Monday, July 26, 2010

From humble beginnings . . .

My marathon training officially started this morning. Up at 4:00 am, I hit the pavement at 5:00, yawning and still trying to rub the sleep from my eyes. I put in an easy 3 mile recovery run. I ran 6 days last week, mostly low mileage but the intensity was high in preparation for Saturday’s 5k.

The change of pace was nice. Between the relaxing run and some stretching afterwards the aches that had been gradually creeping into my legs and hips for the past week seem to have already worked themselves out.

I rest tomorrow and then I’ll run five miles Wednesday.

It begins.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Run for Africa 5K


That’s the sound of a record breaking. Shattering, like fine china striking tile. I finished the Run for Africa 5k with a time of 24:10, demolishing my prior 5k PR by well over 3 minutes. I missed my goal for the race by a frustrating margin of just 10 seconds, or 3 seconds per mile, but I’m still thrilled with my performance.

The race was organized by Front Running Sports who did a great job. Everything went smoothly from registration right through to the awards ceremony. Even the results were posted in record time. My only complaint for the entire event would be a single parked car that crowded the race course right at the start.

The West Volusia Runners were well represented and we took four age group awards including two first place medals. I placed 5th in my age group, about a minute and a half behind the leaders.

I came off the start fast, jostling for position on the crowded course, unfortunately it was probably too fast. It took less than half a mile for runners to comfortably thin out and when I hit the first mile marker I was happy to see a time of 7:25, 2 seconds faster than my previous fastest mile record. I worried that it was too fast, but I thought I was on target to hit my 24 minute goal.

I settled into the run for the second mile and hit the next marker at 7:59. I knew I had to average 7:45 to hit my goal, I was still on target but I was also starting to suffer for my effort.

At 2.5 miles runners began to fade ahead of me. I had planned to kick it into a higher gear at that point, but I knew it was too soon, there was no way I would be able to maintain it all the way to the end. I struggled to just maintain my pace, but still managed to pick off a few more runners. I bided my time until the final turn and the finish was in sight and then I put the hammer down. I hit Mile 3 at 8:06 with only a tenth of a mile left, but I knew my goal was in jeopardy. I watched the clock at the finish line helplessly as the last few seconds ticked off and the 23 changed to a 24. I crossed the line 10 seconds later, completely spent.

Post race we were treated to music and massages and there were plenty of bananas, oranges and samples of protein and energy drinks. The kids fun run was too cute. The awards ceremony was handled efficiently without sacrificing any pomp so that we wrapped everything up before the temperature hit 90.

All in all, it was a great event.

Post Script:

After checking the race results I discovered that I finished in 44th place overall. That’s bib # 44, age 44, finishing 44th. I think I’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone!

Race photography courtesy of:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Good Omen

I just picked up my race packet for my 5k tomorrow from Front Running Sports.  My bib number is the same as my age.

I’ll take that as a sign of good luck.

I ran 3 miles this morning in 24:12 thanks to some pacing assistance from another member of WVR.  I feel confident about my chances for setting a new PR tomorrow, but a little good luck never hurts.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Final Workout

I ran a good hard fartlek workout this morning with WVR in preparation for the 5k race Saturday. 13 people showed up for the 5 am run, apparently a record.  I stayed with the pack at an 8:32 pace for the first mile to warm up and then tried to chase after the speedsters in the group. I managed 7:38 for the second mile which included most of my fartlek sprints. That is right where I need to be in order to hit my 24 minute goal for the race, but it is going to be tough to maintain that for a full 3.1 miles. I faded in the last 1.5 miles, but I was running on my own at that point. The two fastest members of our group left me in the dust and then turned off at the 3 mile mark. With no one to chase, and no one challenging me from behind, it was hard to maintain my pace. I also stopped the fartleks for the final mile. I averaged 8:16 over the entire run, just shy of 4 miles. That’s just 31 seconds/mile slower than what I hope to run Saturday.

I am a little worried about the heat. I expect it to be well into the 80's when the race starts at 7:30.  Working in my favor is daylight.  Most of my training in recent weeks has been pre-dawn and I usually run faster when I can actually see where I am going.   My hope is that these two factors will negate each other.

My plan is to hold back just a little for the first mile and then gradually accelerate. I’m hoping for splits of 8:15 and 7:45 for the first two miles, then as long as I can finish the last 1.1 in under 8 minutes I will be fine.

I plan to do an easy 3 miles on Friday just to stay loose. It will be hard to hold back.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Calling my Shot

I just registered for the Children of the Nations Run for Africa 5k in Winter Springs, FL on July 24. I haven’t run a 5k since 2006 but my training has been going very well lately and I think I have a good feel for what I am capable of, especially after my performance on the beach at the Daytona 4 Miler two weeks ago.

I have incorporated hill training and fartleks into my weekly training for the past few weeks and as a result have set several new PR’s and have seen more and more of my mile splits dipping under the 8 min/mile mark.

So I’m calling my shot. I have a goal in mind and I am publicly declaring it here and now.

I finished the Daytona 4 Miler in 33:38 with an average pace of 8:25.

My goal for the 5k is 24 minutes. That’s an average pace of 7:45.

Wish me luck. I have eight more days to train.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Recovery runs are tough . . .

. . . mentally.

I’m trying to get in the mindset that every run has a purpose - recovery, speed workouts, intervals, fartleks, hills, tempo runs and of course the long slow run.

