Monday, May 31, 2010

May Stat Recap

Once again its time for the end of month stat keeping...

The mileage is building and I'm feeling good...19 weeks till the Chicago Marathon... "official" marathon training cycle starts next week...BRING IT ON!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Commitment to Pace

Lately the quantity has been thriving but the quality has been lacking so this week I decided to cut back the mileage a bit but up the quality of the runs... It’s all part of my cutting edge, make It up as you go, pre-marathon prep work. In just over a week I’ll go back “on the grid” again as I begin my 18 week countdown to Chicago but for now my “run whatever workout comes to mind” approach has been serving me just dandy.
Today, as part of quality week, I attempted to run a 4 mile tempo workout... I say attempted because what I ended up running was not really a tempo workout at all... it was more like a 4 mile time trial… and of course it was all Pepito's fault. Here’s how it went down.
I started by Mcmillaning my recent 5k time to find out what my tempo pace should be: 6:36-6:53... I figured since I'm ultimately focusing on my marathon performance I'd stray to the slower end of that spectrum and shoot for 6:45 pace...I headed out the door and after a 1 mile warm-up I turned on my Garmin and set my virtual partner "Pepito" to run a distance for 4 miles and knowing that rivalry with Pepito would induce me to run about 5-10 seconds faster than whatever pace I entered into the Garmin, I went ahead and set Pepito's pace to 6:56... Then I hit the start button and we were off...
4 miles later and here are my splits: 6:20, 6:25, 7:00!!!, 6:25...
Once again I let Pepito goad me into starting off entirely too fast. Subsequently I crashed at mile 3 and wind up slowing way down... and although I did manage to pick the pace back up for the last mile, I'm still, once again, running too fast... Another tempo run failure!
Honestly I’m starting to get frustrated in my lack of self-control. It’s like I got two speeds, fast and slow, and I just can’t seem to hit anything in between… and if, by chance, I do happen to hit that in between speed (like in my most recent half-marathon), I find myself ill-prepared to mentally handle the hard but not too hard pace… Bottom line is I have to take control! So right here, right now, I’m making a commitment to my pace… I’m going to put the S back into LSD (long slow distance)… I’m going to take control of my tempo runs… I’m going slow down my recovery runs… I’m going to hit my mileage totals, and I’m going to get in my quality work! I’m going to train like a champion and when race day finally comes I’m going to smash through the wall and perform like a champion!!! Q.E.D.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Foreshadowing the relay... plus

Here are some excerpts from a recent e-mail chain being circulated amongst my Madison to Chicago 200 relay teammates:
Stik:  I'm pretty sure I pulled my groin during my recovery from mono runs.  The people at the gym called the cops.  I got about 2.5 miles in today and my inner thigh hurts.  The point of this long whiny e-mail is that my mile time estimates are off 
Trevor: Anyone want to switch with me and give me a shorter overall distance (In the 14-16 range)?  19.32 may kill me, especially since I've been slacking in my training :) 
Timmy: Bad news.  So, I managed to injure my calf muscle a couple weeks back, and have been trying to take some time off for a while to let it heal.  Everything felt fine going into Sunday's run - I stretched well, took it nice-and-easy, and still managed to re-injure it within the first 1/4 mile.  At this point, I'm concerned about being able to finish ramping up my mileage in time for the race.  (The longest run I've done this year was only about 6.4 miles.) 
Maybe I'm just a pessimist but I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this...


Also,  I wanted to give my praises to the site   If you haven't checked it out before, its basically a site that compiles race results from a bunch of different sources and then you can look up your times (or other peoples times) by name...  I particularly impressed with them because I used the "add a race" feature to add the Bulldog Dash 5k results to their site and provided them a link to the excel spreadsheet on the Germantown Elementary school home page and 2 days later they replied to me by e-mail that the results have been posted... 

Anyway, it's a free site and a convenient way to keep track of your racing history, so go check it out if you're interested.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Next Episode...

Last Friday I mentioned that I ran 5.74 miles and hinted that there might be some significants to the figure... well wonder no longer, the mystery is about to be revealed (first LOST and now this?!?)

On June 11th, I'll be running the Madison to Chicago 200 (M2C 200) relay!  A 200 mile 12 man, 36 leg relay that covers 200 miles between Madison, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois (via Milwaukee)...

