Thursday, October 28, 2010

Morning Spin: Nickelback Shuffle

About once every two months I get caught in a situation where it's late- close to 6AM- I need to start my workout and my Apple TV is not connected to my media server (a mac pro).

That's what happened today, so rather than waste time fixing the problem, I just did a simple, but hard, workout.

I set iTunes to shuffle my collect of Nickelback songs and started up my spin. here's what I did:

1 song warm-up in small ring 15
shift up to big ring 23
1 song per gear, starting with 23, shifting down to a harder gear 7 times (8 songs total) at race pace tempo
then shift back up 23 and sprint for one song
shift back to small ring 15 for 1 song cool down

This whole workout is under 45 minutes and really makes you work while taking you through all your gears. It doesn't have to be Nickelback, but you should do a random mix. It's nice as you go from gear to gear to have that variability of 3:30-5:00 per gear. Each time you do this, it will be different and I think that was the point this morning, to get something different.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hartford Marathon- Praying to the Plastic Gods

It's a lot easier writing up these blog posts when you have a good race, but hey, if you are going to blog your racings it really isn't fair to just blog the good ones, is it ?

Racing for the six straight weekend, I really had five good weeks. Even Firmman, where the time was a little slow, the overall result- second in my age group- was not bad.

I got up to Hartford almost 90 minutes before the marathon yesterday. It was a perfect day- the air was already warming up from what had been (for this year anyway) a cold night. I didn't want it to be cold- I'm not particularly subject to the cold anyway and I'm not one of those people you're going to see with a plastic bag and gloves when it's in the 50s (or ever. The day you see me with a plastic bag covering my torso at a road race, kick me in the knee and shove me off into the grass. If I try to get back up, kick me again...)

I was able to get about 6 rows deep from the start. For those of you who don't know the (latest) new course, it now starts up in the same area as the 5K and you blast down a hill. While this certainly is a fast way to start (and creates a course that probably has a very slight net downhill, might not be the start that everyone wants. I was back and forth early with Maureen Terwilliger, a great runner and a teammate of mine from Hitek. We went through the first mile under 6:40- a little too fast for me.

This would start a pattern. I ran the first 5 miles in the 6:40-6:45 range, which was a little too fast for me.

I was back and forth with a tall guy at this point in the race and a few times I settled in behind him and let him break the wind, but I don't really like running that was. At three miles a guy tried to pass me on the right just as we were about to make a right hand turn. I squeezed him off- the first of several times. I think I'm been doing triathlon too long because I cannot tolerate someone trying to squeeze by on the right hand side at a curb (or kerb).

I took a cliff shot at 4 miles and kept sipping at my heed. I recently got a container of Strawberry Heed and after doing two races with it I can say that the flavour or something simply doesn't mix with Cliff Shots or Gu. More on that later. At Mile 21 or so...

The miles ticked off pretty quickly. Five, six. I was back and forth with a tall guy at this point in the race and a few times I settled in behind him and let him break the wind, but I don't really like running that was. So I pulled even with him now and then and finally I dropped him.

Around mile 8, after going back over the overpass and heading out towards the out and back, I told Maureen that I was going to drop off a little bit. The pace was too fast. the conservative thing to do would have been to go out running 6:50s and then hold them.

Instead I ran a bunch of 6:40s and then had to take it down a notch.

My other long running races have been successful because I held back until late.

By mile 9, I could tell I was going to really be cutting it close on the three hours. The math isn't that hard to do. It's the same as the Ironman. The math becomes a sort of hostile entity when you aren't going fast enough, but you have to put it out of your mind because otherwise you have 'the thought'.

I only had 'the thought' once during the run. Around mile 11 I thought to myself 'Why did I want to do this?'

This is the killer question. Get this in your head and you might as well go home and stick pins in your feet. Why am I out here, why did I want to do this, etc...

In my defence, I did not spend a month or two training for the race. I did not, to be fair, train for the race at all. I had run 90 minutes outside of races only once in the preceding six weeks and that was the day before the New Haven Road Race 20K.

I had literally signed up for the race the day before. I mean, who does that ? This was a marathon after all, not a 5K or something. So I had to bin the thought a lot more forcefully than usual, because I didn't have the usual 'I've spent months getting ready for this, this is my big day, etc' to call on.

Fortunately, a fellow triathlete came up along side me and asked me which raced I'd done this year. I told him Lake Placid and then he told me that he was doing it in 2011 and that he really needed to work on it because the bike was his week leg. I gave him some advice based on what he said his weaknesses on the bike. We ran together for about a mile and then I let him go. I was definitely struggling as I went through miles 11 and 12. I took my Cliff Shot at 12 miles and ran through to 13 right on 7:00, which was a bit slow. But the miles were still going by.

However, I was not feeling good, and I knew why. It was ironic because I'd just read the article in ESPN magazine about intestinal distress. The brain does not want the body to stop at moments like this, but the body functions less and less efficiently the long you go without relief. And the brain can be a powerful thing- the inclination to never stop is so strong. It's a race. The idea that you'll spend race time sitting in a porta-potty praying to the plastic gods while people are burying you is so poisonous that.

I ran like this, debating it for about 40 minutes, then finally after downing my 16 mile Gu, I pulled into a porta-potty. It took me twenty seconds, and let me tell you, it was worth every second. I'll spare you the gory details.

After that I ran well. Yes, a lot of people had passed me but I quickly started reeling people in and I had three really good miles after that.There's no question that the plastic gods answered the prayer my bowels prayed that morning.

Mile 20 was the deciding mile of the race. I was starting to slow, but ironically, I was still passing people. As the wreckage accumulated around me- one guy running the wrong way with a number on, another woman sitting on the side of the road, her boyfriend urging her to get back up- I just kept that forward progress up.

I'd decided the day before that mile 20 would be a fuel-optional nutrition point. I wasn't sure I could take five gels- that's pretty aggressive. But it seemed like all my fuel stores were either exhausted or just off-line. I needed the calories, so I opened the gel and squeezed it all into my mouth. I immediately gagged. However, like I've done in numerous races, like I will never do again, I swallowed the gel. I am a stubborn human being.

I'd forced myself to go the bathroom. Good move. I forced myself to eat.

Bad move.

I continues to blunder forward. I was running pretty crappy, but I was still amazingly passing people, and I was basically not being passed. I couldn't believe it. I started thinking about visiting the loo a second time, but that well was dry. That wasn't the problem. I kept moving. I kept running. I-

I got two steps away from vomiting, and that's when I stopped running and started walking. Look, I never want to walk. Ever. Never. It cuts me to the bone just to admit that I walked. But if I hadn't stopped to walk I would have almost immediately stopped to vomit, and that would have ended my race.

I walked about 400 meters. People encouraged me by name to get moving again. Lee Bradley ran by me going the other way. Jamie went by me. I started running again before the on-ramp- or off-ramp, it's some kind of frakking ramp. I wasn't running hard and got passed by some more people and dropped by others, but as I ran back into the city and towards Bushnell Park I started passing people again.

I finished in a 3:07 something. As always when I'm embarrassed, I have not looked at the results. So yeah, I'm embarrassed at not breaking three hours, for walking a quarter of a mile.

I also recognise that I ran a 3:07 with no training at all, raced six straight weeks ending with this marathon, and hey, I got a big ass medal and a decent shirt. And I didn't have to wear socks thanks to my Zoots.

Verdict: It could have been worse.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

When the Season Ends

Every year I reach a point at the end of the season where it hits me. I'm not going to win a race this year...

I'll be in the middle of some workout one day and it will just come to me. I'm not exactly an epic planner- I sort of just plod along through the season, especially after my a-race is gone- so it's not about knowing that I'm planning to do races I can't win (besides Christopher Martins of course), but rather just a sort of intuition. That was last Saturday. I went riding with two of my Force 5 teammates and the weather had just turned colder. I had an OK ride, but not great and as always happens when the temperature first takes a 15-20 degree drop, I felt winded at the top of the biggest climbs.

But it was on the brick run afterwards that I had the thought. I was running easy, either because I was half-planning to race the next day or because I just didn't have much- I'd gone hard when I was sick earlier in the week, an unusual cold. But as I was running down along the water backwards on the Branford Road Race course I thought about how I just wasn't going to win any races this year. I'd come short at Brian's and really not even had any races that I'd had much of a shot at- I'd hardly raced before Placid and after Placid I'd run three USATF championship races- one a National Championship- and done three triathlons.

I'm not sure what I expect anyway. i'm 45 years old. Why am I even thinking about winning races at this age ? And what difference does it make. Maybe I'll never win another race...

Sunday I had two options, running 75 minutes at 0700h or waiting and running a 3.5 mile 'trail' race at 10AM.

I got up a little after 6, read my email, looked at the weather, played some games and decided that the race was better option. But I wanted to be good and warmed up, and Margit was going to meet me at the race about half an hour before the start so it wasn't going to happen before the race, not with day of registration and so on. So Itried something I had never done before.

I did Spinervals, Aero Base Builder III, an hour long aerobic-effort spin session from 0715-0815. I got a good spin in- my muscles were warm and loose, and I finished the workout ready to go.

I got to the race about half an hour before the start, registered, exchanged Ian, and started warming up.

Because of the spin I was in good shape. I just needed to do strides. I walked my stuff down to Steve Surprise's house and started doing strides. This gave me a chance to evaluate the other people that were there. While it wasn't a deep crowd- just about 150 people, there were two guys I were pretty sure I didn't have to worry about because I would have no chance of beating them, younger guys, taller, leaner, the right type of equipment. That took a little bit of the edge off.

The race started though, and it didn't go the way I thought. Right off the bat, I got an idea exactly how the race was going to be. There was one guy ahead of me- grey-haired, probably around 50, and me.

I settled in behind him as we ran away from Tommy Sullivan's and towards the park.

