Thursday, November 29, 2007

I've been having issues with my left shin/lower leg for a couple months now. Before it would only hurt when I ran hard and would subside after a day or so. Now it seems to hurt all the time. I took three days off then ran last night and it was still hurting, so I think I'm going to have to see a doctor about it. It's not a huge deal but I think it may be getting worse.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bartram Forest 50k

I had Friday off work because of the holiday weekend so I decided to make the 9.5 hour drive down the Hardwick Georgia for the 3rd annual Bartram Forest 50k. Hardwick is in the Macon area which is right in the middle of Georgia. The drive really turned out to be more like 7.5-8 hours and crossed some really nice scenery straight down I-75. One thing I learned by looking at license plates in Tennessee is that no one actually lives there. Of the 12 or so plates I saw only 4 of them were actually from TN. It's very pretty to visit and drive through but I guess it's not worth staying too long.

I slept in my car at a rest area Friday night about 30 miles south of Atlanta and arrived in Hardwick for the race at 7am for the 8am start. This is a very small town race. Only four runners completed the whole 50k distance last year while 5 finished the marathon and three others did various fun run distances. This year I think the 50k field was somewhere between 20-25.

Elevation wise, I would equate Bartram Forest to a very hilly road marathon, meaning it's a very flat trail race, 2 shorter steeper hills per loop and 2 longer more gradual hills per loop. The course was a 5.25 mile figure 8 repeated 6 times. The terrain is a mixture of grass, sand, dirt and a little bit of large gravel. Definitely a PR course.

On Thanksgiving day I played a few good games of tackle football with some friends from high school. This was not the best taper plan. On Saturday morning before the race, I was so sore I could hardly left my arms above my head and my abs hurt when I coughed. My back, neck and Triceps were throbbing. My hips quads and hamstrings were sore too but no where near as bad as my upper body. I literally felt like and was walking around like I had just finished and ultra before it even started.

Despite my less than ideal physical condition I had a PR on my mind. My previous trail 50k PR was 5:28 (which was actually a 33 mile race, at Farmdale.) My goals where as followed: C goal: 5:27 (new PR) B goal: 5:15 A goal: 4:59 (last years winning time.)

The race begins with "Is everyone ready to start now? OK, Go!" And we are off to the races. I am in the lead pack for the first time ever in a race which is new and exciting, then I actually take the lead. I can't help but enjoy this short lived moment of glory. That's one good thing about running a race that only has 20-25 other competitors. I remain as the leader for the first 1.5 miles then one guy passes me and the other two guys that comprise the lead pack follow him. I am not about the get frog boiled less than 2 miles into the race. I'm comfortable sitting in 4th. The rest of the first loop was uneventful. The lead pack slips further away and I am alone. The nice thing about this course is that it's small and some parts are run twice per loop so you're never alone for too long. My first loop time was 46:09, about 3 minutes faster than my A goal of 4:59.

From experience I have learned not to make a conscious effort to slow down when only a few minutes ahead of pace. From other races I learn that I slow down gradually without knowing it. So I maintain my effort and continue on the second loop. There are two aid stations on the course. One at the start finish line and one unmanned aid station at the top of the longest hill (the longest hill is run twice per loop so you hit that aid station twice.) The aid station at the start finish line is about 50 feet off the course so I make it a point to only stop at the unmanned aid station to save time. I am very quick at the aid station throughout the whole race. I would say my total aid station stops add up to no more than 3.5 minutes. Just enough the fill up a water bottle and grab something to eat. The second loop passes similar to the first in a time of 49:02 which is right around where I needed to be for a 4:59 finish.

about 2 miles into the third loop (mile 14) I really start to feel fatigued. I am having a difficult time keeping proper upper body posture with all of my soreness. My shoulders are the worst. It is a task just to keep my arms moving. I try to do arm circles and stretch them out which helped but it is still painful. I am also breathing pretty hard at this point and am seriously doubting my chances at even a new PR (my C goal) I decide I will at least fight through the 3rd loop (half way point) at a sub 5 hour pace so I can say I got in a solid long run before I had to slow down. The third loop was 51:07, which is above sub 5 pace but I had about 4 minutes in the bank at this point.

I consider walking the first hill in the fourth loop but decide that I will remain on sub 5 pace until I blow up, even if that means blowing my chance at a PR. I wasn't so much interested in a PR as I was seeing how hard I could push myself. At the end of the fourth loop I am feeling really crappy. I am searching for motivation, then it came to me. I start thinking about Mike's PR performance 2 weeks ago at Mendon Ponds. I think about how he didn't slow down late in the race, he kept going strong, and I was going to do the same thing. From that point on, with 10.5 miles to go I have no doubt I am going to maintain my pace and run sub 5. Lap four was 51:36, which is again above pace but I know I could run the last 2 laps under 50.

on the fifth loop my shoulders finally begin to loosen up but now it's my legs barking at me. It is hard to keep running all the hills but I haven't walked a single step of the course all day and if I want to break 5 I can't afford to walk now. I come through on lap five in 49:44. I know have about 52 minutes to finish lap 6 to accomplish my A goal.

