Saturday, March 28, 2009

Race Report: Sam Costa Half Marathon

ORN:  13.1 miles, 2:07:51, R6/W1, 9:46/mile
Quick Summary:  On a windy, gray morning, it was fun to race again in the traditional start of running in central Indiana.  I ran as a training run, enjoyed it, beat my target time by just over a minute, had a negative split, and no pain or niggles.  Which sets up the rest of the spring calendar.
The Details
The Sam Costa Half Marathon is a fun event.  I've run it four out of the five years of my current era of running.  It's one of those "familiar friends" which serves a nice landmark to the end of winter.  Now, snow is predicted for tomorrow morning, so, hey, the landmark may be more metaphorical than real.  But, it's a landmark nonetheless.
This is also the only race I run in which my lovely wife comes along.  Since we have a nephew and family who live just a few hundred yard from the start/finish, she likes to see the start of the race, visit family, come see the finish and then we all have lunch.  Makes for a nice day in Indy.  Plus it gives her a chance to be entertained by my fussing over race-day preparation.  Shirt selection for the temperature is always central in this fuss-budgety process.  I took nine shirts with me this morning, just to make sure I was covered.  Plus, I packed toenail clippers for the exclusive use of trimming the excess length off the plastic thingie holding the chip on my shoe and she recorded it for you all in this photo.  Darrell understands.  Gretchen laughs.   It's all pretty harmless.  And it was fun to have her along. 
My schedule for future races (see below) called for 16 miles today.  So, once I figured out a polypropolene shirt under my Portland 2006 tech shirt was the right combination of my 9 packed shirts, I headed out and ran the last 1.5 miles of the course and back.  It worked well...I had about five minutes standing around in the 20 mph wind and 42F temperatures before the gun went off. 
The race was just nice.  Nothing really of note.  I treated it as a training run, so did a 6/1 run/walk, shooting for 9:18 during the run segments, which worked out to 9:51/mile overall.  After 5 miles, I was 35 seconds off the target pace, due to a necessary stop in a porta-potty at mile 2.5.  We looped around a huge gravel pit with long straight shots and then headed into the "Parade of Homes" portion of course through lovely subdivisions of tastefully appointed large houses.  Lots of turns; I was surprised at how few people actually ran the tangents on the traffic-less streets.  By mile 10, I was only 10 seconds behind my target pace and felt good.  I ran the last three miles 9:22, 9:36 and 9:26 and was in a hard sprint the last 200m, to finish 71 seconds ahead of my target.  The first six miles took 59:06, while the second six miles took 58:04, so I'll call that a negative split.  I had nary a single twinge or pain throughout.  I focused quite a bit on form as well and felt as smooth at a big lumbering guy like me can feel.
It is also interesting to see the evolution of my running through this race for the past five years.  In 2005, this race was a Very Big Deal for me.  I struggled that year but was pleased to do a 2:06.  It was a huge accomplishment.  Since then, I've observed I really am morphing to enjoy longer races.  Thus, today was simply a training run...taking it easy, I was only a minute off of a time which represented a hard effort five years ago. 
The fact I did this race without pain also settles the rest of my spring schedule.  I'm adding two, count 'em, two marathons to the mix. 
First up is the Illinois Marathon, two weeks from today on April 11.  On the University of Illinois campus, it's only two hours from my house.  This is a new event, so I also get to be part of the first trip through.  Amazingly, it is nearly sold out...I scored one of the last marathon slots on Wednesday.  I'll run a 2/1 and just enjoy it.  The timing isn't perfect but we don't have a lot of marathon options out here in the heartland. 
The race I'm really looking forward to is the Sunburst Marathon, in South Bend, Indiana on June 6.  I've run the HM portion of this race the past four years... finishing at Notre Dame Stadium is a rush.  This year, I'm going to do the full marathon.  The heat could be an issue...after my bonk in the heat at the Air Force Marathon last September, I want to get back on that horse and see if I can finish better. 
So, it's all falling into place.  I'm looking forward to it. 
And we'll persevere through it all. 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Updated Race Plan

ORN:  10.3 miles, 1:42:47, 9:59/mile R6/W1
Boy, it is nice to finally get some better weather to run in.  I mean it's all well and good to slog through the winter and feel tough and disciplined and long-term-viewish.  But that's simply a necessary mental game to keep one running during December, January and February in the Midwest.  What we really want is a day like today. 
Sunny, 53, with a slight breeze from the southwest.  Sweet.  Had 6 miles on the plan; that seemed far too short on such a beautiful day.  So, I did 10.  I pushed the pace of my run segments to 9:30 (no, I'm not Kenyan) and it felt fine.  Icing on the cake, I got home in time to watch Purdue advance to the Sweet Sixteen with a nice win over Washington out in Portland. 
With the ITB pain I fought after the Memphis Marathon all cleared up, I've altered my spring race plan.  Next Saturday, I'm running the Sam Costa Half Marathon in Indy.  This is a traditional season opener in this area and will be my fourth time participating.  It has two big loops, one around a large gravel pit, the second through high-end homes in Indy's lovely suburban Carmel.  It'll be interesting to see how many for-sale signs are out.  I'll have a report next week. 
I'm also thinking about a couple of other races coming up, while reminding myself my race appetitite can get bigger than my stomach. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Did I really say this in 1993??

