Thursday, December 22, 2011
While this last year has been a success as I set personal records in every distance I ran, my new-found speed has come at a cost: I run fewer miles with my dog, Sammy. For six years and counting, we have been nearly inseparable pounding the pavement. The only times I didn't run with her in the past were those times when I went on my Saturday long runs (longer than ten in the summer or 13.1 in the winter) or when I did speed or a race. This summer, as I embarked on my quest to improve my times and BQ, I had to leave her at home more often. That's not to say she stopped running with me completely, just that it has diminished. I never take her longer than seven miles in the summer, and that is only on days cool enough and with a water bottle. Most runs with her were only a couple of miles. For example, after a tempo or speed work, I may run with her for up to two or three miles as I cool down. In the summer, she probably peaks around 10-15 miles per week whereas in the summer she might do 20-25. What has been nice about being in the interim period between trainings is that she has joined me for almost all of my runs. This week alone, I ran solo on the C&O Canal for 16 (she'd absolutely have a ball if I were to bring her on that trail with me), but she joined me for Sunday's five, Tuesday's nine, Wednesday's seven, and today's nine. And, she still has energy to chase squirrels in our yard when we return. That's thirty miles this week - she is in great shape. I do worry that as she ages, she may start to slow down, but that hasn't happened yet. She's going to be nine years old in May, and I hope she has another nine years plus of running alongside me. One of my favorite running shirts proclaims, "Got to run...with my dog!"
Monday, December 12, 2011
With 2011's race calendar in the books, I decided to reflect on my most successful running year to do. Without a question, it was my breakthrough year. The best decision I made this year was hiring a running coach (Mike Hamberger at http://www.dcrunningcoach.com/) which helped focus me on my goals and push me past my comfort level. I had trained somewhat lazily in the past, but changed my attitude when Boston changed its standards - I knew this was my last year to qualify under the 3:10 standard for open men (18-34) and the 2012 Boston Marathon would be my final opportunity in this age group. With a "last ditch" approach, I plowed through the remaining mental and physical barriers that held me back. The secret I discovered was in fact no secret - speed work, training smart, and core work is essential and does pay off. The year started with some decent running, highlighted by my Cherry Blossom 10 Miler PR, quickly followed by my low point with my less than stellar Providence Marathon. In mid-May, I began working with Mike in preparation for my Labor Day Weekend Marathon in Idaho. I've posted many of those results in past blogs. I'm using this posting as not-so-subtle humblebrag to highlight my 2011 races: Marathon PR-ed and BQ-ed twice (3:07 and 3:05), PR-ed 5K (18:34), 10K (38:42), 10 miler (65:32), and half marathon (1:27:45), and led a race for the first 2.5 miles and finished second overall - next year hope to PR again! 2011 Race Results 1/1/11 Predictions & Resolutions 5K 19:44 1/15/11 JFK 20K 1:23:39 2/5/11 Langley 8K 33:17 2/20/11 GW Birthday Marathon Relay - Two Guys, a Girl, and a Distance Race (with Grace and Dan) 4th Coed team 3:02:50 2/27/11 Club Challenge - 1:07:02 3/13/11 St Patty’s 8K - 32:29 4/3/11 Cherry Blossom - 65:32 PR! 5/01/11 Cox Providence Marathon - 3:23 5/04/11 ACLI 3 Miler - 19:53 5/14/11 MBT 5K - 19:20 PR! 5th overall 6/11/11 NPC 5K - 20:31 8/21/11 BRRC Too Hot to Trot 10K - 38:45 PR (course .2 short?) 9/03/11 Pocatello Marathon (Idaho) – 3:07:36 PR & BQ! 12th overall; 2nd M30-34AG 10/09/11 Army Ten Miler - 65:32 Tied PR! 11/05/11 Savannah Marathon – New PR 3:05! 68th Overall out of 4722 finishers! 11/24/11 Bradford CT 5K 18:34 new PR! 10th overall out of 900+ 3rd age group 12/04/11 Bread Run 10K – 2nd place OVERALL! Led the first 2.5 miles, traded the lead with Franco Reyes the next 3 miles, then settled for 2nd after the tough hill. 40:20 12/11/11 Gar Williams Half Marathon – 1:27:45 New PR! My goal for 2012 is to improve my PR's, run well in Boston, and crack three hours in the marathon. We shall see.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Yesterday, I raced the DC Road Runners Club Bread Run 10K. A smaller club race with roughly 200 finishers, it was a nice run along MacArthur Boulevard in Glen Echo, Maryland, that returns along the C&O Canal. I had PR-ed in a 5K over a week ago in Branford, CT (18:34 a new PR by 46 seconds and good for 10th overall out of 700 and 3rd in my age group), and I wasn't really sure what I would have in me. I did decide to race it since I want to compete in my club's Snowball Series and need the points as I will only be able to run in five events - the maximum to number that count in the scoring. When the race began, my strategy was to run as close to 6:10 as I could and hold it for most of the race. I bolted up the small hill, and was surprised and a bit confused because I was actually leading a race! The best I had finished prior to this was fifth overall in a small club race, but at no point beyond the first few meters had I led a race of any sort or any distance. I run knowing that Franco Reyes, a fellow club member and nice guy, was in a pack behind me, so I did my best to focus on my breathing and pace. I ran thinking it would be great to say I led a race for the first mile. That first mile turned into a second mile in the lead, and I had visions of actually winning a race. Those dreams turned to reality where, after holding onto the lead for the first 2.5 miles, I came to a volunteer who directed me right on Ridge Road, but the course actually went left. Franco shouted out to me, and I joined him and another in the lead pack, losing only a few meters and seconds and my lead. For the next three miles, we were shoulder to shoulder along the C&O Canal. We chatted a bit, and I tried to through some surges, but each time he was able to match or surge ahead himself which I matched. Coming back on the trail and prior to the final ascent, I put on a quick kick that netted me maybe ten meters before that nasty hill just about 1K from the finish. That's the dirt trail that separates "the contenders from the pretenders." I had hoped to come up the hill with a small lead or at least close, but he regained himself quicker than I was able and pushed on to finish in first. If I could have stayed close, I hoped to out-kick him in the end, but I never had the chance. Settling in to second, I pushed forward with a secure lead as third and fourth were about 15-20 seconds back. The best I had done was fifth in the Metropolitan Branch Trail 5K in May of 2011, tenth in the Branford Rotary 5K in November of 2011, and twelfth in the Pocatello Marathon in September of 2011 in Idaho. Happy and content my with effort, I coasted in second overall - the highest I had ever finished a race! I still marvel at the progress I have made in running. My first race was a 4:10 Marine Corps Marathon in 2004. Today, I can say I am a 3:05 marathoner and Boston Qualyfier and have solid times in other distances. My next goals include a sub 3 hour marathon, finish Boston and re-qualify, and improve my times - just continue to race well! Photo 1 from Branford 5K; Photo 2 from DCRRC Bread Run 10K: