Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for April, 2012

Last year I wrote —>THIS<— regarding the Vermont 50.  Though I will not be running the Vermont 50 this year (I can’t be in two places at once), it seems that the State of Vermont will provide one of my tougher challenges of the year once again.

Maybe it was her batting eyes via email or just the fact that I plain love my friend TK, but several weeks ago she convinced me that running the Green Mountain Relay in Vermont would be a good idea and a fun adventure.  She had mentioned it in passing last year, but this year she made the hard sell.  I looked at my schedule and said, “why the hell not?” and before I knew it, I was on the team – Slow White and the Eleven Dwarves (she’s Slow White, I’m one of the dwarves – though I’m not sure which one…maybe YOU can come up with my name).

As part of the signing up process, we had to submit our 10K race pace.  I haven’t run a 10K in a while, so I extrapolated off my recent 1/2 marathon and 5K and came up with ~41+ minutes.  Seemed reasonable.  What I didn’t realize was that our esteemed captain would be basing leg assignments for the relay on our 10K submissions.

Now, just to give a little background to those who don’t know exactly what a relay like this entails, here are some details.  The Green Mountain Relay is a 200 mile team race that starts way up in Northern Vermont in Jeffersonville and ends in Southern Vermont in the town of Bennington.  You can find the detailed course description —>HERE<—.  Each team is made up of twelve runners with each runner running three of the thirty-six legs.  Those twelve runners are locked in order, so if you run the first leg, you will also run the thirteenth and twenty-fifth leg.  The team attempts to cover the distance in 24 – 48 hours, running day and night, stopping only to hand off the runner’s baton from one runner to the next.  The rest of the time, the runners are in vans – talking, eating, hopefully catching a few zzz’s.

Here’s a shot of the elevation profile:

Those climbs look a little scary.

Last week, TK sent a team email with the preliminary leg assignments.  Below is the GMR’s description of how difficult each leg is.  I was designated as runner #11.

GREEN MOUNTAIN RELAY 12 x 3 LEG CHART

Each leg’s rating is based only on the elevation gain or loss as the mileage speaks for itself. However, the “Overall Difficulty Ranking” does take into account both the mileage and each leg’s terrain, but not what time of day or night that leg might be run, or whether it is the first, second, or third leg. This is the race director’s opinion – please look at the maps of each leg as the distance and the profile are supplied for you to make your own determination.

Ranking Guide
Ranking
Approximate Elevation Gain/Loss

Easy

< 200 ft elevation gain
Moderate
200 – 700 ft elevation gain (rolling)
Hard
300 – 900 ft longer/steeper elevation gain and/or has continuous steep descents
Very Hard
> 800 ft even longer/steeper elevation gain or long steep descent
E – Easy
M – Moderate
H – Hard
VH – Very Hard
Runner
Leg 1
Leg
Miles
+ Elev
– Elev
Net Elev
Rating
1
1
4.5
236
-218
18
E
2
2
5.8
284
-248
36
E
3
3
7.9
759
-521
238
H
4
4
6.6
633
-657
-24
H
5
5
8.2
1,080
-1,095
-15
VH
6
6
4.0
109
-407
-297
E
7
7
5.3
305
-190
115
E
8
8
7.2
512
-453
59
H
9
9
6.8
727
-613
114
H
10
10
6.4
498
-235
262
M
11
11
9.9
665
-594
71
H
12
12
5.7
327
-469
-143
M
78.2
6,136
-5,701
435
Runner
Leg 2
Leg
Miles
+ Elev
– Elev
Net Elev
Rating
1
13
4.2
208
-246
-37
E
2
14
3.6
131
-212
-81
E
3
15
5.1
436
-422
14
M
4
16
4.0
354
-247
107
M
5
17
6.7
845
-93
752
VH
6
18
5.0
79
-572
-493
M
7
19
6.6
209
-509
-299
M
8
20
3.9
347
-111
236
M
9
21
5.7
437
-428
9
H
10
22
6.8
438
-416
22
M
11
23
6.7
1,315
-262
1,053
VH
12
24
4.3
125
-954
-829
H
62.5
4,926
-4,473
453
Runner
Leg 3
Leg
Miles
+ Elev
– Elev
Net Elev
Rating
1
25
2.1
225
-289
-64
M
2
26
4.9
361
-469
-108
M
3
27
4.4
230
-164
66
E
4
28
2.9
197
-309
-112
E
5
29
4.4
615
-50
565
H
6
30
5.4
669
-434
235
H
7
31
5.4
169
-1,164
-995
H
8
32
6.8
185
-464
-280
M
9
33
5.7
377
-306
71
M
10
34
5.1
436
-238
197
M
11
35
4.7
272
-444
-172
M
12
36
5.2
584
-493
90
H
57.0
4,319
-4,826
-507
Leg Summaries
Runner
Total
Miles
Total
Elevation
Gain
Total
Elevation
Loss
Total
Net
Elevation
Overall
Difficulty Ranking
1 – 12
Easiest to Hardest
1
10.8
670
-753
-83
1
2
14.2
776
-929
-153
2
3
17.4
1,425
-1,106
318
6
4
13.5
1,184
-1,213
-29
4
5
19.3
2,540
-1,239
1,302
12
6
14.4
858
-1,413
-556
3
7
17.3
684
-1,863
-1,179
5
8
17.8
1,044
-1,028
15
9
9
18.2
1,541
-1,347
194
10
10
18.3
1,371
-890
481
7
11
21.4
2,252
-1,301
951
11
12
15.1
1,036
-1,917
-881
8

The first leg looks to be hard, the last leg (if I still have any strength) should be fine, but that middle leg scares the bajeezus out of me.  Here’s a shot of the elevation profile for leg 23.

Straight. Up.

At over 1300 feet of elevation gain over the course of 6.7 miles, that’s nearly 200 feet of gain per mile…and the climbing doesn’t really start until after mile 2.

When I saw the chart, I had one of those “Wait…what?” moments, wondering just what I had gotten myself into.  Unlike the Vermont 50, which had a total elevation gain of 9000 feet but also had an elevation loss of nearly the same, this leg does not finish where it starts.  I calmed down once it sunk in that it was really only 6.7 miles.

I’m looking forward to this challenge.  I’ve never done a relay before and I look forward to spending time in close quarters with a bunch of runners who are just as nutty as I am.

…and at least I’m not runner #5.

***So, what do you think my name should be?  Leave it in the comments below.

Read Full Post »

What follows is a convergence of both Lynda’s and my writing – mine will be in italics.

***   ***   ***

I arrive at my designated spot early.   I don’t want to be the guy who promised to run someone in over the last 10 miles and then NOT be there.  I find a spot just after the runners pass Newton-Wellesley Hospital and watch the throng.  It is bitter sweet to say the very least.  I want to be out there with my people – with all of those runners.

All I could think of as I watched everyone go by was, "I wish I was out there!"

But the looks on their faces says it all.  Today is not a race.  Today is a battle for survival.  Some are walking, some are trudging, some are just trying to put one leg in front of the other.  No one is running fast. 

And there is still 10 miles to go.

Just standing there watching them, I am already sweating.  I can only imagine what the heat had been like in Framingham and Natick.

My phone buzzes.  The athlete alert text tells me that Lynda has just passed the half-marathon mark.  She iss moving more slowly than she had hoped – quite honestly, I am happy to see that.  It means that she is running smart and bending to the heat instead of fighting it.

While waiting for Lynda I see several of my friends go by.  Marathon Brian sneaks up on me and give me a big hug.  He is looking strong in this heat.  Moments later I see Ally Spiers, who this year took over for Really Not a Runner Doug Welch’s spot on the Children’s Hospital Team and Team Brenya.  With her is 2-time Cayman Island Marathon winner (and her husband) Steve.  He is keeping her company for the duration.  We do a sweaty group hug before they move on.  A few minutes later I see my friend Mike.  He, like Brian, is running for the Liver Team.  I am surprised to see Yoda (yes, Yoda) attached to his back – I can see him whispering in Mike’s ear throughout the race, “there is no try…there is only do or do not!”.

Mike and Yoda post-race. He carried Yoda the whole way.

I know I’ve got a little while before Lynda arrives, so I run about a quarter-mile with Mike to chat.  He tells me how brutal the heat as been, but he is looking strong.

I make my way back to my spot and start looking for Lynda.  I’ve been eyeing the Dana-Farber singlets the whole time.  I see a pair approaching me.  One of them is waving at me.

——————————————–

Our 2 roads are about to converge…

———————————————

Wellesley seems to stretch out for a loooong time.  I’ve run this part of the course a few times, but the landmarks look different.  My running partner Patty agrees.

There is an ambulance just before Newton-Wellesley Hospital.  The back door is open and there is someone on a stretcher.  I feel good but it seeing this makes me really nervous.  This is my first marathon.  I don’t know what to expect and it is crazy hot.

We are close to meeting Luau, so I scan the sidewalk.  Just past the Woodland T stop is a bright orange shirt.  Getting closer, I wave.   It’s him!

I’m running pretty slow, almost half of his normal race pace, but he is cheerful and tells me about his last Boston, when I ask.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to maintain a 3:15 (or thereabouts) pace for the duration.  I would love to be faster but my goal today is just to finish.

***

Lynda has been running a slow and steady race.  The heat is definitely been taking it’s toll, but she is smiling and happily waving at anyone who either shouts out her name of yells “Go Dana Farber”  My goal at this point is to keep Lynda entertained and distracted from the growing fatigue of being on the course for this long.

It is charity runners like Lynda that I find are the most endearing and moving heroes of any marathon.  Many of them are not typical runners in that they don’t go out there year round and run 30 – 40 miles per week.  In fact some aren’t runners at all.  These are people who, for whatever reason, found inspiration and decided that they could help make the world a better place by doing something that seems almost inconceivable to any non-runner. 

Many of the charity runners like Lynda will run at a much slower pace that those of us so obsessed with qualifying for Boston.  Despite having to spend sometimes twice the amount of time running their long runs, they do it – and they do it with a smile on their face because they do this not just for themselves, but for those that need their help.

In addition to the long training they must endure, they must also commit to raising a certain amount of funds.  Should they not meet the minimum set by their charity, they are responsible for the balance.  Some charities require as much as $5,000 to be raised.  That’s not easy, especially when they must balance that with their training AND the every day demands of their lives.

Lynda was running last Monday, scratch that, Lynda has been running and raising over $6,000 for the last several months in honor of her mother, who passed away from cancer.  In battling the Boston Course on this brutal day, she breathed life into her mother’s memory and deserves to be called a hero.

***

Luau is like the Mayor, saying hi to people he knows along the way, and even picks up a beer from the Race Menu “water” stop. We get to the top of the hill and he helps me figure out how to find my husband in the next few miles.  It makes a funny photo – me holding his beer, Luau running and texting.

Nothing like a little Pabst Blue Ribbon at Mile 20.

Kind of erases any shred that I’m taking this marathon seriously, but hey, whatever works!  I feel relieved to know where husband will be at mile 25.

***   ***  ***

As we approach Heartbreak Hill, I am looking forward to yelling “On On” to the Hash House Harriers.  They traditionally cheer from a spot about halfway up Heartbreak and hand out shots of beer to any takers.  I plan on taking a whole beer.  Unfortunately, on this hot day, it seems that all the runners before us have decided to partake and by the time Lynda and I arrive, they are out.   I am disappointed to say the least.  Fortunately, the RaceMenu team is at the top of Heartbreak giving cold sponge-baths to anyone who wants one.  I see team member Brendan and relay my earlier disappointment.  He smiles, and says they have beer, pours me a cold PBR and send me on my way.  This would be the first of three beers along the way to getting Lynda to the finish line.

At mile 22, Lynda decided she needed to walk.  A very large college student started yelling at her to keep running. 

I looked at him and said, “if you’re going to yell at her and you want her to run…give me your beer!” 

He was taken aback.  “But, it’s a Whale’s Tail.”

“I don’t care, give me your beer!” 

He hesitantly handed me the very full cup. 

It is ice cold. 

I smile. 

I chug. 

I hand him the empty cup. 

I turn to look at Lynda who fortunately has started running.  I turn back to the very large kid.

“Thanks, dude.”  And I’m back at Lynda’s side.