I didn't want to take the lead early, so as we followed the police car into the Supply Pond, I hung right on him. It was a good pace, I was running hard but I felt like there was room for more.

Then we turned off the road to the left, running across the field that leads to the trails just inside the Supply Pond. For some reason the other runner took the left hand side of the field which I didn't understand because the righthand side was the shorter path. I decided it was time to make my move.

I went by the guy guy on his right and burst into the trail in the woods.

I run well on trails, especially trails like the ones in the Supply Pond that are not technical. After attending Eric Hodska's Lake Placid Camp in June and picking my way over rocks, stumps, and running in stream beds, the flat lazy trails in the Supply Pond are not a challenge. I opened up my stride and started running with as much authority as I could, because that's all that trail running really is. It's running confidently.

I established my lead right away and put the hammer down. Now that I was out in front, just a day off knowing- knowing- I wasn't going to win any races this year, I knew there was only one approach that I could take, and that was to take the lead and run with it.

At about a mile, I got some bad directions and started down the wrong path. The volunteer blocking the path I was supposed to take seemed a little bit offended that I went the wrong way, but it was no harm no foul and I was able to get back on course without giving the lead up. After that I was on trails I know pretty well and I expanded my lead steadily. I never looked back, never listened for the other runners, but I could tell I was comfortably off the front. I still ran as though the rest of the field was bearing down on me though.

I made the two mile mark up a hill and started back towards the way we'd come in. I was feeling good, running hard in in control of the race. Then on the way back out a rotund runner who a late mid packer still only at about a mile said 'You're going the wrong way'. While it was true that I was going the opposite direction of the way the people headed out were going, the course is an out and back, and therefore I was not going the 'wrong way', I was just a lot faster than this guy. Still, having never done the race, I stopped, panicked.

That lasted about one second. Then my brain caught up. Was I running the wrong way ? Probably not. If I was, could I fix it by turning around ? No. I started running again, harder to make up the lost time and also because I was a little mad.

As I wound my way back I knew I'd made the right choice. I broke out of the woods back into the field. There was a van waiting for the first runner- me- and I followed it back onto the tarmac.

I went through 3 miles in 18:07. I then hit the 5K mark and from that point it was uphill. I moderated my effort until I could see the finish line and then I went for it.

I won the race by 25 seconds.

I got a nice trophy and a big shoutout is owed to @soundrunner as they provided a 100.00 gift certificate.

The lesson I learned is you can't make assumptions about the direction of your season until December 31st.

To re-inforce that, I decided to run the Hartford Marathon. Today- just 24 hours before the race.

Time to get some sleep. i have a marathon in the morning....

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Last Big Workout

In about 45 minutes we start our last bug workout, two loops of the bike course followed by a short run on the course.

Today's swim is already over. When was the last time I swam at 6 AM ? At Yale probably six years ago.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bike Loop- Day 1

Just some quick notes on the bike loop we did:

Horrible speed wobble at one point on the first of the two steepest descents. We actually stopped to check our bikes. Each of us thought it was just us. We all thought we were going to crash !

Eric says I am still pushing the hills too hard, like I think I have something to prove and it hurts my running.

Morning Trail Run

Just wanted to post a brief note that our hour forty-five minute trail run totally kicked ass this morning.

We went way off road through the bog and climbed up to a spectacular lookout. It was a blast and Eric did a great job keeping us all together the whole time.

Tri-Camp Day Zero

After a four and a half hour drive, I got to Lake Placid about 10 minutes before the start of the optional swim that opened this year's camp.

I was not 100% sure I should get in- the thought of a major bacteriological sinus infection interrupting my enjoyment of camp wasn't high on my to do list, but after all, I'd driven up here for camp, to get in as much training as possible.

After swimming 1.2 miles, I was energized. It felt great. I just jumped in the lake and swam and except for when we stopped to talk at the turn around and I had to tread water, it wasn't that hard.

Dinner at Nicoloas on Main was great- I got to catch up with Big Rocks, who I haven't seen in a long time.

Now though, I'm looking at a two hour run on three or four hours sleep- yes, the sinus infection rolled in like an Adirondack thunderstorm. Hopefully, the run will clear my head.

Otherwise that loop of the bike course is going to be rough...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Zanes !

We all have our bike shops, but I have to throw it out there for Zanes.

I noticed that there was a hairline crack in the upper screw hole of my stem last Saturday. Being an idiot, I looked at it carefully and decided that yes, I could ride on that. And I did, making it through two and half hours that turned the crack from a hairline to a lightning crack.

I took the bike into Zanes on Sunday and left it. Now I have an oddball Easton stem on the bike, so I wasn't expecting much. It's also worth noting this is a bike that I didn't buy from them, but rather from Elite. So they have no investment in it at all, although they frequently make me feel like they've made an investment in me.

Why ?

I went in Thursday and picked up the bike and they'd replaced the Easton stem with a close to perfect Bontrager stem, lined everything up just so, and even retrieved the old stem (with the Ironman Arizona) sticker on it.

The cost ? Nothing. Nada. Not a penny. Even if the part was just lying in drawer on the bench, it takes a while to remove a stem, replace it, and make sure everything is just so.

I rode the bike hard Friday- two hours at time trial pace- and never once thought about the new stem or my position on the bike despite being aero about 1:50 of the 2:00.

This is why you love your local bike shop. Admit it, you do. Because they take care of you. They treat you like an asset instead of a commodity. Because the guys there ride too and they get it...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Zoot Ultra Tempo 3.0 Review

First, let me tell you what I think the perfect training running shoe is.

The perfect shoe will be: lightweight, responsive, with a relatively soft mid-sole. The perfect shoe will also allow me to run without socks.

The Zoot Tempo promises sock free running, however, I've been burned on this before and I have the blood stained shoes in my closet to prove it. They are also light weight- very light-weight for trainers.

And at north of one hundred dollars, with discount, they aren't the sort of shoe you buy on a whim and wear a few times before deciding that they don't really fit your needs. Not that Soundrunner wouldn't have accommodated me if I were really unhappy with them.

So, despite having bought them because of the good experiences I had with the TT, I was skeptical that I'd really be satisfied with these shoes.

Admission: I am in love with my running shoes.

I've done half a dozen runs in these shoes now. Except for the day it was 45 degrees out, all have been without socks, including a 75 minute trail run with Eric Hodska.

There are two factors I consider when evaluating a shoe- do they perform well, and am I comfortable in them. On both counts the Tempo has exceeded my expectations. This shoe is insanely responsive for a trainer, and stunningly comfortable. They truly do offer sock-free running, and that is giant bonus I can't oversell. At the same time, you feel like you are flying when you are running in them, and I've noticed the pace of my training runs has improved since I started wearing them.

Of course, as a light-weight trainer, the shoe is most definitely not for everyone. But if it is, I highly recommend getting to your local Zoot distributor- Soundrunner in Branford is one- and at least trying this shoe on. If you are a triathlete, you will not regret giving this shoe a stroll around the block.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Today's Spin

Here's another spin that I created on the fly because my Apple TV decided it no longer wanted to talk to my Mac Mini where all my Spinerval sessions are stored.

This is an aerobic or high aerobic workout. It assumes you have ten gears. If you have 9, do two the first rep in each set for two minutes instead of one. If you have an 8-speed, then do the first two reps for two minutes instead of one.

I have 650 wheels and a 54 inch front ring. I also have my trainer tension higher than the tension I face on the road, so understand your cadence might be different. Finally, the middle rep is supposed to be the hardest, bring the majority of the third rep back down even if it seems too easy because when you get to the last couple of gears, you will work hard.

10 minute warm-up in small ring 15

1st set
1 minute big-ring 23 cadence 100
1 minute big-ring 21 cadence 95
1 minute big-ring 19 cadence 90
1 minute big-ring 18 cadence 85
1 minute big-ring 17 cadence 80
1 minute big-ring 15 cadence 75
1 minute big-ring 14 cadence 70
1 minute big-ring 13 cadence 67
1 minute big-ring 12 cadence 63
1 minute easy spin small ring 15

2nd set
1 minute big-ring 23 cadence 105
1 minute big-ring 21 cadence 100
1 minute big-ring 19 cadence 95
1 minute big-ring 18 cadence 90
1 minute big-ring 17 cadence 85
1 minute big-ring 15 cadence 80
1 minute big-ring 14 cadence 75
1 minute big-ring 13 cadence 72
1 minute big-ring 12 cadence 68
1 minute easy spin small ring 15

3rd set
1 minute big-ring 23 cadence 100
1 minute big-ring 21 cadence 95
1 minute big-ring 19 cadence 90
1 minute big-ring 18 cadence 85
1 minute big-ring 17 cadence 80
1 minute big-ring 15 cadence 75
1 minute big-ring 14 cadence 72
1 minute big-ring 13 cadence 69
1 minute big-ring 12 cadence 66
1 minute easy spin small ring 15

5 minute cool down

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Morning Spin from Coach Eric

Today's workout

10 minute warm up
2 X 3:30 High C 54/17 with 30 seconds rest
2 X 3:30 High C 54/19 with 30 seconds rest
2 X 3:30 High C 54/21 with 30 seconds rest
2 X 3:30 High C 54/23 with 30 seconds rest
2 X 3:30 High C 54/12 with 30 seconds rest

5 minutes cool down

Phrases I thought about during the workout (you may recognize the source): 'Anyone can suffer for another two and half minutes', 'this rep can make or break your workout', and 'have some pride'

Sunday, May 02, 2010


This weekend marked a return to some decent volume- 3 hour ride, 20 minute run Saturday (brick), then a two hour run Sunday morning with a one-hour spin in the afternoon.

I'd been racing- duathlons and road races- and even though the road race was a half-marathon, I know how the game goes. If you don't get in some two hour runs and some longer rides you might just as well as the people at the Ironman to change your first name to 'Toast' and wear that out on the course, especially in Lake Placid, where a lack of preparation is akin to an invitation to pain and suffering.

