Sunday, August 29, 2010

E.N. Hines Drive

This is a parkway just west of Detroit. I've run here many times, but am always impressed that there's so much of it. It's sort of like our Metroparks parkway in the Cleveland area. Some of my past running here includes the Martian Marathon (a couple times), the Detroit Free Press Marathon training run (a couple times), several runs with friends Paul, Doug and Keith beginning at Paul's in Novi, and more.

Today I was staying at Six Mile in Livonia, and I wanted to get a long run in before heading home. I ran west on Six Mile, south on Haggerty (forgetting that the bike trail runs north/south along I275), to catch Hines Drive south of Plymouth Rd. I figure that was a good five miles right there. I decided to go west on Hines, rather than the slightly more familiar easterly direction. As noted, I was surprised at how far it actually went on. I was also surprised at how nice and peaceful it was. Back to the direction and distance: at some point I believe I was going north before heading back to the west again. At another point it felt as though I was making a big semi-circle, coming to Northville Road twice.

Although I was fairly tired, I felt like I was proceeding at a decent enough pace. I turned around after another 45 minutes, figuring that this was a good 10 miles total each way. After I turned back, I tried to pick it up some. Surprisingly, I did. My last few miles were probably the best.

Another 20-miler in the books.

Better than Perfect

This is familiar territory in more ways than one. I pass mile 9 in something just under 62 minutes. It is a minute or so faster than this point in the Perfect 10-Miler a couple weeks ago. At that race, I had very little left, and I finished with a fairly slow final mile. Do I have anything left this time? This time it’s the Crim 10-Miler, and I’m in familiar territory not only with the time and challenge of the final mile, but also because I’m back up in Michigan, running a race I’ve done many times with old friends.

Where were all those old friends this time? Perhaps it’s been too long. I had FaceBooked a couple folks who would be there, and I thought that I’d simply know just about everyone else, as seemed to be the case at all those previous Crim races in the 80’s and 90’s. This time out, I did see a couple familiar faces, but none of my closer friends, including Jim Karner, whom I’d FB’d. I nodded to some of the folks, but hardly said two words to anyone. Did I mention that there were over 10,000 runners? The sheer numbers may have been a factor in the ability to find folks.

The reason I’m back in Michigan is to attend the wedding of Erich Watry, son of old friends Mike and Linda Leinius. I’d spent the previous night visiting Greg and Dot Worley, who conveniently live closer to Flint than the location of the wedding reception in Livonia. I’m doing all this on my own, since Debbie is still in Connecticut, helping her daughter and new grandson.

It had been a cool night, with temperatures in the fifties and low humidity for a change. By the 8am start the sun was warming things up to around 70F, but the humidity was still low. These were the best race conditions I’d had in months. The start was as crowded as I’d expected. I was seeded into a corral with other sub-7 minute runners. Since I’m now just *barely* under that pace, I did place myself at the *end* of that corral. The first couple miles appeared very familiar to me; it was starting to seem like I’d never left.

Those early miles are fairly flat and indeed fast. I tried to keep them at just under 7-minute pace without working too hard. As the race unfolded, I couldn’t quite remember where the Bradley Hills were. I remembered that they were somewhere in the middle, but I was reminded of their location soon enough. Although the Crim is a fast course, those Bradley Hills do make it challenging. They turned out to be from about mile 4.25 to about 6.25, give or take. And once again, they did indeed slow me down some.

The Bradley’s are probably tougher than the hills I’d experienced at the Wooster Heart and Sole Half-Marathon the previous week. The hills at that race are more constant, but not as steep. I’d made the trip to Wooster with several MCRR friends, and we had a blast there as usual. My time for Wooster was 1:33 and change, including a strong finish. This was better than last year, but slower than the one before. The heat and humidity didn’t help at all.

The weather for the Crim was still comfortable as I came through that tough hilly section. The second half is quite scenic, as there are generally parks on one side of the road, and large old beautiful homes on the other. I did manage to get the mile split times back down to sub-7 after a couple slower miles through the hills. This is where the race truly begins.

After mile 9 I try to run faster. My legs are barely responding, but I suppose that I have indeed kicked it up a notch. Then with about a third of a mile to go, I turn onto Saginaw Street. I see and I remember that it truly is all downhill from here. Now I pick it up even more, passing a few runners as I go. One or two pass me as well, but I’m doing as well as can be expected. I get to the brick portion of Saginaw for the final couple blocks and pick it up once more, to ramming speed. I cross the line in 1:08:30 or so. I believe that the difference between the gun time and my chip time may be on the order of 15 seconds, so my chip time may be closer to 1:08:15. That final mile was a fast one. At sub-6:30, it was my fastest of the day.

This is indeed better than Perfect. I’d done 1:09:55 at the Perfect-10. Here I was better than that by a minute and a half or more. The low humidity probably made all the difference, as this is surely a tougher course.

After the race I continue to look for old friends, but only found a few familiar faces. Later on at the wedding, who should I see but Jim and Debbie Deren? It turns out that their daughter was in the wedding party, and is close friends with both Erich and Michelle. How ironic to finally run into an old running friend where he wasn’t at all expected. More ironic than that, Jim had done the Crim this day as well. You can’t make this stuff up.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Malcolm Dancer

This little post is not about running at all. It's about being a Grandpa.

Malcolm Dancer came into the world Friday, August 13, 2010. Veronica and Barry, and the new kid on the block are all doing quite fine. Debbie has been in Connecticut to help for a couple weeks already, and she continues to do so. Everyone's home now, and doing fine.