ORN: 13.5 miles, 2:18:03, R5/W1, 10:14/mile

Man, it was nice to run in shorts in the sunshine this afternoon. My first outing over 2 hours since the Memphis Marathon felt really good; no pain, no twinges, just running long on a Saturday. Sweet.

But I digress.

A few weeks ago, while perusing an old file folder, I came across this little item of historical interest. February, 1993 must have been a terribly slow news period for our local newspaper. They put out a request to learn if ANYONE besides the Purdue basketball team did any physical activity during the wretched Indiana winter. I gave them a call and must have been the only respondent. A rookie reporter came to our office and interviewed me. This was the can click on the image if you'd like to read the breathless prose.

Pulitzer Prize Winning Interview...ha!

I think at least two people actually read this watershed report. It's funny to me in a couple of ways, 16 years later. One was I had a system, even then, to know what to wear for certain temperatures. Some things never change. Second is that the things I thought were important in both clothing and training then sound quite absurd now. At the time, most training programs had you pounding out the same distance, day after day; no emphasis at all on the weekend long runs. Tech fabrics were either non-existent or in the closet as a 1970's leisure suit. Some things change a lot. Unfortunately, my moustache has also turned grey since then.

It's a hoot to look at stuff like this. But at least I was running then. And am running still.

Persevere. And laugh at yourself; it's good medicine.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Full Moon Run

ORN:  5.2 miles, 53:30, R5/W1, 10:18/mile
It's been a long time since a full moon has lined up with a cold morning on a route without street lights.  But today it did. 
The eerie wonder of the blue-grey light is really beautiful.  It is somehow more wonderful in winter; the bare trees somehow shape the light, the cold clear air making it even crisper. 
What a treat before launching into a day jam packed with meetings!  What a bit of serenity in the utter zaniness of life!
Persevere.  And enjoy little treats like this. 

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Product Review: SofSole Anti-Friction and Cushion Socks

ORN:  8.6 miles, 1:23:44, R5/W1, 9:45/mile, no pain
Last week, investment guru Warren Buffett published his view of the current economy.  While pessimistic overall, he suggested it is still wise to buy "quality stocks and quality socks." 
Now I don't know if the good folks at SofSole have enlisted the Oracle of Omaha to evaluate their running socks.  Further, I doubt the fact that I, too, am a native of the wide-open state of Nebraska influenced their decision to ask me to evaluate their products.  Nevertheless, they sent me a box full of goodies to evaluate and blog about. And this entry will look at their quality socks.
I need to tell you at the outset, I'm really finicky about socks. And I don't think SofSole realized this when they plucked me out of the blogosphere for evaluation.   I was trying to remember just when this started and I think it was in seventh grade football, in the mid 60's.  Good sports shoes had yet to be invented; we just wore the "Johnny Unitas" black leather high-top shoes.  And my feet always hurt.  I blamed it on the socks.  As I went through high school, I developed a fussiness about socks...finally settling on one or two brands that seemed to make my feet hurt less badly.  It was really bad in my favorite sport of baseball, where socks are a Big Deal and have been for a long time.
Fast forward to this, my last five years of renewed interest in running.  As I figured out the right shoes to wear, I also struggled to get the socks right.  Being 6'1" and just under 200 lbs, I beat the daylights out of everything on my feet. Coupled with the fact my feet are a size 11 3/4 and thus always between a "perfect fit", I settled into wearing a size 12 shoe with a thick pair of socks. That worked OK while I was doing low mileage and races at a Half Marathon or shorter. 
But, when I started training for marathons in 2006, I found blisters became a bigger deal.  So, I added to this podiatric mix a very thin pair of liner socks.  That combo seemed to work and I've stuck with it. 
So when SofSole sent me two styles of their performance sock; the Anti-Friction and the Cushon, I realized I needed to try them as liner socks...otherwise, my big shoes just wouldn't fit.  
I've really come to like the Anti-Friction sock.  It has an unusual ribbed pattern on the sole which, at first blush, seems counterintuitive.  But it really does seem to work.  I particularly like the very thin nature of the top part of the sock; there is only material where it is needed.  I've found them very effective.
It's a little less good with the Cushion sock.   My foot is just the wrong size to make this sock work well.  As a liner sock, it added too much bulk and made my shoes too tight.  By themselves, there wasn't enough bulk.  Yet, they look well made.  "Quality socks" as Mr. Buffett might say.
I'm guessing a really good sock for me would be their Lite sock; it would likely be a perfect liner sock for me. 
In both models I tried, the various parts of the sock are fitted together perfectly.  They just fit well on the foot.  You can tell they are "designed" not just stamped out.
So, if you are looking for socks, it's worth checking these three models to see what works for you. 
Persevere.  And do it in quality socks.