distance with my wrong turn, the course was about .25 miles short according to my Garmin. After waiting for some people to finish, we headed back to Twin Chimneys to view the results. The age group awards were plaques and I wanted one, if only because I have medals, ribbons, certificates and trophies, but no plaques. I was prepared to be angry if my wrong turn cost me one, but it didn't. I finished 5th, out of the money, and even if I didn't make the wrong turn, I probably wouldn't have placed any higher. I'm still not fast enough to expect to win anything, but well... I want to win. :) A couple of the people I met at the race did win something and I am happy for them, they did great!

Despite the wrong turn and not winning anything, I enjoyed the race. Hopefully, they can work out a couple kinks, but it was nice to have a local trail race with a good turnout. This won't ever be a "goal race", but if it works out that I can participate in the future, I will likely do so.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Race report - MSP Fall Colors 5k

I haven't posted in a while, mainly because my laptop broke. Sure, we have another computer, but that is al the way in the other room. I can run 13 miles, but gettting up and sitting at the desk is just way too much to ask. Well, I finally broke down and got a new laptop (it would have cost almost as much to fix the old one), so I am back and comfy on the couch.

Anyhow, I ran races the last 2 weekends. They weren't anything spectacular (both the races and my performances), but I enjoyed them anyway. I guess I'll hit the first race in this post.



I was not at all ready to run the MSP Fall Colors 5k the weekend after the Brooksie Way Half Marathon. I was not "healed up" from the race and my legs, while improved over the previous couple days, were just not right.  However, when there was an opportunity to run with a free entry from Renewal by Andersen Detroit, I jumped at it. As another bonus, a couple of my Brooksie Way teammates were going to be there.

I got there early and it was cold! Luckily, the rain was holding off or it would have been miserable. I signed up, got my stuff, tried to find people and attempted to keep warm. Before the race started, there was a nice ceremony as a tribute to officers that had fallen during the year (the purpose of the race was to raise money for Thin Blue Line, an organization which helps families effected by loss or injury of state troopers and other officers). I am NOT complaining about the ceremony it was very nice and honored several officers who had passed while on duty or otherwise. However, from purely a running standpoint, it wasn't ideal to stand mostly still for about 20 minutes in the cold.

After the ceremony, we all walked to the starting line. We thought we were at the back of the pack, but once we got there, we found out the race was going in the other direction, which was a bonus. After some goofing around and getting things ready, we started. It wasn't a road race, but not quite a trail run either. The course was a bit hilly, especially early. Almost immediately, I knew this wasn't going to be a PR day. The course was too hilly, terrain a bit tough and I just didn't have "it".

Late in the race, I started catching some people, but I didn't follow through and once I caught up to them, I was too tired to really try to pass and was content just to cruise to the finish. I ended up finishing a little over a minute off my PR. Others that I was with did well.

My favorite part of the race was the Affy Tapple (caramel apple) at the end of the race. OK, Affy Tapples. I ate one and, because it was so cold, it was as hard as a rock. It was still good and I grabbed one more when I saw they were packing up with many apples left. The second one didn't have nuts on it and was not as good... but it was still good.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together - Brooksie Way Half Marathon


On September 30th, I ran the Brooksie Way Half Marathon and it went exactly as planned, but in some ways it was different than I thought it would be.

I arrived early and got a primo parking space near the porta-potties (not too close thankfully) and was near the race start. This was much better than last year, when we had to take the shuttle in. I wandered around for a while, looking for people I knew and hung out in various tents to keep warm. It would be ideal running weather, but not so much ideal standing around weather.

I found the majority of my Brooksie Way Half Marathon teammates before the race as well as Jeff from Detroit Runner and Matt & Janet from Faster Than a Turtle among others. Once we got ready to go in the corral, we were talking about what we wanted to do in the race. I told everyone I planned to keep between a 8:10 to 8:20 per mile pace, going a little faster at the start and to hang on through the hills to finish below 1:50, my goal from the start of the year.

Soon, the race began and, after the first half mile cluster, things loosened up and I began to hit my stride. I have never felt so good during a race in my life. I was running about 8 min / mile pace for the next couple miles, but I felt like I could have gone so much faster. I think I would have PRed any distance this day and had to reign myself in as not to overdo it.

Felt pretty good  for the first 6 miles and then felt the first signs of fatigue in my legs. It wasn't bad and came later than usual, but I thought to myself "So, this is how it's gonna be for the rest of the race." If only I were so lucky...

Paint Creek trail was nice and then you turn onto Tienken, where the hills start. Taken alone, each individual hill is not that bad. They're long but not ridiculously steep. What gets you is that they go on and on for about 4 miles with little relief. Sure, there are the downhills, but they don't make up for the uphills and serve a role in the tiring of legs. By mile 11, I had my energy, I was breathing well, but my legs were in pain. My whole upper leg hurt somethin' fierce. Thankfully, there was no injury, just pretty bad fatigue - even more than I felt during the Crim race.


Dunno what's up with the A-Team Theme

While early in the race I had delusions of grandeur, reality was coming down pretty hard at this point. I just kept pushing so that I wouldn't see that 1:50 pace group, whom I chose to cruise by early in the race, pass me up near the end. I never looked behind me and, to my delight, I never did see them. Heading up the final hill leading to the finish, I saw the clock and it said 1:49-something. Last year, I charged up that hill like a madman. This year, I didn't feel like doing that, knowing that I would beat my goal. Those couple seconds didn't matter to me at that point.

