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


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


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


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).


 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?