Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All aboard the taper train...

Insert: go check out Adam's 50$ giveaway over at I Am Boring

Next stop... Plansville...

Halfway through taper week... less than 72 hours from race time (breath, breath...)

  • Training mileage down a
  • Obsessing over upcoming event up a
  • Productivity at work down a
  • Blog posting up a
So as I mentioned in my last post, I drove to Champaign over the weekend and ran the half-marathon course... So now that I have the course committed to memory I'm able to mentally run through my race anytime (i.e. during meetings at work, while I'm laying in bed trying to sleep, when my wife is telling me about her day, etc.)... Ultimately, I'm hoping to go into the race on Saturday with a solid plan on how I'm going to approach each section of the race and follow it to my goal. So far, this is what I've come up with.

My goal: 1:35:29... significant because it's the goal I need to achieve to get into Corral B of the Chicago marathon this year (currently I'm in Corral C). I McMillan'd my recent 8k time of 32:20 and it tells me that an "equivalent performance" in a half-marathon would give me a time of 1:30:41... Not sure if I could actually hit the 1:30:xx mark quite yet (which would be a 9 minute PR), but with 5 minutes to play with I'm feeling relatively confident that I should be able to go sub 1:36 relatively easily if I can put together even a semblance of a decent performance...

My goal is also significant because it's the pace I'd need to maintain for a entire marathon in order to qualify for Boston...

My Plan: Lucky for me the marathon has a 3:10 pace group... so plan should be simple enough... start out with the pace group and use them to keep me from going out too fast... work my way to the front of the pace group by mile 8 (the first 7 miles are run on city streets but mile 8 enters into a park and we run on a paved trail for about a mile. The trail is narrower than the streets and I could definitely see congestion being an issue especially if people are running in packs).
Exit the park at mile 9 and then break away from the pace group and gradually start to pick up the pace. From there I plan to methodically pick off as many runners as I can, but all the while trying not to let my pace get too out of control because: I want to make sure I save some extra energy for a strong kick at the finish... having this bit of energy for the kick is particularly important because they'll be displaying the finish on the stadium screen as we sprint towards the 50 yard line of the football stadium.... So obviously I have to make sure that I have the energy to make anyone in front of me look like a fool as I sprint past them... but even more importantly, I have to make sure that nobody makes me look like a fool (read: I really really really don't want to get chick'd on the football field while it's projected on the big screen... oh please, oh please, don't let me get chick'd on the ol' grid-iron!!!).

So that's the plan... I'm just hoping that if I go over it enough in my mind I can convince myself to stick to it after the gun goes off!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Taper Madness

My left knee just started aching last night which can mean only thing: It's taper time!!! And I have an acute case of TAPER MADNESS!!!... (which I just found out has it's own website and forum... kind of like a support group for taperers!)

...Aches, pains, doubts, and strains springing abundantly like the weeds in my meagerly tended garden as the hours, minutes, and seconds slowly melt and drip together like a Salvador Dali painting on mushrooms (or wait... maybe that would make it look normal)... but I digress...

...except, what was I talking about again?... Oh yes... drug induced flashbacks... and why would I be talking about drug induced flashbacks? Because this Saturday I'll be running the Illinois half-marathon in Champaign, Il; home of the University of Illinois where I did my Undergrad (5+ years of my life that would be better off forgotten, and so I subsequently have).

But seriously, I'm super excited to be going back to my Alma Mater to burn up the streets of my old stomping grounds (except this time with no rioting)! So excited, in fact, that I drove into Champaign this past Saturday (about 100 mile drive from Peoria where I currently live) to survey the course... figured it be the perfect way to accomplish my last long run before the race... that and I wanted to make sure I was prepared to stay the course come race day, especially after reading a recent blog entry about someone who got misdirected during a recent half marathon and subsequently missed a top ten finish and a PR!

Some notes about the course: It takes us through campus, through the historic district of Urbana (think old brick buildings, and funky houses), then through seedy town (past the "Silver Bullet" strip club, the 'nicer' strip club in town; not that I would know anything about that), then through the burbs (think McMansions and golf courses), then on a one mile loop through a sculpture park (where these kids I knew used to go get high; not that I would know anything about that), and then back towards campus where the course wraps around into the football stadium and finishes on the 50 yard line.

Also, the course is extremely flat... In fact I don't think I encountered a single hill!!!

Let's just say that I think this race is going to be fast... how fast? More on that in my next post... as I continue to fight my Taper Madness by blogging away the hours, minutes, and seconds before race day...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Break out da funk..

