Monday, February 28, 2011

Meant to be Broken

A Guns and Hoses 5K Race Report

The Year 2011 is still in its infancy, and already, it is a year for the record books.  The Cleveland Cavaliers broke the record for the longest losing streak in NBA history.  The Caltech basketball teams snaps a 310(!) game conference losing streak.  ANNNNDDD…  Your humble servant finally manages to PR :-)  A year for the record books, indeed.

The honest to God truth is…  you want the truth don’t you?  Can ya handle it?  When the alarm clock went off at 6:20 AM, I didn’t want to get out of bed.  What was I thinking?  I needed a mental re-evaluation.  I haven’t slept in for ages.  It was cold outside.  The bed was warm.  But.  I really needed to test my fitness.  I really needed to see where I am on this journey.  I deserved my cake.

So, I got out of bed.  All of my fitness clothes were dirty.  I found a long sleeve tech t-shirt and my orange Mizuno running shorts and slipped those on.  I threw on a super warm and comfortable Mizuno running jacket and headed downstairs.  I decided to eat just enough Apple Jacks to hold me over until after the race.  I did not want a full stomach on his run!

Dee Dee and I hopped in the car and drove the 1.2 miles to the park.  A lot of people had already arrived.  We went and picked up our packets.  I failed to register for the race early by one day.  They were all out of our t-shirt sizes.  Dee Dee grabbed an XL, and I opted not to take a t-shirt at all.  My drawers are full of race shirts!  LOL…  We went back to the car to keep warm.  It was 40 degrees out, a little cold to be sitting still, but I suspected it would be fine for the race.  We watched Dee Dee’s friends from work arrive.

About twenty minutes before the race start we got out of the car.  Our friend, Christina, had come to do the race as well.  She’s a sub-20 5Ker on a good day.  With fifteen minutes to go, I left Dee Dee to chat with her friends and did a warm up run around the park.  My legs were still feeling a little sore, but I was confident that they would carry me through the day.  Dee Dee was still chatting when I got back.  After several minutes, I noticed the crowd coming out of the park to stand behind us.  I didn’t realize it, but we were standing at the starting line.  I was even more chagrined when I found out I was at the front of the line.  I moved back 2-3 rows of people to a place that was more comfortable for me.

The bearded hunting cap wearing starter guy made his way through the crowd to the front of the line.  He told us he was going to say:  on your mark, set, go, but don’t go, he quickly added.  Then, 2 seconds later, he set us off.

Before the race, I had set the Virtual Partner on the Garmin 310XT to a 7:45 per mile pace.  As the crowd surged, I hit start and took off with them.  I saw Christina up ahead, and I toyed with the idea of racing out in front of her, and laughing, but given her pace, I decided it was probably a bad idea.  It was slightly uphill to the end of the parking lot where we made a u-turn and headed back down the parking lot and out into the street.  At this point, my lungs started to burn.

This is what it means to feel alive…

The endorphins were kicking in early, aided, no doubt, by the mostly downhill first mile.  I knew the last mile, coming back, was going to be tough, and I had decided to bank some minutes.  At the bottom of the hill, we made a left onto the parkway that leads into my neighborhood.  Shortly after that, we hit the first mile marker.  A glance at my Garmin indicated I was 45 seconds ahead of pace.

Good, I thought to myself. Let’s hang on to that for dear life…

The Garmin buzzed about fifty yards on the other side of the mile marker.  A short distance later, we made a right turn into the water treatment plant.  The entire second mile is mostly flat.  I was pleased to see my “banked” time holding steady, even improving a little bit.  The lead runner came by, followed by other runners, including Christina.  She yelled something at me, but I was really focused on grinding this one out.  I made the turn around and picked the pace back up.  I knew the hard work was still ahead.

We made a left out of the treatment plant back onto the parkway.  There was a little dip there that set the tone for the last mile. On the far side of the dip sat the second mile marker.  My Garmin buzzed right on target, and I was still 40+ seconds ahead of pace.  At the end of my subdivision we turned right and headed up hill back to the park.  I shortened my steps and increased my turn over.  I managed to pass a couple of runners here. The further along we got, the steeper the hill.  My heart rate started to climb.  All I could think was to tell myself that this was OK.  This is the only real hill, and the hard work would soon be over.

