Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life Is Good With Beer & Running

Things could not be better here at Ye Old Doctors Management Beer and Running Club. For the first time, my marathon pace intervals did not feel too fast last night. I actually felt, dare I say it, comfortable.

Running last week's 5 x 2 miles (with steady 1/2 mile recovery in between), I was still feeling like 9:10 pace was too fast. I was really wrestling with the whole pace issue, but I managed to turn off the thinking and just did the work. Then I noticed how fast I recovered from it. Then I really noticed my fast recovery from the 16 miler steady run I did a couple days later.

Last night: 3 x 3 miles at 9:10 pace with the same steady (9:45) 1/2 mile recovery in between. I felt a bit sluggish warming up. That made me nervous. Then I started the workout and had to immediately rein it in from 7:45 pace. What is UP with that? I was thinking. The entire first interval was an exercise in holding back. I settled down on the second one, and was feeling pretty comfortable and happy. After the third, I dared to think that perhaps I am "arriving". My body seems to be adapting to marathon pace. The progression runs and steady state runs are going well. I have a 22-mile progression run Saturday. I think I'll run it in thirds, just like I plan to race. If it goes well, I'd say it's official: I am peaking at the right time for a marathon for the very first time. I am so happy.

Ah, but the beer news you all really came here for.

My boss, David Keller, looked like this when I arrived at work yesterday:

After nearly a 3 weeks wait, he finally received his Best of Show award(s) from the national Masters Championship of Amateur Brewing contest. That's right, folk, my very own boss won Best of Show with his nine-year-old old ale. Look at this pretty trophy:

If you didn't think this was enough to prove how lucky I am to work with such a cool guy, consider this: He's also a runner! He's currently sidelined with back issues, but not that long ago he was running 3:30 marathons. He's run the Shut-In Ridge Run more times than I can count. In fact he met his wife at Shut-In. His son, Aaron, still has the record for the youngest finisher (which my son, Leopold, is keening for).

There's some talent in that family- Aaron Keller is still on the All-Time Top 25 N.C. Track & Field Performances list with his 9:11 3,200 meters.

Yes, we love beer and running here.

Happy Thursday, every one!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

He's Like A Tiger

A few months ago, at the Asheville Arthritis 5K, Leopold won a $50 gift certificate to the local running store. Sweet! With it, he purchased a pair of women's Nike Waffle Jana's (this is a spikeless Cross Country shoe - basically a very minimalist racing flat). It was his money, so I let him get what he wanted, which turned out to be a good thing. He loves them! He says they're the most comfortable running shoe he's ever had.

Since the Jana's are about dead, we went online last night to see what was available in a Women's size 6 spikeless XC shoe for him. We ended up ordering the Asics Attack XC Spikeless.

Check these out:

Even better than what they look like? The price. As a discontinued shoe, we got them for $10.97. That's right - One. zero. dot. nine. seven.

Buying shoes online: $10.97

Looking like a Tiger: Priceless.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Glimpses of Peaking

Weekend Recap
On Saturday, I ran my 16 mile steady state run a little too fast. Again. I felt very, very good running 9:42 pace up until about mile 13. THAT'S when it occurred to me that I was probably running too fast. I began to feel like I was entering the final miles of a marathon.

Seems to me that it's a bit of a learned art to be able to hit just the right pace for a steady run or to be able to run hard for the right amount of time in a progression run. All in all, I was happy with the hard effort and the extra time spent on holding my stride together under heavy fatigue.
By the way I felt afterward, I assumed I was going to die need to take Sunday off. So it was a pleasant surprise to feel virtually recovered the next day. I ran an easy six with Nancy, Ty and Leopold. It was so nice to talk about the upcoming marathon trip, and enjoy an easy, fun, run together. I train almost exclusively by myself, so there are times I really miss the companionship of other people on a run.

Training Update
I'm pretty excited to say I don't believe I've peaked for this race yet. That's progress in itself- a sign I'm getting better at learning how to train! I peaked waaaay to early for my last 2 marathons- about 4 weeks early for Buffalo, and about 6 weeks early for Charlotte. I learned that while a 24 week training cycle might be ideal, you have to factor in your fitness level when you start, and deduct weeks accordingly. I also learned that I personally respond much faster to speed work than I do to the longer MP work, so I need to play around with my marathon buildup time, maximize my speed early (so it's not the limiting factor), and spend more time on marathon specific endurance work (which also shortens the training cycle).

Anyways, to suddenly realize that I don't quite feel ready for 4/25 was ... a relief! I feel like I still need the final little bit of training to get me there (vs. going into the race feeling like I just want it over with already).

