Tuesday, June 15, 2010

10K Complete


I am training for a marathon in November and have completed a 10K. To date, the 10K distance is as far as I have ever run, so marathon training should be quite an interesting endeavor.

Stats for the week : Miles within the last week: 6.2. Total miles for 2010: 110.6. Total miles since 2008: 407.6. Baseline 5K: 32:13. Baseline 10K: 1:11:00 (roughly). Best times: 26:57 (5K, June 7, 2009); 1:00:00 (10K, June 12, 2010).

RUNNING MP3 OF THE WEEK (That song that for whatever reason has a cadence that exactly matches the speed I was running this week.)

"Brand New Day" by Joshua Radin.

As you all know, Saturday was the big day. So we'll get right down to it.

For the sake of continuity, I decided to keep a log of what actually happened:


8:30 a.m.: It dons on me that I know nothing about pre-race preparation, so I turn to the internet.

There, I read a cautionary tale about a guy who in an effort to “carbo-load” before a race, ate six heavily-syruped pancakes and drank a gallon of orange juice an hour before he was scheduled to run.

My first thought was, “Was this guy trying to run the race, or roll through it like a blueberry-gum-inflated Violet Beuregarde?”

I get a couple of tips on light, pre-race snacks and proper hydration techniques before compiling a shopping list for later in the afternoon (Banana, Gatorade, a bagel and a Power bar basically).

4:15 p.m.: I report to Pizza Barn for the “Optional Pre-Race Packet Pickup”. I think I’m the first person there. It may be the last time I’m first at anything this weekend. They hand me a release to sign, which is odd to me at first, but it makes sense.

It basically says “You realize you’re about to take on a strenuous activity and in no way are the race organizers responsible for what happens to you. You should have spent a lot of time training for this (Have they been reading my blog? Is this directed at me?) and you should have reason to believe to can finish this event in a non-hazardous manner (OK, they really have been reading my blog).”

I sign, because as long as there are no disclaimers to the effect of “In order to improve everyone’s times, we will be letting ravenous tigers loose halfway through the course” it’s probably going to be OK.

In the time it took me to read and sign the release, though, a crowd of people has gathered in line behind me. My honest first thought is “Man, these people look fast.”

It begins to settle in that I really am going to finish at the back of the pack.

4:45 p.m.: I stop by the store to pick up my staples for the race. I buy all kinds of extra garbage too, including a two-foot-long baguette which my daughter and I consume within five minutes of arriving home. I manage to pass on the gallon of orange juice though.

6 p.m.: I forego my planned spaghetti dinner in favor of leftover enchilada casserole (This is what happens when my wife works late. Compromises are made in concession to laziness).

8 p.m.: Time to get the kids in bed so that I can get a full night’s sleep.

8:15 p.m.: The kids aren’t having any of it. They stay up for another two hours.

10:30 p.m.: The kids are finally passed out, but I’ve gotten hooked on a TV show (Friday Night Lights) and I can’t seem to turn it off, even though it’s on DVD.

11:30 p.m.: My wife gets home from work and we decide to watch another episode. It’s not like I have to wake up that early.

12:30 a.m.: OK, that was a mistake. I just did the math on how much sleep I’m actually going to get. I set my alarm and ...


4:30 a.m.: Who set the alarm for 4:30 in the morning? -Snooze-

4:35 -4:55 a.m.: -Snooze- -Snooze- -Snooze- -Snooze- -Snooze-

5 a.m.: OK, OK, I guess I’m going to go through with this nonsense. I get out of bed and start rummaging around for some breakfast. Six pancakes actually doesn’t sound half bad.

5:15 a.m.: I settle for a fried egg sandwich and some greek yogurt with honey.

5:20 a.m.: OK, now what? I have obviously gotten up too early. I could’ve hit the snooze button 50 more times and slept through the race completely, no harm done. But here I am. I guess I could stretch.

5:21 a.m.: I spend the next 40 minutes stretching. I may have dozed off at one point, but it’s hard to say.

7 a.m.: After a quiet drive over to the park, I park near the finish line and eat my pre-race snacks. I take a short walk across the park portion of the course, I meet up with my sister, April, and a longtime friend, James, near the starting line.

