Sunday, May 31, 2009

Liftin' Up, Lookin' Ahead

ORN:  5.1 miles total, with 3x1 mile intervals, 8:17 average
May is the time of year where running intersects with umpiring Little League baseball.  So, two or three nights a week, I'm at the local ballpark, trying desperately to make the strike zone big enough to keep the game moving along.  It's also a weird combination of the use of leg muscles; but, as it does each year, the legs work and the kids get some feel for what baseball is supposed to be. 
I'm in taper mode, ahead of next Saturday's Sunburst Marathon.  So, it feels odd to not be doing all that many miles.  I'm trying to keep the intensity up, without the mileage.  But I always wonder if it's right. 
In the meantime, I've had fun encouraging some other runners.  Two folks at our company ran their first ever 10K on Saturday.  For them both, the thought of running 6.2 miles was daunting.  I tried to assure them their training left them in good shape to cover the distance.  It is so cool in running how at any level, there is always a distance or time which represents a challenge.  They will do well.
The big news for other people running was my nephew John doing his first marathon today, the Rock and Roll San Diego Marathon.  As some of you may recall, John is the oldest son of my oldest sister.  While technically his uncle, I'm only 10 years older; relationally, John is much more a brother to me than a nephew.  We have a wonderful friendship.  He started running about 18 months ago in conjunction with a set of life-changing decisions on diet.  We've been gabbing, incessantly, about running since.  A year ago, John and I ran together in his first half marathon at the Sunburst.  Over the winter, he pondered if he could or would ever do a marathon.  Living in San Diego, he began to wonder this spring about doing the was convenient and the date worked.  Gulping a bit, as we all have at the first marathon, he signed up about 6 weeks ago.  We've since talked and emailed on all aspects of a marathon, from the mundane (where to park on race day) to technical (watching out for road camber) to the critical (hydration rates).  We texted each other last around 10pm Saturday night...he emailed me at 4am before he left his house...and, yeah, we've thought a lot about this.
Through the magic of real-time split reporting, I could follow his progress.  Amazingly, he beat his goal by four minutes, finishing in 3:56:03 in his first ever full marathon.  He did this using a run 3/walk 1 pattern, which is also really awesome. I was as excited as he was.  He called me later and we had a full-contact race review.  He did well.  He learned much over the last 8 miles.  He is a marathoner, a sub 4 marathoner at that.   How cool it was. 
Next Saturday, it'll be my chance to phone John with the race report.  Then, in another 13 weeks, I'll be at it again. 
Persevere.  John did.  He's lost weight.  He's in great shape.  And happy for it. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Running article in the WSJ

Got up this morning and, as usual, downloaded the Wall Street Journal onto my Kindle.  In addition to the usual news of bank bailouts and auto company restructuring, I saw this title:  Running for Lean Times;  "It's no accident jogging took off in the 1970s."
What a fun article about the simple stress-reduction found by runners all over.  About the low-cost, effective fitness afforded by our sport.  About the very funny stories most runners can tell of mishaps along the way.  And, the best paragraph?

Of course, some people "jog" purely for fitness purposes and hate it. This might explain why the French were recently in an uproar after photos surfaced of President Nicolas Sarkozy in shorts and a T-shirt breaking a sweat in the Tuileries. Running is an American activity, the French press claimed, a fascistic act designed to manage and control the body. Not an intellectual pursuit at all. "It is about performance and individualism," one writer wrote, right-wing values antithetical to everything cherished by the country that gave us foie gras.

