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”

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.

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”

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”

Who Doesn’t Love Unexpected Race Bling?

Who Doesn’t Love Unexpected Race Bling?

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I left the Arizona Road Racers’ I-Did-A-Run (get it?) 5K last weekend with a giveaway protein shake in hand and mixed emotions in my head:

Meh …

  • To realize too late that I’d started out too fast.
  • To recall wondering when the next water station was, because it sure was hot out there.
  • To know by mile 2 that there was no way I was finishing strong.
  • To think that I probably could have, should have trained more.

Grateful …

  • To know that I’m able to run 3.1 miles at all, especially without keeling over.
  • To see a few of my co-workers in a (relatively) relaxed, nonwork setting.
  • To hang out with my dad, who got up at o-dark-hundred to see me compete in this modest little race.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that I happened to be the fastest 34- to 39-year-old in the field that day.

Continue reading “Who Doesn’t Love Unexpected Race Bling?”

Runner Encounters Cows, Takes the Long Way to Avoid Them

Runner Encounters Cows, Takes the Long Way to Avoid Them

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Pictured above is the moment my 4-mile run turned into 5.5. A steady stream of cows impeded my planned route through the land of Tillamook Cheese, forcing me to double back.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Of course, the conversation with the extended family went something like this.

“Why did you go back? Why didn’t you just walk through?”

“He’s not from around here. He doesn’t know his way around cows.”

“He might have gotten kicked, but that’s about it.”

Truth be told, I DON’T know my way around cows, and I AM glad not to have been kicked. I’m also glad I had enough left in my tank to get back. The long way.

Continue reading “Runner Encounters Cows, Takes the Long Way to Avoid Them”

Gonna Make You Sweat: My First Arizona Road Racers Summer Series

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I’m as fit as I’ve ever been in August.

This revelation came the day that I finished the last of five races in the Arizona Road Racers Summer Series, “the Valley’s one and only summer race series.” Included were four 5Ks and one 4-miler, spanning May 25 to Aug. 11.

I signed up thinking it was a great way to stay active during the summer, when I usually join the rest of the Phoenicians under a collective rock. Most important, my continued training would take me through my 20-year high school reunion at the end of July. (Read: I’d be in the peak physical condition requisite for gloating around my classmates.)

It all seemed simple enough.

In fact, coming off my best season of running yet—during which I set PRs at 5k, 4.2 miles (Pat’s Run), 15k, half-marathon and marathon—I set some fairly simple, yet aggressive goals.

Continue reading “Gonna Make You Sweat: My First Arizona Road Racers Summer Series”

The Best Yet: Breaking Down a Near-Perfect Race

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It took two years and two months. Finally, I reached my goal of a sub-2:00 half-marathon. If I’d done it on my first half or my second or my third, I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much.

And I didn’t just squeak under 2, either. I blew it out of the water. Official time: 1:55:20.

All my training was based on 9:00 miles. I think 9:02 would have gotten me in just under the wire, so I wanted some breathing room. My plan was to start out around 9:15 and gradually pick up the pace. But by the first 5K, I was already closing in on 9:00. Too fast too soon? History says yes.

Continue reading “The Best Yet: Breaking Down a Near-Perfect Race”