The significants of the 5.74 miles is that its the distance of the first leg I'm going to run (I'm runner number 11 and will be doing the 11th leg (5.74 miles), 23rd leg (4.95 miles), and 35th leg (7.51 miles)...

And the reason I ran the 5.74 miles on Friday morning is because I figured "what better training than to run the three legs of the relay in a 24 hour span to see where I'm at"... Specificity in training right?

So Friday morning I ran 5.74 miles (8:06 pace),  Friday evening I ran 4.95 miles (7:51 pace), and Saturday morning I ran 7.51 miles (7:57) pace...  

Here's some notes on the run:
  • Friday was my first 2-a-day workout ever!  I felt tired on the friday evening run yet I still ran faster than I did on my morning run... Probably no reason to include 2-a-day workouts on the regular at this point, but maybe someday if the mileage warrants it!
  • Including those 3 runs I got 50 miles total in this week for my most weekly miles this year (previous high was 40)...  on top of that I didn't even log a long run this week (7,10,7,rest,10,8,8)
  • Despite my mileage being so high this week (for me anyway) I was still able to maintain a 8:00 minute average pace for my three practice legs.
Anyway... a lot more on this in the weeks to come but for now I'll leave you with a few teasers
  • We are not going to be a competitive team... in fact we'll be lucky if we can finish! 
  • Our team is semi-officially sponsored by Goose Island Brewery
  • I'm currently working on our own official rap song for the team which I will release on this blog sometime over the next few weeks (assuming i can figure out how to share audio)

Friday, May 21, 2010

And just when I thought it was over...


It's the end of the week so I decided to move on and put last weeks 5k and 2k shamings behind me...  so I changed up my banner, set my sights on the future, and went for a nice relaxed 5.74* mile run.

So there I was mid-run, cruising along, jamming to my i-pod, and generally enjoying myself... I was approaching a bus stop where a lady was waiting for the bus to arrive... as I approached, the lady stepped into my path and says:

"Excuse me, do you know what time it is?"

Me: "No, Sorry"

Then she glances down at my giant brick-sized GPS watch...

Now I'm forced to try to explain on the fly how this is a GPS watch and that I don't know how to get it to actually display time of day... and of course this explanation has to take place over my shoulder in the 2.5 seconds available before I'm past her and on my way (heaven forbid I break stride)... I'm not even sure what I said to her but I do know that it probably sounded nonsensical and pathetic...

...So then I'm stuck feeling like a complete tool for the rest of my run as I contemplate about how much of an asshole she must think I am for not telling her the time even though I was wearing a giant comically sized watch!

...Other things that came to mind when I was finishing up my run...

  • Why couldn't she have asked me if I knew the exact latitude and longitude of the position she was standing instead?... 
  • I should have said: "Sorry, I don't know how to read digital watches."
  • Do you think Flava' Flave knows what time it is?
  • or I could have said "Time to get a watch!"... booya lady!

*more info on the significants of the 5.74 mile run coming soon

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Further Shaming at the Bulldog Dash...

In my previous post I recapped about how I was defeated, shamed, and humiliated at the hands of my  running nemesis, Robbie...

Unfortunately for me, my 5k racing failure was only the start of the humiliation that I experienced on that fateful day...

The next chapter in this spiral of shame starts almost immediately following the conclusion of my 5k... I just got bested by my arch foe, my clothes are soaking wet from running in the rain, and I'm freezing cold... Of course I can't leave the race because we have to wait for the awards ceremony... and to make matters worse there's still a 2k that has to be run before  before the awards are announced...

And that's when I get my brilliant idea:  I'll run the 2k!!!  Since I spend most of my efforts training for longer distance events my body recovered from the 5k almost immediately... Great, I'll get in a little extra speedwork and mileage for the day, I'll set a automatic PR for a 2k, plus I'll stay warm and kill some time before the award ceremony... What could possibly go wrong? So, I negotiate a reduced rate entry for the 2k since I already ran the 5k, swapped out my race bib, and I was ready to go...

At 10 o'clock they announce that the 2k is going to start and I head over to the start line to scope out the competition... and that's when the humiliation begins... I'm the only adult registered for the race!!!

At that point I considered just going back to the shelter of the gazebo and not running (which is what I should have done in hind sight)... but WTF, I had already shelled out 15 bucks for the race, plus I really did want to get in a little bit of extra quality running... so I decided I'll just line up behind the kids (not that I really had a choice) and there'd probably be a least a couple of kids who could run sub 7 minute pace for a 2k and I'd just stay behind them...

