Saturday, January 28, 2012

Securian Winter Run: Race Report

After some overnight oats (thanks Michelle), coffee, and running around our townhouse getting all our crap together, it was time to go pick up another MN Running Wild member, drive to downtown St. Paul, take a wrong turn, drop off Laura and other Nate, find a parking garage, and pick up my race number. Whew...

I met some running friends at the pacer table, including another Nate. Nate and I ran the same legs of the Ragnar Relay and I asked if it was cool if I ran with him. I had no clue what shape I was in for a 1/2 and he said he was going out at 6 minute miles. A little later, Brit and Jared showed up. Brit registered for some other race or race series before registering for the correct race. She did get a cool bag and hat out of the deal.

After a quick warmup I proceeded to cool down while waiting for the race to start. It was pretty windy and in the shade from the buildings I was starting to get numb in the extremities. I said "hi" to Scott, the Securian flame, Gerad Mead, a local speedster, Don, the 1:30 pacer, and Wayne--all excellent runners and fellow MN Running Wild guys. I gave Brit and Laura good luck hugs, helped Brittany find someone to show her how Jared's Garmin worked, and it was time to go.

The first part of the race was nice and chilly. I eventually got behind a guy in a Gear West shirt, who I later found out was Chad. He, Nate, and a couple other guys then took turns running into a 10-20 mph headwind on Shepherd road. It seemed like the Gear West guy was doing the most leading so when he slowed down a little I asked if he wanted a break. "Sure," he said. "I was just looking at the marker but go ahead."

And so I did. Nate and some other guy passed us and from then on Nate and his orange jacket just got smaller and smaller. We turned around around mile 7.5 and started running back towards the rest of the field. Mile 9 I got a little too pumped from all the people who recognized me. Gear West Guy said, "A lot of people know you." "I pace a lot," I said.

Not much happened after that. I ran too fast for a couple of miles then I slowed down. Then I slowed down some more. At 12 Gear West guy passed me, then someone else passed me. Then the course turned up into St. Paul. I kept thinking, time to kick, I can still get these two. Then, Ok, kick. Speed up. Suffer more. Go get them. It wasn't happening. They beat me and some lady beat me for 9th place. I never saw her. I don't know if she just had a faster chip time or passed me while I was closing my eyes.

I got to chat with a couple other MN Running Wild friends and then went to cool down to watch Laura finish. She was running with Brittany. I got to see Seth and Adam, more MNRWs, and then ran into Jared. Then I started getting really cold. I took some pictures of Brit and Laura--they both looked great.

Now it's over. I felt pretty terrible on the drive home and thereafter, but then I got some egg and bean fajita in me and felt better. Oh yeah, and I ran 1:21 something.

Tonight I went with my running spouse to see "Red Tails." Tomorrow I start a real triathlon training program.

The end.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Securian Winter Run

After running outdoors last night, looking awesome with my Eddie Bauer headlamp and neon green TC 10 mile shirt, I got up early this morning to get another outdoor run in. Most of my running has been on the treadmill and my mileage has been way down. I have, however, been swimming and doing core exercises, something I haven't done consistently since starting my second running life in 2009. I figured I better run outside a little before trying to race a half marathon in freezing temperatures.

I had a decent one mile race on this low mileage, higher intensity nonsense, but it remains to be seen how I can do at a longer distance. Enter the Securian Frozen Half Marathon. I guess they're calling it "The Securian Winter Run" now, probably because last year it was a short course so they don't want to go and confuse people with an awesome name. I mean, can't you hear it? FROZEN HALF MARATHON! How tough does that sound?

But I digress. I didn't run it last year, but I did run it in 2010 when it also did not live up to its namesake because the temperature was 34 degrees (that's above freezing). Now, two years after my last "frozen" half marathon, I'm ready to try it again. I don't know whether or not it will be an accurate course, but I've been assured that it will be frozen. I know the race management company does a nice job and that it wasn't really their fault the course was short last year, so I'm looking forward to a nice cold race. Or a nice and cold race if the race is nice but the cold is not.

Laura's not around to proofread for me tonight so this one's probably got some orthographic infelicities. Have a nice weekend!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Olympic Trials: An Open Letter to NBC

Credit: AP

Dear NBC Sports,

Thank you for broadcasting the Olympic Trials Marathon. I was excited to see the deepest, most talented field of women running for three spots on the Olympic team in a race where at least ten women had a chance. In the men's race, I knew Ryan Hall was the clear favorite, and I was betting on Meb Keflizighi to make them team as well. I had no idea who would get the third spot, and was interested to see who would go out with Hall at a potentially unsustainable pace.

As you know, part of the entertainment in watching sports is the element of suspense. I'm sure you had your reasons for tape delaying the broadcast for six hours. I mean, what kind of demographic would get up early on a weekend to do something involving running? And I knew I could avoid Facebook to keep from seeing who won. It's not like you knew Flotrack would send me an e-mail that said that Meb won in the subject line. At least I didn't know who won the women's race and who got third in the men's race.

