Sunday, December 10, 2017

Going up the country

Time to start thinking about the events to participate in for 2018.  Just the number 2018 begins to remind me that I may be retiring in 2023.  Not sure what to think of that as it sounds both reassuring and unsettling at the same time.  Anyways 2018 is about here and the thoughts of a grand return to training/running/racing make the usual appearance into the thought pattern.  Kinda sorta like The Natural with Robert Redford.  I'm going to make this one last big return (for myself) and prove what could have been.  I entertain myself with these what if scenarios when I'm out in the dark running by myself.  Regardless that I'm blasting out 11:40 miles on the trail for an hour or so, it does not deter me a bit.  I can rebuild myself, I have the technology...in my mind.

Now to some degree this has served me well in the past.  Certainly no regrets.  But what about the future?  Can I get back to boot camp mentality?  In past years hiccups lasted a couple days here and there.  The "if you ain't blastin' you ain't lastin' " regiment allows you to keep getting back up and punching away again.  Now-a-days these little hiccups last weeks or a month.

My old man said a lot of things, but one of his favorites was, "Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end the faster she goes."  That's kind of close to home isn't old buddy?  It sure is and it tells me I need to start getting after it.  Here's what I'm pondering.

End of 2017 50k Fat Ass - maybe.  I'm getting lazy on driving to go run anymore.
2/3/2018 John Dick 50k - probably and hopefully all of it this year.  Maybe I'll get tough again and finish this usually primitive middle of winter trail slug fest.
3/24/18 - A trail marathon right here near the house by Holy Hill.  This might be a well timed pace run event to do to gauge fitness for Ice Age.  It is 7 weeks out from that.
4/29/18 Bear Trax 20k - 2 weeks out from Ice Age and run on Lapham trails.  Why not go fire up the death star?  It will help keep my mind on faster pace work.
5/12/18 Ice Age 50 mile - The grand daddy of them all.  Never taken lightly.  Looking for 17th finish and 10th in a row.
6/3/18 - Kettle Moraine 100m - Only 3 weeks after Ice Age.  It will be a late decision because of something else I may want to do.
11/10/18 - Tunnel Hill 100m - This is the other thing I may want to do.  Sure it is 5 months after Kettle, but I'm thinking of going for a PR here.  I've only completed one 100 and that was in 18:34 in 2003.  Eleven minute miles would yield 18:20.  How hard could that be?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Paperchase

I was tired today and still a bit beat up, but I marshalled out and put in 7 easy.  That gives me 23 over the past 4 days.  It is usually a pain to get out there, but once I get rolling I’m pretty good about enjoying what the day gives.  Was going to do 6, but talked myself into adding a mile.  On days like today I do out and backs because at the turnaround point I feel like I’m practically done.  Anyone else get this way?

After today’s run it appears there is a need to run easy for a couple months.  I think 5 a day during the week and a bit more on the weekend works for next week.  Forty is a good number.  I’m back to work after a good stretch of down time.  A bunch of stuff to accomplish and at the same time I need to drive 5 hours tomorrow.  Here’s to me being the best version of myself tomorrow.  Not sure what that exactly means, but it does involve staying on the main tasks.  I’m the sales guy and I prefer direct contact.  I’m thankful for technology, but man can request pile up.  This is the last thing on this, but I constantly remind people both inside/outside the company that I’m the field guy.  No I did not see your email 30 minutes ago.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

On any Sunday

I remember reading in 1975 that Pre had died.  I was not a runner yet, but I was aware of who he was.  What I recall reading the same day in the paper (I'm probably mixing dates up) was a guy in Michigan was shut down for producing t-shirts which said, Southeast Asian War Games...2nd place.  I never forgot both those events.  Shorter and Pre to an extent were part of who we wanted to be.  Everything was sports related when you were a kid and runners, skiers, and swimmers were not excluded.  We knew who Stan Smith and Rod Laver were.  Shirley Babashoff and Mark Spitz, Spider Sabich and Franz Klammer, Malcolm Smith and Mert Lawwill, etc. 


Watching the Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam for the second time through.  The 2nd place reference sort of finally clicked in.  Vietnam was a big deal to my Mom who graduated high school in 1960 and had me the following year.  Guess who participated as George McGovern in the mock election at school in 1972?  It was me and I was stomped in the results as well.  If you have not watched the 10 episode series I encourage you to do so.  For me the historical perspective from 1858 forward was good to know.  I was also quite taken back how each President at the time came to the decisions they did.


When I ventured into long distance running in 1976, I had no idea at the time I would still be running.  If I could offer any advice to future runners it would be this.


1. Run consistently.  Everyday if you can.
2. Let the main thing be the main thing.  Have a decent pair of shoes and go figure it out.
3. Please realize what you put into it is what you get out of it.
4. Learn to be able to run 10 miles at the drop of a hat.  If you can then you can do about anything.



