Friday, December 31, 2010

A Cold, Anchoring Run!

As I close the book on 2010,  I'm chomping at the bit for 2011. After two rough years, I finally am beginning to feel anchored again and believe that the worst is in my rear view mirror (I can't speak for your mirror, sorry). A big part of the anchor is the run (and that doesn't take away from the other important anchors in my life: my wife, Linda and my sons, Matt & Ryan).

Today's run, the final of 2010, was in the Cherry Creek State Park. The plan was to go 6 or 7 miles according to how well I'd dressed (only 3 degrees above zero). About four inches of snow sat on the ground and very few footsteps preceded mine. I like it like that. I like being the powder buster on the trail, makes me feel like an intrepid-explorer type. That explorer mentality took me to the woods, the result of which was a lengthening of the run to 9 miles (that also means I dressed well).

Two things stood out today. First I noticed that the hills don't look as hilly when they are layered with a blanket of snow. Might be some kind of optical illusion but I noticed it at each hill (not sure they were any easier to ascend). Second, was a more than strange awareness of the squeaky noise my shoes make as each step peels off the snowpack. 

It's nice on a snowy day to get away from the masses of inexperienced, unfocused, frazzled Colorado snow drivers. It seems as though most of the people that have migrated to Colorado didn't come expecting snow and they drive accordingly. They make me nervous. In the park, however, most of the run was absolutely soundless. There was a peacefulness to the woods in particular today as I pondered both the run and the year ahead.

This run seemed indicative of the year: me attempting to escape the mess and finding solitude, focus and inspiration on the trail. George Sheehan wrote, “The more I run, the more I want to run, and the more I live a life conditioned and influenced and fashioned by my running. And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am.”

2031 miles for the year. Lots of time to reflect, think and plan. 2011 is nearly here and I have no problem turning the calendrical (nice word, if it actually was  one) page, because I think I'm finally ready to head back into the mess.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

George Carlin, Tony Robbins and My Goals!

George Carlin once said that your values are "what you'd do for $10 or what you'd do with $10." Although not elaborated upon, George was hinting strongly that our values, then, are SUBjective. To each his (or her) own, sort of.

Today, it's almost New Years, the age old time for reflection and resolution. Personally, I've never been a big fan of resolutions. They are too easily broken (in fact, we seem to create an entire sub-culture that exists this time of year to figure out how to keep any of our resolutions). So, I have ventured away from resolutions. I'm more the type that sets goals when they seem appropriate, refines them when needed and tracks them unmercifully. 

Tony Robbins taught me that my goals are a reflection of my values. As a result, they are also subjective. Mine could be much different than yours and that's the way it should be. Tony also taught me that in order to be more committed to my goals, I need to be able to share them. So, whether you like it or not, here they are: my running goals for 2011.

First, I should mention that I have been running for 44 1/2 years and over that time have averaged roughly 2100 miles a year. In 2010, barring the unforeseen tomorrow, I will have 2030 for 2010. Don't get me wrong, that's not a bad year after a streak of eight years below 1900 (from 2001-2008). Unfortunately, however, that is 350 less than 2009. I also missed 15 days of running in 2010 (or should I be positive and say I ran 350 days). In 2009, I missed none. It's beginning to look like I need a return to 2009, but that's not the case. I'm shooting higher.

Goal #1.  I will run every day in 2011. I end the year with a "streak" of 97 days and I'd like to see that continued. Not to worry; I don't run injured (I'm just lucky enough to seldom get injured - hope we didn't jinx that one).

Goal #22700 miles. In 1999 I ran 3000 on the dot. In 2000, 3217. I'd actually like to get closer to those numbers, but I don't want to set the goal overly high given I'm not as young as I was ten years ago.

Goal #3Three Marathons. I plan to run two in the spring (March and May) to get my sea legs back and one in the fall that will fulfill Goal #4.

