Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Final Tune Up

ORN: 4.5 mi total, including 4.0 miles, 34:48, 8 42/mile

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I did 27 miles in four days. All four days very hot and humid, the first such muggy, Midwestern summer days we've had. And the legs felt flat, as did I by the end of the day Monday.

So I skipped running on Tuesday and went back to my log to see how I prepped for the other two half marathons I've run this spring. They both had a tempo run at target race pace on Wednesday and an easy three miler on Thursday, in preparation for a Saturday race.

With the weather looking favorable on Saturday (around 55 at race start, not over 70 for the high), I decided to go for another sub 2 hour half marathon. So, I set out this morning to run 9 00/mile on my Garmin, knowing that was about a 9 08 mile on an official course.

Surprise, surprise.

I did a warm up and stretch, then got going. The first mile was not terribly rhythmic, but got it done in 8 48. I settled in for mile 2 at 8 40 and turned around. Mile 3 was comfortable at 8 53. I pushed at the end and did mile 4 at 8 25. Ran some cool down and it felt good. Legs were alive and well.

It was also a good reminder how the first thee or four miles of a half are all about simply getting into a groove and then letting it flow. Why do I keep forgetting that?

I'll post a race report on Saturday or Sunday. Notre Dame Stadium should be a fun place to be!


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Running to Notre Dame

ORN: 12.3 miles, 9:30/mile

Next Saturday, June 3, I get to race again! A great time of year, as I’ll head to South Bend, Indiana to run the
Sunburst Half Marathon, one of five races on one morning. Besides being a convenient race, the finish line is at the 50 yard line of Notre Dame stadium.

I ran this race a year ago and it was a special event. Special in that my family has a lot of ties to Notre Dame. My Dad, Gene Ely, played football there from 1933-37, the old leather-helmet days. My sister, a Photoshop guru, pulled a couple of old photos from those days, layered one on the other and we put the image on shirts for our whole family. This is the back of the shirt I wore for this race a year ago and wore in the St Louis Marathon as well.

Dad died in 1993, which is hard to believe. He had a wonderful life and died at peace with himself, with his family, with God and with his community. I still miss picking up the phone and giving him a call. Not about big stuff, that was already settled. But about the little stuff. And I know he’d think it was a hoot (and a little crazy) that I’d be running 13.1 miles just to finish at ND’s 50 yard line. With this shirt, in a symbolic way, he’s riding with me.

The race route adds to the drama. We’ll start in front of the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown South Bend, then wind around the city. Around mile 11, we will start approaching the ND campus from the south. The excitement builds (slowly, in my case) as we get closer to campus. We run along the south academic section of the campus, circle to the north side of the stadium, head down the tunnel from the north side and onto the field for a final push to the finish line on the 50, right in front of where the ND bench is on a fall weekend.

Last year, the emotion of running onto the field my Dad played on a very long time ago was almost overwhelming. I slowed to nearly a walk, just to absorb the moment and remember Dad. It really surprised me. It will be very fascinating to see how it hits me this year.

This is also my third race in 8 weeks. It has been interesting psychologically that it took me nearly the full four weeks between the marathon and the Indy Mini to get mentally interested in the next race, such was the nature of the marathon. However, I’ve been getting excited about the ND race for the past several days and still have a week to go. As usual, I’m obsessing a bit over the weather and what I’ll wear. As of this afternoon, the forecast for next Saturday morning in South Bend calls for partly cloudy, 55 at the start, heading for 65. This sounds good…and can change. But it could be better than the 80 it hit last year.

Oh yeah, training. I had a good week with my
simplified training plan. Today’s 12 miler went well…for 10 miles. I intended to run 9:20 miles. The first 5 went at 9 01, 9 07, 9 26, 9 41 and 9 06. At that point, I encountered the geese again; they hissed but did not get airborne. The next five miles went well to at 9 01, 9 35, 9 09, 9 27, 9 29, with my 10 mile time at 1:33:01, which is good for me. And then the temps, at 80 by this point, and the humidity, which we haven’t had until the last 2 days, took it out of me. I had to slow to get home with two more at 10 49 and 10 13. So, what will I shoot for next week? I’m not sure, as I want to be alert and enjoy the last couple of miles of the race. I’ll figure it out.

This one is more than a race. It’s a walk with family history. I’m excited.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Four 5s and a 12

ORN: 5 miles, no watch, easy pace

One of the cool things about blogging, for me, is the simple act of writing. This forces some thought (though it may not always be evident...) as I try to express myself.

