Monday, September 30, 2013

2013 BeeBumble 10k: Race Report

This has quickly become one of my favorite races of the year and I am not alone because there was a record 575 participants across the different events this year. I like the small town atmosphere, I like the course that is an out and back on a country road, and the timing makes it a perfect tune up race for the fall season. After my performance here the last two years I am also really beginning to appreciate it for the confidence booster it is and it's ability to add a breath of fresh air to the end of the training cycle for the 2013 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.

For this race I added an early morning shake out run to get my body primed for running. This was just a short and easy 20 minute run very first thing out of bed. Nearly all of my running is first thing in the morning but I've never done it as a shakeout for a race. I liked it and think I'll keep it. The last 5k I ran I didn't do a warm up and I learned my lesson because it cost me a very slow first mile. So once we got to Burnettsville and got our packets collected I headed out for short easy warm up and finished up with 5 x 20 second strides to get my legs, heart and lungs ready to run hard. I finished the warm up with about 10 minuets to spare, hit the restroom and lined up.

Last year I was engaged in an epic, all out, man to man, head to head race to the finish line. You can read the details here but it made for a thrilling experience and is one of my favorite racing moments. I had no idea who he was at the time but since then we have established a friendship and actually planned to meet again and race this year and this time it was a race from the start line.

I had 3 goals this year for the race. The first was to PR and I thought I should have no trouble with that. The second was to run a 38:38. I was fairly confident in that and my strategy was to go out conservative with that time in mind and finish strong. I was planning a 6:20 first mile and then to build from there. My third goal was to beat my friend Cliff who out kicked me in the final steps of the race last year.

We lined up next to each other and when the signal was given we were off. At the start line I was blocked in by a slower runner in front of me and I had to shove my way through. I took the early lead and hung on to it throughout most of the race with Cliff right on my shoulder never seeming to be more than 2 or 3 steps off.
We hit the first mile and I heard them calling out the time 6:04, 6:05, 6:06. Blasted! I had gone out to fast and this race was going to hurt bad. Cliff was right there on me so I couldn't really let up. Yeah, this race is going to hurt.

The first 1.5 miles of the course is pretty flat and the second 1.5 is described as having some "moderate hills." Moderate maybe in some other part of the country but these are nice sized hills for the middle of Indiana and they make the middle of this race a suffer-fest when you are going all out and are not afforded the luxury of backing off of the pace to accommodate for the extra work. Mile two 6:16 and mile three came in at 6:00. I was hurting pretty bad at this point. And there was Cliff still right on my heels.

I started to play with the pace a bit and realized that either knowingly or unknowingly he was letting me set the pace. I used this to allow myself to recover a bit and the next two miles came in at 6:14 each. Around mile 5 I spotted another runner who was starting to fade and targeted him for a pass. The course had flattened back out and as I caught up with him I was beginning to feel better and was confident I could finish strong from here. I tried to encourage him along with some positive words.

Between mile five and six was all business even as we were coming back toward town and catching the back end of the 5k. We started to received a lot of encouragement and I think people could tell we were racing. The race finishes by coming around a curve in the last tenth of a mile and my plan was to kick hard here. My wife who had just run the 5k was waiting here and though I couldn't see her for the sun I could hear here as she shouted to me letting me know that I really needed to go hard because Cliff was attempting a pass.
Headed to the finish and digging deep.

I dug deep and kicked hard and was able to hang on for the win. I ended up 4th overall out of 117 and 1st in my age group. I PR'ed with a time of 38:22. Not only did I achieved every goal I set before me for this race I also realized that I PR'ed the 5k in this race.....back-to-back, you know twice in a row....during the same race. Just like last year this race has shown me that my training is paying off and has energized me to finish out this training cycle strong.

Last year my oldest daughter ran this race with me. This year the whole family ran and my oldest daughters boyfriend even ran his first 5k here with us. Everyone had a great race. Kasey PR'ed and took 2nd in her age group, Hannah, coming off of a loll in running, ran a good race and finished 3rd in her age group. My wife who has been battling chronic knee issues for over a year ran a very good effort and was only off of her PR by 10 seconds. Finally, Jacob, my daughter's boyfriend, finished his first 5k and is looking to race again soon. All-in-all a great racing day for the whole family.
Age group awards!

