4 Reasons Why I Love Final Race Instructions

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I’m a rule follower. If you have rules or instructions or directions for me, I will adhere to them as best I can. It’s a very exciting life I lead, I know.

So when I get an email from the organizers of a race with the subject line Confirmation Sheet & Final Information or Final Race Instructions, you can bet I’m all over it like a guy who loves instructions maybe more than is healthy for him.

Last week, I got THE EMAIL for my next race. (Along with spam-levels of correspondence pertaining to upgrades and special offers and a dozen other new ways I can spend my money. But that’s a post for another day.)

The much-anticipated email contained FOUR KEY ELEMENTS that are instrumental to my race experience. Continue reading “4 Reasons Why I Love Final Race Instructions”

9 Numbers That Defined My Year in Running

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This is my 2013 retrospective. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Oh, 2013, you were a beauty. My family and I were tremendously blessed with health, stability and security. I loved watching my toddler start to turn into a little man. My wife and I found out that our family would grow again, by one, in 2014.

2013, you were also one for the record books. I ran hundreds of miles training for races in five different distances, and I was surprised to realize I bested my time in all of them in the last 12 months!

To see my number of PRs, and other stats, check out my list below.

627

  • Total miles run

98

  • Miles run in January (most)

17

  • Miles run in September (least)

8:58

  • Average pace per mile (Nike+ calls it “fast & furious”)

7

  • Medals earned

5

2

1

  • Marathon run
  • 15k race run
  • 4.2m race run (third consecutive Pat’s Run)
  • 4m race run

0

  • Injuries

With 2013 in the books, I hope you have a happy new (running) year!

» What About You?
Do you have any 2013 numbers you’re particularly proud of? Do you have any running goals for 2014?

Good Vibes from a Good Run

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This morning, I had a good run. It didn’t strike me just how much a good run affects my day until I sat down to write this piece. Today, even without that realization, I had pep in my step and a hunger in my belly. (Literally, as in I can’t eat enough food!)

I’m shooting for 8:15 miles for my Thursday tempo runs, and today I nailed it. I’ve only done that a few times for my tempo runs since I started training almost two months ago. If you don’t run, it’s difficult to describe the feeling of meeting a running goal. If you do run, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Nice, right?

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^ I seem to always start off herky-jerky as I settle into a comfortable pace. By mile 4, I was in a groove.

Anyway, studies have shown that running and other exercise is good for the brain. After a good run—heck, after a bad run—my brain takes a bath in endorphins and other feel-good hormones. Accomplishing a goal during said run (like meeting a certain pace) is icing on the physiological cake.

Plus, it’s such a pleasant change from a few weeks ago, when I was struggling to meet my new, aggressive goals while training for a faster half-marathon finish. I’m not struggling any more! It seems I’ve turned a corner.

That feels good.

A Tale of Two 10-Mile Runs

I run the same route for all my 10-milers (boooring, I know), but the last two could not have been any different. Behold:

Date: Oct. 26        Time: 1:38:41       Goal pace: 9:00     Actual pace: 9:38
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^ Ugh. Don’t let the kick at the end distract you from what was a miserable run. You can see the pace start to erode after mile 4, and then things go further south from there. What you can’t see is that I walked four times in the last three miles. My body was toast for the rest of the day after this mangled morning run.

Date: Nov. 9         Time: 1:31:17       Goal pace: 9:00     Actual pace: 8:5510_miles_1109

^ Hooray for negative splits! Hooray for starting strong and finishing stronger! Hooray for having energy to spare by the end! Hooray for not walking! I like this pace plot. A lot.

This is what success looks like for me.

Hey, I Put Some New (Running) Shoes On and Suddenly Everything Is Right

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Paolo Nutini’s “New Shoes” is one of my favorite running tunes. It’s catchy and has just the right cadence. Last week it became my mantra.

I’d already gone way too long on my last pair of running shoes, and rather than buy new ones, I thought, Hey, my previous pair seem all right, and they can’t be any worse than what I’m wearing now, so I pulled them out and pressed them into service. If that thought ever crosses your mind, save yourself the grief and dismiss it. There was a reason I’d retired those old shoes in the first place. It took two 6-mile runs in them to realize they were not all right.

