Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Racing yourself into shape

I've never been a big fan of track work outs. Primarily because I always seem to be running them alone. Yesterdays plan was to run a track workout at lunch. When lunch time came around, I looked at my gym bag and shook my head and then proceeded to grab my lunch and bag the workout. I knew I was doing the wrong thing so I made a new plan. I got on cool running and located a race so I could get my speed work in. The race I choose was the Goodtimes series in Lowell.

The race is a 5K that runs along the banks of the Merrimack river through the Lowell Mill Area. You'd never know you were in Lowell when running this race. I arrived at the race a little late for my likings but was able to quickly sign. They seem to have a theme for every race in this series. Tonight's theme was old t-shirt night. Seeing that I have 1000's of t-shirts I figured I was sure to secure one of the prizes. I have t-shirts dating back to the 70's, but there was one special shirt that I figured would win a prize. More on that latter.

The race had quite a few runners at it for a night time race. I think I heard them say there were 240 runners. We lined up right at 7 PM and were off within a few seconds of lining up. The start was fast. This is because you start on the road and within 200 yards you're on a path way that runs along the river. The start of this path also make you take a couple of hair pin turns so getting out quickly is mandatory.

The first mile went by quickly, for me at least, in a blazing 5:53. I knew I couldn't keep that going so I pulled back a little for mile 2 and ran a 6:22. Mile three I was joined by Keith O'Brien who is forever the cheerleader and encouraged me to tuck in behind him and we'd work together. We managed a 6:13 3rd mile and then I looked up and could see the finish line clock. The two of us pushed each other to the finish to get almost identical times of 19:18. The race officials gave me the edge but I think Keith could have kicked my back side if he really wanted to.

The results were quickly released and I ended up 13th over all and 1st in the 50 - 59 category. For my efforts I received a Shirt Frame. I guess it's for displaying your favorite shirts. Just what my wife wants!! Me hanging one of my shirts on the wall. I guess some people call it ART!!

After the awards, it was time to give out prizes for t-shirts. They had all kinds of categories and the shirt I choose won the category for oldest shirt for a race Dave Camire organized but they didn't give me the award for that because they decided the shirt fit a better category. That category would be Oddest Shirt.

The t-shirt I am wearing was called the "Shade Shirt" I received it back in the 1980's for a race called the "Grab Bag Race". The race was held at the Knicker Baucker Club in Lowell. The idea for the shirt was Dave Camire's. The shirt has this thing that looks like the brim of a baseball cap attached to the back and when the sun is out you flip it up to shade your neck. I don't know if it works or not because this was the first time in 25+ years of owning the shirt that I had put it on. Once again I won another shirt frame. My wife is really going to love me hanging shirts all over the walls of "Her house"...NOT!!

So, now I have done one race this week. The plan for the rest of the week is to race Thursday night in Westford and for the 4th race up in Center Harbor, NH in a 5 mile race. I've done this race a couple of times over the years. In fact, my fastest mile I ever ran was at this race. You see the course climbs for 4 miles then you fall down off the edge of a cliff for the last mile to the finish. So by Saturday I'll have done 3 races in 5 days. If that doesn't get me into race shape, nothing will.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cherry Picking and doing my own version of a Tri

OK, so this is a term that I heard many years ago. It refers to the practice of sneaking off to a race that you think nobody has herd of on the same day when there is some big race going on. You do this with hopes that you can finish high up in the race or if luck is shining your way, you may even get the W!

So, on Saturday I snuck out to the Tilton-Northfield Dare 5K. As I drove to the race I noticed that the area seemed to be very flat, my kind of race these days. As always I was bright and early for the 8 AM start showing up at 6:30. I decided that I had plenty of time so I went out on a warm up run to view the course. I was in NH, and any flat area is always next to a very hilly area, and this flat area was no exception. As I ran UP the first mile I knew I was going to be in trouble. Then some how I lost the course and heading UP, UP, UP. At the 2 mile mark in the warm up run I figured I had missed a turn and headed back down the hill, and sure enough I was able to get back on the course. Now on the right road, I was climbing the other side of this hill. GREAT!! At least this time, at the 1.5 mile mark the course turned and headed back down. So this was going to be a slow first half and a much faster 2nd half, that is if I had anything left. I ended up with 4 miles in.