I decide to go shirtless for the final lap, as to feel more like a bad ass. At this point I really feel like I have it in the bag. I don't see anyway I will let myself fall off pace with 5 miles to go. I hammer up all the hills, happy that it is the last time I will be seeing them. I skip the final aid station and pick up the pace with 2 miles to go. This being my 6th time around the course, I know exactly where everything was. I enter the final wooded area and can see a sliver of the shelter at the start finish area and know I am only 2-3 minutes from the finish. I pound the last couple minutes and cross the finish line for a lap time of 49:02 (same as second lap) and a total time of 4:56:55 maintaining my 4th place postion (as far as I know, anyway.)

Bartarm Forest is a great small town race with an RD who really understands what the runners want and need (Example: Who wants a finishing medal? I'll take the giant ginger bread man!) There were all kinds of treats at the aid station, and great course markings.

I have run many races this year and continue to learn something new from each of them. Today I learned that if you want to have a great race you have to risk blowing a good race. When I was feeling bad halfway through I could have settled and walk the hills using up the time I had banked and still finish with a PR, but I decided to push even if it meant a total melt down. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. This time it did.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

5 miles, 37:17 total time, 7:27 overall pace, Track

Mile 1: 7:15
Mile 2: 7:00
Mile 3: 7:50
Mile 4: 7:55
Mile 5: 7:17

After yesterdays workout I didn't quite have the legs to hammer out the 5 sub 7 minute miles I had planned but it was still a pretty good run. The final 200 meters I tried to beat mikes 35 second PR I came up way short with 41 seconds. I can't match the fit from fat speed burst.

Monday, November 19, 2007

10 miles, 8:09 overall pace, hilly roads
(2 mile campus loop)

Miles 1-2: 8:20 pace
Miles 3-4: 8:22 pace
Miles 5-6: 8:25 pace
Miles 7-8: 8:07 pace
Miles 9-10: 7:30 pace

It's always nice to start of the week with a good run. My goal was to pace myself well for the first three laps so I still had enough gas to make my last two laps the fastest, mission accomplished. I couldn't stay within Mike's "The Pace" throughout, but we can't all be the Fit from Fat King.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

my running has sucked this week. I did 5 miles on the track yesterday but felt weak and out of breath with a high heart rate from just jogging slowly. o well, it'll pass.

who wants to go to Georgia with me on Friday for the Bartram Forest 50k?? It's supposed to be a nice flat non technical trail. And it's not so damn cold in Georgia. cheap entry, very low key.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

AM: 2 miles, 7:55 pace, track

PM: 2 miles, 7:45 pace, Hilly roads

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

5 miles, 7:40 overall pace, Track

Mile 1: 7:57
Mile 2: 7:54
Mile 3: 7:48
Mile 4: 7:41
Mile 5: 6:59

decent run. Heavy legs after yesterday's workout. The effort was there, the speed was not.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Total mileage: 13

AM: 3 miles, track

Mile 1: 8:25
Mile 2: 7:53
Mile 3: 7:58

PM: 10 miles, hilly roads
(2 mile loop around campus)

Miles 1-2: 7:45 pace
Miles 3-4: 7:49 pace
Miles 5-6: 8:20 pace
(includes pit stop)
Miles 7-8: 7:58 pace
Miles 9-10: 9:09 pace
(Cool down lap. didn't feel like running any more, but wanted to finish with 10 miles)

Today was a perfect weather day for running. I'm afraid this may be the last perfect day for a long while here in the Midwest. Mike and I seem to both be recovering well from our race this weekend. That can be attributed to the even split race orchestrated by Mike. If he would have let me lead the 4th and 5th loop neither one of us would be able to walk today!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mendon Ponds 50k Race Report

Disclaimer: If you want to read a good race report you should skip this one and go to Mike's Blog. If you have grown accustom to my drivel, read on.