As we make our way through the course, I make sure that Lynda’s water and Gatorade bottles remain full, zipping up ahead to fill them whenever they are close to empty.

***   ***   ***

The last miles are a blur.  There are now four of us running together, Luau, Patty, her husband, and me.  I take a few walk-breaks during which Luau runs ahead, asking what I need.  I gratefully take cups of water and dump them on my head.  I try to drink more Gatorade and hold some ice cubes.  It’s very slow progress, but Luau enthusiastically notices we are passing some walkers and Team Hoyt.  He says, “Chomp, chomp, you’re eating them up!  Only 2 more miles to go!”

***   ***   ***

Lynda’s slow and steady pace is now paying dividends.  She may be exhausted, she may be fatigued, but she is passing people left and right.  Every medic tent we pass is full of people.  I briefly wonder if I would have been one of those people has I got in this year. 

Just after Mile 25, I see Jess’ hair stylist, Marisa of Stilisti (the awesome woman who donated turning my hair blue for New York last year!).  We have found Lynda’s husband now and he is running with us so I feel like I can stop for a second and say hello.  Marisa offers me a beer and I eagerly accept (my third of the day) chugging it down in 2 or 3 gulps.  I give her a sweaty hug and I race back to Lynda.  I’m gonna let Lynda finish this post – Boston 2012 was her race!

***   ***   ***

In Kenmore Square we find my husband and Luau takes a bunch of photos and a video.  He takes more photos throughout the last mile.  In some, I barely look like I’m running, but I am **so happy**.  I have a huge smile on my face.  I don’t really remember the last mile, but these photos are the best.  I cross the finish line with my teammate Patty.

Lynda and her training partner Patty getting ready to cross the finish line.

I did it!  With a big assist from Luau, my family, and teammates, I just ran a marathon!  My legs are so ready for a rest and I’m suddenly starving.  There are quick hugs and Luau slips away to head home.

Almost a week later, I’m still wowed by the complete kindness of a stranger and the powerful common thread that all runners share.  Running Boston was amazing.  And… (don’t tell husband) I’m thinking about training for MCM next year!

Read Full Post »

Some of you may still be waffling.  Some of you may be thinking, it’s too late.  Luau’s 26  24 week plan doesn’t work for me anymore.  If only there were a 21-week plan to get me to the finish line on September 16th, then, THEN I’d walk with Jess at the Boston 13.1 Team Up with Autism Speaks Half Marathon.  Well, your prayers have been answered.  I’ve modified the plan yet again.  It has a little bit of a steeper ramp up, but it should still be painless.

21 Week Plan <—HERE is the 21 week plan.  Just click on the blue link to download the printable PDF plan.  No excuses!  You start on today…or tomorrow!!!  Now go sign up —>HERE!!!<—

Below I’ve attached my post from 3 weeks ago regarding the start of Autism Awareness Month.

***

Tomorrow is April 1st.  It is the first day of Autism Awareness Month.

On Monday, World Autism Awareness Day, hundreds of landmarks and millions of homes, including our own, will be lit up blue.

I hope you will consider lighting it up blue with the rest of us.

Tomorrow will also be exactly 24 weeks before the Boston 13.1 Half Marathon.  I wrote about it a while back (I Want You) when Autism Speaks announced that it was teaming up with 13.1 to be the official charity of the Boston race.  Many of you signed up and we already have over 10% of the slots designated for Team Up with Autism Speaks filled.

***

If you are sitting on the couch reading this, thinking, I could never do a half-marathon, I want you to stop to reconsider.

Even if you have never run.

Even if you rarely walk.

This is something you can do.

And by signing up with Team Up with Autism Speaks, you are not only taking on the challenge of completing a half marathon (a tremendous personal feat in and of itself), you are taking a pro-active role in making the world a better, more compassionate place for my Brooke and those like her.

As we get closer to the date of the race, I will make another push for the more hard-core runners to join my cause, but today, the day before Autism Awareness Month starts; today, the day my Brooke turns 9 years old (HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROOKE!!!); today, I want to talk to those of you who have been looking for a reason to get off the couch, out from behind the desk, out of the sedentary life-style; especially if you are are the parent of, sibling of, child of, relative of or person with autism – this is a way to get active AND make a difference not only for yourself but for others as well.

