Mountain Run PR!

I’m guess people could be getting tired of hearing about my mountain running, but it has been such a transformational thing to me and my running, I want to pass it along my experience along.

Yesterday was my first mountain run in 3 weeks and my first since last weekend’s half marathon.  I had taken last week off of running (okay, I ran 6 miles) to make sure I don’t get injured in my post race workouts as I have in the past.

I began at an easy pace as I warmed up.  By the time I got to the foot of the mountain, I was running too fast.  I knew I was running too fast for a mountain run, but being that I hadn’t run much in 7 days, I guess I got carried away.

About half way up the steepest part of the mountain road (one of the first hills) I had to walk.  That was okay.  I walked about 30 seconds and then started slower and kept a good pace.

By the time I got to the top I was getting tired.  I could tell I hadn’t run this road much in three weeks.  My legs were tried and I was breathing hard.  At the top of the mountain, there is about a half mile of fairly level running before I turn around.  I got to the turn around point, paused long enough to take and post a picture and headed back down.

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This was my only real scare.  Right after I posted the picture above on my previous post, I began to run again and felt a “pull” in my left heel.  Oh no!  It had been a good run and beyond that, I didn’t want to get injured again.  So I relaxed and kept my run going.  I just paid close attention to how I was feeling and my form.  Honestly, I don’t think I hurt myself, but my past experience tells me that sometimes injuries don’t show up right away.

As I got to the bottom of the mountain, I had 1.5 miles to get back to the car.  I know my run was in record mountain running time, as I know I was running well.  So I pushed a bit going up and down the hills leading back to my car.  I passed a guy walking the opposite direction who said, “Does it feel as bad as you thought it would?” I had to ask him to repeat his question.  He was being nice, knowing I was breathing hard and really pushing.  I just yelled back, “Nah, this is easy”!  He just laughed and we continued in our separate directions.

I got up the last hill and could see my car.  I finally looked at my time.  8:45 pace.  Seriously?!?  I ran hard down the last hill.  My pace dropped to 8:42 for the run.  My total time was 1:09:47 for the 8 miles.  My best time before this was a run with TJ several months ago that was at an 8:50 pace.

Mountain run PR

Mountain run PR

My heel is better today and I am still being careful.

My hip isn’t doing great, but is much better then last week.  I wear a sciatica belt on my mountain runs to help with the support and that makes a lot of difference.

So a half marathon PR last week and a mountain run PR this week.  All in all, I’m pretty happy.

I’ve been trying to catch up on other people’s blogs by the way.  I got way behind the past week or two, but I am getting there slowly.  🙂

Have an awesome week.

Tom

Final thoughts on the Country Music Half Marathon.. I think.

This post is a continuation of my Country Music Half Marathon recap post from yesterday.  

Here are my stats

I was 17th out of 561 in my age group – top 3%
I was 697th out of 19,057 half marathoners – top 3.7%

Honestly, I think this was my best race to date.  I credit TJ for running with me and being an excellent pacer and my mountain runs for getting me in shape.  Thinking back, I have really only been training for this for about 2 months.  Between injuries and other things that got in the way of my running, that was all I could do to train.  But the mountain gave me strength in my quads and took the pressure off my back and my calves.  It also helped me be able to pick my speed up and be able to handle the hills on this race without slowing down.

RS did well.  He struggled a lot though.  He had honestly not been running much until the last few weeks before the race.  His longest run before the race was 7 miles and he went out and completed a 13.1 mile race.  His time was slow because he had to walk to finish the last few miles, but it is amazing to me that he could complete that distance with so little prep.  This was his longest milage run in over a year.

TJ had been hurt leading up to this race; thus the reason he paced me rather then trying to run a PR himself.  His last half was completed in under 1:30 and he was in coral #1 for this one.  His choice to pace me was huge for me and I hope fun for him, though being a huge competitor, I’m sure he wished he was running his own race.  He is back in the saddle now and talking about another half in the fall and maybe running the Jacksonville marathon with me in December.

