Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Series of (un)Fortunate Events

Rise and shine runners, we are gonna sneak in a little 5k this morning to see where our fitness level is going into the spring race season.

This is the 4th year they have held this race and the start is 1/2 a mile from my house. Cheap entry fee and a small field mixed between the 5 and 10k made this race very appealing to me.

I woke up and told me it was a chilly 32 degrees outside, the 5 minute dog walk confimred that indeed it was cold outside! Quick run down of available running clothes left me with the decision of tights, long sleeve under armour, gloves and skully for today's race.

I ate a quick Clif Bar and hopped on my bike to ride to the start and get a warm up jog. As I looked around I noticed most of the guys that win my age bracket were wearing 10k numbers. SAHWEET, maybe I can place in my age group...a win is a win.

After doing a few strides I headed over to the start.

The 5 & 10k course is pretty much the same, we go out around the park and down Bull st. The 10k'ers are to turn left onto Washington Ave. and head to Daffin Park, while the 5ker's turn around and come back. Easy enough.

Listened to a few announcements and we were off!

The pack quickly thinned out and I watched the fast snails disappear down the road. Within in the first 400 meters I was into a comfortable stride and had planned on settling into a comfortable(mostly) 8 minute pace.

I hit the first mile marker at 7:58. I was pretty happy with this and my goal was gonna be to drop about 5 seconds off of that pace in the 2nd mile.

"The lead 5k'ers should be coming back soon, I wonder how far back I am...I can see the turn... why is it that nobody is coming back?"

EVERYBODY is turning left.

I get to Washington Ave. and the water ladies are telling us to keep going.

"Hmmm, that's wierd, Garmmy is telling me we are at 1.75 miles. I should be going back by now?!?!1!"

I can see the 2 mile marker for the 10k in the near distance. There are two cops holding traffic at the next intersection. There is a 5k'er 100 yards in front of me who is equally concerned. I hear him ask the cop where is the turn around for the 5k. He says, "keep going down the road it is up ahead." The other cop, pointing in the opposite direction says, "No man, the turn around was way back there!" FML!

I mutter a few choice words under my breath and hang a hard U turn at the intersection and hear the foot steps of my equally confused and slighty distraught 5k friend. I glance at my Garmmy and see that I have covered almost 2 miles...Simple math says it will take longer than 1.1 miles to get back.

As he pulls up beside me I ask, "How much further do you think we went than the actual turn around?" After thinking about it for a moment he responds, "Too far!"

We are back on Bull st. heading to the park and I see on the road marked in white tape, "5K TURN"...AND there is nobody standing there....

Then I hear from the runners on the other side of the road that are still heading out, "Good job, you are in 2nd and 3rd place!"


as I watch my running companion pull away I think to myself, "I am in 3rd place...I can hold onto this for another mile..."

As my Garmmy beeps to mark mile 3, I look and see 24:20 on the display. LOL, there goes my chance of breaking 25 minutes today.

I run this route enough to know I have about 1/2 mile left. I hear the faint sound of a runner behind me.

Don't look back, just keep pushing forward.

Into the park, 1/4 mile to go... Relax and Move

As I go around the fountain, I take this chance to look back and see I have a 100 yards on the next guy. I have this!

Push through the finish, don't let up!

3.54 miles
8:02 average pace

3rd Place Overall!

Talking to the two guys that finished ahead we all agree that something went wrong big time....During the award ceremony the MC took credit for the failure stating he was supposed to be the guy at the turn around but he was dropping of other volunteers further along in the course and didn't make it back in time...

I know for a fact several much faster 5k runners just continued on and completed the enitre 10k course.

A win is a win, right?

The award was a "Savannah Gray" Brick with a plaque on it. Fitting seeing as how this race was for the Historic Savannah Foundation.

Afterwards, I ran into several old college friends, Tom & Trang Black. We caught up on old times and talked about future runs. All in all it was a great morning...

One foot in front of the other, one step at a time!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Week in Review

I was just given a good kick in the arse by my younger, but not nearly as good lookin' or svelte, brother. He informed me that I have been slacking in the ol' blog department. I must admit, blog posting has fallen to the bottom of my list. not to worry, I am still reading and commenting on YOUR blogs, It's just that I have not been updating mine. Let's be honest, you really only care that I comment on your blogs....