Last couple weeks I've been in a running funk. The kind where it takes all of your will power just to lace up your shoes (actually just tie them... it's not like I unlace my running shoes every time I run... in fact who am I kidding... rarely are they even untied; read: cram my foot into my running shoes and force the backs over my heels)... and then even after you force yourself out the door your pretty much consumed with thoughts of walking and/or turning around and cutting the run short through the entire run. The kind of funk where you're perpetually tired, aching, and unmotivated. Worst possible timing too, because I have a half marathon coming up in 13 days.

Fortunately, I think out of the thick if it (knock on wood)... I used some various tricks to help me snap out of it, which I'll share now.

  • Started running with my dogs: I've felt guilty for neglecting to get my dogs the proper exercise they deserve so I started taking them out for a 2 mile "warm up" before completing the rest of my run (warm up in quotations because the dogs are pretty much set on running sub 8 minute miles).
  • Switching up locations: I drove to a couple of the local parks to do my training runs. Definitely a welcome change of atmosphere as opposed to my mundane loops around my surrounding neighborhoods which I've run about umpteen times!
  • Slowing down and turning off the I-pod: left the I-pod at hope and tried to slow down a bit and simply enjoy running during this beautiful spring we're having! (as opposed to pushing the pace till it hurts behind my eyes and then cranking up my I-pod to distract me from the pain)
  • Drawing upon blogger buddy inspiration: I got home Thursday from my "warm up" with my dogs and seriously considered call it a day... I went to my blog with the intentions of venting out another crabby whiny entry (95% of the reason to have a blog in my humble opinion). Then I saw the 8 comments from my last crabby whiny entry as thought "Screw these people, I'm going running!!!"... Seriously though... it was more like an ah-ha moment: Am I really going to blog about how crappy I've been running or am I gonna man up, hit the road, and then blog about how great I've been running! so THANKS!!!!
  • Go Long: The long run is my favorite part about running... I just love going out and running non stop of a couple of hours... partly because it amazes me that I (or anyone really) could ever do this (sometimes it's hard just to get up off the couch!)... partly because it's so liberating... and mostly for the endorphins: seems like it takes about 7 mile start feeling the flow and after that my pace picks up, my stride smoothes out, my heart rate drops, and I get in this place where I feel like I'm effortlessly gliding along and that I could pretty much maintain it forever!
  • Dream Big: I came into Sunday with 25 miles on the week... so I decided to shoot for an even 40 (looking back at my training log I realized that this would be only the 5th time I went over 40 miles for a week and the other 4 times were during the peak of marathon training). In order to hit the 40 I'd need to do a 15 miler; 3 miles longer then my longest run all year and my longest training run since September 20th. So I went out and I did it... and now I feel great... In fact I negative split the run and finished the last 4 miles at a 7:45 pace!
So right now I feel pretty great... I'm going to take today off, rest up, and watch the Boston Marathon on Universal Sports (which BTW is costing me $4.99... What ever happened to free?!?!?... Oh well, small price to pay I guess... I just hope the streaming audio/video works better than it normally does now that I'm paying for it!!!) Good luck to everyone running today... I'll be watching for/thinking about you and hoping to join you in Boston one of these years!!!


Update on Boston marathon coverage... in a word: "shitty"... for some reason they heavily favored the women's race showing mostly either split screen or full screen of the woman's leaders... now nothing against the woman's racers, but the woman who won (Teyba Erkesso of Ethiopia) made a breakaway at mile 15 and didn't have anyone near here until mile 25 when the second place runner finally closed within 16 seconds of her. So basically I was just watching Teyba Erkesso running for about an hour straight...

...meanwhile the men actually had a pack, had surges, recoveries, lead changes, strategic moves.. or so I hear since they didn't bother to show most of it.

The announcing was pretty bad as well... it would be nice if they could find some guys who actually were a little more familiar with the runners and the race... it hardly phased them that the male winner ran a 2:05:51, a course recorder by over a minute and damn fast time on a notoriously tough Boston!!! They were much more interested in the fact that the winner, 21 year old Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot of Kenya has a very similar name to Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot who had won Boston 4 times in the past (in fact, I think they mentioned it about 100 times!!!)... they also conjectured that Meb Keflezighi must be hurt since he finished well behind the winner with a time of 2:09:24 even though he was only 9 seconds off his PR for the marathon, set last fall when he won the NYC marathon in 2:09:15...