While volume isn't precisely fun, it can be fairly enjoyable, if it's done right. Which hopefully it was. I certainly felt like the ride, for a group ride, was actually some pretty good training as we had a good ten people in the ground.

I did a good portion of my long run with @poycc and a good bit with Steve Surprise and that's the nice thing about having teammates- you get to share your long runs, and to be honest, I can ride alone for five hours and enjoy it more than running alone for two.

Great weather never hurts, and we had that, but the big thing is that feeling that, with the Ironman now insight, that the hard work is starting. And that I'm OK with it and ready for it.

The next six to eight weeks is going to make or break my race.

That doesn't make me nervous. Not anymore.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Long Run

I'm taking a week off and skipping a duathlon I'd really like to do- Greenwich- to get in a long run.

It wasn't any easy decision, but my coach asked me if I was racing this weekend, and after racing two of the last three (Danbury Half Marathon three Sundays ago, a 90 minute run two Sundays ago and duathlon last Sunday, it was a no brainer that I needed to get in a long run.

When I emailed him my response, his reply was one word 'Agreed.'

That's all I need to know.

I'll be running two hours Sunday- say hi if you see me...

Frank Deford- A Rebuttal

Frank Deford- who is a fantastic and venerated sportswriter- recently returned to a topic that the Ben Roethlisberger debacle provided an opening for- that athletes should not be role models.

While I respect Deford immensely, I could not disagree with him more in his conclusion.

I think it's fairly simply really. Athletes- professional athletes- are paid millions of dollars to be in the public eye, to be the face of multi-million dollar partners in a multi-million dollar enterprise. It's not about being role models to children, although there's no reason they shouldn't be that as well.

They are being paid a large sum of money for the privilege of being professional athletes. It's not unreasonable to expect them to behave.

The idea that they should be given a pass because they are 'only athletes' just doesn't hold water. Now, if they'd like to play for free, then I think we could be a little less demanding that they, say, not the same laws we are not allowed to break without consequence.

iPad- More New Apps

A few days later, I added these three, all of which I recommend:

1 Toy Story Read-Along, v1.0.1, Seller: Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications (4+)
2 Star Walk for iPad - interactive astronomy guide, v4.1, Seller: Vito Technology Inc. (4+)
3 The Guardian Eyewitness, v1.0, Seller: Guardian News & Media Ltd (12+)

iPad- New Apps

When I first got the iPad, I immediately added more apps, and here's an unedited list of the very first things I added to what was brought over from my iPhone apps:

1 iBooks, v1.0, Seller: Apple Inc. (4+)
2 NYT Editors' Choice, v1.0.1, Seller: The New York Times Company (iDP) (12+)
3 Color & Draw for kids: interactive artistic springboard with 4 apps in 1 for iPad, v1.0, Seller: Martin de Santos (4+)
4 ABC Player, v1.0.1004, Seller: ABC Digital (12+)
5 StumbleUpon, v1.21, Seller: StumbleUpon, Inc (17+)
6 Twitterrific for iPad, v1.0, Seller: The Iconfactory (4+)
7 NPR for iPad, v1.0.1, Seller: NPR (4+)
8 Zinio Magazine Newsstand & Reader, v1.2, Seller: Zinio LLC (12+)
9 USA TODAY for iPad, v1.0.1, Seller: USA TODAY (4+)
10 BBC News, v1.1, Seller: BBC Worldwide LTD (12+)
11 WeatherBug Elite for iPad, v1.0.0.7, Seller: AWS Convergence Technologies, Inc. (4+)
12 Chop Sushi! HD - Small Sushi Big Screen, v1.0.20, Seller: THQ, Inc. (4+)
13 InHouse, v1.0, Seller: FOX Broadcasting (12+)
14 Meebo, v1.2, Seller: Meebo (4+)

Guest Blog- Brian Talon: 50 Mile Race Report

Just Another Run in the Woods!

Strange things can happen when you sit down to enjoy a few beers with good friends. For some it may be a time to relax, have good conversation and reminisce of past experiences. For myself and my core group of friends it is always an opportunity to plan out our next big adventure. Back in 2008, our good friend Ben traveled to Connecticut from Boston for a weekend visit. After a full day of playing with the kids, we all retired to the deck for a campfire, some s’mores for the kids, and beers for the adults. Of course, after the beers started flowing, the conversation started getting interesting and the topic of ultra-marathoning came up. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, an ultra-marathon is any running event over 26.2 miles. For Ben (an experienced marathoner) and myself, this is a topic that has come up before but never acted upon. From my wife Jen (another experienced marathoner), I just received “the look”, but Jen who has always been very supportive, let Ben and I continue our conversation. I believe that this night planted the seed for what became reality on March 27, 2010.

After a few more visits from Ben and many more empty beer bottles, we had decided that our first ultra marathon would be the Umstead 50 mile trail race held every March in Raleigh, North Carolina. For those of you who may think that running 50 miles is for crazy people, you may be right. However, as one of those crazy people, it is always nice to know you are in good company. This race with 250 slots for the 100 mile or 50 mile race options sold out in 5 minutes after registration had opened. Lucky for Ben and I, we were fortunate enough to secure one of those elusive 250 spots before the race was sold out.

Next came the hard part, training for a 50 mile trail race. With 16 marathons under my belt I had become accustom to training for the 26.2 mile race. The ultra-marathon training plans called for a similar structure only with a lot more miles and some really long runs. The core of my training came through the winter and that added a bit more of a challenge to get in the necessary miles. Many of the ultra training plans called for back to back long runs. To accomplish this I would run the 16 mile journey into work on Friday morning, work a full day, head home in the evening and wake up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to run another 30+ miles. The first few months of training were going great, I felt good and remained healthy and injury free. The last couple of months were a bit more of a struggle, as the miles, sleep deprivation and other life commitments started to wear me down. In total I peaked at running 90 miles in one 6 day week and capped my long run at 36 miles. Taper time (3 weeks prior to the race) could not come soon enough as I was battling fatigue and I felt like an injury was around the corner. Thankfully, I made it to the taper and eventually to race day. In the days leading up to the race Jen cooked about 30 pounds of pasta for me to make sure I was nice and plump for race day.

On March 26, 2010, I met Ben at the airport in Raleigh and we proceeded to race registration. We entered Umstead State Park on the fringes of Raleigh and were surprised with the number of hills that we encountered; little did we know that those same hills would be compounded to following day as the miles proceeded through the race. Ben and I picked up our numbers and tried to get a lay of the land to be prepared for race day. The trail race was run entirely within the park and consisted of a 12.5 mile loop that was run 4 times for the 50 mile racers and 8 times for the 100 mile racers. The trail surface was nearly perfect for runners as most was hard packed carriage trails or dirt road. The topographical profile seemed a bit cruel to the runners but fair as it was a loop course and there were as many down as up hill sections. Before leaving the park, Ben and I looked around to see where we could stash our gear to access during each lap of the race the following day. For those of you who know me well, you know that I am very competitive and I always look for advantages to give me an edge, whether it be in training or race strategy. This race was no different, I knew that I would be looping around to the starting area another three times after the race started. I also knew that I was going to be carrying a water bottle with me the whole race to stay hydrated. Most people had the same strategy but planned to take the extra minute (each lap) to refill their empty water bottle. I decided to save those extra 3 minutes and pre-fill four water bottles so I could just dump the empty water bottle and grab a full one. It may seem silly to worry about loosing those three minutes at the aid station, but as you read on you will clearly see that those three minutes could come in handy later in the race.

March 27, 2010 – It is race morning and Ben and I up at 3am. The day is finally here which was a relief for both of us. We arrive at Umstead park shortly after 5am to pitch darkness and temperatures in the high 30’s. The temperature never got beyond the 50’s that day and we were treated to nearly perfect running conditions. We were very fortunate to get the weather we had since only days before temperatures soared into the 80’s and the days after the race saw torrential down pours. After getting ourselves settled in, we were called to the start line and the gun sounded. Everything seemed to have been in slow motion from what I was accustomed to with the shorter races. After only a couple of miles I found myself in no-mans land as there was one runner way in front of me and the rest of the field behind me. Now because the race started at 6am, the first hour or so was run in darkness, many of the runners had head lamps to see where they were going and to follow the signs that outlined the course. This was the first of a few rookie mistakes that I made. Since the guy in first place was long gone, I really had to concentrate to see the shadows of the course directional signs. Once a bright pink sign was spotted, I literally had to put my face about 1 foot from the sign so see which way the arrow was pointed. Thankfully I stayed on course until the sun rose approximately 45 minutes into the race. About 10 miles into the race I caught up to the guy who was in first place. We ran together for a few miles, nice guy who I found out was running the 100 mile race that day and had lots of experience under his belt. Along the way he provided lots of pointers and encouragement to me as we ran. I later found out that the runner was Zach Gingerich, one of the countries elite ultra-marathoners who placed 3rd at the Badwater Ultra a couple of years ago. Not sure I really had any business running with him, except for the fact that I was only running the 50 mile and he was running the full 100 mile race. About the 13 mile mark, Zach put in a serious surge and dropped me again, not sure how fast he was running but for the 5 miles between mile 13 and 18 I was averaging 6:50 pace and he was long gone. Around mile 22 I caught back up to Zach and we ran together for a couple of more miles until he had to make a pit stop and I continued.