7:45ish: Race organizers call everyone to the gather at the start. They state that they will wait for everyone to get out of the bathroom. James, who ran in the race last year, informs us that last year, apparently, they started the race while some participants were still in the bathroom. James tells me they basically just said “1, 2, 3 Go!” while everyone was standing around. At least that’s how he remembered it, which is a lot funnier than any of the other possibilities.

This brings on a discussion about if they’d done the same thing this year, we could all panic and scatter, perhaps running the opposite direction of the starting line. But it would only be funny to us.

The starting area, by the way, is about five feet wide and maybe 10 feet deep, so an instant bottleneck develops as the crowd of about 70 jockeys for starting position. James, April and I dare each other to ditch the race and focus on shoving everyone else out of the way and sprinting full-speed 50 yards ahead of the pack upon the start with our arms flailing above our heads before turning around and shouting “So long suckers!”

The real comedy would come as every participant would then get the opportunity to step over our bodies collapsed on the ground about 15 seconds later.

None of us take on the dare, primarily because not one of us is sure our respective top speeds are enough to get us out to the front of the pack even for 50 yards and we did sign that release that we wouldn’t cause any harm to ourselves or anyone else. Instead we just lag toward the back of the pack and wait for the start.

7:50 a.m.: The race gets underway. I’m about where I expected to be -- well toward the back of the pack -- and I settle into a comfortable pace quickly.

Mile 1 (There were no mile markers on the race course, but I used what I remembered from Google mapping it the night before to get an idea of where I was): The park portion of the course is quite nice. There is plenty of shade and trails are easy on my feet, ankles and knees. I have no idea what my time is, but I feel like I’m running well (for me).

Mile 2: A second lap through the park and I feel like I’ve lost some speed. I still feel good though, and I’m starting to catch up with some of the 5K walkers, which makes for an interesting obstacle course, in terms of trying to keep my pace and dodge traffic.

Mile 3: The 10K leaders start passing me headed the other direction, which is a bit discouraging, but the good news is the water station is ahead.

Wait a minute, water station? I hadn’t thought of this yet. A kind volunteer holds out a paper cup, which I make my best attempt at grabbing in stride while saying “Thank you”, but I spill most of it as I grab it. How come there are no training tips for water stations?

Smart people, I guess, would stop and walk for a few steps while taking a drink, but I am not a smart person.

I take a drink of what’s left, but -- still running -- spill more water on my face and shirt. I think I get about a table spoon in my mouth. A second volunteer waits about 10 meters away with a trash can, and after she offers some encouragement, I throw my cup in the can, spilling the remainder of my water on the volunteer.

A pair of girls behind me are saying “Good morning” to every person staked out along the parade route and “Good job” to every runner going the opposite direction. Neither one of them is out of breath and they quickly pass me. I would wonder where they came from, or how I was even in front of them to begin with, but I’m busy with my own attempts at pleasantries -- mostly half waves to anyone who says hello and my best attempt at a smile, which in my oxygen-deprived state is scaring away all the little kids on the parade route.

Mile 4: I finally make it to the turn-around which means I’m technically on the beginnings of the home stretch. It’s right about now I realize I actually am going to finish this thing, but I’m really starting to wonder if I can finish in under an hour.

Mile 5-6: The rest is kind of a blur. I remember seeing my mom with her camera at the finish line, and then seeing my final time, 60 minutes flat. The next thing I knew I was eating a bagel and waiting for the final results to be posted.

The disappointing thing was that I felt very, very good after the race, like I could’ve run another mile or so. That tells me I didn’t work hard enough during, probably trying too hard to conserve energy.

I was also disappointed I didn’t step up for the final push about 10 feet sooner, because I could’ve come in under one hour easily. I also could’ve picked up my pace about a quarter-mile sooner and had a much better time, but I just couldn’t gauge where I was in terms of stamina. These are all things, of course, that would’ve been remedied with any type of training program (or, for example, if I hadn’t taken most of February, March and May off) but hopefully I’ll know better next time.

I took 50th in a field of 70, 21st out of 23 guys and third out of four in my age group. It’s pretty much exactly what I expected it would be, which is a good thing.

So ends act one of this blog.

The next four weeks will be spent building up to week one of an 18-week training program leading right up to the marathon.

I’m not going to post as much data on my times any more, because the only important thing from hereon is the distance. I’m aiming for 11 total miles this week, 12 the next, 13 the week after and 15 for the first two weeks of marathon training.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Race Day

I am training for a 10K in June and a marathon in November. The 10K is in two days. From there I’ll launch into marathon training.

