Friday, September 30, 2011

Twenty Sumfin

The hills are alive (with the sounds of my bitchin and moanin)….

That’s, honestly, not too far from the truth.  Unless I want to run around in circles of 400 meters, half a mile, or a mile, I have to deal with hills, for the most part.  What a difference flat makes.

If you read my posts for the week, you’d know that Friday, today, was long run day at the McFizzle Training Camp.  I crawled my happy butt out of bed at 5 AM to get ready to go.  You’d a thunk I was doing a race or something the way I slept.  (Note to self:  beat the children).  Breakfast:  oatmeal, yogurt, and coffee on the way out.  Stopped at the gas station to fill up the car and buy two Powerades.

It was o’dark-thirty when I pulled into the parking garage at work.  I took my laptop upstairs to my desk and assured my co-worker that no, I was not actually going to start working and hinder his Subversion upgrade.  “See ya in 3-4 hours”, I said.  Off I went.

Did I mention it was dark?  I had the sidewalk up to Powers Ferry Road, then I had to run along a trail in the grass down to Cochrane Shoals Park.  Did I mention it was dark?  I was sure I was going to twist an ankle or something.  Finally, I made a left into the parking lot and onto sure footing.  My Garmin beeped one mile as I left the parking lot and got out onto the trail.  It was eerie running along the river in the fog and darkness.  The Cochran Shoals Trail is a 3.1 mile loop (perfect 5K!).  I got off the trail on the far side and headed down Columns Drive.  Combining the two gave me a nice 8+ mile loop.

I pretty much stuck to my pacing the entire run.  A few of my miles were over my suggested pace.  A few were significantly under.  I tried my best to pace myself and not go too hard.  I’d like to throw some excitement into the twenty mile run, but let’s just say it was “repetitive”!  LOL…  After about mile 6, I would stop after every mile and drink.  I learned this lesson last weekend (and last year too, evidently).  I was hoping to stay strong until mile 15 and see what I had left.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn the answer was:  a lot.

Every mile came in at or under pace up to the twentieth mile.  I did one small extra loop in the park to make sure I was at mile 19 when I left.  I walked the up hills up the street, careful not to twist anything again, and the daylight helped.  Once I got up the hill on the other side of Power’s Ferry, it was a downhill shot to the office.  I actually tried to get my last mile under 9:52, but at 10:06 pace, I finally gave in and finished up.

After showering, I headed up to the office for second breakfast.  The weekday long run experiment didn’t go too badly.  Not too shabby at all.  I’m thinking I’ll definitely try to get my next twenty miler in on Thursday, ad I have to head out of town this weekend.

20 miles @ 9:52 pace:  3:15:14, 9:46 over all pace.  Nothing wrong with those digits.

Have a great weekend!

Wes

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Yasso (therefore I run)

The news came in around 3:15 PM.  Youngest son had gotten a ride home from school, and I could relax at work and head home when I was ready.  The traffic gods smiled on me, and I was home changing my clothes by quarter to five.  I toyed with the idea of heading north to Canton and doing my workout on the high school track.  At that last minute, I diverted to Hobgood Park and the half mile track around the baseball fields.  While not ideal, it would suffice.  I would just have to deal with the slight inclines at the top of the loop.

I started out with an easy mile warm up.  The warm up, cool down, and recovery intervals had gotten permission before hand to be “sandbagged”.  By the end of my mile warm up, I felt the ever so slight tingle of butterflies in my stomach, excited for my first attempt at Yasso 800s.  The track is not quite a half a mile, more like 0.46 miles long.  I back tracked so that each of my Yasso intervals would end at the top of the track.

Pressing start on my Garmin, I took off running at a 6:15 per mile pace, my target was 7:54.  LOL!!!  Not to worry…  The top of the circle is slightly down hill.  Once I hit level ground, my pace slowed to upwards of 7:30 per mile.  Still, by the time I reached the end of the first interval, I had slowed down considerably and came in way under pace.