BeeBumble 2013 was a family affair.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

2013 Fox Valley Marathon: Race Report

It wasn't exactly a race for me but more like a training run. I used this marathon as one of two extended long runs that I planned for this training cycle preparing for the goal race, the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 2nd, 2013. When this cycle started I had planned the same 2 extra long runs that I did last time. A 25 mile run and a 30 mile run. Then in early August the Carmel Marathon had a facebook contest to win 1 of 2 entries to this race. I won one of them and decided to swap out the 30 mile run thinking it would be way better to run 26.2 with full support, other runners and spectators.

It was a Sunday marathon 3.5 hrs away so we got to town the day before and spent the night. The first order of business was packet pickup. My first complaint about the race is that the expo was in way too small of a space. Then when I got to the table to get my packet they handed me a medium shirt. I don't wear a medium, I wear a small. They couldn't do anything about it there but told me to take my shirt to the race and I could exchange it after if there were any smalls left. Lucky me and thanks to my daughter who went to get it for me, I ended up with the last one.

We left the expo as quickly as possible because of the over-crowding. We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around looking for spectator areas so my wife would be acquainted with the area and able get to as many spots as possible. I didn't print out the course map or spectator maps because I figured I would just pick some up at the expo. My second complaint, they had no copies of the maps, I'm sorry that just doesn't make sense to me. But I will say, after driving the area, Fox Valley is awesome! Honestly, I could move there. It is just a really neat place.

We did something at this race we've never done before, we ate with other participants and their families by participating in the "Dine and Dash." We reserved a seat with 10 other people plus two reps from the marathon at a local restaurant Saturday night. We had a lot of fun and met some great people. In particular, I was very impressed with a woman in the 65-69 age group who only started running 3 years ago, ran her first marathon about a month ago and was running the full here as well. She was trying to qualify for Boston both times. I don't care who you are or how good of shape you are in, that is impressive.

A couple of the other participants told my wife about 3rd Street in Geneva, the town we were in at the restaurant. 3rd street has a couple of really good chocolate and ice cream places. So we strolled down 3rd Street after dinner. It was a really cool area with a lot going on. I even bumped into and met the race director in one of the shops. One place had some delicious looking gelato. Unfortunately, I couldn't have any because that would have been a sure way to derail my run the next morning. My wife and daughter on the other hand really enjoyed 3rd street. I mean they really enjoyed it.

The hotel was about a 20 minute drive from the start line. We got up, ready and left in plenty of time. Traffic was pretty heavy in St. Charles, the town the race started and finished in but everything went pretty smooth and we found a parking spot with not much trouble. I would have liked to have seen some kind of traffic direction for parking and would be one suggestion I would make to improve the experience at this race. As it was we were on our own and luckily didn't have any trouble.

I had planned on running a pace that would leave me finishing in 3 hours and 25 minutes. A full 30 minutes off of my PR. At the last minute, my daughter Hannah said, "It'd be cool if you BQ'ed without even really trying." I couldn't resist so I lined up with the 3:15 (BQ for my age group) pace group. Mike from was unbelievably accurate. I am talking about nailing the splits with in mere seconds. Looking at the results, his group ended up finishing with an overall pace of 7:26 1 second off the goal of 7:27.
Hannah talked me in to the 3:15 pace group

There was a lot of great crowd support and the course was very scenic. The biggest problem I had was that the great majority of the race was on a narrow path and I was in a big pace group. I got elbowed, stepped on and when you are that close to profuse sweaters engaged in activity that makes them sweat even more you are bound to get wet and I did. Had I been racing I wouldn't have had any of these problems so I will overlook them.

The 3:15 pace group was big and the path was narrow. This picture gives a little insight into the close quarters were were running in.

The course was a loop that followed a river making it very spectator friendly. Spectators, including my wife and daughter, could easily follow the course by following the river and since it was a narrow loop they were able to get to several places to watch the runners. So I got to see my family 4 or 5 times which was great. This is a big positive in my opinion.

Throughout the run I keep being surprised at how comfortable I was. It wasn't long before I started to change my strategy. I decided that if I was still this comfortable at 20 miles I would make this a fast finish run. This is an important kind of training for me since my legs have failed me late in my last 2 marathons causing me to miss my goal by 30 seconds or less. If I accomplish nothing more in my goal race this year I hope that it is to maintain my pace in the closing miles. 20 miles came and I felt really good so I dropped my pace down to near my goal for the Monumental Marathon to finish out the run giving my legs good practice of running at goal pace when fatigued.
Broken away from the pace group with room to run!