About 2 weeks ago I got an E-mail from Mike asking me if I had ever run an ultra in New York, I hadn't. He had seen some info on Mendon ponds and thought it would be a fun one. I didn't have anything else planned so I decided to come along.
I got to Mike's house Sunday evening and we left for the 4.5 hour drive to Rochester at about 2:30 AM Saturday morning. We got there in plenty of time for the start, so I took a little nap and got ready for the race. Mendon ponds is a 10k loop course repeated 5 times. According to the website there are 5500 feet of gain throughout the race (1100 feet per loop.)Mike and I before the start
I had decided that I would run with Mike, as long as I could keep up. His 50K PR was 6:32 and I thought he could break that, even on this tough course. We started off at a comfortable pace, just trying to pick a pace that we could maintain throughout the entire race. We knew that to beat 6:32 we would have to run each loop right around 1:18 but we weren't really focused on the time, just the perceived effort.Everyone trying to stay warm at the starting line

The course was very pretty, with a wide verity of colored leaves covering the trail. Pretty to look at, sure, but not so easy when your running down hill trying to look for roots and rocks. I can't see all that well in the first place, and when you toss thousands of leaves on the ground it doesn't help. Mike, on the other hand has the eyes of an eagle, so he was smoking me on all he down hills. He ran a very calculated race, making sure to walk the same spots every loop and maintain and even pace. This translated into very even splits through the entire race. He never hit the wall or had to slow down. He easily cruised to a new PR by 17 minutes, on a course which the RD said "If your trying for a PR, forget it!". way to go Mike!!
Mike gave me one of Chef Bill's PURE FUEL energy bars to try on the second loop. I had the Cranberry flavor. I ate it half way through the second loop and it gave me a nice pick-me-up starting the third loop.

Mike and I with RD Larry zygo

This was a very well put together race. The course markings were excellent and the volunteers were great. You couldn't ask for anything better for only a 20 dollar entrants fee!

After the race we got a chance to talk to a family from Montreal. Mryna (the mother) ran her first 50k today, She has run Boston many times. She did great. She fell twice, but was able to recover and finish strong. Her bright Orange shoes were mesmerising on the trail. I think her two daughters, Gaylee and Adeline and her husband ran one of the shorter distances. Some of the nicest people you'll ever met! I hope to see them all at a race again soon. Maybe Boston next year? If only I can knock 33 minutes off my marathon time by then.Mryna and her Orange Shoes

(all photos courtesy of Mike's blog)

Friday, November 9, 2007

I am leaving now for Mike's house. We will leave early tomorrow morning for Rochester, race starts at 8 am. I ran a couple miles this morning but they really sucked. My eating habits have been pretty sporadic this week (See: Chipotle Challenge, lol) so my energy levels have been low, but I think I have everything back to normal now. Any body want to go for a run tonight in Cuyahoga Falls?? Tiger?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Chipotle Challenge

Some of my loyal readers out there my remember my post about the Bearcat Challenge I took on a while ago. Well, after my noteworthy but failing performance against the mighty Bearcat Pizza my co-workers and I were thinking about other food challenges for me to take on. All three of us are huge fans of the burritos from Chipotle, so we decided that would be next. In case you've never had a Chipotle burrito, these are no regular burritos. They vary in weight from about 1.25-1.5 pounds and are the size of a brick.

The challenge: after much discussion and debate we settled on 3 burittos and two sides of chips and guacamole with a 1 hour 15 minute time limit. Loser pays for the food.

I felt much better about my chances for this challenge then I did going into the Bearcat. When Tim came back with the order I was a bit worried as these were the biggest burritos I had ever seen them make! (he said he didn't tell them about the challange until after the finished making them, though.) My strategy was to attack all three burritos first then finish off with the chips and guac. I got off to a great start, eating the first burrito in 5 minutes. the second 1 took about 8 minutes. After that I realized I was eating too fast so I took a couple minute break to let the food work it's way down the pipe. I then went after the final burrito. I was getting full and had to take frequent breaks, but I was able to finish the third burrito in about 20 minutes. I then took a 20 minute break before starting on the chips and guac. I was really feeling it now, but was able to get through the first order of chips. Then I hit the wall, after eating 2 or 3 chips into the second order I was done! I was so close to my goal but there was no way I could finish! I fell one order of chips a guac short.

I was proud of my accomplishment. how many people can say they've eaten 3 chipotle burritos? When Tim picked up the order and told the ladies at the resturant that I was going to try and eat all three they said it was impossible. Impossible is nothing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

This guy is a bad ass. Is it strange to wish I had the physique of an 80 year old man?

4 miles, 8:00 pace, track

The plan was to run 10 miles at an 8 minute pace, but around my 3 I started to energy bonk and wanted nothing more then to go home and eat peanutbutter, so I did, and it was really good.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

5.5 miles, 9:50 pace, trails

I was planning on running the Owen-Putnam 50k in Indiana this weekend, but I waited to long to register and I couldn't get a hold of the RD on Thursday or Friday to see if there were any spots left so I just decided to stay home. I ran the large loop of the Stone Steps course at a comfortably fast pace today.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

5 miles, 33:29 total time, 6:42 overall pace, track


Mile 1: 6:33
Mile 2: 6:48
Mile 3: 6:48
Mile 4: 6:44
Mile 5: 6:34