The next two intervals were paced much much better.  The effort was smoother.  Much like a race, towards the middle to end of the second interval, the euphoria wore off, and the hard work began.  By the fourth interval, I was wondering if I could managed the final intervals.  Not only did I manage, I nailed them.  It wasn’t my legs that were tired.  It was my lungs, and my mind.

I wrapped up the session with a 1.5 mile cool down, unwittingly cutting my workout a mile short.  No worries though.  I hit each of the 6 Yasso intervals right on target, and I was happy with that.  Given the level of effort over the weekend, a slight cut back was both warranted and welcome.

Now, on to the twenty miler tomorrow.  This was a nice confidence boost on my road to the marathon.

Wes

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tattered Remnants

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers…

Somehow, I managed to survive my first weekend of combined marathon training and soccer officiating.

IT WAS NOT A PLEASANT EXPERIENCE.

I did but one game on Saturday, which, fortunately for me, started an hour earlier than the usual time.  Another plus was that it was a U-16 match, which runs 80 minutes rather than the full 90.  I brought along my Garmin 310XT to measure my mileage.  I wanted to get my long run on after the game.

It took about 15 minutes into the game before the 310 caught the satellites and was happy.  At least, that was how long it took me to finally get to pull it out of my pocket and start the timer.  It wasn’t a particularly fast match.  I’ve been known to put on 7-9 miles running a U-17 center.  This one did about 4 miles + whatever I missed in the first 15 minutes.  I was happy to go with “4”.

Leaving from the fields gave me many options for my long run.  When I run long, I prefer one loop or an out and back.  No way to chicken out on those.  I somehow got it into my head that was “bored” with the traditional running places, and at the last minute I decided to head out to Kennesaw Mountain.  I was perfectly aware that this was a grueling trail run, and I was totally comfortable letting my target paces go.

Recently, the national park added another parking lot off of old Hwy 41.  It was plenty full when I arrived, indicating a large number of people out on the trails.  I enjoyed taking my time.  Dee Dee was working, and Matthew had spent the night with a friend.  I walked to the visitor center (selfishly finishing my coffee) before hitting the trails.  It was a beautiful day!  The temps were nice and cool in the shade, and there were plenty of other peeps on the trails for company.  My longest out and back at Kennesaw Mountain had been 5 miles (10 total).  This time, I went out seven and came back for a total of 14 miles.  My reward was new territory and a snake.  LOL…  He was sunning himself on a bridge near the turn around.  I saw him on the way back and immediately wondered if he was there when I passed by the first time.  I soon left him alone and continued my run.

As expected, the final 3 miles or so were just brutal, and I slowed considerably.  I did not, however, quit.  I finished up my 14 miles and limped back to the car.  I needed to get home to take Matthew to his soccer match.

The next day, I picked up another U-17 center and had two adult matches on the schedule.  Needless to say, by Sunday night, my body was in shock.  I don’t have the exact digits, but I know my mileage was easily over 40 miles for the week, which would, of course, be a new record for me.

This week, I’m staring my first twenty miler square in the face.  I’ve decided that the best decision is just to chunk the plan and go back to training by how my body feels.  I’ve dissected the plan.  What I have left is the spirit of the training plan.  I’ll use that to guide me going forward.

Matthew is out of school the next couple of days, and Dee Dee is on vacation.  I’m going to get my long run in on Friday, and officiate soccer matches on Saturday and Sunday.  We’ll see how that goes.

Happy hump day, y’all!

Wes

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Raced (for the Biscuit)

A Race for the Fallen Half Marathon Race Report

Honestly, I had debated whether or not I should even do this race.  My focus is the marathon, and I need little motivation between now and then to get my run on.  A couple of things finally convinced me that I should go.  First, the race was for a good cause.  The sponsors of the race, The Police Benevolent Foundation, support the families of fallen heroes all over the country.  Second, the race was in my backyard.

I woke up Saturday morning at 6 AM, about an hour after Dee Dee had left for work.  I wanted to get to the race site around 7 AM to avoid any last minute difficulties.  The sun was just beginning to brighten the sky as I made the 10 mile drive to Red Top Mountain.  The race was starting at the Iron Hill Trail, which just happens to be the first trail head on the left if you come into the park from the south.  They had opened the back gate at the parking area, and volunteers directed us to park in a field.  I was surprised at the number of cars already there.