Goal #4Qualify for Boston. In 2001 I ran the Boston Marathon. After qualifying a year earlier with a time of 3:10, I bloated my way through a poor fall and winter and ran from Hopkinton to Boston almost an hour slower. Humiliating for me, although it's taken ten years to DO something about the humiliation. So, even though King Arthur called revenge, "the most worthless of causes," I'll be happy getting my measure of revenge in April 2012.

Goal #5.  To FEEL like a runner again. In college, I was the vertical dash mark: 6-1  138 pounds. Somewhere in my 35th year, someone hit the metabolism switch to the OFF position. At the Flying Pig Marathon in 2000 (Boston qualifier) I weighed around 172. I felt pretty good even though I could feel even better at 165. The goal is to get back to sub 170 by the fall. in 2010 I had a net loss of 21 pounds (without trying too hard). This coming year we'll have to double that number to achieve the goal.

Goal #6.  To connect with a plethora of new running friends and to reconnect with many old ones. As I grew and grew (physically) in 2001, I began to shy away from my fast, fit, running friends. I suppose it was embarrassment that led the way. In 2011, I don't want to run alone as much as I have the last ten years.

Goal #7Half Ironman. My sons: Matt and Ryan and I have set this goal for ourselves in the hope that it will lead to a full Ironman in 2012. Gotta work on that swim!!!

Goal #8Times.  In 2000 I ran some fairly decent races. My 3:10:34 at the Flying Pig, a 1:25 and change in a half marathon and a couple of dips just above the 40:00 10K line. I have a very limited idea of how ten extra years will affect my times when I do get very fit but nonetheless, I'll take a shot.
     5K          20:30
    10K         42:00
    Half       1:35 ish
   Mara      < 3:20:00

So that's it. Eight running goals for 2011. What about you? What are your goals for the upcoming year? Feel free to share!


Something about a very cold run that kind of cleans me out. Today the temp was low and falling, the humidity was up a bit and the wind was BLOWING! Kind of a Midwest sort of day.

I like running in that type of weather for three reasons. First, there's no one else out and that makes me feel tough, dedicated and unique! Then, there is the cold. When it's cutting right through me, I get the pleasure (?) of feeling how every part of my body is reacting. Every cell seems on alert. Finally, It's great to be finished. I love getting home and experiencing body thaw near the fireplace.

Luckily (?) for me, tomorrow it's supposed to be colder.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recap: Flying Pig Marathon May 2000 (Living in the Past)

Reprinted from my real estate newsletter, The Finish Line: June 2000

Occasionally, I get e-mail from a running friend who has taken the time to send everyone they know a note describing in the most minute detail every facet of their latest race. While I approach these writings with the same caution I would utilize with ripe mule carcass, I almost always read them and send back some relevant comment like, "must have been fun," or "sounds like you did well."

Most recently I participated in the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Having what I would describe as a successful outing, I feel obligated to share it with all of you who choose to read on from this point.

My goal for this outing was threefold: 1) to run under 3 hours and 25 minutes and qualify for the Boston Marathon; 2) to spend time with my sons and see their track meets; and 3) spend time with my Mother on Mother's Day weekend. Goals number 2 and 3 are easy and all always enjoyable experiences. Goal number 1 however has been elusive over the past eight years.

Since moving to the Boulder area, I have run nine marathons, finishing eight of them. The fastest was in Pueblo back in 1992, a 3:22:21 at a time when my Boston qualifying time was 3:20. In two of those marathons (Long Beach and Albuquerque) I was running extremely well only to meet with a rather untimely injury. Two (Denver and New York 1994) I would classify as easy mostly because I ran so slowly that it didn't matter. I felt adequately prepared for half of them.

Last year I ran the Inaugural Flying Pig in 3:34:08. I had run 985 miles in the four months prior to the race and had tuned up with a disappointing 34:20 five mile at the Cherry Creek Sneak.

This year I had prepped with 1159 miles in the same four months and had run 31:55 at Cherry Creek on a less than ideal day. The biggest difference, however, was that last year I weighed over 200 pounds at the Pig (what do I mean AT the Pig? I WAS the Pig), this year I was a svelte 175. But, I digress.