As I scanned the crowd I noticed some young hot shots who looked like they could fly. I started up a conversation with them and sure enough there was one who was shooting for a 16 and change. But he also pointed out 2 other guys who could run 15. There was some speed at this race. As we lined up I also noticed Scott Clark and Tim Cox, speed was the word of the day.

The "GO" command was given and we were off. Or should I say that about 50 people were off like lighting and I was playing catchup right away. Mile 1 when by slowly. It was my slowest first mile in a 5K ever at 6:27. Mile 2 was up the steepest part of the hill but, at 1.5 miles turned around and headed back down the hill in a bone jarring manor. I was passing people and gaining some confidence. Mile 3 flattened out and I was running on fumes. I finished in 20:10, my slowest 5K ever. I ended up 19th over all so I caught quite a few people. I just couldn't seem to get my turnover rate going.

I ended up 2nd in the 50 - 59 year old category, which I received a gift certificate to Applebee's. I decided I needed to do a cool down run and hooked up with Scott Clark and Tim Cox. With them, they had the winner of the 50 - 59 category, John Belvidere from Laconia. We chatted about what each other was doing and what injuries each of us was battling. We sounded like a bunch of old people at a nursing home. Come to think of it we aren't to far off. Total miles for cool down = 2 miles. Total miles run 9.

My story doesn't end there. I shot back to my place in Gilford and did a quick change of clothes into my biking stuff. I needed to bike the 40 miles from my place to Melvin Village Marina to pick up my boat. I always take the long way counter clock wise around the lake to avoid the heavy traffic in Laconia and Meredith. Of course the traffic in Wolfeboro was a bit heavy but that section is only about 300 yards long. It funny though, the wealthiest town on the lake, Wolfeboro has the poorest road conditions. I'm guessing they do that on purpose to slow down the cars so they stop to buy something.

Anyway my ride went without incident and soon I had secured the keys and threw my bike in the back of the boat and was cruising across the lake. It was beautiful out, 80 with no wind and clear sky's. What a great reward for all my efforts. I hooked the boat to it's mooring and now was the part of today's exercises that I liked least, the swim to shore. You might think that I liked this least because I'm a average to poor swimmer and you'd be right, but that was not the reason today. Today the water was cold. There hasn't been enough sun shine over the last couple of weeks to warm up the lake. I must have sat on the back of the boat with my feet in the lake for 10 minutes before I finally took the plunge. I'd like to say that I swam like a fish back to shore but in reality I swam more like a rock, and that wouldn't be fair to rocks. One of these days I really have to learn to swim properly. I bet it would make the 1/2 ironman I do every year much easier.

So I did a reverse Tri on Saturday, 9 mile run, 40 mile bike and 200 yard swim. I think the swim took the longest of the three.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sometimes it's about who else shows up!

Last night I went back to the Westford Summer Series Race to see if I could keep my winning ways going in race #2 of the series. For the first time this year it was hot and muggy. I'm not good at running in this type of weather but then again, who is.

As the crowd started to show up I realized very quickly there was no way I was going to repeat last weeks performance. There were some fast guys showing up and even faster women. As I scanned the competition there was Marc Boutin a star on the Brandis Cross Country team. There was Dan Parker, US military triathlete extraordinaire. The women's side was even tougher, Cathy Parker, NCAA Division I All American. Kara Haas, fast as all get-out. And training partner for the marathon Jill Trotter. Of course Allen Hall was there and the guy I edged out last week, Ken Cain was also there. So the race would be fast and it could be a battle of the top women to take the over win. I had now lowered my expectation to top 10. I hate it when that happens!!!

It was also family night at the race where families would score points based on finishing position. The pre race favorites were the Parker's, who showed up with 5, and the Widmann's who also showed up with 5.

The "GO" command was given, and we were off. Marc and Kara took the lead with one other guy in toe. I hung back and started giving Marc some grief about dogging it and that I was going to tell his coach if he lost this race. Ken Cain when by me in the first 1/2 mile and seemed to be running with power. I just let him go. The guy who went out with Marc and Kara was soon shat out the back side. I hit the mile in 6:10, a little faster then last week and the extra effort combined with the heat was taking its toll on me.