At the parking lot entrance, we turned right back into the park, then made another right onto the side walk that circles the baseball fields.  I latch onto a young woman in front of me who is running at about my pace.  I fail to gain on her, but she is not leaving me behind either. A hundred yards down the side walk, we are shunted off to the right onto an asphalt path.  It takes us down a hill to the amphitheater, then back up the hill and back onto the sidewalk again.  That short steep hill really got the heart rate pumping.

The track around the ball fields is just about half a mile long.  I am exactly on the opposite side of the finishing line.  I’ve run at this park dozens and dozens of times.  I know there is slightly more than a quarter mile to go, and despite the small rise there, I pick up the pace.  At the top of the circle, the Garmin buzzes, and I’m rewarded with my slowest mile of the race.  I fully expected this, but now, it’s slightly downhill to the finish.  I kick it in and begin to close the gap on my pace bunny.  Through the fence, I can see the race clock.  I get excited to see the number “23” in the minutes column.  I start to sprint for the finish.  I decide at the last minute not to race my pace bunny.  I ease up as we enter the chute and finish right behind her.

The Garmin 310XT reads 23:49.  This wasn’t a chipped race, so I’ll just go with what the Garmin says is my official time.  I couldn’t have been more excited.  Christina came over to check on my and give me a high five before taking off on her 3 mile cool down.  Overachiever.  I felt pretty confident that I had placed in my age group.  Mine was the third card in the 40-49 year old box, although sometimes, people toss their cards in late.  I went to the car and grabbed my jacket and waited by the finish line for Dee Dee to come in.  She crossed the line at about the 40 minute mark, with a smile on her face.

At the awards ceremony, they announced that the “Guns” had won the competition for the first time in 5 years.  They had 437 registered participants, raising over $2500.00 for local charities.  Our little 5K is all growed up now.  As for myself, I did place 3rd in my age group, and I haz bling to prove it.  Even better than that, I PRed the 5K distance by one minute and twenty-one seconds, on a slightly harder course.  The last time I PRed a 5K was in 2007.

Draught over :-)

Wes

Friday, February 25, 2011

2011 Race Season

My race schedule is up, with the exception of my fall marathon.  I could not be more pleased with the way it has worked out.

I will kick off my year with two running races.  Tomorrow, I am racing the Guns and Hoses 5K down the street from my house.  I’m pretty sure I signed up to be a hired “gun”  :-)  Dee Dee does work of the Dept. of Public Safety, ya know….  Next month is the half marathon.  I have one last weekend of reffing, then it’s a couple of weeks of race simulations to boost my confidence for the big day.  It’s even better that the weather is warming up.

My first triathlons will be in June.  I will return to the West Point Olympic on June 12.  This is where I set my Olympic distance PR, and I’m looking forward to doing this race for the second time.  I will follow this one up with my usual Callaway Gardens Super Sprint the following weekend.

In July, I have the Tri the Mountains Sprint on my radar.  I wanted to do this one last year, but it didn’t work out.  It’s not too far from the house, and it should be super fun.  I’m planning on my big triathlon for the end of the year possibly being the new Rev3 in South Carolina.  That  one looks like loads of fun too.  I’m waiting to sign up for both of these pending last minute time resolution.

There you have it.  I’ll be adding a full marathon in November/December time frame, and that should end my year of rest :-)

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Wes

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Making the Tough Choices

Everybody has a different perspective on life, and isn’t it a wonderful thing?  If we all thought and believed the same things, the world would be a boring place.  Take me for example…  I view life as a journey down a river, the end of which, of course, is my death.  I can dictate my spot in the river, and some days, I can even paddle against the current, but the end result is going to be the same.  Others view life as a tapestry, and they hop from thread to thread based on the choices they make.  All the threads combine to paint a picture of their life, and this perspective of the world pleases them.  Then there are those who see the world as a dark, foreboding force of chaos in their life.  They are constantly reacting to what is being thrown at them, and they feel out of control, lost, and often lonely.

Hold your nose, I told my child, and jump in with both feet, then hang on for the ride…

Here I am, three months out from Ironman Arizona, and my life is carrying me at an every increasing pace towards the Georgia Half Marathon.  I continue to run 5-6 times a week, but my reffing schedule has been interfering a bit.  Periodically, I get on the scale to check my weight and my nutrition status.  I am maintaining at 180.  In the five years that I have been participating in endurance sports, this is the first time this has ever happened, and all I have been doing is running, and drinking beer, and eating better.

