Saturday, December 30, 2006

Closing out the year

Two runs in CT. this last week; 4.5 miles and 4.4 miles. 7 mile run today back in Middletown. I'm at 800 miles for the year, which is roughly 2 runs and 15 miles per week running. That of course includes all rest time, sickness, etc... so all in all not too bad. I may get out for 2 miles tomorrow to warm-up for a race on Monday (5 miles).

It's nice having the week off from work. It presents a good chance to recharge the batteries, reflect on the past year and plan the next year. I met most of my top goals. I didn't meet my mileage goal (1200 originally). The number was arbitrary so I don't really care. I'd like to see my bike mileage almost double next year and my run mileage stay the same or go up a little. The big goals, breaking the 3 hr marathon and qualifying for (and competing in) the 70.3 World Championships were gratifying. The marathon was the most gratifying because I had been chasing it for so long.

Next year's plans aren't very clear yet. I have a few races in the plans, but no real "goals". Well one: I'd like to win something again. My dream goal would be to have one more overall win in something. It's such a incredible feeling coming into any finish line in any type of event, ahead of everyone else. To experience it one more time would be great.

Santa Claus brought me a new pair of running shoes for Christmas. You don't realize how dead the cushioning is in your shoes until you put on a new pair. Wow, what a difference. It makes sense that the others were dead. I had about 400 miles on each pair. Being lightweight trainers conventional wisdom says that they are good for about 300 miles, so yes they were overdue for replacing.

Finally, I was thinking about a lacrosse coach in high school, "Scary" Larry Piatelli. For the most part I don't have many fond memories of him. Doing some research I learned he passed away of a heart attack in 2003, about 6 months after becoming Head Master of Berkshire School. He was playing hockey, his passion, in a rec league in Albany, N.Y. Oddly, once I learned of his untimely death I realized that for all the negative sentiment I had towards him, I didn't want to see him pass away. And, seeing his age and doing the math, I realized he was only late 20s early 30s when we were at Kent. I was far from perfect in my 20s and early 30s as well, so I've decided to give him a posthumous mulligan on some things. I've also decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was, in his way, just trying to get me to strive for excellence. After all, this is the guy who one day during practice declared that "pound for pound" I was the toughest guy on the team. A bit of a backhanded compliment given that he frequently made fun of my thin runner's build, but a compliment nonetheless.

So farewell to 2006. I learned much this year and will remember you fondly as I strive to relegate you to "yet another year" instead of allow you to exist as "the best year yet."

The numbers

Terrain: Asphalt

# of Runs: 104
YTD Mileage: 800.07
MTG (Miles to Goal): 199.93
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 7.69

YTD Mileage: 1082.50
# of Rides: 47
M/RD: 23.03

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Training Log Entry #101

Okay there haven't been 101 entries, but there have been 101 runs. Friday I logged another 5 miles. Nothing too hard. It was a quiet day at work so I went down to the 1st floor and tracked down a fellow triathlon team member and Brown employee. He had his running gear and was also doing a whole lotta nuthin' so we just went out and did my loop through the east side of Providence. It begins with a climb up College St. which has a 13% grade for the first third and which eases to about 8% by the top.

It felt good, though I still have a few lingering cold symptoms (runny/stuffy nose).

The numbers

Terrain: Asphalt

# of Runs: 101
YTD Mileage: 784.17
MTG (Miles to Goal): 215.83
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 7.76

YTD Mileage: 1082.50
# of Rides: 47
M/RD: 23.03

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sick Days and the Century Mark

I'm lounging around right now. In fact until today I hadn't done anything since Tuesday (a week ago). I've got a really minor cold, but I don't want it to blossom. Sunday I watched football, played with this blog, and listened to Alexandra singing in her crib. Monday I missed work with a fever. Tuesday I was back into the grind and today back on the road.

It's possible the cold wouldn't have settled in this past weekend except that Leanna and I went out two nights in a row (Grandma and Grandpa Hopkins were visiting), and let's just say it was a shock to the system. We haven't been out without Alexandra much at all these past two plus years. It was nice, even if it did mean getting a little snotty nosed.

Today I went for a very easy 3.5 miles around the east side of Providence. While that doesn't help the per run average too much, nonetheless it was nice to be back outside. No point risking getting sick again. After all I'm still working through the final traces of the cold. Anyway, this run was my 100th run this year. A nice little benchmark. Honestly I don't know how that stacks up to previous years, but I think it's pretty good. Tell you what, we'll compare numbers this time next year. For now HAPPY 100!

