Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hilly Hilly Wet Wet 20 Miler

Today's 20 mile training run was probably one of the hardest and most challenging runs I have done. Weather conditions were pretty much the worst I have ever ran in. It rained the whole time. And I'm not talking sprinkles, we had torrential downfalls, thunder, lightning, and a little wind. On top of that the route was VERY Hilly. I named this the suicide run earlier in the week because I knew the hills were going to kill us. Actually some of these were really mountains.

We met at 11:00am at the old Austin meat packing factory. This allowed everyone to get a little extra rest after yesterdays Spring Fling 5k. The crazies for today consisted of Brenda, Cindy, Annette, Michelle, Gary and myself. Kelly H. joined us a little later in the run. We were blessed to have Jackie and Bailey crewing for us. They were life savers. Driving the van from one stop to the next to see if we needed anything. This is how elite runners are treated! I have to say we were very lucky to have them today. They probably felt they were lucky to be in the van!

As I said earlier, this is a very hilly route. We climb a hill before we even have a mile ran. just over 2 miles in the run and we have a really big one, then a long downhill. I don't know which is worse. With the wet roads and rain, you had to be careful going downhill. The route followed Ed Haymes Road probably just over 3 miles until it connected with Lewisburg. At Lewisburg we turned left and headed towards Highway 5, then across 5 and on to Indian Head Lake where we made a loop and came right back the way we came.

This hill was about a mile or so into the run. Gary, Annette, and Michelle

After we turned on Lewisburg, it wasn't long before the rain started coming down heavier. It was actually pretty nice at first, just a light drizzle and I actually made a comment that my shoes were not even wet yet. Well, that didn't last long! As the rain increased in intensity, the road would have run off water running down it and across it. Probably before mile 5 we were soaked from head to toe. I guess the only thing that saved us was that the temperature was not too cold. It was just comfortable, probably upper 50's, maybe low 60's. I ran fairly good up until about mile 7, then I started wanting more walk breaks. The rain really was beating me up mentally.

Brenda and Cindy took off from the beginning. Gary ran probably 4 miles with us and then took off to try to catch those two. Annette and I had already planned on running this one pretty slow. With the hills and rain, that seemed to be the order of the day for me. I will have to say that on the way out I think all of us ran up every single hill. At times I would be ahead of Annette and Michelle and then I'd take a break and they would pass me. When running alone my left brain was giving me fits, wanting to walk, wishing I was somewhere else and on and on.

Michelle and Annette taking out a hill on Lewisburg

At times the run was very nice and beautiful. We were out, running in the rain and actually enjoying it at times. Some of the scenery was awesome. We ran by some donkeys that were under a shed and they were just looking at us like we were nuts. It was such a look, I had to stop and take a photo. However when I got ready to take the picture they came outside. They still just looked at us like we were nuts. I guess we were!

"them there runners must be crazy"

The girls were very good about circling back or I would catch up to them when the van would stop. Michelle was running very strong. When Kelly joined us the girls got faster so I just took my time. I really didn't care what my time was today, I just wanted to survive the run!

Gary ended up having to leave early but he was able to do half the run. He is running the full marathon at the Hogeye next weekend so he did not need 20. We ran into Brenda and Cindy as we entered the loop at Indian Head Lake. They looked good and strong like they were on a Sunday stroll. Those girls are awesome runners!

Annette, Michelle and Kelly seemed to be gaining speed or maybe I was losing it. By the time I made it to the other side of the lake I was pretty much talking to myself. My left brain was saying "I hate this" then my right brain would say "no you don't, you love running". It was just like that Nike youtube commercial. Somehow I convinced myself to keep going. Which really I didn't have much of an option at that point. The rain was really coming down again. It was probably raining 1-2"s per hour at the rate it was going. Water was running off the hills like crazy and the lake was almost flooded. We had to cross several low water bridges which soaked our feet again and again. Thank god I had the right shoes and sox today!

I got ahead of the girls again for a little while when they took a potty break at the lake bathroom. It didn't take them long to catch me. My walk breaks were getting more frequent. It wasn't that I really needed them, it just made me feel better with the miserable conditions we were having.

I did pretty good with my nutrition I think. I had bought some accelerade mix yesterday and had that in my water bottle. I would take a gu about every hour and usually an electrolyte every hour on the half. I also had some peanut butter crackers that seemed to always give me a good boost.

When we got back to Highway 5, Annette wanted to run to the store to use the potty. Kelly and I ran on. I called the van crew and told them so they went to pick them up at the store to catch them back up with us. It didn't take them too long. Probably halfway down Lewisburg on the return trip my upper quads started hurting. It wasn't intense pain but more of an aching sore type thing. Must have been all those damn hills! This started slowing me down more. I'd run for a while then I would walk a little. The girls got ahead of me again, Kelly with semi-fresh legs and then Michelle running strong. Annette was dropping some from those two at times. Then she would turn around and come run with me for a while. A few hills later my calves seemed to be tightening up. I started having flashbacks to when I got injured. I didn't want to go through that again so I would walk the hill. We saw the van crew a little later and they told us that when we turned back onto Ed Haymes Road we only had 5k left. Wow...almost done.

Well, the return trip on Ed Haymes Road was interesting. One BIG hill after another. They didn't seem as big going the other way. I told Annette that Tulsa didn't have crap at the end compared to these hills. A couple of these were so steep that running up them was almost a waste of energy. I ended up just shuffling my feet up a couple. It was easy to stop and walk though at this point. This had to be the longest 5k in history. I did not think it was ever going to end.

This is what we saw at about mile 18!

I hit mile 20 on my garmin about half a mile from the start. I was very happy when that happened. But, we still had one more BIG ass hill! Yep, one more then we were done. I didn't realize that the end was at the top till we got there. When I saw the short gravel road to the parking lot I took off in a dead sprint. I was ready to be done!

