Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Bit of a Reach

In my last post, a review of the Detroit Half Marathon, I said that I would be thinking about some goals for running in 2012. I think it is good to have goals, and since I have spent weay to many hours in corporate business planning meetings, I will use the S.M.A.R.T. plan for my 2012 goals. Yup, we are going there. In case you did not know, check out the idea here. Here is what each letter means:

S - Specific. It is much easier to fudge your progress on a goal when it is broad and general. Narrow it down and you can really guage progress.

M - Measurable. No fuzzy pseudo-goals here. Everyone loves goals they can measure. Rosiecat loves it even more cause she is a bon-a-fide scientist. .

A: Attainable. Ok, so I will not be qualifying for the Olympics this year, sorry to disappoint.

R - Realistic. Again, climbing Everest is probably not going to happen.

T - Time Framed - Goals must have a set beginning and an end.

So under this system there can be no fuzzy goals, so in fine JD tradition I will start with two totally fuzzy goals:

1. Have Fun. If I am not doing this and having a good time, then it is all not worth anything
2. Balance running with family. I love The Wife and CE too much to let them not get the attention they deserve.

Ok, now to the goals that follow the S.M.A.R.T. plan

1. Run a 5k in under 9 minutes a mile
   - My fastest 5K this year was the Jamsers 5k @ 9:16 a mile. I rate this goal as highly doable.

2. Run a 10k in under 10 minutes a mile
   - My fastest 10k this year was the Solstice 10k @ 11:09 a mile. I rate this goal as likely.

3. Run a half marathon in under 11 minutes a mile
   - My only half this year was Detroit, which I ran in 11:29 per mile. This is going to be a stretch.

4. Run at least 3 trail runs
   -I only ran 1 in 2011, and I sucked at it, so I just want ot get more of these under my belt.
   - I am also thinking about running one of those crazy obstacle course races in 2013, so good training.

5. Run at least 3 half marathons
   - I am currently scheduled for 2, RockCF in April and Detroit in October....lots of space in the middle.

6. Upkeep this running blog, shooting for two posts a week.

7. Sprint a mile in under 8 minutes.
   - I don't have any record of this, last time I knew I did it was in HS.

So those are my 2012 running goals. As the author I reserve the right to completely change and or add ot these goals. Anyone out there have any 2012 running goals? Of course I welcome thoughts and reactions to mine as well.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Motown Madness

Date: 10/15/2011
Route:  Detroit Half Marathon
Distance: 13.1 Miles
Goal Pace: 12:30/mile
Pace: 11:29/mile (yes that is an accurate chip verified time!)
Total Time: 2:30:32

There is nothing quite like running with 20,000 of your closest friends.

So my Detroit half began at the bright and early time of 4:45 a.m. After a somewhat fitful 6 hours of sleep, I prepared at home in the usual way for a race, totally freaking out. After mowing though my breakfast of oatmeal and a banana, I had to verify everything I packed about 15 times and use the bathroom about the same number of times. Finally I was in the car and driving downtown.

After a little bit of a parking the race being same day as a Lions game, and my normal spot being $40!!!, I was on the People Mover (Motto: "We'll Take You There!") from Greektown over to the starting area. Me and about 200 other people disgorge from the station onto what appears to be complete chaos. It is dark, there is that funky steam coming from the sewer grates and there are people EVERYWHERE. Luckily the race organizers have anticipated this, and handily put someone right near the station helping direct people to where they wanted to go.

Heading over to the gear check I decided I did not need my throwaway gloves. This was a big decision, but it was definitely warmer at the start then past years. I was actually quite comfy in shorts and the race tech shirt. I found my wave, and hooked up with the group that was doing the full at 12:36 per mile. These were the people I figured I would be running with most of the way, so it pays to be friendly. Immediately I struck up a conversation with a woman who was running the full. Turns out she was a triathlete running in her first full marathon. She had run one half, but it was a really small one, with about 500 people. Definitely a different experience for her. She also made me think that I might want to try the Motor City Triathlon, well the sprint version of it anyway.

Before I knew it we were all singing the national anthem, and then the fast runners were off. With the wave starting system, which I personally think is great for a race this size, I get to sit a while while everyone before me takes off. Clearly at a 12:36 pace, I am not anywhere near the front of the pack. So we cross the start line and are off. I decide to stay just in front of my pace group for the first few miles.

I cross the 1 mile mark at 12:30, and I am right ahead of the pace group. Everything is going according to plan. I decide to start to put a tad bit of space between myself and the group. I have had trouble in the past on the incline going up the bridge, so I wanted to make sure if I slowed down I would still be with my pace group. This is where the story diverges so much from the past two years. Instead of having difficulty making it up the bridge, I felt great. I started passing people, and actually felt like doing the Rocky thing at the crest of the bridge. Even with the wind and the rain, I was starting to feel this could be whole different experiance then the last few years. The downhill mile went quickly, and when I turned around at the end of the bridge, my pace group was nowhere in sight.