***

Some of you may know the story of how I got into running a little over 3 years ago.  To be clear, I really disliked running, especially any distance over a couple of miles.  Over the years I had tried running on, but it never lasted more than a couple of weeks.  Three and a half years ago, Jess announced that she was going to run a half marathon…on the Cape…in the middle of February.

I thought she was nuts – she had never really run before.  I wasn’t going to let her run a half-marathon in the bitter, winter wind of the Cape alone, so I told her I would run with her.  As I began training, I remember thinking this really sucks.  Long story short, a couple of weeks later something just clicked – I had found the joy in running.

Meanwhile, Jess never did manage to get her training going.  I think a part of her problem was that she really had no guidance as to what to do.  I had no idea what I was doing so I was no help either (I didn’t discover the online running community until mid-summer).  She made an initial effort, but with no plan, the grand idea of running a half simply faded away.

***

Fast-Forward to about a month ago.  When Jess heard that Boston 13.1 would be open to walkers who could maintain a 16:00 per mile pace, a dream was reborn.

This time however, she had a few things working in her favor:

  • she wasn’t going to be running a half, instead tackling the distance as a walker
  • she would be training during the warmer month, so she wouldn’t have to brave the bitter cold
  • she knew a somewhat experienced runner to help put together a program for her that would ease her into the distance.

And so she started her program 2 weeks ago.  I put together a 26 week walking program that would slowly build up over 6 months to get her to the starting line with confidence and to the finish line without pain.  I drew upon several established programs for walkers and runners including C25K (Couch to 5K) and a modified Hal Higdon program.  The program can be used to walk or run a half-marathon.

***

I have further modified the program and compressed it to 24 weeks, meaning if you start tomorrow; if you get off the sofa and out of the house tomorrow, you could find yourself walking/jogging/running a half-marathon in September.  As big of a feat as it may seem (and is), it’s not as hard as you may think!

So I would like to encourage you to join me and Jess on September 16th at Suffolk Downs for the Boston 13.1 Half Marathon as part of the Team Up with Autism Speaks Team.  If you are an avid runner, you don’t need the motivation to get out there, but if you’ve been looking for a way to get active and make a difference, this is your chance.

Don’t think about it, because you’ll talk yourself out of it. Just do it. Click —>HERE<— to join the team and then click on the link below to get the 24 Week Walking Training Plan.

YOUR 24 Week Half Marathon Training Plan

You can do this!

AND if you are a Boston local, starting at the end of June, I will be organizing group runs/walks on the weekends leading up to the event along the scenic Boston Marathon course.  It will be a run/walk at your own pace kind of a thing, but we will start and finish together.  I hope you will join us.

Read Full Post »

4:30AMI imagine that many are already up, awake after a sleepless night.  They are stumbling about their homes or hotel rooms, checking, double checking, triple checking their gear for the day.  I am asleep.

5:30AMSomewhat bleary-eyed, but full of excitement, thousands head for the buses at the Boston Commons.  As sleepy as they may be, their bodies are buzzing.  I am asleep.

6:00AM The buses for the first wave are now leaving, with buses for the second and third wave leaving at 6:30 and 7:00. My alarm finally goes off, only because Jess still has to work today and I need to go down to the kitchen to pack her a breakfast and lunch.

6:00AM –  8:00AM – They will sit on the bus, some sleeping, some chatting a mile a minute, some silently staring off into space, contemplating what lies ahead.  I will make myself a simple breakfast, have some tea and wait for my kids to wake up.  No school for them on Patriot’s Day.

8:00AM – 10:00AM – They wait.  This is one of my favorite parts of the Boston Marathon.  They will nervously wait in the athlete’s village.  If they are running with a charity, they will all sit together, otherwise, they will find friends who they only see once or twice a year – friends who they know through the blogosphere or Facebook or dailymile or Twitter.  It will be comforting because these are people that, despite not knowing each other, they know each other. Some will be relaxed, others will be nervous, most will be a combination of both.  Despite the comfort of the village, all will want to get this race started.  I’ll shower and lay my running gear out…maybe I’ll double check it, maybe I won’t.

