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 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Total consciousness

I sometimes have doubts the training is progressing in any real manner.  As countless people with ten years on either side of me have noted, the fast stuff today was my normal workout pace then.  Fortunately I'm only trying to weave the magic for one day.  One day.  Which means setting up performance indicators along the way.  There is also something calming in knowing that besides myself no other person on the planet gives a rat's a$$.  That phone thing we all seem to have will ding on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday asking me if I'm coming on a run regardless if I set an AR, or crash and burn into a rice paddy.

The past two weeks included an Arizona vacation and the ensuing week of work catch up.  I actually re-learned something about longer runs.  Many associated with running a 50 mile event know all too well about the need to get in the longer runs.  I mean stuff is happening to your benefit one doesn't even know about.  The thing about yesterday's 24 mile run was that the best running came in the last 8 miles and I had to resist Major Tomming it another extra 4 miles.  I was getting down to 8:00 flat pace near the end without any extra effort.  Everything after a few hours came into unison and I was piloting the ship in that small place in your brain where you achieve clarity.  The best way I can explain it is like being fully rested and you drink 3 cups of coffee.  I'm not comparing it to a "buzz", but more like if I had ten of me I would control the free world. 

In the day I would have blasted away, but I was all too aware of the potential reserves I could erode for one magnificent joy ride.  The lesson was learned.  Live to fight another day and more so, there is the potential this same scenario could play out on race day.  On a similar note I remember reading years ago about Frank Shorter.  He recalled races in which he could tell after a mere 100 yards after the start that he was going to have an exceptional day.  It made sense to him to try and capture a means to duplicate this 100 yard feel.  It never happened.  The day gives you what it gives you.  Sometimes you drink the wine and sometimes your stomping the grapes.

2/20 PM = 8.0 (7:17) w/ 7 @ 7:07 pace/roads
2/21 AM = 8.0 (9:27)
2/22 AM = 8.0 (9:03)
2/23 = OFF
2/24 AM = 8.0 w/ 2 mile in 13:21 (6:53,6:28)
2/25 AM = 12.0 (8:14)
2/26 AM = 8.0 (9:36)
Week = 52.0

2/27 AM = 10.5 (9:12)
2/28 AM = 7.5 w/ 3 @ 6:40 pace on treadmill
3/1 PM = 8.0 (9:47)
3/2 PM = 8.0 (8:49) w/ 1 mile in 6:21
3/3 = OFF
3/4 AM = 24.0 (8:56), 21.0 w/ Christine
3/5 AM = 10.0 (10:35), Minooka trails w/ Clem and Dean
Week = 68.0

Saturday, March 4, 2017

That rabbit's dynamite

The other team was my first time around runners.  After the race I slipped on my Brooks Villanova's which had the yellow markings, not like the standard red markings on blue.  These were supplied by the school and replaced a pair of Rally Racers I had picked up at J.C. Penny's.  I noticed Heasley had what appeared like a pair of moon shoes on.  A pair of Nike's with the back heel flaired our wider than the shoe.  This had to be explored and soon I had a year's subscription to Runner's World which really introduced to the sport on a much wider scale...and you saw all the cool shoes.

Any who.  So we are on the bus back to our school when coach starts passing back the results.  Fred is holding court and telling stories to all us young pups.  I mean he is the guy.  A senior who has good wheels in the 880 and has actually dated girls.  He was hilarious and since I had somehow finished ahead of Fred I get to sit all the way in the back of the bus.  The results reach me, the last guy to see them and I see the score...Laurel 27 / Union 28.  Now I don't know a lot about many things, but I must have been the only guy associated with the team who read the introduction to CC pamphlet.  I yell up to Coach, "Hey Coach, why didn't you tell us we won?"  He replied, "What are you talking about?"  I said, "Low score wins in CC."  In which he replied, "Oh, I thought it was like football.  No wonder the other Coach kept shaking my hand."  We had won our first meet ever.  At the time if I knew we would go on to go 5 - 27 in 3 years we might have savored it a bit.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I'm shaking it over here

As a little kid I always had good wheels.  It just did not seem hard to out run most people.  However, at 12-13 as elementary schools come together you quickly learn there are faster folk.  As the gun cracked from Socs Russo we smoked out.  Like a kid "going long" to get behind the secondary I soon found everyone had the same plan.  Whatever juice propels you in your first race quickly had me at the half mile mark.  A quick inventory told me that only a handful of us were at the front, but soon enough Genova a senior and Heasley a junior seemed warmed up and just kinda twinkle toed ahead.  I tried...I really did try to go, but there was nothing to pull from.  My reserves were severely eroded and at the half way mark I was in a special pain zone I was unfamiliar with.  

The thing is I just assumed everyone was in this much pain and I was mostly right.  This must be how racing longer distance feels.  It was the only experience I had to this point and no one else told me any different so I marshaled on.  Past 2 miles the leaders had a huge gap, but being in 3rd overall wasn't wasted on me.  There was no way I was letting anyone pass me and just to make sure I probably glanced behind me a dozen times.  The last quarter mile of the course you turn and run up up a nice little rise.  I was thankfully safe at this point and crosses the finish in 17:50 for 3 miles.  It was a really good feeling doing okay and a few people congratulated me.  Fred was just behind me and our first race was in the books.  Let's cheer the others in and be on the bus home.  I wondered how bad we were beaten.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

How hard could it be?

But I was no Kenyan.  Our team was a collection of all sorts of individuals wanting to try something new.  Shop jocks, battered football players, and guys typically at the wrong end of the pecking order made up the roster.  Our coach was a young guy who's job was to watch over students serving suspensions.  Essentially no one had a clue, so we jogged a few miles and did wind sprints.  After two weeks of this, I could see Fred (a senior who ran the 880 in track and last name was McMurray) and I were probably the better runners because of our speed.  We would run our first dual meet against Union HS on their course.  All day at school I had butterflies thinking about the upcoming race.  I'm sure the newness of it all played a part, but I was more jacked up over the pain one had to face.  If the two weeks taught me anything it was to be up front meant to suffer.  I did not want to fail.

Flying your HS colors is an awesome honor.  The year is '76 and soon I will turn 15 years old.  I'd grown up watching all the older neighborhood kids play varsity.  Now it was my turn and as we walked over the course at Union it occurred to me that 3 miles was a long way to sprint.  That's the only strategy we basically knew.  Go out with the leaders and stay up front as long as you can.  It was that simple.  I tied my white Puma sprinters spikes to my feet and got ready to strap it down.  No advice, no pep talk, no strategy discussion on what was about to take place.  In modern terms, "Grip it and rip it."

Put some bacon on a biscuit

Growing up in the 70s has left many of memories colored as the old pages of Sports Illustrated.  Random athletes (Dennis Menke, Dave Osborne, Essex Johnson, or Bernie Parent come to mind) who's uniform colors or action photos are still in my head.  That they were all successful athletes was reason for us to emulate them for whatever reason.  An odd batting stance, a great Topps card, or an odd name easily might get you mentioned in one of our ball games.  Sometimes people ask how do you know these random sports facts about skiers, horses, or even boxing?  The answer off course is we had limited channels to surf, so the Wild World of Sports was consumed often.  That and reading the Sporting News at the school library.

Like most kids I wanted to excel in a sport like baseball or football, but it just didn't happen.  We started a XC team my sophomore year and I was on board immediately.  I had plenty of colorful images of Bayi, Jipcho, Ryun, and especially a cat named Keino in my head.  Sure, I knew many other track athletes because in the day you also read the Guinness Book of World Records.  I loved those old school Kenyan uniforms and the way they went after it.

I gotta go run now...