Sunday, July 21, 2013

2013 Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame 10K Results (Or: A Little Farther For the W)

1/100 Overall

So I recently decided that I needed to get back to my running roots in an effort to re-motivate myself before I totally gave up on this sport. My first race in this new ideology was a small town 5K a few weeks ago which was great fun. This race was the next in the logical length sequence, a local 10K. I discovered a few things about myself, all of them good.

The race was organized by the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame, an organization trying to promote athletic achievement in the (duh) Greater Lansing area. They have an annual induction ceremony and such, and just like the NFL hall of fame, they have a sports event to coincide with the induction, in this case, a 5K and 10K pair of races.

The race started in downtown Lansing just a few blocks from the state capital, then headed south along the Grand River with both races being simple out and backs. I made sure to enjoy the view of the river during my warm-up, because I had a feeling that I would not be wanting to sight see during the race. I was right.

At race start, I looked around and tried to get a 'read' on the competition and saw nobody who looked like they were real speed demons. There were a few high school guys up front with me but they were both running the 5K, so I would not know what I was in for until ~1.5 miles in when the 5K races took their turn.

I go out in what I think is a comfortable pace, hitting mile 1 in 6:02, but not knowing if I could hold it that long. It felt good, but difficult. Part of this race experience was to test that middle distance speed+endurance race strategy. I have been doing more short (6-8 mile) training runs with a speed component, and it paid off. As I came up to the 5K turn, the leader was ~50 meters in front and I was gaining on one of the teenagers. Much to my surprise, the leader had turned, which meant I was leading the 10K race and I would stay there all day. There was volunteer whose job it was to be lead dog (well, he had a bike) for the race who had been waiting at the 5K turn. He wasn't really paying that close attention, so I actually had to say 'GO!' to him as I almost ran into him. I did not look back to see what sort of lead I had, but from cheering spectators, I could tell it was small.

I hit the turnaround in 19:10 and finally had a chance to see what my lead was, and I got concerned as it was only about 20 meters. I was feeling ok, but not sure how long I could hold that pace. You see, I always start races too fast and generally wilt at the first sign of distress. For whatever reason, this race was different. I was going hard, but still had plenty of energy. I ate a Hammer Nutrition Energy Bar 2 hours before the race, my electrolyte pills as well as some amino acid pills. My brain and muscles did great all day long.

The mile markers came and I was holding 6:05-6:10 pace mile in and mile out, which surprised me a little. I was getting tired, but maintaining speed. Again, this is not normally me. With about 1.5 miles left to go, I looked over my shoulder to see what my lead was down to, and I swear he was only 5 meters behind me. I briefly had my standard thought in such a situation, "oh good, soon he will pass me and I can relax and take second place".  Then a new, never seen before thought appeared.. "Or, you could press a little harder and try to break his confidence, drop him, and go home with hardware." I bore down, pumped my arms and tried to put in a good 600 meter pickup in an effort to separate me from him and it did not work. With about 1200 meters to go, he was still 5 meters back. By now I was breathing heavy and my arms were doing a lot of work. Nearing the finish, maybe 400 meters from the end there was 1-block-long hill, and so I again I dug a little deeper, tightened my face and pounded up the hill in an effort to separate myself and this time it worked. When I got to the top of the hill I looked again and he had dropped back to about 10 meters behind me. I was confident now I could hold him off, but I still caught myself glancing back to make sure he didn't have some super-human afterburner that he was waiting until the very end to use. He did not.

Finish time of 38:10 means I negative split a 10K. Read that again. I, the not-known-for-consistent-speed runner negative split a 10K race. No, that has never happened before. In my 140 races in the modern era, I have negative split (maybe) 2 races. That is just not my nature. Until today.

A pleasant post-race cool down with some of the other runners, including Karen, the female overall winner. As we were coming back from our cool down run the announcer was asking if anyone had seen Karen or I and that we were to report to the finish line. They had been wanting to give us our hardware.

My award given to me by Eric Zemper, a 2013 inductee into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame. In reading his resume, he is a pretty big deal. Nice guy, too. The whole award ceremony was done in short order and I packed up and got ready to go.

You might just think this was just another race, but it was significant. The W is nice, for sure, but more importantly I learned that I do have some killer instinct still in me. Lately I have been trying to get my groove back, and it is returning, but the competitive incentive is helping.