10:00AM – The first wave is off.  I say a little prayer for all of the runners as the temperatures look to climb into the high 80’s.  I am not so worried about the elite runners and those that will be near the front of the first wave.  Though they will not necessarily have banner days, they will be finishing just as the temperatures get brutal.  It is the later runners like my charge Lynda, who I will be pacing from mile 16 to the finish line, and my dear friends Mike and Judith and Brian who are experienced marathoners, but starting in the third wave, that I am concerned about.  They are the heroes of Monday who will be subjecting their bodies the tough, hot, extreme elements.  Meanwhile, I will drop one of my kids off for a play date and bring the other with me to run some errands.

10:40AM – The third wave will be under way.  For those all the way in the back (as I was in 2010 – I was literally the last person to start in 2010) it may take as much as 20 minutes to cross the starting line.  Brooke and I will finish up our errands and go home to play a little – maybe a little painting, maybe some reading.

11:30AM – The elites are probably somewhere near Wellesley College at this point – almost half way home.  If they’re smart, they’ll stop for a kiss in the scream tunnel.  Depending on how long it took to get to the start, my friends in wave three are somewhere between 4 and 5 miles in.  Hopefully they are taking their time, soaking in the crowd and not worried about their pace. The babysitter arrives and I begin to check my phone for alerts on my charge Lynda.  She is hoping to run at 11:00 to 12:00 pace.  I check to make sure I have my Charlie Card so I can get back home via the T after I run her to the finish.  I check the interwebs for the T-stop I need to drive to. 

12:15PM – The alerts have been coming in, not just of my friends from wave three, but of my other friends as well.  Maddy, Steve, and many more. At this point, Lynda is anywhere between 5 and 8 mile.  She probably won’t be at mile 16 until 1:40ish, but I don’t want to take any chances. I hop in the car and head to the local T-stop, dressed to run, shuffle, walk – whatever it takes to get Lynda to the finish line. 

1:00PM – Arriving at mile 16, I will make my way through the crowd and cheer on the runners, looking for friends, keeping track of Lynda.

Our 2 roads are about to converge…

Read Full Post »

…goes through Sugarloaf – at least for me.

5 days until one of the greatest annual road races takes place.  After traveling from all over the world, thousands will take the slow, what feels like forever bus ride from the Boston Commons to the town of Hopkinton, where they will wait – wait for their turn to run one of the greatest marathons on the planet.

I must admit, I have been more than a bit jealous as I’ve watched people post their bib numbers and complain about their tapers on Facebook, Twitter, dailymile and other social media.  There is a part of me that feels like I belong right there with them, but I know that I do not.  Under the modified registration process, I missed getting in by 33 seconds and I chose not to run for a charity – somehow, that doesn’t make the pangs of jealously hurt any less; especially since the new standards mean I will have to PR by 4 minutes and 20 seconds to re-qualify for next year.

The deceptive early downhill, the women of Wellesley College, the brutal hills of Newton, the deafening crowds in Boston – these are but a few of the highlights Monday’s marathoners will experience.  What will I miss the most about Boston this year?  I think it might be the waiting in the Athlete’s Village – seeing my friends Mike and Brian, who are running for the Liver Foundation; hanging out with the amazing Suman, Maddie, Steve S., and Andy O.; finding dailymile and Twitter friends along the way.

I will definitely miss you guys on Monday.

Have fun.  Run strong.

If everything goes the way I hope it does at Sugarloaf, I will see you next April in Hopkinton.

Hopefully on May 2oth, I ‘ll be making this face –

BQing at Smuttynose October 2010

as I hit a sub-3:15, so I can get back to this place

somewhere on the Newton Hills - Boston 2010.

and share the journey with you once again.

Read Full Post »

My new training program has called for a lot of cross-training and some timed runs that I find easier to do on a treadmill.  Because of this, I have found myself going to the local gym way more than I have in the past.  I have probably been to the gym more in the last month than I had in the previous 2 years combined.  It’s really been an interesting time watching the wide spectrum of people who come in for their workouts, ranging from young to old; athletic to, well, not so athletic; the focused to the people who are just there to chat and people watch.