After finishing, I scarfed some oranges and other food down. Boy, did I hurt. That was the surprise of the race. Because I felt so good early, I think I was in shock that I felt so bad late. Beating my goal was supposed to be like a coronation, instead it felt like I had run the gauntlet.  I hadn't hurt that much after running since...well, last year's race, when my knees ached horribly (this issue has since been corrected with proper footwear).

I met up with most of my team after the race and just about everyone had a great race and set PRs. We headed to the team tent where this year, there was actually much food and drink. The drink was good and the food was decent (too much carbs - need carbs before a race, not after), but I was satisfied. Spent some time with my teammates, who are now my friends and then made the trip home, where the recovery began.

My official time was 1:49:09, which I am very happy with. My mind tries to play the "what-if" game. What if the course was flatter? What if I would have went faster when I felt good early on? What if I ran more miles and my legs were more prepared for the hills? And so on and so forth. Successfully, I managed to shut off the "what ifs" and am just happy with how I did. 

I knocked off 15 minutes from last years race and 7 minutes from the spring, on what was an easier course. I had a plan and executed it well. I went from being to the bottom third of my age group to to top third in a year. I beat a goal that I thought would be the hardest one of the year. I am content but never satisfied and that is a good thing.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Brooksie Way Initial Report

In my 3rd half marathon and 2nd Brooksie Way Half, I finished in 1:49:09. This was a PR by 7 minutes and beat my goal of 1:50. More to report in the near future!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Waiting

Tom Petty sang about it back in '81 and it still holds true. The waiting is the hardest part.


There is a lot of waiting going on in our household lately. Top on the hit parade is this little lady:

Cute little baby face

 Baby girl is due in about a month. Mama is ready to go any time she's ready to make an appearance.

The other thing I'm waiting for is the Brooksie Way Half Marathon, which is on Sunday, September 30. I've been ready to go for a couple weeks now, and even more so after the past week.

Last Sunday, we had the Brooksie Way practice run. As I hadn't run the course since last year and because I hadn't run 13.1 miles since March (my recent long runs have been in the 10 mile range), I thought it would be a good idea to participate. I ran with a few people from my half marathon team from work. My goal was to run the course "easily" with steady pace, and that is what I did. Other than on a couple of Brooksie's infamous hills, I was never really breathing hard and just concentrated on my pace and strides. I was helping a teammate finish strong, so I tried to go up hills at a good pace and slowed on the down hill to let her catch up. It seemed to work pretty well as she set an unofficial PR in a practice run (and hopes to drop about 5 minutes next Sunday).

We ran the course in a little over 2:10, which is about 20 minutes longer than I hope to run next Sunday. I think I made the correct decision to not push too hard and not race the thing. I was able to get the confidence that the distance shouldn't be a huge issue, my legs got the work and I relearned the course.


I am as ready as I think I can be for this race. With Princess C on the bike Tuesday after work. I had a great 5k run. I felt really strong, my legs felt strong - I can only hope I get something close to that on race day. This morning I had a decent run as well, doing half of a half marathon at about 30 sec / mile off race pace. There is a balancing act between staying fresh and keeping "in practice" and not doing too much and injuring or straining myself. I really wish the race was tomorrow as I'm having "taper madness", even if it is only for another week. I need to get through the week, do as well as the race as I am capable of, and get ready for baby time. I think the race is keeping me occupied and I'm not as anxious about baby girl and the whole birthing process (believe me, I know I have the easy part in this) as I otherwise would be.

After the race, the rest of the racing calendar for the year is blank. I plan to race, but will do so as our family schedule allows. I still have 5k and 10k goals to hit for the year, but if mama, baby or the kiddies need me, running races is a very minor consideration.

The waiting is the hardest part, but I think I'm ready for it all. Ready as anybody can be. Sing it Steven!



Sunday, September 9, 2012

Camp Lael Race and Good Tempo Run

There are two races that I plan to do every year because they involve causes my family and I support. The first is the Open Door Julie Run, which was in June and the Camp Lael 5k Run / Walk, which was on Saturday. A 5k race wasn't really in line with my half marathon training at this point, but I had no intention of missing it. This is the only race ever where I was the defending champion and I don't know if I'd ever have the chance to run a race like that again.

 
Out of the 30 or so person field this year, there were only 3 "competitive runners" including myself - everyone else either ran sporadically or walked. The other two were both men in their mid 20's and both looked to be in good shape.

I went to the race expecting not to need to run hard, based on last year's experience, but had a race on my hands. One of the guys was doing what looked like wind sprints in the parking lot and my wife said "Uh-oh, you're going to have to run". She was right.


The course was 3 laps around the camp, for the first loop, we were all basically together. I didn't feel like I "had it" at all, but I was holding on. Mid-way through the second lap, the young tall guy and I pulled away from the other guy. It was obvious to me that the tall guy was stronger than I on this day (he was the one running around before the race). I just tried to hang close and hoped that he'd tire. On the last half of the last lap, I noticed he was having some issues and decided to pass him on the downhill of the second to last hill and did. I tried to speed up enough to put some distance between him and me, but he was the fastest uphill runner I've ever seen and caught me on the last hill. He got a few seconds on me and despite my furious finish were I nearly caught him, he edged me out to win.