I ended up finishing 3:10:28. 3:09:59 is the cut off time for early registration for Boston for my age group and my only regret is being that close to early registration and not getting it. In the end this regret is merely a vanity since I have no intention of returning to Boston in 2015 and I know that I wasn't racing this marathon and if I had been I would have not only made early registration but met day 1 qualifying standards.
Finishing strong!

Nothing like a little road kill right at the finish line. I don't care if it is a Grampa in the half-marathon running the finishing .1 mile with his granddaughter. Road kill is road kill. :)

Post race we tried to hang around the finishing area but like the expo it was way under-sized. This is overall a great race in a great area on a really cool course. It is only in its 3rd or 4th year and I believe it will continue to grow. They would do well to deal with these issues and open it up. It would make the experience even better.

All things considered I really enjoyed this race and got to experience a really neat community in the Fox Valley area. I got more true marathon experience under my belt and I got a great confidence boost not only from the fast finish of this run but the quick recovery. A mere 3 days after this marathon I ran a solid long run of 17 miles at a 7:30 pace. I couldn't be more pleased than I am with that. My eyes are now squarely fixed on November 2nd and the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.

We finished the day with Mass at a beautiful church , lunch at Giordano's and a 3 and a half hour drive home.
Sts Peter and Paul, Naperville IL

If you can't eat Chicago style pizza after a marathon, I don't know when you can. This was delicious.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Our Broken Compass

Good and Evil are real and objective. I don't think this can be said enough because as fallen and broken humans we are constantly trying to justiy our faults. Instead of admitting our failures to lead the holy life we were created for we present our evil as good. Our conscince, our moral compass, is broken. So instead of following the straight and narrow path we wonder around every which way depending on how we "feel."

The Good News is that our God saw us in our wonderings and came down to lead us. He said that the gate was narrow and the path hard to find Mathew 7:14. He also said, "I AM the way, the Truth and the Life" John 14:6. He never said, Whatever road you chose willl lead to the same place. In fact going back to Matthew 7 He said that the road to damnation was wide and easy to chose.

Stilll here we are. Always picking back up that broken compass and relying on it to lead us to Him. But he already came and indeed stays with us until the end. He is right here in the Church that He built and the Gospel that it proclaims. So throw away your broken compass, the one that tells you that Evil is Good. Lift up your eyes and follow the One who came to show us the way.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Marathon as a Training Run and Glycogen Depletion

Is it just me or does this not sound like a way to have a really fun week?

This Sunday 9/22/2013 I will be running a "Marathon as a Training Run." I am currently in training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon which I will race on 11/2/2013. During my last training cycle I incorporated a few training runs over the standard 20 - 24 mile "longest run in a training program" runs. Most programs cap the long run here because it is thought firstly that a run longer provides very little more in the way of preparation and increases the chance of injury past an acceptable point and secondly because the runner could loose valuable days to the additional recovery needed from such an effort. My last time around though I found that I could do some longer runs pushing my body to be better adapted to the specific distance of the marathon and I could do them in a way that minimized injury risk and recovery time. I blogged about it back then here.

My plan was to do the same this time. I got the 20 mile runs going early in the program and got my 25 mile run in. Then I entered a facebook contest from the Carmel Marathon to win an entry in the Fox Valley Marathon. Wouldn't you know it, I won. I'm not sure I've ever won a contest before in my life and I win a marathon entry? (I've said it many times but for some reason God wants me to run. One day maybe I'll know why). I've done these super long runs on my own before and I'll tell you doing it in a full fledged marathon with other runners, crowd support, and aid station sounds like a much better way to get it done.

My stratagy to thwart injury and incur as little need for additional recovery as possible is 2 part and includes running well over a minute slower than my goal pace and doing my best to not "cash out" my glycogyn stores during the race.

The pace is easy. Find the guy with the 3:25 sign and follow him for the next 26 miles or so. Making sure I don't completly drain the tank has required a liittle effort on my part this week. I purposfully depleted my glygogyn stores this week through a calorie reduction and a couple of hard runs upfront in the week. It hasn't been a whole lot of fun and I was feeling pretty bad by the time I finished my run this morninng but this should make my body more responsive to storing the glycogyn that I feed it over the next 3 days which in turn will help fuel me through the full marathon and not leave me in a hole that will take more than a day or 2 to climb out of.

So there you have it. Now if you'll excuse me I've got some more food to eat.

P.S. I am aware that "they" say this kind of depletion isn't necessary. But "they" also say that a run longer than 20 for most and 24 miles for a few isn't necessary either. All I can say is that I try to do what works for me because "they" change their minds way to much.