Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Quality Tempo Run

I knew that I had been running my tempo runs just a little too fast. An estimate for tempo pace is 10k pace plus 10 to 15 seconds per mile. The best estimate for tempo pace, according to Pfitzinger and Douglas is your 15k to half marathon pace. My best 10k is 6:35 pace and my most recent 10k is 6:45. I've never raced a 15k or half marathon. (I've run a half as part of a 20 mile long run.) I'd like to run a 15k or 10 mile race at sub 7:00. If I ran one Saturday, that would be my goal. So, I'm guessing that my tempo pace should be 6:50 to 7:00 per mile. I've been running tempo at 6:35 to 6:45. That's just too fast for me for now.

So today, I was determined to keep it near that pace. Matt came over and we ran over to the track and did 4 tempo miles and ran back home. 8.4 miles total. Much better weather today! Low 70's and not humid at all (well, 65% or so, but that's WAY better than 90+%)! If you're a runner at all, you need to run today. You don't get many of these mornings in July in Alabama.
  1. 6:56
  2. 6:56
  3. 6:53
  4. 6:51
If I keep doing tempo runs like that, I think I'll see more improvement and less fatigue. I feel like I ran this morning, but I don't feel trashed. I plan to increase the mileage of tempo runs gradually up to 5.5 miles or 40 minutes over the next several weeks.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday 10 Miler in Athens

Well, today makes two days in a row that running has humbled me. Yesterday was brutal and I just wasn't able to go as fast as I know I can go. Seriously, I can run faster than 6:57 per mile for 5 miles. I can. I have. I will again. I just couldn't yesterday (or today, for that matter).

Today, I ran over to the Rec Center to meet at the usual Sunday time and place for the usual Sunday 10 miler. Lanier, Carl, and I were the only takers on this brutally humid morning. I think today was the worst yet. When we started, the temperature was 73 and the dew point was 72. That's 96% humidity. Yuck. By the time we finished, the temp was nearer to 80, and the humidity was still above 90%. I was SOAKED. My shoes are still not dry.

I struggled mightily with today's run. I know that Carl had much more in the tank than I did and I slowed him down. It took all I had to maintain our 8:09 average pace. I knew I was in trouble early in this run. I tried very hard to hold on and it took all the effort I had just to finish this run. I did not finish strong, I just finished. At the end of the run, I had to hitch a ride home with Carl. I certainly didn't have enough in the tank to run home. Thanks for the ride, Carl!
  1. 8:31
  2. 8:16
  3. 8:07
  4. 7:52
  5. 8:03
  6. 8:05
  7. 8:06
  8. 7:55
  9. 8:20
  10. 8:04

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Helen Keller 5 Mile Race

Today was definitely a lesson in humility! I fully expected to go to Tuscumbia and run a 32 something and place somewhere in my age group. Really, 33+ didn't even enter my mind as a possibility. Try 34:45. Yep. 34:45. Now, the course is a little long (as certified courses are) and I thought I had run more like a 34:30 or so. I'm not sure why my time and the official time are off, but I'm sure it's my mistake and it doesn't matter anyway for a time that slow. 11th of 206 overall and 4th of 17 in the 35-39 Age Group.

Overall results and Age Group results are available at the Shoals TRAC website.

I really don't know why I was so slow today except that it is HOT! The race start was 8:00 AM, and it was already near 80F by then. The sun was beaming and with the dew point near 70F, it was miserably hot and humid. Also, I had no idea what the course was like. This is a race that demands more respect than I gave it! A sub 35 minute 5 miler should not be that difficult. I guess I'm not as fast as I think I am. I'll have to work on that.

Having said all of that, this race was well run and well staffed. There was a rush of people registering this morning, and the process was very quick. I didn't have to wait in line for the pre-race port-a-potty. There was plenty of water at the start/finish and on the course. There were sprinklers at the start/finish and along the course. That it also coincides with the Helen Keller festival is a neat bonus, too. This is an excellent event, and I may do it again to get revenge on the course. I may not do it again because it was so miserable. It is HOT. It deserves respect. It is not a fast race.

The Start
I rode over with Scott to the race today. I can honestly say that the ride is the only part of this race that I enjoyed! The race started just a little late. That's probably because there were so many race day sign ups (including me).