I’m coming off of a pretty intense week last week. I rested yesterday so the purpose of this morning’s run was recovery. I was still a little sore from the weekend so the goal was to maintain a relaxing, easy pace to help prepare me for the rest of the week. I ran a 5 mile loop around my neighborhood that has become very familiar. I have broken through 45 minutes for this route a few times and I know exactly what my splits need to be in order to do that.

As I reached the end of each mile I had to resist the urge to lean forward and accelerate. I couldn’t resist the urge to do the math in my head and calculate the remaining splits I needed in order beat that magic number that somehow manages to be both meaningful and meaningless at the same time. I kept telling myself that every run has a purpose and the goal for today was not to go for a new record.

I won my mental battle. After my usual slow first mile I eased into a 9:15 pace and for the next 4 miles that pace only fluctuated by +/- 4 seconds. I finished the 5 miles in 47:03, accomplishing what I set out to do, but still was just a little disappointed.

No worries though, tomorrow is dedicated to speed and running with reckless abandon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tomorrow I Rest

I am sitting here enjoying a well earned blueberry bagel, basking in the afterglow of a great seven mile run this morning, and wondering - “What is wrong with me?”

I have had an incredibly productive July so far. I ran eight out the past nine days including a race and my fastest mile ever on the 3rd, hills on the 4th, fartleks on the 7th, a 5 mile pr on the 8th. I finished this week with a total of 32 miles. My running is still improving at a very exciting rate. Yet I am sitting here feeling guilty because I didn’t get in a long run this week.

I had hoped to get in at least ten miles this morning on the Seminole Wekiva Trail in Lake Mary, but I was running on tired legs after some “cross training” yesterday (more on that in a moment) and I started out way too fast. I was trying to keep pace with some of the faster members of WVR until I realized they were doing 5 miles and I was hoping to do 8-10. When I reached the 3.5 mile mark I knew I was pushing too hard and eagerly made the turn to head back. I don’t know how, but I still managed a negative split – barely - 28:59 for the first 3.5 and 28:33 for the return leg, averaging about 8:13 mins/mile.  Actually I do know how, I was being spurred on by the club's organizer who refused to let me slack off.  I managed to keep up with her for about 5.5 miles and then I finally had to slow down.

Speaking of cross training, I pretty much did it all yesterday. A six mile run in morning and in the afternoon: swimming, stair climbing, walking, stair climbing, surfing, stair climbing . . . Did I mention stair climbing?

Otherwise known as:

The afternoon pretty much consisted of climbing towers like this one:

over and over and over again.

The premier water slide is called the Dolphin Plunge. The water tubes travel right through a pool filled with dolphins. You can see the tubes in the background of this video:

One of my daughter’s favorite rides was called Roa’s Rapids. It's a fast moving river of water that you can either free swim or float wearing a life vest. She preferred to swim it which actually made it a pretty good workout, if you could avoid drowning.

We had a blast, but it was an exhausting day.

Tomorrow I rest.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Daytona Firecracker 4 Miler

This morning was the running of the Daytona Beach Firecracker 4 Miler sponsored by the Daytona Beach Track Club. The race is an out and back course beginning at the Main Street Pier. It runs 2 miles north, you turn, and then sprint back to the pier. There is something brutally honest about a course like this, especially on the return leg when you can see the pier two miles away.

Temperatures were in the mid 70’s at 7:30 am for the race start. Thunderstorms were forecast but fortunately they stayed offshore so we were blessed with overcast skies and a moderate breeze. This is a relatively small event and I think the foul weather forecast kept some people at home.

My daughter and I arrived about 30 minutes early for packet pickup. The goodies included a souvenir beach towel and other sundries packaged in a plastic sand bucket and shovel, very cute. I had just enough time for a quick warm up run before heading to the starting line. This was my first run in the sand and I was a little concerned about how I would handle it. The race followed the water line where the sand is fairly hard packed. It had some give in it, but it made a decent running surface. The beach was littered with jellyfish left by the tide. They are harmless but a little slick if your foot lands on one.

This was my first short race since 2006 so I was unsure how well I would perform.  The lack of experience showed in a very fast (for me) first mile – 7:30. That was the fastest mile I had ever recorded so I was both ecstatic and concerned that I was starting out too fast. At about 13:30 I passed the front runners on their way back to the pier from the turnaround. I reached the mid-point at 16:42 with a ho-hum 9:11 split, the cost of starting out too fast. Mile three started to get tough. The pier is immediately visible from the turnaround at 2 miles but the distance was hard to judge, especially with the visibility clouded by windswept sand and salt spray. I was also beginning to feel the fatigue caused by running in the sand. The slight slope of the beach toward the water, which I had hardly noticed in the first two miles was also becoming an irritant.

I hit the third mile marker at 26:10 for a split time of 9:28 and it was time to push hard for the finish. I reached the finish chute at 33:38 sprinting to stay ahead of another runner I could hear hot on my heels. My final split was a much improved 7:27, which broke my short lived one mile PR by 3 whole seconds. My average pace for the race was 8:25.

After the race I caught up with some of the other members of the West Volusia Runners and exchanged war stories. We had about 8 or 10 people running. Then my daughter and I hit the surf and took a quick dip in the Atlantic. The water was refreshingly cold.

There were bagels, oranges and bananas waiting for us at the awards area. We stayed to hear the announcements and learned the winner crossed the finish line at 22 minutes and change. Very impressive.

My Budding Young Sport's Photographer