There are signs I'm beginning to peak... One sign is much faster recoveries.. A few weeks ago, I was needing to take the next day off from a long key workout, and now I can push really hard- and be recovered the very next day. I also just feel really good. Things seem to be right on target. Warm fuzzies all around.

Road Trip
After Leopold and I went camping, I was telling him I wished we could take the tent with us to the race and camp out in Nancy's sister's backyard. I was joking, but I repeated this to Nancy on Sunday and she thought it was a great idea. She says her sister has a big backyard with a tent platform in a .... this is so cool....wait for it...TREE!
We get to sleep in a tent in a tree, people! I want to leave NOW.

Friday, March 26, 2010

5 Jokes and a Story

To pass the time on the drive home from my Half Marathon earlier this month, Leopold read 100 jokes aloud to me. Really. One Hun-dred. These are the top 5 funniest:

A panda walks into a restaurant, sits down and orders a sandwich. After he finishes eating the sandwich, the panda pulls out a gun and shoots the waiter, and then stands up to go. "Hey!" shouts the manager. "Where are you going? You just shot my waiter and you didn't pay for your sandwich!"The panda yells back at the manager, "Hey man, I am a PANDA! Look it up!"The manager opens his dictionary and sees the following definition for panda: "A bear of Asian origin, characterised by distinct black and white colouring. Eats shoots and leaves."

Two Irishmen walk in to a bar.
You'd think one of them would've seen it.

How many kids with ADHD does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Hey! Wanna ride bikes?

Two sausages are laying next to each other in a pan. The one says to the other, "Hey, it's getting kind of hot in here, isn't it?" The other one looks over and screams, "Aaaaugh! A talking sausage!!"

A polar bear walks into a bar, sits down, and says, "Bartender, I'll have a rum and.....................
The bartender says, "What's with the big pause?" The polar bear replies, "Oh, I dunno. I've always had 'em."

You're just lucky I didn't remember only the 95 bad jokes!

Now a story....


This text is straight from the website:

The sleepy town of Buea in the Southwest Province of Cameroon hosts Africa’s most grueling footrace: the Mt. Cameroon Race of Hope, a marathon-length sprint 10,000 feet up a live volcano, and back down again.

To conquer the mountain, racers must overcome some of the cruelest conditions in sport: temperatures fluctuate 50 degrees, altitude sickness claims the weak, and loose volcanic stones can cause serious injury, and even death, as runners fly back down the mountain.

Volcanic Sprint takes you deep inside the lives of athletes like Sarah Etonge, a five-time champion and mother of seven known as the Queen of the Mountain. Just days before the race, Sarah is haunted by a nagging knee injury and the strain of a hospitalized child. Sarah needs the money she earns from racing to support her children and the Race of Hope is the biggest purse in Cameroon.

For these competitors, Mt. Cameroon isn’t just a race. It’s their best shot at achieving fame and fortune in a country short on both. For former champion John Ekema, it’s a chance to relive fading glory through his son. For two-time champion Dominique Tedjiozem, attacked by rivals during the 2002 race, it’s a chance for vengeance.

All the competitors’ hopes and aspirations come together on the biggest sporting day in Cameroon. The winners will achieve lifelong fame. But nearly half of all runners will quit the race … conquered by Mt. Cameroon.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Intervals: The Musical

In the interest of getting more blog comments than I ever have keeping the whole iPod/ no iPod debate alive and kicking, I decided to conduct my own personal experiment with running music yesterday.

Everyone knows the benefits of running to regular music - it reduces the perception of effort, blocks negative messages, enhances mood- all good and important things.

But what I want to know is if it can make me run faster.

That's why I didn't just listen to any old music, but Hella Sound - running music specifically designed to match your stride rate. (Ooooh!!...Ahhhh! Tell me more!!).

According to Hella Sound, most mass-market music clocks in at between 86 and 120 beats per minute (BPM), while stride rates come in between about 135 and 175 strides per minute (SPM). So finding a song that matches your pace is difficult. But Hella Sound offers each song in preset rates (BPM) that will match your running stride per minute. All of their songs are 30 minutes long and contain rhythmic and harmonic structure to help you stay focused during your run.

My translation: Running to music that helps you stay focused on your ideal stride rate can (possibly) make you run faster.
One niggling question; will it work for me?

The Workout:

5 x 2 miles at MP (9:10) with a steady 1/2 mile (9:45) recovery in between. With warm up and cool down, that's 14 miles with 10 of it at MP (average pace of 9:27).