I didn't get as much of a warm up as I wanted, but that's no excuse for today's performance. I'm just not fast.

At the starting line, I met a guy from NC, Ronnie Michael. He looked fast! We were chatting and I found out that he is a Marine here visiting family. I thanked him for his service. Then I found out that he is in my age group. Oh well. He asked my target pace and I told him 6:30. He said that was what he was aiming for, too, so I decided to try to stick with him.

Mile 1
The first mile starts slightly downhill, but mostly flat. It crosses the finish line, which is unusual. After the finish line, it starts a steep descent. I started a bit fast, like 5:40 pace or so, but that's not unusual for me for the first 200 yards of a race. I backed off fairly quickly, but then let it fly again going down the hill. All I kept thinking was... I know I'm going to have to climb back up this hill! After going through a park, we turned and started back up the hill. It wasn't as steep on the way back up, but it was still what I would call a major hill. The one mile mark was just over halfway up the hill, but I didn't see a clock or a split timer. I hit the mile in 6:25 (according to the Garmin), exactly as planned and I still felt good. There was a lot of passing and fighting for position in this mile. Scott was near me, ahead and behind and ahead and behind and Ronnie, who I met at the start, was probably about 10 seconds ahead. The second place woman, Sandy Lynch, was in this pack also. I saw Scott try to pass her a few times in this mile, but she was cutting him off or holding him off, depending on how you look at it. :)

Mile 2
There is still half of the major hill to climb at the beginning of mile 2. Again, here I felt good and held on surprisingly well up the hill. I passed Scott up this hill. After topping the hill, I got passed by a couple of body-builder types. I tried to keep one of them in sight, but he was stretching his lead. I just kept Ronnie in sight. I passed Sandy after topping the hill and before the 2 mile marker, but I don't really remember where on 5th street that I made the move. I could tell that she was going to try to hang close. There was aid at about 1.6 miles and I wet my head and mouth. The heat was starting to catch up to me. I hit the split in 13:21 on the clock, and 6:45 on my Garmin. My garmin was only about 3 seconds before the clock, so I'm not sure how I lost 6 or 7 seconds from the official time. Maybe I was late with the start button?

Mile 3
I don't remember much about mile 3 except that was one rolling hill after another. I don't think any of the hills were more than 20 feet, but they just kept coming and coming. I passed a much younger guy here. It may have been Tanner Ryan, but I'm not sure. He didn't seem to try to stay close, but I didn't look back to see. I started to struggle mightily on this mile. I wasn't holding anywhere near the 6:45 pace of the previous mile. I still had Ronnie in my sight, but he was extending his lead. I hit this in a disappointing 6:54.

Mile 4
This was the worst mile for me! I remember just begging for the 4 mile split. Where is it? It can't be far now? I was gaining on Ronnie, so I wasn't the only one struggling during this mile. it was mostly a gradual uphill after a downhill first quarter. I was just fighting to hang on. I passed two vehicles that were stopped by traffic control for the race that had smoking drivers. I did not need to inhale cigarrette smoke at this point in the race! Gaining on Ronnie gave me some encouragement, but I didn't want to make a move too soon given the way I was feeling. Finally I could see the split! No! that can't be the right time! 7:12. Yuck.

Mile 5
I knew I was going to pass Ronnie, the only question was when and what kind of effort would he make to hold me off when he heard me coming. I probably could have and should have made the move sooner, but I didn't want to blow up because I pushed too soon. There was no one behind me pushing me, so I waited until about the 4.5 mile mark. The course has you go out a long loop before the finish. I made my move at the turn of that loop. I was determined to make the move strong, so I did. I heard him staying close, but I was NOT going to look back. I didn't want him to know how tired I was! So, I ran the last half of that mile at a faster pace. When I knew I was about 200 or so yards from the finish, I let go! I was determined that he would not overtake me! It took some good effort to hold him off, but I managed to eek out a 5 second lead at the finish. He ran a hard finish, too. Nice job, Ronnie!

I mentioned Sandy Lynch. Until after the race, I had assumed that she was the winner. At the last stretch, a younger woman poured on a sprint to overtake her for the win. I never saw the winning woman during the race, so she must have run conservatively at the start.

That's as close to puking as I have ever gotten at a race. I was really a little concerned after crossing the finish line that I was going to lose it. I have no idea why an almost 35 minute 5 miler felt so hard, but it did. It took 5 minutes before I could even drink water.