With this in mind, I have come to a tough decision.  I have decided that I am no longer a triathlete.  Yes. I know.  I am now a runner, again.  You see…  I’ve found that balance of drinking beer, eating, and running that allows me to maintain my weight and enjoy the finer things in life, like a good dark beer.

Don’t be jealous.  I know that you all work hard to achieve some sort of balance in your life:  work, kids, running, triathlon.  It’s not easy, but it can be done.  My advice?  Scale back your balance to beer and running.  Simple really.  It’s much easier to balance when there are fewer variables involved.  If I can do it, anybody can do it.  Someday, you’ll thank me.

After missing my long run last weekend, I thought that I would take advantage of President’s Day to get in a 14 miler.  At the last minute, I diverted from my planned run at The Silver Comet, and instead went to Kennesaw Mountain.  My legs were very tired and sore, and as a result, I threw all time considerations out the window.  It ended up being a wise decision.  I followed a different path on this run, and ended up on a different trail in the park.  It was, pretty much, a straight out and back, in the middle of the afternoon, at a most leisurely pace.  Just what I needed!

I have my first race of the season coming up this weekend.  It is a 5K less than 2 miles from my house.  I’m hoping…  no, I need to PR this race, but I also need to wait and see if my legs are recovered enough to give it a go.

We shall see.  Often, the tough choices take time…

Wes

Monday, February 14, 2011

Coming of Age

Once upon a time, I refereed soccer matches because I both loved the game, and I loved being in charge.  No.  We don’t do it for the money.  While reffing soccer matches brings in plenty of spare change, it isn’t a living here in the United States, yet.  After one learns and grows, one learns to really appreciate the beauty of the game.  Matches really are all about the players.  Referees are merely caretakers of the Laws of the Game, and spectators are the reward.

Officially, my mileage for last week was not all that impressive.  I skipped a day and only banged out three runs for a total of 11 miles.  I woke up Saturday morning at 5:40 AM to get ready for my matches.  Georgia State Soccer Park is on the southwest side of Atlanta, a fair distance from my house.  Thanks to the interstate system, it’s really not that much further time wise then most of  the other venues.  I arrived a little early to see frost laden fields and young people bundled up and running.  I stayed in my car for fifteen minutes before hitting up the port-a-potties.

Have you ever tried to use a port-o-potty when its sub-freezing out?

My first center of the morning was at 8 AM.  It was a game I had “picked up” just in the last day or two. Six games in a tournament is a lot, but not unheard of.  Seven is starting to push it.  The 14/15 year old boys playing the match were not from the Atlanta area.  At half time, one of the boy’s fathers came over to tell the crew how good he thought the officiating was, and how it was “refreshing”.  We all chuckled at that and told him that we still had half a game left to turn it around.

It was a good start to the day, and that’s pretty much how the tournament went.  After the sun came up, the gloves came off and it warmed up a bit.  Not warm enough to ditch the long sleeves, but warm enough to lose the hat and the gloves.

I wrapped up my last game around five and headed straight home to shower, grab Dee Dee and head out to Alpharetta to meet up with Ryan the White Hot.  Ryan brought his daughter Teegan  down from North Carolina to visit the All American Girl’s store at North Point Mall.  Is he a great dad or what?  We enjoyed some fine cuisine and beers at Taco Mac before calling it a night.  Teegan made it perfectly clear that she could only handle so much adult conversation :-)

After getting back home at a decent hour, it was back up at 5:40 AM to rinse and repeat.  It was few  degrees warmer out, but unlike Saturday, I had three games in a row, wrapping up right after lunch.  My final game of the day was between two U-15 Elite girls teams, and they came to play.  They were fast, skilled, and very well behaved.  One team was just a little more skilled than the other, and the match ended with the best team winning.

This was one of those tournaments where not a discouraging word was heard.  All of the parents, players, coaches and other spectators were on their best behavior, and it made for a fantastic weekend.  This is the kind of experience that keeps me coming back.

And that whole thing about running?  If my legs are any indication, the soreness says that I put at least twenty miles on them over the weekend.  Yea, I’ll be hobbling a couple of more days, and I’ll try to speed up the healing process with a short recovery run tomorrow.  Next weekend should be even better, weather wise, and I’m looking forward to hitting the pitch again, hard.