Persevere.  With or without the duck liver. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The taper begins

ORN:   24 miles, 4:25:39, R2/W1, 11:05/mile
The schedule called for 23 miles today, the classic "long run" three weeks ahead of a marathon.  As I plied through the run, though, I started to wonder just when I last actually did this recommended preparatory event; I knew it had been a while.  Scrolling back through my running long on Running Ahead (a great resource, by the way, and free) when I got home, I found it was last August 30 when I did a training run this long. 
Interestingly, the run was quite ordinary.  I remember well the day when a 24 mile run was unimaginable.  Now, it was mostly just a matter of making sure I had a 5 hour block of time in which I could do it.  The weather was not all that great; we've had lots of rain and then last night we had a real toad strangler, which put water over the running path in places I've never seen it before.  It was overcast, humid and drizzled off and on during the run, which was good preparation for the muggy weather we could well have in South Bend three weeks from today. 
The encouraging thing is that my run pace stayed steady to the end.  In fact, from mile 19 on, I was pretty much in a very comfortable zone.  Had no blisters, tweaks or pulls at all.  While I planned on doing 23, I noted that with one extra loop, I could "round it up" to 24 miles, so I did.  I could have easily done another 2.2. 
It's amazing to me that a 24 mile run is not a big deal.  I'm grateful for the health and experience to make that possible. 

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Race Report; Jay Cooperider Memorial 5K

ORN:  4 mile warm up (4/1); then 5K race, 24:22, 7:51/mile
This simple, local 5K race turned out to be quite the community event this morning.  And the surprise was enjoyable. 
Jay Cooperider was a neat guy.  I didn't know him well but we interacted quite a bit through our local Little League baseball program.  He was well liked.  Yet depression was a real issue for him and, sadly, he took his own life a couple years ago.  With his family's permission, a number of friends put this event on to fund local mental health organizations.  And the community really responded in support.  Over 660 folks showed up to run and amazing number in our small community. 
The race was not only meaningful but also super convenient for me.  Starting and ending only four blocks from my house, the course was on my favorite Cumberland Woods running route and didn't start until 10am.  So, I could sleep comfortably, have breakfast at home and still race on a Saturday morning.  I went over at 9, got my bib and timing chip, then went for a comfortable 4 mile warm up.  I needed to get 6 miles in on this, a step back weekend.   Once done with the warm up, I swapped my clunky Brooks Beasts for my Brooks Adrenalines for the race itself.  Wow, they felt like racing flats!
I like to have a plan for any race.  Consulting some charts earlier this morning from my marathon training, I determined a 25:30 target time would be about right.  I plugged that into my Garmin and headed for the start line.  Our local public school superintendent sang the National Anthem a capella (and he had no accompaniment either) and we were off. 
With so many walkers in the crowd, there was a lot of traffic to jockey around but it quickly sorted itself out.  I found a rhythm and was surprised at the time called out at the 1 Km mark...I was well under an 8:00 pace.  I hit mile 1 in 7:50.  The 25 mph wind was a problem but I also found a really big guy to draft behind for 400m or so which helped.  The pace felt comfortable, which is odd since I have done no genuine speed work since October. 
I did mile 2 in 7:54, still feeling good.  About that time, local running pal Tony started drafting off of me.  We had a good laugh about that and then started chatting.  It was kind of interesting...lots of other runners were really huffing and puffing by this point and Tony (who has done 50+ marathons) and I were calmly talking about logistics of running the Sunburst Marathon together on June 6.  We turned back towards the starting line, did a loop on the short wood-chipped trail through the actual Cumberland Woods, clocking the third mile in 8:15.  Out of the woods, a sprint to the finish and I hit my watch to stop at 24:22, over a minute faster than my objective. 
And it was "no time." 
You've all seen the rejoinder on most race instructions; "No Chip, No Time."  Well, as I hit the mats I realized I had no chip.  I had been so intense when changing my shoes before the race, getting my socks adjusted, etc etc, I totally forgot to attach my chip to my shoe.  What a doofus.  It gave me a good laugh...I walked back to my car and the chip was safely there on my dashboard.  I took it back to the chip collecting team and was grateful this was just a local 5K and not some major race.  I hope you can learn from my forgetfulness!! 
Another fun part of the race was participating with seven other folks from our company, also located about 6 blocks from the race site.  Amazingly, I was the first one across the line from our company.  Which was kind of fun since all but two of the others were younger than my older kids.  Maybe an old guy can still go fast enough.
The atmosphere was good, the cause was important.  I hope Jay's family felt supported.  And if one person who suffers from the mental pain of depression is truly helped, it's was worth it all. 
Persevere.  And encourage someone today.  You never know who might be depressed.