Saturday, May 20, 2017

Spinal Tap

Leading up to Ice Age I was happy with the training.  Certainly the mileage was lackluster, but the long runs I was performing on the course were actually decent.  The week prior I ran a small 5k event as a tune up and actually won overall.  I didn't even break 20 minutes and I was all alone.  The highlight of the day was having a couple small kids say, "You're really fast."  Which I replied with a dumb smile on my face, "Thanks, you're really fast too."

As I am penning this from my phone I won't go into much detail.  It was a beautiful day, reaching the mid 70's and most knew it could be a problem.  Including me.  Came through the blue loop at around 81 for 9 minute pace.  It's what I expected.  Never felt great, just kept running as planned.  Dewey was getting me through the stations quickly and at the 21.7 turn I was in 31st.  It is a grind back to highway 12, so I tampered it down a bit and was starting to pass a few people.  At 12 (26.2) I should have backed her down, but was anxious to move up.  I took the governor off and at confusion corner was up to about 19th (32+).  Now I know many people out here and it's always great to hear how good you look.  I was tired, but was looking for the magical hot spot to occur.  In my mind I'm still thinking top 10 because the race is now beginning.

In the movie ET towards the end, Elliott proclaims to one of the older kids who states ET should just beam up or something, "This is reality Greg." kind of was and by 35 miles Dr. Smith pulled Robot's power pack and it was over.  Just like that.  I knew I would finish, it was a matter of just doing it.  At Emma Carlinhos (40.3) I turned for home and blazed 16-17 minute miles.  I finished in 9:13 for 39th overall.  The biggest surprise was how few people passed me the last 15 miles.  It shows you how the warmest day of the year does indeed affect everyone.


Thanks to Dewey again for the outstanding crew job.  Heck, he picks me up and delivers me home.

Thanks to Andrea, Christine, and Dewey for getting me to the medical tent.  It was very kind of all of you to attend to me and I am grateful.

Thanks to Joel and Christine.  It was good to be able to run big chunks of the run together.  Thanks for all the kind words.

Thanks to Jeff (race director) and Angela (volunteer captain) for everything.  Assigning me race number #1 was a huge honor and I got a ton of mileage out of the fact throughout the day.

Thanks to Andy Arena (30 time finisher) who when he saw me said, "Dehart, it's a buckle.  When you get to 30 they give you a nice cutting board."

Thanks to everyone else I missed who helped.  It was a great day.

Congrats to my Minooka friends who stormed in for buckles.  Andy looked great coming in for his 26th finish.  And hats of to Dean who returned from Mt. Everest base camp the week before to finish in 11:55!  Hootie Hooooooot!!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

4 with everything

Running has been a lot of things for me over the years.  At first it was a way to compete and be a part of a team in HS.  It took me a year and a half to realize pure ability and will only take you so far.  I read a book by Joe Henderson titled Run Gently, Run Long.  I did not quite grasp all the concepts then, but one theme which resonated was running just for the freedom of movement.  It didn't need to be hard.  What's the purpose of always banging away.  Much of my running has been like this, but then again I had to learn the lesson myself.  I like both aspects.  I like at times to bang away because this really is the only way for me to run faster.  However, I need the running with no particular place to go attitude as well.  My sweet spot has been 50 miles a week.  One can stay in reasonable shape and when the urge to compete comes you simply carve out 12 weeks and make it happen.

Saturday was my last Ice Age tune up run on the course.  I just basically ran the 16.6 miles progressively faster after a few easy miles at first.  I was looking for that zone and for about the last 12 miles I found it.  When you put the accelerator down and the body keeps responding is awesome.  This does not happen much in general any more and to achieve the feeling two weeks in a row is a good sign for me.  I have a few minor dings and sore areas, but hopefully I can rest and sharpen the edge just a bit more over the next 12 days.  I believe I am ready.

4/24 = AM, 5.0 (10:19) road
4/25 = PM, 7.0 w/ 5k in 20:22 (6:33) paved
4/26 = PM, 6.5 w/ 5 x 880y w/ 440y jog, road
4/27 = PM, 6.1 (9:35) paved w/ Dewey and Tim
4/28 = OFF
4/29 = AM, 16.5 (8:53) w/ last 12.3 (8:33) trails.  First 4.2 w/ Dewey & Christine
4/30 = AM, 6.0 (10:21) road
Total = 47.1

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Lost in Space

The last long training run is in the bank for Ice Age.  All which is primarily left to do is rest, sharpen up a bit, and lay off the spam.  Spending time out on the same trails the Ice Age 50 mile takes place at reminds me of past lessons learned.  I thought I'd pine a bit.