Friday, November 24, 2017

Call me Al

Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest


A line from The Boxer that appeared in my head as I power jogged down the roads of middle America today.  It is deer season and though I have not hunted in years I miss the complete enjoyment I had as a young man hunting with family.  Driving to meet friends at an annual Thanksgiving park run yesterday, an eight point powered across the road in front of me and simply looked fabulous doing it.  I have no other way to describe it.  To me hunting has many similarities to running, from the act of the goal to the other participants.  Keep it simple applies to both endeavors.


I don't keep up with the current world class runners scene, but I certainly was aware who Shalane was who won the New York City Marathon.  I'm blown away by the dedication to the sport and all the elements that go along with it besides training.  At 36 this is a major win and I learned from the tube that she writes about eating properly.  This is not a new revelation to me, but slowly the concepts of healthy living might have to become practiced on my part.  Four years ago I gave up tobacco.  Three years ago I stopped drinking alcohol.  Two years ago I made a conscious effort to drop 6-7 pounds.  I have gotten back to my hot fudge and mashed potato diet and I'm afraid I need to re-evaluate what gets put inside of me...even if it is the counting calories method.  I just need the freedom to still eat what I want to eat.  The last piece is some type of core activities.  I just hate the way that sounds.  I prefer calisthenics. 


I'm still tired and beat up from JFK.  I ran 4.7 on the trails yesterday and did a slow 5.3 miles today at 11:08 pace.  As much as I need to become a full time experience chaser, I keep pulling myself back in.  Looking at races, developing training wishes, and pondering what if scenarios just won't go away.  Like Ron Daws wrote similarly years ago...I'm shooting at 2018 with 1970's ammunition.  The problem is I do half the work much slower, look like the stay puffed marshmallow man, and still think if I take a few more days off I should race well.  That's the plan anyway.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

55th Annual JFK 50 Mile

I pulled out of the driveway Thursday at 3:26 AM so I could get through Chicago easily.  I pulled in my brother Bryan's driveway early afternoon with 552 miles under the belt.  My Mom was also there to greet me as she was down for her chemo treatments.  We all had a nice visit that day and capped it off by watching the Steelers beat the Titans.  With only about 220 miles to go the next day, my brother and I sauntered over to the packet pick-up and to join the rest of the crew.  Dean and Andrea flew over from Wisconsin and her nephews came in from Connecticut and Baltimore respectively.  I also had my niece (Bryan's daughter) come up from Arlington.  All in all we had four running and three crewing, but better yet it was a nice house full of people to relax and chat with.  After a big dinner of spaghetti and meatballs for me, I hit the sheets around 10 something and was up by 4:00.

The race start stages at Boonsboro high school and after the race talk we walked the 900 meters to the start.  I knew they started at 6:30 sharp so I beat it up there, while the others didn't quite make it to the field.  It's funny how much I did not remember about this course.  You basically run up this gigantic hill for a few miles and run over a gaggle of leaf covered rocks.  Unless you are free from a lot of people and young enough to rely on your dexterity, you basically get through in a fashion as to not bust apart.  Passing people slower than you is almost useless as you immediately are behind others.  You then become okay with this.

At around 9 miles my legs were kind of beat and I questioned even breaking 9 hours.  At 15.5 when I saw my peoples I was just under 3 hours, it was raining, and my legs felt trashed.  I wondered briefly if I would even break 10 hours.  I'm pretty sure as I got on the pancake flat tow path I would $6 million dollar man it and start waxing people.  I had 26 miles (of tow path) to do so and I am a flyer (I told myself), but the opposite occurred.  People smarter than me were flying by...even the guy in the Panda gear.

The next place you can see your peoples is at 27.1 miles.  At about 25 I did something.  I started doing pick-ups of 40-50 yards with intermittent jogging.  Suddenly the fog lifted and I was able to easily begin running in the low 9:00 pace.  This feels great by-the-way as you are only catching people.  You have to keep and eye on it and I basically did.  A couple people tried to go with me, but I just went faster until they disappeared.  Nothing personal, but when you go from having a tough time running 10:15 pace to running a minute a mile faster you go with it.  My legs felt great.

Just past 37 miles you can see peoples again, and I had the feeling I was probably going to out strip my coverage.  That's completely my bad as I told them to figure 10 minutes a mile.  When they finally got there and checked on me they discovered I was even past the 41.2 checkpoint and heading in.  The last 8 miles are on rolling roads.  I love roads and just kept rolling to about 5 miles to go.  I wasn't completely shot, but could tell the minimum miles in training started to expose weaknesses.  I develop a really bad lean/drift to my left.  Pictures of me look comical and the announcer even stated, "Here comes someone with the famous JFK lean."  I crossed in 8:27:27 for 91st overall.  A bit off my 8:10 goal, but did achieve my top 100 goal.  Looking back I was in about 103rd when I hit the last road section.  Not a spectacular run, but I do know that zero people passed me the final 25 miles.

