Monday, July 30, 2012

Checking in at the end of July.....where is summer going so fast???

Hope you all enjoyed the "Call Me Maybe" video..........I can't get that song out of my head!  And watching the swim team act so silly reminded me that they're just teenagers having fun....the joy in their faces is contagious!

So, hello dear readers........remember me????  I mean, I know it's been a while......and I've been saying all summer how difficult it is for me to blog regularly.  So instead of dwelling on that, I'm just going to blog when I blog and not worry about it!

Ok, so last week was a GREAT running week for me.  My in-laws had rented a big house on the Outer Cape (specifically, Wellfleet, MA) and Barb, Ben and I went down Saturday afternoon to spend the week relaxing.  We all love Wellfleet (in specific), and the Outer Cape (in general) because it's....well, for lack of a better word, "chill".  There's no nightlife to speak real bars..........not too much to do at night but relax.  There's a great number of beaches to choose from......ocean beaches.....bay beaches.....and the "hidden" gems of the Cape, the ponds!  Plenty of fresh seafood to eat, including heaps of fried foods!  To say it was a wonderful week would be doing the word "wonderful" a disservice......we got SOOOOOOO lucky with the weather (only rained once!), as it was never really hot and the humidity wasn't too bad either.  Barb and I managed to have a lovely dinner (Mac's Shack!) to celebrate our 11th anniversary, as well as getting out one afternoon to tour a local winery (with tastings!), and we all got to take in a Cape League baseball game between the Chatham Anglers and the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.  For the uninitiated, the Cape Cod Baseball League features some of the best college baseball players in the country playing on small, local fields where you can see them for free.  Somehow, the hot dogs taste better when it's cooked and served by local high schoolers.  All in all, it was a great night!

Then there was my a word, fantastic!  While the humidity was comfortable for beachgoing, it was pretty high for running, but I managed.   My goal with each run was to hit a reasonable pace and finish strong, and I feel like I did just that.  After taking Sunday off, I ran Monday (5.4), Tuesday (4.8), Wednesday (6.3) and Friday (5.1).....roughly 22 miles with LOTS of hills!  The run on Friday was particularly notable, as it marked the very first time in my running "career" that I ran a progression splits went 10:07, 9:40, 9:23, 9:21, 8:47, and 6:49 for the final .14 miles.  It was a great way to end the week.  As we were driving home Friday afternoon, I was looking forward to my weekend runs, as my training schedule said 7, followed by 14 on Sunday. 

My "normal" training run is about 5.5 miles, so I needed to add on a bit to make it into a 7, so naturally I ended up with some rolling hills added on for fun!  I was feeling really lazy Saturday morning and was having a hard time getting out of the house, but I finally managed to go out around noon........quickly, I realized I should have taken advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures earlier on.  With temps in the 80's and humid, I was wilting in a hurry, but still managed to finish the run (7.19) in 1:09:36, averaging 9:41/mile.....not bad, but what would I have in the tank for the 14 on Sunday?  About 2 hours after I finished, the skies opened up and it POURED rain for a few hours, knocking the temps back down to a more reasonable level.  THANKS!!!

Once my long runs extend beyond 10 miles, I switch to a different route.  Roughly 8 miles in length, it starts with a moderate uphill of about .8 miles and never really flattens out......up and down....up and down.  To make 14, I would run this route, then run my "normal" daily route to finish up.  Thankfully, I got out a bit earlier on Sunday morning and while it was only around 70 degrees, the humidity was around 82%, so I brought my 12oz handheld bottle (Gatorade) and 2 gels (first one at mile 2, then another at mile 6) and headed out into the thick air.  I chugged up and down the hills and made it back to the house in about 1:20....was shooting for 10's and I was just under that.  Filled up my handheld with the Gatorade bottle I'd left in our mailbox and grabbed a final GU (for mile 10), and headed out for the last 5+ miles.  Right away, I could feel my left hip starting to stiffen up a little.....could be the IT band?  I kept the pace moderate and the stiffness started to vanish.  Before I knew it, I was turning up the street to finish.....13.76 miles in 2:19:47......10:10/mile........right on it!

As I walked through my cool-down, I reflected on the week I just had..........a great, relaxing vacation in a beautiful place......good times.......good food........good runs!  Then I did the math in my head and realized that not only had I just completed my longest run since Boston, but I had just run nearly 43 miles for the week......WAY beyond any week ever.   I knew that when I started training for the Hartford Marathon using the Hal Higdon Intermediate training schedule that I'd be putting up bigger mileage numbers than I'd ever done before......I just didn't think I'd be doing it so soon!    WOW!!!

Once I get my vacation pics off my phone, I'll sort through them and find a few to share with all of you, but for now, it's back to watching the Olympics.......until the track events start up, I'm going to have to suffer through women's beach volleyball.......and hopefully some field hockey with the team from the Netherlands rocking their orange unis!!!!!

Hope you're all doing well, having great runs, and enjoying the Olympics!

Call Me Maybe - 2012 USA Olympic Swimming Team

Best Olympic moment so far.....and I actually will have a real blog post coming up later today!  But for now.......ENJOY!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

UnitedHealthcare Jamestown (RI) Half-Marathon Recap......

or, simply put, lessons learned!

Ok, let's get the ugly truth out of the way up front:

2:24:08 (10:55/mile.....according to Senor Garmin, I ran 13.21 miles)

Good enough for 456th place out of 579 finishers, 236th out of 273 men, and 29th in my (50-59) age group.....but hey, I beat 6 other guys!!!   WOO HOO!!!!!

In spite of my initial negativity, there's an entirely different truth to my Rhode Island experience yesterday morning.  The simple truth is that I wasn't actually "racing" this half-marathon, but merely using it as the long run for Week #5 of training for the Hartford Marathon I'm running in October.  What's complicating this view is the fact that when I sat at this same keyboard on Friday, I wrote that I had hoped to run 2:04 and maybe even PR at around 2:01.

So what happened?

The day started very early, as the race had a 6:30AM start time.  Complicating that further....runners had to park their cars in Newport, RI and then be shuttled over the bridge to Jamestown, with yellow school buses running from 5:00-6:15AM......and Newport is roughly an hour from my house, so I needed to leave from here around 4:30.....WAY too early!  Even in the pre-dawn hours, it was already in the mid-70's and humid, so I knew that the conditions would be something to deal with.  Hydration would be key, and I was making sure to keep my tank fully topped up.

The drive down was uneventful, but by the time I reached the parking lot, I was looking forward to using the "facilities"......but there weren't any.  I asked one of the volunteers and was told that there were bathrooms on the island, so after a bumpy bus ride over the Pell Bridge (the largest suspension bridge in New England!), I was getting a bit anxious.  As we pulled into the start area, we could see two flat-bed trucks hauling port-a-potties......they hadn't even been set up yet!  There were hundreds of runners milling about looking to use them, and we were just arriving.  Ok, so I had to wait a bit in line, only to find that once they'd been set up, there wasn't any TP!!!!  Really?????  WTF?????  Nice planning!  After a few anxious moments, the TP arrived, right about the same time the race announcer was calling for the start!   "Are you ready", he shouted....with hundreds in line at the port-a-potties shouting back "NO!!!!!"......thankfully, it was a chip-timed race, so the clock would start only once you passed over the start mat, but still........I've been to maybe 75-100 races over the past 4 years and I've NEVER been to one that didn't have facilities available for runners to use before a race, so am I wrong for being a little pissed at the organizers???

About 5 minutes after the race began, I crossed the line and began my journey......alone.  Sounds sad, doesn't it?  I'm used to ending up running alone, but I actually enjoy the chaos of dodging bodies at the start of a race.  The beginning of the race was a gentle, slightly winding uphill......that's seemed never-ending.  The slope was never steep, but it went on for nearly 2 I don't shy away from hills, but I also don't seek them out.  As good as I feel my aerobic conditioning gets, I still struggle with long, gradual hills, with a decided preference for short, steep efforts.  Needless to say, the opening of this race wore on my confidence.  With the sweat already pouring down my face, my brain started weighing my options......I was pretty sure that a PR wasn't happening, and my initial time goal was going to require some real hammering to get on pace, and the initial hill had already taken it out of me, so what to do?

At that point, Hal Higdon was in my ear........reminding me that I should be running my long runs at a slower pace than my desired marathon pace.

Get outta my head, Higdon!!!!!!

But that was exactly what I needed to hear at that the PR for a day when I feel better.....when it's not as hot/humid.......when I haven't had to drive an hour, only to find no bathrooms.....after all, I've got 2 more half-marathons scheduled between now and October, so those are 2 more opportunities to go for it (if it feels right).