I had fun meeting my running friends @BigBigGeek and @David_Topping before the race.  They did well and I think were happy with the result.  This was @David_Topping’s first half marathon.  He has lost a  lot of weight and really been doing the work that made his run possible.

I was really concerned with this race.  I have never run with so many people.  My experience was a great one overall.  Not just the run, but everything from package pickup at the expo to parking at the race went very smoothly.  There was the obvious traffic, but I purchased a reserve parking pass and it put us right at the race with very little waiting.  The police presence was clear, but not over done.  Other then the helicopters flying overhead, there was very little that I noticed outside of the normal presence at any race.

The bands were great.  A few were loud (one was so loud it affected my hearing for a minute), but they helped overall and the crowd was awesome.  Being that we hung with the 3:30 pacer, there were a lot of cheers as we ran by.

Overall I rate this race very high.  Perfect weather, great attendance, plenty of food and drinks after the race.

Top notch.

Tom

Country Music Half Marathon – PR and Recap!

So, how’d it go?  The race?  My second half marathon?

Let’s get that out of the way first.  Drum roll please…

My official time was…

1:43:03 – a PR by 1:08 minutes.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have made it without TJ pacing me.  The last 1.5 miles were mostly up hill.  That, after a lot of hills in the first 8 miles and trying to keep below an 8:00 pace… Which I did for all but the first mile.

Here is the graph and the splits:

Country Music Half Marathon

Country Music Half Marathon

My phone said I ran 13.33 miles rather then 13.1, so the times are a little off.

On to my recap

Philosophically, I view racing as similar to childbirth (please don’t get offended with me ladies).  The fact is – it hurts while you are in progress, but after it is over, you can barely remember the pain.

It was a beautiful morning.  We got to our reserved parking area in pretty good timing.  We met @BigBigGeek and @David_Topping and talked for a bit.  Then to the porta-potties for an hour wait – that was crazy.  TJ and I rushed off to coral #3 and left RS and the others to finish their business.  By the time we got done with the port-potties, it was just 10 minutes until race time.

We in just a few minutes the corals began moving. When we got to the starting line, somehow we were in coral #4 rather then #3.  I don’t know how that happened, but the 3:30 marathon pacer was also in our coral, which ended up being a very good thing.

I have never run a race with 20,000 people in it.  Actually I think the half marathon had 20,000; I’m not sure about the total with the marathoners.

We heard the horn and began our run.  It was tight.  It was hard to run freely for at least a few miles.  The first mile was our slowest at  just over an 8:00 mile (which really wasn’t bad).  That was mainly due to congestion.  Shortly after mile one, we ended back running past the corals with people standing and waiting to run.  I guess there were near 30 corals.  I thought of RS who was around coral 22.  We were 30 minutes into running before he even began.

TJ helped me make an unofficial goal to keep the 3:30 marathon pacer in sight as we never saw the 1:45 half pacer after the start.  This was hard for the first 3 or 4 miles.  He would get a bit ahead and we would slowly catch up.  The crowds were just too deep to get around.  I would see an open area and do a quick sprint to get ahead (the one thing TJ said was a mistake after it was done – he said we should have saved that energy and been patient to get around people… good point).

Finally after several miles we caught up with the pacer.  We hung with him until mile 10 or so.  This was huge for me.  Let me digress a bit and say the hills on this route were crazy.  The first 8 miles or so seemed to be one hill after another.  I could feel my mountain runs kicking in after a while.  I have done quite a few mountain runs in the past few months, but never at an 8:00 pace.  Though when I was running this race and I was getting tired, my legs seemed to keep their strength.  I needed that!  As we went up and up and up and up, my legs were good.  I was tired, breathing hard and wondering why I was doing this at times, but my legs kept me going.