T'anks a bunch for all of the words of encouragement after my pity potty fest, well thanks to everyone 'cept for LooMoo...something about whining and bad weather...It is hard to understand her Moscovian accent. Anywho, to the rest of the readers, you will be happy to know that I embarked on a week of successful, fairly enjoyable runs. Tuesday found me braving 50 degrees and sunny skies while I traversed the Talmidge Bridge for a nice 7 miler after work...

Thursday I had to struggle through the melting snow as we had unseasonably cold temps peaking in the low 60's. Not to be defeated I meet the Crackhead at the track for speed work!

The meat and potatoes of my training was the scheduled 20 miler on Sunday. I was a little unsure about this run seeing as how I bailed on the 18 miler the week before and this run would be 5 miles longer than any distance covered since the marathon last September. Setting myself up for success I planned a route that included the bridge as I need to add as much hill work as possible over the next 4 weeks to prepare for the 50K at Sweetwater Creek.

I put water out the night before and Cubbie met me at my house at 7am. She was going to do the first ten miles with me. Off we went at a conservative 10:30 minute pace. By mile two we were almost over the bridge and I was beginning to question wearing my windbreaker as the temps were rising like libido during rutting season.(Cha-ching, that was a keeper!) We decended the bridge and began the 1.5 mile trip across Hutchinson Island to the race track. As we were winding around the two mile road course I began to feel the call of nature. Luckily I work at the resort that is located on the island and we were able to pull into the golf club for a quick pitstop! (see how I did that? because we were running on a race track. pitstop, get it?) After dropping the kids off at the pool, I felt much faster and we headed back over the bridge to my house.

Within minutes of finishing off the first 11 miles and making it back to my house, the Crackhead pulled up to my house, put on his trainers and we said our farewell to Cubbie. He needed to get 50 minutes of "easy" running in before he began his "real" workout.(Whatever, dude. You will always be the crackhead if you continue to talk to me like that...) We headed out for 5 miles at a 9:30 pace. Those miles flew by and before I knew it, he was off to the park to get his step down's in. I was left with four miles of solo running. I followed to the park for a couple of laps to take in the scenery. Savannahian's love to come to the park when it warms up. The local's were out in force. Running, picnicing, name it, they were there.

I finished up my 20 miler in a total time of 3:26:26.(Editor's note, I stopped the watch while at the pitstop and also the few minutes waiting for the crackhead to put on his shoes) Overall this run turned out to be a huge boost to my mental game. In the words of the immortal poet LL Cool J, "Don't call it a come back, I've been here for years!"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I don't wanna...........

I have had some sort of post race blues. I haven't had any desire to run. The runs I have done have been "blah", I even bailed at mile 11 on my scheduled 18 miler this past Sunday. Everyone tells me this is normal and I will snap out of it but the problem is that I am smack dab in the middle of training for my 50K...Hello!?!? I can't bail on my 18 miler when I have an Ultra to run in 6 weeks. I think part of it is the continued Winter Snowpocalypse that the mass media is force feeding us. Granted I live in the deep south and our Winter's are much more subtle than our northern counterparts, but COME ON! Let's warm it up a little Mother Nature....pretty please...

Spring is right around the corner and we kick it off with a bang here in Savannah GA!!! The St. Patrick's Day parade is second only to NYC in size and it turns into a week long festival! I no longer participate in the drunken debauchery, I have since replaced it with the annual March of Dimes Shamrock 5k.

In an attempt to bounce back from my post race blues, I allowed myself the week after the half-marathon to run at my leisure. Staring today, it is back to the grind. We have 6 1/2 weeks until the ultra. I have sprinkled in a few fun races between now and then, nothing too hard, just a 5k and a 10k. We will take each training week as it comes and before I know it I will be in my taper leading up to Sweetwater!

One foot in front of the other; one step at a time!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Critz Tybee 1/2 Marathon

I am not sure who is more excited about this race lucky readers or me for posting it!

Packet pickup had me and Cubbie driving out to sleepy Tybee Island right after work on Friday. We picked up our race numbers and our 2010 Critz Tybee Run T-shirt. We ran into a couple of our running buddies and everyone exchanged pleasantries and discussed dream race goals...I was very apprehensive to tell people I was shooting for 1:55, but that was my goal.

I checked the weather before I went to bed and the forecast was fair; overcast and in the mid 40's at the time of the race start. I woke up early Saturday morning to a pleasant surprise, the weather forecast was wrong and it was 54 degrees out PERFECT!!! It was still overcast and there was a 20% chance of rain.