1.  Whatever one has on race day is what you have to work with.  Sure we have basic goals, but you have to play the variables given that day.  I'm not discounting ones ability to make it happen, but 50 miles is a long way and best to be cautious early.

2.  Every year I run into someone along the way (usually between 10-20 miles) and they ask me what I'm trying to finish in.  Sometimes my time is a couple hours faster than their goal and they look at me puzzled.  Sometimes they even take off from me.  I have never seen this turn out well.  Go out conservative.  Take care of yourself.  Let your mind drift into a state of auto pilot.  Plenty of time to leg it out later.

3.  If time or place is a major goal then figure out from the course aid stations how you need to manage this thing.  Prepare to bring a few items (how hard is it to carry S-caps or TP) and don't act stupefied when they don't have a personal handler at each aid station for you.  I usually always have crew and I am told I am easy to crew for.  Hand me a new bottle through and have a snack for me.  If it is anything special I'll ask for it when I get to the next place I can get assistance.

4.  If you plan on running near me then please understand I'm inconsistent and run the course the way I do.  Sometimes I'm sailing and other times I'm conserving.  I'm not focusing on what you are doing.  My main goal is to get through 35 miles and then look for a hot spot.  It's not personal.  I'm just out there some years to get the damn thing finished and beat a few people.

5.  Yes I walk some hills, but primarily at the beginning.  I like to keep my heart rate down early and already know I'm probably running a hair fast.  In the middle portions I walk maybe 5-10% of the hill when it is the steepest or the steps are hard to get over easily.  The last 20 miles if I can I run up almost all hills.  To me this seems to work so I have kept with this.

I have to go work on the lawn now.

4/17 = PM, 6.0 (9:28) paved
4/18 = PM, 7.0 w/ 5k (6:43 pace) paved
4/19 = PM, 7.0 w/ 4.0 @ 6:53 pace on T-mill
4/20 = PM, 6.0 (9:51) road
4/21 = AM, 4.5 (10:06) road
4/22 = AM, 34.5 (10:16) w/ last 15.3 @ 9:06 on course, trails
4/23 = AM, 8.0 (10:33) trails
Total = 73.0

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Flint or tinder?

There was a time you could just show up out at the trails this time of the year and find people to run with.  After a few social miles people would start to light out in their own packs.  Somewhere on the way back there was a bit of saber rattling and you finished with a solid workout of a few hours.  People you knew littered the trails and you might stop for a brief second to say hello or tell them to pack a lunch on race day (in a perfectly legal and binding sense).  This is Ice Age season.  Most everyone at some point comes out to give it a go, volunteer, crew, or party.  Now don't get me wrong the Ice Age 50 is one of the most successful, well run, popular races you will ever attend.  It is my favorite event of all-time.  The reality is people don't run or last forever.  How much longer do I have to race this thing?

If I was to summarize my training this year I would say adequate.  I'd have liked to have averaged about 15 more miles a week, but I could not weave the magic.  Honestly it was the live to fight another day training.  Calculator says I have averaged 52.66 miles a week since January 1st.  Basically what I always run.  However, I have done some longer efforts (about 5 miles less per run than the past) and have kept up with some tempo efforts.  What I can't pin down is when I will feel good.  Is it age, meds or other stuff...probably, but I just have to roll with that.  One thing for sure is a good taper is usually good for me.  As long as I get over 5 hours in on next weekends run, watch the weight, and zip around a bit I might be fine.

One thing I have learned is you can't will a time to happen.  You have to take it as it comes and if you have any wheels the last 10-15 miles than let her go.  This is not a course you can unwind on as there are few flat stretches.  You have to find a rhythm over the never ending shifting topography. 