I made the long trip to visit for a couple days, and I was very proud and happy to hold Malcolm. I'd forgotten what it was like to hold a baby. What a joy!

The Perfect 10-Miler and an Animal Farm Concept

I've run every one of these Perfect 10-Milers since the race's inception in 2003. And every year I've done well there. Even though last year's 1:08:40 was my slowest ever, I was still happy with it. With all the hard running I've been doing, I thought I could beat that time this year. Heck, I even tapered a wee bit.

Seven of us MCRR folks squeezed into Debbie's vehicle to head up to Lyndhurst for the always fun camaraderie. It was warm and extremely humid. But I wasn't about to let that get the better of me. Or would I?

As planned, I started at just under seven minute pace. I saw Debbie and Connie, and a few others, early on and at the turnaround. After running this one so many times, I knew about the uphill sections in miles 5 and 6. Half-way went by in 34 and a half minutes - about the same as last year. Those hills slowed me a little as expected, but I was going to lower the hammer for those last four. Sure enough, downhill miles 7 and 8 were pretty good (although not as fast as expected). Even then, If I could've managed a really fast final two miles, I would've been okay. I couldn't, and I wasn't. The last two were around seven minutes, so I finished in 69:55. Very disappointing. As expected, this was tempered by the fun of being with all my MCRR friends.

I'm not disappointed because I ran a dumb race, or because I feel like I didn't give it my all. And it's not because I didn't place in my age group, whereas I won it last year and in previous years. I ran it just as I should have, but of course I wanted to go a little faster in the second half. And I was totally spent, especially in that high humidity. Regarding placing, you just never know who will show up. My disappointment is due to the slowing of my times here and at other races. This, in spite of the fact that I'm working so hard to run hard in my training. Maybe I should just not train so hard?

This weekend I've got the Wooster half-marathon, and next weekend the Crim 10-Miler. After this one, I'm not very hopeful about those.

A little more about the training: yes it's been pretty decent. 70 mile weeks; Speedwork here and there (including two sessions last Tuesday); some Hinckley hills and other long and medium-long stuff. It seems like it should be enough to evoke some improvement. I suppose that like the Horse in Animal Farm, I'll just have to say, "I will work harder."

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Tendinitis? Shin Splits? Whatever You Call it, it Hurts

Yesterday Ladd, Janet, Charles and I did a slower paced run through Buckeye Woods Park and Chippewa Lake via roads, dirt and bike trails. It was a beautiful day for a run and an enjoyable course, but I was in pain the entire way.

My right shin had been acting up for a week now - ever since a long run with Jeanine the previous Thursday. There's been a noticeable lump at the source of the pain, and my entire ankle was swollen with edema at times. The pain itself has come and gone a couple times during the week. Dr. Joe seemed to have it cured completely, but it came back with a vengeance during that run yesterday.

I was therefore very concerned about today's Hilly Hinckley long run that also promised to be at a faster pace. A good bunch showed up, including Michele, Ladd, Debbie S., Jack, Brad, Dan, and probably a couple others that I can't remember. I tried to stay with Mandy for the first 9+ mile loop, and then Debbie, Jack and Ladd on the second one. A few of us followed all that up with a 3+ mile lake loop. Two surprises: 1) I ran ok. 2) I had no pain whatsoever, even with the hills and fast pace. Whatdoyaknow?

This afternoon was the MCRR picnic, organized with great care by Debbie and Nancy. It was a fun event, even though I had to enjoy it without Debbie H.

Addendum: I have been feeling much better - almost 100%, but the pain came back a bit today (Aug. 19).

The 100-Mile Party

Suzanne Pokorny is the volunteer coordinator for the Burning River 100-Mile Endurance Run. She's done it for a couple years now and by all accounts does a wonderful job of organizing over 20 aid stations and hundreds of volunteers spread out over the 100 mile point-to-point course. This year Suzanne worked her usual wonders of organizing everything, but then went on to run the race. Who would step in for her on race day itself? Hmmmm. I couldn't think of a good enough excuse not to, so I became Volunteer-Coordinator-For-The-Day.

It turned out that Suzanne did such a great job ahead of time that I wound up doing precious little more than show up at each aid station and ask if they needed anything. A few did, so I actually did add some value. Most of the time, however, I felt like just the window dressing - just appearing and accepting at least some of the praise for a great event.

Actually, RD Joe Jurczyk, Suzanne, and all of the other volunteers deserve all the accolades they can get. At least they do get some - mostly from the runners, who have been just about unanimous in their praise for the race and the volunteers.

Each aid station operated like a small city with it's own mayor (the aid station captain). They all took their jobs very seriously, yet managed to inject a great deal of fun into the event as well. That's why I call it a 100-mile party. How better to spend 30-plus consecutive hours of a weekend.

It was actually more and less than that. More in that I had arrive in Willoughby Hills well before the 5am Saturday start, and I had to be on hand for the awards over an hour after the 11am Sunday finish. Less in that I unexpectedly managed to break away for a 3-hour or so nap during the night. Joe was, of course, extremely tired and losing his voice, so I took over the announcing duties. That was a great deal of fun - seeing everyone, including many that I know - cross the finish line in Cuyahoga Falls all night and morning.

Does all the enjoyment I had make me want to go and, for the second time, do such a thing myself? Not on your life.

Whitefish Point Marathon Race Report

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