Looking back at the race, I was not pleased with my time, but I am pleased with my finishing kick. I was pleased that psychologically I was able to overtake someone who had led me the whole race. I was pleased that I didn't get "chicked". It's really unusual that I finish ahead of the winning woman. And finally, it's a positive thing that I did not get passed after about the 1.5 mile mark.

Oh yeah, and I'm thankful that I am able to run most every day and that I'm able to run a race basically on a whim. It was a great day, if a slow time!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

10 miler

Matt came over this morning and we left from my house planning to do an easy 8-10 miler. I never thought I'd be able to say "easy 8-10 miler". That's pretty cool. We ended up doing more like 10.6 or so. And they were pretty easy miles. The average pace was 8:17.

It was a couple degrees warmer today, but the humidity was MUCH lower. The temp was around 75F and the dew point was 63F. That's almost comfortable, but not quite. It's much better than the past few mornings, though.

I'll probably rest or do at most 4 miles tomorrow preparing for Saturday's Hellen Keller 5 Mile Race in Tuscumbia. It will be a HOT one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Weights and Easy Running

I've been consistent with my new resistance training program. I've hit the gym for a full body workout 3 days a week for three weeks in a row now. One thing I'm learning is that it is very difficult to get in a good resistance workout and any kind of run in the same day. I was able to get it done today, but it wasn't easy. Time becomes a limiting factor! Three days a week off from running is not really acceptable if I'm going to reach my goals for this year. I'll have to figure something out.

I'm planning to stay with this program 3 more weeks, then I'll change it up hoping to
avoid a plateau. I can already see and feel some results from the change in routine.

Today, I did squats, seated calf raises, lat pull-downs, dumbbell curls, triceps kick-backs, dumbbell pec flys, decline sit-ups, and planks. Then I ran 4 miles on the treadmill in 34 minutes. I still don't like the treadmill, but it sure was nice not to be in the heat and humidity today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Based on last week's commitment to do more tempo runs, I did a tempo workout this morning. I jogged over to the Athens Rec Center to meet Matt. I was going to do 4 or 4.5 miles at tempo pace, which I'm guessing should be about 6:50 per mile for me. I didn't feel particularly good because yesterday was the epitome of a Monday. We all have them.

On the positive side, it did seem that we got a slight break from the humidity this morning. The dew point is 66F, so the relative humidity was around 70%-ish at 74F. That's better than the 90-95% humidity that we've been battling in the mornings recently. It's still far from comfortable, but it's better.

When I started, I hit the first 0.25 mile mark at 1:35. I knew then that I was in for a long day! That was way too fast. I have to figure out how to run tempo miles. I'm running them too hard right now. I was able to back off and pull that first mile in a reasonable 6:47, though. But it just sped up from there.
  1. 6:47
  2. 6:35
  3. 6:38
  4. 6:38
I have to learn to slow down just a bit during tempo workouts. They're supposed to be comfortably hard, not hardly comfortable. The 4th mile was hardly comfortable. All in all it was a good workout this morning. It was just over 8 miles total. I hope I didn't overdo it.

And I don't feel nearly as bad an hour later as I did right after I finished it. I guess that's why I run. I can wake up feeling rotten and then feel better after running.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Good Start to the Week

I met the gang for the usual Sunday morning 10 miler in Athens. I was able to get up early enough to run to the start this morning, so I got in a little over 13.5 total today. There were 3 other "dads" there and we had a nice Father's Day run.

It was HOT. It was in the mid 70's at the start and just over 80 after the sun came out. Combine that with high humidity, and it was a difficult run. We kept the pace just over 8:00 and I was SOAKED at the end of the run. It was nice to gut out the run, though. There were lots of other folks out walking and running, but almost no traffic on the streets.

Despite the heat and humidity, it was a GREAT run with some great company.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I had hoped to do a long run today, but life got in the way.

My wife and I like to pretend we're young sometimes and invite 18-20-somethings over to our house for games, food, etc. We did that last night and the last guest left at 3:00 AM. It was fun, but I'm not that young anymore! Did I mention that it was fun? We laughed and played games and met new people. And for that Friday evening, I knew those young folks were not getting in trouble. (Not that those ones would anyway, but it was for sure last night.)

