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May 31, 2008

Week 15: Reach for the sky

Itís time to set some goals for this yearís marathon. Do I reach for the sky or do I go for a walk in the park? Thatís what I must decide. To help me decide I signed up for an event that I ran today 5/31. This was my dress rehearsal. Read on to see how it went.

My event today was a bit different than usual. Generally when I go to an event I donít really have much expectation other than to finish standing up. I usually have an idea of what my time and pace will be but if I donít meet that, itís no big deal. Today I truly had a goal in mind and I wanted that goal or better. I had a very specific need to be met at todayís event.

No need to keep you in suspense, I am extremely happy to say I finished slightly better than my goal. This is probably the first time I ran an event with what I would say was a smart run. I went into it with a plan and stuck to it. I managed to pull in the reins and let the pack take off. I stuck to my pace. All in all I did it and I feel great.

For the most part I would say the course wasnít too difficult. It did have its spots though. The hills were not bad. The difficult part came from about mile 13 to 17. That is where most of the hills were. The one downside was the roads were not closed to traffic and we had to run along the right side. I would rather run on the left so I can see the traffic coming. Overall I liked the course.

In reviewing my pace I was pretty steady for the most part. My pace for the the first four miles ranged from 9:25 to 9:27. It was into mile 5 and through 6 that the wind came into play which slowed my pace a just a bit to 9:39 & 9:44. Taking out the miles that I walked through the water stops I paced 9:23, 9:31, 9:32, and 9:34 for miles 8, 9, 13, and 15. There were a couple of good hills going from mile 16 to 17 which I posted 9:54 for that mile. My time for the 18.6 (30K) was 3:05. According to my Garmin it was 18.78. Close enough. Average pace for the entire event would be a 9:55 and my goal was 10:00.

A couple of other things were different about this event than most of my prior events that I ran. I knew another runner was doing this event also. That certainly helped motivate me. The other thing which I think is the only time was that no one passed me over the last 3 or four miles. I actually caught up and passed other people. I must say I had a little bit of a competitive feeling towards the end. Those factors also made today a special day in my running history.

I also thank all of you that have given me support by making positive comments. As I run itís like you are out there with me. Along with the spectators that are out on the course you donít really know how much you influence me as I run. My appreciation is beyond words.

Provided the next 3 weeks go smoothly I think the sky might be the limit. The walk in the park I can do anytime.

May 26, 2008

Week 14: Rain Drops Falling on My Head

A lot of rain drops fell on my head during Sundayís long run. I knew going in that rain was most likely going to be falling at some point during my run. I had hoped it would be during the last few miles. However, the rain started at about mile 10.

I really didnít mind running in the rain but that wasnít the only thing in the forecast. There was also the possibility of the thunder and lightening stuff. Now that stuff was in the forecast for much later in the day. The rain was pretty much on time and unfortunately the thunder and lightening were early. Rain I can run in and even thunder I can run in but lightening will alter my plans.

The first flash of lightening I tried to ignore. The second flash followed by a louder boom could not be ignored. I reluctantly but quickly headed towards the house.

During the week I came down with a nasty cold which had me on the ropes. I had tried running on Wednesday and barely made 3 miles. I walked part of it. To try and beat it I drank a lot of orange juice, Actifed tablets and cough syrup. Just wasnít working. I than tried Mucinex tablets. They seemed to work but still was having trouble breating when I walked up hills or steps. I tried a short run on Saturday and felt positive about making trying a long run on Sunday. I was hoping that I could beat that nasty cold and avoid a setback.

I had 3 goals set for my run on Sunday. Minimum goal was 18. Anything short of that would be a set back. My happy medium goal was to make 20. And my optimum goal over 22 and not more than 24.

So when the lightening came at mile 12 and again just prior to my 13 I was a bit disappointed. Partly because I thought my run was going to be over and more sore the lightening I pushed the last mile by running a 9:13 pace.

Rather than go inside I needed to cool down. I walked around the house a couple of times. The rain was getting a bit heavier so I ducked into the garage. I just kind of paced back in forth for a bit in there. As I said I was kind of bummed.

Donít fret though the story has a good ending after all. Just as I was about down cooling down the sky was blue and the sun was shining. It was decision time however the decision wasnít that hard. I told the family that I had to get more miles in and I was going back out.

It was very long and I was wondering if I made the right decision. Trying to run after stopping for fifteens minutes was an experience that was new to me. The legs were pretty tight for the whole first mile. I kept telling myself I needed to get it done. They felt a bit better in the second but they never really felt as good as they did during the first 14.