Race day was sunny, moderately cool but breezy. My day started poorly with my watch alarm not activating and me awaking only an hour before race time (and I was fifteen minutes from downtown).

Through the patience of my Mom and sons and some fancy footwork I was at the start line with five minutes to spare. My plan was to run in the 7:30's for the first 20 miles and then see what I had left for the final 10K. The plan appeared faulty as I cruised through the first mile (thinking I was around 7:30) at 6:53. YIKES! Too fast! Luckily, the second and third miles were all uphill and so with a 7:30 and a 7:50, I was back on track.

Then an odd thing happened; something that I wasn't necessarily expecting but wasn't surprising just the same. I began to run between 7:13 and 7:24 without any major discomfort. As my watch recorded each mile split I was constantly telling myself "I have to slow down. I'd better slow down." I didn't.
At 18 miles I began running with a 22-year-old named Nicholas, from Knoxville. He was whooping and having all kinds of fun so I figured he'd make a good diversion for a few miles. We passed the twenty mile mark in 2:27:09 after I'd run pretty even five mile splits of 36:49, 36:59, 36:47 and 36:34. 

At twenty, three things happened: I passed my sons who were yelling and screaming "Go Dad!" I turned my hat around (indicating that I was now serious and reminding myself that I was almost done) and I started counting how many people I was passing.

After averaging 7:21.6 per mile, I had one of those rare marathon moments, I actually began going FASTER at the twenty mile mark.

My next three miles were 7:06, 6:50 and 6:49. By 23, I was confident that I would crash the sub 3:25 barrier and while my right hamstring was catching and very tight, I danced the injury tightrope through final miles of 7:03, 7:00 and 7:07. My final time was 3:10:33.4! I'd passed 59 people. I'd qualified for the Holy Grail of marathons: Boston.

I'd run negative splits (the second half faster than the first) for the first time ever in a marathon: 1:36:44 for the first half, 1:33:49 for the second. I'd also run the last 10K in 43:23. My average was slightly over 7: 16 and except for the hamstring nursing, I had run comfortably most all of the way.

While I'm happy with the objective result of my run, I'm elated about how I was able to share it with my sons. They've made me proud of them since they were born and it was nice to do something that allowed them to be proud of me. It was SO COOL seeing them yelling for me during the final stretch to the finish line. I thank them AND my Mom for their love and support during a very hectic weekend of track meets and extra stresses.

Well, the man behind the camera is motioning that my acceptance speech for "Runner of the Week" is getting long. I best end this saga. Go ahead, say it: "Must have been fun. Sounds like you did well." See you in Boston, April 16, 2001!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Buddy

Went for a nice run the other day in the Cherry Creek State Park. While running a trail near the creek, I startled a doe coming around a bend. She gave me a look and ran into the high bushes. When I got to her space (even deer have space, you know) there was her boyfriend (pictured) giving me the evil eye roughly 30 feet away.

With him being a handsome creature, I went for my phone to capture the moment in a picture. He looked away (obviously in an effort to ruin my photographic moment). I took a far away lousy pic. 

Then, a strange thing happened. I began chatting with him. "Hi buddy," I said. "Are you finding enough food? How are you doin'?"

If you know me at all, you know that the strange thing had nothing to do with me talking to a deer. The strange thing was that he responded by slowly walking in my direction. First 20 feet away; then fifteen and finally about seven feet from my position on the trail.

Once I recognized the coolness of the moment, my next thought was the headline, "Runner Hoofed to Death" or "Surgeons Remove Antler From Runner's Behind." Perhaps he was having a similar thought process because just as I turned away to move on, he did the same.

I've always said that my favorite part of running is connecting to my planet. It's also fun to connect with its inhabitants. Run on!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Am I serious?

