Friday, May 20, 2011

Next Test - First Ultra Marathon - 50 K

Well, in two weeks I'm out there again but this time I'm moving up to an Ultra-marathon. Its a 50 K run along the Potomac River. It starts in Algonkian Park and the moves down river through River Bend Park and into Great Falls Park where we run around the park and then back track up the course to Algonkian Park to the finish. The whole course is on the Virginian side of the river. I'm totally unfamiliar with the course even thought I spend a day in Great Falls Park back in February 1980. My memory of that area includes steep my anxiety is up.

The total Gain/Loss listed for the course is 3147 feet. The only thing in my experience that comes close to that much climbing are the Palos Verdes Marathon in San Pedro and Big Sur Marathon in Monterey California. And those were just under 2000 feet of climb. am I going to run the course. Very slowly...that is key. I know there are some supermen out there who will go out full speed on their first marathon, or ultra, but they really should be the exception to the rule, rather than the rule.

I'm a firm believer that the first time you attempt a distance be that a 5K race to the Ultra marathons, your personal goal should be just to finish the race. As you gain experience and knowledge of how to run that distance, you can begin to push it and try to set personal records. When I coached High School distance runners, I only had them run full out after they felt comfortable with the distance, and sometimes that was after their second full season on the track or on the trails. The need for practical knowledge of having run a course will always improve performance in following years.

So on 4 June, I'm off to run my first Ultra-marathon. Game plan: Go out easy, have fun and keep the desire to run.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pittsburgh Marathon - Its the fault.

I was prepared to run what I thought would be one of my best races in the last few years, but unfortunately that was not the case. I ran a "Okay" race but not a great one...and that's alright. One of the things that I have learned through all of my races is that somedays you are on and some days...its just not there. just wasn't there. I ran my plan, but at about mile 4, my shoes didn't feel right and by mile 8 my feet were in total pain. I actually thought around 23 miles that I had broken my right foot because of the pain...but the reality was "new shoes."

Okay...remember this rule and keep it. Don't change shoes in the last few weeks before your big race.

Right after the National Marathon, I was developing soreness in my right ankle and I also realized that my racing shoes, that I ran with on the treadmill were breaking down. So I a few weeks ago I went out and replaced them with a new pair of shoes. I thought I broke them in by running a few easy miles on the treadmill...but...on Sunday as I was running on the roads around Pittsburgh, I realize that the shoes were a piece of junk. Yea...the problem was the shoes. Wrong...the problem was me. I changed shoes and didn't run with them on the open road before hand. Had I tested them out, I most likely would have worn my training shoes, but I didn't do it. So again, like at that National...No excuses...just didn't perform the way that I wanted to. Yet...I did finish and I now have 26 Marathons to my name.

As for the race itself. I ran pretty much like I wanted to, but because of the shoes, I slowed down at the end. Can't say that I hit a wall...but my last 8 miles were in the 12 minute/mile range. As for the course. It was great...and I can't wait to run it again next year...yea...I'm going back...and I won't change shoes during the last two weeks again.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tapering for Pittsburgh Marathon

Okay...I'm lets get to the starting line. I'm starting to get that racer anxiety...that comes when you know you've done everything right. My milage has been right on for what I'm wanting to do, I've averaged about 35 miles a week for the past 10 weeks. I've gotten in three runs over over 20 miles, and I've done seven runs over 15 miles. So I know mentally, I'm as prepared as I could be.

Now this week, I've been resting. I ran 2 miles on Monday, 5 miles on Tuesday, 2 miles on Wednesday, rested Yesterday, and today another 2. Tomorrow, I'll not run with the traveling to Pittsburgh and Sunday morning...I run. That is only 11 miles for the week, but perfect when you think about tapering for the race. Everyone is different on how much they taper, but this works for me. Back when I did my 4:10 at the Air Force Marathon in 2008, that taper was identical with this one.

When I taper well like this, I find myself anxious to get out there to run. I'm not sure what causes that desire, but it is a strange feeling. So...let me get there and lets get this run done. More later.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

7 Days

I'm not a Biblical Literalist! Yes, I believe that God created the Heavens and the Earths, but not in literally 7 days, more like 7 of God's days...or a few million years or so. But that's not my point in this blog. No, I'm thinking of 7 days as in one week before the next test..."Pittsburgh." Next Sunday is the Pittsburgh Marathon, and I'll be there for the second time.

Back in 2001, I ran the race...and a few months later...Bin Laden launched his attack on the United States, that changed my life dramatically. Over the past 10 years, I have spent over 700 days in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Now this year the idea hit me that again, my life could be very different. I’m nearing retirement from the Air Force in the next few months or years. And I’ve wondered will this “Pittsburgh Marathon” once again mark a major shift in my life and my work? My gut tells me that it just might. Bin Laden is dead, and I think this is shifting our worldview again. The economy is not in the best shape and will be challenging for the next several years. So it is inevitable that the times they are a changing.

So in 7 days, how different will my life be? Will I have finished my 26th marathon? Will I be looking at a world that might once again be attacked by fanatics? Will I be one step closer to retirement from the Air Force? Will life be once again, a scary place?

But then I think…of that passage in Genesis…you know where God creates the world in seven days…but my attention is drawn towards those little words at the end of each day… “And God saw that it was good.” Yea…life might be scary and always changing…but God sees that it is “Good.”