The Music:

I downloaded 2 different songs: What Are You Made Of...? (175 BPM) and As You Wish (180 BPM)


175 BPM seems to be my stride rate. Like a lot of runners, I've timed my stride by counting the times my right foot hits the ground in 1 minute. I often get 90 (180 SPM). I also think I get 90 because I'm aware I'm timing it. That was confirmed by trying to run to 180 BPM. It felt rushed- I was far more comfortable at 175.

I liked the music. Luckily, my favorite song was What Are You Made Of...? Here how this segment is billed: "Sometimes you gotta put it all on the line. What Are You Made Of?!? is 30 minutes of thrash, rock, military cadence, ska and a healthy dose of diabolus in musica. Make no mistake: this is face-punching music. Get out there and show 'em what you're made of."

Most inspirational? 15 minutes in there's a cadence section. It's like Johnny Cash meets Running To Cadence:

Did you think this was gonna be easy?
You are here because this is hard.
If it were easy, everyone could do it.
And you are not like everyone.
The day may come when you can no longer run.
Today is not that day.
You gotta earn your wings.
You gotta, gotta earn your wings.
You ask yourself, "Can I give more?"
Tell me if that answer isn't "Yes".
This right here is what puts the tiger in the cage.
And all it takes is all you've got.
Get hungry now.
What are you made of...?

Faster? Inconclusive. This was a hard workout. There were times I felt the music was forcing me faster, but it was a bad thing. I would suddenly feel too tired, which was discouraging. What I needed was to pay attention to my perceived effort to keep things under control. In the end, I thought I could use the music's motivation at certain times, but overall, paying attention to my body would probably yield a better result.

If I tie iPod debate to barefoot running, my comments will skyrocket!!! The debate over running with music is a lot like the debate over barefoot running. Each side offers convincing arguments, with no real science behind either, and no real way to actually conduct a scientific study. It basically comes down to personal preference.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tadese Is Crazy Fast. I'm Just Crazy

Wow. A new World Record for the Half Marathon: Zersenay Tadese ran a 58:23 Half Marathon in Lisbon over the weekend.
That is so ridiculously fast! You can go over to the Science of Sport blog for the details of the race. As usual, Jonathan and Ross do a great job of putting the race time into perspective:

Tadese's times -solo effort of 27:40s for 10km

To put Tadese's performance into perspective, he reached 10km in 27:53, shedding the pacemakers at the ninth kilometer. He then sped up to run the next 5km in 13:40 (15 km time of 41:33). The next 5km split in 13:48 gave him a world record of 55:21 at 20km (30 seconds faster than Gebrselassie's old mark). He brought the final 1.1km home in just under 3 minutes to eclipse Wanjiru's 3-year old record.

On to other news mere mortals can relate to...
There's nothing better than a race countdown widget to "focus" you. I put the countdown widget on my blog and today I notice there's suddenly only...29 days to go! That is nothing! I should be coming into some race defining workouts over the next couple of weeks.

With each training cycle, I've noticed a certain pattern about the way things unfold. Perhaps these are unique to me, but maybe everyone experiences some version of this.

About 8 or 10 weeks out, I have more attention on the next marathon instead of the one I'm actually training for. I think what happens is that the current race is not yet solidified for me yet, but I've done enough training towards it to gain some insights into how I'm responding to training, what's working and what's not, and what should be tweaked, etc. For example, this time around, I've learned that next time, I need training to be more effort and time based instead of pace and miles based. I know it will work better for me. It also makes more sense.

About 5-6 weeks out I get really preoccupied with biomechanics. This one feels like my own personal quirkiness/ craziness. Clearly, there's some mind-body issues going on to make this obsession turn on. I'm probably dealing with race anxiety and doubts about my training by focusing on to something else. This preoccupation feels anxiety driven, whereas the thing that's always in the back of my mind about mechanics is logical- I often wonder how far I can improve by just following a running training regimen. At some point, I think further (substantial) progress will mean correcting biomechanical weak links, gaining strength and flexibility, and bringing my running mechanics closer to ideal. (I'm always wondering how to do this simultaneously with training, but it seems that at some point you have to step back to really address biomechanics and ingrained movement patterns).

Around 3-4 weeks out, there's usually one or more defining workouts that tell me the pace I'm capable of sustaining in a race. In the past, I've been disappointed with what these workouts tell me, and as a result I've gone into each marathon with an over inflated sense of pace - I've gone with the "wishful thinking" pace, not the current ability pace. This time, when that workout occurs (which should be soon), I am going to pay heed to it, and make sure I start out at my current ability pace, and let the race unfold from there. That way, I'll be in the best position to actually reach my current race potential- i.e, not fade with a 10K to go, but be ready to race with a 10K to go.

Well, that's all I've got for today...Have a good one, everyone!