The gun goes off and the kids take off sprinting... and I follow behind at a 7:30ish pace... And of course after about 100 meters most of them either slow way down or stop entirely... and next thing I know I'm in 10th place...  so I slow down to a 8 minute pace... but even then kids keep dropping off 1 by 1 and next thing I know I'm in 3rd place...

So now it's just me with a couple of 10 year olds about 20 feet ahead of me... and now we exiting the park, and there's cops and firemen on every turn directing the race, and I'm running past them surrounded by kids with a big shit eating grin on my face and feeling like a complete ass!!! 

By now I'm down to a 9 minute mile pace because I don't want to win this race and take the opportunity away from one of these kids...And then one of the 2 kids in front of me stops to ties his shoe... and now I'm in 2nd place... so finally I just stop, get off to the side of the course, wait till about 20 of the kids pass by and then start walking... and when the course finally gets back to the gazebo I drop out and head for shelter.

Man, what a disaster!  The only saving grace from the whole fiasco was that my friend Scott, who had been taking pictures, had ran back to his house to pick up my wife (she didn't initially go with us because she wanted to sleep in) so at least I don't have any pictures of my shaming (although they would be pretty funny)...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bulldog Dash 5k: Race Report

 This weekend, I traveled down to Germantown, Illinois to battle with an old rival, Robbie Vonalst, in a local 5k.

I stayed at my buddy Scott's house... and woke up 2 hours before race time to the sound of thunder and torrentially pouring rain!!!  Perfect... I had travelled 3 hours to attend this stupid race and now it was going to be rained out?!?... Scott made some calls (Scott's cousin was a volunteer at the race... which would seem like a handy coincidence except that I'm pretty sure that in Germantown, Il everyone is related to everyone in some form or fashion) and we found out that the race had not been cancelled as of yet...

So I had a bowl of raisin bran soaked in water (Scott's one of those bachelor types who only has condiments in his fridge)... and then we headed over to the race course... Fortunately, by now the thunder had passed... Unfortunately, it was still 50 degrees and pouring rain...  But like I said, I drove 3 hours to attend this stupid race so nothing to do but man up!

I head over to the registration table to sign up and there's Robbie...  needless to say, he was surprised to see me.  We spent the next half hour cracking jokes and talking shit to each other and then headed over to the starting line...

We get to the starting line and the line is jam packed with little kids (the race is a fund raiser for after school programs at a local elementary school so a lot of the kids showed up to run)...  I could tell that is was going to be an annoying start but whatever;  this wasn't my town and all the parents were either in the race or mulling around near the start so I figured I'd just deal with it...

The gun goes off and predictably the kids take off at a full sprint for about 50 meters and then slowly one by one start walking...  I soon find myself off to the side of the road, sprinting through puddles and mud to avoid stampeding the little shits...  by the 800 meter mark I've been able to get around them all and settle into a pace but by now I had used way more energy then I would have liked (my heart rate had ballooned up to 188/98% of my max during the first 400 meters from sprinting before settling back down to 170)...  

The one good thing was that Robbie had been held up by the kids as well and all the dodging and surging had allowed me to build a small lead...  Unfortunately the lead did not hold up for long and by the one mile mark Robbie and I were running side by side.  First Mile: 6:11

By now, I'm starting to pay for the fast start... My legs are burning and I'm in oxygen debt... I look over at Robbie and despite the fact that he's running is a soaking wet long-sleeved cotton t-shirt and a pair of basketball shorts, the bastard seems totally comfortable!  Doubts start creeping into my mind but  I fight them back and decide to hold on for as long as I can... Robbie and I forge ahead and pass several runners on our way towards the Two Mile Make.  Second Mile: 6:29

We continue on into the third mile.  Robbie turns it on and surges ahead... and I decide that I've had enough and just let him go: FAIL!!!  I watch as Robbie pulls away and catches up to a group of two runners who are 25 feet ahead of us... For the next mile Robbie stays with them and I stay 25 feet behind them.  I look behind me and see a runner about 25 feet behind me so at least I have motivation to keep pushing. Third Mile: 6:26

As we pass the third mile mark we turn a corner and head towards the finish... I watch up ahead as one of the runners Robbie is with breaks away from the group... Robbie follows suit and finishes between the two of them... I turn on whatever I have left and squeeze out my own little kick.  Final .1: 5:20 pace