I wasn't "on" today and have been training for longer races at a slower pace, but I'm happy with how I did overall. The pace wasn't that special, but with the very hilly course (can I get a flat one someday?) and rocky terrain, it wasn't bad. This was the first distance race I have ever run where I was basing my pace on what others were doing. I'm not sure this was a good thing. This was a tough course, but my pace during the second mile, and overall, was slower than I would have expected. I thought we were going faster than we were - it was different actually racing against someone.

The cool thing about racing against someone is that there was strategy involved, at least on my part. I wasn't having a great day, but I hung around, hung around, hung around and then made a move. It wasn't enough to win, but I felt like I had the upper hand mentally and gave myself the best chance to win.


I planned to so a "long, easy" run today of about 11 -12 miles, but I just didn't have time, so I scaled it back to 8 and it ended up more of a "tempo" run. I was still planning to take it easy, but starting out I felt surprisingly good considering I raced the day before. My legs felt good and the cool weather (around 50F to start), certainly helped. I didn't look at my watch but once or twice, but except for the first two miles (where there is a big downhill on the first mile), I got faster mile after mile. The splits were: 8:43, 9:01, 8:37, 8:36, 8:23, 8:21, 8:16, 8:03 and there was a sub-7 minute pace finish for the last .13 miles. I couldn't have planned negative splits any better. This run was right at the pace I need to hit my half marathon goal. Very happy with the run and a good confidence builder.

Do you ever race against someone rather than against the clock or yourself? How'd it go?

Before a "big" race, do you ever have that run that makes you think "I'm Ready!"? Were you?

 ;

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Milford 10k - Third race in four weeks

Greetings!

On Saturday, I ran the Milford Labor Day 10k. This race wasn't planned very far in advance, as I won the race entry from Renewal by Anderson (check out their Facebook page). This was the second race entry I won from them, the first being the Big Heart, Big House race this spring. Thankfully, this one was much less rainy.


The race was one of several offered. I could have entered the 30k, but (probably wisely) decided it wasn't a good idea to go from 10 mile long runs to an 18 mile race. There was also a 30k bike race and a 30/30, which was the 30k bike race followed by a 30k run.

Upon arrival, I was surprised at the turnout. I knew this was going to be a popular race as they have run it for several years and because of the distances offered, but it was a bit bigger than I anticipated. Besides the Crim, Brooksie Way and maybe the A2 Turkey Trot last year, this seemed to be the most "happening" race day, with many vendors and a fair-like feel to the proceedings.

My race wasn't until 8:30, so I wandered around and waited for the 30k race to start. I saw Ty (from This is How Ty Runs) and Irina and talked to them a bit before Ty's 30k adventure. After the 30k runners got out of sight, I started to warm up a bit and got ready to go.

Soon, we were underway. My legs felt really tight. Not sore at all, but more stiff. I'm guessing this was mainly due to last week's race and that I really haven't been training to run "fast". My training has been geared towards a half marathon and I haven't done much any speedwork lately. Even my last run that was supposed to be fast was slower than a 10k pace. I was near the pace I was shooting for (to finish in 48 minutes), but knew I needed to go faster early due to the upcoming hills. It didn't happen and even the minor hills early slowed me a bit.

Once we hit Hill Road, the hills kicked in. Not as bad as the Crim or Run Thru Hell hills, but they were significant and several. I realized that this was a main reason why, in my pre-race studies, that people who ran 48 minutes in this race ran a couple minutes faster in other 10k races (yes, I look uo "the competition" in Athlinks prior to many races to see how fast I should run and where I should finish.) I thought I handled the hills fine, but there was no way to keep the same pace over these hills as I did on flat ground. The other hill phenomena is that, once the hills are done, even if they don't take my legs out, is that I never seem to be able to resume a pre-hill pace. They just throw off my rhythm.

I did get back to an 8ish pace as the hills lessened a bit, with more downhills than up. My legs actually felt better after 4 miles, but I didn't speed up much. I really wanted to break 50 minutes and finally managed to turn it up in the last 3 quarters of a mile. I was running by myself at this point and there was a pack of runners ahead. I was never able to catch them but came close. My finish time was 50:16, a PR but obviously short of 48 and 50 minutes, my "A" and "B" goals.

It was 12 seconds off my previous best, but that was back in March. I think I've come a long way since then. I was good with how I did considering the differences in courses (286' elevation gain vs. 52', weather (warmer on Saturday than in March) and because the March race was a "target" race, where this one was only on my radar for a week.

Finishers received a nice medal and after a little while, the race provided burgers and beer. Both were welcome as we waited for Ty to finish her 30 k. I think she did quite well and ended up 3rd in her age group.


Free races are among the best races, so I have no complaints with the Milford Labor Day 10k. I ran pretty well and had a nice time. I would even consider paying for this race next year and would likely choose the 30k if my 2013 Detroit Marathon plans remain in effect.

I have one more race scheduled before the Brooksie Way Half Marathon on September 30. It is the Camp Lael 5k, where I am participating as the DEFENDING CHAMPION! Yes, it is true, I won this race last year (which says more about the competition than my great speed, but you can only race who shows up, right?) I just want to do well and WIN AGAIN! :) If I race older people and kids again, I have a good shot. If a camp counselor or two decide to participate, it will be more of a challenge.


 How have your races gone lately?

How much racing is too much (or is there such a thing)?






