Monday, January 31, 2011

Pre Week Got Me Thinking!

Steve Prefontaine
Running Heroes: The Early Years
Last week was PreWeek. In celebration of what would have been Steve Prefontaine's 60th birthday, there has been a week long celebration of sorts at www.trackfocus.com/preweek. Some good stuff. Pre's was/is alot of runner's hero (or at least one of them). I fall into that group as well. Before Pre, however, I had some other "favorite" runners that I looked up to with great respect, admiration and sometimes, awe.

The first was Jim Ryun. I read the Jim Ryun story in junior high and was amazed at how fast he was during high school (not too shabby later, either). What I related to the most, however, was a trait we shared. We walked slowly. People used to hassle me about how lazily I saunter around. Most of the time I'd barely make it to class before the bell rang. Even today I'm slow at the mall, slow in the grocery store, just slow (and still get hassled, now by my speedy wife, Linda).

I remember feeling bummed when Ryun was beaten at the Mexico City Olympics, ecstatic when he returned to form in the '72 Trials and bummed again after the "fall" in Munich. My biggest Jim Ryun moment was warming up in the same deserted field as him prior to the 1972 Florida Relays. We were both prepping for our races. His was the 4 X 800 for Club West, mine was the Steeplechase. We chatted a little as we were the only two using that space. It was pretty cool.

Jim Ryun '72 Trials
Once a high school cross country guy, my hero quickly became the coolest guy on our team, Al Ruffner. Alphonse was the defending state champion in cross country and had taken the state's fairly new two mile event to a higher level. As a sophomore on one of the best CC programs in Michigan, it was not easy to be noticed by the big varsity guys. That changed the day I won the JV race at the Albion Invitational. Junior Varsity runners pretty much got nothing. No medal, no ribbon, nothing. But Al Ruffner, in his own cool way, found one of the best awards I have ever won. He gave me his race number (which was #1). I still have it to this day reminding me of the day I made varsity, won a race and was recognized by my hero!


As a wide eyed college freshman, my first race was a study in American collegiate distance running. Five lowly cross country fellows from Wayne State University drove down to Bowling Green to run in a meet with Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan and the University of Michigan. 58 guys ran that day and we finished 50, 51, 52, 54, 57. Talk about baptism by fire!

The front of the race however, was a veritable who's who: Mike Hazilla (WMU's cross country All American) won. The other three in the top four were Sid Sink (US Steeplechase record holder for years), Dave Wottle (Olympic 800 meter gold medalist in '72) and Jerry Liebenberg (great steeplechaser, awesome hippie looking dude and the person most responsible for me pursuing the 3000m steeple). Pretty cool day, especially looking back. The BGSU pack is pictured below.

the Bowling Green pack
By '71 or so, we'd begun to hear more and more about Steve Prefontaine. Al Gore was in his early 20's and had yet to invent the internet so information was hard to come by. Track and Field News, an occasional newspaper were as good as it got.

My running world was changed for the better at the Florida Relays. In 1972, 73 and 74 some of us Wayne Staters headed down for the relays during spring break. In my three trips to Gainesville I had run the steeplechase once and the three mile twice. In 1974, however, it was for my marathon debut. 

For a boy from Michigan, Florida in the spring was a GENIUS idea. I liked the racing, I liked the training. Mostly, I liked having my running world a little expanded. I ran a Steeplechase PR and was lapped (same thing happened in one of the three mile races). I watched Frank Shorter play pick up the straightaways and cruise the curves while beating a pretty good six mile field. The biggie was watching an entire Jack Bachelor workout and then having him spend 15 minutes chatting with me about training afterward. Frank and Jack became instant hero-like dudes!
Jack Bachelor
In the marathon, I was the victim of a poor training idea. Keep in mind, it was 1974 and we didn't know that much about marathon training and frankly, my college coach knew even less.  In 1972 you had to run around 2:36 to qualify for the Olympic Trials marathon (might have been 2:32). My coach's plan was for me to run a twenty mile time trial at the Belle Isle Marathon seven days before the Florida race, drive with my buds to Florida and then run a qualifier there (which by the way, would have been a moot point when they dropped the standard to 2:23).