Mile 3 TJ gave me my first GU. Mile 7 I had my second and mile 11, the course provided one.  Perfect.  Each time I was fading a bit, the GU kept me going.  I was so glad for them.

Finally the day got warm.  It started in the 50’s, but by mile 8 or so, it was warming up a bit too much.  This is where I first hit a small wall.  I was thinking, “I don’t know that I’ll make it the next 5 miles”.   This was when I had a neat experience.  Generally I tune out during a race.  I honestly didn’t notice much.  I just concentrate on running the race.  At this small wall experience, I ran past a person holding a sign that said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength”.  I prayed, “Lord, that is true, so please give me some strength”.  A moment later we ran past a large church with a praise band playing “Mighty to Save” by Hillsong.  I love that song and after a moment listening to it as we went by, I felt rejuvenated and had run past the wall.  Pretty cool.

Finally at mile 9 TJ said it looked like the marathon was splitting between the full and the half.  I panicked.  I had kept a perfect pace with the 3:30 pacer for 9 miles and I wasn’t ready to go it without his lead.  Fortunately I didn’t have to.  We didn’t split.  We kept following him.  Then a good thing happened.  At mile 10, we somehow got ahead of the pacer.  I looked around because I didn’t see him and he was behind us.  We never saw him again.  We just kept with our pace and at mile 11 the route split and I was fine.  Very cool.

Finally the last two miles.  I can do this.  Little did I know that they would be mostly up hill.  Seriously?  I just ran up and down tons of hills, and now, after keeping below an 8 minute pace for 11 miles I am going to have to finish with nearly 2 miles of hills.

At mile 12.5 I told TJ that I couldn’t continue.  I felt like it was too much.  He encouraged me saying we only have a little left to go and to try to keep my pace up so I’d beat my 1:44:11 PR.  Honestly, I don’t know how I did, but I did.  Without TJ there, I would have slowed down.  I doubt I would have walked, but I know I would have not kept up my pace.

We finally began going down a hill.  A runner who had finished was walking up the hill we were running down and saying, “It’s all down hill from here”.  I pushed as hard as I could.  A couple guys ran hard past us at the very end and TJ took off and passed them with just a few hundred of feet to go.  I had nothing left.  I just put everything in my body to get to the finish.  Everything.

I finished.

1:43:03

Personal Record.

Hills.

3:30 pacer.

TJ

Gu

RS

Bands

Runners

You (for reading this far)

Thank you all.  It was well a done race.  I hated the hills, but my mountain prepared me for them.  Once again, without TJ I would not have come close to the time I had.  Thank you TJ.  Thank you to my family for letting me spend a weekend away to run this race.  Thank you to everyone who liked my “results” post.  Blogging makes running so much more fun.

Tom

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2 years running today!

2 years ago today I ran 1.5 miles.  I weighed in at 220 after losing 58 lbs.

My pace was 12:44.

That was the beginning.

Yesterday I ran 5 miles at an 8:30 pace.

It has been a good two years.  Lots of races (wish I did more).  Lots of fun with TJ, RS and @BigBigGeek.

My PRs are:

  • 5K – 21:43
  • Half Marathon: 1:44:11
  • Marathon: 4:14:32

I’ve never run a 10K or a 10 miler.  No reason, just haven’t done it.

This is a short post and business will keep me from posting the next day or two, but once again, thank you for taking this journey with me.  I appreciate everyone who reads the blog.

Tom

My iPhone is hurting my running

Okay, what am I talking about.

Really it is me, not my iPhone.

I think too much!  My mind is constantly thinking, analyzing and running and just doesn’t stop.  This is something I didn’t realize until I started running, especially my long runs.

As I run, I am constantly thinking.  It didn’t used to be that bad.  But lately I think about EVERYTHING regarding my run.

  • Where am I going?
  • How far will I be running?
  • How am I feeling?
  • Am I running too fast?
  • Am I running too slow?