The temperatures for the day were supposed to be really good, not even climbing out of the sixties by the time the race was over.  I sat in my car and finished my coffee before heading over to packet pickup.  The tents were set up in a little clearing.  There was only one person in front of me at the table.  The volunteer couldn’t find my name on the sheet and tried to direct me to registration.  Fortunately, my keen eyes spotted my name in the dark, and I was able to correct her error.  She apologized profusely, but I waved it off.  As long as we all knew I was supposed to be there, it was all good.

With 45 minute before race start, I headed back to my car.  On the way over, I bought a couple of Powerades.  I used the red one for pre-race fuel.  About twenty five minutes before the race start, I headed down to the start line.  A few people had gathered there, but not many.  I took off down one of the trails to my warm up in.  I ran for about 8 minutes, at reasonable pace, before heading back to the start line.  Ten minutes before the race start, the rest of the people began to show up.  They were trying for 300 participants in this first race, and I think a couple of hundred showed up.  Many of the participants were associated with various police jurisdictions, and quite a few of them where overweight and out of shape.  It was fun listening to them talk about the upcoming race and how they were going to take every available second to get it done.

A few minutes before race start, we all gathered in the little “corral”, which consisted of wooden traffic control barriers.  I heard one of the race officials say:  I’m going to say “On your mark…. set… then fire the pistol”.  Without much fanfare, that’s exactly what she did, and we were off.

We ran up the gravel parking lot and back onto the road, where we made a left into the park.  I didn’t bother lining up front.  It really wasn’t that crowded.  I had it in my mind that I wanted to run at “marathon pace” or nine minute miles.  Oh reality, how I doth hate thee….  The good news was that the first mile was mostly down hill.  The bad news was that the first mile was mostly down hill, and it fed my ego.

At the end of the first mile, we left the road and hit the trails proper.  I, personally, have run quite a few times on these trails.  I should have known what to expect.  I did not.  By the end of the second mile, my pace had settled in the 9:30 to 9:40 range.  I found some people that were running at my pace and hung on.  My legs were feeling pretty good, but I didn’t taper at all of for this race.

Near the end of mile two, we came off the trail and into the parking lot next to the Lodge.  This is the parking lot where we meet for open water swims.  The triathlon club was actually meeting that morning.  Lucky for them, there was plenty of parking down at our end of the park.  After crossing the parking lot, we hit a trail on which I’ve never been before.  I was surprised to look up and see runners coming back at us down the trail.  Evidently, we were hitting an out and back about a three quarters of a mile long.  At the turn around, I noticed the rocky outcropping we always swim to on our open water swims.  I had always wondered how people got to that side of the lake.  Now, I knew.

There was no passing on the out and back.  On the other hand, I wasn’t being slowed by other runners either.  A few  times, I had to go off trail to make room, but it was really no big deal.  At the end of the out and back, we made a right turn and headed for the Homestead Trail.  From the Lodge, this is part of the five mile loop I had run quite a few times.  At the entrance to the Homestead Trail, the race had its first aid station. The kind, but oh so wrong, volunteer was telling everybody they were at the four mile mark, when actually, it was three.

At this juncture, my pace took a nose dive.  Up and down the hilly terrain I went, and the Garmin registered paces in the 10’s instead of the 9’s.  My running companions hand dwindled to about four, and I worked hard to keep up with the runner in front of me.  The Homestead Trail is about a three mile loop.  I paused at the aid station to drink again on the way out.  My poor body was complaining.  It was at this point that I realized that if I didn’t take it easier, I might not even finish, much less reach any conceivable goals.

We followed the hilly trails back out towards the main road and emerged from the woods right by the cabin they use for registering campers.  That one small hill there at the cabin really dealt the pain.  I walked to the end of the parking lot before crossing the road and getting back out onto the trails.  I had never been on this section of trails.  Thank God they were relatively flat.