The 20 miler went fantastic. I felt relaxed, smooth and easy. At 20, I wanted to keep going. I was 1:52 and change (on 2:27 pace), but succumbed to the plan and stopped. In Florida, I was on schedule through fifteen miles (around 1:23-24) but then had a knee blow up problem and semi-limped home to 2:58:24 and 14th place. Ken Misner, Florida Track Club, won. I think he was 2:18 or so.
Me, 1974 in Florida

Coulda, shoulda, woulda...

Next, heroes of an adult time.

Five Weeks to Go!

Today's weather rudely broke our little string of springlike weather here on the Front Range of Colorado. Friday it had been close to 70 degrees (67, I think) and the days book-ending it were in the mid to upper fifties. Last night, however, winter returned. Today is very windy with annoying little flurries blowing around and tomorrow it's supposed to be extremely cold. 

Normally I don't gripe about the weather (well, except for headwinds). I guess I'm not actually griping now except to say that the weather and my training have not been in synch. Last week was the easy, recovery week. This week is the beginning of my final training block for the Napa Valley Marathon. I would prefer the climate had switched weeks (of course, one could say that I could have switched training, right?).

I nice diversion last week was that www.trackfocus.com was doing a series on Steve Prefontaine during the days around what would have been his 60th birthday. I read some great articles about Pre and it reminded me of some of the people (other than him) who influenced my running career. More on that later.

Anyway, an easy week of 42 miles last week. Three more weeks of buildup and work before two weeks of cutting back. For the first time in a long time, I have absolutely no idea how this marathon will go. There is a part of me that's okay with that, but most of me (the control freak part) wants to know where I am, how long I can really go and how fast or slow it will be.

The whole idea of this March marathon was simply getting me one under my belt and keeping me focused through the winter months. That has been a resounding success, thus far. The goal of the whole thing is to just finish. 

I keep telling myself that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicked Again!

Well, it happened. I got chicked today during my run.  I was deep in thought cruising through the middle miles of a five mile recovery run and WHOOSH - she flew by! I've seen her before on the trail; lean, fast, usually sporting a top from the most recent triathlon. I should be outraged, embarrassed and hell-bent on revenge. Then there is d) none of the above.

For a guy (or dude), getting chicked usually refers to being passed by someone of the female persuasion and is most often used to describe that event occurring in a race. It was, perhaps first, an ultra runner thing (Ann Trason chicked a multitude of dudes), then a triathlon thing (very few escape Chrissie Wellington) and now just a thing. If you'd like to read some insight into the world of being chicked (and also dude-ed), check out the article in Runners World describing the phenomenon. For even more details, see Run Zoe Run, an excellent running blog.

Back to my rage... Being chicked should irritate my manhood. It should cause a total revamping of my training, diet, heck - my entire lifestyle. After all dudes aren't supposed to be passed by anyone other than dudes, right?

Maybe not. I looked closely at the How I Met Your Mother episode and saw Barney Stinson, the ultimate dude, chicked during the NYC Marathon. Dennis, the lead character in Run Fatboy Run, very much a "manly man" was chicked by every chick in the London Marathon. Look at every marathon, half marathon, 10K, Ironman and more; guys get chicked often. 


I was first chicked in the early 80's. Yep, I escaped my high school, collegiate and the first couple of years post-collegiate without ever having to accept the deflation of such a non-macho act as being chicked. The first time, however, more than made up for it. On my way to a 33 minute 10K, New Zealand Olympian Anne Audain flew by my like I was standing still. Somehow it was easier to accept because it was Anne and she was just FASTER THAN ME!



Today and many days since Anne blasted by, I have been chicked and chicked again. Sometimes by faster chicks, sometimes by fresher chicks, always by chicks who gave little or no regard to the ego annihilating act they had imposed on me. What about me? What about my needs? Worse yet, as I've gotten older, it happens more often. 

Don't get me wrong, I've dude-ed more than my share. I've left many a chick whimpering by the side of the road having had my running dude-liness imposed upon her. I feel no remorse for my action, so I suppose I should expect none in return.
Most of us don't care. We're runners - all of us. Some are faster, leaner, fitter, younger. We come in all shapes, sizes, speed levels and in two sexes. The fact is that most of us don't do it for how we compare to others, we do it for ourselves. That's part of the beauty of running.