During this stretch I’ve included swimming, cycling, stair climbing, rowing and a variety of elliptical machines.  When I try using a fitness machine of any kind for the first time, I always want to make sure that I am using proper form.  Doing otherwise is a surefire way of either A) getting injured or B) failing to maximize the health benefits of a workout.  I start slowly to make sure that I am “doing it right” and slowly pick up speed, constantly conscious of where my body parts are.  Most of the time, those first workouts feel extremely light – I am unable to get my heart rate where I want it to be – and that is because, as soon as I feel my form is falling apart, I will dial it down until I get it right.

After two or three attempts on an apparatus, I usually have it down and am able to push to where I need to be and get the amount of sweat I’m looking for.

What has struck me as I go to the gym on a regular basis now is the complete mess that so many people seem unaware that they are:

  • On the rower I see people with their arms and legs completely out of sync and with their hands moving up and down as if going over a hill,ending up near their eyes.
  • On the stairmaster I see people bent over at the waist almost 90° with their hands turned out on the rails.
  • On the treadmill I see people holding on for dear life to the top of the display as their legs go flying out behind them.
  • On the elliptical I see people, and Lord knows how they do this, bent over with their elbows above their heads.

Every one of these people is working hard, but I know they are doing themselves a disservice.  Now you may be thinking Luau, maybe they are at the end of their workouts and they’ve just run out of gas.  You know, that would be fine (sorta!) but I’ve been watching these people for several weeks now and it is how do their workout for the WHOLE workout.

Honestly though, their bad form isn’t entirely their fault.  There are several trainers that are walking around the gym at any given time.  THEY should know better.  THEY should take the opportunity to show these people the proper form.  That being said, each individual should take the time to make sure they are doing something the right way before putting the pedal to the metal when exercising – this includes running outside too.

If you’re just starting this exercise thing, keep in mind, that if you don’t know how to properly use a machine or are not sure how to run with proper form, don’t be afraid to ask somebody.  You’ll end up seeing positive result in the mirror, on the scale and in your head much more quickly.  Swallow a little pride and ask.  It can make all the difference in the world.

Read Full Post »

Whenever I go to small, local races (all of 3 or 4 in total) I inevitably start looking around for who may be the winner.  I size the other runners up – she looks fast!  he’s definitely a speedster!  – and as I do, I try to place myself among them.  The Liver Lover 5K was no different.  Upon arriving, I immediately started sizing up those who appeared to be fast runners.  Over on a bench was a long, lean guy who looked like he could flat out run.  Over by the check in table was a shorter women who looked all of 100 lbs.  She pulled off her sweatshirt to reveal a Boston Running Club singlet.  Crap! Another speedster!  As I surveyed the crowd I tried to figure out who was faster than me.  I had myself coming in somewhere around 5th.  When my Race Menu teammate Lisa showed up, I knocked myself down another peg.  6th place.

As we walked over to the starting line, it became apparent to me that there was one kid who was not running the same race as the rest of us.  Tall, skinny, a runner’s body and a college singlet on.  Turned out he was 23 years old.  My plan had been to go out with the leaders and see where I was after a mile.  I was gonna have to let this kid go.  After a touching rendition of the National Anthem, it was time to go.

Ready…

Six or seven us crouched at the starting line.

Set…

We put our hands on our GPS watches.

GO!!!

A multitude of beeps and we were off.  Tall, Skinny Kid shot off the starting line and for whatever reason, I gave chase.  After 25 yards, I looked down at my watch – 7:05 per mile pace – didn’t feel like we were running that slow, but I thought, okay, I can keep up with this guy!

At about 200 yards, my lungs really started to burn.  Something wasn’t right.  Tall, skinny guy was slowly pulling away, but I was still pretty close.  At 300 yards I looked at my watch -5:30 pace AND he was pulling away even faster!

Uh oh! I thought.  This is not good! I slowed down.  I can’t run that fast for much long than a 1/2 mile and if I do, I’m throwing up at the end.  Panic started to set in.  Back pain from the day before suddenly started to hurt (though I’m pretty sure it was mental).  A half mile in and I was filled with doubt and could now hear footsteps of people catching me from behind.