We drove out to Tybee and swung by CJ's beach house to pick him up and head to the pier where the race crowd was starting to form...Finally putting a face to the blog it was nice to meet CJ and I immediately engaged in the age old Snail tradition of pregame trash talking.

As we were quietly stretching and milling around a light sprinkle began; nothing was going to deter me, it was race day! I went for a 10 minute jog to loosen up my legs and get a 1/2 warm up in at race pace. The rain let up not long after my warm up was over.

The 5k started at 8am so as we were lining up for the 8:30am start of the 1/2 mary, we were able to see the eventual winner and others pass through the finishing corral. I was able to locate CJ again in the crowd before the start of the race but could not make my way over to where he was located. I made a mental note of his location and planned to keep him in my southern friends always warn me to "not trust anyone from the north", even if it is North Carolina...

The race started and we were off!

The rush of adrenaline and large crowd of runners carried me off to a much faster pace than I had planned, I was going to try and hit 8:45's for the first five miles and then reassess. Mile marker #1 told me I ran that first mile at 8:17. I told myself to put that time in the bank and pull back a little. I let off the gas and had to remind myself that these people that were passing me would all get passed by me later when they blow up.

Looking ahead I still had CJ in my sights. I was honestly a little surprised to have seen him go out that fast. Never mind, I would not even think of worrying until we were much further in the course. Mile #2 came and went, I held a 8:30 pace for the second mile. Hmmm, I really need to let off the gas or I will blow up at mile 10. Then again, maybe I can hold this 8:30, it is race day after all...

I decided I would just try and keep my HR in the low 160's and see how it played out. At about this time I came up on CJ. He told me he went out too fast and hit the first mile mark at 8:06. We ran side by side for a few minutes and then I surged ahead. We ran past his beach cottage and began the winding section of the course on the north end of the island. I began ticking of miles at a 8:30 pace.

I hit the 5 mile mark at 42:45 on the watch, popped a GU and told myself all I had left was an easy Sunday 8. The course took us out of the neighborhood of the lighthouse and we were about to begin the long, trudging road of crossing to the south end of Tybee. Mentally this is probably the toughest part of the race. You run almost two miles on a straight, slightly uphill road. It is during this part of the race that it began to rain. It was just a light misting to start but the possibility of more was looming. I tucked into a group of runners and glanced at my garmin as I hit 6.55 miles. 56:47. I was on pace for a 1:54.

Not long after passing the 7 mile mark I looked off to the left and saw my Sweet Boo standing along the course cheering wildly, she made the trip down from Atlanta to surprise me and could not have been stationed at a better place on the race course. I really was energized after having seen her. The race course took a turn into the southern point of the island and I knew this was where my race would see the work. quiet neighborhood's and sparse runners, it was all mental at this point. Hold the pace and tick off the miles.

The ten mile mark came at 1:26 into the race and I popped another GU. I thought to myself, "Just a 5k, we are gunning for 1:55. This is going to happen!" Pass 5 people this mile and don't get passed. I passed 8 people during the 10th mile and got passed once. Mile 11, "pass 5 and don't get passed." I slipped in behind two runners and managed to shield myself from the wind for 1/4 mile. I passed my quota plus a couple extra.

I saw the 12 mile marker in the distance and I was spent. My mind wandered to every Yasso I have done over the last 6 weeks. "Two more reps Thomas, you have been here every week for the last month and a half." I dropped the pace and began reeling in runners. I glanced at my watch and saw I had half a mile left. I pushed as hard as I could for the last 4 minutes, grateful for every 800 I had done. I turned the corner into the final straight away and left everything on the road. About 100 from the finish my Sweet Boo was cheering and I drove through the chute leaving it all on the course.

1:55:04 Gun Time
1:54:38 Chip Time
32/80 AG
391/1256 Overall

According to the chip, I broke 1:55...I'll take it!!!!

I was able to walk through the chute, grab some water and make my way over to the side of the course to cheer on the finishers as they ran the last 200 yards to the finish. I began looking for Cubbie and CJ. I saw other finishers and cheered as much as possible for them. Out of nowhere I see Cubbie come around the corner with a great look of determination her face. Turns out she shaved 15 minutes off of her PR time from last year. Not far behind her came CJ; he was trucking! I cheered as loudly as possible and he too set a 5 minute PR at Tybee!!!

Winners all around!!

Breakfast at the Breakfast Club brought 6 of us together to rehash our race and talk about running. What a great weekend. Big shout out to CJ for running a great race and making the trip to Tybee to compete in the 1st annual(?) Duel in the Dunes...Who's got next?