Saturday, August 25, 2012

Crim 10 Mile - 2012

I ran my second 10 mile race in three weeks this morning at the Crim Festival of Races in Flint. We got the kiddies up well before sunrise and made the trip up to Flint early to make sure we got a good parking spot and think we did pretty well. After checking things out, the family set up a couple hundred yards before the finish line and I headed over to the starting line.

Crim Race results are available HERE.
I saw a couple people I knew, including my neighbor Greg, before heading to my assigned area. I was in Wave B (there were Waves A - E, with the faster runners near the front according to their predicted finish times, in this race of nearly 9000 people). Apparently, this was the first year they started in waves and I'm glad that they did, as I hate having people run then stop right in front of me or when people who are going to walk line up in the front. Wave A, which included many "elite" runners, started about 2 minutes before my wave.


Once we got started, I was pleased that, although it was crowded, I was pretty much able to move at the pace I wanted. Other than the normal tight legs due to waiting for about 25 minutes for the race to start, I felt pretty good. Through the first 5 miles, I was able to keep a pace of about 8:10 min / mile, which is right where I wanted to be. Then came the hills...

The Bradley Hills are infamous in this race. I drove them on Thursday and tried to discount them as not being as bad as the Run Thru Hell (they weren't), but my legs sure didn't appreciate them after the 4th or 5th one in a row. I expected to slow during the hills, but I didn't expect that they would make the back of my legs ache so much. Not agonizing pain at all, but very tired and sore. My pace never did bounce back to pre-hill levels. Where I was on a pace to finish in 1:22 at the halfway point (I thought early that perhaps I could even pick it up and make a run at 1:20), I was struggling to maintain a fast enough pace to beat 1:25, my goal for the day.

My Garmin beeps every half mile and displays the half mile time and I kept seeing times like 4:16 (8:32 pace), 4:23 (8:46 pace) and started to do math in my head each time to see what I needed to do to break 1:25. In the last mile, I knew it was going to be close. I figured that if I could get myself to "the bricks", the last 1/3rd mile of the course on a brick road, I could pick it up enough to make it. Running hard to the finish, I waved to the family and then put my head down and pushed harder.

Once I crossed, my immediate concern was to get one of those cold, wet towels they were handing out, as well as getting Gatorade, water and some snacks. Once I got something in my belly, I looked at my watch and saw 1:25:05. While I would have been fine with that, I would have been a little ticked to miss a goal by seconds (again). Did I start my watch early? Did I stop it right away after the finish. I couldn't recall, but I hoped those 5 seconds were in there somewhere.

After making my way through the crowds to find my family, we watched Greg finish the race and decided to leave rather than try to collect my "free" pizza and drink, which would have required another trip through the bottleneck on the sidewalk. The results were on-line quickly and I was glad to see that I did, in fact, break 1:25 by a few seconds.

My first Crim experience was a very good one. I beat my time from a couple weeks ago by a couple minutes, the family had a good time and it was just a really fun race all around (though I didn't partake in the beer or Krispy Kremes during the race). I would highly recommend running the race (10 mile, 8k or 5k) if you are able and I plan to run it again next year if my schedule allows.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I have run 500 miles and then I ran 500 more.

To the tune of The Proclaimers song I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles):

"Well I have run 500 miles and I have run 500 more
To be the man that ran 1000 miles to throw up at your door"

 
 
On Tuesday, my evening run gave me a total of over 1000 miles run since my "official" running comeback (which began 18 months ago). The run itself was nothing special. In fact, it was kinda craptacular. I ate dinner before I ran and waiting a couple hours after eating didn't help. For some reason, I kept singing both a couple lines from the "500 Miles" song and a line from "Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll" by Blue Oyster Cult (I am well versed in the Classic Rock arts). Instead of singing "My heart is black and my lips are cold, Cities on flame with rock and roll" I was singing "My legs are tired, and my belly's full, Cities on flame with rock and roll." Yes, I am a big dork.


My legs feel better, but I still don't think they've fully recovered from the Run Thru Hell last Saturday. I ran at a decent pace this evening, but my hamstrings get sore when I am running. I don't feel injured at all, just like they got overused and are tired. If I was hurt, I'd take more days off, but as it stands now, I can deal.

I will be running the Crim 10 Mile at the Crim Festival of Races on August 25. I think I like the 10 mile distance and am looking forward to this race because of that, the opportunity to beat my time from the Run Thru Hell and because it is supposed to be a fun race. The plan is for an easy run tomorrow, long easy run Sunday, run 3 times in 4 days Monday - Thursday, rest day Friday and then good race on Saturday. Easy, right? I would love to luck out and get cool weather on race day again. It makes a significant difference.

Here's hoping the next 1000 miles are as good or better than the first 1000!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Run Thru Hell

Best. Notice. Ever.


This Saturday I did the Run Thru Hell, a race in Hell. Hell, Michigan that is (Yes, that is the name of the town). I wasn't planning on racing until last week when encouraged to do so by my wife. I'm sure that the main reason was to get the T-shirt and, it was a pretty good shirt to get. Too bad it is pink. "Real" men may wear pink, but I'm guessing many are not thrilled about it.

