Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Unexpected Marathon accolade

I attended the CARA-Wheaton Post-Marathon celebration party last night. It was held at a pizza restaurant in Naperville. Really nice deal - and a fun way to celebrate with all of the others who were out there on Saturdays putting in major mileage to get to our goal.

I was quite surprised when the our group leader, Jim, announced that there were awards to hand out. My name was the first to be called for the group's "Fastest Male".

Pretty cool wall ornament, right? And my second ever running trophy - after my 5k second place age group finish back in July.

I guess I should keep at this running thing.
OK, enough celebration… I’ve got to get my ass in gear back to running for this half marathon, which is in 5.5 weeks.

OK, Right after tonight’s numerous Captain Morgan and apple cider cocktails and beer and chili at the neighbor’s. I’ll get right on that mileage tomorrow AM. (sigh…)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Today's e-mail bag

Dear Ryan,

This is to notify you that your entry into the 111th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, 2007 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.

We look forward to seeing you in April!

Boston Athletic Association


Love how they throw that disclaimer in there "provided that the info...".

Translation: Don't try to mess with us and submit a misleading entry when you haven't shown that you can run with the big boys and girls.

What, you don't trust me? Check that Chicago results page. I made it, people!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Reflecting on 1,376 miles so far this year

On Friday night, I laid out the six-week training plan for Las Vegas without much consideration for the prior commitments I had made. There will be adjustments (starting this weekend as we visit my alma mater and running will be low priority). This is to be expected, so I'll do the best I can.

Today was the one of the more tranquil runs I have had in a long time. I did some research to locate a new running trail. I found one described here called the Indiana & Michigan Canal Trail, just west of Joliet.

Jen and I drove the 13 miles from our house on a gorgeous autumn day. She ran the first mile with me and I then went off on my own to run along the river canal for 4 out and 4 back. Truly beautiful scenery and the perfect weather made it all that much more enjoyable.

I tested my legs on the final mile 8 at 6:45. Felt pretty good, but I won't be doing that tomorrow.

Time: 1:02:12 - 8 miles

Recap of recovery week of 10/23/06

Mon-Thurs: REST
Fri 10/27: 4
Sat 10/28: 3
Sun 10/29: 8
TOTAL: 15 miles

This evening, I did a lot of reflecting by reading my blog entries over the past year. Amazing, really, some of the stuff I found.

I found numerous posts that flirted with the idea of running a BQ in Chicago, but I could read within my own statements that I wasn't truly certain I could do it. I know now that I shouldn't doubt myself. [I know, I should shut up about Chicago. Hell, it's been a week now.]

I also know why know (but not then) that I drew a collective chuckle from the run blog community after my Jan 1st post. In it, I courageously proclaimed that my 2006 total mileage goal was 1,200. Real ambitious, wasn't it?

The below image shows a chart of mileage YTD. I tallied it up today, and I am at 1,376 miles before hitting November.

Next year: Will I try for 2000?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Back To Business

I ventured out on to my first post-marathon run this evening around 5:30 PM. It is the soonest after a marathon that I have ever run, which may be an indication that I am excited to get back into it.

I did an easy 4-miler in my residential surroundings. Upon starting out, I looked down at the Garmin with interest to see my first first mile pace. 8:14. This is fine, actually faster than I had planned. However, it struck me as funny since it felt like 7:45.

Total run time was 32:34 - 8:08 per mile for 4 miles.

All and all, I felt really good, but I was content doing only 4. I will do some easier mileage over the next two days.

The next goal is the Las Vegas Half Marathon. Days to race: 44. Goal: 1:29:30 -- a PR by 56 seconds. Why this goal time? It seemed like a nice, round number; a realistic, yet stretching goal given only 44 days to recover and train.

I did a little research to see if I could find a worthwile 1/2 marathon training program that I could jump onto for 6 weeks to get me ready. I didn't really find anything that really fit with my circumstances or desired schedule.

I decided that I am going to create my own schedule based on my own experience. I know my body and am still at a decent level of fitness, so I can run my own show.

I will consider this an experiment. I am not going to follow Pfitz, Hal, RW, Coolrunning or any other pre-designed plan. I am going to follow my own plan.

Here is the rough draft (click on the image below to see the mileage):

Mondays - Easy, comfortable pace (7:40-8:00)
Tuesdays - Speed work - vary btw Yassos (3:00 800m repeats) and Tempo runs (6:50 pace)
Wednesdays - Rest
Thursdays - Warm-up with 2, then Run half the schedule distance at race pace, finish easy
Fridays - Recovery runs (8:40-9:00 pace)
Saturdays - Long runs - Pace range: 7:40-8:00, finish last two miles around 7:30
Sundays - Rest

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

So, what's next?

I am cognizant that I have been a bit schizophrenic on the aesthetics of my blog as of late. I've been searching for a newer, bolder and more compelling blog identity. My commitment is to maintain some degree of continuity in layout going forward.

The race on Sunday was a real turning point. (How nice that I haven't run a step as yet since crossing that finish.) The past 72 hours have been a time of real reflection for me.

I started this blog gig on September 5th, 2005 with this introductory post.

First, it was just an experiment to see if a blog would improve my training focus and inspire me to new running heights.

Then, it was to use as a motivational tool to deliver a strong result at the Tampa Marathon.

When the PR streak ended in Tampa, I was at a turning point. I knew I had not given my best to running, but it was a choice (maybe sub-conscious to an extent) because I wasn't sure if I wanted to give more.

My wife and I moved from Connecticut to the Chicago area at the end of April. I knew I would have to run the big one here. And if I was going to run Chicago, I would need a landmark performance for me to really feel like marathoning was worth it. I achieved my goal.

Now I have to decide what is next.