My friends Dean and Andrea had a great run as well.  They finished together in 11:17 and it sounds like they were running 10 flats on the road and just cruising by people.  I also got to see Howard Nippert and we chatted and caught up for about 30 minutes.  It was another great JFK experience.  Will I go back?  Not sure, but I will remember how big those hills are at the beginning.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

Good to be back in Western PA.  We leave today for Shepherdstown, WV which is about a 10 minute drive from Boonsboro, MD.  That is the start of the 55th annual JFK 50 mile.  The plan is to manage the distance the best I can and have fun out there.  I just want to find that zone which allows you to move along at your best pace without having to think about it.  In other words, a really long training run with buffet tables to enjoy along the way.  Our group has 4 people running and three others for comic relief which is usually my role.  Two are family for me.  My brother is driving out with me today and his daughter is driving up from DC after work.  The most challenging part so far involves possessing this common communication device that allows people to reach you in a number of ways by starting with “I know your on vacation, but...”

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I'm handing out wings

So here is the breakdown since Al's.  As meager as this looks I feel fairly optimistic.  My goal for JFK next Saturday is 8:10.  I ran 7:10 here in 2000 and basically thought if I could get within an hour of this, then somehow I've learned a little bit.  One thing is the 50 mile distance doesn't intimidate me.  There was a time it was rather intimidating.  I put less pressure on myself to race which helps keep me loose, but it may under motivate me to train.

9/16 - Al's 8k in 32:39
9/17 - 12.7 at 11:08 trails

9/18 - AM 4.0 at 9:48
9/18 - PM 3.0 at 10:04
9/19 - 5.0 at 9:13
9/20 - 5.5 at 9:14
9/21 - 3.0
9/22 - 6.0 at 9:44 trails
9/23 - 17.8 at 11:43 trails
9/24 - 6.0 at 9:42
Total = 50.3

9/25 - 6.0 at 9:34 pace
9/26 - 6.0 w/ 4 @ 7:11, 7:12, 6:59, 6:51
9/27 - 5.1 at 8:49
9/28 - 3.5 at 9:24
9/29 - OFF
9/30 - 12.4 at 9:55
10/1 - 8.0
Total = 41.0

10/2 - 5.0 at 8:43 t-mill
10/3 - 6.0 at 8:51
10/4 - OFF
10/5 - 4.0 at 7:48, did 4 x 3:00 fairly hard
10/6 - OFF
10/7 - 4.0 at 10:20
10/8 - 31.0 at Glacial 50k (9:50) trail
Total = 50.0

10/9 - OFF
10/10 - 3.0 at 10:43
10/11 - 4.5 at 9:43
10/12 - 7.0 at 9:25
10/13 - OFF
10/14 - 10.6 at 10:08 trails
10/15 - 9.1 at 10:15 trails
Total = 34.2

10/16 - 5.5 w/ 3.0 at 8:08, 8:07, 7:45
10/17 - 5.5 w/ 3.0 at 7:32, 7:24, 7:02
10/18 - 5.5 w/ 4.0 at 7:48, 7:16, 7:01, 7:00
10/19 - 5.5 w/ 5.0 at 7:58, 7:30, 7:27, 7:30, 7:35
10/20 - 9.3 at 9:41 trails
10/21 - 18.0 at 9:28 trails
10/22 - 20.2 at 11:59 trails
Total = 69.5

10/23 - OFF
10/24 - OFF
10/25 - 5.5 at 7:13 pace t-mill
10/26 - 5.5 at 8:06
10/27 - OFF
10/28 - 15.0 at 8:01
10/29 - 19.0 at 9:29 road and trail mix
Total = 45.0

10/30 - OFF
10/31 - OFF
11/1  - OFF
11/2  - 5.5 at 7:30 t-mill
11/3  - 5.5 at 8:04
11/4 - 13.0 w/ 10.0 at 7:44 pace
11/5 - 6.0 at 9:37
Total = 30.0

11/6 - 6.0 at 9:27
11/7 - 4.0 at 9:14
11/8 - 6.6 at 7:52
11/9 - OFF
11/10 - 4.0 at 9:45
11/11 - 9.4 at 8:23

I think at JFK I will probably run the first predominately uphill paved 5 miles faster than I should.  Only because with a 1,000 runners I don't want to get too far back in the conga line.  Once I get to the trail the plan is to dial it back and try and relax.  This is one reason I have been running a bit faster.  The second reason is I'm hoping this meager attempt will allow me to stay around 9:30 pace on the towpath and final road segment.  I'm pretty confident if this was a 40 mile event than I'd be okay.  I'll just have to get out there, and manage my needs, pace, and enthusiasm.  It is far more rewarding to be able to pass people than it is to manage a complete beat down.

Happy Veterans Day to all who have served.  Thank you.