We (my wife and I) got there early (or so we thought), but there was already a good line for registration. While in line, I saw Ty from "This is How Ty Runs". We each equal about 25% of our respective blog readers. :) I was glad to meet her in person and also her friends Irina and Chris. After registry, we experienced a man only known to us as the "Bathroom Sargent" or the "Bathroom Nazi" (ala Seinfeld's Soup Nazi).

"You - its open right there! Get in there! Back there! One, two stalls open! You and you, get moving!" the Bathroom Nazi demanded. Actually, he and his minions kept the restroom line moving very well. I almost wanted to get a picture with the guy, but he was far too busy. That, and I was afraid of hearing "No Bathroom For You!". That would have been bad, as the notice said I could not PEE or DUMP on the course.

Both the 10 mile run and the 4.8 mile "Weenie" run started together. Early on, the rolling hills started and they weren't too bad. I got into a good rhythm and stayed on pace, no matter how many people I passed or was passed by. The light drizzle felt good and the temp in the mid 60's was about as good as could be expected in early August. The dirt roads were close to a perfect running surface with only some puddles and divots marring a soft running surface.

Once we got to Hell, I saw Satan handing out "Atomic Fireballs". Only an evil person would hand out hard candy to runners. I passed. Downtown Hell, Michigan consists of a casual restaurant with post office, a sit down restaurant, the old Ice Cream place which is now all souvenirs and a mini-golf course. After the downtown, the weenies headed back to Hell Creek Ranch, while the 10 milers turned further away.

I saw an elevation map which indicated that the hills stopped after about 4 miles. That elevation map was very wrong. The biggest hills were at the two "out and back" sections of the course at about the 5 mile and 7 mile marks.(I saw Ty going up the hills as I was coming down and we exchanged a high five and thumbs up). I handled the hills pretty well, but they did slow me (and undoubtedly almost everyone else) down a bit. The elevation gain / loss for this course was more in 10 miles than Brooksie Way Half Marathon in 13.1, so if one can handle this, any other course should feel flat by comparison.


Hell is hilly and cooler than reports would indicate.











While I slowed when going uphill and sped up going down, I was able to keep a fairly steady pace. I was racing, but not going "all out". As I hadn't run 10 miles in 3 months or so, I wanted to make sure I finished strong. I was pretty much by myself for the last mile, with a group a bit behind me and another a couple hundred yards ahead. I wanted to catch them, but still wanted not to "overdo" it. Near the end I did catch the straggler and had a nice, strong finish.

I finished in just under 1:27, which was right around what I was aiming for. The average pace for the run was 8:42. For Brooksie Way, I need to run about 20 seconds a mile faster for 3.1 miles longer to meet my 1:50 goal. Based on how I felt and knowing that I have a month and a half left to train, I have confidence that I can do it.

We went to get "brunch" with Ty, Chris and Irina and had a nice meal at the Picnkey Diner. Irina ordered flaming cheese - OPA! - for Chris, because he had never had it. I think I may have had it once. We shared and it was pretty good, as was the omelet I had (just needed a bit more Feta). I hope to see Ty at the Crim (another 10 miler) in a couple weeks.

 After brunch, we drove back to Hell to check out the town and get some pictures.



We visited the restaurant / post office and sent a postcard to my father-in-law. Apparently, this is the only post office that will lightly burn your mail, if requested, to give it that authentic Hell look. I think he will enjoy the card. We also visited the souvenir shop. Didn't get much, but they had some reasonably priced stuff. I know it's all in good fun, but I'm into good over evil and would have liked items that reflected that viewpoint.

I don't plan to go out of my way to return to Hell, but I would certainly consider this or another race here again.

Have you visited any strangely named towns or even run in one?

Do you do "intermediate" races to train for a "bigger" or "more important" one?

Would you run or not run a race based on terrain?






Friday, August 3, 2012

Social Butterfly

Greetings!

I've had a couple weeks of good running and am definitely in training mode now for upcoming races. I've never been a high mileage runner, so if I get 20 or more miles in right now, I'm happy. The other thing that I have been doing lately is running with groups.

Up until recently, other than races and doing runs with Lil' C, I always ran alone. I like running by myself just fine and don't need others to motivate me. With that said, running with a group is nice too. You get to interact with people who "get" why you run, you can learn from them, get and give advice and having other people around is just motivating. Who wants to dog it when others are watching?

I'm not exactly a social butterfly, but maybe I'm at least Arthur from "The Tick"
The two group runs I have done so far have been with my work "Brooksie Way Half Marathon" team and at a Hansons Group run in Royal Oak.

I am the "captain" of our Brooksie Way team (simply because I am helping to organize it, not because of my running greatness) and this year I'm trying to help make us a "team" rather than just people who don't really know each other getting a mediocre score. Part of this is trying to run together. I was able to organize a run and have people planning to show up and then I got sick with some stomach thing. I recovered enough to attend the run, but I still felt pretty rough, even a couple days after feeling "better".

After being up half the night with stomach pain, I wasn't going to run, but thought I should at least show up since I was the one who set the thing up. Once I got there, of course I was going to run. I'm glad I did because I got to meet and get to know the team from work (we all have the same employer, but don't really work together). It was fun, even though the run was a struggle. The run also seemed to get me back on track to start my "real" training.