Also, thanks for not using all those fancy, expensive production techniques that you use in football, tennis, and the Purina dog show. I liked having to constantly guess what mile the runners were at. It was particularly interesting when you put up a split time for the top five women without indicating in any way what mile or kilometer split you were showing.

It was also interesting how you focused almost 100% on the human interest stories of each runner rather than, say, their previous best times for any distance, or, in the case of the men's third place finisher Abdi Adirahman, any of his times for his previous THREE Olympic trials 10k finishes. While you did mention a marathon PR in passing, it was usually like, "Deena Kastor holds the American record", or, "Ryan Hall's marathon PR is around three minutes faster than anyone in the field."

Really NBC? You at least mentioned which marathons Hall and Meb ran, and I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you mentioned Davila almost won Boston while I wasn't listening, but how about their times? How they stack up against the best in the world? I did have to step away for about twenty minutes, so maybe you had amazing coverage for that twenty minutes, but I doubt it.

Anyway, thanks again for covering the marathon. I'm sure it's not the profit windfall you get from "Sunday Night Football," the "Purina Dog Challenge Championships," or "The Office." But maybe, just maybe, if you promoted it a little more, did a better job covering it and explaining the sport, and spent more than fourteen dollars on production costs, people might actually be a little more interested. I mean, there's around 40 million runners in this country who spend almost three billion dollars on running shoes alone. Seems like you could make a little money promoting to that demographic and maybe even pull in some casual sports fans with them.

Your friend,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Meet of Miles

It's been a busy, busy week. I'm a little disappointed with myself--I only made it to the YMCA before work once, and I only went swimming once. I did, however, manage to make it to the Meet of the Miles on Tuesday. I met a friend, Willie, at Caribou in Eagan. She's a fellow Eaganite and member the MN Running Wild. Laura also decided last minute to come along, which I really appreciated. It's always nice to have my favorite cheerleader and photographer to support me.

We had a nice ride over to the U of M--Willie chatted with us about her escapades running the Olympic trials marathon as we made our way across the metro through amazingly light traffic. After spending a little bit of time finding the right place to park, we arrived at the U of M field house.

The race took place on the a 200m indoor track. I commented to Willie that it looked longer than 200m. "Maybe that's because it's so open," she said. She was right, it was really open, but my totally illogical, nervous-wreck side began rearing its ugly head. I was terrible at indoor track in college, and this open, 200m track brought back bad memories of running poorly in the mile after failing to do most of my workouts over winter break.

We walked up to the sign-up table to pay our $5 and sign up for a heat. The fastest heat was 4:45 / mile and faster and the slowest was 7:00 / mile and slower. "What do you think, Willie?" I asked. "Should I do the 4:45 - 5:00 heat or the 5:00 - 5:15 heat?"

"How have you been running?" she answered. "How's your training been?"

"I dunno," I said. "My mileage is pretty low but I've been doing some speedwork."

"Do the sub-5:00 heat."

I signed up for it and the butterflies got worse. I did a couple miles of warm-up laps with Willie and a couple other runners. We then ran into another MN Running Wild member, Bill. We chatted a little bit and then the heats began. The first heat, the sub-4:45 group, went out with a first quarter of about 70 seconds. Then, the leaders turned on the jets, the fastest finishing time being 4:26.

The next heat was starting-- the first 4:45 - 5:00 heat. I was in the second heat. After they got underway I did some pickups, building up to race pace over 100 meters. I was really nervous as I thought about the inevitable pain to follow. Willie, Bill, and Laura all wished me luck before I walked over to check in and line up for the race.

Once the race started my nervousness was gone and my competitiveness kicked in. I heard one runner from the sub-4:45 group ask another runner if he wanted a pacer. The pacer and the pacee lead the race from the get-go, and I tucked in behind them. I was feeling good for the first four laps (half-a-mile), and when the pacer stepped off I stayed right behind the leader. At some point, three runners went around me. I went with them and the guy who was leading couldn't stay with us.

One guy kept clipping the bottom of my foot--he said sorry every time and I said something like, "it's fine" every time, but at this point in the race things started to open it up so it was no longer an issue. The first two of the three guys in front of me started breaking away from me and the third guy in front of me. In retrospect I maybe could have gone with them, but I opted to stay behind the third guy. With two laps to go I was really hurting, but I told myself I was going to suffer as much as I could.

That seemed to help, and with that little mantra I was able to keep contact with the runner in front of me. Going into the last 200m, I got ready to pass him on the final curve. My track instincts came back to me--I always liked passing on the curve because even though I have to run a little farther, the person I'm passing usually isn't ready. In this case it worked--I went around the runner ahead of me and kicked as hard as I could to the finish. I was thrilled to see my time--a new indoor PR of 4:51.4.

After some congratulations from Laura, Willie, and Bill, I proceeded to feel sick. It's usually the same feeling after running a hard mile--lightheadedness, mild nausea, and the taste of copper in my mouth. After laying down for a bit I jogged a little and cheered for a couple other heats before Willie and Bill ran their mile. In one of the 5:00 - 5:15 heats there was an exciting finish as two high schoolers sprinted to the finish with the margin of victory coming to around a tenth of a second.