I'd ramble some more but I need to do some Cherry Creek State Park reconnaissance. If I can find the right bush in the right place to hide behind, I'll get her tomorrow.


For your own "Chicked/Dude-ed T Shirt go to Zoe's website.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gu Be Gone!


Several issues grew out of today's 20 mile run. 

First and foremost, it's over and I am pretty happy about that. Five minutes faster than last week with the same heart rate average. It was also the culmination of a 72 mile week. With my last three weeks being 62, 67, and 72, the coming 40-45 mile recovery week is being looked at longingly. After the recovery week, three more weeks of build up, then two weeks coming down to the Napa Valley Marathon on March 6.

Today's route was a bit different as I found a way to eliminate a bit of tacked on out and back I used last week. This time, I simply looped the Cherry Creek State Park before hitting the path for the trip downtown. This loop added two killer hills, one that came in mile two and the worst which came in mile six. Once past those, it was all downhill (so to speak). Nonetheless, the second 20 is in the books. Will probably get in another 2 or 3 in the next six weeks. The weatherman had predicted a tailwind. The weatherman was wrong (the upside was that the gale force winds of yesterday had significantly diminished).



Second issue: GU. The Napa Valley Marathon uses Gu as their energy gel. I am a devout user of Power Gel. In the interest of a better marathon experience, I have elected to give Gu a Go six weeks before race day. Today's run was Day One of the Great Gu Experiment. Attempting to be smart and efficient, I chose Strawberry/Banana as my flavor of choice. That's my PG flavor so I figured it'd be wise to use a similar taste in the new Gu. Originally, I was going to bring three but opted for two (I didn't want to overGu it).

Power Gel is a gel. You tear off the little opener section, squeeze that baby and it slides right down the throat. Wash it down with some H2O and you're good to go. Gu, however, not quite as easy. Giveaway number one that this would not be the same kind of experience as my PG was the fact that while in my running belt, the Gu never changed shape. It remained just as it was when purchased despite being scrunched in the belt pocket. It held shape very much like a solid.



14 miles was my Gu Point. I reached in, pulled it from the safety of the water belt, tore off the top and gave it a squeeze.... Yuck! As it hit my tongue it was like I had dropped a piece of the transparent goopey stuff that they use to attach credit cards to paper when mailing. It just sat there. I thought I was going to have to bite it to get it to go down. And.... Strawberry/Banana? I think not. I tasted neither Strawberry OR Banana. I'll give it another chance but without significant improvement (translation: without me finding a way to tolerate it), I'll be carrying my own Gel.

Next issue: Macho Man. As cranky as I was about the Gu experience as well as the headwind, around 14 1/2 miles in I came upon a fellow running along the trail. I will call him Macho Man or MM!

MM was clad in cotton sweat pants, a wool stocking cap and a simple sweatshirt.  He looked to be in his late thirties. I'd been pulling him in for about a mile and a half. As I approached he gave a glance over his shoulder and upon reaching him, he sped up, cut right in front of me and dished out a ten meter surge that would have given pride to any world class Kenyan. I chuckled to myself. Within a short time (another 30 meters) I was next to MM again only to receive the same punishing increase in pace. "You've got to be kidding me," I said, I think out loud this time.



In 44 and a half years of competing, I've had this happen thousands of times in a race, but rarely....RARELY, if ever, on the Cherry Creek Path. At this point I remembered the words of the late, great, Steve Prefontaine who said, "someone may beat me, but they're going to have to bleed to do it." So this time as I approached I tossed in my own little up in the pace. As I shouldered him (my shoulder in front of his), I accelerated again and opened up a small gap. I could hear him breathing harder, so I did it again and again and then never saw Macho Man again. By the way, that ended up being my fastest mile. Mess with me at your own peril, Macho Man!