20.5 miles later, soaked from head to toe, I was a very happy camper. We all commented that if we could run this route in these conditions, we could do anything and we were defiantly ready for Nashville! I'll have to say I feel pretty good afterwards. My legs are more stiff now than sore. I'm sure I will be paying for it tomorrow. After a big steak dinner at Colton's and sinsations for desert, it made it all worth it. Yep, we must be crazy to be doing this. But the feeling after you have completed a challenging run like today is priceless! That's why we do it!!!

I almost forgot, but the stats are not that great but here they are. I won't list all the splits.
Total Wet and Hilly Miles - 20.5
Average pace - 12:06
Total Time - 4:07:59
Calories burnt - 2599
Average heart rate - 159

An under 5 hour marathon is doable!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring Fling Success

All I can say is WOW! What a great event, especially considering how it started this morning.

I volunteered for the set up crew and got to the High School at 6am. It had started sprinkling rain when I parked on the lot. I had flashbacks from last years race where we ran the last part of the race in a downpour. Well, it got worse than that. Luckily this year the school allowed us to set up in the field house which was very nice. Some of the guys and I set up some tables and pretty much waited for orders on what to do next. Several of us had parked in the main parking lot and decided that while we were waiting we would move our vehicles closer to the field house. I was no more than in my truck when the bottom dropped out! It was raining so hard I couldn't even see the drive way.

At this point everything was waiting on the weather. The race was scheduled to start at 8am and by 7am only a hand full of runners had showed up. I was thinking this might be good. If none of the fast bunch shows up we could win more awards! Ha....wishing and getting are two different things. I pulled up the radar on my phone and gave Brenda reports. At about 7:30 the decision was made to move the start time up till 8:30. No big deal and it was a very good decision.

By 7:45 the field house was packed. Around 8 I took the water stop crew to their location on the course and as we were leaving the bottom dropped out again. At that point it looked like we were going to get very wet running. No sooner than it started it stopped again. This time for good thank goodness. I made a quick run down to the track to see if the finish line crew needed anything else, made a bathroom break and ran back to my truck to get ready. As I got my warm up pants off everyone started heading to the start line. The race was on!

I really didn't have a set plan for this race till this morning. I had had a stressful week at work and really had not had time to figure out my times for this race. I found my previous PR and picked a goal time. I don't remember what time I picked but the average pace had me figured at an 8:49 per mile pace.

It was very cool at the start. I had shorts, a tech t-shirt and my Cabot singlet on top of that. I forgot my gloves and I was already chilled from being in and out of the rain. I knew once the race started I would feel great as it was almost the perfect running temp for a 5k.

We took off and I felt really good. It seemed like everyone was going out fast as usual. After maybe a 1/4 mile I looked at my pace and I was running low 8's. I thought man, this is too fast for mile one. I need to slow down. I had picked an older gentleman to somewhat pace by. I knew he was faster than me but I figured if I could keep up with him I would at least have a good time. Before I got all the way past the elementary school, Bailey comes running by. She was flying! I asked her, why did you start way back there? She didn't hear me. Then another girl ran up beside me and it was Josh's wife Kellie. We ended up running side by side quite a bit during this race. I hate that I didn't really get to carry on a conversation but at the speeds we were going it was hard to talk! I did offer words of encouragement several times as I knew she was somewhat of a new runner.

I hit mile one at 8:30. I thought wow, I am way too fast. I should have been running about a 9:00 and then pick it up later. It actually felt pretty good and I could have gone faster but not very long. After making the loop and turnaround I wanted to slow down. I had to make myself a little as I knew I couldn't hold what I was running. By mile 2 my average pace had dropped some and I was down to about 8:40. Thats when my left brain started messing with me. I knew that around 2.6 or so I had an uphill. I wanted to run that hard. So, I took a quick walk/shuffle to catch my breath. I guess it helped. When I stopped Kellie kept going and I figured that would be the last I saw of her. But when I started back I was able to catch back up to her. I ran up the hill and passed some people. Thats when I heard Kevin S. behind me. It kind of freaked me out because I knew Kevin was a very fast runner and there was no way he could be behind me. I actually slowed to a walk to let them catch up. It was him and some of his friends. I guess he was waiting till the end to sprint it in or something. We talked a little and I stayed with them for a few hundred yards. Again I was right there with Kellie. I had commented to her earlier to chop down that hill. Thats one of the things we learned at the clinic.

Finally we were at the downhill that led in to the stadium. I was really wanting this to be over at that point. All I could think about was I can't walk now! As I got to the turn in to the parking lot I could hear my name. Since the Cruisers were manning the course, they were all yelling encouragement to me. It was actually pumping me up. I ran on to the track and then all I could think of was man, I still have almost 400 meters to go. But, after this weeks speed work, I knew what running 400 meters was like and I knew I could make it with no problem.

At some point I had passed a father and his 6 or 7 year old son but as I started to round the corner heading to the finish line, I could hear the father yelling to the son, pick it up, pick it up. Well, there was no way I was going to let them pass me. I was behind Kellie again and I told her to keep pushing. I didn't try to pass her, I probably couldn't have anyway but I sure didn't want the father son to take us out. As we made the last sprint to the finish, I was pumping my arms and trying to do everything that Dennis had taught us. I can honestly say that after I finished I had given all I had at the end.

Net effect. A new PR! I finished with a 27:20 official time/8:49 pace which was 18 seconds faster than my previous 5k PR set in October. My race time on this exact course last year was 30:11. Old guys can get faster!! All I can say is that I am very happy. My goal this year is to PR in every race and so far it has happened. I really didn't expect it to happen today. I had a little bit of a cold and I just really wasn't feeling it but there is something about races that bring out the best in me. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe its the competition. I know I can always run better and faster when I am with other people. Some people hate races but I love them. We always have fun before and after with the group. I guess this is what makes it so special. We do have some really great friends. Thank you all so much for your encouragement. Without you guys I would not have the motivation to do this.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Preparing for the Spring Fling

By the way, thats a race! This Saturday will be the annual Spring Fling 5k in Cabot sponsored by the Cabot Country Cruisers and benefiting CASA. This is also a Grand Prix race so all the fast people will be there. I'm not one of them but I will be racing. I don't always like 5k's, but once they get going they are not so bad. At least its over pretty fast. My previous PR was 27:38 set back in the fall so I really have no idea how I will do. If I could beat that time I would be very happy. If I get close to it I will be happy. At least I know the course and it does seem like I may be getting faster. It's just a matter of how long I can run fast. Weather could be a factor but 8am should not be too hot. Humidity may be up with the possibility of rain and thunderstorms this weekend. I am also on the set up crew so I have to be there at 6am. Early!