I knew a group was running the Rails to Trails from Piney to TN at 6:00 AM this morning. To be fair, I set my alarm. When it went off, I knew that there was no way I could even get out of bed, let alone run 21 miles. So, I turned it off and slept until 10:30. Then I got up planning to do a long run in the heat of the day. That was also a bad idea. I went over to the Rails to Trails trailhead because I knew it would be about the only shady place I could run. I took off hoping to go long.

About 2.5 miles out from my car, I saw a large (guessing 60 lbs.) dog. He was asleep on the trail but woke up when I was about 200 yards or so from him. He woke up and stared me down. I was already miserable, hot and alone in a rural area, so I used discretion and turned around. He growled and barked, but didn't try to close the 200 yard gap to come get me. So, 5 miles is what I did today. That puts me at 36 or so for the week.

I've had several low mileage (40 or fewer miles) weeks in a row now. I'm doing what I said I wouldn't do this summer. That is slacking and getting out of shape. Ugh. I must find a way to get the weekly mileage up over 50 again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Track Work

I don't know whether to curse or bless my neighbor. I didn't have a partner for today's track session, and I had almost talked myself into taking the day off. Well, at about 5:30 AM, the roofers started working on my neighbor's roof. There was no more sleeping! So, I just got up and went. I may have slept in if not for the noise next door. Leigh, on the other hand, she's not undecided at all. She didn't appreciate the banging none too much.

Lanier needs to do the workout early, like beginning at 5:00 AM. I just was not able to start that early any day this week. Next week, I will be. Matt is needing some time off for some soreness. So, it was just me. Track workouts are much more difficult alone. There's nobody to complain to during the rest.

I decided to mix it up a bit this morning based on my reading of Road Racing for Serious Runners I decided to do some 1200m intervals and jog instead of stop for rest. So I was aiming for 4 repeats of 4:45 per 0.75 mile with a 0.25 mile jog between. I was going to use the newly surfaced 400m track around the football field, but the football team was there practicing at 6:30, so I was back to the walking track. I did get to do a lap on the track before they started, and that new surface is NICE. It's springy!

  1. 4:46
  2. 4:45
  3. 4:59 (ugh)
  4. 4:46 (had to avoid traffic!)
1200's are interesting. That was my first effort at 1200's. I don't know why I haven't before. I guess I'm just a power of 2 guy and 3/4 is not a power of 2. They're long enough to be difficult. They're long enough that I can't console myself by saying, "Only one more" because one of those is beastly. I'll definitely try those again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


One of the deficiencies that I noticed in my training leading up to Cotton Row was the lack of tempo runs. For some reason, tempo runs have been all but absent from my training for a long time. I've been regularly doing 800's and mile repeats, but no tempo work to speak of. Even during marathon training last year, tempo workouts seemed to be the workouts that I skipped.

No more. I'm going to find a way to get a tempo run in every week. That's 20-40 minutes at lactate threshold pace.

Today, since it was the first one in a while, I did 20 minutes or 3 miles. Matt came over and we took the 2 mile route to the Athens High track to warm up and then did 2 laps around the track at tempo pace and the two miles back home (except for a route change because we got stuck behind a stinky garbage truck). Three miles in 20:20.
  1. 6:56
  2. 6:44
  3. 6:38
I need to figure out how not to speed up during tempo runs. They're not supposed to be hard, they're supposed to be comfortably hard. I suppose practice will help.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Easy again

I did an easy 5.8 mile recovery run this morning at 8:40 pace. I just wanted to get moving. The only thing noteworthy was that it was 70F and 95% humidity. That's why I had to run so slow to keep it an easy run!

I worked my first race this past weekend, too. I was calling splits at the 5 mile marker of the Alabama A&M 10k. It was fun to see all the 130+ runners come by. The course comes by the 5 mile marker in the race twice, and I could see some folks hurting on the first time by. I know that feeling now. I've only gone out too hard once, but it's a bad feeling when you realize it! I was also impressed with Josh Whitehead. I don't normally see the front runners of a race. He had what looked to me like an insurmountable lead at the 5 mile split, but he was clearly still pushing. I could tell by his breathing. That's impressive to have the race in the bag and still find it in yourself to go at it hard. It was a great race on a tough course and the weather cooperated for the most part. Thanks to Mike Greene for putting on this race. Results are on the HTC website.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday 10 Miler in Athens

We had a good group to join us for this morning's 10 miler. There was nobody new, but there were 7 total in the group run. It's always good to see folks and to get the week started with a good run. And boy, did we brave some humidity this morning! It was thick and foggy. According to Weather.com when I got home, it was 92% humidity and 70F. I was soaked and it was still foggy.