Just before mile 2 Dan and Cathy Parker came up behind me. I let Cathy pass (as if there was anything I could do about it). But when Dan tried to pass me I swerved in front of him and raised my elbows. Dan tried to get around me on the other side and once again I swerved in front of him. On his third attempt, I let him get around. I've known Dan since he was a young kid running in Jr High School and he is a great kid. It was also nice to see a brother and sister running together and enjoying each others company while they kick the back side of their competitors. OH, I forgot to mention that Cathy had ran from her parents house, some 5 miles away as a warm up. Anyway the pair just trotted away from me up the hill.

Next came Allen Hall. As he passed me he gave me some words of encouragement and told me to tuck in behind him. I was spent. I was hanging on for dear life. The last mile of the race I could see that Dan and Cathy had caught Ken and Allen was also in the hunt. I snuck a peek over my shoulder on the turn off the roads into the parking lot and saw Jill making a charge at me. We still had a 1/4 mile left to go and I was out of gas. This was going to be close. I pushed with what I had left and could hear her foot steps getting closer as we approached the track. I could also hear people cheering her on.

To get up on the track you have to run up this little rise that always seems to take any momentum I have away. I managed to carry a little speed onto the track and just nipped Jill. I'm certain that she will get me sooner or later.

So in the end I finished 7th. Kara ended up winning the race. Good for her she works so hard. In the over all series I'm leading the over 50 crew and hope to continue that through out the summer. So I may not have won the race but an acidotic RACING teammate did.

I do have some overall goals for this series:

1. Win the 50 - 59 age category
2. Break 23 minutes.
3. Long shot goal, win another race
4. Super long shot goal, beat David Katz in at least one race.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Photo by Scott Mason

I want all my friends to go out to their garage and get a 2 x 4 and write my name on it. If I ever sign up for the Mt Washington road race again I want you ALL to use it on me. I don't want the 2 x 4's used to knock some sense into me, I want you to use them to knock me out completely. I've had tough days running before and I'm sure I'll have more in the future but the pain and suffering that goes on during this race is truly unmatched.

If you've been reading my blog, you'd know that I had a plan to run 1:29 which would have been right in line with my last 2 half marathons. My plan also had me staying in my own bed, in Gilford, NH which is only 1:40 away from the start. I had also pre-arranged my ride down the mountain. I pre-purchased all my food for breakfast. I had my sleek acidotic RACING gear all laid out. I was READY.

The morning of the race, everything went like clock work. David Katz had stayed with me over night and we planned to leave my place at 6 AM to head for the mountain. At 5:58 we were out the door. With one quick bio break we arrived at the mountain at 7:45 and secured a parking spot close to the tent and porta-potties. This spot turned into a super location because almost everyone had to go by us to get to the tent. One of the first people we encountered was Everett McBride who was running his 28th consecutive. Then there was Bill Morse who was also on his 28th. These guy's are NUTS!!

At 8:30 we hooked up with our ride down the mountain, a lady by the name of Mim Nelson. I had contacted her through the Mt Washington web forum. She was the best ride ever. She took our bags and once we reached the top had everything waiting for us. Best of all she was a safe driver.

Next was a quick warm up run. David and I did an easy 1 mile run down rt 16. Of course David needed another bio break at the turn around point. David must have emptied his blatter 6 times before the start of the race. I was in trouble. Always bet on a race horse that relieves himself before the start of a race. Me on the other hand was in some pain, my back was once again killing me. Why does this happen to me at this race?

With 15 minutes to go before the start we headed over to the start line. I ran into Double-J and we compare times of who arrived at the race first. I'm proud to say that I beat him again. This is getting too easy. Come on Jim give me a challenge.

David and I lined up 4 or 5 rows from the start. As we lined up I kept telling myself to take it easy and don't get caught up in the start. Bob, the race director made the final announcements and warned us that we would be running in a cloud for most of the race but the top was clear and the good news was "there was only one hill"!!

The cannon was fired and we were off. Holy SHAT that cannon is loud and the concussion hits you like a brick wall. Anyway we started down the small hill to the flats of the race. I looked down at my watch and it told me I was running 6:30 per mile. This race was way to easy. David was right at my side. Then it happened, the road turned, not left, not right, but UPPPP!!! Within 100 yards on the hill my heart rate was already up to 180. I was red lining and I wasn't even a half mile into the race. By the 3/4 mile mark I was reduced to a pile of jello and was forced to walk to regroup. This was going to be a long day. At the mile marker I could see David already had 100 yards on me and was running strong. Mile 2 brought more of the same. I kept battling the mountain mile after mile but I just couldn't keep the running going. At mile 2 the legendary Steve Peterson passed me, and David was now out of sight.