Friday, March 19, 2010


How is it that I've run 4 marathons and did not know about this product? Truly, it's hard to believe.

I picked up an Amphipod handheld water bottle, almost as an afterthought, to use on my 20-miler. I've never considered holding a water bottle in a race (or long run for that matter)because, well, I couldn't imagine having to actually hold it. My hands tend to stop working in the later stages of a hard run. A race? Forget about it.

Immediately, I knew I loved this product. You absolutely do not have to hold it at all. In fact, you can't even shake your hand hard enough to get it to come off on its own. Its perfectly sculptured design is very, very comfortable. Also, I love that it has a zip pocket- perfect for carrying gels, car key, etc.

The only downside is the weight of carrying water. So, it may not be for every situation. Also, the sound of sloshing water got my attention- but just a little.

Has anyone else come across a great product by accident like this?
Do tell.

Have a great Monday, all. I will leave you with this adorable version of Imma Be:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And The Winner Is...

The contest for a new name for BOTR has come and gone...Here's how it went:

We put the following list of names up on the white board. First round of voting- You could vote as many times as you wanted to. If a name received 7 or more votes it survived Round 1. If not, it was erased.

Fluffy Bunny Fluffy Bunny Running Club
Flying Pigs Running Club
Bunnies On The Hop
Weaverville Warriors Track Club
WES Roadrunners
WES Racers
WES Striders
WES Road Warriors
WES Cheetahs
Team Sock Monkey Track Club
Lucky Bunny Running Club
Boys Running For Fun
5K Club for Boys
Boy Runners of Weaverville
WES Trackhawks
WE Run (Weaverville Elementary Run)
Cool Runners
Boys On The Fast Track
The Super Speedsters
The Running Rock Stars
Boys Who Run & Hate Greedy/ Sexist Non-Profits OK, we didn't vote on this. But thanks for the laugh RunnuRMark!
The Positive Splits
Weaverville Road Guardians
Boys Kicking Asphaltok, we took this one off before voting
Blackhawk Boys

We were left with the names below. We let each boy vote once, and the name with the most votes won.

WES Racers 0
WES Striders 0
WES Road Warriors 2
WES Cheetahs 2
Team Sock Monkey Track Club 8
Lucky Bunny Running Club 0
The Super Speedsters 0
The Running Rock Stars 0
Weaverville Road Guardians 0
Blackhawk Boys 15

And the winner is...Blackhawk Boys. I have mixed feelings about the name, but I'm happy they chose it, and they seem to like it. Well, about half of them like it.

If you recall, I made reference to a cool T-Shirt give away if you came up with the winning name. So, without further ado, the winner of the Boys Running Club Name Contest is....



Yep, even though the name was thought up by the boys, if you took the time to comment on this blog I would like to give you a small gift. It's my way of saying thank you for your support and encouragement. Just email me at with your mailing address and I will send you several packets of each of these:


Later Today- 20 Mile Progression Run

Since I am going camping this weekend, I'm doing my 20 Mile Progression Run this afternoon. I tend to have difficulty building slowly and gradually to a faster pace throughout a long run, which is unfortunate because this is exactly the type of race plan I'm hoping to execute next month.

So, today's run is important practice.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Enter and Win! Running Club Name Contest!!

Boys On The Run has to find a new name. Apparently, Girls On The Run doesn't like our name, and since they're dropping word bombs like "market confusion" and "trademark violation", I'm inclined to think it's time for a Running Club Name Contest!

Help us find a new name and we'll send you a FREE (New Name) T-Shirt!!

Here's what you do:

1. Think up a creative name that is appropriate for an afterschool running club for 3rd and 4th grade boys. Our focus is on creating healthy habits and leading an active lifestyle. We race a 5K at the end of each season.

2. Leave the name you suggest as a comment. You may leave as many names as you wish- the more the better!

3. Follow my blog. Leave a comment that you follow*

That's it.

Seriously, folks. This is simple.

We'll vote for our new name on Thursday, and if our name was one you suggested, you win!

So get busy and win yourself a T-Shirt!

Fluffy Bunny Track Club is taken.