Sometime early tomorrow morning, I'll pass the 2000 mile mark for the year's running. There will be no balloons, or bands and Ann Wessling won't be cheering me in the last fifty yards. Chances are, in fact, I won't be completely sure when it happens, I'm most often drifting in and out of some pretty profound thoughts during  runs. I will know this: I have had a serious running year

Quenton Cassidy said it best in Once A Runner, "Everyone likes to think they have their own little corner; it can be anything: needlepoint, lawn bowling, whatever. Some guy may gratify himself by thinking he's the best fruit and vegetable manager the A & P ever had. Which is fine. It gives people a sense of worth in a crowded world where everyone feels like part of the scenery. But then mostly they are spared any harrowing glimpses into their own mediocrity. Pillsbury Bake-Off notwithstanding, we'll never know who makes the best artichoke souffle in the world, will we?  In track it's all there in black and white. Lots of people can't take that kind of pressure; the ego withers in the face of the evidence. We all carry our little credentials around with us; that's why the numbers are so important to us, why we're always talking about them."

For quite some time, I've measured my running the way most of us do, miles. The benchmark for my running being serious was/is 2000 miles in a year. While the exact origin of that number as the quantifiable dipstick of my activity is unknown, I believe I picked because it's a nice round number. Also examined in the process is number of days run. While I am not Ron Hill, who hasn't missed a day since December of 1964, I love it when I don't miss a day in an entire year (my longest streak was just short of 1000 days). 

Then of course, there are the times. Times, times, times; to the tenth of a second in the case of many events. Like many of my running buds and budettes, I can recite chapter and verse about my PRs (personal records) for every event from my experiment in the 180 Low Hurdles in tenth grade (set the stage for a collegiate Steeplechase career) to the Pikes Peak Marathon (back when it was 28 miles). And everything in between. Unfortunately my last race was Boston 2001, so I have no recent race times from which to measure my seriousness.

The point is, I know when it's serious not by some flaky, fluid evaluative system like my mind, I know by the numbers. And the numbers become serious (according to my flaky, fluid mind) at 2000. Or do they?

I began running, and through the guidance of my first coach, Al Pingel, logging my miles since the first day of cross country in 1966. The end result (so far) of this cumulative physical morbidity sits just shy of 95,000 miles. There have been eight years over 3000 miles (was I MORE serious those years) and the best was 3932 in 1976. There were only two years under 1000, my first two years in high school. Two lengthy stretches of non-seriousness occurred between 1986-90 and most recently 2001-2008. 

In their book, Marty Liquori's Guide for the Elite Runner, Marty and/or John Parker (co-author) wrote, "A commitment to serious training means that no matter what else you are in this world - doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief - first of all you are a runner. If you are unable to live up to that standard, your running is not truly 'serious' and you can expect your race results to show it." Having been self/un-employed in 2009 and 2010, and not being the head of a tribe (unless you count Seth Godin's definition), at least I have qualified as serious in some way. 

I don't know, that's a little too flaky and fluid. I need some numbers here.

SO..... Almost 95,000 miles. Over 44 and a half years, that's 2135 a year (or roughly 5.85 a day). That means this year (which will culminate at roughly 2030 or so) is a less than average year. 

Serious? I think not. Bring on 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bruce Denton and Me

Feeling a bit under the weather today and had this conversation:
      Other person: "You ran five miles today. But, you're sick."
      Me: "How else will I get better. Worst part is that it's Monday and I'm already behind for the week."

Reminded me of a scene from my favorite book, Once A Runner. Chapter 6, Bruce Denton.

"On a rainy day in November he was so sick with the flu that his wife, Jeannie, felt constrained to stay home from work to look after him. He threw up regularly and had diarrhea so badly his stomach muscles began cramping. Nonetheless, he arose and ran two eerie miles at a stumbling pace, pale and shivering the whole way. His wife was aghast. Again in the afternoon he repeated the process, this time nearly fainting as he staggered back into the apartment. Dr. Stavius-whose claim to fame was that he had once punctured a blister on the foot of Roger Bannister-stormed into Denton's sickroom and proclaimed him a madman.

"What crazy?" Denton asked, trying to make his parched lips form a smile. "After today I'm sixteen miles behind for the week."