Mile 3, David Lapierre passed me. I tried to strike up a conversation with him but he was way down deep inside himself and wasn't uttering a word. At the halfway point I was at 45:02. Slower then I wanted to be but a 1:30 was still possible. However I was suffering. Walking was now painful. I was not alone. It seemed that everyone around me was doing the exact same thing I was, run a little, walk a little, run a little, walk a lot. Back and forth a we battled all the way up the mountain. At mile 6 I could hear a guy coming up behind me who made more groaning noises then anyone I've ever heard. It was a relief when he finally passed me. At this point we had just poked through the clouds and it was absolutely beautiful out. We were up above the clouds and the view was spectacular. At least that's what they tell me. All I could see was my feet on the ground as my head hung down while I continued my slow tutelage up the mountain.

Mile 7 passed by and I could see the top of the mountain. Time to push it to the top. I gathered all the strength I had left and gave it one more push. Going up the wall I passed 4 or 5 people and just before I finished I saw David on the left side of the finish area with a huge smile on his face, screaming for me to finish strong. Well I finished but I don't think it was strong. I was totally spent. I hurt all over. The nice thing was that it was absolutely spectacular on top. It had to be 60 degrees with no wind and 100% sun shine. David quickly ran over to me and uttered the 5 words he has been dieing to use on me "WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG". He earned the right to use those words. David had ripped off a 1:23!!! This was his first attempt at running up the mountain. However he had biked up it twice, with a PR of 1:21. I bet he has one of the fastest combined times ever.

Mim ran over to us and got us to our bags. We quickly changed and relaxed. What a day, we were on top of the world at a location that claims the worst weather on earth and it was warm and sunny. What more could you ask for?

Soon Mim's third runner showed up, Eric Johnson and he was happy with his effort. By 2:30 we were heading back down the mountain and would be one of the first cars back in the field. I had done some planing for this and brought a cooler which had cup holders built into it and 2 deck chairs. We both secured our meals and enjoyed them while relaxing behind my Xtera.

My splits:

Mile Time Heart Rate
1 9:18 169
2 11:55 174
3 13:39 169
4 13:17 168
5 14:44 168
6 14:22 165
7 13:59 165
7.6 12:44 167

Official time was 1:38:00, my watch clocked me in at 1:37:57. Either way I finished.

Remember get those 2 x 4's ready.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sometimes it's all about showing up!

Last night I decided that I needed one more tune up run before Saturday's run up the rock pile. I decide to run race #1 in the Westford Summer Series. This race is a series of 10 races over the summer (dah) with each person scoring points in their age category. So the race is not about wining the entire race but beating the people in your age category and showing up to as many races as possible. The race distance is weird at 3.6 miles. The race gets anywhere from 40 to 200 people on a weekly basis.

So last night my plan was to go and run 30 seconds per mile slower then I usually run a 5K race, that way I'd get a decent workout without killing my legs for Saturday. A small crowd showed up because of the rain. I took a look at the field and saw Allen Hall who has kicked my back side many times over the years. I figured he'd be the one to beat. Also there was some teenagers, and 2, 30'something guys who looked like they could motor.

The "GO" command was issued and I was running stride for stride with Allen. Behind us was some of the teenagers and both of the 30 year old's. Allen and I were joking around a bit because neither of us really wanted to race. After about 1/2 a mile I started jawing at one of the teenagers to get up front and take the lead. He responded that he was fine tucked in behind me to my left. OK then, I saw a large puddle just up a head, so I yelled back to the kid, "if you're not going to take the lead then you're going to get good and WET". So instead of giving way to the puddle, I slowed a little bit so the kid was trapped and would have to run straight through it. He managed to avoid it by making a sharp turn to go around it onto the grass but ended up falling on the wet grass. He popped up quickly and yelled "what did you do that for"? One of the 30 year old's yelled back, "you just got played by an old guy"!! I also chimed in with "us old guys have quiet a few tricks up our sleeves". Soon the kid was shat out the back side of the pack.