Finally, the pain of the shoe to ankle kick. A few weeks ago, I did my first track workout in AGES. One of the byproducts of my absence at the oval was a tendency to kick myself in the ankle bone with the heel of my opposite leg. I did this enough times to leave a mark (and a bruised ankle bone). Lately I've been fortunate enough to resist the pull of a repeat experience more than once or maybe twice per run. Today.... forget about it. I must have crashed my left shoe into my poor, defenseless right ankle a hundred times (okay, maybe ten). Each time, I have to tell you, IT HURT! Oddly, I did this more early in the run than later (I'd have expected to be clumsier in the last five miles). My victimized ankle is shown below (cleaned off the blood to keep the picture rated G).



All in all, it was a decent run. I remained comfortable and relaxed throughout and that was the main goal. I'm looking forward to a recovery week in the 40-45 mile range and then back at it for another three week building block.

Six weeks until the Napa Valley Marathon!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Discretion is the Better Part of Something...

My usually stubborn, inflexible self, gave way to the wisdom of my years today. I moved my 20 mile run until tomorrow.

I'd like to say it was purely a logical, practical matter but it was not. It was much more a climactic matter. Today's winds were around 20 to 25  MPH, gusting to 30 to 35 and coming pretty much straight from the Northwest. Translated: roughly 16 miles of strong headwind. Sorry, not interested.

Back in the thrilling days of yesteryear, we (me and the mouse in my pocket)  might have considered such conditions a challenge to be accepted and conquered. I was younger back then and could find a bit of self-proclaimed macho-ness in the completion of a long run in the face of gale force winds like today's. In the words of Roberto Duran, "no mas."

At this point, my twenty mile runs (this being the second in preparation of the Napa Valley Marathon) are a stressful enough event without them having the added hurricane headwind. Instead I opted for a nice 8 mile jaunt at Wash Park where I knew I would be able to share my windy experience with a multitude of others.

Tomorrow promises light winds from the West (not that much better, but better). As previously mentioned, it will be my second preparatory 20 miler (2nd of four total). It will also cap a 72 mile week and my first tryout of GU as my gel of choice.

Here's hoping the right decision was made. I wouldn't want to have moved this run for nothing.

Related Sesame Street joke: Why didn't the chicken cross the road?

He was chicken.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rightside Running

While on a seven mile trail run this morning, I was thinking about the right side of my brain. The whole thing began, sort of, because of a conscious decision at the run's outset: I chose to slap on the earbuds and crank up the iphone.

I'll confess right up front that this is something I do rarely. I'm one of those types who ran long before the music in our heads was anything other than music in our heads. I actually like it that way as it frees me to go wherever I choose (mentally). Today, as has been the case on other earbuded occasions, I chose to run to the melodic tones of Dan Pink as he narrated his book "A Whole New Mind."

Pink's book, if you've never read or heard of it, is about the aptitudes, or "senses," needed to become successful in the coming (well, actually it's here today) conceptual world. The subtitle of the book is Why Right Brainers Will Rule The Future. It is, by the way, an outstanding book! But.... I digress.

The key here seems to be my conscious effort to listen to a story about the right side of the brain during an activity that completely engages the right side of my brain, running. While I listened to the logic of Pink's assertions about Asia, Automation and Abundance being catalysts for developing more R-directed skills and sensitivities, my mind continually raced to other interpretations, applications and then....... boom. It was Katie bar the door to the right side.

This movement of being structured, listening to the book, gave way to a removal of the delicate buds from my ears and a return to my own creative rightside running, which is right (pun intended) where I like it. For me this was a microcosm of sorts of how my brain works on most every run.

Oddly (or not), this is precisely how it goes. I do my organized, checklist kind of thinking in the beginning of the run. I'm more logical, sequential, informational. Early in the run, I am a WHAT kind of guy. I make lists, check things off old lists and I am organized beyond the capabilities of mere mortals. Once a few endorphins have been released, however, the thoughts become more simultaneous, more about context than text and I begin to look at things within a bigger picture beyond the lists and details. I become a WHY and/or a HOW kind of guy. It's a beautiful time. I've created entire classes, speeches and presentations on a good day and at the least, solved the world's problems on a bad one.