Yesterday I tried an experiment.  I’ve talked about this before on my blog some, but I wanted to really put this into practice.  I really wanted miles yesterday.  I took off Monday. Tuesday I ran 2 miles.  Yes, 2 miles.  Tons of things got in the way of my run.  I finally got out and started way too fast.  Then as I was at the 1 mile mark, I got a warning that serious storms were coming.  So I stopped and just couldn’t get started again.

So, yesterday it was important to me to not only do my run, but try to make up for some of Tuesday’s miles.  I left my house and began to run.  I thought about how I was feeling, would I be able to run further, was I starting out too fast, etc.

Finally I just stopped thinking and began running.  I started looking at the trees, grass, houses.  I ran at what ever pace I felt good.  I ignored my pace, I ignored how far I went, I ignored everything.

I ran.

It was great.  I ended up running over 9 miles.  The most weekday miles in one run ever.  At mile seven I started getting thirsty, but I kept going.  It was cooler, which really helped.

It was awesome.

Okay, how does my iPhone hurt my running?  I didn’t start my constant thinking until I got my iPhone.  I notice that I am always looking at it.  I pull it out at stop lights.  I look at it during meetings.  I am constantly distracted by it.  My mind never stops.  It doesn’t even stop at night.  I wake up in the middle of the night and my mind is reeling.  Moving at the speed of light.

So I am going to try to ween myself from my phone.  I need it, but I am going to try to no look at it as much.  I am going to try to stop the distractions, the bombardment of all that is happening in virtual world.

Funny, but I would not have put two and two together without my need to be able to run far.  To be able to get into the zone.  To be able to not think.  I never thought I would say that I don’t want to think.

I need a break from my mind.  I am starting with my iPhone.

Long run chatter. The Voice! I hate that Voice!

I was 10.25 miles into my long run.  Frankly I was surprised I made it that far, but I needed to make another 7-8 miles.  There was a lot going against me.

First, I am still not over my sinus infection.  It is better, but not gone and it hit me hard Saturday night and I woke up Sunday feeling tired and a little sick.

Then there is the 5K I ran just 24 hours before.  I ran as hard as I could and I have never been able to run the day after a 5K because my body is way too sore.

Finally had I just drank water, had some Cliff Block Chews and I ran my tenth mile way too fast.  My thoughts were, “maybe I should call it a day”.  “I still have 5 weeks before my marathon”. ” Who would criticize me for running 10 miles after such a busy weekend”.

Then my phone rang… It was my work… I had to help someone with an IT issue.  I stopped running.  I talked on the phone for 10 minutes.  In the mean time, TJ ran past me on his run and another runner ran past.  I finished the call.  I stood there thinking,  “What do I do?”  I was tired and hot.  It was getting close to 80 degrees and 90% humidity.  I was soaked.

One more mile, I decided.  I’ll run one more mile and see how I feel.  I’ll slow down a bit, try to run relaxed, not push.  After all, 11 miles is better than 10.

I finished that one mile and went for another.  I finished that and then another.  By the time I finished, I made a distance PR of 17 miles.  2 miles farther than I have ever run.  I also managed to keep an average pace of 9:15/mile.  I am so glad I didn’t give into that voice.

THAT VOICE!

I hate that voice.  It talks to me on all my long runs and hard workouts.  It is constantly telling me to give in.  Give up.  There is always tomorrow.  You are tired.  You are hot.  Today is just a bad day.

NO!

I have decided that that voice is not my friend. Yes I have to be wise and if I get hurt, I’ll know I am hurt.  But there is no way for me to run a marathon in 5 weeks if I let that voice be my friend any longer.

So I am going to work my hardest to ignore this voice and move forward.  My goal is to run this race and do my best.  However if I bring this voice along with me, I will just live in fear the whole race.  My goal for the next 5 weeks is to silence this voice and move forward confidently and wisely and make the right choices based on fact and not on “a voice”.

Today is my off day.  I have a trip to the chiropractor this afternoon and then I hope I can rest for the evening.  It was a great weekend for running and I feel much better than I did about my upcoming marathon.

