Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sacramento - here I come...

Okay so I am less than five days away from a date with destiny. I know, I am a drama king, aren't I?

Training has been going well; too well, I'll say.

As for the trip up north, I was planning on driving, BUT forces of nature - not really - are making me fly. You see, a friend of mine was to help me with the driving, but she dropped out last week so I was to fend the I-5 by myself. Not that I am afraid of driving for just over five hours but I am running/racing a darn marathon for crying out loud. People have mercy on me, please ;-)

Being the engineer that I am (some people would call me a ding-ineer) I searched far and wide in the world wide web for a reasonable fare to the bay area. Now, gas alone would cost me roughly $50 each way, making it $100 roundtrip - as my basic math seems to be working fine - thank you! I found a SW fare for $98!!! I actually paid that much 20 years ago!!! Isn't life something???

The problem with not driving is that I am left w/o a car, so to speak. So the frugal person that I am, I went to priceline and bid for what else? an economy car for $12 a day, and lo and behold i got it. So I will be driving a Yugo to Sacramento at the ungodly hour of 11 PM... so it goes. Oh, and this is happening on Friday, BTW.

Wish me luck... as I will need it. I have done the training, but like anything else in life I believe that I could have worked harder... and so it goes.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Florida IS as flat as a Pancake

It's been a few days since I last posted. Lemme 'splain: I was in warm and beautiful miami, fl. While there I had a couple of decent quality runs. [I ran in Boca Raton, Miami Beach, South Beach and other rather nice locales] The quality runs begged the question: what is my current potential time at CIM?

Back when, when I decided to run this 'thon, I envisioned running it in sub 3:10, but as I found out soon after, it is easier said than done. Shoot, I couldn't even run a couple of miles at the prescribed pace of 7:15, how could I expect to run 26 and change at THAT pace??? I was out of my mind. So I backed off the goal to a more doable sub 3:16.

Well folks, after this training cycle I am now in 3:10 shape, or racing calculators indicate so. I raced a half two weeks ago and my predicted time for the full is a NOT too shabby 3:08:XX... or a 7:12 pace. The training plan I am following, which it is worth noting - I often change, called for 13 miles at goal MP. I went at what felt MP pace and while I did struggle at the end I finished the run in 1:33:31, or just a hair under 7:12 pace. The struggle was due to the lack of rehydration during the long run. Simple.

Back to the question of what I plan on racing in less than 13 days... I just do not feel confident enough to aim at a sub 3:10. I have ran plenty of these suckers to be so wise as to know that I would be setting myself up for failure. BUT I think the sub 3:16 is a bit soft, so I have compromised with my wussy self and will aim for 3:12. Now, that will be my A goal. My B goal will be to break 3:16, and my C goal will be to break 3:20. The plan is to run the first 10 miles with the 3:15 pacer - from the elevation profile, those appear to be the hardest in the course. Then, depending on how well I feel, I will slowly pick it up to 7:15 pace and hold on, hopefully until I cross the finish line.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

NYC was not to be, BUT...

Because I was so close to NYC I thought it would be nice to spend the weekend there. I was bumming a ride from a fellow soldier; I had previously changed my flight from Sat morning to Monday evening. The logistics were not simple as I was to ride the train on my way back from Penn Station to as close to the Philly airport as possible. I tried priceline hoping to land a decent price and no luck. So I decided to visit NYC another time and re-schedule my flight back to Sat (one nice thing of having a govt ticket - as you're allowed to make changes sans any fee).

As I was browsing the web at the USO, I went to the United site to input my frequent flier account and choose my seat. While there I decided to try to upgrade to first class using miles.

It was nice to fly first class. Breakfast was pretty good and I probably drank a bottle of wine... the result of not being allowed to drink while on CBS. Suffice it to say that the flight was quite pleasant.

At 10 AM I was back in lala land. My feet were itching to run but I felt nauseous, part of it was jetlag and part of it was all that drinking I did. The week had been low in volume (25), my last run having taken place on Wednesday, where running four of the seven miles at 7:30 pace felt fast, but obviously not so. This 'forced' taper had my legs feeling fresh. I knew about a local half and full taking place today, so I checked their website and saw no race day registration, so I drove there - registered for the half and my itchy feet would get to race after all.