This run is a fun run for me, so I let others set the pace. If someone wants to push, I'll join them because it's fun to push. If nobody there is pushing the pace, I'll hold back and enjoy the company. I've done this run as fast as 1:11 and as slow as 1:35+. I just use this run as a consistent block on my calendar. I'll typically only miss it for illness or injury, travel, or a race. Maybe I should have a more training specific goal for this run, but for now, my goal for this run is to have fun.

Today, we accomplished a faster mile every mile. That was fun! Carl was setting the pace, and I think he had that in mind all along. I didn't realize it until he brought it to my attention at the end. It was a fun thing to do and it was neat looking at the splits afterward. It also teaches you to hold on, and even speed up when fatigue sets in. We ran it in 1:18:47 for an average pace of just over 7:50. We did have to alter our route just a little this morning because of a train. That takes the steepest climb out of the route, but the overall elevation change is the same.
  1. 9:09
  2. 8:32
  3. 8:17
  4. 8:09
  5. 7:56
  6. 7:48
  7. 7:28
  8. 7:21
  9. 7:15
  10. 6:48

Friday, June 12, 2009


Wednesday really took a lot out of me. The early start, the hard work on the track, and the hard work in the gym just drained me. So, I did nothing Thursday except take the kids roller skating. And for some reason, I was STARVING all day long. I never felt not hungry, even right after eating.

I was up too late Thursday night watching that silly NBA game. Why did I even bother with the overtime? Anyway...

This morning I really had to battle the "I don't want to". I drug myself out of bed and out the door. I decided to run easy. I ended up seeing a friend walking at the track that I haven't talked to in a while, so I joined him for about a mile. It was well worth the time to catch up. That was much better for my soul than running that mile would have been for my body. I ended up doing 6+ miles total at a very easy pace.

I also got in my weight routine today. I plan to stay committed to this resistance workout to see if I can get through this plateau I'm on. I'm feeling tired and a little sore from the weights, so it must be working!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Early Morning Speed

I haven't done speed work in a while, so I decided to ease back into speed work today. I planned to do 6 x 800m at about 5k pace. Matt and Lanier were at the track at 5:00 AM, but Lanier is battling an injury, so he didn't join the workout.

I wanted to quit before I got started! But Matt forced me to gut it out and do the workout. Once I started running, it wasn't so bad until the last quarter of the first half mile. I thought it would never end! It really seemed long. It wasn't, of course, but I just wanted to stop! After that, they were all pretty miserable and I wanted to quit worse. I think I mentioned quitting after every half mile. Matt talked me out of quitting every time. I hope I learned something from this workout. Maybe I developed a little mental toughness not to quit? Maybe I learned not to complain because my friends don't want to hear it? :)

Have I mentioned that it was humid this morning? UGH! 70 F with 92% humidity at 6:00 AM. Yep. 92%. Matt joked that we got our upper body workout cutting through the humidity! It was thick.

1. 3:06
2. 3:05 (long quarter)
3. 3:02
4. 3:02
5. 3:11 (long quarter, but I was lazy, too)
6. 2:59 (strong finish, well rested after the lazy 5th)

Since we started at 5:00 AM, I was home by 6:00 and still had time to go to the gym before work. I switched this week to a 3 day per week full body workout. 3 sets of 20 squats were difficult, to say the least. And the calf raises were torture, too. During the standing dumbell curls, my legs were shaking just holding my body weight! I could have done more curls if I could have stood longer! The legs are trashed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Back To a Routine

This is a dangerous time of the year for me. I do not have a race circled. I'm sure I'll run several more races this year, but the next big target is the Rocket City Marathon. I don't have a schedule for every day right now. Without a schedule it's easy to skip workouts. Part of me wants to put something on the calendar so I don't skip workouts. Another part of me wants to force myself through this to be sure that this is a lifestyle change rather than just a new hobby that will pass. August (when marathon training begins) will be here soon enough. In the mean time, I want to average more than 50 miles per week with 2 or 3 quality runs each week. Simple, eh?