The other group run was last night at the Hanson's running store in Royal Oak. This running store hosts a group run every Thursday night. While I had considered going before, my work schedule didn't really allow it. Now that my schedule is more "normal", I decided to check it out. There was a big turnout (35 - 40 people) with a broad range of ages and abilities. Most people run 4, 6 or 8 miles on set routes. I did 6, which is a long run for me after work. It was friggin' hot and I didn't bring my hydration belt, but survived. I didn't really run with anyone for a long period of time, though there was always someone either a bit in front or behind me (I always seem to be doing my own thing behind the better, experienced runners but ahead of the rest of the pack, both in races and apparently in group runs). Still, I wouldn't have run 6 miles on a hot weekday if I didn't go to the group run and I met some nice people, so it was a win.

I have another group run set for tomorrow at a local Metropark (kind of a regional park system). I'm meeting a couple people from a group I found on "Meetup.com", hopefully along with some of my Brooksie Way team. The plans is to go 8 miles or so at around 45 sec / mile less than my planned half marathon pace.

I'm adding a race to my schedule for next weekend, the "Run Thru Hell". Yes, I will be running through Hell. Hell, Michigan. This is surely a race where the T-shirt should be a keeper!


The almost annual Run Thru Hell is a 10 mile trek through Hell which I'm told is quite hilly. I've debated running hard versus running like a training run for the race and have pretty much decided to run it hard unless conditions or health dictate otherwise. It will be my first 10 mile race and should be a good "warmup" for the Crim 10 mile later in the month and the Brooksie Way at the end of September.

Do you attend group runs? Do you find them unnecessary, helpful or essential?

Any upcoming race plans?
 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again





"I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack! I'm baaaaaack in the saddle again!" I thought the great Aerosmith song "Back in the Saddle" describes how I am feeling about my running lately. I ran over 20 miles this week for the first time since May and had a nice run this morning. I didn't run particularly fast and have run further a couple dozen times, but, for the first time in a few weeks, it just felt right.

Here's what the first 3 weeks of July looked like in terms of my mileage:

 

Here's what the last week or so has looked like:


There were many reasons why my running was down, but I'm just happy to be back at it. Physically and mentally, I just feel right when I am running regularly.

I feel pretty good after almost 9 miles today, so I'll probably do some running before heading to church with the family tomorrow morning. I officially signed up for the Crim 10 Mile on Aug. 25 and The Brooksie Way Half Marathon on Sept. 30th (for which I'll be running with a team from work). I also may do the "Run Thru Hell", a race through Hell, MI (yes, there is such a place). This is a 10 mile race (there is also a 4.8 mile "weenie run") which I would consider a warmup for the Crim.

I wasn't able to run the Crim last year due to the passing of my Grandfather, Wilbur (Willie). I plan to dedicate the race to him in some manner. I have some ideas. 

Ever need to come back from a lull or layoff? How did you get back to "normal"?

Any plans for upcoming races?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Run - The Terry Hitchcock Story

Last week, I wrote about a movie I watched on Netflix called "Run for your Life - The Fred Lebow Story". Tonight, I watched "My Run - The Terry Hitchcock Story", another running movie which isn't really about running at all.


The documentary movie starts out noting how Terry and his three children lost a wife and mother to cancer. (Cancer sucks!) He was understandably heartbroken. A short time later, Terry also lost his job. The early part of the movie notes many difficulties of being a single parent. A few years after the loss of his wife, Terry ends up arriving at the conclusion that he needs to do a "Mega Marathon" from St. Paul, Minnesota to Atlanta (during the '96 Olympics) to bring attention to and raise awareness and hopefully money to help single parents find help in finding help and resources to support their families.

The rub is, to start, Terry is not a runner at all. He's in his 50's and people say he looks a bit like Santa Claus (I say more like Kenny Rogers, but anyhow...). There is quite a bit of work setting up a 2 1/2 month long run where Terry plans to run "a Marathon a day".to total about 1900 miles. Much like another "ultra long distance" running movie, Running the Sahara, he has a team to help him with various aspects of the journey, from runner support, to supplies, publicity and medical care. Most of his team is made of of his kids and their friends.

There is quite a bit of tension during the trip and the majority of the team, apparently due to mental frustration and a real lack of knowledge about what it would take to pull this run off, bail after about 3 weeks. Terry's older son stays on and they press on toward Atlanta. Along the way they learn about themselves and each other.





I don't want to give away the entire movie, but the journey Terry and his son undertake is memorable and, by most measures, a success. Terry proves that anyone can be a runner and that runners don't need to look a certain way or move a certain speed. I hope that I can work towards showing a fraction of the fortitude Mr. Hitchcock demonstrated during his journey. The movie is an uplifting, real life story which I would recommend. It is available on DVD or, as I viewed it, on Netflix.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

False Start / Fresh Start


False start! Number 34! 5 yard penalty! Repeat second down!

That is how my supposed training for the Brooksie Way Half Marathon is going. I'm supposed to be a couple weeks into "real" training for the race, which at the end of September, and I thought I had started, only to prove myself wrong.

This is what my running (miles per week) has looked like the past month:

Now 16 or 17 miles a week isn't any great amount for me (I'd like to run 20 - 25), but 3 and 6 miles a week is not nearly enough to do anything. There are many reasons for my lack of running, including a vacation, the heat and illness among other items, but I have been so good at mitigating reasons (or excuses) all year that I'm disappointed in my recent activities.

My blogging is also way down (oh the horror!). I don't even think I posted about a race I did on the 4th of July, the Carmel Freedom Fest 4.5 mile. We went to this race because we were in Indiana at the time, I wanted to race, and I had the opportunity to see an old friend, who I have found out also runs.