Lucky me. Only 5 miles behind.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Evil Training Log

Something about a long run that gets me excited - even a little nervous.

This morning I'll be off for what will amount to a 14 mile jaunt down the Cherry Creek path to downtown Denver. It will be equal to my long run in this training block. For a bit over a year now, I have constructed my longer runs to begin in the Denver Tech Center, head down the path to either the Convention Center or Union Station and then take the Light Rail train back to my car. I have options varying from 11 miles to 17.

Most of these runs are relatively the same. I begin at a comfortable pace working through the early hills on the north side of the Cherry Creek Reservoir, pick it up to a more "tempo" like pace from about 3 miles on and then begin a gradual buildup the last four. Today will be no different. It wasn't always this way.

I stumbled on my stash of training logs a few days ago and eagerly snagged, then perused the one entitled 1976, or as it should be called: "The Year of the PR."

Two races stand out: a 10K (rarely run in '76 as we weren't as metric then as we are now, they were mostly 6 mile races) at 32:21 and a 12 mile at 1:02:21 (probably the best race of my 44 years as a runner). But what really stands out are the workouts. As I prepare for my 14 mile run today that will take about two hours and twenty minutes, I unfortunately recall the log entry for 8/7/76 which read: "Easy 14 miles - 1:23."

What is wrong with me? Didn't 1976 Rich have any idea how that run would affect 2010 Rich some 34 years and sixty pounds later? I know we're supposed to get a little slower as we age but did I have to rub my own nose in it? Disgraceful.

Nonetheless, today I will complete my appointed rounds in a workman-like manner coveting the few endorphins available during that extended period of time. After all, (sigh) wasn't it Shakespeare that said, "tis better to have been fast and gotten slower, than to have never been fast at all?"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wimpy? Run Log 4

Supposed to go 9, only went 6. 

Theoretically, there is a plan in motion geared towards a successful running of the Napa Valley Marathon in March. So far the plan has gone fairly well (with the minor exceptions of still being too fat and too slow). We (that's my legs and me) are up to 60 miles this week. We've added some drills and accelerations and continue negative splitting the long runs. Yes, the plan is in motion.

Yesterday, however, was one of those days when I just wasn't in the mood to do all of the running that was in the week's plan. So, I didn't. There was a time in my running career when I would have called that wimpy. Nowadays, we call it creative flexibility.

PLUS, I can get back 3 miles later in the week.

Monday, November 15, 2010

You Gotta Wanna!

Today is one of those days. It looks cold, snow is falling and the wind is blowing it parallel to the ground. I don't wanna run. But when I finish these paragraphs. I will head upstairs, properly layer and head out for 7 or 8 miles. Why you ask? I'll tell you.... I wanna more than I don't wanna.

George Carlin once said that Catholic priests made wanna a sin, "Thou shalt not wanna!" But somehow I don't think this dilemma was the wanna to which they were referring. In fact, I think wanna is a good thing.

Behind every tough decisions are two extreme positions: wanna or don't wanna. And on any given day we make a multitude of decisions based on how much we wanna or how much we don't wanna. We look at the upside, the downside, our motivation and goals, contemplate fallout, examine the big picture and potential results, then decide.

For me, as a delayed gratification sort of guy, I'm looking at the long term upside of today's run in relation to my overall goals AND ensuing guilt if I choose to decline (the positive AND the negative, huh?). Nonetheless, it's my goals, objectives and motivation that win out.

I'd love to go into greater detail on this topic but, as they saying goes, I gotta run.

Why? Cuz I wanna!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Road Less Traveled???

It turned as it does every year, abruptly. One day you're running in shorts and a T-Shirt and the next it's tights, long sleeves and a vest.

I could have gone either way this morning. After 11 miles yesterday, I could have easily ignored that The Plan called for an easy 6 today and substituted with 3 or 4 OR even a treadmill run. But nope, not today. When the weather said 18 degrees this morning I coolly and calmly strolled to the basement and retrieved a box called "winter running gear." Then it was off to the six mile loop.