I was alone in the front again but feeling ok this point. Before I knew it I rolled past the marathon (26.2 mile) mark in 3 hours and 8 minutes. Faster than I was planning on with all of the hills but I was still feeling confident at that point. As with any long distance race you can be feeling great one minute and not so great the next. A few miles later at about mile 31 I started to get tired and thought to myself, “only another lap and a half”, then I started to do some calculations in my head and said out loud, “crap, I still have 19 miles to go!” Shortly after that I rolled up to an aid station and grabbed a turkey sandwich that was pretty difficult to get down. At this point I really started to feel the hills that didn’t seem to be much of an issue the first couple of laps. For the last 15 miles my legs were cramping with nearly every step, they were not cramping to the point where the muscle locked up but I felt they were on the verge of locking at any moment. I got a little surge of energy when I saw Ben out there on the course; he was looking good and running well. Finally I rolled up to the race starting area again and completed my third lap. Only one more lap to go!!!!, but it sure was not going to be easy. As I rolled through the starting area there was a big aid station with every drink imaginable, hamburgers, hotdogs, cookies and everything else you could imagine. I should have stopped for a moment and refueled, but I didn’t (another rookie mistake). I did save another minute by grabbing my pre-filled water bottle and not having to stop at the aid station for fluids – I was on my way. With 12.5 miles to go I knew I was hurting but was doing my best to keep my head in the game (once your mind goes the body is quick to follow). At the start of the last lap there was an out and back section where I saw Zach (the second place runner – who I need to remind you was running the full 100 miles that day). He was about 8 minutes behind me with 11 miles to go. He provided lots of encouragement to me but looked much better than I felt. I wanted to hold him off for that final lap and also had the time of 6 hours and 19 minutes in the back of my mind that I was pushing for (you will see the significance of that later). That goal time was still attainable but with the way I felt I had to push my body WAY beyond the comfort level. The first few miles of that final lap were uneventful, my running form was long gone, it was more a matter of forcing one leg in front of the other. At mile 41 I hit a long (mile and a half) uphill section that really took the wind out of my sails. Struggled to the top but managed to run the whole hill and was rewarded with a nice downhill section, gravity is a beautiful thing! This brought me to the last aid station which I just ran past. Not sure if that was a mistake but all I really wanted to see was the finish line. The last 5 miles of the loop were the most difficult; you were either running straight up hill or straight downhill. Before I knew it, I turned the corner and hit a really steep section of the course. My mind was saying just run it slow, but my body did not get that signal. I physically could not run that steep section and had to resort to walking, I attempted to speed walk but I am guessing that I looked pretty foolish out there. Legs were cramping and screaming at me, I had never had so little energy in my life but made it through the next couple of miles while walking the very steep uphill sections. Walking actually felt worse as I would become very light headed. At mile ten there was a nice long downhill section which I tried to run fast, I really think I was just thrusting my legs forward and letting gravity do its job. I was feeling a little better about myself at the bottom of that long downhill but then once I started going up again I literally felt like I hit a brick wall. I have hit the wall before in marathons but this was different. I managed to grit my teeth and let my mind take over my body to get up that last hill before the finish. A short reprieve from the hills, before the final 100 yards to the finish (of course the last 100 yards were up hill). I crossed the finish line in 1st place with not even enough energy to raise my arms. Reported my number to the scoring table and basically collapsed into the arms of some volunteers. They brought me inside and laid me down on a mattress in front of a huge fireplace to warm me up. I started eating and drinking anything they could throw my way (cheeseburgers, yogurt, chips, etc). This is the point were Jen always takes good care of me but unfortunately she had to stay home with the kids. Ben’s childhood friends Sarah helped me out after the race and kept Jen updated on my status throughout the race. About 45 minutes later I was feeling human again and one of the race committee members came over and said congratulations on the win and you also broke the course record. As I mentioned before, going into that last lap I was hoping to finish at 6 hours and 19 minutes eclipsing the 15 year old course record of 6 hours and 20 minutes. I finished at 6 hours and 18 minutes (avg. 7:34 per mile) for the new records (remember those three minutes I saved by pre-filling my own water bottles – they came in very handy). Reviewing the results later I saw that I barley held off Zach for my final lap by only 40 seconds (he continued on to smash the 100 mile record by over an hour). Ben had a great race, especially after battling injuries; he finished 40 minutes ahead of his goal pace and ran to a top ten finish. Just to put this whole 50 mile adventure into perspective, for those who have run a 5K race, just consider that 50 miles is sixteen 5K races back to back. On a larger scale, if you started on the Connecticut shore in New Haven and started running due north, you would hit the 50 mile mark at the Massachusetts border.

Great trip and race over all for Ben and I. Hats off for the race Director and his team of volunteers (there must have been one volunteer for every runner!). I know the reason this race sells out in 5 minutes. I made some pretty big rookie mistakes which were mostly around fueling and hydration. Jen and Ben’s finance Julie may never let the two of drink beers together again…….on the ride back to the airport in Raleigh we were already starting preliminary talks about the next adventure!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Du It Duathlon

Some days you want to race. There may or may not be a race that day, but everything is perfect. You're rested, you're pumped up, the weather is awesome.

This was not one of those days. I'd done a two and a half hour ride/half hour run yesterday, then spent two or three hours on yard work. Because it was a beautiful day. 60s and sunny, a great day to ride, even a decent day to clean up the yard with a handsaw.

When I got up at 5:30 I was actually pretty hopeful. The road was wet, but it wasn't really raining. It was cool, but not really cold. I was thinking that 'hey, this isn't going to be so bad.'

That kind of glass 3/4 full optimism took its first hit about half a mile from the house when it started raining for real. But as Marty said on the race website, just because it's raining at your house doesn't mean it's raining in the park.


On the highway, at 65mph, of course a steady rain seems like a monsoon. There was no way to talk myself into the idea that I was going to get to Bridgeport and it was going to be nice there.

It wasn't. I dutifully set up my bike, stood in line to get my numbers, and then went back to the car to get as much gear as possible on. However, after warming up it became clear the Asics techical running jacket was going to be one layer too many so I took it off. I'd be racing in my thinnest pain of tights, an underarmour short sleeve under my Hosdka cycling jersey and arm warmers. I offered my jacket to Michael D'Addetta, who was wearing nothing but a singlet and bike shorts and he declined.

Tough, but not the right call as he later admitted.

To Marty's credit he got the race going right about on time, which had seemed impossible at about 7:20.

The course is flat, but it's flat with a kind of steady uphill incline of about half a percent going out (and obviously, half a percent decline coming back).

I've written about this before. The start of every duathlon seems to be the same for me. The run starts and I'm engulfed- I go from starting right in the middle in the front to having 10 or so guys swarm around me. My goal is to run steady, to have two runs very close to each other time-wise. But it's difficult to have so many people running as fast or faster than you at the start of your race and either not get sucked in or panic.

I'd gotten a little panicky at Brian's at the start and let my heart rate get too high. Not today. I actually felt good as we started the first run. Except of course for the number of people in front and around me.

Early on I was 8th or 9th and I was trying to just stay calm and evaluate the people around me. I actually liked most of what I saw, except for two guys, both of whom were running away from the rest of us, one moderately, and the other, significantly. This would be another case for me of misjudging a book by its cover. The guy that was really running away from the rest of us on this first loop had kind of a stocky look and was wearing a cycling jersey with Cannondale on it.

I kind of gave up on winning the race right there. I mean here was this guys who looked totally like a biker, too stocky for a runner, wearing a cycling jersey- and yet he was crushing us. What would happen when this guy got on a bike ?

The majority of the other guys around me were Tri-Fitness guys.

There was a lot of back and forth on the first run, which is an out and back. I was as high up as fourth and back and forth with one Tri-fitiness athlete in particular- Bryan French. He was on me, breathing pretty hard, audible cadence, and I was holding him off in the first half for the most part. After we broke around the cannon and started back, running slightly downhill now, a younger guy went by us and all I could think about was how bright green the outsoles of his running shoes were on the heel. He proceeded to drop us, putting an amazing 30 seconds on us in about 1.5 miles (or so).

Finally, Bryan passed me. I didn't want to pick it up any more. We had about a quarter mile left and I was not interested in picking it up. Not at all. I wanted to get on the bike and blast out of transition.

I settled in and finished a second behind him.

I had a good transition. I did have to abandon the sunglasses I'd worn because they got hung up on the hat I'd had on and I didn't want to waste a few seconds. I got my shoes and helmet on and ran through transition while others were walking. the guy with the lime green outsoles was struggling to change his shoes.

I moved up two or three spots coming out of transition.

The course is flat with a lot of turns. I got out there and I worked on closing down the guy in front of me. I took the turns very aggressively because I'm light, my bike is light and there aren't a lot of crosswalks in the park where you have to worry about sliding on the paint. The first loop was pretty uneventful until the back part. I passed one opponent, but then on the back I started getting pressure form two of the tri-fitness guys. As I rounded the turn to the second loop I had to stay left to avoid people feeding out onto the course- there were actually people just starting the bike after I'd done an entire loop, which is hard to get the math on but...

Someone yelled 'drop your gear' as I went by, standing up to regain my momentum. If this advice was for me it was exactly wrong. I needed to go to an easier gear but I wanted to grind it out to get that speed back up. I was going right through the puddles, not veering like the other riders. Yes, the puddles slowed me down but I was cutting nice straight lines.

As we got to the area where the run turn around was, someone said 'Go left or around the island ?' I thought it was a first looper, so i said nothing. it turned out it was Bryan, who was just about to pass me. He went the long (wrong) way as I followed the arrows on the road, oops. I felt bad, but not too bad.

Especially when Bryan passed me before the turn-around. I did keep him close, but I was unable to reel him back in, however, suddenly I was going past the guy that had crushed us all on the first loop. He was using toe-clips and was on- well, it didn't look like a great bike. The guy that looked like he had to be a biker first was actually a damn good runner and...

I passed him and I'd see him again.

We went into transition in a group and Bryan left first, then me, then Ron Lombardi, the fastest runner.

Do you know the phrase dead legs ? I have never in my life had dead legs like i'd had when I got off my bike. My right shoe went on easy. My left not so much.