Don't get me wrong, on a tempo run, an interval session or when racing I am thoroughly capable of focusing on the run, the goal of the run, the bio-mechanical feedback from the run. I'm all about Associative running. I'm one of those people who like feeling the pain, or tightness, or jubilation. It's during the other runs where the rightside lion is released from the cage of my head to cruise the Serengeti freely in search of a better idea, a more creative approach or better empathy with the world.

Runner's High? I think not. I don't remember my last venture in to the land of the ever illusive Runner's High. Then again, maybe what many call the Runner's High is simply this: Rightside Running.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It All Keeps Adding Up!

They say that once you get in a groove the next two steps are the rut, followed by the grave. I'm not buying that. A little less than seven weeks out from the Napa Valley Marathon and I'm in a groove. Every run is so much easier than a month ago. Paces that were tempo-ish are now easy, longer runs are focused and relaxed.

I mentioned this a few weeks ago while discussing levels ( http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2011/01/levels.html ). And while I choose to enjoy a move upward, I certainly know that doesn't eliminate my responsibility to train carefully and wisely.

This will be the third week in my penultimate training block before Napa. 60 miles went to 67 and this week to 72. Next week will be a back-off/recovery week before three more good weeks followed by a two week taper. I've been aided greatly by some typically mild January Denver temps. No injuries - limited aches and pains. No complaints.

It's been eleven years since I ran 3:10:34 at the Flying Pig and ten since my last marathon (Boston 2001 - we won't talk about the time but it was SLOWER by alot). I have no aspiration to be anywhere close to a time like that in March. My first and most important goal is to get from Calistoga to Napa and have a fun time doing it. Then I can begin to focus on whittling down both my time and my body. 

So far I've lost 18 pounds on this Napa training excursion. There's still 7 weeks to go to lose another 10-15 (I read somewhere that 20 pounds to a guy my size can translate to 17 minutes. I'd like to believe that)! I certainly have a long way to go to be the 3:10 guy again but I can actually see some remnants of him in the mirror (yes, there is a six pack under all that padding. Well, maybe).

Keep running!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Long Run

Having run 16 miles last week, I should have been smart and upped this week's effort by two miles. That was, in fact, the plan. My point to point destination (Denver Light Rail at the Convention Center) was precisely at that 18 mile mark. But also in the back of my mind was a thought that if all was well at 18, it would be on to 20!

I was expecting (because of the US Weather Service) a bit balmier of a day than what I received. High 40's became "lucky to hit 40" with a headwind most of the way. Nonetheless, armed with shorts, hairy legs, short sleeve shirt, arm warmers and gloves... I was off.

The first seven miles of the run is extremely hilly. Long uphills, coupled with long downhills make the early miles interesting but also challenging. Once free of the early hills and on the Cherry Creek Path to Denver, I thought I'd be free to pick up the pace (within reason, of course). Unfortunately, no one told the Denver snow removal crew of my long run plans and much of the terrain between 7 and 13 miles was semi snow-packed and/or icy. SO.... I just slowed down. 

I can always run slower.

It seems as though I went through a bad patch around 14-16, but perked up a little after a Power Gel. With my quickest miles being 17 and 18, I was enthused enough to carry on for the full 20.

I finished about 100 yards from the train station, jogged over, paid my fare and boom.... there it was arriving at a most opportune time. The last time I ran 20 miles or more was on April 16, 2001 in the Boston Marathon. So all in all, a good run.

We'll see how I feel tomorrow.

Seven weeks till the Napa Valley Marathon!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Simple Choice

"It's a simple choice: we can all be good boys and wear our letter sweaters around and get our little degrees and find some nice girl to settle, you know, down with . . . take up what a friend of ours calls the hearty challenges of lawn care."

"Or what? What's your alternative?" She leaned over trying to get him back on track. He looked at her, surprised; his eyes lit up as they had earlier and his voice shook again with excitement.

"Or we can blaze! Become legends in our own time, strike fear in the heart of mediocre talent everywhere! We can scald dogs, put records out of reach! Make the stands gasp as we blow into an unearthly kick from three hundred yards out! We can become God's own messengers delivering the dreaded scrolls! We can race dark Satan till he wheezes fiery cinders down the back straightaway!" He was full into it now.