Names being voted on so far:
Team Sock Monkey Track Club
Weaverville Warriors Track Club
WES Roadrunners
WES Racers
WES Striders
WES Harriers
WES Road Warriors
WES Cheetahs

* If you win and don't follow my blog you owe me $100

Trifecta of Wrongness

I don't have a real post today, just some random thoughts that, when put together, masquerade as a post. Some people have names for these types of posts *. I haven't come up with a good one yet. Live with it. **

Last night while enjoying my post-run stretch and foam roller session at the Y, my eyes wandered to the wall above the mat area where they have a set of laminated fitness posters. I'm guessing the Y puts these up for instructional purposes, rather than entertainment value. Creative girl that I am, however, I managed to garner a good 15 minutes of entertainment out of these puppies. As I lay there stretching and foam rollering, I tried to imagine what what the designers of these posters must have been thinking when they felt the need to incorporate invisible clothes into their poster design. Perhaps there were multiple designers who disagreed on the clothing issue. Invisible clothing seems like a good compromise... Perhaps "marketing" advised them that body builders are generally not smart enough to identify muscle groups without a common reference point. On and on these thoughts went, so that by the time I left there last night, I was in a pretty good mood. Thank you, YWCA!

As you may know, I started a Boys On The Run program at a local elementary school because it just doesn't seem fair to only have Girls On The Run. Our Spring Season was delayed 3 weeks due to Snowpacolypse. Apparently, the boys have had no exercise at all during this time and have been existing on diets of sugar and caffeine. I'm happy to report that the boys now know how toplay Black Jack, and there was only one injury report filed.

This week... Craps! No, we'll be voting on our season T-Shirt design. It's one of my favorite things about BOTR. With all the rush to get the designs to the printer, I'm not expecting many boys to turn in a design. We'll see. Here's what my son is turning in:

* Nitmos, Vanilla, Viper, sRod (you know who you are)
** Or...Come up with a good name and I'll give you credit. I promise.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I am a ...SSPRMOE!

These are my feet after Saturday's 18-miler in the RAIN. I know it's a bad picture, but I want to point out that I am not tan.


And HAPPY...

I expected rain on Saturday, and weighed the pro's and con's of getting out there first thing vs. waiting till there was a break in the weather. The need for more sleep and the fact that I needed to take Leopold to get his pinewood derby car cut out was the decider- I waited. (Some nice parent was willing to bring in his band saw and help the kids cut the shapes of their cars out on a Saturday morning. So nice. But really, would yould you expect any less from Scouts?).

So, of course, there's no rain until riiiight before 3:00, as I'm getting ready to run. Great. So I drive to Carrier Park since I have a 15 mile out-and-back route that's fairly flat, leaving me with just 3 miles to run once I get back to the Park. As I park, it starts pouring. Oh, well. I was slightly cheered by remembering a couple of breakthrough runs last training cycle in downpours like this. Perhaps today will be a good day...

As I started out, I noticed I felt very strong and ready to run. Things like that get my attention. A couple of miles in, I realized I was going to change my Progression run to a Steady State Run to take advanage of how I was feeling. Normally, I don't make changes like that. But occasionally, there are moments where you just know that changing something is the right thing to do. This was one of them.

For the first 15 miles I averaged 9:31 pace:


When I got back to Carrier Park ...

I was tired. *
My thumb was bleeding. **
My legs were done.

And I think, "Perfect time to test Marathon Pace".***


Now. I. Am. Done.

I am a Steady State Progression Running Master of Efficiency (SSPRMOE***)

* Duh!
** My nails turn in to rice paper after 2 hrs. in the rain. Something as simple as tying a shoelace is enough to tear them down to the quick.
*** Thank you everyone for your posts when I was contemplating the downward adjustment of my marathon pace. I do believe the sub-4 dream is still alive.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My "Be Here Now" Moment

Yesterday I was using my Half Marathon race time to predict what marathon pace I should be able to sustain in my race next month. It's a little tricky, because it was a hilly race, but still there's a pace range it predicts and that range is not that wide. When I plug my HM time in to McMillan's running calculator, it predicts a 4:05 marathon. (9:23 pace).

Initially, I felt disappointment about probably not being able to break the 4 hour mark this time. Sub-4 is a substantial goal and I want it bad. I mean, never say never, but I'm not going to start out the race at a sub-4 hour pace. That in itself was enough to make me feel the disappointment.

Then, I went for my run. The workout called for 3 x 2 miles at MP with a 10% slower half-mile recovery in between. I had been doing this workout at 9:00 - 9:10 pace, so I adjusted it down to 9:15 - 9:25 pace. It seemed slow/easy, but this work out is not supposed to be a killer. By rep number 3, I was really thinking 9:18 seems right for me for MP. I need to set aside my expectations and work within the range I'm currently at, not the one I want to be at. Get to know 9:18. Up close and personal.

After that run, I went back to the McMillan calculator and saw that 9:18 pace predicts a 4:03:30 marathon, and a 1:55:28 Half Marathon. I believe I would have run 1:55 or faster if Saturday's race was on a flat course. (By the way, next month's marathon is a flat course).

