Thursday, May 19, 2011


May 19, 2011:  20 weeks, 3 days to the Chicago Marathon.   2 weeks, 3 days to the Dexter Ann Arbor Half Marathon.

I've discovered that doubt creates a steep hill to climb. And I have also learned that it is something that you have to quash quickly and emphatically, lest it become a cancer that just eats away at you.   It's been an interesting couple of weeks.

I've ramped up my miles in prep for the Dexter Ann Arbor HM as well as my quest for speed. And that is what did me in - the speed thing.

After completing a recent 12 mile run, my legs were done; I was exhausted. My time was good, actually my best ever for that distance, and I was good for a couple more miles, but I could tell that I was at the end of my endurance. And that was where the doubt hit me. I was seriously doubting that I'd be able to go another 14.2 miles. It really hit me hard.

During the final 3 miles I could feel the lactic acid building in my legs, and I had the strongest urges to just walk. But I didn't stop or slow down - I kept running, fearful of the fact that if I gave in and stopped, I really would NEVER make it through a full marathon.  So I didn't dare slow down or stop. In fact I tried (not very well) to go faster. But I didn't stop!

It was while cooling my legs in my ice-cold pool (May in Michigan and I refuse to turn the heater on) that I started worrying and fixating about my physical ability to make it through a full marathon. It was depressing. Was I in over my head? Was I expecting too much? Assuming too much?

The good news is that I got over it and I did so quickly. No doubts. And I remain fully confident in my ability to run the marathon. I'm going to do this thing.

The net-net of that 12 mile run was that I had run it hard (on purpose - I wanted to test my ability to keep a certain pace) and to make matters worse, my pre-long-run routine was off (I didn't feed myself properly the night before or the morning of and I don't think I properly warmed up). It turns out that when you set out to run for long periods of time, and try to do it faster than normal, the demands on your body are tremendous. I'm clearly still learning about it all.

After that last 12 mile run, I did a rest day and then powered through 3 miles of speed intervals and then a great 4 mile increased tempo run (start slow, finish hard). I'm going to do an easy 10-12 mile run while in FL (the humidity should be fun), and then taper down for the Dex-AnnArbor HM on June 5.

I want to break 2:00 hours so bad, but my realistic goal should perhaps be closer to 2:03.  Who would have thought that 3 minutes would be so hard to peel off? That only ~14 seconds per mile... We'll see....

(BTW did I mention that I yanked my hamstring playing golf with Jordan and AnnDee on Mothers Day?  That added to my excitement over the last couple of weeks...)

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Great 10K !!

I ran a 10K race this weekend finishing 3rd in my 50-54 age group!!  Yahoo!  I finished in 51:58 at an 8:23 m/m average pace.   And once again, I was not surprised to note that there are some serious runners out there:   While lining up in the starting area I wind up next to a group of 50-ish guys who were planning on doing a 8:00 m/m pace and offered that I should  join them.  I’d love to be able to run a sustained period of time at an 8:00 m/m pace, but that was not my day to try.  And these guys flew – one, who I later find out is 55+ ran at a blistering 7:02 m/m pace.  He was already enjoying coffee and a bagel by the time I came lumbering in almost 9 minutes later.  How do these guys get so fast?  Are they born that way or did they train to get there?

The really cool part about this 10K is that to me it means that I am just one-more-step closer to realizing the real possibility of achieving a 2 hour target for my upcoming HM and closer to a 4 hour target for my Chicago Marathon.  I found a very cool website (   with a predictive calculator that is supposed to be realistically accurate (  Using this site was important because just because I was able to average an 8:23 m/m pace for the 10K, does not translate into being able to do it for 13.1 miles or, tougher yet, for 26.2 miles.

Progress baby, progress.

Little tangent here:  While doing a 6 mile jaunt last week I had an interesting observation:  During my run I found myself debating whether or not I should be even be doing a 6 mile run just before the 10K race. During the 3 to 4 mile segment I had pretty much convinced myself that I should properly rest my legs for the race and that it was ok to stop after 4 miles.  I also noticed that while I debated it, I was beginning to drag and my pace suffered horribly – I went from a 9:00 m/m pace to 10:00.  Ultimately I said screw it, I’m doing the 6 miles cause I want to and I like it, and perhaps not so surprisingly, my pace picked up dramatically. I wound up finishing the last two miles at a nice 8:30 pace.  I think that the moral of the story here is don’t debate with yourself….   I had made a plan, and I should have just stuck to it without debate.

Meanwhile, back to the 10K:  It was a good run and it was aggressive for me.  I had tried to plan my pace keeping in mind some of the hills that we would encounter, and so on.  I typically start easy and try to finish as hard as I can.  As it is, I usually need a mile just to get myself loosened up.  Starting at mile 5 there was this long hill that steadily became steeper   (the 10K was a circuit course that we ran two loops of, so this was the second time we hit it).  Approaching now the second time and with a mile and a bit to go was difficult.  I was tired…  But amazingly, and I don’t where it came from, but as we hit the steeper part of the hill I just dug deep, stayed on my toes, and I just pushed.  I was pretty much done by the time I crested the last part of the hill, but the great, and I do mean great news, is that I bested the other runners that had been running with me, except for this one 17-18 year old kid who could run like a cheetah.  He passed me almost like I was standing still and I never saw him again.  That boy could run.   After a few yards of recovery (where I am sucking oxygen into my body through every possible orifice) I dig deep again and run as hard as I can for the last ½ mile. Overall, including navigating the hills, I managed to average a 7:44 pace for the last 1.2 miles.  That was HUGE for me.

I was thrilled to see that I crossed the finish line, by my watch, at 52:00.  But I was absolutely ecstatic that the chip timer caught me at 51:58 (sub-52:00 !! ). Maybe there is some hope for this old fart!  The next event will be the Dexter-Ann Arbor HM on June 5! I'm hoping to beat the 2hour mark!