4/3 = OFF
4/4 = AM, 5.0 (9:27) roads
4/5 = PM, 6.0 w/ 3.5 @ 6:40 on T-mill
4/6 = AM, 5.0 (9:03) T-mill
4/7 = AM, 6.0 (9:55) roads
4/8 = AM, 25.4 (10:12) Ice Age trail w/ Christine and Steve
4/9 = OFF
Total = 47.4

4/10 = PM, 7.5 (10:28) roads
4/11 = PM, 8.5 (9:04) w/ 2.0 (6:51, 6:34) w/ Tim
4/12 = PM, 9.0 (10:32) Lapham trails w/ Steve and Jim
4/13 = OFF
4/14 = AM, 6.0 (10:34) QEK trail
4/15 = AM, 15.0 (9:33) Ice Age trail w/ Christine and Steve
4/16 = AM, 12.1 (10:34) QEK trail
Total = 58.1

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Student body right

In 1977 we board the bus and head down to Ellwood City to take on the CC team.  We have never ran on this course so we pay extra attention on where we need to turn, etc.  It seemed common in our area that front runners from the other team get mixed up.  I get it.  These are rural meets and not a whole lot of extra bodies around to point the proper way.  If you felt you were going to be in the mix it was best to get a handle on the last half mile.  Follow the leader from the home team and turn on the burners at the end.

We were about to have a special treat this day.  There had been so much rain that when you ran down by the creek you had to run across the boards laid out.  They went for a long ways in places and to try and not run on them was futile.  We had our little band of about a dozen runners and Ellwood appeared to have anyone in the school who wanted to run that day in uniform.  I thought nothing of this.  This course was 2.7 miles.  You started and ran down to the bottom where the creek ran.  Eventually you ran on dry terra firma for a ways, then come up out of the bottom to a paved road area.  You ran on this for about a mile and finished up on the cinder track.  I thought this was pretty cool.

Now the year before on our course we beat Ellwood and I grabbed my first victory ever.  We ended that year 2-5.  When that little starter pistol cracked I had no idea that every single kid on that team must have been directed to drop a 45 quarter and get to the boards.  They were log jammin'.  It was frustrating watching the top guys pull away as all these midgets slowed to a crawl.  I ran the boards for about 100 yards before I went through the cold, muddy water.  Somehow being duped teed me off and I set sail for the front.  I caught the lead guy coming up out of the bottom, but was too waxed to do anything else when we got to the road.  At this point in my running life I had zero experience on what I felt I should do.  Get this...I was on my own.  Pretty common in the day.  My buddy always called it YOYO.  Your on your own.

It came down to not losing contact.  If the kid on his home course would have made any kind of move then he probably had me.  I had no idea how far it was to the finish and he did.  I eventually caught him with less than a half to go and wound it up.  By the time I hit the track I was clear.  I sprinted for the tongue depressor they had held out with the #1 written on it.  I have this somewhere in a box to this day.  I'd probably pick this over any other trinket ever handed to me.  Unfortunately we had it handed to us that day and they got the W.  We finished the year 0-11.

3/20 AM = 7.0 (9:27) roads
3/21 AM = 6.5 w/ 2.0 @ 6:27 T-mill Cleveland
3/22 AM = 14.0 (8:42) T-mill Cleveland (25mph winds outside)
3/23 AM = 5.0 (9:45) T-mill Cleveland
3/24 = OFF
3/25 AM = 10.5 (8:11) roads at Mom's in PA
3/26 AM = 11.1 (9:13) roads at Mom's in PA
Week = 54.1

3/27 = OFF (Drive PA to WI)
3/28 AM = 7.6 (8:54) w/ 1.0 in 6:16. Tim and Dewey on Bugline
3/29 PM = 10.0 (10:06) Lapham trails w/ Todd, Rick, and Jim
3/30 = OFF
3/31 AM = 3.4 (9:49) roads
4/1 AM = 14.0 w/ Southshore half marathon in 1:30:02 (6:52)
4/2 AM = 17.0 (10:33) Ice Age trail w/ Christine
Week = 52.0

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Good thing we didn't step in it

I'm fortunate as many long time runners to have friends who have excelled in the sport.  It is great to receive unsolicited and solicited tips on what has worked for them.  In the sport of trail 50 milers it is easy to forget the lessons one has already learned.  Forgetting lessons is common in life and especially running/racing.  At the end of 2014 I needed to post a marathon qualifier for the 2016 Boston run to join my friends.  I was 53 at the time and with no specific training just figured I'd run a 3:10 and get seeded fairly well.  Then I'd have plenty of time to get into the come big or stay at home training and control the world with my weather machine (Underdog reference) attitude.

Temerity was at an all time high that day and I took my beating in a 3:15:58 finish.  What had I unlearned?