When I started running, it was amazing. My legs felt like they were simply not going to respond at all. They did. Dead or not, I found my usual turnover. Within a minute, as I downed a Gu, I was running at my normal pace, my long stride. I was closing on Bryan and holding off Ron. But not for long. I passed Bryan and moved up into second and I fought to hold off Ron but it wasn't happening. He went by me and then started to gap me.

I was running hard. Despite the fact that I was basically having the race I wanted to have, and my second run was close to my first (just about 3 seconds difference between my run 1 time and my run 2 time), I was afraid of being caught.

By Bryan, or the other Tri-Fitness guy, or the guy with the green shoes. I ran the back half of the loop, where I was actually comfortably in third, like three other guys were breathing down my neck, and it was that fear that allowed me to put 37 seconds on the next finisher in a 3 mile span. Really, it was the fear of being caught that pushed me on, that allowed me to actually cut my time on the course by over a minute.

I did learn something in the cold and the rain.

Sometimes fear is good.

I watched my teammates- Dick Korby, Michael D'Addetta (@poycc), and Susan Wines finish- all placing in or winning their age groups- then I put on some warm clothes and enjoyed the feeling of having raced in miserable conditions but come through with reasonable results.

Sometimes that is enough.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I've had my iPad for 7 days now, so I thought it was time to share my impressions of it.

Everyone assumed that I would have the iPad on day one, but I resisted the urge to pre-order one. I'd already committed to a triathlon camp in June and felt that dropping an equivalent amount on another computing device was just not justified. I have two work-issued laptops, a personal desktop, a work desktop, and two iPhones. What would I need another computer for.

I even asked my 5-year old son if he was interested in the iPad and he said 'it's too iphoney'.

He knew because I did go as far as to go to Best Buy the day they came out and check one out with the family, all three of us taking turns on the iPad. I was impressed, but I walked out without one.

That wasn't easy. Apple didn't win me over that first day, but it was mostly about the cost and not about the features. The truth was, I thought it was pretty cool, and I certainly think keyboard-less computers are the wave of the future. It had just the right feel, just the right weight and heft in your hand, just the right richness of texture as you held it one hand and manipulated it with the other. The screen was brilliant, the apps were clean and crisp.

If you have an iPhone your first response after using an iPad is 'how am I ever going to go back to the iPhone...'

Instead of buying one I used my connections with one of our vendors to get one on what is basically a perpetual free demo.

It came on a Friday morning. I unpacked it, plugged it right into my MacBook Pro, decided against setting it up with same apps I have on my phone and in about 10 minutes fro the time I'd opened the box, I was configuring the wireless network and setting up my .Me email. This is the great genius of the iPanything that Apple sells. I'd read reviews that knocked the iPad for not being a stand-alone device. Consider me among those who prefer the instant on, media available, easily configured and managed Apple-eco system centered around the computer to be an advantage.

My computer isn't going anywhere and even if I'd bought an iPad it would not have been to replace my computer but to augment it.

At lunch I went to Best Buy and bought an open-box Apple iPad case for 33% off. A lot of people don't like the case, but I love it. I never take the iPad out any more except to show it to people. What's great is that it's thin. You can hold the iPad while it's in the case- major win.

I started hunting for apps right after lunch and one of the first ones I installed was Color&Draw from Tipitap Apps. I then started looking for apps that had iPad versions, like Weather Bug, because an iPhone app at 2x is not equal, in most cases, to an iPad native app.

If there's one piece of advice I can give, it's that. Focus on adding iPad native apps to your iPad. The difference is tremendous, especially when apps are in landscape mode.

Case in point- Twitterffic. While twitterrific is a great iPhone app, the iPad app version takes advantage of the extra real estate to deliver a superior experience.

Even Apple's Mail App makes great use of landscape mode to provide a mac-like experience for your mail that allows message list and message reading- at the same time. How can you beat that- it's the biggest shortcoming of the iPhone app solved.

The real test of the iPad was going into Starbuck's after work with my son. I don't even tell him when I install apps on my iPhone or iPad. he's perfectly capable of finding new apps on his own, and after about thirty seconds, he'd found, opened and was using Color&Draw. Now, when he has a choice between the iPhone and the iPad he almost always takes the iPad- and that's the real test. watching him on it, I knew right then, Apple gotten it right.


I'll be posting what apps I've added and my impression of some of the best of them in another blog entry.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Boston Marathon

Just a quick shout-out to everyone running the Boston Marathon today, hoping you all have a great race.

the weather looks good, and it should be a great day to race.

Make it your day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Danbury Half-Marathon

I didn't even start thinking about running Danbury until Monday and didn't make a decision on Thursday night. My longest race of the year had been last week's 1/4 marathon and my longest run all year was probably only 14 miles and that was maybe a month ago.

So why was I running a half-marathon ?

Three reasons- I was able to get great babysitting from the race director's daughter, I thought maybe it would be easier on Margit if Ian and I were out of the house a good hour or two before she had to leave for the airport for a week-long business trip, and I'm still trying to race the stank off.

Why ? The funny thing is, I looked up my Shamrock and Roll times and they consistently suck, with this year's being less than 20 seconds worse than last year's on a harder course. And I had a good race at Brian's, so I am told.

I'm funny like that. Once i get it in my head I had a bad race...

My goal was to run around 1:24. That's a modest goal. I'm still capable of running in the 1:22 or 1:21 range, but I ran two last year and had a 1:23 and a 1:24 and I had a much better running base for those (Fairfield and Niantic Bay). It looked like a perfect day was on tap- maybe a high of 60 at race time, low to moderate wind, and a mix of sun and clouds. A little cool for me, but I wouldn't even need the arm-warmers.

The course is kind of interesting in that you run a right hand loop that takes you back to the War Memorial from the starting line- past the finish line- and then around. This allows them to get the bulk of the first two miles and then the rest of the 11 mile course is sort of an out and back (not really, but close enough).

Some people don't like this because it adds a little redundancy to the course, I suppose, however, despite not exactly being one of the great glass-half full people of my generation, I saw this as a plus.

I knew that I would go out too hard. After the race Tim Cote used exactly the same term I use- 'it's in the bank'. Meaning, in my case- not his- I'm going to go out there and quite possible lay an egg or two with some 6:30ish miles and it doesn't really matter if I ran the first mile in 6:00 or 6:20, except I'll finish 20 seconds later. This type of thinking is quite probably wrong but hey- 6:00 mile the first mile !

At around four minutes we ran past the 2 mile mark of the 5K course and I quipped 'Two minute miles. Right on pace.' Everyone around me laughed, probably as a courtesy.

Still, after a mile, I started to back it off. I knew that whatever I was going to run, it was not going to be a 1:18 flat. I went through two miles at around 12:15 and then backed it off a little more.

Of course, backing it off isn't easy. In order to do that, you come back to people. You get passed by people. You wonder if they are all thinking how you're a jackass, starting on the line, running a 6 minute first mile, then coming apart like two miles into the race. Of course you are out there for you and not for them, and who cares, right ?

Of course you care. It's just how it is. Between two and three miles Tim Cote, who's clearly got some talent, came up behind me. I could tell it was him and gave him a shout out, then he passed me. We chatted briefly about our respective strategies and then he started to pull away. I didn't consider running with him, because I knew I had to hold my pace in check. That and a few seasons ago I came to a conclusion I've pretty stubbornly stuck to, which is that I do not race with people in long races (anything over five miles.)

It's just been my theory that three miles into a long race like New Haven or a half-marathon, racing with people early is a recipe for disaster. Either they are better than you, or you're smarter than them, and it's going to be miles and miles before you find out. Not the case with Tim- he was going to beat me. But I was getting passed by other people I was not so sure would beat me, or should beat me.

It wasn't long before Johnny Camacho, Maximo Veiga, and Pedro Cobos had all passed me. They were getting coaching help from a guy on a mountain bike. That's legal in a road race and the guy wasn't interfering with us- there have been plenty of races where I've wanted to stiff-arm some bike-riding doufus who gets on the course and gets in everyone's way, but this wasn't like that. Still, it's a little demoralizing to have most of the guys running around you getting good vibes while you're trying to beat them.

I took my first Gu right around 4.5 miles, just when I was being passed by some guy I don't know in a lime-green jersey. And a fun thing happened on the way to the middle of the pack. For whatever reason, although this guy had caught me, he wasn't pulling a way. The wind had picked up a little, and this guy like guys in general, was taller than me. I tucked in. I hung on, and then we started, finally, to hit some hills, the first hills since mile two.

Let me stop and say something about this race. You run downhill. A lot. And for the first four or five miles you run downhill so much that you really start to worry, because you know sooner or later, bad things are coming...

I believe guy in bright green and I pulled up on Pedro together, but pretty soon I was pulling away from both of them on an uphill. Between miles 5-7 there was a decent amount of uphill work, mixed in with some downhill rollers. I pushed the uphills to keep people like Tim in site and moved up as I could, leaving behind these two.

I had two more people between Tim and I thought I could catch and it was nice to be coming back on people. Especially because I was expecting to fade once I got to around 7 miles. I hadn't run a race of this length since the Ironman and it was hard to imagine I wouldn't fade.

The real challenge was yet to come though. Fairfield has its killer hill, and so does Danbury. Not long after I'd taken my second Gu, I reached the mile 9 mark, and the killer hill is well, basically it's mile 10. I was running well, holding one runner fairly close to me, and I was surprised how strong I felt. The extra nutrition hadn't hurt, however, two GUs plus mango-orange performance Gatorade- the best I could get at the store- did start to rile my stomach a little bit. I hit the mile 10 mark and I still had a short at running in the 1:24s, but I was going to have to hustle and run around a 19 minute 5k to do it.