I am really looking forward to my next race in 3 weeks, a local half marathon. I would tell you my goals, but I am not sure what they are yet, except I wan to enjoy it. :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A New (re)Start

Short Version: I have chosen to stop running Hundos and am going back to running shorter races (<50 miles) until such a time that I want to run Hundos again.

Long Version:
This might make more sense if I give you a brief history lesson.
Fall 2005: I run my first race is roughly two decades, a 21:24 5K. It was a great day, the beginning of what I refer to as the 'Modern Era'.
Sunburst 2006
June 2006: Realizing that as I have gotten older, I prefer slightly longer races, I try my hand (feet?) at the 26.2 mile distance and manage to break 3 hours in my first ever marathon in Indiana. I am flying high emotionally for about a week.

Spring 2008: After two handfuls of marathons, I set a goal of running a marathon in all 50 states before I turn 40 years old (8/18/2012) Which makes me an official 'state chaser. I check off this feat in October, 2010 in Connecticut.

2008: 15 marathons, 1 ultra marathon.

2009: 13 marathons.

2010: Knowing I am close to the 50 states goal, I decide my new goal is to go ultra, but not in small steps, I go straight to crazy land. In April, 2010, I attempt a 24 hour race (my only such race to date) to see if I can even finish a 100 mile race if I attempt one. I manage to run 101 miles in ~20 hours before I stop (I achieved all my goals, so I was done) In July of 2010, I attempt my first 100 mile race and finish 9th in the USATF 100 Mile national championship. I am now in elite company, as a 100 mile finisher.

late 2011/early 2012: Thinking I am invincible I start focusing on 100 mile races and do poorly, with my worst 100 mile time in Jan 2012, a 21:01:51 at the Winter Beast of Burden. Emotional damage done.

2012: I re-evaluate my training, and realize I am not the hot stuff I thought I was and start solving my problems (diet, training, race-day-procedure, etc. ) I get things turned around and get my 100 miles times back down to damn-near competitive.

August 2012: I pull a massive PR (by over an hour) running a 15:27:56 at the Summer Beast of Burden. While it was a great day, I end up in the ER for 30+ hours from dehydration and rabdomyolosis. The mental trauma from that little experience causes concern.

Jan 2013: While DNS'ing a 100 mile race in Florida, I decide to go down and volunteer for the race, where I meet Mike Morton who turns me onto a ketosis diet, which I start in March, 2013.

April 2013: I run the Indiana Trail 100 and at the end, I end up in the back of an ambulance, but after another solid race.

Early summer 2013: I start training for the 2013 100 mile championship but my heart is not in it. Doing 35+ mile days is no longer enjoyable. I have the worst position, that of someone who is >this< short of being slightly competitive in my sport (the 100 mile distance) so I am trying hard, but since I am trying hard, it has stopped being fun. When you hobby becomes more like a job, it stops being an enjoyable pastime. I had hit that point. I am now on the restrictive ketosis diet which is rough mentally, and not helping my running attitude.

June 2013: I run the inaugural GR Well-being 12 hour race, where, after 6 hours I am kicking butt but I have to stop for medical reasons. Turns out, I cannot (with my biology) run long races in hot weather on a ketosis diet as I cannot get enough fluids into me, I just can't. When I drop after 6 hours, sadly, I am not that sad. The previous 2 hours were tough mentally. I was asking myself 'why am I doing this?' more often that was appropriate.

That day I make two watershed decisions: |
1. I am dropping the ketosis diet and going back to a gluten-free paleo-style diet. It is quite healthy and more importantly, it don't mind it.
2. I will not be running the 100 mile national championship this year. My heart is just not it. I am not doing this for a paycheck, and it was not worth the anguish.

Which leads me to now. I knew I needed to do something drastic to get my groove back before I completely give this sport up, which I do not want to happen. I started running because I like eating food and I still do, so I can't stop running, but I can take a moment to enjoy it again, so I have. I want to become more of an ambassador to running, and I found that as a 100 mile running 'freak' I was so far from most other runners, they did not feel like they could relate to me.

I have decided to start over again. A few weeks ago, I ran my first 5K in over 2 years and it was awesome. The euphoria afterwards reminded me of my first marathon back in 2006. In a few days I will run a 10K and  then in the middle of August, I am running a half marathon. And then, back to my precious marathon in the fall. I am planning on running 3-4 of them (and RD'ing a local FA marathon) before the end of the year.