P.S.: Sorry about the photo... but nothing says "Funk" like George Clinton in a man-diaper... Also, I actually saw George Clinton and the P-Funk All-stars perform when I was a freshman in college. I got a free ticket to the show just by signing up for a credit card... best 4000$ worth of interest I've ever spent!!!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Working hard or hardly working

Its been a whirlwind couple weeks for me… adjusting to working second shift (2:30-10:30) and the subsequent lack of sleep its resulting in, four 12 hour shifts, three day weekend on the roof, then a week full of yard work and garage cleaning by day, real work by night… and right now I’m in jury duty by day (they have laptop access!) and working by night… and all the while the laundries been piling up and the sink is always half-full of dishes… and the result: My running has been suffering!!!

it started with the roofing (all daylight hours on the roof + not trusting the drivers around my neighborhood to be attentive and sober even when it is light out = no running)… after the roofing was done I was sore!!! Working on a slant for such a long amount of time really did a number on my tendons, so I decided (after one horribly depressing and uninspired 3 mile run/walk) that I better take a few more days off.

So I took about a week off (minus the 3 miler)… so I should be refreshed right??? But actually I’m tired (from my random schedule and total lack of routine), rusty (from my lack of running), and cranky (also from my lack of running)… Turns out I’m more of endorphins addict than I though.

Plan for this week… get through jury duty, get back into training mode (at least 30 miles with a long run of at least 12), catch up on my blogging, start using daily mile… and of course have tons of fun!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rambling on the roof

Today is my fourth day off from running in a row :(... Why?... Because I just spent 44 of the last 74 hours re-roofing my garage... And the worst part of it all is that my entire body is sorer now than I've been in years (since the summer of 2002 to be exact, when I graduated with my Bachelor's degree and immediately took a general labor position working concrete)... I definitely renewed my appreciation for the fact that I don't work manual labor jobs anymore. I remember the old timers in the concrete yard who had been working there for 20+ years... they were pretty haggard; bad backs, bad arms, (and I don't even want to know what 20 years of breathing concrete dust does to your lungs).

Oh well... at least I finally got my garage roof fixed... A tree fell on it last spring and knocked a hole in it and it's slowly been accumulating water damage ever since...

Some notes about the job:

-I had 500 dollars in Lowe's gift certificates from refinancing my mortgage last year so the whole job only cost me 60 bucks, including 21 bundles of shingles, flashing, and 4 sheets of new plywood to replace the old rotted boards.

-I saved an additional 10% by going to the post office and picking up a change of address packet (these contain 10% coupons off of all purchases at Lowes among other things)

-They now keep the change of address packets behind the counter at the post office (the lady behind the counter told me that people were taking them all and then selling the coupons on ebay)

-When I went to Lowe's to buy the shingles (I picked up 18 bundles on the first go around) the checkout person asked me if I needed any help loading the singles... normally I say no, but I had been pulling shingles and plywood off my garage roof all day and decided it would be nice to have a hand since each bundle weighs about 80 pounds... I pulled my truck around to the exit and started loading shingles... after I had loaded about 5 bundles a kid came over to give me a hand... He lifted one bundle and put in in my truck... I loaded about 4 more bundles as he stressed and strained and finally loaded a second bundle into my truck... I loaded 6 more bundles as he attempted to load a third bundle... he managed to slide it off the rolling pallet and onto the concrete of the parking lot and then continued to stress and strain as he frivolously attempted to get the upper hand on the bundle... he strained to lift the bundle off the concrete far enough so he could get his hands under it but ultimately was only managing to bend and mangling my shingles... Finally after I had finished loading the rest of the shingles I told him to stand back and lifted the last (slightly mangled) bundle myself... Some help that guy was. I'm thinking he might want to look for another job.

-The funny part was that loading the truck wasn't even the hard part... when I got back to my house, I still had to hoist each bundle up out of the truck, balance the bundle on my shoulder, and then climb up a ladder with it to get it onto the roof...

-Before I started the job I was afraid of heights... I had actually been putting it off for over a year because everytime I got up on the roof I felt like I was about to fall to my death... I finally manned up a got to work... after about 3 hours I up there I was more or less comfortable and by the end of the third day I was dancing around on the roof like a fool.

Hopefully, despite my full body soreness, my running specific muscles have gotten a rest... I plan testing this theory my doing 5 mile tomorrow and 15 on Wednesday.

Friday, April 2, 2010

switching it up

Got tired of looking at myself sitting on top of Mt. Lassen so I switched my banner image to a picture I took after a long ascent up a bluff in the Negev Desert.... plus I had to change my mission statement to reflect that I'm no longer a mid-pack runner but am now an upper-mid-pack runner...

Also, added a daily mile widget... I've been on the daily mile for a couple months now, but haven't started using it yet... maybe now I will.