So, this weeks running started with Monday. Annette was going to Michelle's house so they could run to the Women Can Run Clinic at the High School. I got to thinking about it at work and I thought, why not just ride to Michelle's with Annette and then I would have to run home. I would have them to run a couple miles with and then it would be a little over 2 back to my house. This was one way to get out the door and down the road. Some days this is the hardest part, especially after a hard day at work.

So, my plan worked out. I rode with Annette to Michelle's. We took off headed for the High School. They said they were not going to run fast as they had speed work tonight. Ha.....when they say that look out! Well, they were conservative and we had a great run to the school. We said our goodbyes and I ran on through town. It was kinda cool. I was using running as a form of transportation tonight. A way to get from point A to point B. Wasn't bad till I got on South First Street and there always seems to be traffic. The cars don't really go that fast but there is no shoulder so you have to watch them very closely. A car turned out from a side road and almost hit a truck right in front of me so I thought if they can't see a truck, they probably can't see me. Thats why its so nice to run early in the morning. No one is out!

This was a good run and very consistent. This was a relaxed pace run. Here are my splits:
Total miles - 5.03
Time - 51:04
Avg. Pace - 10:09
1- 10:03
2- 10:08
3- 10:10
4- 10:19
5- 10:06

Tuesday night was our regular running clinic night. Coach Dennis was out of town but had already emailed everyone our workouts so we knew what to do. Tonight we were going to be at the high school track which is nice for speed work. My goal was to make it through the advanced workout without dying!

We started with a 2 mile warm up. I actually did a little less as I knew I would need it for later. We did 4 strides then some high knees. The strides are like running 100 yards but you start off slow, and then when you hit about 20 yards you start turning on the speed. Then with about 20 yards to go you glide to a slow jog. These help get your heart rate up and legs ready to race. They do work!

High knees are kinda like what they sound like. One knee goes up and the opposite arm goes up. Hard to explain really and they take some coordination to do them properly. Getting the right arm and leg together can be a challenge.

On to the speed work. This was an Interval Pace workout. So what that meant was that we were suppose to run 10-20 seconds faster than our 5k race pace. Mine figured out to be about an 8:40 pace or 2:10 for 400 meters and 1:05 for 200 meters. So here is the workout.
2 x 200
4 x 400
3 x 200
One mile cool down

The 200's actually did not feel that bad. My first one was way too fast. 51 seconds. My second came out at 55 seconds. I was 10-15 seconds fast. Thats ok. 400's would get harder. My first 400 was a little fast. I hit it at 2:00. The second one I started feeling it a little and I was dead on at 2:10. Third one was slower at 2:15. By this time I was getting pretty tired. These were hard but kinda fun too. My last 400 was a 2:07 so I was pretty happy with all of them. Considering I was just running by feel, it was amazing that I was so close. But then again, based on my timed mile and previous 5k time, its what I should have done.

The last 200's were off a little but not by much. I finished them with a 1:00, 1:10, and a 1:10. Oh yeah, we had to do strides again, then do our 1 mile cool down. Somehow I managed to get it done. I was happy with the speed work and really enjoyed it even though it was hard. I knew I would be paying for it the next day though.

This was my final mile splits, not sure what the ones in the middle mean since that was all the speed work.
Total miles - 5.26
2.01 warm up /20:55 / 10:25 pace
2.20 speed work / 18:14 / 8:18 pace (interesting, same as my timed mile)
1.05 cool down / 11:00 / 10:27 pace

Maybe I am ready to race and maybe I can set a new PR. I would love to have that pace in the 5k but I know thats not going to happen.

Wednesday night I took as mandatory rest after the speed work. Us older folks need more recovery time and everything I have read says the same thing. Coach Dennis says the older we get the longer it takes for us to recover so I believe it. It just means you have to play smart and understand that rest days are part of training.

I probably should have taken Thursday night off but I knew I wasn't running Friday so that would mean three days off so there was no way. My feet were still a little sore as were my legs and knees. So, I opted to run just a short easy 3 miler. It was 84 degrees so it was pretty warm when I took off. I think I walked half of this run, why I don't know but I was running alone and there wasn't much to motivate me. I tried to concentrate on form and doing what makes me run faster. Then the left brain would kick in and say take it easy, you have a race on Saturday so I'd walk 20 seconds. I still ended up with my 3 miles at a 10:17 pace and negative splits. How that happened I don't know. Thats what I need on race day! Have to make a plan tomorrow.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Catching Up

Wow, I am behind on my blog big time. Last week was a busy week. It seems that there was not much of anything good happening other than some bad We have been having political unrest at the Fire Department. Work has been nuts, finding errors made by our accountant and then fighting to get IT issues fixed. Work has been slow so that adds to the level of frustrations.

Thank god for running. Even a bad run can be good. Last week I actually blew my mileage goal but really it should have been a cut back week anyway since I did the 22 miler on the 14th. Monday was a planned rest day. Tuesday I had a fire department meeting so I couldn't run. Wednesday the weather was not the best so I opted to try Tuesday nights speed workout on the treadmill. Here is what I did:

2 mile warm up:
4x200@LT pace (I won't bore you with the times but I did them a little fast)
1 mile cool down @10:15

Overall I ended up with 4.6 miles and a pretty decent workout even if it was on the treadmill.

Thursday I ran my famous Freds and back 5k route. I was not feeling it at all. Not sure if it was because of the speed work or what. I know there was a lot of traffic on S. First Street which really takes the fun out of running when you have to dodge cars. I was pretty slow on this one.
Total miles - 3.36
Time - 35:30
Avg. Pace - 10:34

Friday was a planned rest day.

Saturday we ran with the crusier's as it was a planned 1 hour run and then trash pick up. The Cabot Cruisers sponsors a one mile section of Highway 89 south of Cabot for liter pick up so we do this once a quarter.

The run started out really good and somewhat fast. There were a lot of new runners from the women can run clinic so somehow I ended up in one of the lead groups. The first mile felt really good and was a 9:49. Annette started feeling kinda bad about mile 2 so I slowed down some to run with her.

After the run we all headed down the road to pick up trash. Believe it or not, this is kinda fun. You get to talk to people that you normally may not get to as they may be running a different pace or in a different group. Plus we are helping to keep the community clean so its a good public service. I still ended up with about 4.3 miles running and 2 miles walking. The average pace Saturday was a 10:05.

Sunday seemed like a disaster to me. I really wanted to do a long run at the river trail but Annette was trying to run with some of the group in Cabot so we ended up staying here. I really needed 15 miles but it didn't happen. The problem was we really didn't have a set plan. We were trying to run with others that needed different miles. We ran a very hilly route for the first 6+ miles and ended back up at the school. Brenda had left us at mile 5 to do her 15 mile run but she wanted to run at race pace which none of us could keep up with. She did it, with I think about an 8:20 pace for the last 10 miles. Thats pretty good! Annette and I ended up running with Joan for another 3 miles at a slower pace which was nice. It was actully enjoyable at that point. Why the first part of the run wasn't I don't know other than it seemed to me like the humidity was very high, even though it was pretty cool.

I ended up with a total of 9.05 miles and an average pace of 11:21. Not where I wanted to be but I'll take it. I could beat a 5 hour marathon if I could hold that which I think I can.

I am really starting to miss biking and I am hoping the weather warms soon. I can't wait to get out and ride when its warm and feel the air cooling me off. I hate riding in the cold though. But marathon training comes first right now so until April 26th, there won't be a lot of biking for me. After that, shorter runs and lots of biking!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sunday Fat Burn

After running 22 miles on Friday I took Saturday off as a rest day. I still needed 6 miles to hit my marathon training mileage so Sunday afternoon I elected to do something different. My feet were still a little sore from Friday so I decided to ease the impact a little and try to get some miles in on the treadmill. In most cases I HATE the treadmill. But today I got the Ipod going, cranked it up and just ran. I wasn't really worried about a pace, I just wanted a recovery run and a few miles.

My treadmill is in an upstairs bonus room so Sunday it was fairly warm up there. I am trying to lose a few pounds before Nashville so I figured an added benefit might be some extra fat burning. The miles clicked away before I knew it. I guess after 22 miles 6 or 7 was nothing. Most of this run was around the 10-10:40 minutes per mile pace. I would have to stop every now and then to drink water. I have not been able to drink and run on the treadmill very well unless its a very slow pace.

It was so hot, I ended up taking my shirt off. It felt pretty good sweating from head to toe, why I don't know. I guess I knew that I was shedding some needed pounds and every pound lost equals added speed and less impact on my feet.

By the time I hit the 6 mile mark I was so pumped that I kept going. I turned my Ipod over to some Marine Cadences that I had recorded and this helped me get through that last mile. I could have kept going, but I didn't want to push it and risk injury. It really feels good to have my endurance back, even if its not super fast.

Monday was a planned rest day, actually I had to mow grass! I skipped Tuesday nights clinic as I had a fire department meeting that I needed to attend and on top of that we had torrential rainfall coming into the area. I think only 4 people showed up to run. Tonight I have to run, inside or outside depending on weather, at least 4-5 miles. If its not raining I will go to the track and do Tuesday nights speed workout there.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Inspiration Run

Today was the 26.2 Miles of Inspiration Run. This run was started last year by one of our good friends and Cruiser Jackie. The purpose of the run was to run and or bike to all the schools in the city of Cabot. Jackie started this last year as a whim for her 35th birthday and decided that the kids needed some inspiration to get off the couch and get active. This led to the Summer Track Nights where we would host a small track run for the kids once a week during the summer. Jackie was feature in Runners World Magazine last fall about this.

Annette was sick yesterday and stayed home from work hoping to be able to do the run today but when she woke up she felt worse. She was so upset as she really wanted to do this run. She was able to make it out to several of the schools to cheer us on which was great and allowed her to at least see everyone and feel the excitement.

This year the route consisted of 11 schools. It was 12 originally but for some strange reason Ward Elementary dropped out. From Ward to the last school would be right at 26.2 miles. Jackie did start at Ward anyway though there wasn't any kids for her to talk to. I was with a large group that met up with her at the 38/319 intersection.

This was at the beginning of our run. It was very humid and foggy at that time. You can see the excitement of some of the girls.

The first school we ran to was Middle School North. As we run into the parking lots, all the little kids would be lined up along the curve with their hands out for us to slap. Let me tell you, it was awesome. If you ever want to feel like a rock star you have to do this run or organize one in your area. Once at the school, Jackie would make a short speech about getting active and leading a healthy lifestyle. They even had bags of fat to show the kids. Another cool thing about the run, the mayor of Cabot followed us the whole way and we had a police escort with 3-4 police cars at times. Throughout the day we probably had 15-20 runners and 3-7 bikers with us not counting support.

Some of the group running down S. First Street

After the Middle School it was on to the High School track where we did one lap around the track and a few high school kids participated. Next it was on to West Side. Then to Central Elementary. After Central we did Middle School South, Jr High South then South Side Elementary. The distance between schools was 1-3 miles. From there we went to the new Stagecoach Elementary, then to Eastside. It seemed the more we ran the better the cheering at the schools got. Eastside even had big signs made up for us.

Some of the runners and the kids at Eastside Elementary

We also had a lot of news coverage. Channel 11 had their camera man get in the trunk of their car and they put a mic on Jackie so they could interview her as she ran. Channel 4 and 7 was there too along with numerous photographers from newspapers. You never knew where a camera would be.

After Eastside it was on to Northside. Then we had the dreaded last leg of the run. Another 5+ miles to Magness Creek. This route took us across the freeway in downtown Cabot, right on Willie Ray, and then left on to Mountain Springs Road on to Hwy 5. Well, the name of the road says it all. Lots of hills. This proved to be the hardest part of our run for most everyone

Jackie speaks to the kids at Northside Elementary

We had a great support crew also with Coach Dennis in one van and Jackie's husband Phil in another. When we would stop at the school, everyone would get water or food so we stayed fed and hydrated. I kidded Dennis about his van being all messed up from all of our food and stuff but he said he was used to it as he used to train elite runners for Nike.

After tackling one of the big hills on Wille Ray and running some on Mtn Springs, I decided that I really didn't have to do as many miles as this route was and it probably wasn't too smart for me too, so I rode the van for 2 miles. We had several others that rode some and I bailed out at Hwy 5 so I could climb the final big hill with the group into the finish. I was already at 20 miles then.

Everyone had pretty much slowed down at this point and the police cautioned us to stay together on Hwy 5 as it is very busy. We did and made it over that last hill. From there it was all downhill to the school. As we rounded the last curve the kids were lined up on the side of the road cheering us on. It is hard to describe the feeling. There was even more kids lined up on the school grounds. All you could see were kids lined up cheering us in. I know how rock stars feel now. Thats what it was like. Since Magness was our last stop, they had food & drinks waiting on us in celebration of our run. Poor Jackie, Coach O talked her into standing on one of the picnic tables to talk to the kids. She told her, "I just ran a marathon, I don't know if I can get up there!" But she did. With the greetings those kids gave us at each school, we could have ran all day. It was an awesome day and an awesome experience.

Jackie speaks to the kids at Magness Creek, our final stop.

Final tally for me, 22 miles! I have no idea what the pace was. We stopped so many times and sometimes I would stop my garmin and sometimes I wouldn't. I do know that the runs between schools were pretty fast. I saw a lot of my 1 mile splits just over 10:00 which for marathon distance is pretty fast for me. The good thing is my legs feel great. My feet are a little sore. Nothing else hurts. We will see how it is tomorrow. Nashville look out. I'm almost ready for you now!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Strange Calls

Tuesday night I responded with the Fire Department to a fire alarm call at a business. 99% of the time these are false alarms and a lot of times response is very slow. Dispatch said they had multiple alarms going off but we all still thought it would be an alarm malfunction. One of our Captains went direct to the scene and first report said "we have nothing showing". I was rolling the engine out of the bay when he called back on the radio that there was light smoke in the building. Oh crap we thought. This could be a working fire. We were on scene in three minutes and continued the initial investigation. There was very light smoke in the building but we couldn't find anything or see any smoke coming from anything. We check the breaker box, lights, microwave, then one of the business owners said she could see smoke coming from the top of the building. Crap...maybe it was in the attic. I laddered the side of the building and checked the gable vent but the attic was clear. About that time a sheriffs deputy just happened to look and saw one of the office chairs had the back melted off of it. It was sitting in front of a wall mounted gas fired space heater. Evidently someone had moved the chair and left it sitting there. When it had cooled off that night, the thermostat kicked the heater on and it started heating up the chair. I venture to say it never totally ignited but came VERY close. Probably the heater kicked off once the room got back up to temperature too. The smoke generated by the melting of the chair material set the smoke alarm off which alerted the alarm company to call us. This could have been much worse. If they hadn't had an alarm system, most likely their building would have burnt down. Good moral of this story is to NEVER have combustibles close to a space heater of any kind. You can see the chair below. A close call for the owner for sure.

Wednesday I got to help out with a small grass fire on my way back to work from Little Rock. Then Wednesday night I had another strange call. The call was for a citizens assist to help a person get from their tractor to their wheel chair. I found this kind of strange to begin with. How could they get on the tractor? But maybe it was a small lawn tractor. I just happened to be the only one that responded to this. When I arrived I looked for a tractor or someone outside. Nope, nothing. I went to the door and the wife said, "in here". There he was, stuck on the toilet! He needed help getting off the toilet back into his wheelchair. It was almost funny just because dispatch said he was on a tractor. It was a pretty large man so I had to call for additional help but we made the save. I still laugh a little thinking about it. On top of that we had a call for a lady going into labor just a few house up the road. Luckily MEMS took care of that one.

But the night wasn't over. About 10 we had a call for possible electrical wires burning in a home. I stood by with an engine but come to find out there had been a transformer that blew up the road and the people had smelt that thinking their house was on fire.

It had been pretty quiet up until this week, now things are going crazy again. I'm sure I'll have more interesting ones to write about.

Run Updates

Tuesday nights running clinic called for a timed mile. The reasoning behind this is that you need an all out timed mile to base your other training on. You can arrive at a relaxed pace, LT pace, interval pace, repetition pace along with realistic race times for varying distances. McMillan Running has a nice calculator for this.

We started out with a 2 mile warm up. Then 4 strides and it was time to start. I ran behind Kelly and Annette. I just wanted to beat my October timed mile of 8:25. I started out somewhat conservative with plans to pick it up in the last 800 meters. I tried to stay up with Kelly and Annette and by about 800 meters, I was wishing it was over. It was warmer than we were used to so this made it a little harder. With about 400 meters to go, the girls started kicking it. I was pushing to stay up with them. I kept swinging my arms and trying to do all the things with form that I was supposed to. I could hear the others in the group cheering us on as they stood at the one mile mark. It was like racing to a finish line. With about 50 meters to go I finally passed Annette but I couldn't catch Kelly. I ended up with an 8:18 and Annette had an 8:20. I was happy as the first 800 I was running behind my 8:25 pace. After the cool down run I ended up with about 3.6 miles for the night.

Wednesday night I just ran my neighborhood 5k route. More or less a recovery run. No big story here other than I ran the first mile too fast.

Thursday is a rest day. Friday we are participating in the 26.2 mile Inspiration Run which is a local club run that goes to all the elementary schools to promote getting the kids off the couch and out running/biking. We did this last May and it was awesome. The little kids treat us like rock stars as we run or bike into their school. There could be national coverage on this and some of the local stations and newspapers will be covering the story. More to come later on this!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Fun Running Weekend

This has been a fun filled running weekend for sure. Yesterday we raced the Chase Race 2 miler and it was awesome. The best part was not really my time but the team spirit that we have with our group. When one of our group members would win an award we would all yell and clap. Not many of the other running clubs had this going on. We ALWAYS have this with the Cabot Cruisers!

Here are some photos from yesterday:

This was the majority of the group that raced

Me, Curtis & Gary

This morning Annette and I met Bailey at the shop and then drove down to the River Trail to meet Gary and Curtis for a 15 mile run. Today we decided we were just going to have a fun run. No pressure, no worries about pace, just run, have fun and enjoy the day. Well, if you knew Gary and Curtis you would not think this is possible as they are very competitive and they love to run fast. They changed their plans today for us.

Here is the gang, Gary, Bailey, Annette and Curtis

We started at the dog park and headed toward the Big Dam Bridge. Just before crossing, we found out that Bailey had never been across the Big Dam Bridge. Of course we had to take photos! This is an awesome place to run and the views are spectacular.

Bailey - her first time to experience the Big Dam Bridge

After crossing the bridge we headed down the part of the trail that all marathoners hate. Mile 20-24 of the Little Rock Marathon. This part of the river trail can get a little boring but it still beats running the streets of Cabot. This was like a stroll in the park for super fast Gary and Curtis, but they hung with us the whole time. We were averaging about a 10:25 pace most of the time but we would take a walk break every couple miles just to get a drink. The weather was about 38 when we started running but it was warming up fast. I was starting to sweat.

As we ran into downtown Little Rock, we all started picking up the pace. Annette wanted to make a pit stop at the River Market and you would have thought we were running for a finish line. I looked down and checked my Garmin and we were running about a 9:15 pace.

Almost to the River Market

After making a brief stop at the River Market, we headed across the Main Street bridge back to North Little Rock so we could get back on the River Trail. I guess we stopped too long because once we hit the trail, I started feeling like I was slowing down. Annette and Gary too off. Must have been Annette's bathroom break. We let them go for a while and just before turning down the trail towards the skate park, Curtis took off after them. Bailey followed and I was behind. We ran pretty hard trying to catch them, they had to be running a 9 minute pace or faster because it too Curtis a little while to catch up to them. I eventually caught up.

Annette, Gary and Bailey posing downtown

When we were almost to the boat ramp area we noticed a trailer set up that was doing demo's for Specialized Bikes. For some reason, something was said and Bailey took off in a sprint with me and the guys trying to catch her. She is very fast! We stopped at the demo for a few so Gary could look at a new Tri Bike. Gary is training for Ironman Louisville so he is in the market for an expensive tri bike.

After heading back towards the dog park, I think Annette talked Gary and Bailey into racing it in the last mile. They took off and disappeared in no time. We found Bailey's water belt up ahead and grabbed it to take back to her. After we finished Gary was telling about the FEAR he had when he heard the velcro on Bailey's water belt come loose. He knew the race was on then! I don't know who won but I know they were running super fast. 5-6 minute per mile pace. They were having fun though and thats what it was all about today.

We all had fun, got our 15 miler done and enjoyed a beautiful day. On top of that the stories and conversation along the way are priceless. The really strange part for me is this 15 miler was almost faster than the ones I did training for the Tulsa Marathon when I was trying to maintain a certain pace. This was a fun day and it was nice to just be back at no pressure running and enjoying being outside.

Me, Annette, Curtis, Gary and Bailey after 15 miles of fun

Afterwards we went back to the bike demos and watched Gary test drive an $8000 tri bike. He said it was super fast. Then we all took off for a recovery drink at Starbucks. Chocolate milk was the order for the day with most getting coffee too. No sweets so we were all good. I know Curtis and I were sure looking hard at the Hardees across the street but Gary said I had grapes for lunch when we got home and by 6pm was ready to eat a cow. We opted for some pasta with shrimp in it. I burnt 1988 calories on the run today so I was still short of this by a long shot which is good.

Here were my stats from todays stroll in the park run, actually not bad:
Total miles - 15.0
Average pace - 11:32
Time - 2:53:03

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Chas Race 2 Miler

It was cold.

We never slid on the ice getting there.

I set a new PR by 1:12

Official Race Time - 17:17
Average Pace - 8:39

Cabot Cruisers fielded a team of 7 males and 8 females.

4 male awards were won, 8 female awards were won!

One new state record set by a 9 year old Cruiser!

Mission accomplished!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Training Update for Friday

This week has been pretty much a recovery week but I have gotten some good miles in. The weather has been CRAZY here. After 75 degrees Sunday, Tuesday morning we actually had about an inch of snow on the ground. Then today they have been calling for 2-6"s of snow during the day. This is March isn't it?? Things sure are weird.

As far as training goes, Monday night was cross training. I did some core exercises, worked arms and legs on the weight machine. I have been doing some core strengthening exercises that are basically yoga poses. Some of these were feature in one of the recent Runners World magazine. I can say they work. Annette and I have also been trying to eat lighter this week and that has seemed to pay off a little. I think I'm down 3 pounds from last week so I'm happy.

Tuesday night was our running clinic. Coach Dennis just had us do a recovery run since 95% of the people raced on Sunday. I ended up with 4.5 miles. It was hard getting Annette to slow down though. We kept having to remind her that this is a recovery run. My times were skewed a little since I didn't stop my garmin once when we were talking to Dennis but average pace would have been about a 10:20.

Wednesday night we were out at Krooked Creek, part of our normal neighborhood route we run but this time we were on the other side. A little flatter. Annette, Brenda, Michelle and myself ran to the high school to meet up with Rock who was going to do hill repeats. When we got there we did a few laps around the track before heading back. On the way back we just ran around the neighborhood streets. The girls ended up getting about half a mile more then me because I stopped to talk to Tim (Rock's husband) at the track. I even got him to run a lap with me! This also was suppose to be an easy run but again we kept having to tell Annette to slow down! I think she was pushing it because she thought she had a bad race on Sunday. Bottom line, the race on Sunday was hard for everyone and very few did what they expected. Here are the stats for that run.
Total Miles - 7.51
Time - 1:18:44
Avg pace - 10:29
1015 calories

Thursday night I opted to stay in. My legs were a little sore so I ended up doing my cross training with the core exercises, arms and abs. Then I jumped on the treadmill for a slow 2 mile jog. Actually I ended up getting 2.2. Slow and easy so it wasn't bad other than I always get too hot on the treadmill since there is not much air circulating.

Saturday we have the Chase Race 2 miler in Conway. This is a Grand Prix race and I have been really looking forward to it to test my speed. However, now with the snow coming in, who knows how it will be. Tomorrow morning the temps are suppose to be in the 20's at race time. If we do get the snow they are predicting we may not even be able to get there or they may cancel the race. One thing that is possible, if they don't cancel the race I'm pretty sure I can get there so if we can get our team to show up, we could rack up on the awards since a lot of people may not show up. Sort of a number game, but when your as slow as I am you need all the help you can get, especially in these Grand Prix races. The past two races new state records have been set so that just tells you the level of competition out there. That is motivation for me, and being out with our running group is even more.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Little Rock 1/2 Marathon Wrap Up

Three days after the event and I'm still reeling from all the excitement. Some of the best parts of the day I really didn't get to write about yet. Which the best parts were the people, and especially all of the Cabot Country Cruisers that were there. At last count we had right at 60 club members participate in one of the races in some form or fashion. We had members in the 5k, in the relay, in the half and also the full marathon. It's really hard to put in writing the support this group gives to one another. We almost get to the point we feed off each other. We keep each other motivated. If one of us is down or having a bad day, there is always someone there to cheer you on. I could go on and on about the Cruisers as a group. We have members that have been written up in runners world and we have members that hold state records in varying distances. We have iron men and iron women. The list goes on and on. I can't say enough good things about all our running friends.

There is something about doing marathons and half marathons that is just hard to describe. It may be the large crowds, the distance or just the fact that you see all kinds and shapes of people doing it. It's not easy by no means. Especially a full marathon. The time it takes to train for a full marathon is hard for non runners to understand. But when you cross that finish line, there is nothing in the world that compares to the personal satisfaction that you just completed a marathon. Even a half is a big achievement for some. Last year when I ran my first half, it was almost as hard as when I finished my first full marathon. I was pumped for weeks afterwards.

It was a lot of fun and very rewarding watching as many of our friends finished their full marathon. The best was seeing Cheryl finish her 1st marathon. Annette, Bailey, Michelle and Kelly went and ran with her for her last two miles. I wanted to be there too but my foot was hurting so I waited on the sidelines with 6 or 8 other Cruisers to cheer her in.

The stories continue from each runner that ran Sunday. And I'm sure they will continue for a while. But, these stories give us something to talk about on our runs and lets us dissect the race so we can figure out what we did right and wrong.

As for me, Coach Dennis told me I probably made the fatal error of starting out too fast, and then getting burnt out before the end. He is exactly right. His philosophy is to run the first 1/3 of the race slower then let the race come to you at the end. One of our men did this and finished very well. I plan to try this pacing strategy this weekend when we run the Chase Race 2 miler. It's short and fast but my first mile will be slower than the second. Weather permitting. Forecasts are calling for SNOW tomorrow night all the way through Friday. This is unbelievable weather! No wonder its so hard to run when it changes so fast.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Little Rock Marathon Slide Show

Here is a slide show I made of our day at the Little Rock Marathon.

The Little Rockers

Sunday was a busy day. So was Saturday and I didn't even have time to write about it so here it goes. Saturday we caravaned with the Cruisers again to the State Capitol to watch the Little Rockers kids race. These kids had run at least 25.2 miles during the school year and today was their final mile of their marathon. It was pretty cool to see all those little kids out running and having fun getting fit.

Here they are running from the starting line

This was a bunch of the Cabot kids and runners from our club

After all of this was over we headed for the expo. It was not that big but they had a few good vendors. Nothing to get excited about but then again, this was my 3rd expo so I knew what to expect. Afterwards we all met at Corino's for carb loading. I think we took up half the restaurant. We had at least 20 plus Cabot Cruisers eating. Afterwards, it was home to start getting prepared for the 1/2.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Little Rock Half Marathon Report

LR Half Marathon Report

We arrived at the race site 45 minutes before the start after caravanning with several car loads of Cruisers. Temperature was about 58 degrees which felt semi-cool but it was not bad at all. We all lined up heading east on President Clinton Blvd. awaiting the start. Annette, Michelle, Bailey, Kelly and Vicki were all back by the 4:30 pace group so there was quite a few people ahead of us. No big deal, we should get to the start in a minute or two.

Mass of humanity waiting to race

At 8am we were off, or at least walking. Once we got to the start line people were able to slowly jog and before you knew it we were jogging (not running) and dodging walkers! Walkers, why do they start with the marathoners in the pace groups? They should start either before the official start time or in the back. In any case, it was a mass of humanity to weave in and out of which slows things down. This was probably good as we all wanted to run about a 10:25-10:30 pace the first couple miles.