It basically came down to focusing on getting to the mile markers one mile at a time. I reached 18 and still felt like I had a bit more in the tank. When I reached 20 it was decision time again. I chose to push on by choosing to walk/run the next 2 miles. I ran the length of 2 utility poles than walked 1 for the next two miles. I than ran a half mile to complete 4 hours of total run time. Without out a doubt the first 14 were great. The 8.5 was tough but quite rewarding when it was all done.

I made my optimum goal. I was on the run for a total of 4 hours. I covered 22.5 miles in those 4 hours which had not been accomplished in my 5 previous training sessions. Sundayís run gives me optimism towards reaching my optimum goal of a 4:30íish marathon finish.

It sure would have been nice to run without a 15 minute rain delay. Iíll have to wait until marathon day to see if I can make it close 24 miles in four hours. I felt like I had a shot at it on Sunday. However what is done is done and I am quite happy with what I did accomplish.

Next week I have what I am calling a dress rehearsal. I am running a 30K which is 18.6 miles. This event will have water stops about every 2.5 miles. I will run to the water stops and walk while I drink. I will visual running this event as if I was in running on June 21.

From here on out I will avoid black cats, walking under ladders, picking up pennies only if itís heads up etc.

May 18, 2008

Week 13: Gone with the Wind

Sit back and relax. A lot to read from this week's adventures.

Yes week 13 is gone with the wind. Todayís LSD was run with and against the strongest winds of the year to this point. While I was warming up I was watching the weather channel and a bit dismayed on how those weather people can be so giddy about the jet stream. They must not be runners. Not a good sign when you see the arrows for the jet stream coming down from Canada right over where you live.

Before I get into details of todayís long run I need to let you in on something else. I could have titled this segment as the ďTale of Two RunsĒ.

First Tale: On Thursday I was quite frustrated from life issues, home chore issues and having to run for a doggone marathon. In other words bad day at work, lawn had to be mowed and I needed to run a middle distance run. To say that I came home in an ugly mood would be an understatement. I ate quickly, than I went out and mowed the lawn grumbling to myself about all of the items mentioned above. After mowing I dressed for my run and ran grumbling about all the stuff I mentioned above. The run totally was not what I would say a joyous occasion. Emotionally I was at rock bottom. Not sure how I did it but I survived the day.

Second Tale: Still grousing about Thursday. While getting ready to run I discovered my Ipod needed to be charged. Grumbled about having to run without the Ipod. Began running in silence. I soon found myself thinking about my past Gíma marathon finishes and the things that went well, like having my family at the finish line, the spectators and just enjoying myself. I got excited and started to feel good about what I think I might accomplish this year. Heck of I would have had a mirror I probably would have seen a sparkle in my eye. From feeling as low as I could to as great as I could in less than 24 hours was remarkable. Thereís joy in mudville.

I also consider titling this week as ďSomething smells fishyĒ. Actually smelling fishy would be better than the smells of all the stuff that is blooming right now. Itís kind of like having to walk past the perfume counter at Macyís because they put the doggone thing right at the entrance. I have to hold my breath. Unfortunately I canít do that when I run by some flowering tree and a bunch of blooming lilac bushes. Not funny Mother Nature.

Okay todayís long run was FABOULOUS! Much better than I expected it to go after seeing the weather channel. Despite the wind and the chill that came with it I ran very well. I ran 18.2 miles in 3:02:31. If you deduct the few seconds that I slowed down to aggravate a momma goose, a few seconds to adjust the tongue on my shoe and the few seconds that I let a motorist go by, that would be a be a 10:00 pace rather than a 10:01 pace. That would mean I could run an 11:00 pace for the last 8 miles of a marathon and finish at 4:30. Without a doubt that would most likely bring tears of extreme joy to my eyes. In case you couldnít tell. Dang right I am EXCITED.

Some states from my run today. My best miles were the 14 mile and the 18th mile. Ran 9:26 and 9:27 respectively. 9 out of 10 miles that I didnít slow down for a drink were under the 10:00 pace. For the miles that I didnít slow for a drink I average about a 9:48 pace. Ran the first half at 1:29:50. Second half 1:32:41. The second half was the hillier of the two laps.

I couldnít be more happier with a run than I was with todayís run. Nice and consistent laps pretty much throughout the whole time.

Total miles this week, 43.9. I am less than 10 miles under 500 miles for the year. Who says a snail canít travel far?