I had blown my race barely before it even got started.

The young woman I had spied earlier and a kid in a bright green shirt passed me like I was standing still.  I wanted to follow, but I had to let them go – I would just have to make sure that I didn’t let them get too far ahead of me.

I hit the first mile in 6:33.  Obviously much slower than the 5:30 I had gone out in, but worse, in my mind, 9 seconds slower than my planned 6:24 pace (I was attempting to finish in 20:00).

The young woman and the Green shirt kid were not too far ahead of me.  As we made a right turn, they initially started to go too far to the right.  For just a split second I thought of letting them go, but the true competitor in me wouldn’t have been able to live with that.  I yelled at them that they were going the wrong way.  They probably lost no more than a second or two off their time.

I continued to chase them as we went over a hill.  Lately, for whatever reason, uphills have been where I’ve been closing the distance on people, and this race was no different.  Very quickly I pulled within about 10 feet of the two of them.  They were able to maintain their distance on the downhill.

But just before 1.5 miles, we made another turn and hit another hill.  As we made the turn, Green Shirt Kid began to fade, but the Young Woman was pushing hard.

Now the race was on.

I caught up to her about 2/3 of the way of the hill.  Through her heavy breathing she asked me if mile 1 felt long.  I said it did and we continued to run in silence, listening to the pounding of our feet.  At about 1.8 miles we were flying downhill again.  I opened up a bit of a lead, but as soon as we flattened out, she caught and passed me again.

I had never been in a back and forth race, and quite frankly, I wasn’t sure if I had the mental determination to take it to the end.

As we passed mile 2 at 13:00, I started doing math again.  I had 7:00 to cover 1.1 miles.  I was gonna have to run a 6:36 mile the rest of the way – faster than 9 miles per hour.  I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it.  I thought about letting the Young Woman go – she seemed to be speeding up (or was I slowing down?) – but I knew, once again, that I had to leave it all on the course if I wanted to get a true reading of where my fitness level was.  If I was opting to race a 5K instead of running my scheduled 18-miler, then dammit I was going to make it worthwhile.

1.1 miles – it was time to let it all hang out.  I could bear the pain for 7 minutes.

At about 2.2 miles, I caught the Young Woman on a turn on to a bike path and passed her.   I had the gas pressed to the floor.  I was just hoping I wouldn’t run out of gas before the end of the race.  As we came back out on to the road, I could hear her footsteps behind me.  I kept thinking that any minute now she was gonna find her final gear and blow past me.  We had a half mile to go and my whole body felt like it was on fire.

Her footsteps were getting closer – if I could just hold on.

With about 300 yards to go I could see the finish line.  It was time to completely empty the tank.

Trying to create some distance between me and the Young Woman

I found a final gear, covering those last 300 yards in sub-5:45 per mile pace,

Increasing the gap with one final kick...

crossing the finish line in 19:40 and finishing in a personal best 2nd place.

Not one of my more flattering race pics...and why am I slowing down BEFORE the finish line?

It turns out the Tall Skinny Kid finished in 16:18 – like I said, he was running a completely different race.  I must admit, I was pretty pleased with my finish.  There were plenty of moments where I wanted to take my foot off of the gas, but I pushed through the pain and was able to finish better than I had expected.  The 2nd place finish was fabulous (I even won a $30 gift certificate to a local running shop), but the best part is that I continued the validation of switching to the Furman FIRST program.  After Quincy 2 weeks earlier, McMillan’s Running Calculator put me at a 3:15:07 marathon – huge progress from the Superbowl Sunday 5-Miler that had me at a 3:25 marathon.  Last Sunday’s race, albeit it was a short one at 5K, puts me at a 3:11:43 marathon.

My continued improvement serves as a great confidence booster going into Sugarload come late-May.  I am just going to have to make sure that I don’t make the same mistake I made last year at Boston, where instead of running a disciplined race at the pace I had trained for (3:15), I ended up going for sub-3:10.

Kudos to Jess Rossman for putting together a well run race.  I will definitely be back next year to try and improve on my time.  Hopefully Tall Skinny Guy doesn’t show up.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: