Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Oh D-d-d-ear! Posted by Picasa

The things we do as parents! Posted by Picasa

Boo. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A tubby time first

"Leanna, does Alexandra have any tubby toys which look like raw chocolate chip cookie dough?"

"No, why?"

"Houston, we have a floater."

It's over

I'd call it a good day. I didn't feel great. I'm pretty sure my peak was a couple of weeks ago. Every mile seemed like work today. When you're on a peak, you hit points where you just "roll" along.

Anyway, it was my best time on this course, ~3:06, making it my second fastest marathon ever, and my fastest since 1998.

The weather was deceptively tough. Not a cloud in the sky, 45 degrees at the start. By the finish the temperature was in the 60s. It was also breezy at the start, and the relative humidity was a measly 41% (that's incredibly low for the Cape).

The bottom line is I got a bit dehydrated, and the sparse aid stations at this race (every 2.5 miles instead of the usual 1 mile typically seen at marathons) which served Cytomax (nasty) instead of my typical Gatorade Endurance Formula, didn't quite cut it. I'm a VERY salty sweater and I got sodium low today. This led to my fighting a left hamstring cramp from mile 15 on.

This marathon is the only race where I've hallucinated due to dehydration and exhaustion. It didn't happen today, but it was in my mind. It happened on a day with very similar conditions to today (a little warmer).

Funny story: I'm going to change into my street clothes and head home. I see there is NO line at the massage tables (this is a rarity). I decide to go get a quick leg massage for my sore left leg. As I'm climbing on the table I get a nasty calf cramp. The masseuse refuses to work on me until I go to the aid station. "Are you cold? Are you shaking?" "I'm fine. I know what I'm doing. It was a one time twinge, no big deal." No dice. So I get stuck in the medical room for 1/2 hour with warmed wash clothes on my calves drinking apple cider. Finally they let me leave (even they were joking that I wasn't in bad shape, but they had a protocol to follow) and I get my massage. (Trust me it was funny at the time.)

I've raced this three times and ended up in medical twice. Maybe next year I'll run the NYC marathon instead. This one seems to have some bad Jujube.

Splits will be posted later. Pretty consistent to mile 20. Not so good for the last 10K.

Official Finish: 69th overall out of 976 finishers, 36th out of 275 in open men.
Official Time: 3:06:01
10 Mile Split: ~1:10:25
20 Mile Split: ~2:20:50

Incredibly consistent through 20 miles (without wearing a watch or getting time updates). I think I'm close to a break through marathon run (the elusive 3:00 maybe).

And I verified that I pissed away a 3:05 marathon during the last mile. I surrendered 45 seconds during the final run into town and the finish.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Big day tomorrow

Okay, there have been plenty bigger, but I think I'm in good shape and mentally ready. The weather will be cool. I don't know what to expect. I'm not sure if I should wear a watch or just go by feel. The biggest fear in leaving the watch behind is that I might come close to a special time and just miss it. We'll see.

Okay, as is my practice, here are the goals in order:
1) Finish (always)
2) Finish under 3:10
3) Finish under 3:05

The plan is to play it cool until the 1/2 way, let myself go a little through the 20 mile point in Woods Hole, and then if I'm feeling good, go for it on the last 10K. No more fear of racing. No more being passive. Time to assert myself a little. Even splits would be a plus (a couple of 1:32s?).

New Dad's first race: 2004 Cape Cod MarathonPosted by Picasa

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A little family time at the pumpkin farm.


Do you own a washer and dryer? Have you ever pulled them out since they were installed? We did so today after 7 1/2 years of neglect. Mountains of lint and dog hair...and one sock. Many have vanished into the abyss never to return, but alas one has survived and returned. Amazingly it's mate still waited in my drawer. Yes this is how "Cast Away" should have ended: Tom Hanks returning to find Helen Hunt still waiting faithfully, and after a shower, reunited for good!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Training summary: week of Oct. 22

Sunday: Travel day. Cold now at it's worst.
Monday: Feeling a little better, but congested. The sun finally appeared.
Tues: Still recovering, but improving. Went for a 3.5 mile walk at lunch. Energy levels still low.
Weds: Went for a 5.5 mile run (very easy) at lunch. Not too bad. Like a dummy I forgot the heel cups for my running shoes, and ended up tweaking my ankle again. Much of the improvement in my ankle down the drain.
Thurs: Rest day. Energy levels a little off still, and ankle aching.
Fri: Missed day. Wanted to run but couldn't get it in. Crappy work week.
Sat: 10.5 mile run (7.5 on trails, mostly steady) . Legs felt stiff, and ankle was tender, but it went okay. I'm hoping to recover well enough to do some light drills tomorrow.

The last week and a half are why you always celebrate a P.R. It takes a lot of good luck to get one. Training was flawless to last Weds, and it showed in my times. Now I'm still shaking the last remnants of this cold, and my ankle is not great. I had high hopes for Cape Cod. There's a week to go, so I still expect to be in decent form, but not flawless.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ahhh...Football Sunday! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Training summary: week of Oct. 15

Sunday: Rest Day. Final time trial tomorrow.
Monday: Final 18 mile Time Trial. Weather was cool and damp.
Tues: Rest day. I felt surprisingly good despite yesterday's effort.
Weds: 5.25 miles on the URI indoor track. It's still cool and raining.
Thurs: Rest day.
Fri: Rest day. Couldn't deal with the rain or another day on the indoot track..
Sat: Rest Day. Traveling. Starting to get a cold.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Alexandra Update

I don't want readers to get the impression that she is no longer the number one interest in my life, so I felt it was time to post a formal update.

We took Alexandra to the pediatrician a week ago. We waited a long time. We waited through Alexandra's lunchtime. She began to have a fit (wouldn't you?). The doctor finally arrived, noticed the fit, and commented how she must be nearing her terrible twos because she's having a meltdown. Well actually she was starving and so was I. I damn near had my own meltdown. He then went through a list of skills like waving, walking, skipping rope, speaking in tongues, you know the usual kid stuff, and when we replied she wasn't doing everything fulltime yet, he seemed to look concerned. Okay by this point I'm also feeling like a bad daddy for not making sure she had all these skills. In the next breath he tells us we can't get hung up on her doing certain things at certain times. Okay make up your mind...

So as we're leaving (and after two shots!) he says that by her two year check-up he'd like to see her able to communicate her desires (in farsi I think). Hey, isn't that learning to communicate thing what the terrible twos are about?

So long story short, in the week since she is walking, waving, dancing, etc... I also think I saw her a few chapters into my differential calculus workbook. However, while it might not be considered proper parenting, I have thought about teaching her one additional skill for her two year check-up. Next time we wait an hour and a half and miss lunch, I think I'll have Alexandra flip the doctor the bird! "How's that for communicating!"

Runner's Hell

Maybe not everyone thinks so, but I cannot think of a worse fate than being forced to routinely run, not on a treadmill, but on an indoor track. At 200m in length, it requires 8 trips around to complete one mile. That's 40 laps for a 5 mile run. At least on a treadmill you get to see lights flashing, a clock ticking, a mileage counter moving, and if you've got decent bodily control you can watch T.V. The local 'Y' typically feeds in SportCenter, CNN, or Dr. Phil. Okay I might opt for the indoor track over Dr. Phil.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Rain out

No, not game 4 of the Yankees/Angels series, but the 1/2 marathon. Technically it's still on I believe, but I drove the course this morning to confirm what I suspected. The roads near the beach are susceptible to flooding, and the downpours of the last two days, and especially last night, have left a 100 yard stretch of the course under water. Big deal, right? Well the course is an out and back and you run this stretch twice, at mile 4 and mile 10 (it's not a perfect out and back so try not to get hung up on the numbers). This stretch is dangerous even in dry weather because the pavement contains numerous potholes from all the flooding. With it under water, you ccan't see the potholes coming.

Running the race with soaked shoes isn't the type of tune-up I'm looking for. In place of the race I'm going to do a final time trial on the Ocean drive loop either today or more likely tomorrow morning. I'm not going to set out looking for a PR (yeah right!), but I do think a 2:07:00 is in the cards. Maybe a 2:05?

A note to the Knights of the Round Bottoms: Beware the lure of things long foresaken. No good will come of it. Last night I had a dinner of Filet Mignon for the first time in years I believe, and I spent the rest of the night with terrible indigestion. Apparently large quantities of bloody red meat have become inimical to my digestive system.

** Update ** Monday morning I ran my 18 mile time trial. I tried to imitate race day prep (poor sleep, constipation, fight with spouse), and I then run a good time. Weather was overcast/drizzly and the temperature was in the lower 50s. These are nearly ideal conditions for me. My time: 2:04:03. (A new P.R. by a bit...)

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Isn't your pet's self-esteem worth it?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Okay, this blog's gotten a bit boring.

There is an explanation: I'm too lazy to keep a second blog for my training log (I've tried this before). I fully understand that almost nobody, perhaps nobody, who reads this blog really cares about my weekly mileage totals or if I've chafed. Oddly, I think some would find interest in bloody nipple talk, unfortunately I haven't had any in a while (remember the "NipGuards").

Between reminiscing about Russia, and running, I really haven't had too much going on in my life. (FYI, today is THE DAY last year we took Alexandra into our care and began that multiday voyage back to the western world.)

I'll wax a little philosophical for a moment. "Why do I run?" "Why do I race?" "Why do you fart?" Well, because you have to. Racing for me is a metaphor for my life, at least what I'd like life to be:
- Striving to be better today than you were yesterday.
- Striving to be better tomorrow than you were today.
- Not accepting perceived limitations.
There is a pretty strong correlation between how hard and intelligently you prepare, and how well you do. It also teaches you to not just cope, but to grow from the experience of disappointment and defeat (a skill definitely lacking in many people in my opinion).

Thinking back on my long history of athletic pursuits, the most intense emotional moments came, not when I won a race, but when I first realized I would win. I didn't matter if it was running or cycling or rowing, the sensation was the same: All at once it hits you, "Holy Shit, I'm really going to WIN?!!" There's nothing like it. It's the strongest affirmation and addiction I've ever found.

Training summary: week of Oct. 8

Sunday: 13.5 Miles
Monday: Off, Travel day.
Tues: 6 miles mixed asphalt and dirt. Easy pace. High tempo drills. Knee pain about an hour after run. Ran in racing shoes (Brooks Burn) instead of usual trainers (Mizuno Wave Rider).
Weds: Rest day, a little knee discomfort lingering, but not too bad. Took an Aleve.
Thurs: 6.5 miles, 1.25 fast
Fri: 7.5 miles very easy (okay, somewhat easy. Avg. 7:20 per mile with a 7:10 and a 6:40 thrown in) on bike path, no drills.
Sat: Rest Day. Race tomorrow.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Excuses, excuses

I went to the URI track today to run repeat 400s. The plan was to do 8 (one lap fast, one jog...repeat). It's a 2 mile warm-up jog over, and 2 miles back. That would make an 8 mile run with 2 miles done a high speed (if I've lost you here, just trust me that it's right). After repeat number 5 I called it a day and jogged home. I felt a slight twinge in my right hamstring. I figured it was the hard turns to the left which were to blame.

On the jog home I questioned whether I was bagging because I was truly worried about lingering injury, or just because if hurt. Make no mistake, even at only 1:20 per 400, 400s hurt. Was I being cautious or a puss?

This is a common theme in life, and the best one can do is to allow the behavioral trend to be the arbiter of the situation. If the trend is for not cutting corners, then perhaps it's just caution, but once a puss, always a puss...

**Update** Here's the deal: It's really easy to begin a gradual slide by rationalizing a break here, a day off there. If you've noticed I've been using this blog in part as a training log. In reviewing my mileage I've noticed a decline over the last few weeks. I haven't hit 40 miles in a while. Stress and fatigue from training frequently feel the same, and the only way to tell the difference is by getting out for an easy run. If it's stress I'll start to feel better as the run goes on and I loosen up. If it's overtraining, I never start to feel better. I'm going out for a run today: 7.5 miles flat, very easy, and steady (no drills). I decided this morning that I'm going to run the Newport YMCA 1/2 Marathon on Sunday because it will get the intensity back and get me concentrating on racing again. Hopefully then, the last three weeks before Cape Cod should be pretty focused. My biggest challenge right now is picking goals for Sunday. I'm thinking 1:27:00 total (P.R. is about 1:24:00), reasonably fast final 5K (6:30ish per mile), with a 4 mile warm-down after the race (will give me my total mileage goal of 18 miles for the day including warm-up). 100% of the race is held on my training roads, making it extremely easy to go fast if I'm feeling good. I know every step of the course cold. It'll be hard to hold back if I'm on a good day, so stay tuned. I just don't want to be stupid and overcook myself.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

October 4, 2004

Reunited! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 01, 2005


If you've been following along you might recall that I'm reading a book called "The Perfect Mile." It follows the progression of three amateur athletes in the early 1950's who all came up a little short of expectations at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, and thus sought to make amends by being the first person to break the 4 minute mile barrier. If you know the history, you'll know that Roger Bannister, an English medical student, was the first to accomplish the feat.

I had a little trouble getting into the book at first, mostly because I read just before going to bed. Given the detail, I typically only make it a few pages before retiring for the day. Well, that's changing. I'm now getting into it, and as I do not only am I really starting to appreciate all three runners, but I'm sympathizing with Bannister. We have a lot in common. He believed in the gentleman amateur athlete; the principal that one could do great things and have a life. He's very analytical. He was determined to train himself, using his extraordinary analytical ability to hone his training and progression towards the 4 minute mile. In the end he realized that he needed help to do it. Implied is the fact that the scientist can train himself physically, but the final push to go beyond himself is mental, and it required the support of a couple of close training partners and his coach.

I have two major goals left in my athletic career. They are the 3 hour marathon and qualifying for the Hawaiian Ironman. I'm a very analytical person and have long trained myself, without partners or a coach, and worked on a steady progression towards being a more complete athlete. I'm close enough to both goals that they seem perfectly reasonable from a physical standpoint, and yet I'm starting to think I need assistance to get over the final mental hurdle.

Yes, Roger Bannister is the type of individual that I can undestand and strive to emulate. Based on the description of him in the book, we seem eerily similar. Oh, and by the way, he was born on March 23...just like me.

Training summary: week of Oct.1

Sunday: ~8.5 miles
Monday: Pool (250 yd warm-up, 5 x 100 yds on 1:40., 250 yd warm-down), Was in a pissy mood today, but the swim was okay.
Tues: 7.5 mile run, fartlek (random accelerations, whenever I felt like it). Probably 5 total between 30 sec and 2 minutes, feeling a bit better
Weds: 6 miles on groomed trails, pretty easy with one 3 minute interval at the end.
Thurs: Rest day, Feeling much better than Monday.
Fri: 3.6 miles easy on trails, high turnover drills (baby stepping).
Sat: Undecided if I'm running today. I'm not in R.I. so I'd run by time, about 1 hour 45 min. If not today I'll do that run tomorrow.

I'd call my prep for the Cape Cod Marathon pretty good so far. My final time trial will be Oct. 16, two weeks before the race (on the 18 mile Ocean Drive loop). After that, not planned to be a P.R. effort (too taxing), I'll be better able to set my race day goal. I've run the course twice and been in the 3:09-3:10 area both times. However, to date this is the best run-up I've had, so if things stay on track (so far my ankle is behaving), I think a 3:05 may be a in the cards.

**Update** I passed on the run Saturday in favor of a run Sunday. Instead I "broke training" and absolutely stuffed my face with salad, garlic bread, great pizza and red wine. Sunday morning I hit the road for a 13.5 - 14 mile hilly run. I powered through in 1:32 (this is usually a 1:40+, and is only run when preparing for a marathon). I really don't want to jinx myself, but I think I'm getting fast (for me).