# of Runs: 100
YTD Mileage: 779.17
MTG (Miles to Goal): 220.83
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 7.79
(Yikes, time for some long runs to up that avg!)

YTD Mileage: 1082.50
# of Rides: 47
M/RD: 23.03

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I feel the earth move under my feet...

Ever run across a bridge that was in the process of being demolished? I did today. Well technically only one span of the old Washington Bridge is being torn down, but tell that to the other span. I was running back to work at lunchtime and the heavy machinery was just going to town. Two big boys side by side. One had a mega-jackhammer attached to the front. The other had the world's largest vice grips. As I got about 1/2 way across the span it began to shake (forced resonance). I actually lost my balance and almost fell down. Wow. Let's just say I sped up a bit and got over the bridge, then kept an ear open for the wrong span collapsing.

One other "Odd"servation. Because of the demolition, the pedestrian foot path under the bridge had been rerouted to an area where they weren't working. Well by the time I had returned the workers had moved down to the area to which they had relocated the foot path. However, they forgot to reroute foot traffic back to the original path. Apparently the woman in the orange vest responsible for directing people had not been kept in the loop as to the movements of the demo. So as she is starting to tell me how to get around the destruction she notices the heavy equipment has been moved onto the site of the relocated foot path. Thus her directions come out as follows:
"You have to go up and around...oh wait, what the f--- are we supposed to do now?!"

The numbers:

6.5 miles (also 4 runs totaling 17.1 listed on previous post)

Terrain: Asphalt

# of Runs: 99
YTD Mileage: 775.67
MTG (Miles to Goal): 224.33
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 7.83
(Yikes, time for some long runs to up that avg!)

YTD Mileage: 1082.50
# of Rides: 47
M/RD: 23.03

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Racing Day, It's Racing Day...

I'm running a 10k today. I've been searching the internet trying verify the last time I raced just a 10k. It looks like December 1995 was the last one. It was the same race as I'm running today (albeit on a different course). Other than that all my 10k efforts have been in conjunction with olypmic distance triathlons. There have been a few 5 milers (Thanksgiving day races) and a few 4.8 milers and 5ks, but no 10ks. The bar is pretty low on my 10k time. 39:21. I think I can manage that.

Here are my goals:
1) Break 39
2) Break 39:21

Hard to pick a 3rd goal for a 10k race. Finishing I guess is the 3rd goal, but that's just to keep my "always finish what you start" streak alive. I'll be bummed if I don't at least knock off #2, and #1 is so close to #2, that's really my goal for the day. Leanna and Alexandra will be watching so I'll have a little extra motivation.

Final time: 38:26, which is faster than I thought I could go (6:12 per mile). It's been so long since I've raced this distance in a pure running event, that I found finding a pace was hard. Mile 1 was a 6:04, followed by a 6:24 second mile. I had a moment of concern that I couldn't get the pace back, but then I got in with a group of runners and by mile 3 was on a pace of 6:12 per mile, which we held to the end. The group was initially pretty big and a little "unruly" (people moving sideways without looking, a little pushing, etc...), so at about mile 2.5 I surged and only the tough people hung in. By mile three there were only 5 of us. One guy surged ahead and stayed there until mile 5.5, when we other 4 moved past him for good. I wasn't motivated to "kick" so I came in 3rd of the 4 of us, and 26th overall. I was the 8th in the 40-49 category.
It was a good race. I don't think I could have been much faster today, but I do feel like I can go faster in the future. I've done so much long distance racing that it was nice doing a short race and just going hard. Oh yes, and the best part of the day (by far) was coming into the finish line and hearing Alexandra scream "IT'S DADDAAAA!!!!" Priceless. (We then went and played in a pile of leaves!)