Noticing it was much chillier INTO the wind, I tried my best to slightly alter the route to finish with a "warm" tailwind. The run was easy and lonely. I like those runs: the ones where no one else is out. First, I feel somewhat macho being the lone cruiser in the cold (although actually it was beautiful). Mostly I know that then times when the weather is changing is when I set my attitude for real winter training and it is only through a good winter, will there be good spring marathons.

Commitment when it gets tough is real commitment and while I know there will be many tests of my will to train this winter, I like having passed the first.

Run happy, run warm!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Run Log 2

I'm suitably jazzed. Ran 48 miles last week, had a fantastic 12 mile run Saturday and watched hours and hours of the New York City Marathon yesterday.

I've run 15 marathons in my day and ran New York in 1993, 94 and 98. I have to admit, it's an incredible experience AND a logistical masterpiece. How Mary Wittenberg and her team can orchestrate such an event is beyond what I can imagine, even on my most imaginative day.

My recollection is that every part of the course has its own special feelings. The Bridge was awesome (and it's true, you can actually feel it shaking from the people running on it), Brooklyn an amazing cross section of this country of ours, Queens was where the marathon begins to make itself noticed, First Avenue is absolutely WILD, Harlem and the Bronx were very cool and Central Park is the perfect ending to the course.

I have several great NYC memories. My first year (1993) I was loosening up in Central Park the day before the race. Bill Rodgers ran by. I said HI, he said HI and we started yacking. We ran and yacked quite a ways (I'm guessing a few miles at least). Unfortunately Boston Billy ran and yacked much faster than I should have the day before the marathon - oh well. In 1994 I started the race very close to a HUGE Canadian flag. I have a picture of me and that flag on the Bridge somewhere in a box in the basement. Better than that though, the next year that shot of the runners starting the race and that big flag were captured on a Seinfeld episode (that means I was on Seinfeld, right?).

I also met my friend Cathy Troisi at New York, used the race to bring my Mom to the Big Apple for the first time, and generally had a great time every time I ran there.

Today the NY Road Runners opened registration for the 2011 race (on my birthday) and created the opportunity for a few people to actually be chosen today. I'm hoping for the best.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Me Dat!

I've been in New Orleans for less than 24 hours and I received my first "who dat?"

I was running down St. Peter near Royal Street and some random guy cleaning in front of an establishment of questionable morals (the establishment not the guy. not judging, though), said "Yo, who dat, man?" I returned proudly with, "me dat!"

And I speak for a living....... Oh well, I have the rest of the day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Boston 2012 or Bust!

At the ripe old age of 48, roughly ten and a half years ago, I qualified for the Boston Marathon. In ran 3:10:33 at the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati and proceeded to lose my focus and run WELL over that in Boston 2001. Over a decade later, it's time for redemption.

Last night, after much deliberation, I committed to the Napa Valley Marathon on March 6, 2011 - eighteen weeks away. My decision was clouded by my desire to run the Livestrong Austin Marathon two weeks earlier. Practicality won over desire, so NorCal, here I come. While the decision was challenging enough, now comes the tougher part: committing to what has to be done to effectively run a marathon.

As mentioned, I have eighteen weeks. To me, that is the perfect lead time. My training will be divided in to three 6 week blocks, each containing three 2 week microcycles. I will engage my thirty years of coaching experience as well as duplicating many of the things that worked nearly eleven years ago to design each and every detail of the plan.

The goals are threefold. First, I simply want to get back in the marathon lifestyle. Having finished fifteen in my life, it bothers me that the last one seems like a very distant memory. Second, I want to re qualify for Boston. I have unfinished business in Beantown. I'll need to run 3:45, which while not just a stroll in the park, should be attainable. Last, I am seeking the healthy lifestyle and fitness level that comes from focused training.

So, this morning's run was step one in the Commitment to Boston. So far, so good.

Running Bucket List? Yeah, I've Still Got One.

June has arrived and the weather has made a change to FABULOUS. Moisture and chilly was much of May (sounded like Yoda said that), but the w...