Sunday, November 30, 2008

100-mile race winners

Below are lists of 100-mile outright winners, Grand Slam winners and the winners of other big races, such as Spartathlon and Badwater (italics=Grand Slam race):

100-Mile Race Winners - 2008
  • HURT (1/19): Paul Hopwood / 27:17
  • Rocky Raccoon (2/2): Jorge Pacheco / 14:12
  • Yukon Arctic (2/9): Will Laughlin / 31:31 (results)
  • Susitna (2/18): Chet Fehrmann / 20:00
  • Iron Horse (3/1): Amy Costa / 17:46
  • Coyote Two Moon (3/21): Karl Meltzer / 17:24
  • Moab (3/26) Davy Crockett / 23:23
  • Umstead (4/5): Serge Arbona / 15:53
  • McNaughton (4/11): Karl Meltzer / 17:40
  • Keys (5/16): Alisa Springman / 23:02
  • Masanutten (5/17): Todd Walker / 20:58
  • Sulphur Springs (5/24) Jim Cook / 18:43
  • Old Dominion (6/6): Jason Lantz / 19:49
  • Kettle Moraine (6/7): Joel Eckberg / 18:10
  • San Diego (6/7): Tom Nielsen / 19:26
  • Big Horn (6/21): Jeff Browning / 18:56
  • Mohican (6/21): Jay Smithberger / 17:55
  • Laramie (6/28): Elad Benjamin / 25:20
  • Western States (6/28): Canceled (wildfires)
  • Hardrock (7/11): Kyle Skaggs / 23:23 (results)
  • Tahoe Rim Trail (7/19): Erik Skaden & Mike Wolfe / 18:59:10 (results)
  • Vermont (7/19): Andy Jones-Wilkins / 16:07 (results)
  • Burning River (8/2): Tim Clement / 17:40 (results)
  • Headlands (8/9): Matt Aro / 20:23
  • Stormy (8/9): Gary Robbins / 17:39 (results)
  • Viaduct (8/9): Dave Bursler / 20:45 (results)
  • Leadville (8/16): Duncan Callahan / 18:02 (results)
  • Cascade Crest (8/23): Tom Ederer / 20:49 (results)
  • Lean Horse (8/23): Jon Olsen / 15:40 (results)
  • Grand Teton (8/30): John Brimhall / 19:59 (results)
  • Superior (9/5): Chris Gardner / 21:57 (results)
  • Haliburton Forest (9/6): Not yet available
  • Wasatch (9/6): Geoff Roes / 20:01 (results)
  • Lost Soul (9/12): Canceled (rain, mud, etc.)
  • Plain (9/13): Allen Belshaw / 25:22:30 (results)
  • Delaware (9/20) – Jessi Kennedy / 21:32 (results)
  • Iroquois Trail (9/20) – Diboun Yassine / 21:35 (results)
  • Bear (9/26)– Ty Draney / 19:59 (results)
  • Rio Del Lago (9/27) – Results not yet available
  • Angeles Crest (9/28): Hal Koerner / 18:29 (results)
  • Grindstone (10/3): Harland Peelle / 20:38 (results)
  • Arkansas Traveler (10/4): Tom Brennan / 17:44 (results)
  • Heartland (10/11): Wynn Davis / 16:20 (results)
  • Boulder (10/18): Nick Pedatella / 18:41 (results)
  • Cactus Rose (11/1) David Johnston / 22:54 (results)
  • Mother Road (11/8) Tim Neckar 17:13 (results)
  • New England (11/8): ?
  • Pinhoti (11/8): John Teeples / 20:51 (results)
  • Javelina Jundred (11/15): Jeff Riley / 16:48 (results)

100-Mile Grand Slam Race Winners - 2008

  • Western States (6/28): Canceled (wildfires)
  • Vermont (7/19): Andy Jones-Wilkins / 16:07
  • Leadville (8/16): Duncan Callahan / 18:02
  • Wasatch (9/6): Geoff Rose / 20:01
  • Arkansas Traveller (10/4): Tom Brennan / 17:44

Winners of Big 100+ Mile Races

  • Badwater 135 (7/14): Jorge Pacheco / 23:20 (results)
  • Spartathlon / 152 Miles (9/26): Scott Jurek / 23:12 (results)

Please let me know if there are any errors in the above lists.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A much improved hamstring / Training week 11/17-11/23

According to my Web counter, readership of this blog is really starting to take off. This inspires me to keep going and I just hope that what I write makes even a little bit of a positive difference. Thanks to all who read my blog.


In racing news, congratulations to Connie Gardner on leading all women at the 46th annual JFK 50-Mile Race with a time of 7:15--a full 17 minutes ahead of the next woman. The race was held Nov. 22 and more than 900 finished, making it yet again the largest ultra in North America. Connie lives in Medina and many of us have the pleasuring of running with her on Saturdays in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (though I don't get to the Valley much anymore). Connie is as tough as they come.

This week there was a lot of trash-talking among a few Southeast Running Club members about the Richmond Marathon results. Yes, I engaged in some of the banter because that's SERC for you. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t run Richmond because it sounds like the weather in the River City was pretty rough – 75 degrees, sunny, humid and double-digit windy. Those are not PR conditions and it’s no wonder most every SERC member who ran Richmond came back bitterly disappointed. Many trained hard for Richmond and it’s unfortunate that Mother Nature plotted adverse weather.

It’s easy for those who didn’t run Richmond (myself included) to claim that such conditions wouldn’t have slowed them down. I ran a 100-mile race in 90-degree heat, which is manageable because you’re going slower and you have shade. But 75 degrees for a marathon is a bit on the hot side as you’re running at a faster pace. In such weather, all you can do is your best – and that’s exactly what the SERC members at Richmond did.

If you run races long enough, sooner or later you’re going to get slammed with bad weather and it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow. Case in point: There are super-tough guys in SERC who usually easily break 3 hours in a marathon and yet went over 3 hours at the 2004 Boston, where the temperature reached 80 degrees.

Congratulations to all SERC members who finished the Richmond Marathon.


A lot of people ask me how I eat. I’ll save the details for a later post but for now here’s a quick run-down of the do’s and don’ts of my diet, with the understanding that like almost anyone I have the occasional slip-up:

  • 3 meals per day with nutritious/semi-nutritious snacks as needed
  • Apple every day
  • Yes to whole grains (brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread, etc.) – no to refined starches
  • Yes to sweet potatoes - no to white potatoes (though on Sunday mornings I allow myself hash browns after my long run, along with a danish)
  • No sugary juices or sodas – only diet juices and sodas are allowed
  • Lots of spinach for the iron
  • Yes to olive and canola oils - no to other oils
  • Daily dose of broccoli
  • No pork ever – that means no ham, sausage, bacon, etc. “The other white meat” is just a marketing slogan.
  • Red meat maybe once a month
  • Turkey, chicken and fish allowed
  • Lots of egg whites
  • Lots of garlic and veges, such as bell peppers, celery, carrots, etc., in almost everything we eat. Onions, too, but I'm not sure if they have any health benefits.
  • Splenda allowed in iced tea and coffee - little to no pure sugar
  • A graham cracker with peanut butter and honey is my usual dessert
  • Total cereal topped with granola, Smart Start, or something else tasty. Total is loaded with almost everything I need and is a great source of nutrients for runners.
  • Real oat meal, a whole-wheat bagel, whole-wheat pancakes, or eggs on the mornings I don't eat cereal
  • Very limited intake of creamy products
  • Pizza only with whole-wheat crust
  • No restaurant Mexican food - only homemade Mexican with whole-wheat burritos
  • No fried foods
  • No MSG
  • Supplements – daily: L-carnitine and vegetarian glucosamine & MSM; after races – glutamine for muscle repair and fresh pineapple for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Anne adheres to pretty much the same diet. In fact, our emphasis on whole grains originated with her. I think the year was 2002 and I weighed about 220 lbs., wore size 38 pants and size 48 suits, ate fast food for lunch almost every day (Burger King, KFC and Wendy's were the big culprits), and had too much iron in my blood due to over-consumption of red meat. Anne felt some diet changes were in order and we made the transition from refined starches to whole grains, along with implementing a whole bunch of other modifications such as cutting back consumption of red meat and other high-fat, high-sugar foods. By the end of 2003 I was down to about 185 lbs. and poised to begin my long-distance running "career." Today I'm anywhere from 168-173 lbs.--about 50 lbs. lighter than my all-time high--and I wear size 34 pants and a size 42 suit. I've also gone from wearing XL to large and, in some cases, medium.

I still have far to go with my diet. I continually struggle with not drinking enough water and consuming too much coffee. I eat too much cheese. I also need to quit drinking diet sodas and I need to stay away from the sweets that can be found around the office almost every day. My biggest vice is chips. I cannot control myself around chips, which is why I don’t buy them. I allow myself to eat chips only during ultras and immediately after races. I continue to explore the possibility of a vegetarian lifestyle, or at the minimum a mostly vegetarian lfestyle with allowances for fish as often as I like and turkey on Thanksgiving :).


My hamstring is remarkably better. But I know from experience that even though it feels good it is not, in fact, healed. I am avoiding doing anything that could re-aggravate the muscle, and this includes intervals and super-fast tempo runs. My strategy is to stay at 70 miles per week until year-end, and then scale back to under 50 miles per week for the first 5-6 weeks of 2009, before beginning my Mohican 100 and spring marathon training. Hopefully my well-rested legs will be ready for weeks of 90-110 miles.

Here’s how the week shook out:


AM: 8.2 miles on my treadmill
I woke up with unexpected flu-like symptoms and almost didn’t run. But I forced myself out of bed and onto my treadmill, because I wasn’t inclined to brave in this conditions, and eked out 8.2 miles, feeling much better by the end. Unfortunately, Anne and Noah were victims of this bug.

AM: 8.1 miles at 7:25 pace
I felt much better than the previous morning. Weather: 26 degrees and clear.
PM: 5.3 miles on my treadmill
Total miles for day: 13.4

AM: 8.1 miles
I felt pretty tired and sluggish. Weather: 33 degrees and fairly windy.

AM: 8.8-mile tempo run on my treadmill
When I woke up, we had about 8 inches of snow and it was still coming down. So I headed downstairs and ran on my treadmill, managing a somewhat relaxed tempo run and not feeling any pain or discomfort in my hamstring. I averaged about 6:35 pace from miles 2-8.

AM: 10.5 miles on my treadmill
My original plan was to go to South Chagrin Reservation for a 2-hour trail run with Tim C. et al. But when I woke up at 5:30 our driveway was covered by about 6 inches of snow and our plow guy hadn’t come yet. Plus, the thought of running super snowy trails and risking re-aggravating my hamstring just didn’t have a whole lot of appeal. So I went downstairs and hammered out 10.5 miles on my treadmill.

AM: 17 miles in Solon with the Southeast Running Club
I wore my UnderArmour Cold Gear base layer pants and shirt, my Brooks running pants, a long-sleeve technical tee, a ski mask, heavy gloves, and my North Face jacket to weather the single-digit temperature. Fortunately, there was no wind. I ran about 3 miles by myself and then hooked up with the group at 8:00 a.m., running most of the 12-mile loop with Paul and then adding on a few miles in the end to get to 17 for the morning. Maybe it was the extreme cold, but I was starving when I entered the bagel shop and wolfed down my breakfast like I hadn’t eaten in days.
PM: 5 miles on the treadmill while watching Rocky II
Sometimes I think Rocky and I are the same person.
Total miles for day: 22

Total miles for week: 71.0
Total miles for month: 239.11
Total miles for year: 3,560.37

I am now beginning to doubt that I’m getting to 4,000 miles for the year. I would need to up my weekly mileage to about 80-90 to get to 4,000 for the year, and I’m just not inclined to do that just for a number. So it’s now looking like I’m going to finish 2008 with about 3,900 miles. Oh well…..


My 2009 schedule continues to shape up as I’ve made two decisions. First, I have registered for the Lt. J.C. Stone 50K in Pittsburgh on March 21 – my first “road” race over 26.2 miles. Actually, the course is a paved path and consists of six 5-mile loops around North Park Lake. This is the same course as the former GNC 50K/50-mile/100K race, which a few years hosted the national championship for at least the 50K. I am excited about the J.C. Stone and if I’m feeling good will try to break 4 hours.

Second, I have decided not to run the 2009 Boston Marathon as of now. Without going into the specifics, there is simply too much economic uncertainty for me to commit to forking over a few thousand for Boston. When it comes to finances, I always play if safe. So, at least for now, I’ve had to make the very tough decision of forgoing the 2009 Boston and will hopefully be back in Beantown for the 2010 race. My suspicion is that I’m not the only one skipping the 2009 race due to the economic uncertainty. If the economy rebounds, Boston may be back on. For now, it's off.

I now need to decide which spring marathon I’m running – the Flying Pig in Cincinnati, Cleveland, or some other race. My concern about Cleveland is that it’s so close to the Mohican 100 – about 4 weeks. I still have plenty of time to decide. The priority is being ready for Mohican.

Onward and upward!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trophies for everyone!

It occurs to me that in this era of “self-esteem”-building, there are no winners and losers. No score is taken. Everyone plays and gets a trophy in the end. No one feels pain. No one is held accountable for their own lot in life. Everyone lives in a state of perpetual pleasure because all we want to be is "comfortable."

Kid: Look, Mom! I got a participation trophy for being on the team!
Mom: Oh, Johnny, that's wonderful. I'm so proud of you!
Kid: Yeah, and it didn't matter that we lost all our games. We still got trophies.
Mom: Well, dear, no one was keeping score so you didn't really lose. You're all winners and doesn't that feel good?!?!?!?!

I’m reminded of a pivotal moment in my life that happened nearly 20 years ago. The year was 1989 and I was a sophomore runt on the Wheeling Park High School football team, a team of more than 80 guys. We were a good football team and it was early in the season when we lost to a very bad Beaver Local squad. Realizing that we’d slacked off against a team we should have annihilated, our coach called an early-morning Saturday practice—to be held less than 10 hours after the game. I remember him saying to us as we huddled up in the locker room after the game, "If you have plans tomorrow morning, cancel them. We're going to pratice."

Well, at this practice we got pummeled. After hours of Oklahoma drills, wind sprints that had guys sucking wind and puking, and full-contact scrimmaging that left us bruised, bloodied and beaten-down, we all felt the pain of defeat and ashamed of how we’d played the night before.

But we also learned a valuable lesson that translated to success not only on the field, but also in life. We realized that losing sucks and winning felt good (so long as you won fair and square). We realized that it wasn’t OK to half-ass it in competition. It wasn’t OK to make excuses for a defeat, a half-effort and mediocrity. We went on to make the state semi-finals that year and in the next year, and got to the state championship game my senior year. In that 3-year span, our combined record was 30-8.

I'm not advocating winning at all costs--far from it. Winning counts only when it's fair and square. Anything less is tainted. And there is such as thing as losing honorably. Many have lost and still been champions at heart. But the true champions are those who win honorably and nobly.

Today, our society is averse to real winning because we want to avoid pain at all costs. A coach would probably never be allowed to call an emergency Saturday-morning practice with the express purpose of punishing his players, because it would be too harsh, "inconvenience" parents and damage the kids’ self-esteem, to say nothing of liability issues. Rather than instill accountability and responsibility in kids, we let them eat what they want, play in leagues that don’t keep score and give trophies to everyone, watch 6 hours of TV a day and play mindless games, and go to schools that worry more about their self-esteem than about teaching them reading, writing, math, science, history, civics, hysical education and other disciplines that are actually relevant to their future health, well-being and success.

It’s not the kids’ faults. It’s our fault as adults. We’re the real slackers, and our kids just follow our lead. We consume fast food, shovel pills into our mouths, don’t exercise, balloon up and then get our stomach stapled because exercising and eating responsibly are too hard. We’re depressed so we take a pill when physical activity might be the best treatment. We avoid pain at all costs because it hurts and we’d rather live in comfort. Hey doc, there’s a pill for that, right? Can I take it with my Starbucks?

In actuality, pain and suffering are central to success and happiness. Pain and suffering can be a good thing and should be embraced. Without knowing pain or suffering, how can you ever really know pleasure? Unless you've seen and experienced real darkness, how can you ever really appreciate light? In a marathon, if you run the 26.2 miles hard, you feel remarkable pain and discomfort especially during the last 10K, but then when you cross the finish line you experience the highest of highs. You’ve endured pain to achieve the pleasure of finishing. That is hard-earned, well-deserved pleasure. And it doesn't have to come through running. Any pleasure that comes from hard work and sacrifice is well-deserved.

Life isn’t easy, and it’s not supposed to be. So long as we focus all our energies on avoiding pain at all costs, we’ll never achieve real happiness or success. Trophies aren’t for everyone. They’re only for those who won or at least gave their all, and they’re motivation for the losers to work harder in achieving victory.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Return of the hamstring injury / Training week 11/10-11/16

I’ve heard through unconfirmed "reports" that Scott Jurek, the #1 100-plus-mile ultra runner in the world, was unsuccessful in setting a new 24-hour American record at Ultracentric, which took place in Texas this past weekend. Considering the fact that Jurek has been wildly successful in just about every ultra running endeavor he's taken on (Western States, Badwater, Hardrock, Spartathlon, etc.), there has to be a good reason behind his dropping out at Ultracentric. After all, Ultracentric has quite the notorious reputation....

(Also, the fact that these reports are unconfirmed is a joke because it shouldn't be hard to find the results of a 24-hour race. Yet, at the time of this writing, the results from Ultracentric have either not been posted on the event Web site or are hidden somewhere on the Internet. How is ultrarunning to move forward as a sport when we do such a poor job of timely reporting?)

The 24-hour American record is 162.4 miles, set by Mark Godale at the 1999 24-hour national championship in Sylvania, Ohio. The event was the now-defunct Olander Park USA 24-Hour Championship (which really needs to come back...). Yiannis Kouros, holder of the 24-hour world record of 180 miles, was there that day and won, with Mark placing second behind the Greek Great One.

I cannot fathom running 162.4 miles, let along 180 miles, in 24 hours. That is 8-plus-minute pace. If that sounds easy, you must not be an ultra runner. Averaging 8-plus-minute pace for 24 hours, with aid station and bathroom stops factored in, along with the agonizing pain of running on a hard surface for that long, is an extraordinary feat.

I think the 24-hour American and world records will stand for a long time not only because of the sheer difficulty of covering those distances in 24 hours, but also because it strikes me that if you’re willing to go for one or both of these records, you also have to be willing to sacrifice your health. You have to understand that you will suffer unimaginably--mentally and physically--and may spend a few nights in the hospital afterward--a price few would be willing to pay. Best case scenario: You'll need multiple IVs when you’re done and can actually go home afterward. Most likely scenario if you set a record: You’re going to the hospital in an ambulance with kidney failure, extreme dehydration and a host of other problems that will leave you barely functional.

This brings to mind something Kouros once said: One of the tragedies of ultra running is that when someone achieves a great feat they are physically and mentally unable to celebrate in the moment due to the after-effects of the event. I've seen footage of Kouros trembling uncontrollably and totally out of it after running for long periods of time.


This week I went slow and took it easy so my right hamstring, which I re-injured pretty badly on Tuesday during a lunchtime run, can begin to heal. When I started the week, I felt great and was flying high after a solid Sunday run. But then on Tuesday I slipped on some wet leaves while on the trail and my right hamstring blew up. I barely made it back to the office. With stretching and ice therapy, the muscle got better as the week progressed and fortunately I didn’t miss any runs. I wound up with a fairly average 72.5 miles for the week.

A regular poster to this blog, Yanfei, along with my trusted 100-mile pacer, Kenny, has suggested that I take 4-6 weeks off to fully recover from my hamstring injury. While I know Yanfei and Kenny are probably correct, I also know that taking time off from running is very difficult for me. I take time off only when I literally cannot run, e.g., after injuring my knee at the Mohican 100. Running helps bring balance and peace to my life. If it’s taken away, I’m out of balance.

That said, I’ve decided that on January 1 I’m going to try to cut back my mileage for 4-6 weeks, incorporating some cross-training such as walking and hopefully swimming, and then will begin my Mohican training in mid-February on what will hopefully be fresh legs ready for 100-plus-mile weeks. At least that’s the plan. Why January 1? I want to keep the mileage up through the holidays to help keep the Thanksgiving and Christmas pounds at bay, and also to make a run at 4,000 miles for the year. We’ll see if I can psychologically handle the reduced mileage for 4-6 weeks.


AM: 8.4 miles at 7:28 pace
I felt very fresh and light on my feet.
PM: 5 miles during lunch in Shaker Park
My hamstring unexpectedly blew up when I slipped on some wet leaves on the trail. One second I felt great; the next second I slipped and my hamstring was burning like it was on fire. For a while there I feared a tear, but then the inflammation got better and I was able to slowly run back to the office…quite dejected.
Total miles for the day: 13.4

AM: 7.3 miles at 8:00 pace
This run was agonizing as my hamstring was extremely painful. Not even two miles into the jaunt I realized that I’d made a mistake and should have taken the day off. But I hung in there and ran the loop.

AM: 8.3 miles easy on the treadmill
It was cold and raining cats and dogs, making for a perfect morning for a treadmill run. Plus, the treadmill was good for my hamstring – no hills to tackle and I could step off any time I wanted without having to worry about getting back home. The muscle pain was moderate but not as bad as the previous day. I felt a few spasms here and there but managed to hold a relaxed pace with no searing pains.

AM: 9.25 miles at 7:35 pace
My hamstring felt much better and I was able to run a semi-challenging loop without much of a problem. Fortunately, the temperature was over 50 degrees, allowing me to warm-up more quickly.

AM: 14.2 miles in South Chagrin Reservation with the Southeast Running Club
Feeling only slight discomfort in my hamstring, I ran 14.2 miles on the flattest parts of the course with Jeff U., Tim C. and John L. Tim and I ran the last 4 miles together.

AM: 16 miles in Solon with the Southeast Running Club
Very cold, snowy and windy. I got to Solon for 3 warm-up miles and ran into a few nasty headwinds. My original plan was 17.5 miles but I headed into the bagel shop after only 16 because I was quite cold. I ran most of the way with Jeff U. and Tim H. Tim had a great idea about Nike sponsoring a marathon for masters runners who have qualified for the event with a sub-3-hour time. But you know what they say about "great ideas?"...they're not great unless someone's willing to pay for them.
PM: 4 miles easy on the treadmill
Total miles for day: 20

Total miles for week: 72.5
Total miles for month: 168.11
Total miles for year: 3,489.37

My goal this week is 70-plus easy miles—no speedwork, no temp running, nothing fast. I’ve learned that hamstring injuries take a long time to heal and even when you think you’re back to 100 percent, you aren’t.

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A major set-back

Yesterday afternoon during my second run I reinjured my right hamstring in a big way. The pain was so bad that I thought I might have torn the muscle, but then it got better and I was able to run slowly back to the office. I was in Shaker Park and slipped on a root or rock covered by wet leaves. It wasn't a major slip, but it was just enough of a slip to totally screw up my hamstring. And just when I was feeling really good again.

Now I'm back to square one and very frustrated. I'd say my chances of running the Fall Classic 1/2 Marathon in less than two weeks are slim to none.

I have to get my hamstring back to 100 percent in time for aggressive Mohican 100 training starting in February. That may seem like a long way off, but hamstring injuries can take a long time to heal, and obviously I'm confronted with a nagging injury that just won't go away.

I'm going to keep running, but I'm going to run at a more relaxed pace to prevent any re-aggravations, and I'm going to stretch every night before bedtime. Ice will do some good, as well.

This really sucks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Delayed recovery week / Training week 11/3-11/9

The name of the game this week was getting back to 100 percent. Mission accomplished. I started the week off feeling pretty awful--trashed legs, sluggish and a little burned out. But then as the week progressed I got better, especially after a day off on Wednesday. I finished with a strong long run on Sunday to get to a somewhat pedestrian 71.4 miles for the week, and now I feel close to 100 percent and am ready to take on the world.

Here's how the week went:

AM: 8.05 miles at 7:40 pace
My calves and right hamstring and IT band felt absolutely trashed! Usually Monday is an optional easy day/day off but I knew I'd stay up late on Tuesday watching the election returns and wouldn't be keen on an early-morning Wednesday run. So I decided to use Wednesday as my optional easy day/day off.

AM: 8.45 miles at 7:29 pace
Once again, my calves, hamstring and IT band felt pretty trashed.
PM: 5.65 miles during lunch in and around Shaker Park, Cleveland Heights, Little Italy and University Circle. Stayed up late watching the election results....
Total miles for day: 14.1


AM: 8.43 miles at 7:30 pace
Maybe it was the day off, but my legs felt much better. The wonders of recovery....

AM: 8.11 miles at 7:35 pace
I took it easy and felt pretty strong. I ran the last full mile at 6:55 to test my legs and they checked out OK.

AM: 13.4 miles with the Southeast Running Club in South Chagrin Reservation
Due to lots of rain, the trails were very muddy. It was cold, too--38 degrees with light rain that tapered off. I ran with Jeff U., Tim C., John S., John L., John K. et al. After 7 miles most everyone took off, leaving Tim and me to run the last 6.5 miles. I felt strong--far better than I had the last two weeks.

AM: 15.35 miles in Solon with SERC
I got to Solon about 20 minutes early for an easy 2-mile warm-up and returned to the bagel shop to meet up with the club for our 8 a.m. start. Feeling nearly 100 percent, I ran hard--really hard, actually--with Mark G. to the water stop. Except for the first mile, my splits for the 6 miles to the water stop were aggressive: 1) 7:46, 2) 6:16, 3) 6:06, 4) 5:57, 5) 5:52 and 6) 6:01. We fought a head wind in a few areas. I was pretty winded during that third mile because I had to run hard to catch up to Mark, but then I caught my breath and sailed into the water stop pretty tired but very functional. I then ran at about 7:45 pace for the rest of the way, adding on 2 miles in end. I ate chili the night before and later regretted it....
PM: 4 miles easy on my treadmill
Total miles for day: 19.35

Total miles for week: 71.44
Total miles for month: 95.61
Total miles for year: 3,416.87

My goals for this weeks are:
  • 70+ miles
  • Wednesday: 3 one-mile repeats at 5:50 pace on the track or, if the weather is uncooperative, on the my treadmill
  • Friday: 4-mile tempo run at 6:30 pace

Even though the off-season is here (though I still may run the Fall Classic 1/2 Marathon in a few weeks), I still want to get in some quality training. I think some scaled-back quality training, such as what I've written above, will be enough to keep my leg turnover pretty good during the winter and allow for a strong foundation to build on in February, when I start training for my spring marathon and the Mohican 100.


I've been thinking about my 2009 race schedule. I still don't know the specifics, but I do know I'm going back to the Mohican 100 to seek revenge. Through 70 miles at the 2008 race, I was on pace for a sub-17-hour time and top-2 finish, and then my knee blew up, along with my stomach at mile 80. I finished in 19:22 for 4th overall. I will be looking for a strong time at the 2009 Mohican and will again start training hard for it in February. It's never too early to start thinking about your next 100.

I'm still not sure which spring marathon I will run. My hesitation with running the Cleveland Marathon hard is that it's so close to Mohican (about a month). I may instead run the Cincy Flying Pig, which is in early May, as my spring marathon. There is always a chance I'll be at Boston, though it's pretty slim at this point. I still plan to run the Lt. JC Stone 50K in Pittsburgh in March. I heard the 100K national championship won't be at the Mad City 100K. I can't find out where it's been moved--no mention of it online.

Onward and upward!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Shot legs / Training week 10/27-11/2

I just finished up Bart Yasso's new book, My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom and Insights of a Road Racing Icon. This was a good book and an easy read full of excellent intentional comedy. Right now, with a baby, I don't have extended periods of time to read, so I need easy stuff like the Yasso book. He delivered in a big way and My Life on the Run will go down as one of the better running books ever written.

Yasso's book is somewhat biographical but mostly a compilation of stories divided into chapters--and good stories they are. He has traveled the world, running in races as far away as India. One story was about running in a nude race, another about running with a burro, and yet another about biking across the country. He also writes about his running the Badwater 146, where he placed in the top 3, and his ongoing battle with Lyme Disease, which essentially cost him his long-distance legs. And, of course, he writes extensively about the famed Yasso 800s. I think he came across as a little too full of himself in writing about Yasso 800s.

I didn't realize Yasso, who has worked for Runner's World magazine for a number of years and is considered the "Mayor of Running," was so good in his prime. He has some impressive accomplishments, such as winning a marathon and several solid finishes well under 2:50. He's the longtime race director of the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon in Allentown, Penn.

The best part of his book was in the end when he talked about how runners are very accepting and encourage each other. He wrote eloquently about the camaraderie of the sport and about how you won't find snobbery among runners. Well said, and words to live by.

I highly recommend Bart Yasso's My Life on the Run.

The best running book I've read to date: To the Edge: A Man, Death Valley and the Mystery of Endurance by Kirk Johnson, a New York Times reporter.

The second-best running book I've read to date: The Death Valley 300: Near Death and Resurrection on the World's Toughest Endurance Course, by Richard Benyo.


Will I ever learn?

After my knee injury at the Mohican 100--which was an over-training injury due to a crazy race schedule leading up to the 100--I wrote here that I would train smarter and place a greater emphasis on post-race recovery.

Yet the week after a hard effort at the Columbus Marathon, where I struggled with hamstring problems, I logged close to 60 miles, with two double-digit mileage runs. And the week after that (10/27-11-2) got to 80 mile with multiple two-a-day runs. It is no wonder that my legs now don't feel right. I should have gone easier that week after the marathon--maybe 30 miles with only one double-digit run.

My legs are trashed. My calves are extremely sore and basically shot. My right IT band and hamstring are uncomfortable. Something has gone awry in my right leg.

I think a few weeks of dialed-back mileage with minimal speedwork and tempo-running will help.

This week was really goofy as I chose to run lots of miles during the week because we were traveling on the weekend and I'd miss my long runs on Saturday and Sunday. Turns out I was able to get in a long run on Saturday morning before we hit the road.

The common theme for the week was, "damn, my legs feel trashed." Here's how the week went:

AM: 7 miles easy during lunch
I ran down MLK and back, fighting a very tight right hamstring. To top it off, I forgot my base layer and nearly froze my ass off as some nasty gusts came in off the lake. I might have gotten hypothermia had the rain picked up.

AM: 8.2 miles at 7:19 pace
I ran miles 5 and 6 at 6:48 pace. My right hamstring felt pretty tight. Finishing the run, I decided that I’d redouble my efforts to stretch it every night before bed.
PM: 6.85 miles at 7:41 pace during lunch
I ran in Shaker Park. Once again, my right hamstring was tight—almost like a drum.
Total miles for day: 15

AM: 8 miles at 7:39 pace
Snowing, sleeting, raining and very cold, making for awful weather. On the good side, my right hamstring was feeling better from last night's stretching.PM: 5 miles at 7:24 pace during lunch
Running late for a meeting, I hammered the last mile at 6:29.
Total miles for day: 13

AM: 8.4 miles at 7:15 pace
Very cold—29 degrees. But my hamstring felt pretty good.PM: 5 miles at 7:24 pace
Felt like crap—sore, run-down and just trashed. It was at this point that I realized I had come back too fast from the marathon.
Total miles for day: 13.4

AM: 7 miles at 7:41 pace
As a result of my overdoing it, my calves were pretty well shot and my right hamstring tight as a drum (yet again). I forgot to stretch the night before—big mistake.

AM: 14.5-mile long run
This very early-morning run (started at 5:25 a.m.) was on remote country roads near home. About halfway into the run, I stopped at the Shell gas station for a Gatorade and then headed home. I was pretty achy from the previous day’s flu shot, but this was a really fun, enjoyable and relaxing run through a very peaceful area of town.

PM: 9.67-mile tempo run
I had only an hour and 10 minutes to work with and decided to get in as many miles as possible. So I hammered it hard along the Chagrin River and back up into Chagrin Falls. Despite some nasty climbs and a long stretch on the Bridal Trail, I logged some decent mile splits: 1) 7:58, 2) 7:15, 3) 6:38, 4) 6:46, 5) 6:45, 6) 6:24, 7) 6:55, 8) 7:26, 9) 7:12 and 9.67) 5:00.

Total miles for week: 80.6
Total miles for month: 285.7

Total miles for year: 3,345.18

I seriously doubt I'm getting to 4,000 miles for the year. I don't even know what my next race will be. It was to be the Fall Classic 1/2 Marathon, but it's hard imagining myself racing right now with shot legs. We'll see.

My goal for this week is to relax my mileage and avoid intense paces. Then next week hopefully I'll be feeling better.

Onward and upward!

Monday, November 3, 2008