-My Final Time: 19:29 (6:16 pace)

-Robbie's Final Time: 19:21 (6:14 pace)

Cold, wet, and ashamed I wait with Scott and Robbie for the award ceremony*.  I've been training for over a year now, non-stop... meanwhile Robbie hadn't run since the Chicago Marathon last October and had just started up again about a month ago and still had no problems beating me...  To make matters worse, Scott (who had been spectating and taking pictures during the race) tells me that he had overheard some other spectators commenting on how impressive it was that "the big guy" was doing so well during my finish (the big guy meaning Me!!!! FML)...

Finally the awards are announced... 1st place in the 30-34 age group, 5th place overall... Robbie Vonalst... 3rd place in the 30-34 age group, 7th place overall, Ethan Zeman!!!  

 I let out a sigh of relief... I knew I had finished 7th overall but 7th is the first spot that's not guaranteed a medal; top 3 get overall finishers trophy's so if the next four finishers are in the same age group the 7th place spot gets nothing... and I figured with the way things had been going that would be just my luck...  Fortunately the 4th place runner was 35... so I WON A MEDAL!!! The First hardware I've won in 13 years!!!! (not counting the ones you get for just finishing the race)...

I guess 30-34 M is a competitive age group in Germantown Illinois... The first place in our group, Robbie, finished in 19:21,  the second place guy finished in 19:23, and I finished in 19:29...  Only 8 seconds separating the three of us...

So in conclusion: Not a bad race at all... I won my first medal... I scored an almost 3 minute PR in the 5K... and I'm 8 seconds slower than an untrained Robbie... Now if I can just keep training and maybe lose some weight so I'm not "the big guy" anymore, I might actually have some success at this running thing!

*Actually I had an even more ridiculous and embarrassing experience while waiting for the awards, but I'm going to save that one for my next post...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let's get ready to rumble!!!

Does anyone have one of “those guys” as a running friend? You know the type that are just built for running… the type that retain a level of 10% body fat or less no matter how many times they super size their value meals… the type who can take 6 months off from running, slam a six pack the night before, and then go out and whip you in a 5k? Well, I do and his name is Robbie… and this weekend I’m planning on getting my revenge!

Some back story:

When I got back into running last year it was partly because I had signed up for the Chicago Marathon with my two close friends, Robbie and Symons (we were all ex-high school x-country stars who met during freshman year of college). As we started our training cycles Symons and I struggled to whip our lazy fat asses back into runners… meanwhile Robbie would be would be whipping out 7 min mile paced training runs like it was nothing.

Last July, Symons and I traveled down to Robbie’s hometown of Breese, Illinois to participate in a half-marathon in nearby St. Louis. After the half marathon (in which Robbie beat us with ease) we went back to Robbie’s house to hang out and that’s where we saw Robbie’s Bulldog Dash medals…

The Bulldog Dash is a local 5k that takes place in Robbie’s neighboring town of Germantown, Illinois. Robbie has participated in the Bulldog run for the last 5 years and even won the event once! When Symons and I saw the medals last July we started a long running joke (literally) about how we were going to show up and beat him in the Bulldog Dash someday… and we’ve been joking about beating him in the Bulldog Dash ever since… but this Saturday the joke becomes a reality… and let me warn you: It’ll be no laughing matter!!!

The current story:

Luckily enough for me I have another friend, Von Bokel, who lives in Germantown too. Using Von Bokel as an inside man I determined that Robbie will in fact be participating in the Bulldog Dash this Saturday… Monday I e-mailed Robbie under the guise that it was 5 months exactly till this years Chicago Marathon (we’re both signed up again) and that I wanted to see how his training is going… Robbie replied that he had just started training about a month ago (he’s an accountant so he is usually swamped up until April 15th)… he also relayed that he was “in the worst shape of his life” and the he “sucks”… Bingo!!!

The plan:

Drive down to Germantown, Il (about a 3 hr drive from Peoria) Friday night after work to stay with my friend Von Bokel. Show up to the race at 7:45 when race day registration opens… jog the course… hide out… and then make my way to the starting line 5 minutes before the start of the race… if at all possible I’ll try to maneuver myself so that Robbie doesn’t even know that I’m there until the race has started and he’s eating my dust… Afterwards, I plan on doing a victory dance, hopefully with my very own Bulldog dash medal draped around my neck!!!