Then mile 11 hit me. If there's a bad mile in every long race, it was mile 11. I started to get that over-extended feeling that's oddly unique to endurance sports. My heart rate was maybe 5 beats too high, I was mildly dehydrated, I felt myself to be struggling. I'd decided at mile 7 to break the balance of the race into two-mile segments, and here I was, halfway through that and melting down.

But a funny thing happened. I didn't melt down. I didn't let the guy in front of me go. I even got a little encouragement from the guy on the bicycle, who told me I looked strong. Then I started to feel strong. The bad moment , or bad mile passed, and if mile ten was one big uphill, mile twelve was one big downhill.

I was chasing a guy about 7 or 8 inches taller than me and younger. But he was coming back to me steadily. At first I was going to close him down and hang, after all, I must be over-extending myself to make this catch against a runner who should be stronger than me on downhills. However, as I got close, I realised this was not the case. I was out-running him and although it was too early, I had to make my move. I went by, we exchanged encouragement, and I hammered with everything I had to open a gap that could not be closed down.

The last mile was tough. I was sure that a strategy that involved making a big move with more than a mile left in a half-marathon would backfire. I kept running hard but the course started to roll again and I was worried. Which is a good thing. I worked that last mile hard and was never challenged, while I continued to come back on people- although I didn't catch anyone else.

In the end, I was pretty satisfied. I'd run my goal time, and I'd running very strong late in the race when I expected to fade. I'd have been a lot happier running a 1:22 but that would required actually training to run the race, not jumping in at the last minute.

My son was right near the finish line playing with Sophie Bysiewicz. He was happy. I got few minutes to chat with Tim and Mark Satran and then do a warm-down and after that ?

Straight to Barnes and Noble in Milford 90 minutes of reading with my son.

Not a bad day at all....

Monday, April 05, 2010

Hartford Quarter Marathon

Some races you run because they mean something to you or because they fit right into your schedule. And then, when you are on a team, sometimes you run a race because you have to.

Saturday fell into that category. If I'd had my choice, I'd have gone to Hammonessett and tried to win the Feed the Need 5k for a 3rd time. I definitely wanted to race. I've been trying to blow the stink off ever since Shamrock and Roll, although on Thursday I'd finally checked my times at that race and they've been consistently some of the slowest 5Ks I've run every year- last year was just 15 seconds faster on an easier course.

In other words, I'd let a result from a race that wasn't important in my training, and wasn't even that much outside the norm, really get under my skin.

So I wanted to race, and after all, this was one of the races I voted for to be a part of the USATF-CT state championship. Because of scheduling issues at home I found myself hopping in the car at 8:30 for a 10:00 race that was 50 minutes from home.

Fortunately, because of the way they changed the parking at the reservoir, you can't actually park near the race start, or rather, you can't get to the race start from where you park because on of the main gates were closed. The run to the porta-potties was a great warm-up. Unfortunately, everyone seemed to have the same idea- get in the park and take care of business before making their way to the starting line.

That done, it was now twenty of, so the rest of my warm-up was doing strides.

I didn't honestly know what the course was like, however, I knew it would be rolling and two loops, with a downhill start. I got right on the line and pretty soon we were off.

I expected to be nervous. And I was. My heart rate spiked, really spiked, more like the start of a triathlon than a road race, but that's what happens when you are not really sure you're in race shape. I felt pretty uncomfortable, but unlike my last road race, I settled in as much as I could.

The course, while not really hilly (nothing like the cross-country race held in the same park), is pretty rolling. It's not easy to really just settle in and run. I went out hard, and I like where I was relative to the people around me. When Jim Zoldy went by past a mile, and then Mark Hixson, both faster runners, I felt like I was settling in.

I wanted to run on perceived effort, but I think I made the mistake of letting the course dictate my strategy.That is to say, it was a two-loop course so I was determined to run it as two halves. That makes sense if you are running, say, the two loop Lake Placid IM course. Not so much a race that is 6.55 miles.

Maureen Terwilliger started to push me and normally this would be bad. Maureen is a great runner but usually not quite as fast as me. However, looking at the other people around me, I just din't think it was that bad.

Just short of 3 miles, Rob Barker went by and he encouraged me to hop on and catch some people, but I told him I was working on my own plan. This is where the mistake of seeing the course as two halves came in. I should have just gone with him.

I went through the first loop at over 20 minutes. I was feeling a little spent, uh, well, kind of like I was in the middle of a race. I had a Gu and some water and was back at it. I was basically settled in, no one pushing me from behind. There was a Housatonic runner about 40 meters in front of me, and Barks and Maureen were in sight but out of range. Maureen was running a solid back half, running the hills steady and with more intensity then the first loop. I wasn't catching her or Barks.

I felt like I'd settled in and was starting to remember how to race. This was only my third race in two months, and my longest race since Ironman Arizona. I race well when I race and I haven't been racing- this was my first back-to-back racing this year.

I managed to close down the Housatonic running at about 5.9 miles and passed him. This is a downhill section of the course and I did my best to open a gap. I held that gap until after the 10k mark, but then we came back out onto the main path and now the first loop people were in the way.

The Housatonic runner used a 'rather large' first loop athlete to do a blind split on me and ended up beating me by 4 seconds.

Still, I managed had a top 25 finish at a very well-attended state championship, certainly ran better than my last road race, and with a few more races, I think I'll have forgotten this year's slow start.

Which really was just once race.

After all, I ran a good quarter marathon coming off a two-hour die and hard half hour run the day before.

And perhaps more important, the next day I had an awesome run-bike-run. After all, the goal isn't good road races in April. It's a good IM in Lake Placid in July...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Brian's Beachside Boogie

Usually, a race is just a race.

As an athlete, I'm not one of your big thinkers. I don't have a head full of times, or averages or what other people have done. I don't really spend a lot of time thinking about a race before it happens period.

However, after the stinkbomb I laid at the Shamrock race I was quite frankly worried. I was coming into this race as the defending champion and I was coming off a race that really made me question what I was capable of. Sure, it was just one bad race, but...

But a funny thing happened.

The race started.

Like all duathlons, the very beginning is kind of weird. Unlike a road race, where I start out towards the front and fall back as the race progresses, in a duathlon, people stream around me and then I work my way up. I was concerned when I fell back in the first few hundred yards that I was not going to close down and then, well, then I did. I starting moving uo and around and settled into a top ten spot around 9 or 8 and that was exactly where I wanted to be.

There was a guy in a Cyclonauts jersey. I passed him, settled in in front of him and he managed to accidentally kick my right foot out from under me. I didn't fall, but I was annoyed. Don Gustavason was somewhere around me, in front for a while and then behind, then in front again. The first run settled down pretty quickly though and I felt good.

I really felt like we weren't pushing the run that hard, which is how I like it. Usually the bike is my strong leg in this race, although the age of my bike- 13 years at least- its weight, and its deteriorating condition- had me concerned. Then again, I've won the race twice, including last year, on that bike, so how bad can it be ?

I hopped on the bike and quickly started moving up, from 7 to 6 to 5, to 4. But then I was passed by the guy in the cyclonauts jersey and I was back in fifth as we went towards Meigs Point on the sand and dirt.

When you get to Meigs Point though, the race hops onto the road and I get down on my aerobars and just go. I averaged about 23 mph on the road and passed both Don and the Cyclonaut, moving up into 3rd. I was feeling good, pushing myself hard, and thinking I had a chance to dial into third on the bike and try to hold that on the run.

Now, remember that I laid the course out. I got on the off-road section and my decision to go with toe clips and not a one and one hurt me. I was slow on the off-road section and soon found myself back in fifth, close on to the two guys in front of me- and then we went into the woods. I was holding my own and then I went around a turn and a branch reached out and grabbed my leg and it stopped moving and that was it.

I went head over handbars onto the dirt and as my head hit the ground I watched the 3rd and 4th place riders getting away. That was that. I climed back on the bike, took way too long getting up to speed, and hauled some ass.

I finished the first loop, started on the second, and I just couldn't close. All the way out to Meigs Point I was working hard and keeping my eyes open, but there was no one coming back to me. When I got back on the road I did make up some time, but not really enough. And then as I came out of the woods on the back of the course, Charlie Hornak caught me and said something about the wind.

I picked it up right then. I'd thought I was riding in 5th in the middle of nowhere. Having someone catch me briefly was just the kick in the ass I needed to redouble my effort.

Despite the crash I still posted a top 5 bike time, which I feel pretty good about, except for the crash and the four people that posted faster times.

I came in 5th, hopped off the bike, dropped and retrieved my Oakleys and headed out on the run.

I had not yet given up on moving up and I ran hard. Really hard. Of the top five finishers on the winner had less of a difference between their first and second run times. I was hauling ass truing to catch the 4th place guy and I did see him, just a couple hundred yards ahead with a little less than a mile left, but it was just too much.

I came across the line about 45 seconds slower and four places lower than last year but I'll take it for now. It was a big improvement over my last race, I lost to a guy who put up a great time- Karl Schilling- and two of the guys that beat me- Tim Cote and Don Gustavson, are guys I know that are great athletes and nice guys as well. I also want to mention that Charlie Hornak really has picked up his racing this season and I'm expecting a lot out of him.

This was not a great race for me and I'm not happy with how I did, but I'm not too disturbed either. It was a definite step-up and a real motivator. I raced- pretty well. There's room to improve- a lot- but it was a good hard effort and a reminder that no, I don't actually suck.

I just have to work a little harder...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Brian's Beachside Boogie- Pre-Race

First of all: If you get lost on the bike course, blame me. I laid it out Friday and reviewed it today. Remember, it's two loops.

It's going to be interesting to see how tomorrow goes. After laying such a rotten egg at the Shamrock and Roll 5K, I did pick my training up a notch. So possibly, we'll see some positives results from that. But really, I don't know. I think maybe I laid a little too low for two long with my training, especially my running, and while my bike fitness is good, overall I'm a little short.

