Thursday, August 27, 2015

Man I Hate That One



My primary running focus these days (besides not embarrassing myself at Reach the Beach) is my training for the 2007 Clarence DeMar Marathon. The goal for my "lucky" thirteenth marathon is to break 3 hours for the first time and hopefully better Lance Armstong's time in the process. Speaking of which, I'm working on getting Joannie Benoit to come run Clarence with me so she can elbow other runners out of the way, grab my Gatorade, and whisper encouraging words in the final few miles. Her people have yet to get back to me. I'll keep you posted on that one.

Anyway, of the three core workouts I do for my marathon training (speed, tempo & long) the one I look forward to the least is, without a doubt, the tempo run. I don't know why, there is just something about it that causes me dread. Maybe, it's because I do it at lunchtime on Fridays after a long week of work, during the hottest time of day, on a hilly course. Or, maybe, it's simply because it just hurts more than any of my other workouts.

Speed Work is fun for me. I think getting out on the track and running with 50 or 60 of my teammates is a blast. It's sort of like a race, but much more enjoyable. And, the distances are short enough (400's, 800's, 1200's, etc.) that by the time it really starts to hurt, you get to stop and jog. Long runs are also easy for me. I'm not blessed with a lot of speed, but I can run all day without a problem. I just dial in my pace and I'm set. Tempo runs are, by far, the hardest for me. So, it's no surprise that I like enjoy them the least. However, it's the Tempo run above all others that I find to be the true barometer of my running fitness.

This week’s Tempo run was scheduled for 8 miles in total. 1 mile of warm-up going right into 6 miles at Tempo pace, and then 1 mile of cool down. In order to psyche myself up for this one I tried to emphasize the positive. It's been a month since my last race, so my legs should feel fresh ... I'm down to 184 pounds, so I should feel lighter... The weather has cooled from earlier in the week, so it should feel easier, etc. The goal for this workout was to run a controlled 6:10 avg. pace during the tempo section with no mile of it (including the uphill sections) in over 6:20. I chose 6:10 because it was just slightly slower than the 6:08 pace I averaged the last time I ran this 8 mile tempo run, just before the New Bedford Half.

My first mile was 7:16 (nice & easy). Then I picked it up for the first of my tempo miles. Mile 2 was 6:11 (not bad considering the hill in the middle). Mile 3 was 6:16 (mostly up). Mile 4 was 6:01 (mostly down and feeling ok still). Mile 5 was 6:14 (up & down and starting to fall apart a bit). Mile 6 was 6:26 (mostly up and fighting the urge to make this a 4 mile tempo). Mile 7 was 6:12 (mostly down and I just couldn't get my legs to turn over). Mile 8 was 7:29 (a flat and wobbly jog back).

My totals were: 8 miles in 52:05 for a 6:30 average overall pace. 6 tempo miles in 37:20 for a 6:13 average tempo pace (or 3 sec/mile slower than my goal). I was a little bit disappointed that I didn't meet my pre-workout goals. But, all in all, it's not too bad for this point in the training. I had hoped to take advantage of the cooler temperature, but I didn't. Maybe next time it will be hailing, or something, and I won't have to do the workout at all.

Man, I hate that one...

Postscript: This story first appeared in my "pre-blog" blog called Mine Falls Milers and I'm re-publishing it  today because now I wish I could run 6:13's and be disappointed about it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Going Further - Update

Many of you have been asking about how the book is coming along, so I figured I'd give you all an update on the What, Why, Who and How of Going Further...



What is my book about?