Either that or he’s totally going to whip me… after all he has been training for almost a month now and he is one of “those guys”…

Monday, May 10, 2010

Warning: This might offend some people…

But here it goes… I can't hold back any longer so I'm just going to go out and say it... You actually named your Garmin? They're a freakin' tool!!! You wouldn't name your wrench if you were working on your car would you?
No sir! My Garmin is just a fancy watch, and I call it "my Garmin"... Seriously, lay off the crazy! Sorry, but it’s just a pet peeve of mine…

And now that I got that off my chest let me tell you about the little man that lives in my Garmin...

See there's this little man who lives in my Garmin. His name is Pepito. His Mother was a Tarahumara Indian and his father was a member of the Kenyan Kipsigis tribe. He used to train in the high altitude conditions of Mexico City but then he signed a contract with Garmin and now he lives inside my watch and serves as my "Virtual Training Partner"...

Mostly, I like training alone, so I don’t normally run with Pepito but every once in a while, during a time trial or tempo run, I’ll invite Pepito along because Pepito is an excellent pacer... In fact Pepito is such a good pacer that he can keep an exact pace over any distance and for any length of time… you just tell him what pace you want and how far your going and he’ll do the rest!!!
Now you’d think that with a skill like this Pepito would make an excellent training partner… and for the most part you’d be right, except for one thing: Pepito is super competitive! In fact, Pepito is so competitive that you could almost consider it a character flaw… and it actually presents quite a problem and here’s why… let’s take the other week for example:

Pepito and I set out for a nice half-marathon paced 5 mile tempo run… for me that was supposed to be 5 miles at a 7:15 pace. But before we start Pepito goes and start running his mouth, talking about “You can’t keep a 7:15 pace for 5 miles!!!”, “You'll start too slow and then you'll never be able to catch up!!!”, and “I’ma Gonna win!!!” (in a Wario voice)… He kept harassing me and goading me and egging me on until I got so worked up that when the run finally started I took off way too fast and found myself way ahead of Pepito… And then once I was ahead I knew I had two choices… I could either slow down and give Pepito a chance to catch me and embarrass me or I could keep pushing the pace until Pepito was so far behind that he’d never stand a chance of keeping up…

I chose the 2nd of course and wound up finishing the 5 miles at a 6:55 pace. It was great at first as I reveled in my victory but later on I realized that all of Pepito’s competitive shit talking had caused me to totally blow my tempo pace… very poor training indeed!!! 

See: here's a picture of us doing battle...

So now I’m stuck with a conundrum: do I continue to train with Pepito even through every time we train he tricks me into running too fast? maybe I should tell Pepito a slower pace than I actually intend to run so that the joke is on him? Or do I just man up, ignore Pepito’s constant harassment and self doubt inducing remarks and just stick with him as he paces me?... 

I just don't know... Has anyone had any similar experiences with their virtual partner? What would you do?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Illinois Marathon race photos and lessons learned

Here's some pictures from the half... I think my favorite is the one in the upper left where I'm just entering the shot, leaping through the air at full stride, ready to kick on some foolz :) (tip: you can click on the photo if you want to enlarge it... just in case you really wanted get a good look at my ugly mug)... Also, here's some post race thoughts and lessons learned.

At a medium pace: I felt a brand new kind of pain during the half. It wasn’t the throbbing behind your eyes pain you feel during a faster race like a 5-10k and it wasn’t the “my legs are so tired they don’t work no more” pain you encounter at the end of a marathon… This pain was unique because it was gradual, annoying, and not quite ignorable (like an itch you can’t quite reach) which would have been tolerable except that it lasted for over an hour… Now normally, I don’t mind the pain so much (it’s just part of racing, in fact in a strange way I kind of enjoy it), but since this experience of pain was unfamiliar to me it made it more difficult to process… This helped me identify a gap in my training! All my runs are either fast for short amounts of time (tempo runs at 5k-10k pace for 20-40 minutes) or slow for long amounts of time (Long runs at MP+)… what about the middle ground?