But I had a good 27 miles on the mountain bike today. I'm ready to see what I can do, and most of all, have a little fun, assuming my feet don't completely freeze off tomorrow.

If you're racing- good luck.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

NFL Overtime- Horribly unfair to sports commentators

If there is any vote besides the Health Care vote that people have been obsessed with this weekend, it's the NFL's competition committee's vote on proposed changes to the overtime rules.

Like the Health Care debate, commentators- writers and broadcast journalists- have rallied around common talking points. Although to be honest, there isn't, if you listen to them, two sides to this debate. In fact there is no debate.

The talking point ? 'Fair.' The word that keeps coming up and out of the mouth or pen of everyone involved is that the current rule- whoever scores first (Donovan McNabb)- is unfair. Everyone wants to see fairness returned to the game.

Follow the link above and you'll get an idea why- most people think that the team that gets the ball to start overtime 'often' or 'usually' wins. Not so. Yes, that happens about 40% of the time. That's um, less than half.

That means that 60% of the time, the other team gets the ball. With the current rule.

But what really irks me about this, honestly, is the use of the word 'fair.' This is football, NFL football. Fair ? What is this, t-ball ? Fair ? Oh, does someone get their itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny little feelings hurt if they lose ?

You bet your ass they do, this is football. You want fair, watch MLB baseball. Everybody gets their chance to hit the ball and no one goes home feeling they've been cheated because the other team scored the winning run and then immediately took the ball and went home.

Some argue that the NFL is the only level of the game that hasn't adopted a more equitable overtime rule.

Good for them. Anyone who has suffered through a multiple OT college football game, one that goes on forever with players dropping like flies, knows that madness that way lies.

This is a disease that has infected just about every other sport. Look at the NHL! The only thing wrong with a tie after 65 minutes of play is that too many people got in their heads that a tie is somehow wrong and replaced simple ties with a shootout. What about World Cup soccer matched decided by shootouts ? Absurd.

My problem with football's version of the shootout is the same as my problem with shootouts in sports that use it. It's like if you had a tie at a 5K, deciding the winner by having them throw a shot put. It's just not real sport.

The whole point of football is the battle for field position. As soon as you add a rule where each team gets the ball whether you succeed or fail on your offensive possession, the normal flow of the game goes out the window. I think it was Jeff Fisher (who has no right to complain about fair after the Nashville Nightmare and subsequent no-call of a forward pass) who brought up both kick-returns for TDs and pass interference calls.

Well, you're more likely to see teams throw bombs looking for pass interference calls when they know if they don't get a first down they aren't going to have to punt and defend as though their lives depended on it.

And what about a game that ends on the first play of overtime with a kick-return for a touchdown ?

Tough sh!t !

Football is not about offense. Football is about offense, defense and special teams, and you have to be able to master all three. If you give up a TD on the opening kick-off of OT, your special teams let you down and you lost.

Fair ?

You had sixty minutes to win the game outright. If you didn't do it, then you don't 'deserve' to win, in fact you don't deserve a second chance. If you do get the ball and you do score, more power to you. If the other team gets the ball, get your defense on or take the loss like a man and go home.

Fair ? Save the t-ball for someone with a lesser constitution. I don't want 'fair.' I want football.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Climbing Gates Pass- In My Driveway

Filed under: Things I've never done before

We're having some insane weather here in CT for March. On the first day of spring it was 65 degrees at 2:45 PM and through a series of events I found myself not having worked out yet. Normally Saturday is long ride day, but I did the IMLP course on a computrainer Thursday night so I really just needed a good hard 75 minutes or so.

I finagled a car nap out of my son Ian- not by his choice, of course, but a nap is a nap. I immediately set to work, getting my trainer into the driveway. I grabbed my MacBook Pro, my helmet, and a step ladder and next thing I was doing Gates Pass with Coach Troy- in my driveway.

I made the mistake of adjusting my trainer tension (more tension) just before the ride, so it was a tough one.

Why the helmet ? I wanted to get used to it because I may use it in a race next week. Let me tell you- helmet plus training equals milky-white sweat.

Still, it was a great way to get 70 minutes of high tempo spinning in, outdoors, while my son took a nice long nap.

It's all about picking your spots.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Me and Roadies

The same afternoon I laid a turd on the Shamrock and Roll course, I took my mountain bike out for a time trial.

This is sort of a bad race tradition for me, not necessarily the mountain bike, but the feeling is if I've got something left I'd best get rid of it.

So on the way back from Guilford, I saw a pair of roadies as I was leaving town. So I road down the slower of the two (I don't think they were riding together) and then closed on the second one.

I was really time-trialing- down in the aerobars, in my TT helmet. I passed the second guy, but as I was, well, on a mountain bike, I didn't exactly separate.

So he passed me back on a hill, and instead of just letting it go, he says to me 'You should get a time trial bike.'

I was not in the mood.

I snapped back 'This is a time trial bike. What does it look like I'm doing ?' Then I buried him...

It was silly, but it felt good....

Shamrock and Roll 5K

Every year I toss up a real clunker, a race I want back as soon as I finish running it- or earlier.

This was that race this year.

I hate writing about the bad races, and this wasn't a case of running a few seconds slower than I would have liked or getting beat by people that I should be getting beat by. This was what happens when all your week day running over the last month has been on the treadmill, you're five pounds overweight and you are coming off a week of one a day workouts.

Not to make excuses. I should have been ready, and I wasn't.

The race started relatively on time this year, but with a different course. I had started warming up early and considering how prepared I was for the race (not), probably went too hard. We head out from the starting line and ran a block or two farther than usually before hooking that left that takes you to the big hill.

I was keying off George Buchanan, and although he was right about where I expected, I felt like I was labouring. My stride was choppy, my arms were churning. When we turned left again I evaluated who was around me and I knew I was in trouble. Around half a mile I started to feel like I just didn't belong out there, like I feel during the swim of most tris, and I did the same thing I do then, I pushed that thought aside.

Then we were on the big hill and Charlie Hornak was pushing me, so I tried to pick it up a notch. That brought little benefit, but I was still fighting and not really sure just what was going on.

My iPod died.

Finally the big climbs were over and we started the downhill. I felt like I was picking it up a little, then there were some more turns and I was back and forth with people. It wasn't really the usual give and go, in part because I was giving and going with people that I don't usually see up close during a race.

We were screaming down the hill, like always, but then we had to hook a left.

It was kind of weird, because I'd run this race for years and the rhythm of it and the rhythm of me were both just wrong.

I had no idea where were were until we turned back onto the road that we started on. I was still off, still struggling. I got encouragement from Charlie, but the truth was I was just gassed.

I crossed the line over 18:40, unhappy with myself.

But I went and grabbed a beer, then warmed down with Charlie, who was very kind about how craptastic my running form was.

And I had gotten the wake-up call I needed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Treadmill Rants

I did a thirty minute hill workout on the Treadmill Tuesday and the following rants came to mind (which I've lazily copied from my Twitter feed) ...

#1- #espn I've seen the same Julius Peppers highlight package at least 100 times. I'm having sack flashbacks 24-7...

#2- #espn The first fifty times you told us that the Chargers cut LT it was a newsflash. Now it's more like a newsrash...
9:44 PM Feb 23rd via Tweetie

#3- #lafitness no one wants to watch soap operas at lunch
9:45 PM Feb 23rd via Tweetie

#4- #CNN 'Broken Government' ? That's it, inflame rather than inform...
9:46 PM Feb 23rd via Tweetie

#5- college and pro ball sports athletes. Less chest-thumping, less parading. More effort.
9:47 PM Feb 23rd via Tweetie

Seriously. If I paraded around like that at the end of a 5K, JB would tell me not to come to any more of his races...
9:48 PM Feb 23rd via Tweetie

#6 Spandex- use it wisely. A LOT more wisely...
9:49 PM Feb 23rd via Tweetie

#7- Holy sh!t. I just got hot sauce and vinegar in my eye. Rant over.
9:49 PM Feb 23rd via Tweetie

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2010 Time Trial #1

Did my first self-imposed time trial of the year.

6.66 miles.

On my mountain bike.

It felt good to get out there, and just hammer away for 20 minutes or so. It was a viscously windy day, so I was averaging 20+ when the wind was at my back and 16 into the wind. I'd forgotten how hard it is to ride the bike going all out for that long and on top of it, I think Margit may have moved my seat down, making the ride even more challenging.

I rode around the Hammerfest course and then over to Zanes, dropped my bike for a tune-up and ran easy back home (going the short way). It was a nice 45 minute add-on to my early morning run and I'm looking forward to doing it again after the bike is tuned-up.

After all, Brian's is a month away...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow Day ?

For most people, a snow day is supposed to be like a vacation day. For me, not so much. We opened late at ten am today, and I think I probably had a day a lot like many of my co-workers and friends.

There was a lot of driving, a lot of shoveling, a lot of updating the website at work and sending out text messages, reorganizing schedules...It was not an easy relaxing day, and not just because my phone rings at 5:15 am and I'm the one that has to updates websites and send out text messages to let people know there's a delay.

Nevertheless, I did get to spend an hour sledding with my son and he clearly enjoyed it- that alone made the 90 minutes of shoveling worth the effort.

Did you get to enjoy the day ?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sweetheart 4 Miler

Another cold day race. As I warmed up I debated stripping off the tights but decided against it. It was pretty cold and raw, after all, and I still was pretty lightly dressed. Then I saw Charlie Hornak in shorts and thought to myself 'Oh man, I'm a wuss.'

Before the race I was joking with Charlie and Tim Cote that we were the only three that actually wanted to race. No one else was actually at the starting line except us. Then suddenly, at the last possible moment, out came the horde. I've never understood this. If it's cold out, you'd better get outside and acclimate...