By now, I had left my running companions behind.  I was running solo.  I passed a few people over the next couple of miles, before rejoining the Iron Hill Trail.  I had run this trail before as well, and I remembered it being a 3.5-4 mile loop or so.  About half way through the trail, with maybe 3 miles to go, I was joined by a guy running with a 25lb backpack.  SHOW OFF!!!  LOL…  We basically kept each other company all the way to the finish.  My legs didn’t want to run anymore, but I still managed sub-10 paces, even 9:21 for my 10th mile.

Near the end, the had a little out and back that reminded me of Rev3 Knoxville.  It was two-tenths of a mile up hill to a turn around, then back down.  Fortunately for me, once I got to the bottom, the end was near.  I made my way back up to the clearing near the tents, hung a right, and ran through the finish line.  My watch had a 2:05 time on it for about a 9:30-ish pace.

I grabbed my shirt (in Dee Dee’s size, I promised it to her) and some food and sat down to eat.  One of the food options was Chik-fil-A biscuits, and I heard one of the other runners state:  I raced for the biscuit!  I thought that was really cute.  I raced for the Fallen, but it still made me chuckle.  One of the volunteers teased me that nobody was taking her sausage biscuits, and I laughed and told her it was just too hard to pass up a Chik-fil-A chicken biscuit!

I really didn’t have any hard goals for the race, but I hadn’t planned to trash myself either, and that’s exactly what I did.  After about a half an hour, I went and checked the standings.  When it became apparent that I wasn’t going to place in my division, I got in my car and went home.  The next day, I reffed three soccer matches, with two of them being centers.  ouch…

My running week has just been blah blah blah.  I’ve been desperately trying to recover.   I took days off.  I ran a short recovery run.  I took another day off.  Then, yesterday, I tried to get back on track with my plan.  I was supposed to do 9 miles, with 7 of them at marathon pace.  I managed 8 miles, with 5 at marathon pace.   Somewhere, in my sixth mile, my body just quit.

*sigh*

This weekend, I have an 18 mile long run to integrate into three soccer matches to referee. Let’s hope things get back on track and go better.

Have a great week end, y’all!

Wes

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tangled Webs

If you had told me even three months ago that I would run 30+ miles during a recovery week, I would have scoffed at you.  Even during my peak of Ironman training, I seldom got into the thirty miles per week range.  Hmmmmm….  maybe that has something to do with my poor run performance at Ironmans?  LOL….

Marathon training, as an exercise in and of itself, is a different beasty.  Yet, I love the way my body has responded.  (LOOSE THE WEIGHT DAMN YOU!)   There are days when I wonder if my legs can do (x) miles at (y) pace, and after my warm up, they do just that.

This week marks the half way point of my training plan.  I am celebrating by running in the Race for the Fallen at Red Top Mountain on Saturday.  What a better way to celebrate life than to dedicate a race for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our people?  I love the fact that the race is practically in my backyard.

Soccer season is in full swing.  I managed to keep my obstinate decision to “never ref again” through the pre-season.  Watching my son’s games left a small ache in my heart.  It took but a few emails from people I care about to change my mind.  Despite my bally-hooing and whinage, I found myself running the pitch last Saturday on a U-13 Classic IV match.  I loved every minute of it.  The problem is not the game of soccer, the players, or the spectators.  The problem is me:  pure and simple.  I have to go out on the pitch with the right attitude, and leave with the right attitude.

My return to the pitch has struck during prime time.  The longest runs of training plan are coming up, and I need to integrate my weekend activities with my plan.  I basically took the rest of my plan and boiled it down to three key workouts per week.  Right now, it looks like I’m going to need to move my long run to Thursday.  I’m not sure how Teh Bug is going to take that.  I haven’t checked in with her yet.  If I can swing it, it will free up a lot of time on the weekends for both family and soccer.

I like the canned plan that I am using, but I don’t need a plan.  Improvement comes from dancing the fine line between uncomfortable and hurting one self, and I know how to listen to my body.

What’s the easiest way to clear the webs out?  Fire?  A sword?  A good run?  take your pick :-)

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Wes

Friday, September 09, 2011

in memoriam




Never forgive. Never forget.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Surrender

The rain was blowing sideways as we pulled up to Nana’s house.  Jimmy and I had managed to sneak in a six mile run earlier that morning, before the rains came.  Now, the winds and driving rain was in full force.  Poor Nana got blown every which way as she tried to make it the six feet from the door to the car.  Still, it was wedding day, and nothing was going to get us down.