Boston Qualified?: Double my Sub 1:35 in my half and you get sub 3:10 for a marathon aka BQ!!! So now at least I know what Boston Pace feels like… not so bad… for the first 5-6 miles at least!!! Yeah, I have a ways to go… but on the other hand I did come into my half-marathon recovering from a small head cold, and I did have some extra energy to screw around during the race, and I do have about 15 more pounds I could stand to lose, and I do have 5 more months and about 800 more miles of training I’m going to have under my belt before Chicago… oh well, I think I better let this one go for now… but interesting none the less… very interesting…

Strength training: The fact that I'm more sore from doing 13 push-ups in the end zone after the race then I am from running the actually race itself can mean only one thing: Time to get back into the weight room and do some strength training!

Death of Superman: Sadly I think its time I retire my superman shirt… First off I’m finally starting to concede the point the technical fabrics are indeed much better suited for running apparel then cotton and not just some scam created by athletic wear companies… Secondly, as I’m getting faster and subsequently racing harder I’m enjoying the attention the shirt brings me less and less… It used to be that I’d be running and a spectator would shout “Go Superman!” or “Looking good Superman” and then I’d smile and wave. One time at a race there was even a little kid who actually thought that I might be Superman and was super excited!!!... Now a days, when I get to mile 12 of a half marathon I’m in no mood for antics… Spectators are shouting “Let’s Go Superman” every 20 feet and I’m thinking “F*ck off… leave me alone… this sucks! When is this going to be over?!?”… I know, I know… not very Superman-like at all… Was that Kryptonite flavored Gatorade at that last fluid station or something?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Illinois Half Marathon Race Report


The usual... drive to destination, sleep in hotel (no problem getting to sleep!), wake up, shower, coffee, food, poop, stretch, jog, drive to race, wait at porta potty, jog a little more, fidget around at start line... national anthem... wait, wait, wait (come on this is taking forever)... pee in bush, jog back to start line... wait, wait... runner's take your mark... Go!!!

The race:

The gun goes off and I tuck in behind the 3:10 marathon pace group... about 20 marathoners with their eyes set on qualifying for the Big B... and a few of us half-marathoners (us interlopers and imposters) tagging along for the ride. The pace group strategy pays off big time getting us out in a very controlled and exact 7:15 first mile and saving me from my usual way too fast start... the next two miles were spent methodically passing the handfull of runners who had not been able to hold themselves back and were now resigned to suffer through that mistake for the next 11.1/24.2 miles...

I stuck with the pace group until mile 4. At this point the average pace was down to about 7:09. No problem for me, but I think that I would have been bothered if I was a marathoner. 24 seconds in the bank may not seem like a big deal but in this age of the Garmin, where just about every runner has thier own personal means to keep pace, I feel like the pacer quickly loses thier function if they go out too fast... but more on that later.

At mile 4 we hit a water stop... during my planning I wasn't sure if I was going to take water this early in the race, but it was incredibly humid and I my cotton (gasp!) Superman shirt was already drenched in sweat so I figured I better take in all the fluids I could! I moved ahead of the pace group so that I would have more flexibility in accessing the water... and as I moved ahead I felt this wave of freedom and energy pulse through my body. The first four mile I spent tucked into a pack; all of us focused on the runners directly in front of us. Each stride dictated by each others. Now that I was ahead of the pack, I was free to run my own race. No longer did I have to worry about making the marginal adjustments mid-stride to avoid clipping heals. It was just me and the open road.

From there I just tried to stay loose and keep a consistent stride and effort as I coasted along for the next couple miles... It was all going incredibly well... until it wasn't.

At mile 6 I hit my first wall... Suddenly I was struggling to keep pace. Doubts started creeping in. if I'm hurting this much already how am I gonna keep pace for another 7 miles?!?... had I trained too hard the last couple weeks and not tapered enough... maybe my endurance was not quite where it needed to be yet... I started playing the running bargaining games with myself... Just push through till the 8th mile and then you can let up... Just keep pace till the one hour mark and then you can let up... I started doing mental mathematics... If I can hold this pace for one more mile then I can slow down to 7:20 pace and still meet my goal... if I can hold it till mile 10 then I can slow down to 7:25 pace... how fast do I have to run so that I can slow down to 8 minute pace at mile 11?... etc... And I continued to beg, bargain, plead, chastise... until... miraculously I was over the wall and once again running freely... the burden lifted as the endorphins started to surge through my body... I slightly picked up the pace and forged ahead.

At mile 8 we entered a park; I felt another surge of energy... I started gradually and methodically passing people as I contuned along the one mile loop through statues, trees, and Illinois wild prarie grass...