I feel I've started my last 2 marathons with a "wishful thinking" pace plan instead of a feeling of actually knowing what I'm capable of, then working within that pace range to get the best race out of myself. Not surprisingly, the results have been 2 races where I've run out of fuel with 6-8 miles of race left.

I'd really like to duplicate the good race experience I had in the Half next month. I ran within my abilities, but not holding back. I stayed in the moment and as a result, I was "in the race" the whole time. I'm going to make that my "real" A goal for next month.

"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop."-The King of Hearts

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Further Insight Into Leg Cramps?

So, I've just finished Again To Carthage, the follow up to Once A Runner. No book review today, just this:

In both books you can find some pretty solid training advice and useful day-to-day info.

In Carthage, there's an interesting tidbit about getting leg cramps in a marathon, but not during training. I have often been baffled by this, as I've never once gotten a leg cramp in a training run, but I have experienced them in the race. What's up with that? To date, the best answer I've gotten is from the Sports Scientists, who relate it to misfiring of the golgi tendon, among other things. Here's another view, from Again To Carthage:

He remembered Denton's lecture: "In the marathon, you can get cramps at almost any time. They're not like the ones we used to get towards the end of hot-weather workouts, not based on electrolyte depletion. I got them halfway through my 2:15 when I picked up the pace suddenly. They're usually in the hamstrings, sometimes the calves or quads. You're just over your anaerobic threshhold, but just barely. You start generating ketones from burning fat without enough oxygen, the ketones start
circulating , confusing your synapses, causing them to misfire. You cramp. Joe Vigil laid it out for me. The thing is not to panic. They feel pretty bad for a while, and you may think you're done for, but they'll go away if you back off for a bit and run them out."

The science nerd in me loves knowing...why. However, given the information above is from a fictional novel about running, not sure how solid it is:)

[ORN: Obligatory Running Note] 6 miles in 58:40. Little faster than my base pace runs usually are. But I felt really good today. It seemed like I was experiencing the unexplained fitness boost I always feel after a race. Perhaps I should have reined it in with a key workout tomorrow, but I'm still flying high from the race experience...

Monday, March 8, 2010

RACE REPORT: Alston-Bird Corporate Cup Half Marathon

It's not the race I wanted to run (that would have been Roanoke Canal Half Marathon). It was a week early (I was supposed to run a Half on 3/13). I felt lousy in training all week. I knew going in that this was a hilly race, run partially on a course where the hills had gotten the better of me.

...And that's why running the best Half I've ever run felt that much sweeter.

Here's how it all unfolded:

Road Trip
I took Leopold with me to this race because 1) he wanted to go, and 2) Saturday School sucks. Any excuse to get him out of that was welcome. We left the house at about 4:20 a.m., with Leopold asleep in the back seat in his pj's with his favorite blanket and his stuffed dog, Rex. The trip was boring, but easy. We arrive at Wachovia Atrium at 6:30 as planned. First sign of good things to come: FREE parking that was literally at the start of the race.

Race #1: Global Ass, My Warming 6.66
Second sign of good things to come: PERFECT weather for the Global AssWarming, My Ass Virtual Race. Which makes perfect sense, given the weather and race gods' quirky senses of humor. As we lined up, it was clear, cold and sunny, with a slight breeze. As the National Anthem began to play, the Olympics popped into my head, and I began imagining what it would feel like to be Apolo Ohno (or anyone) on the podium, winning gold (or any medal). Suddenly, my eyes began to fill with tears....OMG! I caught myself. Cry after the race. Not before. Rules to live by.

That's how they started it. Kind of lame, but whatever. So, we're off. Third sign of good things to come: iPod malfunction. I had planned to only use music on the hills, if I needed it. However, my new ear buds immediately began to pop out of my ears repeatedly, forcing me to wad them up and shove them down my bra. At mile 4 the wires were hanging down at my knees - a total shocker because I didn't think anything was capable of getting out of that barricade. I couldn't really see carrying the earbuds the entire way, so I ditched them.

The first (and only) annoying race experience came right at the beginning, with a guy who set his Garmin to beep (read: shriek) if he wasn't running in his pace zone. About every 10-15 seconds a loud shrill BEEEEEEP cut through the air. 15 minutes of that had me ready to shake him by his lapels (if he had had lapels) and scream, "Will you either SPEED UP or SLOW DOWN so we don't have to be subjected to that incessant SCREECHING?" I would never do that. I'm just sayin'.

After getting away from said guy, I tuned in to how I was feeling. At mile 3 I remember thinking I felt... fine. The hills were rolling, and I just kept telling myself, even effort. Even effort. Don't look at your watch, just run an even effort. In the early miles, I had a definite sense of going downhill -overall, and via rolling hills.