My book is complete (or at least as complete as I can make it) and it's called:

Going Further – One Man’s Journey to the Marathon and Beyond


It's about running, hiking, fatherhood, and pushing beyond your comfort zone. It’s basically an action-adventure, parenting, self-help, travel journal disguised as a memoir. The stories inside the book are told from the perspective of a regular guy, with a keen sense of humor and a high threshold for pain, trying to raise two families while attempting to strike a balance between his home life and his passion for constantly exploring the envelope of his abilities.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The True Locomotive


Recently, someone referred to me as a locomotive. Now, they could have been referring to my immense size and weight, or my inability to turn, or even my overall steaminess. Turns out, what they meant was I was: When I get going, I'm almost "unstoppable", like a locomotive.  And, while I appreciate his compliment, I know that there was only one “Locomotive”. He is my running idol and his name was Emil Zatopek.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Real Men Blow Chunks

Last week the running club I belong to (The Gate City Striders) held it annual "Ultimate Runner Workout". The "URW" typically occurs during a break between the two halves of our track season and consists of 4 distances (400, 800, 1 mile & 2mile). Each participant runs these back to back with about 6-8 minutes rest in between. It's sort of like "Survivor" for runners. And, the key to success is to not run any one of the four "all out" since the competition is age-graded and each distance is worth 25% of your total score. Of course, in my case, knowing the key and using the key are two very different things!


The first event was the 400. And, to say I was psyched up wouldn't even begin to describe what I was feeling. I used to run track in high school, and since I was the slowest runner on my team, track meets were not my favorite places to be. Being lapped repeatedly in the mile will do that to a person. However, we were 20 years removed from that time & place. And, this was my first track meet since I graduated. Let's just say I was slightly eager for a bit of personal redemption.

So, the race starts and I bolt to the front. Up on my toes and leaning into the first turn. Down the back stretch I feel like I'm flying. This is why I run. This feeling right now. I take the far turn and I can't hear anyone behind me. In fact I can't hear anything at all. I'm all alone. I start down the front stretch and I can just make out the clock at the finish. 45 ... 46 ... 47. My legs are starting to get heavy as I race toward the line. It is at this point that I start to feel like I'm floating above the track watching the race unfold before me. The clock gets blurry as I get closer. What does it say?!?! I dig down for one more moment and then it's all over. I collapse on the curve and look down at my watch. 1:00.9 - a personal best 400 by 5 seconds. So much for not going all out.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Am the Passenger


“I am the passenger and I ride and I ride. I ride through the city's backsides. I see the stars come out of the sky. Yeah, the bright and hollow sky…” – Iggy Pop

Last month I helped my son Casey drive his car across the country. Which is to say, that I spent the better part of our 5-day journey sitting in a passenger seat. And, let me tell you, for a border-line control freak like myself, that is no easy task. In my family, I drive the bus. I decide where, when, and how we go. Especially on long road trips! But on this 3000 mile drive, that took us from New Hampshire to California, I was merely a passenger. And, it was quite the eye opening experience for me!

Friday, June 19, 2015

On Being Invisible

As a runner, when you're injured it's almost as if you don't exist. You're not there for your daily run through the neighborhood, you can't participate in the weekly track workouts with your running club, and you're most definitely not able to race with (or against) your friends at the local 5k. You feel like you're invisible. Instead of being outside where you want to be, you're stuck inside getting physical therapy, or having a deep tissue massage, or on the couch with an ice pack on your injury.

The reason that I've been contemplating the existence of the injured runner is because I currently am one. I have a calf injury. I stupidly did an early morning 8-mile tempo run two weeks ago without being properly hydrated. Being short on time (before work) I just bolted out the door with very little fluid intake. I hammered the run (6:08 pace) and finished feeling good, but my calf tightened up in the last 1/2 mile of the cool down. And, I haven't been able to loosen it up.

Since then, I have been doing precious little running, a lot of biking, and once a week I have been getting my calf worked on by my sadistic massage therapist. I'm not kidding. After each session my calf throbs like it's got its own heartbeat. She's tough. So, to recap, I went from running 70 miles a week and biking 20, to running 20 miles a week and biking 140 (Including a 50+ mile odyssey last Sunday). It's sort of like the Kerry Litka method of transition training, only in reverse. Hopefully, with sufficient time, I'll be able to tip the scales back in favor of running.

Until then, I'll be pounding the pavement with my mountain bike that has a chain that grinds against the derailleur with each pedal stroke. It's not ideal, but, it's the best I can do for now. And, even though I despise my bike, I'm actually starting to get good at riding it. I've averaged almost 19 mph for each of my rides. I've also had a couple of close calls with some cars. But, I can't really blame them. I am invisible after all!