The rule of thumb—or is it big toe?—is to replace your shoes about every 300 to 500 miles. Because of my height, my toes strike the ground harder and I wear out the cushion sooner. At about 450 miles on my last pair, I was long overdue. I vowed to buy new kicks ASAP.

Oh, if only it were that easy.

Continue reading “Hey, I Put Some New (Running) Shoes On and Suddenly Everything Is Right”

I missed my target for Thursday’s 5-mile tempo run by 15 seconds per mile. That’s quite a bit IMO, but I’m calling it a victory. Here’s why.

  • I pushed through, even though everything in my body said stop (not even halfway!). I still don’t know how I managed to persevere, but I did.
  • As it became clear that I wouldn’t have enough in my tank, my mind drifted to Saturday’s 10-miler and how I could possibly finish that if I was already struggling so much with 5. I stopped that train of thought in its tracks. One thing at a time. I would deal with Saturday’s run on Saturday.

Now, to get ready for those 10 miles.

Maybe My Half-Marathon Goal Is Too Aggressive

Maybe My Half-Marathon Goal Is Too Aggressive

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What is this parasitic blob that has taken up residence in my head?

Ooooh, yeah. It’s doubt. Hello, old friend.

I’d been riding my runner’s high for about seven months, right up until week 1 of my new half-marathon training regimen. In March, I turned in a fantastic race in Washington, D.C., finishing the half in 1:55 after training to break 2:00. I wanted more.

Heck, if I could break 2:00 by five minutes, why couldn’t I break 1:55 by five minutes?

I’ll tell you why: To shave 10 minutes off a half-marathon is to shave 46 seconds off each mile. And lemme tell you, it’s hard. At least for these legs.

Finish time Pace per mile
2:00 9:10
1:55 8:47
1:50 8:24

It took me two years to break 2:00, and that whole time I trained for right around 9:00 miles. These days, to get in under 1:50, I’m training for 8:30 miles—I know 8:30 gives me a 1:51 finish, not 1:50, but I’m expecting to surprise myself.

Well, here’s a surprise: 8:30, at least so far, has proved nearly impossible.

Continue reading “Maybe My Half-Marathon Goal Is Too Aggressive”

Flying Pig Marathon Relay Recap

Flying Pig Marathon Relay Recap

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Note: Let’s all pretend that I wrote this in May and not October, OK? Thank you kindly.

One of my most enjoyable races was only a fraction of a race, hosted by a city that knows how to put on a race and also really knows how to have fun with it.

My brother, Doug, lives in the Cincinnati area, which is Flying Pig country. For the uninitiated, the Flying Pig Marathon is a 15-year-old event that includes a 5k, a 10k, a half, a full and a full relay. This year, the long races went down May 5.

Doug called me a couple months out to say he wanted to run the relay with some co-workers, and he wanted me to join. The Pig had been on my radar, and although I hadn’t planned to do it so soon, I couldn’t pass up a chance to experience this with my little bro. I made arrangements to fly in for a four-day weekend.

My fondness for this race started in the airport and continued throughout town, where I was greeted by big pig sculptures all decked out for the main event. At the expo, I LOL’d at the Batman-inspired T-shirts that said GOTHAM—except GOT and HAM were in two different colors. Volunteers there and on the course wore shirts that said GRUNT.

With our packets picked up, our foursome settled on the relay legs. Doug, as the organizer, preferred to run last and cross the finish line. I thought it would be great to run leg 3 so I could hand off to him. I also decided I’d run the last leg with him, unofficially, to give him encouragement along the way.

Continue reading “Flying Pig Marathon Relay Recap”

Opening Day: 3 Reasons Why I’m Super-Excited for Running Season to Start

Opening Day: 3 Reasons Why I’m Super-Excited for Running Season to Start

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Tuesday can’t get here soon enough.

That morning—opening day, if you will, for my running season—I begin a 10-week training program for my next half-marathon. Although I ran more this summer than ever before, I’ve taken a break in the last few weeks, running some but resting mostly. I’m jonessing, man!

I’ve even penned the start of a ditty to commemorate. (Apologies to baseball’s slightly more popular ballad.) Feel free to sing aloud.

Take me out to the surface streets.
Take me out to the trails.

How do I love opening day? Let me count the ways.

Continue reading “Opening Day: 3 Reasons Why I’m Super-Excited for Running Season to Start”