Mileage update from this week:
4 mile run (easy, coaching runners at Hope HS Track)
5 mile run (warm-up, one mile run test, easy run back to work; 5:34)
2 mile run (pre-race run. 2x400m at 5k pace)
6.1 mile run (race day; 38:26...6:12 per mile)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Just Thinking

I get a lot of time alone, probably more than many people. Yes this has its downside, but it has its benefits as well. I get to think and think clearly. I get to dream. I get to remember...places, events, defining moments in my life, and special people. It actually surprises me the clarity of some of the memories. Maybe because there are no interruptions, or maybe because the chemicals released during exertion force you to focus and think clearly. I don't remember going to a movie when I was younger. I remember going to see "Brazil" at the Pittsburgh Playhouse during my winter break from Cornell in 1987. I remember sitting in the balcony. Things are more vivid when my heart is beating 140 or more times per minute, at least more vivid than when it is beating 38-40 times per minute. I don't have the really cool dreams anymore, the ones that make me want to stay in bed, just to keep dreaming. No my time awake and alone fills that role. I often thought that maybe I'd be better off with a training partner, and I have had them at times, but they never last. I think I need "the time with (me) to keep me awake and alive."

Part 3 (abridged)

(Yes I realize I haven't published Part 2 yet.)
Race day was quite a mix of emotions. I felt humbled, proud, panicked, and pissed all in less than 5 hours.

The start was humbling. I was in a field with some of the fastest people in the WORLD. They would be literally miles ahead by the time we were running, but at least I was there. Of that I was proud. In mid-August I had almost declined the spot which I had earned at a qualifying race. This perfect dawn reinforced the fact that that would have been a mistake.

Panic set in during the swim. Because everyone was a good athlete, the pack never broke up. It was full contact for the first .6 miles. I also realized I had my wedding band on. It has been known to slip off when swimming, so usually I take it off before the race. I was so worried I'd lose it I did the swim with my left hand mostly closed.

Panic reared its ugly head again during the bike. I was cruising along at a pretty good clip and then the first, of what would be many illegal packs caught and passed me. That did cause the panic. The panic was the result of seeing another unfortunate competitor get squeezed wide by the overtaking pack, hit a large traffic cone, flip up into the air, and hit the pavement...lying motionless. Then there were the blind old people pulling into our "closed" lane. The final straw was seeing an old teammate lying motionless on the pavement. This was not a triathlon, it was Thunder Dome.

And because of the panic I was now in the latter half of the field, and I really don't like the view from the back if you know what I mean. So, I got pissed. I had great legs, and though the hot weather didn't allow for this New Englander to go 100%, I ran hard and moved my butt up from 678th place to a finishing place of 419.

Not the perfect race but I'll take it, especially because of the field. I ran through 260 people who had also qualified in the top 5% of their age groups. That's 260 fit and fast people. So I feel good about me.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Stepford Daughter

She was SO good at dinner. Maybe a little too good... She lulled daddy into a false sense of security, and then she struck!!

Her mind began to churn. "The herb rack in the lazy susan. The perfect way to execute my plan!! Daddy will never suspect a thing!."

"Hmm, did Leanna buy some new potpourri?" thought Joel. "Alexandra, NOOOOOOOO!!!"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

30 Pounds of Nakedness...

...fresh out of the tubby, wrapped around my leg like a boa exclaiming, "No Diapie! No Diapie!"

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Training Log Entry #94

I just had to get that average over 8 miles per run again, so I went out for a 9.5 mile run today. It is a cool and sunny day. It was an 8.5 mile loop which passed my local track at mile 7. I detoured onto the track and ran two steady 400s (1:26 and 1:20), before proceeding back to my house. I didn't try to run terribly fast. I ran steady and felt pretty good.

The numbers

Terrain: Asphalt

# of Runs: 94
YTD Mileage: 752.07
MTG (Miles to Goal): 247.93
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.00

YTD Mileage: 1082.50
# of Rides: 47
M/RD: 23.03

Friday, December 01, 2006

Training Log Entry #93

5 miles on Weds. Totally bonked. It was ugly. Must have eaten 5 Kit Kats and sucked down a Coke to keep from passing out. I'm not sure why it happened, but it happened.

In other news, only one month left in my effort to keep a log of all runs this year. I think I can pull it off. I plan to get back to other topics soon. I will keep my workouts, but maybe in a separate location. Oh yeah, I am conducting an experiment "teaching" a few triathletes to run they way I run (in terms of technique). I'm curious to see how much of my reinvented stride technique works because it's me, as opposed to working for anyone.

Terrain: Mostly Asphalt

# of Runs: 93
YTD Mileage: 742.57
MTG (Miles to Goal): 257.43
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 7.98

YTD Mileage: 1082.50
# of Rides: 47
M/RD: 23.03