1.  I did no specific training.  I did not have a reference point of good versus evil.
2.  I raced in an old pair of Adidas Culpepper's racing flats.  I did zero runs in them before the event.
3.  I neglected to address my right hammy prior to the race in any capacity.  I just let it ride thinking S-Caps (electrolytes) would just Elizabeth Montgomery it away.
4.  I convinced myself that at 179 pounds I was twisted steel and I could easily carry this weight.  I refused to give up the hot fudge and mashed potato diet and I paid for it.
5.  Finally, with all this shameless audacity at what point did I not figure out my calve muscles would not seize up late, reducing me to Barney Rubbleness?

In 2015 I fixed these issues (relearned marathoning) and posted a 3:06:15 to improve my qualifying time.  However, after scanning the 50-54 age group results at Boston it became apparent that is like the age group Olympics and literally a couple hundred 50+ year olds get under 3 hours, so I ran with my friends that day.  That was awesome because there were 5 of us who finished together, but at the same time deep down you know you're finished.  Yes...even stumble bums like me recognize the marathon dream has finally ended.  Sure, the pilot light comes on once in awhile, but the will to train is no longer present.

3/13 = OFF
3/14 = OFF
3/15 AM = 7.7 w/ 5 @ 6:58 on the T-M.
3/16 AM = 4.0 w/ 2 @ 6:27 on the T-M.
3/16 PM = 6.0 (9:38) w/ Tim at Men. Park (road).
3/17 AM = 6.3 (9:39) (road).
3/18 AM = 15.0 (8:21) (paved trail) w/ Christine first 11.  Last 6 (8:11, 8:09, 7:46, 7:36, 7:22, 7:10).
3/19 AM = 19.0 (10:43) (crappy trail) w/ Dean, Clem, Andy, Sharon various distances @ Minooka.
Week = 58.0

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Silver wings

I was reading Kevin Beck's blog as he discussed training plans/concepts/opportunities.  My take away was the best training environment for an individual may be right where you are now.  Having your dream circumstance might not always work.  I've had no coach, I've had a coach, and I've relied on my own abilities to self coach.  Now having no coach is not the same as being self coached.  In my opinion many runners need to go figure out what running is about by actually experimenting on themselves.  It's hard to be your own coach when you have no idea even what type of shoe works for you.  How about the famous, "I have a marathon next week, what pace should I run?"  Those people aren't coaching themselves.  That's okay...I went through all that myself.

Back to Kevin's blog.  I believe he is on to something.  I had all the reasons to train hard in college, but I did not.  I trained much more in HS.  A teammate from college called me this week and wondered the same thing out loud.  "My best year in CC is when I started training in the third week of July."  What were we thinking?  Well I know what we were thinking and doing, but that was like 35 years ago.  Other dumb (code for fun) things seemed "funner" then.

That's kind of where my training has gone this year. 
- I want to do well this year at Ice Age.
- I have huge responsibility at work and I enjoy it most of the time.
- I am not as resilient as in the past in regards to WI winter training.
- I make the best of each day...what seems right?
- Whatever I have on race day is what I will try and maximize.  This is not Villanova '85. 

So the week starts out okay, but after a long day to and back from Chicago on Tuesday I only squeeze in 5 miles.  No big deal the past 3 days had been 24, 10, and 8.  Wednesday comes and I awake to a sore throat and the feeling of an on coming head cold.  My enthusiasm is that of one waiting to get their wisdom teeth out.  I am subconsciously trying to barter with myself.  The winds are a steady 24 mph according to my phone.  I don't own a treadmill...those are for other people.  I force myself to go down to the basement and repeat the same actions I've done since I was a kid.  Suit up.  I say things I can't repeat here, but I get out the door.  Now I'm in the action and for those not familiar with the act/art of running, it is much more similar to operating a vehicle then one might think.  I am piloting the ship from upstairs.  One continues to monitor all the equipment as well as the outside variables.  I already know it takes 20-30 minutes before I even give myself the workout.  I end up with a 5 mile harder effort inside a 9 miler.  Good thing.  I was wiped out Thursday and Friday and whatever energy I had was committed to full work days.  That's what we do.

3/6  PM = 8.0 (9:24) roads
3/7 AM = 5.0 (9:41) roads
3/8 AM = 9.0 (8:11) roads w/ 5.0 tempo (7:31,44,18,21,25) strong winds
3/9 OFF Sick
3/10 OFF Sick
3/11 AM = 20.0 (9:25) trails w/ Christine. Last 7.0 @ 8:30 pace
3/12 AM = 18.0 (10:25) trails w/ Dean & some w/ Sharon
Week = 60.0