There were four of us together when we hit the mile in 6:13. Which was still 17 seconds faster then I wanted to be so I slowed it down a bit. No sense in blowing my Mt Washington race for this one. One of the 30 year old's came around me and took the lead. Allen and the other 30 year old started to drop back. I just let this guy get a 20 yard lead and stalked him for the next 2.4 miles. I hung right behind him and never took the lead UNTIL, I could tell that he was tiring. His breathing was labored and his form was starting to break down. With 2/10's of a mile left to go I went around him and quickly put 30 yards on him. He was broke, I took a quick look over my shoulder and his head was looking down and his form was now ugly. I cruised onto the track and took the W, in just under 6:30 per mile. Right where I wanted to be.

For my efforts I received a pat on the back from the race director and a "that a boy" from some of the people milling around.

This series is a lot of fun. You just never know who's going to show up. But you do know that there will always be someone there to race against.

The race series benefits the Westford Academy Cross Country team which my daughter belongs to. The race Director is Paul Poisson who is the coach and a great guy.

Come on down some Thursday night for moderately challenging run and meet a few new people and catch up with some old friends.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Rock Pile Awaits

Why am I doing this? My first attempt up the Mtn was back in 1990. The weekend prior to the race I pulled a groin muscle and was unable to take long strides. I can remember being at the bottom with my wife and 3 month old son wondering what I was going to do. That morning I got some advise from Jim Concannon of the GLRR to just stay under control and when I got to a point where I could see the top with about 400 meters to go, hold back just a bit until I hit the WALL and then give it all I had. Little did Jim know that armed with this knowledge I would go on to pass him on the WALL and beat him by 3 seconds. Just 4 seconds in front of me was Mike Beeman, and just after he finished he started panicking because for some reason he was unable to see. I along with DD grabbed him and helped him out. I also remember it being very warm at the bottom and once we got under the trees the green house effect set in and it got even warmer. But by the time we reached the top I was COLD!!! All I could think of was that I wanted to get off this mtn and I would never do this race again. I road down the mtn in the back of a pickup truck with 5+ others including Tom Carrol (aka Crazy).

At the bottom, my wife had spread out a blanket and set up a picnic for the 3 of us. Petey stopped by and proceeded to play with my 3 month old son for 30+ minutes. After he left my turns to me and says; "Who the H3!! was that, is he safe to have around kids". I assured my wife that Petey was one of the nicest people she'll ever meet and is a little kid in his own right.

At the bottom I realized that this was not a race but a survival test and I would NEVER do something this STUPID to my body again!!!

1999, 9 years later a group of friends convinced me to go back for a "Men's Weekend". We decided to have a little competition amongst us. Two on Two, based on combined time. Loosing team buys the food for our cook out later that night. It was Keith Spinney and Ken Rousseau VS. Joe Karner and myself. We knew this would be close, Keith was a strong runner in his day and once ran a 2:33 at Boston. His team mate Ken could hold is own. My team mate Joe was in super shape and I was hoping that he could give Keith a run for his money. I on the other hand was a slug and was hoping that I'd hang in to edge out Ken by just enough to nullify any advantage that Keith got on Joe.

During the race I remember thinking "what am I doing here"? You'd think that I was smart enough to stay away from this race. I remember hitting the top and quickly getting changed and ran down the mtn in 52 minutes. I beat all the cars down and was the first person on the massage tables. My quads hurt for days because of the run down.

Our plan worked out perfect, Joe kept on Keith's tail the entire race and I was lucky to edge out Ken. Those steaks on the grill sure tasted great that night. Thanks Keith and Ken!!

2007, 8 years later. What was I thinking? 1 week before the race I hurt my back on a 50 mile bike ride and was in so much pain that I was crawling on all 4's until Wednesday. My crawl was so poor that my youngest child got down along side of me and said "Daddy, you don't know how to crawl, watch me and I'll teach you". Kids are to funny! Later that afternoon I decided to go see a doctor. The doctor check me over and determined that I had strained a muscle in my lower back. He suggested that I lay down for a week or two and take mass quantities of Advil. So I asked him if it was OK to run Mt. Washington in 3 days. He shook his head and said; "Oh NO, you're a runner"? I proudly replied "YES". He then stated "You're not going to lay down and rest are you"? "NO" I replied. He just shook his head and walked away.