The somewhat melancholy post of a couple of days ago is the current example. I wondered aloud why my runs felt flat. That writing triggered a series of further thoughts during this weekend's runs.

In summary, I'm making running too complicated at the moment. I've already hit my two goals for the year. It is not surprising that there is a time to recover. My next major goal is the Portland Marathon on October 1. So why have a complex training regimine right now?? Why not just run, enjoy the beatiful spring weather and build a base?

So that's what I'm going to do. Four five-mile runs a week and a 12 miler each weekend. A base of 32 miles a week. Then, in late July, I'll be set to start the ramp up to Portland. Simple.

In the meantime, I have a half marathon in two weeks and a 10k two weeks after that. With no major goals for either, they can fold into this plan and I can enjoy each race.

I feel better already.

Persevere. Even when flat.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

An Entirely New Way to be “Goosed”

ORN: 12.3 miles, 1:54:35, 9:20/mile

The paved city trail where I do most of my running winds through several wetland areas and along city ponds. These areas have a lot of wildlife on them, including geese who wander quite freely across and around the trail. Since I went out in mid morning today and it was a beautiful spring morning, they were quite active.

Along with all the adult geese, we have baby geese too, being spring and all. Around mile seven today, I came upon one Mama Goose with five goslings under her watchful eye. This part of the trail had a pond on one side of it but a busy street just off the other. She saw me coming and I slowed (not too hard for me at my usual pace). At first she steered her little clan towards the street and I stopped. Then she got them moving back towards the pond and onto the grass. Thinking all was well, I slowly began to run again, looping a bit to the right, near the street. I passed the waddling family, thinking all was well.

Mama disagreed.

As I passed the little tribe, she turned, hissed loudly and suddenly got airborne, coming after me! Here I was, out for a nice run and I had an angry, 20+ pound goose at eye level, closing in quickly. She literally got her beak within 18” of my left ear, her five-foot wingspan looking pretty impressive up close.

My plan for a long, steady distance run quickly turned into an interval workout or even fartlek, if one considered this “speed play.” I barreled away from Her Majesty as quickly as I could accelerate. For a moment, I really was wondering if I could outrun a flying goose.

She decided I was no longer a threat. She headed for the pond, I headed on my way. This was one time, though, I wish I had a heart-rate monitor…that graph would have been something.

A wonderful run on a beautiful day. Complete with a motivational speech from the Animal Kingdom.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rain, Pain, Pictures from Spain

ORN: Sunday: 14 miles,
Tuesday: 3.8 miles,
Thursday: 4 miles

We’ve had a huge low pressure center parked over the Midwest for a week. Some of the greyest, dreariest weather most can remember, with drizzle almost constantly. This, coupled with a very busy work schedule, a wedding to attend and Gretchen being out of town for a week has complicated the schedule quite a bit.

My first long run after the Indy Mini was intended to go 14 miles. The first 12 went very well, I clicked them off at 9:19/mile on the Garmin, considerably quicker than my normal long run pace. Then my left ITB flared up and I gimped home the last 2 miles.

Tuesday morning’s run seemed fine, then had a right ankle pain that slowed me to a walk. Gimped home again.

This morning was pain-free but physically and mentally flat. Really weird, in fact…just plain flat and uninspired. Legs were flat, mind was flat. As colorless and featureless as the leaden grey skies we’ve had for over a week.

All of this is another good lesson from running.

I achieved two major running goals in a matter of four weeks. This involved considerable physical and mental effort. So why should I be surprised at a let down?

I can relax. It will come back. The basic disciplines, physical, mental, spiritual, remain. Pay attention to form in running, form in life. It will come back.

Pictures from Spain? Well, nothing from Spain, I just got carried away trying to have a clever title to this post. But I do have
photos from the Indy Mini. I’m in the Army shirt, which I wore to honor my son SGT David Ely. There are also some cool aerial shots of 30,000 runners.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006


ORN: Tuesday: 5 miles, no watch, solid pace
Wednesday: 4.6 miles, with 9x400m intervals @ 1:54 each

Intervals are probably my least favorite form of training. And they have always helped me. So, I keep them in the mix.

The good news is that I have my own private running track to do them on. Well, not exactly my own, but I am the only person who does intervals on it. A nearby subdivision has a water-retention pond with a nice wide, paved path around it that hooks up to the walking trail I run on daily. I discovered a couple years ago that this path around the lake is EXACTLY 500 meters in length. I measured it with both a bike odometer and two Garmins...and it is 500 m, +/- 2 m. So, I carefully put a small dot of spray paint along the edge of the path every 100 m around it. Thus, I can do any interval length I want and, by counting the dots, do it whenever I want.