As we drove west towards the wedding site, the skies cleared a bit and the rain let up.  Tropical Depression Lee was spawning all kinds of trouble further to the east of us.  Dee Dee had spent all day Saturday moving the wedding from outside to inside.  Smart move.  The wedding went off without a hitch, and the storm kept many of the 250+ invited guests away.

The reception was… well…  a reception.  It’s hard for me to pass up a party, and I spent a good part of the night drinking and dancing.  Coupled with the storm, it made it very very difficult to get up for my long run on Sunday, which of course, didn’t happen.  Instead, I went straight to my Dad’s room at the long term care facility and spent the day keeping him entertained.  He’s made great progress since the last time I saw him.  We are still hopeful for his recovery.

Monday, we made the long drive back to Atlanta.  The weather was nasty in spots, but drivable for most of the way.  I swear we drove through a tornado east of Montgomery.  There was a swath of the interstate covered in debris, and as we drove through it, junk was flying all over the place and hitting one side of the car.  Fortunately for us, no harm was done. The minute we arrived home, the tornado sirens were going off.  A tornado hit a few miles from our house and cut a quarter mile path through my county for 24 miles.  I’m feeing very fortunate.

I had been debating on whether or not to try and get my long run in, or just skip it and go on to the next.  I decided on Tuesday to get up and give it a go.  When I woke up at 6:20 AM, it was raining.  I went straight to work (in my kitchen) and did my long run over lunch.  I didn’t quite get in the 15 miles I needed (14.5), but I felt like jumping from 14.5 to 16 is a lot better than 13 to 16.  This was the first run in a while that I felt pretty well rested starting out.  It was cool, and I had a slight drizzle the entire time.  VERY.NICE.  My underarms weren’t so happy later, when I put on deodorant, but I need to get back into the habit of using Body Glide.

After talking to Dee Dee and exchanging some emails, I’ve decided to not quite hang up my referee whistle.  I’m going to set my frustrations aside and do a little reffing this weekend and next, and see where I stand.  Of course, this throws a wrench into my training plans, but I’m pretty good at figgering stuff out.

Happy hump day, y’all!

Wes

Friday, September 02, 2011

Ordinary

Greetings from soon to be wet Mobile, AL.  Yesterday evening, we penned the dogs up, packed up the family and headed south.  My niece is getting married this weekend.  She is having an outdoor wedding with 250+ guests and one tropical depression.  It should be a blast.  I don’t mind getting wet in my brand new black suit.  I mean.  Suits?  They’re so 18th century.

I got up early this morning and tried to run.  I entertained the thoughts of sneaking across the bay to see my Dad before starting work remotely from my mother’s house.  Alas, my motivation escaped me, and I didn’t get out the door until late.  My Garmin died before I even started my run.  I had to do the whole thing by feel.  Since I am sans Garmin charger, I will have to do my six mile run tomorrow and the fifteen miler on Sunday in the same manner.  Hopefully, I won’t get drenched.

While I was sitting here tapping on the keyboard, a spot on CNN came on featuring a physically challenged triathlete.  The young lady came from China at the age of seven, and she was missing half of her right leg.  During her segment, the young lady talked about people wanting to know about her:  where she came from, how she got to America, who her parents were.  Her response was even she didn’t know.  She went on to tell the (all too familiar) story of how triathlon and being an athlete gave her the confidence in her life that she needed.

People outside our sport look at triathletes, especially Ironman triathletes, and say things like:  that’s incredible.  It’s insane, but incredible.  They look at the physically challenged athlete and admire their determination and perseverance.  We, on the other hand, know that these kind of people, the everyday triathletes and physically challenged triathletes are the norm, and besides the personal goals is a huge draw for people.  In our world, they are ordinary in an extraordinary sport, and I think that that sense of belonging is something that makes our community so special.

Have a great (and safe) Labor Day weekend,

Wes