They'll speak our names in hushed tones, 'Those guys are animals,' they'll say! We can lay it on the line, bust a gut, show them a clean pair of heels. We can sprint the turn on a spring breeze and feel the winter leave our feet!"

Andrea leaned back in the booth, wide eyed, and swallowed.

"We can, by God, let our demons loose and just wail on!"

- Once A Runner, John L. Parker Jr.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Forrest Gump said it best...

I ran nine miles on the treadmill again today. As Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I'm going to say about that."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dreadmill Not So Bad - this time!

I decided, for safety reasons, to run on the treadmill this morning. I struggled with the decision for some time as, in my mind, that decision is made because I am too chicken to go outside. 

Too cold? Not today, besides, I don't mind the cold. Having lived near Alamosa for 13 years, I've run in some very cold temps. It was so cold once that .... (fill in your own favorite "it was so cold story"...)

For me, the treadmill is a safety decision. When it's either too icy or I can't get access to a safe place I'll choose to run indoors. Normally this means a short day as most often my tolerance level for the dreadmill is 3-5 miles. Today, I chose to rise above my own attention span and logged 9. I have to say, it wasn't too bad. Armed with much water, a towel, my DVD player and an always carefull chosen video selection, I attacked the machine.

I don't know about anyone else, but I have a very limited repertoire of acceptable viewing choices while running in place. To begin with, I can't stand television programming and the commercials are worse (see today's blog at http://richyacks.blogspot.com/2011/01/into-ice-box-till-super-bowl.html for an in depth analysis of the boob tube). Next, for some odd reason, I don't do well with movies. SO, what remains is simple: I watch other people run. 

The best treadmill runs are visually escorted by a marathon. Today it was the 2008 Olympic Women's Marathon. Any other day might see one of the big urban races (New York, Boston, London, Berlin) or another Olympics. Favorites include Gelindo Bordin's 1988 Olympic Victory, Khalid Khannouchi's Chicago win, Moses Tanui's wins in Boston, Joannie in LA (although half of that was mysteriously erased once). 

My wife believes this habit to be weird, but I'm okay with that. I think I like running with my marathons as it helps me to be more anchored in what I'm doing. Never really been into the whole disassociation thing, anyway.

So nine down this morning, maybe a few more later. The sun is out, the roads and paths will clear and once again the treadmill can become what it was meant to be; a nice piece of furniture in the basement.

Eight weeks until the Napa Valley Marathon!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Levels

Training progresses on steps - levels. As one becomes more fit, they proceed to the next level. These levels, while clear to the runner (when they are occurring) are next to impossible to predict and thus, tough to work into a plan.

I feel as though I have popped up to the next level this week. My easy runs are at a faster pace than before and my tempo pace is considerably is both quicker and covering more distance (they go together, right?) with the same effort.

Frankly, I am not surprised. After all, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. I've been doing this awhile and know how it works. And with the combination of getting fitter and losing weight, it was bound to happen.

Doesn't mean I don't like it when it does!  :)

8 1/2 weeks till Napa!

Monday, January 3, 2011

On the Edge.

Watched one of my favorite running movies tonight, On the Edge with Bruce Dern. It is the story of Wes Holman, a once famous fictional runner who, in his forties, comes back to race his hometown race. The race is the also fictional Cielo Sea, fashioned after the famous Dipsea race from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach.

To make a long story short, Holman comes back to train for the race, finds out that because he was banned twenty years earlier (for cashing in airline tickets), he will not be allowed to run. He trains on and with the help of the comraderie of runners, he wins the day (sort of - don't want to spoil the ending if you haven't seen it).

The movie has some interesting characters, namely Flash, Holman's Dad played by Bill Bailey and Elmo, Holman's coach played by the great John Marley. It was, in fact, Marley's last film prior to his death.

It also has some incredible scenery and for the most part fairly authentic, believable, well shot running scenes (a few of the race scenes were suspect). Nonetheless, since running flicks are few and far between, I take the good with the bad.