I've often wondered if the neighbors shake their head at this guy going fast, going slow, going fast again on their path. But, it is public and at least I'll be good for some entertainment.

Still enjoying the memories of the half marathon Saturday. But that fades and the next one will be here on June 4.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

One American Mini-Marathon: Race Report

ORN: 13.1 miles, 1:56:10, 8:53/mile

Wow, what an experience! On the most perfect weather day for running possible, everything lined up and came together. Hang on, here’s the report!


Up at 4:30am after fidgeting over packing my stuff till 10:30pm, I was rolling early. I met my former work friend Chris at our appointed spot at 5am and headed to Indy. Chris and I have both changed jobs in the last couple of years and it was wonderful to catch up on the drive down. This was his first half-marathon and second race, ever. It was fun to talk about what to expect and how to prepare. We could have talked for three hours…before we knew it, we were in downtown Indy and found a convenient parking garage.

Still obsessing over the temperature and what to wear, I walked up onto the city street after we parked. Brrrrrrr, a chilly wind on a still-dark morning. I modified my dressing plan, adding a second layer of technical fabric. Chris watched me fuss for 10 minutes or so in the parking garage, perhaps wondering about the wisdom of getting a ride with me. Eventually, we headed out and walked down to the starting area.

Which is huge…it takes a full nine city blocks to queue up the projected 35,000 starters for this race. Runners are assigned corrals, based on their predicted race time. Numbered from A to Z, each corral holds about 1,000 runners. We T-eed into the start grid around coral P and could not even see past corral K. Oh my, said Chris, this is big. He and I walked up front, continuing our conversation. Eventually we parted ways…he did not know what his time would be, so he was in corral Z. What a path!

On the other hand, I submitted an application last fall for a “seeded” entry. The organizers established cutoff times which, if you could prove you could meet, enabled you to start up front. I had some good 5 mile and 10km times which I submitted and, amazingly, they placed me in the fifth of the five seeded corrals, corral E. This eventually proved to be huge.

By this time it was a little before 7, so I ran a half mile or so and spent quite a bit of time stretching. I was in the corral by 7:10, moving to the rear of box E, waiting for the 7:30 start. I chucked the old sweatshirt and was ready to go.


This is as close as I’ve ever come to hanging out with fast runners. From pen E, I could see the start line. The gun went off and we started walking. No accordianing, no weirdness. It was like everyone in the front 5 pens knew what to do…which they should, as seeded runners. In a mere two and a half minutes the 6,000 seeded runners were across the starting line and the race was on.

What was amazing to me, a back-of-the-pack runner, was that there was virtually no jostling in the first two miles. As I thought about it, it became logical. All the seeded runners knew, accurately, what pace they wanted to run. We were all with similarly-paced folks and so the start was very even. We all just slid into the pace and off we went. How smooth!! How wonderful!! And what a difference from working around walkers and slow runners when I was in corral N a year ago!! It was like suddenly flying first class after years of flying coach.


We quickly settled in. I was shooting for a sub 2 hour race, which means sub 9 09 miles. The Garmin helped hold me in check. Mile one came up comfortably at 9 07. We turned north and hit mile two at 8 52. I felt good and was consciously holding the effort down early.

By mile three, I was starting to feel a bit warm. Shoot…my parking garage ruminations caused me to add the long-sleeve technical shirt over the top of my favorite US Army PT shirt. Did I need to chuck the long sleeves? Even though it was only a $7.50 shirt from Wal-Mart? I mulled my financial future…and decided to donate the shirt to a young family watching the race. Down to a t-shirt and cotton gloves, a combination that would serve me the rest of the way.

Then, I realized a visit to a port-a-potty was soon going to be a necessity. Oh my. At least they had a good quantity set up at each water stop. I found one open and, at last, it seemed I was truly set for the rest of the race, as mile 3 took 9 46 with all the goings on.

Miles 4 and 5 moved us towards the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Clicking by at 8 41 and 8 46, I still felt good and was sensing a rhythm. We entered the speedway grounds, did the first quarter lap on the infield of the track, then joined the track midway down the backstretch. Doing the speedway at 7 miles per hour is a whole lot different than the 240mph speeds one sees at the 500. Let’s just say the turns don’t need banking for my speed. Miles 6, 7 and 8 passed at 8 53, 9:10 and 9:00.