So... We awoke at the "butt crack of dawn", hustled the kids into the car, and made an almost 2 hour trek to Carmel, IN from where we were at. Luckily, we found my friend, Jeff and his "new" wife of 13 years just as we pulled in. We registered, caught up a bit and got ready to go. Jeff and I decided to run together to start, as we wanted to maintain the same approximate pace.

Even with my lack of recent running, I was feeling pretty good and going about as fast as I wanted. About halfway through the race, the heat really started to hit me. My legs felt good, I was breathing fine, I just noticed I was slowing a bit and encouraged Jeff to go on without me. It was over 80 F,  and climbing at 8am with not a cloud in the sky - I'm just not accustomed to running in that for a race.

I found this LOUD American Flag shirt (it was polyester) at Wal-Mart, the day before the race.



I was able to at least keep him in sight for the rest of the race and, considering the conditions and my lack of "readiness", I did OK. Since it was a weird distance, it was automatically a PR! :)

Lil' C walked the 1.5 mile walk / run (Coach Daddy was cool with that - it was too hot) and J-Man ran the kids sprint. He experienced his first race defeat in three tries, but was still glad he ran. (We need to work on his "run like you're frightened by zombies" form, but there's plenty of time for that).

As Jeff has run in several marathons, I asked him about his race plans. While talking running, he mentioned that he was planning to run the Detroit Marathon next year. It was then that I made my first commitment towards a marathon, as I too will now plan to run Detroit in '13! (No setting time goals, I just want to finish the first one, but I may have alluded to the goal to beat Jared from Subway's time in his marathon by an hour).

I have a group run with my Brooksie Way Half Marathon Team Saturday morning, which I'm really looking forward to. I'm hoping that this will be the real start of my training and that I will get back on a schedule. Not only because I want to hit a "time", but because I miss running regularly. Every time I'm "away", I am convinced again that running is good for my body, mind and spirit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Run For Your Life - The Fred Lebow Story Movie Review

Hello,

I enjoy watching movies about running (shocker!) and I especially like when I see a running movie on Netflix. I don't know if "Run For Your Life - The Fred Lebow Story" is new to Netflix, but I never saw it before last night and decided to watch it.


As you might guess from the title, the movie focuses on Fred Lebow, a Jewish immigrant from Transylvania (yes, really) who had a passion for running and for organizing the New York Marathon. Fred seemed to be one of those guys who was always the life of the party and was a mover and shaker. By all indications, he was able to talk a good game. Basically, he seemed to fake it until he made it.

For someone who has only in the recent past been back into running, I found it interesting that the New York Marathon started out smaller than some local 5k races with 4 loops around Central Park. While the documentary certainly glosses over stories of any one else who had a hand in creating the NY Marathon, it is apparent that Fred Lebow's vision was a driving factor into making it a national and international event. The marathon was important not only for running, but in a way, it united a city that was under heavy duress at the time.

Fred Lebow was not a fast runner by any means, but he was passionate about running and about the NY Marathon - it seemed to be his primary focus for over 20 years of his life. He became ill in 1990 and was finally able to run the race he directed in 1992 prior to his passing in 1994.


While there are a couple other running movies on Netflix I would recommend more highly (Spirit of the Marathon and Running the Sahara), I enjoyed Run For Your Life. Certain people are visionaries and Fred Lebow was definitely one and his story was quite interesting. The archival footage throughout the movie was tremendous and I am astounded that they were able to dig up so much. So, if you have about 90 minutes and have a Netflix subscription, I would recommend checking Run For Your Life out.





Monday, July 2, 2012

First half of 2012 recap and second half preview

Hello!

I had a very good first half of 2012 and thought I'd post a lil' recap of it. Here it is:

Training:


For the majority of the first half of 2012, I ran, on average, 4 times a week or more with a long run on Saturdays, a mid-paced, tempo-like run on Mondays, and one or two shorter runs during the week. In April and May, I added one or two short runs with my daughter who was training to run some 5k races with me.

As I continue to improve, the overall pace of my runs has picked up. The chart above shows an average speed of 6.1 mph, which is just under a 10 minute / mile pace, but take away the slower runs with Lil' C and I was a bit faster than that.


From January - April, my mileage increased each month with each month setting a new monthly mileage record for me. May dropped just a little and June was just rough. Part of the mileage drop in May and June was due to running short (5k) races, but June in particular had many challenges.

Between racing, going to camp, work, housework, hot weather, attending recitals and so on, it was just difficult to get time to run. It happens and I'm not worried about it, but I do feel like I have slipped a bit in the past month or so. While I tend to go along with a more "minimal" approach to mileage, 56 miles in a month is not nearly enough. Ideally, at this point, I'd like to be around 100 miles a month (20 -25 miles weekly).

Racing:

 I ran 8 races in the first half of 2012 and had 6 PRs (Personal Records) in those races. Actually, I went 6 for 6 in races where the goal was to set a PR. 

For 5Ks, I went from 24:36 last year to 24:01 at the Super 5k to 23:16 at the Resurrection Run to 22:50 at the Sylvan Shuffle, finally to 22:16 at the Open Door Julie Run. I'm glad I've been able to keep getting faster - it certainly makes me feel like my training is paying off. I ran one 10k race, the Shamrock N' Roll 10k and finished in 50:28 (a PR by aboout 7 minutes) and ran the Rock CF Half Marathon in 1:56:36 (a PR of about 8 minutes).