Pretty soon everyone was organized and off we went. I picked on Rob Baker right away, he was off to the right, and lined-up on him. There were five or six guys really in front of us as we started out, plus a few kids everyone knew wouldn't last.

The race starts out on a downhill, and it's a steady, fast downhill, not steep, but you are running fast. I could tell I was in for a long four miles of battling with people. I was just trying to hold my own as we hit the turn and then really went downhill. It was quickly clear that four or five of the guys were just going to run away and there was nothing to do about it. Then we hit the first uphill and I settled in and tried to run at 90%. Keep climbing, but pushing hills early is a surefire way to lose whatever place you should be able to hold.

At the top of the hill you hook and left and it's flat and this part of the course is kind of like a flat section in the Winter Wonderland race. It doesn't last though and you're climbing again, a shorter but steep climb. Tim, Rob and I had settled in to running together and there was some give and take between us with no one really getting an edge. At the top of the climb it's a right and then it's flat again.

I was having trouble keeping contact here and everyone was taking short pulls off the front. Rob and Tim almost collided at one point and then I saw the water table up ahead. I wanted to get in front of them and do the same thing I'd done last year, which was grab the water and dump it over my head to be intimidating.

I know. Silly.

I couldn't get out of third position. I still took the water and dumped it over my head. It's what I do.

I wasn't done yet.

We were still jockeying and then we took one more turn and we were finally back on a downhill, and it's a doozy. We took turns leading down the hills and were a tight pack as we turned left and ran through a flat section. We were tight, there was some very minimal arm bumps with apologies (mine, I believe), and we took the final turn that takes you to the biggest hill.

It's actually downhill first before the big uphill and both Tim and Rob pushed it here.

I was waiting for the hill and went into it behind both of them. I climbed as hard and as fast as I could, but I still felt like I was almost walking towards the top (I wasn't). We came over the top and I tried and tried to push as we went into the downhill.

I still felt like I could catch them as we bottomed out, took the last right onto the main road, and ran as hard as we could. But it was a mistake to ever let the two of them get a gap. Working off each other while I worked alone 4 seconds became 6, then 8, then 10.

I ran a decent race, I challenged tactically and repeatedly, but I just didn't have the speed or the endurance to take either of them. I felt like Rob ran a real solid and steady race, and Tim is looking like he's going to have a great triathlon season.

I was disappointed that I didn't run faster (24:46 or so) or place higher (9th). But I did win my age group and Margit and I won our combined age group and were a top 5 couple.

Not too bad.

But I have a lot of work to do.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Refugee 5K Run

Sometimes I go into a race I've never done before with no idea what I have coming, and Run for Refuges would be a great example of this.

5ks in February are not exactly my specialty. I don't think I raced in February last year.

Dick Korby and i went to the race together, getting there early enough to run the entire course for a warm-up. This was a great idea. It was also, if my concentration on spinning and light running lately can be discounted, the reason I didn't run a faster race.

Did I mention how fraking cold it was ? It was so cold (about 23 degrees) that after the race the race director told me that since it was under 25 degrees at race time I should have worn tights. Since this was John Bysiewicz (JB), I think he must know what the hell he's talking about. More on that later.

So Dick and I headed out and ran the course as a warm-up. Because we started at almost ten after nine, I was a little worried about getting the entire course in. This concern only intensified when we actually started climbing up in East Rock. Unlike Dick, I'd never run here and had not consulted the race course map. So I was surprised by how far up we ran, especially how far we ran after taking the right hand turn.

Just when I was ready to turn around and head back we actually made it to the turn-around. I got a feel for the run back- except for one short uphill section and a flat last tenth of a mile, it would be a downhill run.

I headed back, Dick and I separating and I started to think about whether to ditch the tights and lightweight cycling jacket. I wanted to be tough, but I didn't want to be so cold that it hurt my performance.

I went ahead and dressed down to bike shorts, a bike jersey and arm-warmers and I lined-up.

Then we were off. There were a lot of kids at the front, and I mean a lot of kids. Too many kids. It was pretty hard determining who all was legit and who was ready to quit, so I just started running. My goal was not to overcook the climb, based on my first run up. It was clear two of the guys were well off the front and there was five or six of us in the b mix, with another 2-3 more hangers on. We were trying to follow decent lines up the hill.

I found myself up against the side of the road, near the guardrail, and the same guy that elbowed me at Winter Wonderland made a move to pass me. He cut it too tight, cutting me off and kicking me in the knee on his back stroke.

As he pulled away I snapped 'You just have to make contact every race' but I'm sure he didn't hear me.

There was a surprising amount of back and forth as we climbed and looking back, I know that I was going too slow and saving too much.

We hit the turn-around and I felt like that was when the race was starting, for me at least. I can run downhill pretty well for a guy as short as I am because I'm willing to open up my stride. I ran by one of the guys that I'd been back and forth with and he complimented me on my pace. That was huge- it really gave me a boost at a point that I was starting to struggle. I opened it up even more, and settled in. I wasn't moving up or moving down.

I also wasn't breaking 18 minutes.

There wasn't a lot of action in that last mile. We were spread out and we stayed spread out and then it was over.

I think going out and running the course ahead of time was great, but I think I took the wrong lesson away, which was to take it easy on the way up. I left too much in the tank.

Lesson learned.

But hey- look at those feet.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Running 5Ks

Running 5ks is not easy.

It makes me wonder exactly why I want to run another one. As of tomorrow, I'll have raced 5 times since Ironman Arizona, a 4 mile cross country race, a 5 miler, and 3 5ks.

5ks are kind of like doing time trial workouts on the trainer, or well, anything I do in the pool, which is to say that when I finish one, I'm pretty well done. So it might be better to say that what I'm really looking forward to is tomorrow's 5K being over with, at which time I can concentrate on getting ready for our annual Super Bowl party.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Super Bowl Prediction

Just to get it down on the blog here:

Colts 31, Saints 13

Thinking- the Colts have shown that their offense is resilient. Look at the Jets game or going back at a little farther, the Texans game. The Colts might not put the ball in the end zone in the first drive or two, but the offense will get on track. I also think that the Saints can be run on and the Colts will look to use the run to move the ball and reduce the pressure on the passing game.

On the other hand, the Saints have a true rhythm offense, and teams have show the Colts what the blueprint for disrupting that offense is. I think the Colts defense has been underrated all season and has what it takes to take the Saints out of their game.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Winter Wonderland 5 Miler

I was not really ready to run a five mile road race on Sunday. But I wanted to anyway.

I was feeling the edges of a cold coming on or maybe I'd just had a little too much beer the night before. Still, my usual Sunday running partner was out of town and I'd talked Dick Korby into going with me. I'd made some effort to get ready- although I haven't been running much. On FRiday I went to the gym and did some intervals, some hill repeats and some sprints on the treadmill.

It was cold on Sunday morning, but I still wanted to run in bike shorts and a race singlet. Unfortunately I could only find one glove, which was kind of a bummer. With the long cold spell we'd had, my hands had gotten chapped and cracked and were just starting to recover. Oh well.

Although I didn't feel that great all morning, after running a mile warm-up and doing a bunch of strides, I felt like I was ready to go. I actually felt pretty good, although I knew it wasn't really likely that I was going to be able to run strong for 5 miles, given it was going to be my longest race since the ironman.

The race starts out on the far side of the school and you run downhill for quite a way. In fact, almost the first mile is downhill, with a couple of turns.

The race quickly split into a lead group of three, and two chase groups of three that were closer to each other than the lead group was. I was trying to stay with two other masters runners, Enaldo Oliviera and another guy whose name I don't know Some high school or college kids and a 30 something were also all in the mix.

The first mile of a five miler is tough because you're probably running at a 5K intensity. It's just how it is. It was obvious that the lead pack was gone and they weren't coming back.

I was hanging tough, but I knew that the cold- and I haven't run outside much lately- and the fact that there had to be some uphills eventually- would start to eat in to how hard I could run.

We went through a mile at about 5:40, winding through a neighbourhood. After a mile, we hit the first real uphill and there was some back and forth here as the stronger hill runners, like me, ran a little stronger, just as we'd struggled on the downhills comparatively.

My goal in the middle three miles was to run steady and I mean really run steady. No surges, no racing other people, just a steady middle three miles. There was going to be some uphill and some downhill, that much I knew, and I wanted to really work on being smart.

Oh well.

I ended up getting tangled up in a group of three with two thirty-somethings who seemed to have exactly the opposite plan. They kept surging- one would go, the other would follow. Then both would come back to me on a slight uphill grade. Then it would flatten out and they would surge again. I was trying to stay in my own zone and run solid, but one of the pair brushed elbows with me. I let it go the first time, the second time, with no sorry, no acknowledgement at all, I'd had enough. I kind of feel like in a road race, in the middle of a road race where there are two other guys anywhere near you, the amount of contact should be zero, and if it's not, you just need to make the slightest acknowledgement- just say 'sorry.'

I sprinted past the guy going into a turn, careful to get a full length in front before cutting him off. He got the message and passed wide around me.

The two guys started to pull away on a downhill. It would have ben easy to let them go but I made a decision to leave my comfort zone and stay with them. It worked. We hit the 4 mile mark and then an uphill and actually pulled ahead-


Then they surged again, for the fifth or sixth time and try as I might as we turned back onto the road the race started on, I lost ground. I was spent, running hard, but not as hard as they were. My strategy of consistency might have been better but my talent wasn't.

I still ran hard, running downhill, and then I could tell, as we turned into the Platt Tech entrance road, someone was bearing down on me. I had to sprint, but I held onto 9th, onto 3rd in my age group. The two thirty-somethings had beaten me by at least 10 seconds.

It was a hard run. Maybe a little bit of a wake-up call. But then again, for a cold day in January while I'm just building my base ?

It was fine. Absolutely fine.