Three memorable quotes from On the Edge: 1) Flash, upon seeing the light in his son's running cleans the house (really!). His line is great though, "Whenever life, you can't make heads or tails of it, clean up your nest."  2) Flash also saying, "Any time a damn bureaucrat says it's illegal to do something, then it's worth doing." and my favorite: 3) Elmo, a week before the big race, tells Wes to  "Go out and feel the course. Burn the uphill and soar the downhills. When you burn, you say soar. And when you soar, you say burn." The line sets the stage for a spectacular scene as Holman runs the summit of Mt. Tamalpais.

Nothing like a running movies after two runs and strength and core work today. Beats football.

The trailer for the movie is on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHr4XtxViOY 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Trial of Miles. Miles of Trials"

Before I file the 2010 training log, I thought I'd take one last peek. As has been previously written, I ran 2031 miles in 2010. In my 45 years of running, that ranks 25th for mileage volume.

After running 2300+ in 2009 and not missing any days, the goal for '10 was to remain consistent and continue to build some aerobic fitness. Although I missed 15 days due to a knee injury (actually an accident) and a bout with the flu, I'd say the year was pretty okay.

I didn't travel as much as usual in 2010, so my out-of-state runs were fewer than past years. My favorite places this year were Mt. Prospect Park outside of Boston (small but pretty with some NICE hills), Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield, MA (might have been the beautiful sunset that evening), the Chesapeake/Ohio canal trail (always my fave place in DC) and for the first time I really enjoyed my runs in New Orleans. I won't list my least favorites but there were some BAD ones (usually that happens when I have to stay at a hotel surrounded by heavily trafficked road without even a sidewalk to which I can escape).

                                      Mt. Prospect Park
I've had some good runs this year. Without a doubt, my best run was my 12 miler in New Orleans. It was meant to be a nice jaunt from downtown to City Park, in the 8 mile range and turned out to be a lot more. Felt good pretty much the whole time and moved along really well. My runs with my sons were always favorites. A 12 miler with Matt (the family sprinter) was probably the run I'd have not predicted at the outset of the year. The Vail Pass run was cool and the sunset run around the previously mentioned Lake Quannpowitt was excellent.
                             Matt & Ryan running AGES ago
The two best places, are the ones I frequent most, the Cherry Creek State Park (right around the corner) and Wash Park. I love the CCSP with it's plethora of trail options, especially the Woods. The Woods remind me of my home cross country course in high school (the last half mile in the woods at Elizabeth Park) and parts of Rouge Park in Detroit where my collegiate home course was.
                                         CCSP Woods

Light rail runs were the usual plan for double digit running. Option 1): Drive to the Dayton station, hit the Cherry Creek Path and head downtown (routes between 11-17 miles) 2) the South Platte trail to downtown (routes between 10-15 miles). I like the Light Rail runs as they are point to point and once I get a couple miles out, there's no turning back. All in all, 22 Light Rail Runs in 2010, the longest were a few 15 milers (have the 17 on the list in a couple of weeks).

                                  Light Rail, All Aboard!

The best week for volume was 63, the worst was 0 (week of the knee accident). The best quarter, by far, was the last one as I've really gotten consistent since committing to the Napa Valley Marathon. The goal this year is 2700 and somewhere in there I'd like to slip in some weeks in the 70's, maybe even the 80's (my biggest week ever was 122 back in 1976 preparing for the Springbank race in Canada).

So that's it. Put a fork in 2010, cuz it's DONE. As John Parker called it, the "Trail of Miles, Miles of Trials." Here's to many, many more....

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

First run of the year was a COLD one this morning in the Cherry Creek State Park. Part of the paved trail was plowed (I think by a citizen that walks there regularly, as opposed to the park people doing it). I like running in the snow a bunch, the problem I have is running the unshoveled areas where everyone else has run. It becomes extremely uneven and wobbly. No fun. The upside however is using muscles in my ankles that I wasn't sure I possessed. Unfortunately, those muscles may be sore in the morning.

Highlight of the run was a herd of deer around four miles. Like most of the deer in the park, they didn't seem to be too concerned about me.

All in all it was an uneventful 7 mile run. The event was that it was the first day of what will be an exciting year of returning to marathons and racing. Happy New Year to me (and you!).