The Big House, Big Heart 5k race was fun because I won the entry from Renewal by Andersen and because the finish was on the 50 yard line of Michigan Stadium, but the race itself was a bit of a bust because it was pouring rain until the race started. The Necktie 5k was a blast, even though I wasn't "racing". I was able to run with my daughter and was so proud of her.

Goal Update:

I set what I intended to be challenging but attainable goals for 2012.  Here are the goals and how I'm doing so far:

1. Run a 22 minute 5k

Status: Close but not there yet. I ran 22:16 at the Open Door Julie Run in early June. My hope is that I'll get a few more shots at 22 minutes this year and am pretty confident I'll be able to do it. The only issue I anticipate is that I'm going to start training for a half marathon soon and there will be less of an emphasis on building speed for shorter runs.

2. Run a 1:50 half marathon
Status: Not yet met. I ran 1:56:36 at Rock CF in March. It looks like, with the baby due in October, that I will likely only have one more shot at 1:50 this year at the Brooksie Way, September 30. Hopefully my training will go well and I'll be ready for the hills at the second half of the course.

3. Place in a "big" race

Status: MET! I made it clear in my goals that the Open Door Julie Run counted as a "big race" for me, and I placed second in my age group.

4. Finish a 10k in 48 minutes

Status: Not yet met. Ran 50:28 in late March. I think I'm faster than that now, but haven't had a chance to run another 10k. The half marathon training and likely hood that I will only have one, maybe two shots at this goal will be the challenge.

5. Run 900 miles

Through July 1st, I've run 439 miles. A little less than planned, but close to the pace needed to meet this goal. I'm hoping that I'll be able to run 77 miles a month (or more) to meet this goal.

Overall, I'm happy with my progress this year. I'm healthy, in good shape, and having fun!

How are you doing with your goals?

Are you good at setting goals, or do you make them too easy or nearly impossible?

How has your 2012 been going so far? 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Necktie 5k / Off Week / Angry Bird

Hello!

I've been away from the blogging world for a couple weeks, but I'm back, baby! I've been reading other people's blogs, but just haven't been able to make myself write anything.

First, I want to talk about the Necktie 5k in Beverly Shores, IN, just west of Michigan City on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Knowing that I've been doing some running, my brother called me a couple months ago about running the Necktie 5k. It would take some travel, but I could visit him, my mom, my dad (for Father's Day), etc, so it wasn't a big deal. The Necktie 5k is a race where you wear neckties for Father's Day. You wear ties, the awards are ties and the starting line had hanging....underwear.

 The kids sprint was first and it was a very short sprint. Before we found out that it was really short, we were telling J- Man to pace himself like the week before. Once we saw it was maybe 50m, we told him to forget that and go for it. He is pretty fast, but we need to work on his form. He runs with his arms out like he's running from zombies and is in full panic.


He was proud that he won another race and got a little button for his efforts. I'm happy that he gets to feel a sense of accomplishment when doing these races.

For the 5k, this was going to be the first race ever where I didn't try to go all out. I was running with my girl, Lil' C (she needs a better blog name at some point, she's not so little, but always my little girl) and my goal was to help pace her for the race. I was able to keep her, for the most part, at the pace we had planned. It was pretty warm, even at 9am, and Lil' C was begging for water even before we got to the first station. The course also had a few small hills. Between the heat and hills, it was a little bit tougher for her than the previous week, but she ended up finishing close to the same time.


As for me, this was probably the most comfortable run ever. I didn't think about how I felt one time. Not an ache, pain, pull or single discomfort. While there was part of me that just wanted to take off running, it was great to see my kid doing so well. Next year, we may need to all race. Lil' C, J-Man and Baby Girl X in the stroller. That will be another Happy Fathers Day.

Lil' C ended up getting 3rd place in her age group for her first racing award, J-Man won his race, but what about Daddy? Well, I won an award too! It wasn't for running, it was for my tie! The kiddies made me a tie for Father's Day a couple years back which I wore during the race and I won a chocolate bar (kind of a weird prize for a hot day, but I'll take it).

It says #1 Dad with some little blue guys and says "Go U". I dunno why.

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It the days after the race, I didn't run at all for 6 days. It wasn't intentional. Monday is usually a longish run day for me, but it was hot, I was at my Dad's house, I was tired, it didn't happen. The rest of the week was stressful, hot, busy, just not a good week to run. I don't believe I have had 6 days off from running since the "comeback" and honestly, I didn't like it. I tried to justify it by saying I was able to heal up, but I didn't have much healing to do. It didn't lessen my stress, in fact, without running, one of my major stress relievers was out of play. No more weeks off for me!

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I was able to finally run at camp this Saturday while J-Man was still in bed. It felt good to be moving again. A lap around camp is about 1 mile and near the end of one lap, I met an Angry Bird. A hawk lives near the chapel at camp and she is beyond over protective. I knew she was there, but I thought I was safe until I heard a bird war cry and saw that she was coming for me. I don't know how close she got, because I took off fast. I don't know what would be the worst that a bird could do, but I didn't want to find out.

Did you ever have an unplanned lapse in your running or exercise program? 

Do you have a child, neice or nephew or other kid you were trying to train. How'd it go?