Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Edge

When I lived in Michigan, I occasionally ran with a guy in our neighborhood named Terry Elsey. Terry is about my age, and we were already getting a bit long in the tooth at the point in time when we ran together. In his prime however, Terry had been one of the fastest guys anywhere. I learned a few things during our runs. Here are a couple of them:

1) You could pick up discarded Marlboro packages, collect the UPC's, send them in, and receive some pretty neat stuff. Over a couple years, I wound up with backpacks, a roller duffle bag, cargo shorts, and other things that I can't remember. Terry, having more and longer experience with these pickups, got even more stuff. Marlboro stopped the program about ten years ago.

2) It's good to have "an edge". We would do a run through Farmington Hills that I had figured was something on the order of 11.7 miles. "I call it eleven," said Terry. When I told him that he ought to record his running data more accurately, he said, "I convince myself that I'm running slower and fewer miles. That's my edge."

When Terry ran a race, he knew subconsciously that he could run faster than his training log indicated. It must have worked for him; he sure won his share of road races.

My edge for many years has been that I ran a lot of miles. Sure I trained hard as well, but I always thought that when I lined up for a race, I had at least one advantage over my peers: that I (generally) ran more than they did. I was at least somewhat competitive, so it worked, although not as well as Terry's edge worked for him.

Now that I've retired from marathoning, I've cut back on my overall mileage. After years of seventy mile weeks, I'm now doing about forty to fifty. The really good news is that I've now gone about six months without a major injury. It's possible that there's a relationship there, somewhere. But aside from that bit of cheer, I think I may have lost my edge.

The plan had been to get faster at shorter distances by training faster for those fewer miles. I'm working on this. Both last week and this week I managed to get in both an interval workout and a tempo run. This is pretty much the kind of training I'd been planning on and hoping for. So maybe my new edge can be that I run fast nearly all the time.

I like this idea, but it sure didn't work for me at the Towpath Ten-Ten 10K the other day. Maybe I am still a work in progress.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Towpath Ten-Ten Un-Race Report

It's so much easier to write a race report when it goes well. It occurs to me that the same is true for reading said report. At least now you know how this one is going to go.

Expectations get you every time. I used to expect to do under forty minutes for a 10K, and the only question was how much under forty could I go? Not having done too many 10K's in recent years, I wasn't real sure, but based on recent training, as well as fairly recent 5K, 10-mile and marathon races, I thought 43 or so minutes - about seven minutes a mile - was doable.

Not only was it not doable, it wasn't even close. The Towpath Ten-Ten is a 10K and 10-mile race on the paved part of the towpath in Valley View and Cleveland. It's flat, and with the solid surface, ought to be fast. I chose the 10K because I wanted to go especially fast this day. The first mile actually did go okay, time-wise. It was right around seven minutes.

But I was already suffering. The rain had tapered off, but it was now extremely humid. I'd run in humid conditions before, but that thick air was affecting my breathing more than usual this day. And then there were my GI issues, about which I won't elaborate.

I slowed to eight minute pace and that was that. Even holding on to that was a chore. I finished in a little under 49 minutes. I think that's a PW, but I'm too lazy to check. In case you're bad at math, that's six minutes slower - a minute a mile - than I expected, and 10 minutes slower than where I'd like to be.

It appears that those expectations need further adjustment.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Key to Happiness

The key to happiness, or at least one of them, is to 'live in the moment'. I tried, without luck, to verify this in, my source for all such useless knowledge. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it. Regardless whether it's an official key or not, from everything I hear, living in the moment is a good thing to do. It's little tough for me however. I'm often troubled by the future, and/or haunted by the past. I know. I sound like a Charles Dickens character.

But today, I'm trying extra hard to make my run an 'in the moment' one.

Never mind that I used to eat intervals like today's for breakfast. Never mind that as recently as last week I managed to get a few really decent runs in. Today, I'm in the moment.

Never mind that as I show up at 5:15 AM along with Alan and Harold Dravenstott and Jeanne Hejny, it's awful darn early. Never mind that it's really tough to get moving, especially to get moving as fast as I'd like. I'm running in the moment. Never mind that the times I'm doing here on the track pale in comparison with those I do on my treadmill. On another day, this might be disappointing. But not today. Today, I'm in the moment.

Never mind that each of the three sets of (1600, 1200, 800) gets significantly slower. I'm running in the moment.

And never mind that although these track times may improve a bit if I keep at them, the very long term prognosis for speed is not a good one. But that's okay.

Because I'm in the moment.

Ouch II: Danny Boy Falls for Nothing

Danny Boy is awake at 3:30 AM, which is a little earlier than planned. Good, he thinks; he may be able to get an extra mile or so in. Eleven...