Friday, January 27, 2012

TLD enrolls in the Whole Foods Running School

We got the team together for the second time is as many months, though the weather tried to spoil our plans. After weeks of the tamest winter ever recorded in human history, a pair of storms rolled in over the weekend. We lucked out, though. Except for some predicatable delays, we had no problems getting over the hill in either direction. Par for the course we hit up Noodles and Co. at the Galleria for dinner (about a minute walk from the starting line) & stayed at the Hyatt Place a mile up the road. I don't think Amber likes N & C as much as Dave & I, but maybe she'll give em another chance :)
Turi, Amber, & myself would be running the 10k, & Dave the 5, all on slightly different courses than last year. Unfortunately (for your time anyway) they replaced the only completely flat part of the race (save for the first 200) with the hilliest. The forecast had called for wind & rain, but we got pretty lucky. It was windy (& as Murphy's Law states, there was a headwind for 82.6% of the course) but I've been in worse, and the rain mostly held off until after we'd adjourned back to the hotel for our "recovery beverages". I took off at the front, feeling good about the pace, but I didn't recognize anyone at the start, & don't have as good a sense of pace as I do when things are really rollin. Since the first mile was a net drop in elevation (though into a stiff headwind - funny, no tailwind the last mile) I was hoping for a 5:30ish to have a shot at 5:40 pace for the race, but no dice. Just a hair under 5:40 for mile 1, then things got fun. We dropped down onto the bike path along Miner's Ravine, which is a nice running path. Rolling hills, water, a little less exposed to the wind. We did about 4k out before the pace bike dropped off & I turned back against traffic. Mile 2 had been a 5:47 & I felt like I could hold that, or close to it. Hard to tell how big the lead was as we'd passed enough halfers that it was hard to tell who was who on the way back. I did spot Turi & Amber around the half-way point, though.

Mile 3...18:00. What?! It sure didn't feel slower. What the cake? So much for a 35, right? Well, that would have been all she wrote if that was actually mile 3, but it was at least a couple hundred meters long, with mile 4 being a couple hundred short. The 6:33 was followed by a 5:06 (5:49 average, that'll work). Lots of weaving in and out of all 3 distance runners the rest of the way. Didn't see mile 5 in the hills, but noticed the 2 and 12 mile-markers for the 5k & half (which suspiciously were NOT right on top of one another as they should have been). Hmmm...I'm going to have to hustle up this last grade to break 36. O look, there's Dave (I got a ten minute head start. If I punked him he was SUPOSSED TO find the cutest girl in Whole Foods and ask her where the homeopathic Vagasil was)...some cursing and maybe a finger (the Georgia State bird!) as I went by with a minute or so left...35:55, (5:47 per mile) for my first real win since summertime!!! Turi measured the course 6.21 on his GPS which mans it was at least that far. They determined the half was really 13.4, so the times in that one are really a little faster than they seam. I tried to get heavier shoes on and get back on the course to run Turi & Amber in, but they were less than half a mile out when I finally caught up to them, with Amber on her way to running a 50:39 10k pr(!) in far less than ideal conditions (and with Turi as a pacer). Way to go you two. They ended up 39th & 40th out of 276 in the 10k, and Dave finished in 26:16, 77th/407 in the 5k. I was hoping to be a little lower in the 35 range, but I was also counting on getting my @#$ handed to me, so I guess it balanced out.
We adjourned to the hotel for a nice beer tasting with Mark Hicks & Andy Harris, & headed back over the hill in time to see the GMEN set up a rematch of their epic Superbowl with the Our nect race will be Superbowl Sunday in Davis, CA for the Stampede. I've got 8 weeks or so to knock 92 seconds off my time on a faster course to have a chance at matching or beating my Elk Grove 10k time from last year. That's the goal anyway...let's see if the Achilles et al. choose to cooperate :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Year end wrap-up & random musings

Well, I guess it's time to break silence. After taking 13 weeks completely off running (including nearly 7 weeks in that infernal contraption they call a walking boot) I've been moving around on my own two feet for 9 weeks to end 2011. On one hand, there has been progress. I was pretty out of shape, cardiovascularly, after taking the boot off. I'd gained 12-13 pounds (& lost 3!), some of it muscle, but the legs (especially the left) and my core were pretty weak. I compensated by strengethening the other areas more than usual, and am now back to seeking balance.
One of the things I like about running is the purity of it. Numbers don't lie. I can tell to a nearly exact degree how much work needs to be done to get back in the shape I want to be in, because the clock is painfully honest. I've come a long way in that regard in 9 weeks, but, as far as actually being healthy and able to move forward, I'm right where I left off. My right heel is still swolen & a bit angry, but not enough to seriously hamper training & racing. The left (surgically repaired oh so many years ago) Achilles tendon, though, did not really respond at all to the 13 weeks off. I've been walking a very thin line between being able to run & being on the sideline for all of the two months since my return. I still don't know where to go from here, so it's hard to look forward to 2012 with any kind of clarity or long term goal-setting ability.
I usually end each year with a summary of the previous 12 months. This fall, I grew frustrated enough that I stopped keeping a training log, so my numbers are not exact. It was my goal to run 3,000+ miles & do 5,000+ sets of weights/strength exercises. I'm sure I made it over 2,000 in December, ending 2011 with a 50.2 mile week 52, but obviously taking nearly a third of the year off & buildign back up blew any chance of hitting 3k. I'd also guess I did about 6,000 sets of weights...easy to hit that goal when that's all your doin.
2011 only saw a brief glimpse (& by brief I mean two or three races) of fitness levels acheived in 2010, but it was a good year nonetheless. I absolutely LOVED the Steep Ravine run put on by Coastal Trail Runs. Top 2 course...ever! My best performances came in June (before I got sick) at the Fitch Mountain 3k, where I ran my fastest time in 3 years (9:09) and the Firecracker Mile on July 4th (the day before things started the downward spiral) where I somehow held off the field to run my fastest mile in over a decade at 4:25 & change. I ended up running 23 races, if you include the 3 I've done since Thanksgiving. I ran the Turkey Trot in Nevada City on that day, placing 7th. Then the Red Nosed (really - it was in the teens) 3 mile in south Reno (5th) & the Kaia Resolution Run 3-miler in Sac (1st) in 16:36.

Those were all either fun runs, though, or run as such by me, even though I went hard in each. That leaves me 11/23 for the year, with 3 CRs, 9 runner-up finishes, a 3rd, a 5th, & a 7th. I'm already signed up for runs on 1/22 & 2/5, & am hoping to do a lot more after that. Any bright ideas on how to get the Achilles to cooperate (without me breking the bank), please don't hesitate to comment below. Happy New Year!