Stats for the week : Baseline 5K: 32:13. Baseline 10K: 1:11:00 (roughly). Best time since I last wrote: 30:24 (5K); 1:00:34 (10K). Best overall time: 26:57 (5K, June 7, 2009); 1:00:34 (10K, May 26, 2010). Miles within the last week: 6.2. Total miles for 2010: 104.4. Total miles since 2008: 401.4

RUNNING MP3 OF THE WEEK (That song that for whatever reason has a cadence that exactly matches the speed I was running this week.)
"Tryouts" From the original motion picture soundtrack for "Rudy". Best musical theme for a sports movie ever.

The last time I ran in an organized race, I was in the eighth grade.

My whole running career (At that point all of two seasons spent running the 1,600 and the 3,200 because in the head of a middle-schooler, aside from the first and last lap of the race, no one can really tell what place you're in, or how far behind the guy in last place really is. After 10 years of covering high school sports, I realize now that one can definitely tell. Definitely.) came to a close in the conference championships in, of all things, a relay race.

With middle school track being what it was, any number of things (i.e., Little League baseball, spring music concerts, softball practice and family emergencies like the two-for-one deal at Round Table Pizza or the season finale of Seinfeld) took precedence over any meet, regardless of what kind of championship it was.

As a result, both the crowd of spectators and field of participants tended to rapidly evaporate as the meet went on. What I mean is, generally after the 100 meter dash everyone was gone.

Now this caused problems for coaches, as all track meets end with the running of the 4x400 meter relay. That means you need four live bodies able to make one lap around the track each in order to field a team.

On this particular day, back in May of 1994, as the 4x400 started to approach, our coach discovered a member of his relay squad had left to, I don't really know, go patch things up with his girlfriend? Try those tacos Shaq and Hakeem Olajuwon kept fighting about? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnyWar8uOTI

So our coach looked at what he had left. There was me, and there was Nicole Holt, who was one of the better female distance runners in the conference.

I have to believe, as he watched me still wheezing from my last-place finish in the 3,200 (I passed some kid on the home stretch, but I think he may have just been warming up for the long jump on the infield and accidentally drifted out into the lane), that he gave some honest thought toward tacking a girl on to the boys' team and hoping no one filed a protest.

Nonetheless, he gave me a shot.

They set me up as the third leg, with the thinking being that the first two guys could hopefully build a big enough lead that the anchor leg would have enough room to make up for any damage I caused.

As we staged for the event, we learned that only three other schools had managed to assemble squads, so worst-case scenario, we were going to get fourth.

The race went as well as could be expected.

Our opening leg built a lead of about 50 meters and the second added another 10 or so.

One school dropped the baton and was disqualified on the first exchange, narrowing the field to three.

I grabbed the baton with a 60-meter lead and thought, 'just don't fall down.'

And, in that, I succeeded.

In every other facet of the race, though, not so much.

Before I could round the first turn, both other schools passed me. It was at that point I realized someone had replaced my running shoes with lead boots.

For a period of time, everything went into slow-er motion.

Two kids sitting in the bleachers on the back stretch shouted "Hey kid, you could just give up now!"

I gave it some serious thought.

Our anchor leg made it close at the end, but we took third.

Our school, I was later told, had not lost that particular relay in two or three years.

My teammates were encouraging though saying things like:
"If you didn't run, we wouldn't have even been able to run in the race"

And,"Dude, my mom said it looked like you were dead."

So that brings us to this weekend.

I'll attempt to run the Carson Valley Days 10K and I don't expect spectacular results.

I compared my times to the results from last year and if every person from last year's event shows up in the exact same shape they were in last year, I'll finish last out of all the males of any age.

That's OK, though.

The goal is to finish and to hopefully do so in under an hour.

At this time last year, I never would have even considered running six miles in one shot, so in that sense, I'm ahead of the game.

After this, it's on to marathon training. At this point, it still seems like a joke (and really, still kind of is). But, assuming my left leg doesn't fall off, it's not an impossibility just yet.

We'll just have to see.

So for anyone who's going to be at the parade on Saturday, the 10K is supposed to finish before 9 a.m. just in front of Lampe Park.

I expect to finish anywhere between 8:45 and 8:55, so if you see me, try not to point and laugh!