Mile 1 - 8:56
Mile 2 - 8:36
Mile 3 - 8:56

5K - 27:15

Mile 4 was all downhill and it felt good. I was tempted to speed up, but decided to wait until mile 6 or 7 before making any decisions. Mile 5 happened to be mile 18 of the Thunder Road Marathon- a steep climb that drops down to crowds cheering you on. It was the point in the marathon where I slowed the most, and knew the rest of the race was going to be about hanging on. I remember seeing Phil and Leopold here, Leopold with his adorable sign, and wishing I was running better than I was. Not today. Today, Charlotte, I own this hill. In fact, I'm making it my personal mission to own every hill in this race today.

Mile 4 - 8:16
Mile 5 - 9:19
Mile 6 - 8:55

10K - 53:49

6.66 - 57:02

I never talk to people during races, but I struck up a conversation with a guy in a black tracksuit. He first got my attention because I glanced over at him and I thought he seemed over-dressed. I also thought his coloring seemed bad- like someone about t have a heart attack. We had virtually been running side by side for 3 miles, so it just seemed rude not to say something. I also realized had I been wearing the iPod, I would've missed this opportunity altogether- something I thought more about later on. Tracksuit guy had driven down from Winston-Salem to run the race, and was commenting on how hilly it was. Without thinking, I mentioned the largest hill came at mile 12. Catching myself, I said (lamely) "But you'll be ready for it- you're doing great." Jeez. Then he asked me what time I thought I'd finish in. I said, "I don't know. Somewhere between 1:54 - 1:58. I hope." He was like, "Wow! My best Half was a couple of years ago, and I ran it in 2:03." Rut Raggy? Now this time I keep my mouth shut, but I was thinking, "Dude- why are you running a hilly course at a pace 6 minutes better than your best?"

An hour in, and I had the Global Warming, My Ass Virtual Race under my belt. Nice. Now, to finish this mutha. At mile 7, I still felt good, but I realized that I also felt good at 7 during my last two HM's, and I blew up at Mile 10 in both of those. I decided to be conservative, and stay put with my pace. If I was this good at mile 10, I'd start kicking it home.
Mile 7 - 8:42
Mile 8 - 8:42
Mile 9 - 8:41
Mile 10 - 9:00

Going in to mile 11, I decided to speed up if I could, realizing that just to maintain the current pace would feel harder. I started setting my sights on any female that looked like she might be in my age group. I was passing people, and working hard. I was having a good race, and it felt really good to be having a good race. It's the most unusual feeling- misery and happiness all rolled together. As I reeled in a girl I'd had my sights on, I heard her tell her friend, "I'm not totally miserable yet, but I'm really feeling it." You and me both, sistah. Race. On.

Mile 11 - 8:55

Now It's A Party
Mile 12. It was finally here. If I was going to blow up, it was going to happen on the biggest hill. I kept my eyes down to avoid the sight of the long, long hill that was mile 12. Dig deep, do not walk, just get this done. What I remember most about mile 12 was that it had these over-sized speed bumps interspersed throughout. Like the hill itself wasn't bad enough, they had to throw in mini-hills, too. People, please.

As I crested the hill at 12.6 miles, I was about done. At mile 13, there's a slight downhill grade, then you make the turn onto College Street to finish. As I turned on to College, I saw the finish line waaaaay down there- I couldn't even read the clock- and started to give it all I had left. Suddenly... I am peeing myself. OMG. I am peeing and I can't stop it. It's running down my leg! I look around to see who might be looking at me, and I think: I am never going to see these people again. Go for it. I finished strong, thinking Best. Race. Ever. It can't be one for the books until you've lost control of your bladder.

Mile 12 - 9:23
Mile 13 - 9:11
.10 - 1:31

Garmin Time for 13.1 - 1:56:28
Clock Time for 13.32 - 1:58:03

BONUS: Leopold's Race Report

4:00: Get up

4:02: Sleep in back of car until 6:00
6:00: Play game while mom gets race number
6:12-8:00:Wait in atrium until race starts

8:00: Watch race start and go to atrium to wait for mom to finish

8:14: Get brilliant idea to go up and down escalators.

9:22: Get tired of escalators

9:24: Get idea to go wrong way on escalators and stay in place

9:25: Try to execute idea but get too scared
9:37: Try idea and have lots of fun

10:00: Meet mom at finish

11:15: Watch awards

11:35: Go home

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Race Strategy Decisions- A Test

This Saturday, I'm running the Alston-Bird Corporate Cup Half Marathon in Charlotte, NC. For kicks, I mapped the race route using the course map they provided in order to look at the elevation profile.