Friday night Joe Karner and I headed up to Jackson to pick up our numbers. We went over the carriage house to listen to DD give a talk about the race. I was sitting on the floor and in tears because DD was so boring...Just kidding, My back was killing me. Joe and I headed over to our hotel and all we needed to do was cross rt 16 to get some dinner. Sounds simple but I think it took me 30 minutes to complete this 50 yard walk. I was still in some serious pain. The next morning I filled my body with Advil to try and loosen up. I was laying next to my car at the base of the mtn wonder not only how I was going to run up this massive pile of rock, but how I was going to roll over so I could stand up. If you've ever injured your back you'd understand what I'm talking about. If not, you are lucky and don't know pain.

As I took the long walk over to the starting line I was bent over and hoping for a miracle. As I reached the starting line I quickly realize that I need to move further back in the pack then I usually do. In fact I went all the way to the back. After the cannon was fired, I was the last person to cross the starting line. How was I going to make it up this thing? Every step added pressure to my already fragile back.

Once we left the flats and started the climb I started to get some momentum. Because my back was already bent it kinda helped me and because everyone was running so slow I was passing people. At about the mile marker I caught Joe. He looked over at me in amazement. "What the @%@% are you doing" he shouted. I thought for a split second and realized that I was doing something very stupid and almost stopped dead in my tracks. I just couldn't keep the pace going. I backed it down and then proceeded to do a run a little, walk a little routine until I reach the WALL. I finally gathered the energy to try and finish strong. I kicked it into what felt like HYPERSPACE and passed several people on the WALL. When I crossed the finish line I was in more pain then I ever experienced in my life. Once again I swore I'd never do this race again.

They took a photo of me at the finish line (the one at the start of this blog). It was so funny that a bunch of friends, purchased it and had it placed on the front of a Wheaties box. It was presented to me at our annual holiday dinner as the "First Annual PHAT Award". PHAT stands for Pain...Heavy At Times. Which is my nick name. Every year these guys give it out to the person in the group (ROAG, a story for another day) who puts themself through the most pain to complete a race. I'm sorry to say I've won this award 2 years in a row.

My times are listed below along with my prediction for this year.

Year Place Time Pace Age
1990 74 1:20:40 10:37 31
1999 195 1:32:47 12:13 40
2007 326 1:50:26 14:32 48

2009 100 1:29:00 50 Predicted!!

Let's all have some fun Saturday!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I finally got the W!!!

In the over 50 age category that is. Since turning 50 I've finished in the top 3 of the 50 and over age category in every race (except for The Boston Marathon), but had yet to finish 1st in the age category. I've been close, one race it was announced that I won but after a couple of days of "fixing" the results I ended up 3rd. In another race I was the first to cross the finish line but they were using chip time and a guy who finished behind me got the W.

Today I headed down to Concord, MA to run the Emerson Hospital 5K run for cancer race. After last weeks very poor showing in Andover (19:48 5K) I wanted to change things up a bit and see if I could redeem myself.

First change was to wear the acidotic RACING White & Blue racing singlet and shorts. Second, instead of starting the race with no real warm up, I did a 2.3 mile easy run on the course. Third, I was going to start the race more conservatively, at least that was the plan.

As always I arrive at the race site early, and it was pouring. This was going to be a wet day no matter what happened. I quickly signed in and went back to my car to get ready for my warm up run. I had a map of the race course so I decided to do my warm up on the course. During my warm up the rain just kept coming down. I finished up and was soaked. It's a good thing I had a total change of running gear for the race.

As I lined up for the start of the race I started up a conversation with a guy who was wearing a BAA singlet. His name was Kyle Bowers. He ran a 2:52 in Boston so I knew that I wasn't going to be finishing to close to him. In addition there were a number of young (teenagers) runners up front who looked like they were going to go out fast. I wasn't going to get drawn into that trap like last weekend.

The race started right on time and sure enough the teenagers went out fast. Kyle was right behind them. I held the horses back and ran very controlled. I was running in 10th place but gaining on some of the people who had got caught up in the start. I hit the mile marker in 5:45 but my watch, a Garmin 305, had not registered the mile point until 5:50. Either way I was much faster then last weekend. So much for my racing plan. But for some reason, I felt much better then last weekend. Could be the warm up run, or maybe it was because I didn't sprint out at the start. At this point I was running in 6th place and that's where I would stay for the remainder of the race.

Below are all my splits

1 5:50
2 6:17 12:07
3 6:12 18:19
3.1 :34 18:53

Overall pace 6:05's

So I ran nearly a minute faster then last weekend and I finally got the W in the 50 year old age category!

I'll take it!!

I guess I need to do another track workout this week so I'll have even more speed for "The Rock Pile" next weekend. RIGHT!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Red Sky in the morning...Runners.....

Go to the TRACK......OOOOOCCCCCCCHHHHHH!!   Forecast for today....Pain...Heavy At Times (aka PHAT).

OK it's been some 15 years since I've been to a track to do 440's.  I hate the track and the track hates me.  I stopped going years ago because every time I went I viewed every quarter like it was a race and always ended up with a pulled hammy.  

So after my less then stellar 5K over the weekend I decided that I needed to get to the track to increase my speed (or at least get a little speed).  As I was driving into work this morning at the early hour of Dark:OH:30 I took this picture while on RT 128.  Was this my warning as to what was coming?  I hoped it wasn't but knew that there was some Pain in the forecast.

Now I've been working in Medford for 2.5 years and rarely run from work because the area SUCKS for running.  It's a mismash of roads with lights at every corner and way to much traffic.  But yesterday I hooked up with an old friend and she showed me a route that brought us by a track just 1.5 miles from the office.  I figured that this was the perfect setup with a warm up and cool down built in.  

So I got into work and started my 1.5 miles to the track.  The plan as always was simple:

1.  Do 1.5 mile warm up
2.  Do 6, 440's at 5K pace with 440 rest in between
3.  Do 1.5 mile cool down

I arrived at the track in Malden and it was a little funky, because it was a 5 lane track around the football field.  I guess the main attraction was the football field and the track was just an added bonus.   I did one easy loop around the track to make sure there were no bad footing areas and to make sure I still understood how to run on a track.  There was one other guy going through his paces on the track but he soon vacated once he saw my pure speed circling the oval (or was he just dieing of laughter?).   

Anyway, it was time to get this show on the road.  I started my first quarter and my left leg was very tight as well as my left achillies.   I was not fluid or even bumpy, I was more like a truck with 4 flat tires going over rail road ties.  NOT PRETTY AT ALL.   My time was so poor that I'm embarrased to even share it but it was a 110.  Not 1 minute and 10 seconds, but 110 seconds or translated to 1 minutes and 50 seconds.  Which means I was running a 7:20 mile.  AAARRRGGG!   How is this possible?  I was hurting really bad too.  Now I'm thinking to myself, WTF I ran 6:55's at Boston, now I can only manage 7:20' for 1 quarter.  I was in trouble.  I did my 440 rest loop and was hoping it would get better on the next quarter.  

As I approached the starting line I took a deep breath and I was off.  Still nothing was working right.  Every other step was painful, my left leg was killing me.  I finished up quarter number 2 in 103.  Well it was a little better but still slow.  Quarter number 3 was a little better at 99 seconds.  Still that's only 6:36's.   I need to change things up.  I decided to reverse directions on the track and run clock wise.  I thought that by doing this some of the preasure on my left leg would be relieved.  Quarter number 4 clocked in at 97 (6:28's).  Seeing that I was only going to do 6 quarter I wanted # 5 to be an all out attack.  As I started out I kept telling myself to shorten my stride and increase the turnover rate and LIFT you're dam knees!!!  I hit the 22o mark in 45 seconds, I was a MACHINE, a slow machine but I was moving faster then I have moved for the past couple of years.  The last 100 yards things started to tighten up and I struggled to the finish in 89 seconds (5:56), YEEESSSS!!!   Now the key was could I do it again?   I thought I had used all of my energy on # 5, but I needed to prove to myself that I could push myself through the pain.   As I started out on quarter #6 I could feel that I was running slower, but I decided to see if I could run the first 220 easy and then kick in the last 220.  At the 220 mark I was at 49 seconds.  I was much slower (10%) then quarter number 5 but at least I was feeling good and had some reserves to finish strong.  I kicked it up a bit for the final 220 and finished in 91 seconds (6:04).  Not to bad, I'll take it.  

As I look over my times I know I can do better, but this was a good starting point.  My short term goal is to run most of my quarters at 85 and long term to get them down to 80's.  I figure if I go to the track at least once a week I should be able to achieve this by August.  We shall see.  Below is a summary of my times.

Quarter 1  110
Quarter 2  103
Quarter 3  99
Quarter 4  97
Quarter 5  89
Quarter 6  91

So the red sky did indecate a storm was brewing and now as I type this my legs are telling me it was a really bad storm.