I've got the Vegas Half in December. I think I am going to try for a PR there, which will make me feel like I am running shape.

For Boston, however, I can't decide if I truly want to better my Chicago time. Of course, I want to run sub 3:10, but do I want to train through the winter to do it?

Or should I save my next best for a future marathon? I want to be able to enjoy Boston and soak in the atmosphere.

Plus, I've got a wife who wants to have a baby soon (Read: Keep your schedule open, Ryan). So I can adjust my running habits to such a major life change?

For now, I'll try for PR's on my upcoming two races (5k and half) and not worry about Boston for a few weeks or any major life changes. We'll cross that bridge... as they say... later.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chicago Marathon Race Report

BLOG LOCATION UPDATE: Yes, we are back to my original blog location. Blogger Beta has worked out the kinks and will now accept non-beta posts. Please re-direct yourselves to this site going forward. Sorry for the back-and-forth motion!


Jen and I arrived at the Monroe St. Parking Garage at 6:15 AM. Meeting up with my friends Steve and Aaron proved to be more challenging than I initially expected. We tried to meet at Charity Village, but that was further from the start than I expected.

We finally found each other at the gear check and had to shuffle into the Preferred Start 1 zone pretty quickly around 7:45 AM.

The plan was for Aaron and I to run together and have Steve ditch us after Mile 1 to chase his sub-3. He did and Aaron and I stuck together for as long as we could.

The first mile felt like the running of the bulls in Pamplona (or I am guessing, anyway). It was chaotic. I didn't have a traffic-free lane. I couldn't grasp the 7:20 pace. I wanted a slow first mile, but not a 7:43 like we got. We made up for that on miles 2 and 3 -- almost dangerously so.

Miles 2-10 were pretty solid. I couldn't get a sense early if I was going to nail this BQ. I just wanted to keep running even splits as best as I could. It was a constant battle.

I did see the
Jason and Leah fan club at mile 7.5. What a raucous entourage they had. That drew a smile for me, as I felt like I knew them yesterday. Aaron had to pee already and I was concerned about stopping so early. He darted off and I carried on.

After passing mile 15, I took a chance and detoured to a port-a-john. Surprisingly, I must have made up for it because my mile 16 split was a 7:31. That was an ultra-quick pee. I caught Aaron right after this.

I was so focused on delivering the result I wanted with this race that I probably missed out on some of the fanfare that I could have experienced if I paused to looked around more. First half was like clockwork. I ran a 1:34:43 half. Right on target for 3:10, but it would require a solid second half.

I was disappointed to see Aaron start to fall back around 18-19. I tried to pull him ahead but he was struggling. When we crossed 19, I knew I had to focus on my own splits or I'd be out of a BQ. I learned later that it was not in the cards for Aaron to qualify for Boston.

I GU'd up at 6, 11.5 and 18. I was trading off water and Gatorade at basically every stop through 22. After that, I didn't need nor could I afford any more water stops. I needed to nail the final splits.

I drove on like a 1-man army. Chinatown was very powerful. I have to admit that the techno Chinese/drum music that was pounding and resonating through the streets was a bit overwhelming. It was as if I was in a dream running for my life through some foreign death zone trying to escape the wrath of the evil dragon. It was surreal.

Late miles, I kept my eyes and mind focused on my splits. When I hit 20, I knew that I was slightly behind 3:10 pace by about 20 seconds. This was the first of several moments of truth. It was a matter of whether or not I would have the resolve to demand a 7:14 per mile 10k out of my body.

Check my split at mile 23 of 7:20. I knew that if I continued to slip that I would be in trouble. Michigan Ave was a real test. I saw others around me try to combat the final head winds. I couldn't think straight and figure out exactly what I needed to turn in for the final 3.2, but I was pretty sure that with 7:14's, I would get in under the wire.

Once I hit 24, there was no way I was caving in. I was hurting badly, but I knew I could hang on. I keep searching out the next mile marker as far in advance as I could.

The final 2.2 miles I ran in 15:40 or about 7:07 per mile. This is a miracle to me that I could muster the strength. I just wanted it. I knew I had earned it.

Finally, over the final 0.2, I was able to pump my fists and wave my arms to get the crowd cheering for me. They responded and I let the cheers carry me to the finish. I looked at my watch to read 3:10:05. Thank God for the 59 seconds grace the folks at the BAA grant people like us.

When I crossed the finish, the fact is that I was just about too tired to cheer or cry. I finally wept after about 30 seconds in the chute as I tried to propel myself to the medals area. I was spent. I couldn't believe I had done it.

Moments later, I found Steve waiting for me in back section of the finishing area. He was going for a sub-3. He wasn't sure if I had made it. I said nothing and showed him my watch. He smiled, we slapped high 5's and I asked him of his outcome. My jaw dropped when he uttered 2:57. Finally, I found my wife and we enjoyed the moment.

We both registered for Boston yesterday - my first, Steve's second.

To anyone who thinks that they have a goal too lofty to achieve, don't doubt yourself. Devise a plan that you think will get you there. Commit to it and give it your all. I can speak from experience.

7:43 - Mile 1
7:04 - Mile 2
7:06 - Mile 3
7:09 - Mile 4
7:13 - Mile 5
7:26 - Mile 6
7:18 - Mile 7
7:03 - Mile 8
7:05 - Mile 9
7:07 - Mile 10
7:04 - Mile 11
7:20 - Mile 12
7:13 - Mile 13
7:14 - Mile 14
7:22 - Mile 15
7:31 - Mile 16
7:16 - Mile 17
7:15 - Mile 18
7:27 - Mile 19
7:18 - Mile 20
7:09 - Mile 21
7:15 - Mile 22
7:20 - Mile 23
7:14 - Mile 24
7:10 - Mile 25
8:31 - final 1.2