While I am re-starting, I have a few advantages going for me....
- I am running only 50-60 miles/week now and it feels great to be running that little.
- I am in shape, have some endurance, and a lot of experience in racing.
- I have a meager following on this blog and facebook to try to inspire other runners.
- I have no long term goals that are acting as anchors around my neck.
- I have no toenails so I do not have to worry about losing them in marathons.

The last few weeks running in the new 'mentality' has made a huge difference. Instead of running 12-15 miles slow and feeling blah, I am doing 8-10 miles at a good clip, and afterwards I feel great, as if I actually did some positive work. I feel like I did way back when. I like that feeling, and I want it to stay...

Elite marathoners take weeks off with no running after major races. I have not taken a break from running since I started again in 2005. The longest I have gone without running is 3 days in the span of 8 years, and only that is after 100 mile races. Maybe I just needed to take a break, and I sincerely hope this will get be back to where I want to be.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

2013 Kenya Dig It 5K Results (Or: I think I Just Overdosed on Endorphins)


4/158 Overall
1/13 Age

My running lately has taken a lot of turns. Having a few medical issues recently and some motivational issues, I have decided to take a step back and one of the new solutions is to go back to running local short races for the thrill of a fast turnover, raising money for a good cause and enjoy the small town ‘connection’ to such races. This one fit the bill quite nicely.

The Kenya Dig It 5K is a fundraising run organized by the Tecumseh High School to raise funds for drilling water wells in Kenya. It has been going for 5 years and they have dug over 70 wells in the town of Eldoret, Kenya.

Fundraiser for good cause, check.

Tecumseh is a small town of 8500 people and the race was held at the (rather nice) High School. The race only had about 100 runners, but there might have been 50 volunteers. As usual with such races, the volunteers were plentiful and very kind. Nothing but smiles when I checked in and when they were bringing out plates and plates of goodies post race including fruit, cookies, and popsicles.

Small town ‘love’, check.

Foggy cemeteries are cool
The race began in the front parking lot of the High School, then out for a quick tour of the local neighborhood which included a half mile section through a cemetery. I have never run through one when training and certainly never during a race. That was a little weird. I had done a warm-up along the course barefoot to see if I wanted to do the race sans shoes, and the asphalt in the cemetery was old and rough and hurt my feet a lot. I could have ran on the grass, but the headstones were REALLY close to the road and running on graves is not something I am cool with. I ended up wearing my Vibrams for the race. Yes, I got the requisite number of inquiries about my footwear.

It was clear from the beginning there were some fast young folk in this race (winning time was 15:50ish) so I was happy to be in 5th place after the first 400 m. I did not bring a GPS watch so I had to wait until I hit the mile marker to see how fast I was going. I was hoping to stay close to low 6's but since I NEVER train at this pace, I had no idea how fast I was going, just that I was doing a clip I thought I could hold for the race. 5:40. Yikes, I did not even realize I could go that fast.

PhotoThere was a water station at about mile 1.8 and while the temperature was only 70, it felt way hotter. Because of my recent water history, I of course slowed a beat to grab a cup and drank half of it, trying to keep steady. Mile 2 came in at 11:39, so I had slowed a little, but that was no great surprise. I go out too fast, this is old news. I managed to pass a young running stud at mile 1.5, so I felt comfortable that I would keep my 4th place. The last mile was an actual struggle. I was breathing very hard and driving my arms for all they were worth. We came back to the High School but had to run behind it and then do 3/4 of a loop around the track to the finish line (a-la Olympic marathon finishes) and as I came in  I could see the elapsed time up on the scoreboard and it was high 17's. I just wanted to break 18:30 and so I bore down and sprinted as best I could. I crossed the finish line and stopped and hunched over for a moment trying to catch my breath.

Fast turnover, check.

Wow that was totally awesome. The feel at the end of this race was a feeling I have not had in quite a while. Accomplishment and pure joy. I certainly enjoy finishing ultras and marathons, but the endorphins were so thick (due to my speed, I guess) that I was totally trippin' for several hours. I was very happy, and emotionally overdosing on it.

It reminded me of why I started running again, and now 7 years after I started running again, I needed a race like this. It has been 2 years since my last 5K. Now I realize how important such races are to me, be it sprint work or just the variety of the race distance. I shall add a few more to my race calendar.