Once I shifted goals to make this a great training run, I relaxed and began to enjoy the process.  The route covered most of Conanicut Island, with many lovely views of Narragansett Bay, along quiet streets and along major roads with lots of traffic.  In some cases, residents came out to cheer, but for most of the route, the runners were on their own.  The volunteers at the water stops (roughly every 2 miles) were very enthusiastic and I was VERY happy to see that they had not just water, but Gatorade as well.  On the back half, they were also handing out packets of GU, so the on-course support was very good.  The route itself could best be classified as "rolling", as there were VERY few flat sections. 

I'm pleased with how I ran, and would love to have another chance to run this route again in the fall....the heat and humidity made it seem more difficult than it actually was, and I know that I've got a lot more work to acclimate to heat and humidity. 

I'm still a bit tired today, but took myself out for a recovery run this was already over 80 degrees when I left at 8:30, so I took it easy and only ran 3.5 miles.......pleased to have run 34 miles this week and having crossed the 600-mile threshold for the year.  Feeling good and ready for the challenges ahead!

Blog on, my on!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Just dropping in....

to say hello to everyone!

I've been back from my trip to Portland for a few days now, and still haven't blogged until now.  The trip was awesome, as my chorus put on a terrific performance in our contest.  I also was able to enjoy the 5K I ran last Wednesday (see picture below) and feel that I'm ready to have fun running the UnitedHealthcare Jamestown (RI) Half-Marathon tomorrow morning, so I feel confident promising a decent race report tomorrow.

Regarding the C.A.T. 5K (Hillsboro, OR) that I ran last week, I didn't register in time to get a "timed" bib (until now, I've never experienced a race that issues bib numbers that aren't timed???), so my time doesn't show up anywhere, but it was a good race for me....28:07, which would have had me finishing in the top 100 (guess it was a slow race!  LOL), but I certainly wasn't expecting to find any photographic evidence of my being imagine my surprise when the first photo posted to their Facebook page was this:

Love the streaming sunlight was a gorgeous morning!

There I am.....white shirt, blue shorts.....checking my trusty Garmin!

This is the 2nd year in a row I've managed to run a race while in a "strange" city for a barbershop harmony convention/contest.  Last year, I ran the Rock The Crossroads 5K in Kansas City, MO, and this year it was the C.A.T. 5K in Hillsboro, OR.   Next July, our convention is in Toronto, so I'm hoping I'll be able to find some local race to run in Canada!

That's all for now.....almost time for dinner.  Should be a great day to run tomorrow and I'm hoping to bring it in somewhere around's a training run, so I'm not planning to try for a PR (2:01), but who knows.....if I'm feeling good, I just might go for it.  Full report tomorrow!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summertime....and the blogging is......NOT EASY!

Ugh......I really don't understand what's keeping me from being more frequent with my blog posts.  Could it be that it was only 2 weeks ago that my school year came to a close and I'm just not yet into my summer routine?  That's what I'm going to blame it on!!!

Week 3 of marathon training was completed this past week, which included a run through Central Park in New York City........what a cool place to run!  I look forward to running there the next time I'm back in the city, but now it's time to get ready for running in another new city.......Portland, OR.  I'm flying out there tomorrow to join my fellow chorus members to compete in the Barbershop Harmony Society's annual Chorus Contest this coming Friday.  My chorus (The Sounds Of Concord) are representing the northeastern U.S. against 29 other barbershop choruses from the US, Canada, and the world.  While in Portland, I'm running in a 5K race (the C.A.T. Walk & Fun Run for Cancer Awareness and Treatment)
in Hillsboro, OR on Wednesday, as well as banging out training runs the other days.  This will make 2 years in a row I've managed to find a race to run while in town for the convention, and it's always a lot of fun to run a race in a "strange" place.

As far as the training runs are concerned, we're staying at the Hilton in downtown Portland, and I'm pretty sure it's not too hard to get from there to the Willamette River, so I'm hoping to find some good riverside running.

Anyway, once I get back on Sunday, I have every intention to report on the week I'll have had, as well as beginning to SERIOUSLY document my marathon training.  It's funny.....I think I've tried a few "restarts" on my blog since Boston, but it hasn't been easy.  I started this blog to document my training and fundraising efforts leading up to the Boston Marathon, and now that I'm back to just being my regular back-of-the-pack self, I think I need to work at this a bit more than I did in the past.  So all I can say now is "talk is cheap"...........enough with the promises.........and I hope you'll all check back in again in a week's time!   Have a safe and wonderful Independence Day on Wednesday......hope you all get out there and have some great runs, and I look forward to sharing mine with you soon!

Rock on, my friends.......