Thank you all for your comments and encouragement!  I am so thankful I started this blog!!!

50 mile week and I felt it yesterday!

They say that the way you feel in your run isn’t the total miles of that run, but the sum of the past three days of running.  This is because of the time it takes to recover from a run.  Well if that is true, then I know what happened yesterday to the end of my run.

The sum of my last three runs (including yesterday’s run) was 27 miles.

It was my long run day and I was feeling pretty good as I began.  I needed 13 miles for the day, which put me at 50 (PB) for the week!  Here is a quick summary or my run:

Miles 1-4: Felt pretty good, surprisingly good in fact.
Miles 5-9: Getting tired and hot, especially toward the later miles.  Ran past the house to get some Gatorade.
Miles 10 – 13: I hit the wall and never recovered.  I slowed down to about an 11:00 pace – seemed like I was barely running. My legs were shot and I did everything I could just to finish.

My Lovely Wife eventually sent TJ to search for me since I was taking so long to get home.  It was nice to see a friendly face driving up beside me as I had 1/2 mile to go.

My philosophy, as I have stated before, is to not worry about speed this summer.  I am training for a September marathon and the speed will come, but my body has to get used to the miles.  So as I run I do what I can, but if I have to run slow to get my miles in, that is what I will do.

We are at 13 weeks before the Lehigh Valley Marathon in Altoona Pennsylvania.  This week the temps get up near 100 and I have another 50 mile week to put in.  Next week I will taper down about 25% so that will be really nice to get a break.

I just have to keep my eye on the prize.  In some ways (forgive me ladies) I feel like I am 6 months pregnant.  I am doing all I can do each day to get by, but I know that it will all be over in 3 months, then I can relax.  Okay, not a good analogy, but it is the best I can think of at the moment.

Off day today. 🙂 Yay!

Qualifying for Boston, making the impossible possible.

I really had no idea how much time running and preparing for a marathon would take out of my life.

As many of you know, I plan on running the Lehigh Valley Marathon in September and I hope to qualify for the Boston Marathon at that event!  It would be a major accomplishment as I have only been running for 14 months (as of now) and have never run more than a half marathon.  Also, 2 years ago I weighed 278 lbs and now I hope to qualify for Boston.

I must be crazy.

I admit this drives me probably more than it should.  I look on it not only a challenge, but also the chance of accomplishing something beyond my own ability.

As a 16 year old, I wanted to become a DJ.  In order to get on the radio you had to get a license and in order to get that license you had to pass a grueling exam. Everyone I talked to said I had no chance at passing the first time.  My sister knew two people who took the test 3 times and failed each time and they were in college.  It became a challenge.  I spent the whole summer studying and memorizing the material.  It wasn’t anything I knew or understood, but I learned.  One day my dad asked me what page of my textbook talked about radio towers (or something in that vein).  I gave him the page number from memory. We looked it up and I was correct.   I went to DC and took the test with 30 people much older than myself and passed the first time.  Understand, my dad once said that I was the first of his children (the youngest of 4) that he was relieved when I brought home a “C” in a class.  Getting this license was way above my ability, but after I passed I felt like I could accomplish anything.

You may be able to understand the parallels between getting my radio license and running a marathon, but just to spell it out…

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is way beyond my ability.  In fact just running a marathon is beyond my comprehension.  I not only have to run it, but I have to run it under 3 and a half hours.  I have to keep at least an 8 minute pace for 26.2 miles.  I feel like I did going into that exam room with everything against me.  I questioned myself if I had prepared enough.  I questioned everything.  I was nervous and anxious.  I passed.  I want to pass this test also.  I want to, in just over 2 years, go from obesity to qualifying for Boston.  For me, it is making the impossible, possible.  If I can do this, I can do anything.