In Willie and Bill's heat, Willie got boxed in by a high school kid who seemed determined to push her to the outside of lane one. Bill got in a better position and the finish came down to a sprint between Bill and Willie with Bill narrowly holding off Willie.

Willie and I cooled down and chatted about our races before heading home. I had a really good time and I'm looking forward to running another indoor mile at some point. I feel like I could do more speedwork and possibly knock out the 2012 goal of breaking 4:50 if I run another indoor mile this year.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lazy Saturday

Laura and I were talking last night about how I used to not be a morning person. She's always been a morning person. Laura was that annoying kid at the sleepover who would wake everybody up by zipping up her sleeping bag really slowly, "ziiiiiiiiip." And she'd do it again and again until someone would wake up, look at her with sleep encrusted eyes, and listen to her say, "Oh good, you're up!"

I, on the other hand, was a night owl for most of my life. I liked to stay up late, and wake up late. The past couple years, however, my body has slowly turned itself into a freakishly early riser. Lately I've been getting up around 4:30 AM--and I like it. I drive to the YMCA that's halfway between my job and my house and there's NO traffic. When I'm done working out I'm already halfway and I've passed the crappy part of my commute.

Plus, I love working out in the morning. It makes me feel refreshed, and the little squeeze of endorphins I get usually carries me through the day. I like getting to work in a good mood, jazzed up on flipping between FOX News and MSNBC while running on the treadmill. It's also invigorating narrowly escaping death while swimming laps in the pool.

Saturdays, however, are sleep in days. Sure, I often wake up at 4:30 or 5 anyway, but I can roll over, close my eyes, and go back to sleep. Today I slept all the way until 6. I then took my time making some oatmeal on the stove, brewed some coffee, and got ready to meet up for the MN Running Wild group run.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Go Time

Laura and I started off 2012 with a race. Instead of defending my title at the Resolution Solution 5k, I opted instead to volunteer as a course marshal at the Team Ortho Polar Dash. It's not as exciting as it might sound--course marshals are nothing like US Marshals. They don't get to capture fugitives, carry guns (although in Minnesota I suppose I could have), or have thick mustaches.

Though we didn't get the adrenaline rush of tracking a heroine dealer through the Sierra Nevadas, we did get free hand and foot warmers. Laura had five of them stuffed in-between her two pairs of socks. This mild winter has wussified me. I wasn't wearing mittens, so instead, I was pulling my fingers out of my gloves and wrapping them around the hand warmers in my palms. Luckily the runners I was cheering for were none-the-wiser. My gloves were thick enough to camouflage my frigid fingers' sissyness by maintaining a rigid shape (see photo).

Notice the motionlessness of my right hand.
Besides keeping our extremities as warm as possible, we also rang cow bells and cheered for the 10k and 1/2 marathon runners as they ran up the hill where South Mississippi River Blvd and Summit Ave intersect. We did get one sweet taste of authority when the St. Paul Police Officer told me I could direct the priests leaving their monastary off of the race course if they had to go exorcise demons or distribute the Eucharist (I'm paraphrasing here). All in all, it was a great way to start 2012.

2011 Goals - Check!
In 2011 I set some ambitious goals and some goals that were not quite as ambitious. I wanted to run 1800 miles for the year and complete my first 50k. Looking back, 1800 was a little soft of a goal. I trained for a marathon in April and then a 50k in July, followed by a Ragnar ultra relay with three legs totaling over 34 miles in less than 24 hours. Just to train for those three races I should have hit 2000 miles.

I wrote that if I trained seriously for the 50k the miles would take care of themselves--and they did, to the tune of 2409. I did estimate a few of those runs so it's possible I only ran 2397, but it's also possible I ran 2421.

I'd also made it a goal to set personal records in the 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, and marathon. I did that and set PRs in the 10 mile and 50k by default. Yes! Really, while those goals may sound tough, I hadn't raced a 10k since Labor Day of 2009, and hadn't run a serious 5k ever. It's amazing what training somewhat consistently for two years can do for PRs.

12 Goals for 2012
This year I'm going to do a list so it's easier to write this post next year:
1. Write some different kinds of blog posts.
2. Pace Laura during her next PR-setting marathon.
3. Get some misguided company to give me free stuff to review on my blog.
4. Break 4:50 in the mile.
5. Break 16:45 in the 5k.
6. Break 1:20 in the 1/2 marathon.
7. Run over 2500 miles.
8. Finish a triathlon without drowning or falling off the bike.
9. Learn more about running.
10. Make it a whole year without kidney stone removal surgery.
11. Break 34:45 in the 10k.
12. Turn 30 and run 30k.

It's been a fun year of blogging. I hope to keep this blog somewhat entertaining this year, though I fear successful completion of goal #10 may hinder my writing. Perhaps I can find an equally compelling non-running related subject to write about this year.

Happy New Year!