Monday, June 8, 2009

5K's are just way to FAST!!

Sunday was perfect, weather wise.   Over the past several months I've run 3 races, 2 half marathons and a marathon.  So my slow twitch muscles are working fairly well.  With Mount Washington Road Race just 2 weeks away I wanted to test my ability to have my heart rate shoot into the stratosphere then settle into a rhythm that stressed me but didn't break me.  So on Friday I combed the pages of Coolrunning.com for a 5K race close to home.  I was lucky, I found 2 races on Sunday that would do the trick.  One at 9 AM in Andover (The Krit Classic 5K) and one at 10:30 in Lowell (Lowell Firefighters 5K).  Then I started thinking that "hey I'm in good shape, if I do Andover and still fell good I can shoot down to Lowell and do a double".  Sometimes I have these types of thoughts go through my head and forget that I'm 50 and the days of doing 5 races in one weekend are long gone.  But I figured why not set myself up for it.

So I left my house at 7 AM and quickly arrived in Andover for the race.  As always I was one of the first people to arrive and was able to sign up in no time.  I checked out the list of runners they had on the wall and quickly realized 2 things.  First, they had over 1000 people already signed up for the race.  That was truly impressive considering it was a first year event.  Second, most of the big guns were down at Rhody's race, which meant I stood a good chance of doing well.  As I watch people file in I didn't recognize a single person.  None of the top guys were here.  However I did spot a group of high school age kids who seemed to be floating down the road warming up.  I hooked up with them and found out that one of them had run in the 9:40's for the 2 mile this spring.  He was the man to beat today.  Not that I had anything to say about it.  In talking to the kids they told me that the course was in a lollipop shape and it was down hill the first mile, leveled off for the 2nd mile and up hill for the third mile.  My take was that this course would maximise pain, pure speed the first mile, a little recovery the 2nd and all pain and suffering the last mile. 

As we lined up the kids took their place in the front row, I settled in off to the side.  A women with an air horn walked up and without uttering a word sounded the horn.  HOLY SH!%@$, what a fast start.  The high school students ran in a pack up front with 2 or 3 older guys tagging along.  I settled in next to this woman who was 5 foot nothing and must have weighted 95 pounds soaking wet.  She had a quick turnover rate.  Her and I battled back and forth the first mile then I just couldn't continue to hold on and let her go.   I hit the mile at 6:01, which for me was fast but I figured I was OK, however my heart rate was through the roof.   I need to settle down the 2nd mile and recover.  I was now running in no mans land and finished up the second mile in 12:21 (6:20 split).  I had slowed considerably.  I need to pull it back together and push the 3rd mile but I was beat and knew that it was all up hill from here.  At this point we were now going by the people who were still running the 1st mile.  The road was packed and car traffic was making it even worst.  At one point I had to yell out to oncoming runner who were not paying attention to what was coming at them.  I hit mile 3 in 19:05 (6:44 split) and all of a sudden I stumbled.   I recovered quickly but lost some momentum.  At this point a young girl (28) had pulled along side of me and was aiming to beat me.  Well it's one thing for a well seasoned women to crush me at the mile marker, but it's a real pride killer to be out kicked by a girl wearing an Ipod.  My legs were not able to sprint at this point so I needed to use another strategy,  I raise my elbows up and every time she tried to get around me I slide in front of her and did not let her pass.  In the end I beat her by less then 1 second and clocked in at 19:48 and ended up 15th over all out off 990 finishers, and 2nd in my age category.  

I was hurting.  I quickly realized that a 2nd race was out of the question.  I could barely walk.   So I just hung out for the results which when they came out and were posted on the wall of the gym, they were in a random order.  We tried to figure out what order they were in but we eliminated the following possibilities,  Race Number, Age, first name, last name, race time, town, and state.  So figuring out how you placed we very difficult for everyone except for the first couple of people.  At the awards ceremony they announced the top 3 in each category then everyone went up at once and was handed their award.  I walked away with a Bauer sweatshirt.  That was the first time I received a hockey item at a road race.  Beggars can't be choosers!!

What did I learn?  I just don't have the turnover that I need for short races.  I need to get to a track once a week and work on my speed.  I can't do more then one race a week.  Lastly I like the acidotic RACING red uniforms.  They are comfortable and there fast looking even if the person wearing them is a slug (that's me).