Mile 1 – This is where things started to warm up. The skies were clear and the sun was getting higher. I realized pretty quickly that this was not going to be an easy fun run. I was already starting to sweat. Kelly bailed out of the group somewhere in here and headed for a porta potty. I wondered if she would pass me later. It was not far from here that I lost the girls. I was on my own. 10:20 pace.

Mile 2 – Took us down Broadway and across the bridge into North Little Rock. The best part was seeing the Little Rock Fire Department ladder trucks with the American flag hung high over Broadway as we ran towards the bridge. Pretty cool! The bridge was not bad, I was still pumped and running on adrenalin but I could really feel that sun beating down on us. Still running solid at this point, maybe a little fast as the average started dropping. I was beginning to think about the upcoming water stop. After crossing the bridge the stop wasn’t where I thought it would be so I kept going. I think it was at about 2.7 maybe, so I grabbed a quick cup of water. 9:42 pace

This is always the coolest sight

Mile 3 – Mile 3 took us down Washington and then back up Riverfront back to the bridge again. Just a big loop actually. Sweating like a dog now. The sun is hot. I’m thinking I’m glad I have my own fluids today. 10:13 pace

Mile 4- Quick water stop here. I was starting to think I may have to walk every mile to keep hydrated and feeling good. Started back up the bridge and I was passing people like crazy. This was one of the steeper hills on the course. About the middle part of the bridge my Garmin hit mile 5 so I took my walk break. 9:43 pace

Mile 5 – I was still feeling pretty strong. My pace was right where I wanted it to be. I think it was an average of about 10:06 at this point so I was happy, but getting wore down from the heat. There was another water stop before mile 6 and I went ahead and did my accel gel here as I knew we would be getting into the hills soon. 10:11 pace

Mile 6 – The turn from 3rd to Ferry St. meant we were heading into the neighborhoods and the hills. No biggie other than my legs were really feeling tired and my left foot was starting to hurt. Took another break in here somewhere. Slowing down at this point. 10:39 pace

Mile 7-9 – These miles started to be torture. Or at least it seemed that way. I had to force myself to keep pushing. Sometimes I’d win; sometimes I’d loose and have to walk. I usually don’t walk this much so what’s the deal?? I felt like I was having a terrible race at this point. My average pace had dropped from a 10:06 down to probably a 10:20. On top of that my left calf had some weird twinges so I was having visions of Tulsa, mile 8 again where I started hurting. It was a big mental game at this point. I was thinking about that time that I sure wish I had one of the Cruisers to run with to help keep me going. I started changing my goals. My ultimate 10:04 average pace which would have given me a 2:12 finish was gone. I still had a shot at my low goal of a 2:18. Paces here were 7-10:27, 8-10:50, 9-10:33.

Mile 10 – I think it was just before mile 10 when I happened to run upon no other than my lovely wife Annette. She was walking. So I waked with her and we talked. She was struggling and couldn’t figure out why. I said I had the same problem and didn’t understand either. I came to the conclusion that maybe it was the added heat. We had been training in weather no warmer than 52 degrees for weeks and now it was almost 70. We ran together a little bit and she said she had to walk again. I could see water stop up ahead so I told her I was headed there and she would catch up to me there. Well, I did the water stop but Annette wasn’t there when I was ready to go again so I took off. I knew how she was and usually she really picks it up at the end of runs and races so I thought I better get ahead of her if I want to have any chance at all of beating her or finishing with her. I was still struggling here though and I took some extra breaks thinking Annette was going to be there any time. 11:47 pace

Mile 11 -12 – These were just getting it done miles for me. For some reason the hills didn’t seem as bad as last year but I just couldn’t keep up a good solid run. I would run mid 9’s for maybe ¼ to ½ a mile and then I’d have to have a break. Some of this was not bad. My pace started coming back down a little. I was ready to get this done. We had some decent down hills on this part of the course but I wasn’t running too fast downhill as I didn’t want to get injured. Close to the end of 12 we had a big downhill before we turned on to LaHarpe. Good place to catch your breath. 11- 10:47 pace 12-10:34 pace

Mile 13 to the finish – After turning on LaHarpe I was hoping I could run it in all the way but I couldn’t. There were several hills on this last part of the course, not monsters but little rollers. I went up all of them but I took a couple walk breaks too. I wanted to do my last walk break just so that I could sprint in to the finish and make up all the time I could. I kept thinking that 2:18 was possible still. It would be hard to make though. And every time I would get fired up and go, I would run out of gas and slow down or have to walk. About .2 from the finish I heard an announcer say for everyone to get over, the marathon leader was fixing to come through. Well, that was enough for me. I wanted to race the guy! Ha…might be my only chance to race an elite runner. So I punched it, and I ran all that I had to the finish line. I never saw the marathon leader; someone said he came in a minute or two behind me. During my sprint I did hear a familiar voice. It was Jackie and she was saying how great I was doing, I didn’t even realize that I had passed her. She would have been one of those that I would never think I’d pass in a race but later I found out that she was struggling with some issues too. Vicki also struggled so I felt a little better knowing that it wasn’t just me. I was pushing it so hard at the finish line I almost peed in my pants! After getting my chip off I saw Kelly, Michelle and Bailey. They all did AWESOME! I headed for the bathroom for relief. Annette finished about 3 minutes behind me.

Final gun time - 2:21:59

Final chip time - 2:19:05 (unofficial)

Avg. Pace - 10:26

I'll write more tomorrow about the post race activities.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Six In The City - 11 hours to go

Its now less than 11 hours to go before I will be running the Little Rock 1/2 Marathon also known as Six In The City. This is the 6th running of the Little Rock Marathon so that is how they came by that name. I wish all my friends running the 1/2 and the full good luck and especially Cheryl who is running her 1st ever full marathon. Right now we have right at 50 Cabot Cruisers running in one race or the other so Cabot will be well represented. I'll write more tomorrow after its all over.

It's going to be warm tomorrow with 8am start time temps right at 60 degrees and rising into the mid to low 70's by mid afternoon. Here is my race attire all laid out and ready to go.