Yesterday I started a new resistance training routine. I've hit a serious plateau with my current routine, so I need something different. I'm now doing a full body workout 3 days per week instead of a split workout twice per week. I'm a little sore after yesterday's workout, so I'm taking that as a good sign. I need to chisel some fat off so I'm doing higher reps. Most exercises are 2 or 3 sets of 20 reps.

This morning I did a 10 miler through Athens. I just ran where I felt like running and however fast I felt like running, 10.1 miles total in just over 1:19. It was a very evenly paced run with most miles near 7:50 with a couple of 7:30's and an 8:25. I saw LOTS of people out walking or running this morning. That was nice! Athens is a town of wavers and greeters, that's for sure.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday 10 Miler in Athens

I'm back on track for the regular Athens 10 miler now. Every Sunday at 5:45 AM at the Athens Rec. Center. You're welcome to join.

Today, it was Matt, Carl, and me. We've all lost some conditioning recently, so we agreed to go a little easier on this run. Also, I added lower body workouts to my weight routine this week. It was the first time I had lifted weights with my legs in several months. I didn't do much, just some leg presses, squats, and hamstring curls. Since it was the first time in months, my legs were SORE. Combine that with yesterday's races, and I didn't have much in the tank.

Anyway... We all agreed that sub 75 minutes was not something we should do today. It was a great run with great company and a strong finish. I look forward to this 10 miler every week. 1:20:10 total with splits below.
  1. 9:36
  2. 8:29
  3. 8:13
  4. 8:08
  5. 7:48
  6. 7:48
  7. 7:40
  8. 7:27
  9. 7:25
  10. 7:27

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Eurocross 5k and 8k

The Eurocross is a GREAT race! Forget about your time in this one and have fun! This is a very family friendly and spectator friendly (but not necessarily runner friendly!) race. Today, the water was DEEP in the creek crossing. It was well above waist high on me and above chest high on some of the kids running it. Nice!

The Numbers
I ran 23:11 for 17th of 180 overall in the 5k. In the 8k, I ran a 36:54 for 10th of 75 overall and 3rd in the 30-39 age group. The overall results for the 5k, the age group results for the 5k, the overall results for the 8k, and the age group results for the 8k are available at the HTC website.

Congratulations to my friend Madelyn Patton for picking up two Female Masters wins today. She is having a great year and is becoming the perennial female masters winner in the area.

The race director said at the start of the 5k that the turnout today doubled the record turnout for this race!!! WOW!! There was a good turnout, and for good reason. The weather was neither too hot nor humid this morning (though the heat is here this afternoon).

The People
There were a few Athens runners there. I had time to visit with Matt and his son Jacob, Lanier, Scott, and Mark Y. before the start of the race. I also got an opportunity to meet some runners whose names I've seen in results of other races. Shane Oneill keeps getting faster! My times this year are close to his last year. I hope I can improve half as much over the next year as he has over the past year! It was good to meet him. Also, it was good to meet James Falcon. We had a little good natured competition in both races. He whipped me in the 5k and I edged him out in the 8k. It was great fun!

My girls weren't feeling well Thursday and Friday, so we decided not to let them run, much to their disappointment because they felt better today. We're all still a little tired from Disney. They would have loved this race!

The 5k
The 5k is a 1k loop that is run 5 times. My Garmin measured this well short at about 2.94 miles instead of 3.1. There are two creek crossings, several hay bales to jump, and a short single track section through the woods on each loop. I didn't really start this race agressively and didn't really push as hard as I should on a 5k. I was just having fun. I'm sure I can shave some time off of this 5k time next year. I hit the loops in 4:32, 9:16, 14:00, 18:41, and 23:11 (if memory serves). The 3rd and 4th loops were drudgery!

It took until the 3rd loop to figure out where to cross the creeks. I really struggled with the creek crossings on the first two laps. And knowing was only half the battle! I still had to execute! Knowing that there was a natural step up and actually hitting it in stride were different! The biggest surprise to me was how much the creek crossings took out of me. Even though you have to walk through them, it drains you! Walking is no break! Then, you have to climb out of them.

