Saturday, September 27, 2008

Answering life's many calls / Training week 9/22-9/28

This week was very busy as we spent most of Wednesday at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital having Noah’s skull checked out (to determine the cause of the anterior flattening), and then from Thursday to Saturday night I was on full-time kid duty as poor Anne was very sick with strep throat. I felt terrible for her. She couldn’t ride her horse or have any fun. To top it off, she had to go to work to take care of some very sick patients—oh the irony….

Fortunately, Noah’s not going to need surgery. He has some positional flattening of his head that we’re going to address with a (super expensive) head band/helmet that will round out his skull. I cannot tell you how relieved we were that surgery was ruled out! Watching him get sedated (twice, since the first CT didn't provide the exact images needed) was awful enough. I can't imagine seeing Noah get wheeling into the OR for major cranial surgery. We'd be beside ourselves.

A big thank-you to family, friends and fellow runners, co-workers and others who have kept us in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.


In other news, Scott Jurek yet again won the Spartathlon, a 152-mile mountain race in Greece that Yiannis Kouros dominated for years. This was Jurek's third straight Spartathlon (the photo above is from the 2006 race). The guy is amazing. I would love to see him take on Kouros in the Great One’s prime. I would give the nod to Kouros but you never know what would happen. I think you have to crown Jurek the greatest 100+ miler in U.S. history. Eric Clifton's up there, too.

That said, it bothers me that the mainstream sports media has given no coverage to Jurek's Spartathlon victory this year. I don't ask for the event to be covered live or even by tape delay--ultrarunning isn't exactly a spectator-friendly sport. All I ask is for his victory to be acknowledged. I honestly think people would fall out of their chairs if they knew there was a 152-mile foot race and that an American dominated it. I guess ESPN is more interested in covering what Pacman Jones is up to....

I think the sport needs to do a much better job of promoting its superstars, starting with Jurek, Michael Wardian et al. As it is, the world knows about only one ultrarunner--Dean Karnazes, who isn't even close to Jurek and Wardian but yet seems to effectively promote himself, his antics and his "brand" to a national and worldwide audience.


Despite a lot going on in our personal life, I had a decent training week, logging 85 miles with a quality track workout and a somewhat cobbled-together tempo run on Sunday. Here’s how the week went:

PM: 5.7 miles easy during lunch
I ran in beautiful Shaker Park, where I’m able to find peace and quiet despite being in a somewhat urban environment only a mile or two away from work. My left Achilles tendon/lower calf was still quite uncomfortable from Sunday's long run but not terrible. With Noah’s hospital visit only two days away, this run was more about stress relief than anything.

AM: 8.65-mile track workout at Chagrin Falls High School
My Achilles/lower calf strain was pretty much behind me when I stepped on the track for this 5x1600 workout--one of my better track workouts in a long, long time. I kept getting stronger with each lap and had excellent leg turnover. My last interval was my fastest. My times were 5:56, 5:55, 5:55, 5:55 and 5:45 with 400-meter recoveries between each interval. With that last interval being 10 seconds faster than the others, the question becomes: Was I going fast enough for the first four intervals? Maybe I should dial it more for my next 5x1600.
PM: 6.7 miles during lunch in Shaker Park
Total miles for day: 15.35

PM: 5.6 miles comfortably hard
This was the big day – the day we took Noah to Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital for his CT scan. We got to the hospital at 7:30 and didn’t leave until 3 p.m. as they had to re-CT him. Anyway, we got the news we wanted--no surgery. Thank God! As for running, the day didn’t leave much room for it. With Anne now getting sick and not being able to go near Noah, I was barely able to squeeze in these 5.6 miles, of which I ran the last 2.5 at 6:30 pace, before going on full-time “kid duty” for the next 48 hours.

AM: 8 miles at 7:30 pace
My legs felt achy and heavy, like I was fighting off a bug. Or maybe they were dead from the previous night’s hard 2.5 miles just a day after my track work.
PM: 7 miles during lunch in Shaker Park
My legs again felt really achy and heavy. I was having major doubts as to whether or not I could get in a good tempo run.
Total miles for day: 15

AM: 7.5-mile tempo run (6 at tempo pace) on my treadmill
I was originally planning to run 9 miles at tempo pace but Anne was really sick and couldn’t get out of bed, so I got in as many miles as possible with the baby monitor next to me in case Noah needed attention. I had to get off the treadmill by 6:15 a.m. to get him fed and off to childcare. My splits were decent but the run was inadequate as far as distance: 1) 7:27, 2) 6:30, 3) 6:20, 4) 6:15, 5) 6:12, 6) 6:07, 7) 6:00 and 7.5) 3:52.
PM: 7-mile semi-tempo run during lunch down MLK and back
Not content with my morning’s tempo run, I settled into a comfortably hard pace down MLK and back. My splits were 1) 7:41, 2) 7:09, 3) 6:49, 4) 6:36 (uphill), 5) 6:20 (uphill), 6) 6:24 and 7) 7:17. This was a great workout and allowed me to finish the day strong.
Total miles for day: 14.5

AM: 8 miles easy on my treadmill with Noah next to me
Anne was still very sick—running a 102-degree fever—meaning I needed to stay at home to look after her and Noah. So I passed on the South Chagrin Reservation trail run and instead got in a few miles on the treadmill with Noah.

AM: 20.5-mile hard, long run in Solon with the Southeast Running Club
Even as I’d started to feel the effects of a coming cold (which I’m now battling), this was an awesome long run. I ran the first 14 miles with Jeff U. and Paul R. at about 7:20 pace, and then sprinted up Hawthorn Parkway chasing after—who else?—Hawthorne himself, who seems to push me to go hard. I needed to catch my breath upon getting to the top of the parkway, but Hawthorne continued down SOM Center Road. So I took off after him, clocking some pretty strong splits to finish off a great 20.5 miler: 15) 7:08, 16) 6:30, 17) 6:29, 18) 6:29, 19) 6:49, 20) 7:29 and 20.5) 3:45. I wanted to run a strong mile 20 split but the wheels had begun to wobble a bit….

Total miles for week: 84.65
Total miles for month: 363.9
Total miles for year: 3,012.83

This coming week is my last hard week before beginning my Columbus Marathon taper. I'm fighting a nasty cold but my goals are:

  • 90+ miles
  • 2x3200 and 1x1600 at the track--5:50 pace for all
  • 8-mile tempo run

Onward and upward!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Columbus Marathon in my sights / Training week 9/15-9/21

Running-wise, this was a great week as I hit 91.25 miles (my third consecutive week of 90+ miles) with a pretty decent track workout on Wednesday, an excellent tempo run on Friday and a strong 20-miler at 7:18 pace on Sunday.

Life-wise, this was a very hard week. On Thursday, Noah was seen by a neurosurgeon because of flattening in the back of his head. Next week he will undergo a CT scan (necessitating sedation) at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and then we’ll learn the exact nature and cause of the flattening. It could be positional flattening (from lying on his back), which can be addressed through re-positioning or a special head band, or it could be a (rare) condition whereby the back of his skull has fused prematurely, which would likely require surgery.

So, as you’ve gathered, this was not the easiest week for Anne and me. We spent much of it worried, anxious and on edge. It is during times like these that I run my hardest and with great purpose. On Friday, I could have run through a brick wall pulling a one-ton pick-up truck.


Earlier this week I found myself closely watching stunt-runner Dean Karnazes go for the 48-hour treadmill record. This was for the "Live with Regis and Kelly" show, which sponsored a Guiness world records week. The run was viewable online by streaming video. Dean's a good runner and has done a lot of great things with his charity, but I knew when he kept getting off the treadmill during the second day--to do whatever it was he needed to do--that he wasn't going to beat the record. He wound up with 211 miles, well below the astounding record of 251.79 miles by Tany Mangan.

The Greatest of All Time.

Anyway, watching Dean get off the treadmill so much that second day, I couldn't help but wonder--how it is that he could have run 300 miles "nonstop," as he claims to have done?

As much as I think Dean's run was nothing more than a publicity stunt, I have to say these are some cool photos from the circus...I mean event.

DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE'S CALLED "THE LANCE ARMSTRONG OF RUNNING," DEAN IS NO YIANNIS KOUROS! FAR FROM IT!!! Yiannis (pictured above) has the 48-hour road record of 294+ miles, has covered 1,000 miles in 10 days, 10 hours and basically owns every ultrarunning world record! To say Dean is the Lance Armstrong of running is gravely disrespectful of and an afront to Yiannis Kouros, who is the Greatest of All Time (the GOAT). As great as Lance WAS in cycling, he was never as dominant in his sport as Yiannis has been in ultrarunning. Lance primarily dominated the Tour de France; Yiannis has dominated every distance- and time-based event in ultrarunning!

The only other athletes I'd place in YK's category would be Michael Jordon, Babe Ruth, Sugar Ray Robinson (from what I've read and been told), Jack Nicklaus (sorry Tiger, you don't get on this list 'til you've surpassed the Golden Bear) and maybe Pete Sampras (can't think of any one all-time dominant NFL player to list).


Here's how the week went:

AM: 5 miles easy at 7:40 pace during lunch
I felt pretty good after the previous day’s 22 miles. This run was through University Circle, Cleveland Heights and Little Italy and less than 8 hours after a very destructive hurricane storm blew through Cleveland, bringing winds in excess of 60 mph. Along the way, I saw some pretty nasty after-effects, like downed trees, limbs and thousands of sticks everywhere. Our yard was a major mess--sticks and limbs everywhere that I’ll be picking up into next spring. I should have taken photos of the mess.

AM: 8.05 miles at 7:30 pace
I felt pretty trashed—maybe delayed tiredness and soreness from Sunday's 22 miles
PM: 6.45 miles at 7:00 pace during lunch
I ran on the trails in Shaker Park and then in Little Italy, with a few sub-7:00 surges. I needed the soft surface of the trails.
Total miles for day: 14.5

AM: 8.6-mile track workout
After about a 3-mile warm-up, I ran 3x1600 with 400-meter recoveries at 5:40, 5:40 and 5:41. I was pretty disappointed in my times as I should have gone sub-5:40 at least for two of the three repeats. I wore my new Brooks Adrenalines, which have been a huge disappointment, and noticed that they were “flat,” unresponsive and hitting the track really hard. I won’t make any excuses for my repeat times, but I will say this—those Brooks didn’t do me any favors…. I’m beginning to think I should buy some lightweight trainers for my track workouts (I only wear lightweight trainers for races).
PM: 6.5 miles easy down and back on MLK during lunch
I ran with Don L., who regaled me with stories of his 2:30 marathon days. He told me about his win at the old Six Cities Marathon in the Cleveland area. I think it would have been a lot of fun marathoning back in the 1980s (and even more so in the 1970s, when Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter were in their primes)—when Americans still cared about distance running. The last American marathoner anyone cared about was Alberto Salazar.
Total miles for day: 15.1

AM: 8.25 miles at 7:30 pace
I carried my 2-lbs. dumbbells the first and last 2 miles of my run and was really feeling it. They make an otherwise easy-pace run quite challenging. I can see how carrying dumbbells would be great for 100-mile training.

AM: 9.35-mile tempo run (8 miles at 6:16 pace)
This was one of my better tempo runs in a long, long time. I was able to take my stress out on the road and just hammered it for 8 miles. Despite it being early (5:25 a.m.), super-dark, on a semi-hilly course and at a time in the week when I’m tired, I was able to get off to a strong start and maintain an aggressive pace with minimal tailing off in the end. My splits were: 1) 8:21 (warm-up), 2) 6:17, 3) 6:13, 4) 6:16, 5) 6:14, 6) 6:11, 7) 6:13, 8) 6:24, 9) 6:22 and 9.35) 2:40. This run tells me that I’m in sub-3 shape.
PM: 9 miles at 7:29 pace
Total miles for day: 18.35 miles

PM: 10.05 miles
I felt trashed, likely from the previous day’s hard tempo run and 18+ miles. The last two miles were a struggle. I wasn’t able to get in my usual Saturday-morning trail run as I had expected kid-duty.

AM: 20 miles at 7:18 pace in Solon with the Southeast Running Club
I warmed up with 4 miles in less than 30 minutes, and then met up with the club at 8:00 a.m. for the remaining 16 miles, most of which I ran with Paul R., with whom I had a great time talking. About 3 1/2 miles into the loop (which is about 2 ½ miles from the water stop), Steve H. came blowing past Paul and me on Liberty Road. All week long Steve and I had been talking trash to each other and I wasn’t about to let him dust me. So, in the spirit of the Southeast Running Club, I dropped the hammer and ran 5:40 pace (according to my Garmin) all the way into the water stop. When I passed him, I said, “Come on, tough guy,” and ultimately got to the water stop a minute or two ahead of him. As this was a 20-miler and my left Achilles tendon was sore, dropping the hammer to 5:40 pace probably wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but it had to be done…. I iced my Achilles afterward.

Total miles for week: 91.25
Total miles for month: 279.25
Total miles for year: 2,928.18

I am closing in on 3,000 miles and, in the back of my mind, would like to make a run at 4,000 miles for the year. Had I not missed two solid weeks of running after the Mohican 100 with a bad knee, I'd say 4,000 would be in the bag. As the situation now stand, it's going to be close, especially if I'm trashed after my 12-hour Run for Rainbow on Nov. 8.

This week, time is going to be severely limited due to a crazy work schedule and Noah’s visit to the hospital. My goals are:
  • 70+ miles
  • 5x1600 at the track (not sure what day—maybe Tuesday)
  • 8.5-mile tempo run
  • Potentially the Akron ½ Marathon with Jeff U., where I’d like to clock 1:25 or better for a nice, long tempo run. Michael Wardian will be there.

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Join me on 11/8 for the 12-hr. Run for Rainbow

A few months ago I realized that running can no longer be just about me. If I want to make even a small difference in the world—who doesn’t?—surely there’s a way I can contribute to the common good through my love of running.

On Saturday, Nov. 8, I am holding a 12-hour charity run for Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital of University Hospitals to support its commitment to caring for babies and children regardless of a family’s ability to pay. It is vitally important that babies and children with health problems have a place to go for the care and treatment they need. Run for Rainbow brings support to Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital so that it can continue to be there for the families who need it.

The event will start in front of Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital at 7 a.m. and end at 7 p.m. The 1.01-mile loop is around the UH Case Medical Center campus in University Circle and will consist of Adelbert Road, Euclid Avenue (sidewalk), Cornell Road and Circle Drive. The course is mostly flat, except for a few slight inclines, and is on concrete and/or pavement. The loop passes by the children's hospital--a nice reminder of the why behind the event.

I have been in contact with University Hospitals, University Circle and the City of Cleveland about the logistics and so far, so good.

The run will be a Rainbow Circle of Friends event. Circle of Friends is a program through which people in the community organize grassroots benefits for Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. The Circle staff is excited about the run and is working with me to make it as successful as possible.

My goal is to raise a few thousands dollars for Rainbow this first year. To do that, I need more than just myself to participate in the run. My hope is that Southeast Running Club members, runners who have been touched by Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and others will come out and join me—whether for the full 12 hours, 6 hours or less. Runners, walkers, athletes in wheelchairs and volunteers are welcome.

The only requirement for participation is a donation to Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital through the Run for Rainbow. All you need to do is write a check to Rainbow (you determine the amount), put “Run for Rainbow” in the memo field and give your check to me before, during or after the event. One hundred percent of the dollars raised will go to Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. All contributors will receive the appropriate tax documentation as Rainbow is a not-for-profit children's hospital.

Anyone who participates needs to supply their own aid. I am bringing my own aid and it will be available on the route. A bathroom/facility will also be available.

Fellow local ultrarunner Jim Herget is the first to commit to running the entire 12 hours with me. Our hope is that others will join in.

If you are interested in running in, walking in or volunteering for the 12-hour Run for Rainbow charity run, or if you'd like more information about the event, please e-mail me and/or visit the Run for Rainbow Yahoo! Groups page.

Monday, September 15, 2008

“A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man” / Training week 9/8-9/14

Following up on my previous training week post in which I talked about the importance of family to my life, I was watching “The Godfather: Part I” the other day (for the 563rd time) and one exchange in particular really struck me:

Vito Corleone (speaking to Johnny Fontane, whose character is obviously based on Frank Sinatra): You spend time with your family?
Johnny Fontane: Sure I do.
Corleone: Good, because a man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man.

(While Corleone’s response was to Johnny Fontane, anyone who’s watched “The Godfather: Part I” closely knows that he was really talking to his eldest son, Sonny, or Santino, who was in the room at the time.)

Regardless of how violent and corrupt the Corleone family may be, it never ceases to amaze me how many cautionary tails one can find in the two “Godfather” films (the third installment is dead to me and I refuse to acknowledge that it was ever made). I agree with the Don; any man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man—no matter how many miles he runs, how fast he runs them, how many races he wins, how much smack he talks, how much dirt he throws at others or how tough he thinks he is.


I had a pretty solid training week, logging 92.5 miles. Unfortunately, 4 miles into my tempo run on Friday morning, a major storm blew through and I got soaked and could barely see due to the terrible visibility along Chagrin River Road (the time was 5:30 a.m.). My brand-new Brooks Adrenalines (which I’ve found to be pretty non-responsive) quickly got water-logged and began to feel like cinder blocks. Not wanting to risk injury running fast with heavy shoes, I slowed down and finished my run at the normal 7:30 pace.

Needless to say, I was pretty aggravated that Mother Nature had so rudely interrupted my tempo run, the most important run of the week. I should have stayed indoors and done my tempo run on the treadmill.

Here’s how the week fared:

AM: 6.45 miles easy in University Circle, Cleveland Heights and Little Italy
Went pretty slow and just took it easy. Contrary to what Steve H. recently said to me, on easy days you go easy; on hard days you go hard. There's a time and place for everything--a time to lay it on the line and a time to go slow and smell the roses.

AM: 8.5 miles
Very rainy and visibility was horrible. Shoes got soaked.
PM: 6.07 miles easy down MLK and back
Total miles for day: 14.57

AM: 8.8-mile track workout--comfortably hard
I ran 2x3200 at 11:55 (800-meter recovery) and 11:52, and then capped off my two 2-mile repeats with a 1x1600 at 5:58. I felt in control and had good leg turnover. It was great seeing improvement in my 2x3200 times. This is an excellent marathon-training workout that builds aerobic capacity, improves turnover and strengthens the legs. I carried my 2-lbs. dumbbells to and from the track, but of course did not carry them while running around the track.
PM: 5.25 miles easy on the treadmill
Total miles for day: 14.05

AM: 8.5 miles easy
I woke up with a severely painful left shoulder. Damn, it was very painful in my shoulder and up into my neck (and still is as I write this). It really hurt to move my arm while running, but I gutted it out anyway.
PM: 6.55 miles easy in Shaker Park
The pain in my left shoulder was agonizing.
Total miles for day: 15.05 miles

AM: 9.25-mile tempo run
Four miles into my tempo run (after completing a warm-up mile), the rain picked up and I got soaked. With visibility null and void, I ran through a couple of puddles that were a few inches deep. I may as well have jumped in a pool. Only got to four miles—a real disappointment—when my goal was 8 miles. I was so dejected that just getting home was a challenge.
PM: Had planned an evening run but got in a car accident on the way home from work and didn’t have time for a run. I was traveling down a one-way road in the left lane when a lady in the right lane, thinking the road was two-way, turned left and I crashed into her, not having any opportunity to stop. The police ruled the accident her fault. My car, while not totaled, was pretty banged up on the front end. I’m now driving a bright-red Ford Focus. If it weren’t fully-loaded, I’d be bitching. I hate bright-red. I’m more a gray/ black car-type guy.

AM: 11.1 miles easy in South Chagrin Reservation
Ran with Jeff U., John S., John L. and Tim C. With it being pretty humid and rainy, I was soaked afterward. I would have liked to have gone longer but I had to call it quits at 8:45 to get to a doctor's appointment for Noah at 9:15.

AM: 22-mile long run in Solon with the Southeast Running Club
The weather was very humid and pretty warm--71 degrees when I started. I decided to back off the pace a bit to get in the 22 miles despite the heat and humidity. I definitely didn’t feel my best when I finished, but still managed about 7:45 pace for a solid long run.

Total miles for week: 92.5
Total miles for month: 188
Total miles for year: 2836.96

This week I have a lot going on and may not be able to crack 80 miles. My goals are:
  • 80+ miles with a Sunday long run of 20 miles
  • 3x1600 intervals at balls-to-the-wall pace
  • 8-mile tempo run
Onward and upward!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It’s not an obsession; it’s my passion / Training week 9/1-9/7

I love my new running regimen! Getting in my second run of the day during my lunch hour allows me to aggressively pursue my passion in a way that is “invisible” to my family, as Michael Wardian said in his Endurance Planet interview. By invisible, I mean I am able to log lots of miles without my running getting in the way of my responsibilities as a husband and father. I am now more relaxed and at peace because I’m running the way I need to run and enjoying my family all at the same time. This is the way it should be.

But there’s still a missing piece in my life.

I just need to figure out a way to still go long on Sunday mornings and attend church. Without getting too religious on you, church is calling me and I have to figure out a way to answer the call. We are committed to raising Noah in the church. He’s being baptized in a few weeks – a momentous occasion. Confession: A few weeks ago we took Noah to church and he was blessed during communion (which I hadn’t expected). I nearly lost it emotionally as the pastor blessed him. I’m a softy, I guess. Going to church that weekend was kind of a turning point for me. It’s time to go back.

Circling back to my new regimen: This week someone teased me that I was obsessed with running. While I admit that sometimes my running borders on obsessive and my life can occasionally get out of balance, I am not an obsessive runner. When running starts to consume too much of my life, I manage to find a way to restore balance. As I’m not a professional runner and my passion doesn’t pay the bills (though hopefully someday it will if I can find a way to make a living as a runner and writer), I realize that my primary responsibilities are my family and my job.

All that said, I feel like I have a good idea of what I need to do to achieve my potential as a runner – log 100-mile weeks and stay focused on quality workouts. At this stage in my life, early-morning and lunch-time running is my only ticket to 100-mile weeks and ultimately to achieving my running goals – a kick-ass marathon PR and a successful career in ultrarunning that includes some outright wins.

Here’s how my week panned out:

Aurora Labor Day Classic 5K at Sunny Lake in Aurora, OH
Ran a 17:45 (5:42 pace) for a new 5K personal record and placed second behind the ever-fast Steve Godale. Ran a 1.93-mile warm-up with striders, followed the race, and was not able to run any cool-down miles as I had to get back home to greet visiting family. This was my first time running in my Asics DS Trainers since the Blossom Time Festival 5.25 Miler. My light-weight trainers come out only at race time.
Total miles for day: 5.03

AM: 8.4 miles easy
PM: 6.6 miles easy with Don L. and Dave S. down MLK and back.
Very hot – well into the high 80s and possibly into the low 90s.
Total miles for day: 14

AM: 9.25-mile track workout at Chagrin Falls High School
5x1600, each at a “comfortably hard” pace of 5:59, 5:59, 5:56, 5:56, 5:56 and 5:59 with 400-meter recoveries (for comparison’s sake, “uncomfortably hard” is my “balls to the wall” pace, which is 5:40 or faster). It was a cool morning and I felt very good – in control with good leg turnover. This is quickly becoming my favorite workout. In three weeks, I may go for six 1600s if I have time. Time is always an issue…
PM: 5.75 miles easy in and around University Circle, Cleveland Heights, Little Italy and the UH Case Medical Center campus. Temperature in the low 90s!
Total miles for day: 15

AM: 8 miles easy. Felt pretty beat up and sore—maybe from too much pavement running.
PM: 6.5 miles easy with Dave S. and Don L. down MLK and back. Very hot!
Total miles for day: 14.5

AM: 9-mile tempo run (7 miles at tempo pace).
The original plan was 8 miles at tempo pace (about 6:15-6:20) but unfortunately time was limited and so I had to reduce the goal to 7 miles at tempo pace to accommodate the usual 1-mile warm-up and cool-down miles. This was a pretty solid, but not great, tempo run. My splits were: 1) 8:21 (warm-up), 2) 6:30 (too slow), 3) 6:13, 4) 6:18, 5) 6:23 (going up a hill), 6) 6:18, 7) 6:22, 8) 6:32 (too slow), and 9) 7:18 (cool-down). I feel like I’ve yet to run a “perfect” tempo run this fall training season and will be looking to next Friday for a strong workout.
PM: 4 miles easy. Felt pretty wasted.
Total miles for day: 13

AM: 14 miles easy at South Chagrin Reservation
Ran the first 9 or so miles with Tim C., Jeff U., John S. et al and then finished off with Tim. Once again felt pretty wasted. Rained almost the entire time.

AM: 10.25 miles on the treadmill at marathon pace (6:40)
Ran with a napping Noah next to me. I wasn’t able to get to Solon as Anne was at a horse show, where she won a ribbon yet again(!), so I got some miles in on the trusty treadmill. I felt very strong and much better than I did on Friday and Saturday.
PM: 8.75 miles in South Chagrin Reservation
Pretty tired and worn down, but held a decent trail pace.
Total miles for day: 19

Total miles for week: 95.5
Total miles for month: 95.5
Total miles for year: 2744.46

Next week my goals are:
  • 90+ miles
  • 2x3200, each under 12 minutes, and 1x1600 under 6 minutes at the track
  • 8-mile tempo run (if time permits)

I feel like my training for the Columbus Marathon continues to go well. A time of 2:55 or better seems to be possible. One race-time calculator I checked predicts a 2:52 at Columbus based on my recent 5K time. I’m very skeptical of that as there’s a huge difference between a 5K and marathon, and what about the biggest factor of all—the weather! Still, I’m hopeful. I’m considering the Akron ½ Marathon at the end of September to see where I am and if I can better my 1:22 at the Spring Classic in April.

One final note: I just ordered some Brooks Adrenalines – my first pair of Brooks. I can’t wait to test them out.

Onward and upward!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Aurora Labor Day Classic 5K report

This morning I ran my first 5K in about 3 1/2 years--the annual Aurora Labor Day Classic 5K around scenic Sunny Lake in Aurora, Ohio, a beautiful country community southeast of Cleveland.

(Parenthetically, I think Sunny Lake, with a well-maintained 1.7-mile paved path around the entire lake, would be an awesome venue for a 24-hour event. But I'd really like to see the next 24-hour event come back to Olander Park, the former venue of the 24-hour and 100-mile national championships, in Sylvania, Ohio.)

My last 5K, the Run with a Cop 5K in our former hometown of West Lafayette, Indiana, was in the early spring of 2005--just before we moved to Cleveland. I ran like a 19:18, finishing second by more than a minute by local great Gary Romesser. For this latest 5K, the question wasn't whether I would shatter my 19:18 PR. I knew I'd do that based on my recent track and tempo run times. The question was whether I could go sub-18 minutes. But after the weekend's combined 32 miles, I was seriously questioning whether I could.

It was a beautiful day for racing--blue skies, moderate temps and no wind! I got to Sunny Lake at 8 a.m. and collected my number while finding out that the 5K started at 9:00 a.m., not 8:30 a.m. as I'd incorrectly thought. So I hung around for a bit, chatting with Steve G. (last year's winner) and Elizabeth H., watching the one-mile fun run and then finally warming up for about 20 minutes. As I always do before a race, I peed about nineteen times. Nerves....

At last, at 8:55 a.m. we all lined up for the start of the 5K. I was in the front "row" next to Steve, who I figured would win since he's faster than I am. When the "gun" went off, both Steve and I exploded out of the gate like cannons. Finally, I settled into a 5:35 pace about 20 feet behind Steve, who was cruising right along as he always does. I could hear runners behind me for the first quarter-mile or so...and then things went quiet. It was just Steve and me for the rest of the way.

The distance between us largely stayed the same for the rest of the race. We ran around Sunny Lake twice, starting and finishing in separate locations only about a 1/3 mile from each other. I got into a groove during mile two--just as Steve got into his and added a little distance between us. The sun was really beating down on me and I had had to take water. But then about 3/4 of a mile from the finish, I could see that Steve was beginning to struggle just as I was getting stronger. I closed some of the gap between us but not in time for the finish line.

I finished 10 seconds behind Steve with a time of 17:45. That breaks down to 5:42/mile. Upon crossing, both Steve and I were spent. We'd both just endured more than 17 minutes of suffering. No matter the distance, if you run a race hard it's going to hurt. He rested in the grass while I stumbled around. About a minute later, the third-place finisher came in. I then stumbled over to the picnic shelter for--what else?--a recovery pancake breakfast. By the time I got to the shelter, I had regained my breath and was hungry.

The guy flicked two pancakes onto my plate and I scarfed them down. They were some of the best pancakes I'd ever eaten...seriously. I resisted the sausage because I don't eat pork, but I wanted some sausage and saying no to it was hard! The pancakes were delicious. After a second helping, I was feeling quite satisfied. Still, I wanted more but didn't want to be the guy who hogged them all, and so I walked away.

Unfortunately, I had to cut out as we had family arriving anytime for a day's visit. After downing my pancakes, I looked for Steve but couldn't find him, and then walked to the car to get changed into dry clothes. I hoped Steve would collect any award I might have won, which he did (he called later on). After changing, I drove home, thinking about the race, and I called Anne to tell her how I'd fared and inquire as to whether our visitors had arrived.

Honestly, I was and still am really pleased with my 17:41. This was a great day for a race. I'm glad I returned to the 5K and will surely be back again soon.