As a side note, the past few years there has been terrible congestion on the bridge as the race only had one lane. Not this year. We had two full glorious lanes of space and I never experienced any slow downs because of congestion.

I love the Canadian portion of the race. First when you come into Canada there is a guy greeting you. I think they must interview hundreds of people and select the person with the most Canadian accent. They have Barenaked Ladies, who are Canadian, blasting over the speakers and the guy telling jokes in a Canadian accent. It is a great way to meet mile 4.

The run along the riverfront in Canada is nice, there is a good crowd of supporters and some great views of Detroit while you run. I had the fortune of bumping into (literally) a guy while dodging a pothole (see they are not ONLY in Michigan), and it led to one of those great random running friendships that last a couple of miles. He was very kind and we chatted for a bit. We talked running shop, and I learned that he was running between 11:30 and 12 minute miles, so I was cruising along at a very good pace compared to what I had planned. He said he was going to throttle it back going into the tunnel, and I was back on my own again.

The Tunnel.....the famous underwater mile. What a cool experience, and what a crazy thing to throw into the middle of a half marathon. The thing about the tunnel which is great is that it breaks up the monotony, it is definitely something different. However, it is very warm in the tunnel, probably about 65 degrees. When you have been cruising along in 50 degrees that 15 degree bump can be deadly. There is also a pretty steep incline at the end. I can imagine many dreams of PR's have been dashed in the tunnel.

Last year the tunnel was the first place I walked.So my main goal his year was to get out of the tunnel without walking, speed was not a concern. I knew I was in a good place time wise, so I just slowed it down and made it through. When you come out of the tunnel you run between a huge gauntlet of people, which is really a boost to your spirits. I hope one day The Wife and CE can be among them. Also the band playing on top of the Detroit Princess when we entered the Riverwalk was very cool.

The other hard part of the half is right after this section. Between miles 9 and 11 you are running kind of isolated, amongst warehouses and big road ramps. This is the place I lost it last year. This year I just focused on the scenery. I had brought along my Ipod, but so far had not had any desire to break it out. My initial plan was to bust it out here because I knew there would not be a ton of crowd support and I had had trouble in this area of the course before. Not this year. I just kept powering through the miles. The legs still felt great. I had eaten my first GU at mile 7 and my second at 9, and I could definitely feel the energy boost from them. There are also these amazing people handing out M&M's somewhere in this stretch. M&M's are VERY tasty in the middle of the race. so thanks whoever you are.

Then we were into Mexicantown and Corktown. Two really fun areas to run though. You have to love the Mariachi band that is always playing in Mexicantown. We also run right by the Honey Bee Market, who makes and sells the best chorizo on the planet. Corktown is great because you know you are getting kind of close to the finish and there is great crowd support. Basically it is an excuse for a block party, and the residents come out in full force.

You leave Corktown at mile 12, and at this point the anticipation of a truly great time was running through my head. My legs were starting to get that blocky feeling, where they move in big lumps of mass instead of a nice fluid motion, but I was so close to the finish I pushed through it. I look downa t my watch and see I am at 2:28 minutes and I start to think I could do this under 2 and half hours. I started ot pick up the pace considerably.

At mile 13 the poor full marathoners separate off. I want to run one sometime in my life, but it still pains me to think that they are just at the half way point. Those people are, I am just a runner. So there was the final kick down the stretch, the triumphant fist pump as I glided across the finish line. 2:30:32, an absolutely stunning time for me. This was over 18 minutes faster then last year, a crazy improvement.

Then there was the realization that what I had just done was actually not that hard. I did not feel bad, I was not stumbling, I was thirsty and hungry, but not in any way in bad shape. My body had gone 13.1 miles and was asking.....really, that is all you got? So I feel great about this race, I exceeded all my expectations, but at the same time this has made me hungry for more. My body seems to be telling me that it is willing to go faster, farther or some combination of both. I know personally I could still stand to lose another 25 or 30 pounds, even over the 25 I have lost this year so far. So maybe it is not ALL crazy people in those full marathons.

I am already exited about next year, and I am going to talk about goal setting in my next post (inspired by Rosiecat), because I think it is good to lay out goals way in advance so you can get context and perspective. Also, I already registered for my first half of next year, it is the Rock CF Half Marathon. This will be my first year doing more then one half. Bring it.

Thanks Detroit, it was grand.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Looooong Run

Date: 10/8/2011
Route:  Hines Park 6 Miler x 2
Distance: 12 Miles
Pace: 12:01/mile
No music today. 

I just stopped hurting today. That would be 3 days after my long run on Saturday. The long run is something of a legend in most half-marathon training circles. If you follow (and actually stick to) a set training schedule, like the one posted on Marathon Rookie, you will do several longer runs culminating in about a 12 miler (THE long run). This would be a nice ramp up for those people who have nothing but time and are way more dedicated then myself.  For those of us with lives...or small children, a set schedule is pretty hard to keep to. We tend to do the brute force method. I tried to run about three times a week, even while in Chicago for a bachelor party. Most of my runs were between 4 and 6 miles, and I ran a 9 miler 2 weeks ago. So instead of a nice slow and steady ramp up to twelve, I jumped right from 9 to 12. Ouchie.