Moving onto week 14 and this week will be the peak of this yearís training. I hope to run 24 miles on Sunday. From than on the miles will fade as I get into what is called taper time.

If by chance you see a runner out there give him/her a brake and a thumbs up. Iíll bet you get a smile in return.

May 11, 2008

Week 12: I hear voices

On Saturday conflicting voices were going at it. On Saturday I went with father in law (Bill), son, grandsons and snoopy (Billís dog) to get Bill a new lawn mower. On the way back from the store the voices started to debate whether I should run or not. Hereís the transcript. Not sure if I have the names correct but it doesnít really matter.

Left: Itís kind of a yucky day out there. Maybe you should skip the run today.
Right: Itís been worse
Left: Hey youíve been running for months now missing the short run today wonít matter
Right: Maybe left is right but you already have had some short weeks you really should try to get
this one.
Left: Look the breeze has picked up and it could start raining any time.

As we pull into the driveway I am leaning more to the left. We get things put away and I take a quick and short ride on the 4 wheeler. During the ride they start up again.

Left: Thatís it donít worry skipping the run today wonít matter
Right: I think you should still give it a try.
Left: Itís starting to sprinkle.
Right: Remember what you said about being in the best shape for this one.

Doggone it right got it right. I did say that.

Left: Nooooo!

I had to do it. I really want to be in my best shape for this one. I am leaning on making this my last Grandmaís Marathon for quite sometime. So I got my stuff and headed out.

My legs seemed like they had lead in them.

Left: I told you this wasnít a good day to run.
Right: You will loosen up just stick with it.
Left: Itís been about a mile donít you think you would have loosened up about now?
Right: Yeah you know itís not going so hot maybe turn around at 1.5 and make it 3 miles.

At this point it was time for me to put my foot down. Sorry guys we are doing 4+ and thatís all there is to it. I made it 4.4. It wasnít pretty at all.

I rebounded well and had a terrific LSD run today. Some of the mile splits were not so slow though. I had two miles that my time was under 9:10. I ran the 14.2 in 2:18:50. Thatís an average pace of 9:46. I did my usual two mile drink breaks and still managed a 9:46 overall pace. Not too shabby for this old bean counter.

Onto week 13 where I will ratchet it back up a bit. Iíll get the miles for the week back over 40. Than in week 14 Iíll get up close to 50 miles with my longest planned LSD run of 24. Iím pretty sure the voices will be back but I must say itís nice to have company.

Have a great week.

May 04, 2008

Week 11: Double Down

Actually I more than doubled down. My total miles this week totaled 46 on the nose. Compared to 21.4 last week. The weather was quite a bit better but still has room for improvement. Donít expect me to double down again for quite sometime.

As I said the weather was much better than the week before. Temps were a cool but not cold. The room for improvement is the wind. There has been better than 10 mph winds just about everyday this week. Today the wind was up near the 20 mph range on occasion. That being said I would certainly take the wind over the rain and snow.

My LSD run today was pretty much that. A long run at a slower pace than my short to mid distance runs. I cranked out 20.2 miles in 3:30. My pace for the miles that I ran straight through was around the 9:50 range. The miles that included a few extra seconds to drink 6 oz of Gatorade and maybe chew down a cliff shot blok averaged about 10:15. When I was done I pretty much had nothing left All in all I was happy with how it want.

I was concerned again about how the short mileage week before would effect me. I do believe that the short week and battling the wind today had a huge impact on me for the last three miles. I pretty much felt total spent just prior to 17. I was running up against a wall. I gave it everything I could to keep it going to reach 20. It becomes a mental game at that point. The mind needs to take over and let the body know itís going to be okay. Basically saying I will survive. I did survive.

In comparison to my training for my other marathons I am feeling a whole lot better at this time than my training for the prior marathons. I had never ran 2 20 milers by this time. In 3 weeks Iíll most likely complete another 20+ mile run. I only ran 1 20+ miler in each of my training periods for prior marathons. To say the least I am excited and feeling a bit more confident.

At the moment my only concern is fighting the marathon training doldrums. At this point the amount of time spent training ant the amount left starts to wear you down a bit. I look to others for support during this time. I try to talk with other runners about it. Tell them how I am feeling. In return they give me tips and encouragement. It feels good to get a few strokes and it helps tremendously. Okay Iíll spell it out. A few comments to this post would help. Thanks.

On to week 12. I will not run 40+ but mid 30ís will do.

Especially for us here in Minnesota winter is not that too far off, So get out and enjoy spring!