So I run.  I run 6 days a week and walk the 7th.  I ran 9 miles yesterday, my longest mid-week run ever.  I need to get to 50 miles this week and then into the 60s by next month sometime. My speed is way down, but I don’t think that matters right now.  I feel that miles matter more than the speed.  It is hot and humid and that makes it hard to run fast.  Yesterday I ran a trail for a couple of miles which made the run more enjoyable, but was also harder than running on pavement.

I guess I never finished the opening thought.  Running takes so much time that I really only have time at night to write my post.  I really don’t have time to read other blogs or twitter much anymore.  Even emails go unread for days sometimes.  Right now my life consists of working, running and family.  I say this to say thank you to all you bloggers who read my blog each day and those who comment and like my posts.  Please don’t take it the wrong way that I haven’t been on yours for a while.  I do read them when I can, but until September 8th, it may not be often.  I appreciate the effort it takes to blog and one day I will catch up on my reading, but for now…

I run.

Spring Scramble 2013 5K race results – What a difference a year makes!

Wow, it was a fun race.  Although none of us (TJ, RS or myself) met our goals, we all did well.

Just a quick recap.  The Spring Scramble was the first race of any type we ran last year after we began running.  In fact, I had only run 3 miles a couple times before the race.  So this race has memories attached to it.  I figured I would first post how we did last year and then post this year’s results.

Last year’s race results were:

Me: Finished 83rd overall, last in my age group at 31:28 (10:07 pace).
TJ: Finished 11th overall, first in his age group at 22:27 (7:13 pace).
RS: Finished 90th overall, last in his age group at 32:35 (10:29 pace)

Really not bad considering I had only been running a month and TJ and RS had been running just a couple of weeks.  In fact, TJ ran in old sneakers that had to be glued the night before!

Okay, on to Spring Scramble 2013.

We arrived a little later than planned, but still had time to run our warmups and strides before the gun went off.  It was great seeing collegues from work and a couple of other new friends I’ve made on twitter lately.  I’m not sure they want their names listed so I am being a bit vague on purpose.

It was supposed to rain all day, but didn’t rain a drop.  It was very humid though which made things a little hard, but the temps were in the 70s and being overcast made it a good Spring race.

I did well.  I used my iSmoothRun app and wireless headsets to keep my pace.  I set the app for a pace of 6:30.  I was only 3 seconds behind after the first mile, but I knew by then I wasn’t going to keep that pace up.  The app did help a lot in keeping me running as fast as I could for the whole race.  Of course TJ was way off in front of me and RS dropped back behind me early.  I expected both, as TJ is a much faster runner than I and RS has just started getting over a virus that had him in bed for a week.  He did amazingly well as did TJ in this race.

I also decided not to wear my racing flats because I’ve only warn them twice and they killed my feet during my workout.  So I went with my Saucony Fastwitch shoes.  I love those shoes, but I wonder if I would have done better if I still had my A5’s.

Enough said… Here are our result for this year (the full results aren’t out yet, but this is what we know):

Me: Finished 5th overall, first in my age group at 21:42 (6:59 pace).
TJ: Finished 3rd overall – Wow!
RS: Finished ??? overall, second in his age group!

I don’t have TJ or RS’s times with me, but I will update this post after I ask them.  I know TJ was around 19 minutes and RS around 28 minutes.

So we all got metals, the first time that has happened.

For me personally it was a great race, even though I didn’t hit near the 20:00 mark.  I did PR my 5K by about 25 seconds.  Also, finishing 5th overall was just amazing for me.  Just guessing, there were probably 120 people who came.  I know over 170 signed up.  I think the weather kept some away.  So not a big race, but it was sweet to see the improvement we all had in just 1 year.  I am so proud of my boys!

That’s it for now.  I signed up for another 5K in two weeks.  I’m not going to push it for this one.  I’m just going to go out and have fun.  I don’t yet know if TJ or RS can get off of work to go with me, but I hope so.

Thanks for reading and for all the encouragement during my achilles injury!!!