Many moons ago, seven years to be more accurate, I bought what i think are the best flats ever made, or Adidas RATS. These shoes fit my feet like gloves. I like them so much I only wear them for shorter races. I wanted to race the half wearing them but I could not find them. I had to run in brand new flats. I was not too happy about it so I kept on looking. You see, I have more than 10 pairs of running shoes (new in their boxes) and had to go through each box. Finally i found them. Things were looking up. Now it was time to repair the damage I had caused by drinking all that wine. I began to aggressively hydrate. Being that I was in EST I felt sleepy but could not fall asleep with the anticipation of my upcoming race. I ended up sleeping about four hours... not too bad.

Jumped in the shower and got dressed. Drove for 40-45 minutes to Santa Clarita and made it with half an hour to spare. It was surprisingly chilly and did a two mile warm up with some accelerations thrown in. McMillian's calculator predicted me running the half in 1:29:28... hmmm, sounds doable. So that was the goal, to break 1:30. To make it easy on my foggy brain, I figured 6:50s would be a slam dunk to keep track.

I line up in front and, as in many races, I see people who should not be there, but I really don't care, I just want to run well. A woman sings the anthem and sings it rather well.

The director counts down and we're off. I start at what feels like tempo pace. I look at my garmin and it reads 6:24 pace. It's okay, my breathing is not labored so I keep the effort. A nice incline is just ahead of us and I climb it strongly, the legs are fresh indeed. First mile is 6:40, right on target.

The next mile is downhill and I expect a faster split, and sure enough - 6:35. I am pleased to be banking some seconds. A few runners pass me. They're better runners; that is just the way it is. I don't worry about it. I am here to race the clock, not them. Third mile seems to be downhill and the thought of having to run uphill in the latter miles does not appeal to me at all. I did glance at the elevation and it seemed fairly flat. Fourth mile seems to be downhill and I keep on banking time. We are now running on a paved bike trail. The course has several turns that force me to slow down and turn my feet in awkward angles. My right foot begins to hurt on the outside. My stomach is protesting; jetlag? I feel nauseous. Will I be able to keep what to this point has been a really good race? 33:19, hmm, too good to be true. I'll take it.

I am still feeling strong in spite of the stomach issues. I do not lose my placing. Next mile is right on target 6:50. Then I get all demoralized as the next split is 7:15, WTF? I try to increase the effort while paying close attention to my breathing. 6:57?? And I am getting really tired and I am already hurting. 7:05, and I am really, really disappointed. It's just not in the cards today - or is it? Then we exit the bike trail and hit the road for about 30 meters, the we enter the other side of the river where, to my delight, I see that we had been going up and now it is time to hit mild downhills. This split brings a smile to my tired face, 6:44 -(34:51 for the second five - 1:08:10 cumulative). I am hurting but I try to hit 6:50s.

At nine this man who I was about to pass stays with me. It's good to have company. We give each other strength. We're both struggling. He is 50 years old and his stride is short but quick. His goal is also to break 1:30. I point out that all we need to do to break 1:30 is run 7s for the remainder of the race. We hit the next mile in 6:50 and pass a struggling runner. We continue and my legs feel weak, 6:47 and I am so glad we're still on a mild decline. The next and final mile would have one of those underpasses and I lengthen my stride on the short decline, and climb 'strongly', the short incline. I drop my partner, he struggles through the incline. I want to pull him but I have to run my own race. There are two bridges with minor uphills, but at this stage they feel like mountains. When I crest the short hills my legs feel wobbly and my pace feels soooo slow, 6:52. I am still holding pace... hard to believe. I now know I will break 1:30. I enter the final stretch. I make one last turn. I see the finish mats. The announcer says my name and my hometown. I open my arms as a sign of triumph. My legs don't feel tired anymore. Each stride I take is taken with conviction, with confidence; my legs feel stronger than ever. I cross the finish and I pump my right fist a-la tiger woods. 1:29:25 chip time, 1:29:26 clock time.

How about that McMillian calculator? The predicted time was within three seconds!!!

The Final Turn