I was not surprised to find that the race is hilly with a net loss of about 17 feet. All this means is that I'll be waiting for the Race Director to claim it as, "Charlotte's premier downhill Half Marathon!" The hills don't really surprise me, as a lot of this course is run on Charlotte's Thunder Road Marathon.

By my estimation, I can also look forward to running a bit more than 13.1 miles on Saturday. This also does not surprise me, and I'm sure I'm in for lots of bragging from said RD about how the course is "100% certified". Which in RD-speak means the course is about 1/2 mile long to prevent some tangent running mofo from cheating.

Anyways, I'm curious to see, given this race's profile, what racing strategy YOU would take.

Perhaps there are more options than this, but would you:

1. Run a faster first half (or 10K) and hang on.
2. Try to run negative splits (start conservatively and speed up).
3. Run an even paced race.

This is a test, people. You have 2 days to turn in your work.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Things That Make You Say, Awwww

Let's just take a moment and reflect on how adorable the Teacup Pig is, shall we?

Awww... *

This week seems to be full of awwww moments and other assorted warm fuzzies. Which is to say, it's been a pretty good week so far.

First, this is the week of my birth and, coincidentally, I am celebrating it by attempting a PR at the Half Marathon. Whether I PR or not, I just love that these two events coincide this year. I also love that I feel prepared to run a decent HM right now. This race is also in Charlotte, covering many of the streets my last marathon was run on, so there's always the hope of wrapping up some unfinished business.

Yesterday, I spoke with someone on the Race Committee at CMLC (Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy). I was pleased to tell them that BOTR had chosen the Run For The Hills 5K as our focus race, which means we would be bringing about $2,000 in registyration fees to CLMC. This is their first annual race/ fund raiser, and they were so overjoyed about the news, it made me feel good all day. Warm Fuzzy? Absolutely.

Today I'm looking forward to the UPS arrival of John L. Parker's follow up to "Once A Runner", Again to Carthage. Also arriving- a new foam roller. I am strangely excited by the arrival of my very own, at home, torture device. I can stop feeling like a perv at the Y when I go to town on their foam roller. OK, now I just feel dirty.

This morning, I read a very inspiration set of posts by Scott Dunlap over at A Trail Runner's Blog. In the first post he captures what I think is true about balance and the second one captures what I feel when I run longer and longer. I love my time on the road for working through life's issues.

Here's to a great day and a great week. I leave you with a birthday quote of sorts:

Use your health, even to the point of wearing it out. That is what it is for. Spend all you have before you die; do not outlive yourself.

- Bernard Shaw

[ORN: Obligatory Running Note] Set out for an easy 7 miler after work yesterday. I'd been at my desk all day, so I was way over-dressed for 45 degree weather. I ended up cutting the run down to 4 miles. It just felt like something I should do. I felt sort of depleted, and so I thought I'd save up some energy for Wednesday's MP intervals. "3 x 2 miles @ MP w/ a steady 1/2 mile in between" sounds super easy on paper, but I'm finding it to be a dang good workout. With a 3 mile warm up and 2 mile cool down, that's 12 miles of goodness.

* This moment was brought to you by last night's episode of HIMYM

Monday, March 1, 2010

Goodbye Olympics, Goodbye February

I'm gonna miss the Olympics. It's been so nice to have an alternative viewing option to the regularly scheduled programming. Although, even the Olympics gets booted if HIMYM is on.

I'm most surprised about how exciting watching XC Skiing has been. Is it just me? I found myself jumping up and down at the end of the Women's 30K race. Yesterday, I missed the last 15 minutes of the Men’s 50K race because we had to leave to make it on time to go see Avatar. I actually wondered about the race during the movie (that is, when I wasn't busy thinking about how totally cool it would be to have a tail). Sure enough, the race was fabulously exciting at the end- a sprint/ photo finish. How could anyone NOT get excited about this stuff?? Seriously, Mm!

Speaking of close finishes, I was just over at The Science of Sport reading about... Olympics. They have a nice blog post today about 1% differences, and how tight the margins in sport are. They posted a link to this website that is well worth a look - a fascinating piece from the New York Times looking at the margins between victory and defeat as "an Olympic musical", where each sound effectively represents an athlete crossing the finish line after the winner. Cool stuff. Somehow, it makes me want to drive on Honda's musical road...

Also over...the short, cold, depressing month of February. Here the month's statistical rundown:

Total Miles: 193.5 miles
Highest Weekly: 60 miles
Average Weekly: 48 miles
The Monthly Dif: -12.5 miles