Postscript: This story first appeared in my "pre-blog" blog called Mine Falls Milers and I'm re-publishing it now because I'm missing my friends at GCS.

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Deal With The Devil



When I decided to run (then proceeded to dedicate my life to training for and finishing) the Ghost Train 100 late last October I didn’t realize the price I’d be paying to do so. Oh sure, I knew it would be difficult to complete and I knew it would take me some time to recover. But I never imagined I’d be sitting here (almost 7 months later) still dealing with the aftermath of that one race.

Come to find out, in order to achieve the goal of finishing my first 100 miler, I’d unknowingly made a deal with the Devil… and he's taken nearly everything!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Anatomy of a Marathon



On May 17th, 2015 the Gate City Strider Running Club hosted a marathon in the City of Nashua. This feat had never been done before. In fact, during the 36-year history of the club, it had been extremely difficult to get hometown approval for any race longer than 6k. Never mind trying to do 5 of them, back-to-back! All while closing down Main Street and running through almost every corner of the City. So, how did the race organizers do it? And more importantly, how did they (in the words of one participant) create “An instant classic on the New England road racing scene”?
Well, here’s an inside look at how it all went down…

Monday, April 27, 2015

Crescent Moon

Recently, while taking my dog for an early evening stroll, I saw this...


















 


Which inspired me to write this...



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Striving for Perforation

Lately, it feels like everything in my life is a battle.

Battling to get the kids up and out the door in the morning, battling with historically bad winter weather, battling to stay focused at work, battling with cars on the road, battling to get my weight down, battling with sore and tired muscles, battling to find enough time in the day to do it all, battling to feed, bathe and get the kids to bed at night, battling with the wife over honey-do lists, battling with the 7-year old over homework assignments, and battling with the 3-year old over just about EVERYTHING!

It’s WAR! And, it’s damn near exhausting!

Then, yesterday morning, while I’m battling to open the bag containing my (not-at-all card-boardy) low-carb sandwich wrap, I discover that the plastic is perforated - on the opposite end from which I’m
desperately trying to tear.  Flip.  Zip.  And, like that, all that low-carb goodness is suddenly opened up before me! Ahhh!

Of course, this leads me to wonder how many other things in my life are “perforated” for my enjoyment?  How many battles could be won just by looking at the problem in different way?  How many doors, that are blocking my path to success, have a secret key that can only be found by being relaxed and mindful?

Beats me! I’m too tired from all this battling to stop and figure it out.  :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Rudderless

I haven’t written here in a while, because frankly, there hasn't been much going on.

The first two races on my 2015 Calendar were both rescheduled due to weather and each got moved to dates where I was unavailable to attend. So, the last time I ran a step in “anger” was 16 weeks ago at the TARC Winter Classic 50k, in early December. Which is probably the longest non-injury break I’ve ever taken from racing. And, even then, I was kind of going through the motions at that race as I was still recovering from Ghost Train.

In the absence of racing, I’ve been doing my normal amount of training this year. I’ve averaged about 60 miles per week (all outside) during one of the coldest and snowiest winters I can remember. I’m not injured, and I haven’t gotten sick. So, I guess I can’t complain too much. Still somehow, on most days lately, I feel rudderless. Adrift on the training ocean with nothing to steer me or guide me home.



 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Snowshoe Karmageddon

Late in December of last year, Eric at Level Renner put out the call for winter running action shots as part of an on-line contest. Tag a few of your favorite Facebook selfies with the #levelrenner hashtag and get a chance to win a brand new pair of Dion #121 Racing Snowshoes. Always being up for a good, healthy competition (and a free pair of anything) I jumped at it. Tagging every running picture of myself that I could find.

A few days later, while picking up my daughter at the airport after her semester abroad, I found out that I’d won. And before I could even finish responding to Eric’s text message I thought, “Crap! What am I going to do with ANOTHER pair of Dions?” So, rather than have them collecting dust in my basement as a back-up pair for the indestructible #121’s I already owned, or selling them to a friend, I decided to do something fun with them. I decided to raffle them off.