Wes

Friday, February 11, 2011

Busta Move

This week has been a bit crazy.  In response to the craziness, I have withdrawn a bit from the blogging world.  I felt like I needed to take the pressure off of myself for awhile, and keeping up with all the reading and blogging and FBing and such was just becoming a bit too much.  I think for the time being, we are going to be seeing a bit less of me.  How will you stand it?

My next three weekends will consist of reffing tournaments.  It was my hope that I would be able to fall back on my Ironman training and get my long run in on Thursday.  Dee Dee having to work and yet more winter weather ruined those plans.  I opted to to do a tempo run on the treadmill at the gym.  I was feeling rather pleased with myself and it showed.  I banged out a 9:17, 8:12, 8:00, and 7:50 mile, negative splitting and still having something left in the tank at the end.  I had actually taken an unplanned rest day the day before, and it really helped.

While I’m sure  that 7 soccer matches will somehow magically equate to a “long run”, it’s the following weeks schedule that has me concerned.  It’s getting close to go time, and I need to be getting in these long runs so that I feel confident come race day.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Wes

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Hill Simulation

I have found that the most difficult part of this journey has been the soreness in my ankles and my feet.  I mean, I am running more than I ever have in my life.  The first couple of 30+ mile weeks were fine, but when I got around to the second set, I noticed that the soreness in my foot joint is rather pronounced.  It often goes away after a proper warm up.  I fully realize that this might be "normal", but having not been here before, I have no experience with this normal.

So, I changed things up a bit this week.  I took one extra day of rest, and mixed up my second tempo run.  I've been doing most of my week day training on the treadmill, and I have to admit that I've been rather enjoying it.  I am running at a sub-9:30 pace, and my heart rate barely climbed out of Zone 1.  This is light years ahead of where I was last year, when Ironman training was staring me full me in the face.  Back to the tempo run...  Rather than do my mile repeats on Thursday that I normally do,  I thought I would simulate some hills.  I warmed up with increasingly faster miles:  11:21, 9:13, 8:32...  Then, as is often the case, I took a potty break before starting my hill work  :-)  One of the definite advantages to running at the gym.

Having not done a simulation before, I had visions of grandeur in head.  I thought I would do 6-8 4 minutes on, 1 minute off at a 6% grade, but the first hill interval set my perspective properly.  I quickly backed off to 4x3 minutes on, with 1 minute recovery.  My rewards was several minutes in Zone 5, and no, I wasn't training by HR, merely observing!  LOL...  The race in March does have some hills, mostly at the end.  It will be necessary to do more hill training in the final weeks, even as I ramp up the race simulations.

In other exciting news...  Dee Dee and I are registered to run a 5K on February 26.  It will be a repeat race for us.  The start is at Hobgood Park, which is 1.7 miles from my house :-)  I was hoping that the race was on a recovery weekend, but alas, it is not.  I'm going to have to figure out how to throw that into the mix AND handle three weekends of soccer referee-ing.

Have a great weekend, y'all!  I have it on good word that things are going to start warming up soon!

Wes

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hiatus

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag floating on the wind wanting to start again? – Katie Perry

Wow…  it’s been 10 whole days since my last post.  When last we heard from our intrepid indie, he had just completed a painful long run and was thinking… WTF?

Not to worry…  I am still here, and I am fine.  Back to back 35-ish mile weeks had taken their toll on me.  I logged my highest mileage month ever, coming in around 122 miles, and this boy was fried.  Being on a master’s cycle (2 weeks on, 1 week recovery), I had a recovery week to look forward to, and I did what any aspiring “I wanna PR my next half marathon” indie would do.  I went on a beer binge.  Which, while I’m sure contributed to my fried-ness, did not do so well for my recovery.

Not to worry…  I did not miss a single workout.  Although my state of fried-ness did leave me wanting in the creative blog arena.  We actually entertained some friends for the first time in ages.  We whipped up our Sesame Chicken special (soooo good), and I made a cheese cake, which was, in itself, awesomeness…

This is my final cycle for adding mileage.  I want to get my long runs up to 14 and 15 miles respectively.  Somewhere between 13 and 17 miles is my sweet spot for a half marathon long run, and I need to find it.  I’m still doing tempo runs twice a week.  The first is some kind of intervals, and the second is usually mile repeats at better than half marathon pace.

My next recovery week will involve a 5K race (!) to test the fitness, then some race specific weeks to get ready for the big day.

Got Spring?  I’ll be around :-)

Wes