There were so many runners, that I really don't know who I passed and who passed me. I didn't start with the leaders because I knew I wouldn't stay there. I lapped several runners, and I got passed a few times. I didn't know anyone who passed me. I came up on Lanier during the 3rd lap, I believe. I lapped Jacob and Matt on one of the creeks, but I don't remember which lap.

This was Jacob's first race ever, and he did a great job! He placed 3rd in his 0-9 age group! Congratulations Jacob!!

GREAT FUN!! I'll go at this harder next year unless I'm running with my kids.

The 8k
The 8k is a 2k loop that is run 4 times. It has 3 creek crossings per loop and shares much of the 1k loop with the 5k course. There is a steep descent to a drainage ditch and a couple more hills on the 8k course.

I decided to run a bit faster in this race. I started at about the pace I wanted to run and pretty much held this pace through the race. I hit the loops in 9:12, 18:20, 27:50, and 36:55, if memory serves. All of those laps felt about the same, but I did finish with a sprint to break 37:00.

I started with Matt and we stayed together through the crowded start. The steep descent to the ditch with the crowd was tricky. There was a rope to use, and I did on the first and second loops, but decided that it just slowed me down. Just before the first creek crossing (the only new creek crossing) I was developing a small lead on Matt. I knew that if I wanted to finish ahead of him that I would have to get a lead early because I have no chance to out-sprint him. After the second creek crossing, I saw Scott up ahead. I was able to reel him in up the hill to the railroad track and separate a bit down the hill to the creek.

From that point on, I saw James ahead of me, and I wanted to keep him close so that I could make a move at some point. He kept a steady pace, and I was only able to slightly close the gap on each loop. Nobody else passed me, and I only passed runners that I was lapping from this point on. On the second loop, I had to stop and tie my shoe just before the first creek crossing. I considered leaving it untied, but decided that it wasn't worth the risk of falling of losing my shoe. James opened up a little more of a lead (obviously) here, but I was determined to catch back up.

On the third loop, I had all but eliminated the gap between James and me. Going down the hill to the last creek crossing on this loop, I was even with him and tried to make my move going into the creek. That was a really dumb mistake. I fell in the creek, showed James the step up (by missing it) and took too much effort getting through and out of the water. I had to walk a few muddy steps to recover and James regained his lead.

On the fourth loop, I was able to get by James on a flat section just before the first creek crossing. I was concerned that I was too early becuase there was almost a mile left to go. I thought that he might be able to make a move later in the race, but I was able to hold on. I really kicked it in through the woods and sprinted from there around the sharp turns to the finish.

James later joked that if he had known that age group placement were at stake, he would have held my head under the water when I tried to pass and fell in the creek on the 3rd loop. :) It was good to meet him and he was a great sport before, during, and after the races.

GREAT, FUN RACE!!! This is a must repeat!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm Back

Wow! I don't know how much fitness one can possibly lose in just over a week, but I'm sure that I tested that limit! My diet was gross and I only ran once, a 5.5 miler in HEAVY traffic. It ended up being speed work from intersection to intersection. Miserable.

The only redeeming quality (from a fitness point of view) of the week is that we walked and walked and walked. There is really no way to estimate how much we walked, but it was miles and miles. I considered wearing my Garmin just to track it, but decided to just let go and have fun!

And we had fun. MUCH FUN! If at all possible, take your kids to Disney World when they're about 7 or 8. They were tall enough to ride everything in the parks. They were adventurous enough to ride the most intense rides like Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. They were childlike enough to enjoy the kiddie rides like Snow White and the carousel. They were credulous enough to be excited by every character they saw and to want autographs and pictures. They were old enough not to complain about the heat and the walking. This was far and away the most fun I've ever had on any family vacation. The funnest part was watching their faces light up with every character, show, and ride.

We went nonstop from 7:00 AM until midnight or 1:00 AM every day except Sunday. Sunday we took off to worship. There was simply no time to run or do anything else except Disney.

Today was an 8 miler with Matt at about an 8:00 average pace. Most of the miles were in the 7:50 range except for the first and the seventh. Traffic and warm up are our excuse for those two miles. It was good to just run again. I really look forward to getting back into a routine. I'm resisting the urge to just go at it to make up for lost workouts. I figure that I should ease back in to avoid injury.

I'm still looking forward to running the Eurocross 5k and 8k on Saturday. My performance will be awful, but I don't really care. I have an excuse! :)