At mile 9 I approached a gazebo... there was a rock band setup there, playing for the runners... As I passed they broke into the intro powercords to "Eye of the Tiger" and I completely lost it!!! I started shadowboxing, dancing around, and finished my display with a surge that propelled me past about 5 runners... 20 seconds later I was out of the bands auditory radius, the hype wore off, and I began to pay for my transgressions!

I looked down and my heart rate had jumped from the 88-90% range that I had been steadily holding for the last hour to the 95% range!!! Uh Oh... I thought... maybe I shouldn't have done that... I shook out my arms, eased up my stride, and focused on implementing a bit of active recovery without giving up to much pace... the course turned back out of the park and around a bend and then I was at mile 10.

...And right around mile 10 I hit my second wall... I only had 3 miles left, but I was suffering again... my first wall was more of a mental lapse but this wall was a physical one. I had only done 2 long runs of 13 miles or greater (the previous 2 weekends) and I had never ran this far at anything remotely resembling this pace... my fitness was running low, and I was forced to rely on my natural abilities and my guts!

The stretch between mile 10 and 11 was a long straightaway down an open road. I moved over to the far leftside of the road (most of the other runners were running on the right for some reason) so that I had an unobstructed view, focused on the next turn way up ahead, and then kicked it into auto-pilot.

I felt like I was still maintaining a steady pace but as I neared the turn I heard a voice behind me quickly approaching... someone behind me was just monologing away as if they were out for easy stroll without a care in the world... They were talking about marathon's past, and ultramarathons, and trail running... And then as I finally reached the turn I was overtaken by a wave of runners as the 3:10 pace group streamed past me; the voice behind me: the pace leader.

I felt a wave of anguish... had I really slowed down that much and given up so much time over the past mile? I latched onto the pace group once again and struggled to keep up... and then we passed the 11 mile mark... "about 1 minute ahead of pace" someone says... "Oops" says the pace leader "guess I got to talking and let the pace get away from me on that last mile" (turns out they had just ripped off a 6:55 mile)... Now I was really glad that I wasn't trying to BQ with this pace group!

At the 11.5 mile mark the half-marathoners and marathoners parted ways as the marathoners turned right and the half marathoners continuing straight towards the finish... The field thinned considerably after the marathoners split off... at this point I could see about 15 runners ahead of me and none of them looked like they were running particularly strong.

By know I knew that I had about 30 seconds in the bank on my 1:35 goal time plus an additional 59 seconds leeway on the 1:35:59 time I needed to qualify for the Chicago Marathon Corral B... now that the pressure was off I could relax and just focus on maintaining a decent pace while preparing for my 50 yard. I coasted on mile 12, passing a struggling competitor now and then, and then started gradually picking it up again on mile 13 knowing that the finish was at hand.

As we approached the stadium, Garmin was telling me that I had about .5 mile to go which equated to one lap around the outside of the stadium before we entered for the final 50 yard sprint to the finish. I looked behind me... nobody within reach of catching me... In front of me... about 7 runners loosely grouped together. I steadily picked it up until I was on the heels of the nearest runner as we rounded the final turn and headed toward the entrance of the stadium. We entered the stadium and as my feet touched down on the turf I geared it into overdrive and kicked it into overdrive... I sprinted past all seven runners nipping the last one right before the finish line (he was on the 20 yard line when I started)... Of course it helped that nobody else was kicking at all (mostly they were plodding along and I'm pretty sure they were just happy to be done)... I jogged through the chute, receiving my finishers medal, and then continued on to the end zone where I proceed to do 13 push-ups (one for each mile run)...

I'm sure I looked like a complete jackass, but at that moment of time I was a champion in my own mind. I had pushed through fatigue to finish the half-marathon and achieve my goal time!


And now... da stats...

Final time: 1:34:37 (PR of 5 minutes and 2 seconds)
Pace: 7:13
Overall Place: 106/5622
Division place: 19/320
Age Grade: 63%

Mile splits

Mile 1: 7:15
Mile 2: 7:12
Mile 3: 7:10
Mile 4: 7:07
Mile 5: 7:05
Mile 6: 7:10
Mile 7: 7:29
Mile 8: 7:10
Mile 9: 7:12
Mile 10: 7:13
Mile 11: 7:14
Mile 12: 7:26
Mile 13: 7:10
Last .07: 6:28 pace
Last 50 yards: 3:30 pace