We left the track midway down the backstretch, after circling the entire 2.5 miles and headed back downtown. We angled back to 10th street and then did 2+ miles on this long straight stretch. It was here that the race got mental. Last year, I bonked on 10th street, overheating and running fully out of gas. I really didn’t want to bonk there again. By mile 9, I was still feeling good, doing the mile in 9:01. Knees were fine, breathing was fine, nothing hurt. I decided to stay steady through mile 10 and then see how to finish.

I hit the 10 mile marker at 8:55, with my split 1:15 ahead of the pace I needed. I decided to push it a bit. I grabbed the last water I’d take on the day and moved the turnover up a bit. Mile 11 passed in 8:34. Still feeling good.

I looked around for some help and keyed off of a couple of people that were near my pace but pushing it just a bit. We turned south along the White River and hit mile 12 in 8:38, with the split now two and a half minutes under the sub 2 threshold. Still feeling good, I decided to open it up further as we turned onto the last, mile-long straight away.

I began to push. Now I was passing folks. The crowds were 2-5 deep along both curbs, and it was a cool atmosphere. I didn’t go anaerobic, but was holding the pace as deep as I could. As we neared the finish, mile 13 went through at a very encouraging 7:53. The last tenth just happened…another 50 seconds at a 7:36 pace.

And it was done.


It was the usual drill…de-chipping, get the medal, go through a well-organized food court with lots of bananas and cookies. After picking up my gear and getting into a dry shirt, I walked around and watched the finish for 20 minutes or so. At this point, the finishers were those with times around 2:40 to 3:00. Just like Niagara Falls, the runners just kept coming. It was wonderful to be on the other side, to see those who were pleased, those who were struggling, those who were brave, those who were just plain glad it was over. On a fantastically beautiful May day, it was sure great to sit on a grassy knoll, rehydrating, watching a race.


The official chip times are now up. I finished in 1:56:10. That’s a new PR for me, by over 8 minutes. Wow. I thought a sub 2 was possible, but was still a little worried about my knees, just four weeks after the St Louis Marathon. I never dreamed of getting nearly four minutes under 2 hours.

In my age group of 50-54 year-old greying, bifocaled guys, I was 404 out of 1,368. For all men, I was 5,188 of 13,298. Interestingly, this year for the first time there were more women finishers than men, 14,335 to 13,298.


On January 1, I published my
2006 Goals: A Full and a 2. And, in four weeks, I’ve accomplished them both. Amazing. What do I do the rest of the year??? I’m thinking I do it again!!

Other reports on this race will be coming from
George and Dallen. Both had good days, but I’ll not steal their thunder…check them out!!

Thanks for reading…perseverance means slogging through all this verbiage as well!!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ready to Run on Saturday

ORN: Tuesday evening: 4 miles, after mowing the grass
Wednesday morning: 4 miles, with 3.4 @ 8:53
Thursday evening: 3 miles

OK, I'm finally getting fired up for the half marathon on Saturday in Indy. The weather looks perfect for running, with temperatures at the gun around 50, sunny skies and light winds from the NNE. It won't hit 60 until early afternoon, so it should be a nice run.

As usual, I'm overly obsessing over how many/which layers to wear, what to throw away along the route, where to wear my number. Nuts. Probably because this is the race, a year ago, where I dressed as poorly as I have ever done so and it really cost me around mile 11. My cheapness kept me from throwing away one layer (hey, I liked the shirt) and I overheated when the temps moved into the mid 70s.

An old friend from a previous job is running and we're riding together. That will be fun to see him again. This is his first race over 5 miles, so he's nervous. It will be fun to encourage Chris and see how he does.

Whoo boy, it will be tough to get up at 4:30am tomorrow...then again, I might not have been to sleep yet by then. Oh my.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What WAAAAAS I thinking!!

ORN: Zip...overslept

I must be nuts.

Last week I posted my racing plans for the rest of the year. The big race is the Portland Marathon on October 1. Then, I posited I'd do the St Jude in Memphis on December 2, 9 weeks later.

What was I thinking of???

Remove the planned trip to hang with Elvis from the schedule. No way I'll turn around that level of effort in 9 weeks. My appetite was bigger than my stomach.

More likely, I'll try to pick a winter marathon sometime in January or February. Perhaps Birmingham or Houston. We'll see. Like my wife told me, laughingly, "You enjoy the planning even more than the running." I'm not sure about "even more" but certainly "as much."

A first this morning...I could not claw myself out of bed at 5:15 for today's scheduled 4 miler. So, I may go this is beautiful out. The big half marathon in Indy is just a few days away, and I'm rather blase about it. Wierd how that works...when you preceed the word "half marathon" with the words "it's only a".