Luckily I had some great company for the first 6 miles of this run. We did the first loop together and all the talking helped me moderate my pace. I got to fly solo for the last 6. Everything was fine until about mile 10. That is when the legs got the "you want me to move...seriously??" feeling. I ground out those last miles, but man was it tough.

The poor Wife greets me as I stumble into the house and make a beeline for a chair and the largest Gatorade I can find. I am sitting there panting (yup panting, you runners know what I am talking about), just trying to moderate my body temperature, and I am sure I look just about dead. My saintly wife gets the hint and turns on the overhead fan and goes outside to do something. I was in that state of semi-consciousness where you are somewhat detached from the pain your body is in, you are really just focused on inputs...oxygen, liquid, and calories (when you burn 2400 calories running 12 miles you get very hungry.) There is no pain, only miles and miles behind you.

I love running.

I am so ready for this half on Sunday.

So here is my public pronouncement of my goal for Detroit. I will run this race no slower then 12:30/mile, 30 seconds a mile faster then last year. I am pretty confident in hitting that goal, in fact the hardest part will be going that slow at the beginning so I have energy left at the end. I have one more small run left tomorrow (2 or 3 at the most), and then just rest and hydration up till Sunday. See you in a few days.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Never Ending Story

Date: 10/3/2011
Route:  Hines Park 6 Miler
Distance: 6 Miles
Pace: 9:49/mile
Song that got me started: "No Rain" by Blind Melon
Song that got me through the wall: "Never Ending Story (Extended Mix)" by Nello
Song that brought me home: "Chain Hang Low'" by Jibbs

Swwwweeeet Shot from the Movie

My song that got me though the wall today was a techno remix of the theme song from the great 80's movie "The Never Ending Story." Songs motivate me for different reasons while running, and this song is included in my mix mainly because of the beat, which is very conducive to running. After my run, which was in fact scheduled for 4 miles, and became a 6 miler becasue I was feeling so dang good, I reflected on how the title of this movie is much like running in general.

Running truly is the never ending story. You can look at that with negativity and think about how tired you are and how much farther you have to go, but I prefer to look at it from another perspective. To me, there is always another interesting thing around the next bend, another race to run, another mile to put in. There are literally thousands of stories waiting to be written in my running life.

So I think it was rather appropriate for the run's wall to be overcome with the Never Ending Story theme song. Seeing as with this run complete, I am down to THE LONG RUN (scheduled for Saturday the 8th, with company!) before my half on the 16th, it seems that this chapter of my running life is coming to a close. But I am already doing what runners do, thinking and planning for next year. What races, what training schedule, what goals. Will I finally get The Wife to run a 5k with me? Will I become "Annoying Stroller Guy?" 8 something minute miles?!?! Triathlons...OK dial it back a little.....maybe.

So much is yet to be written in this story, I am excited.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Race Diary: Jamesers 5K

Date: 09/27/2011
Distance: 3.1 Miles
Pace: 9:16/mile
Song that got me started: "Get Ready 4 This" by 2 Unlimited
---Yes this is from a Jock Jams CD...I am THAT old. 
Song that got me through the wall: HAHAHA, no wall today.
Song that brought me home: "Bad Boys'" by Inner Circle

So, I won my age division. Let me repeat that; JD, massive shoulders guy, who proudly proclaims himself to be "not very fast" won his age division. I wish that meant I was back to running the times I ran in HS, a good ole' 21 minute 5k. Truthfully, this win was more of a result of this run being mostly full of walkers and it being first time event.Let me reiterate that to my knowledge, I hav never placed first in anything run related. Now throw me in a coney dog eating contest...yummy. However, I will still pride myself on a good race, my fastest 5K in the "modern" JD running era.

This was also a great run for two other reasons. The first was that The Wife and CE were along for the ride. They were troopers and stuck it out, even though start time temps were in the mid 40's with a nice stiff 25 MPH wind blowing. Please note that there was only one other person brave...errr stupid enough to run this in a t-shirt and shorts. It was chilly. There really is nothing better then running knowing that your wife and kid are there waiting for you at the end of the run. It really gives you that motivation to kick it in that extra gear down the stretch. Secondly, this run benefited a great organization, Kaleidoscope Kids, who provide end of life hospice care to kids and their families. This being a first time event, they still attracted over 100 participants and raised over $2500 for Kaleidoscope Kids.

This was my last race before the Detroit Half, which is coming up on the 16th (so soon!) I am continuing my training through this week with the "LONG" run coming up this Saturday,. I am still deciding on whether to do 10 or 12 miles. I suppose it will be a game time decision. Anyone out there looking for some LSD (long, slow, distance, get your mind out of the gutter), just let me know!