Saturday, March 29, 2008

Yorktown Victory Run, 29 Mar 08

The Yorktown Victory Run is a picturesque eight-mile point-to-point race starting at the Newport News Park and follows a bikeway/trail going past the Washington's Headquarters on the Yorktown Battlefield, through Surrender Field and finishes at the Yorktown Victory Monument in the Colonial National Historical Park. Most of last week the weather consisted of mild spring-like temps from 60-80's with sunny skies, but a cold front was to bring in colder temps in the 30-40's with wind and showers. The race starts at 9:00 but no chance of it warming up by then.

I had to leave home early since I hadn't pre-registered and got there in plenty of time to register, get my bib and drop off bag...they were to take the drop off bag to the finish. Since this is a point-to-point race I figured I would need the bag drop off since it would be cold and windy at the finish and I would need dry warm clothes...and I'm glad I did! I ran a nice easy two-mile warm-up through the park...a very nice large park with lots of trails and historic markers. It is windy and cold but no rain and the terrain isn't as hilly as I imagined it would be.

This is a gun time event with no chip, so as the starting time gets near, I drop off my drop bag and head to a spot a row back from the front of the starting line...mostly to keep warm in the midst of the other runners...but there is a brave soul with his shirt off at the start line in the windy 30 something temp. The starter gives us the "Ready...Go" and we are off. We start off on the paved road heading into the wind but after a short time we veer off to the left onto a packed dirt trail...I didn't expect this to be a trail run! We twist and turn on this trail going up and down some small dips dodging tree roots. This definitely wasn't what I expected, but it was beautiful with rivers, streams and the wooded trail . At the first mile marker the volunteer shouts out the time: 6:05, surprising me but looking at my watch it says 6:21...he must have received the wrong information on the start. We keep winding through the trails crossing many small wooden bridges and finally get to a wider and straighter gravel bike trail which we follow for another couple of miles and mile two comes in at seems this trail type run is taking a lot out of me and I'm wishing for the nice blacktop road. Mile three is in 6:39 again and we finally get onto a regular asphalt road and I get a good pace going and after a bit I see the front runners coming back to me so there must be a turn-around up ahead which is just before mile four and mile four is in 6:11...that can't be right and mile five comes in at 6:57 so I suspect one of the mile markers are off but it does give me an average of 6:34 for the two miles which is okay. We are still on the blacktopped road and I see a runner ahead of me and set my sights on him to draw him to me and I pass him just before the six-mile mark and it comes in at 6:27. We leave the blacktop and head onto the gravel trail again but there are only two miles to go so I try to keep the pace and mile seven is 6:28. One more mile to go and we get back onto the blacktop and to a main road. All through the race we have been heading north into the wind but have been sheltered somewhat by the trees but on the main road there is nothing to shelter us from the 15-20mph headwind and it becomes really hard to maintain pace...reminded me of the headwinds on the boardwalk but we race on knowing the finish is just up ahead. We finally make a right turn to the final stretch to the finish...up hill! Not really a bad hill but reminded me of the MCM final hill finish, so I charge up the hill and cross the finish line with my watch showing 52:29. So Steve...I guess we split the difference in your prediction of my finish time of 51:59 and my prediction of 53:00. I went through the food and water line grabbing something to drink and eat and head for the Drop Bag area, find my bag and put on a dry shirt, warm-up pants and hoody. I wait around cheering the others finishing for about 30 minutes but I'm still cold and getting colder so I head to one of the buses to take us back to the start line. I didn't wait around for the official race results so I'll have to wait for the official finishing time when the results are posted to put in all the results.

Official results are in with a finish time of 52:26, which put me in 1st in my age group because the actual 50-54 AG winner was 2nd overall.

Race Results:
There were 8 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 195 total finishers
Overall finish place was 10 of 195
Age group finish place was 1 of 7
Time: 52:26 for an overall pace of 6:33 per mile

Weekly Totals:
Mon: 31 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 25 min Stairstepper
Tue: 9 miles run, 16 min Elliptical, 16 min Stairstepper
Wed: 31 min Elliptical, 30 min Cycle, 12 min Stairstepper
Thu: 7 miles run, 21 min Elliptical, 10 min Stairstepper
Fri: 31 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 16 min Stairstepper
Sat: 10 miles run, Yorktown Victory Run and warm-up
Sun: 36 min Elliptical, 36 min Cycle, 25 min Stairstepper

Next week is the big Ukrop's Monument 10K!
Everyone have great races tomorrow...Natalie and Stephanie at the ING GA and Steve at the Virginia Duathlon!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Week of 17-23 March 08 and Spring Schedule

Nothing much to report for this week except for my weekly workouts. I'm happy to report that a week after the marathon and everything feels pretty good.

Monday, the day after the marathon, I went to the gym with the intention of just doing some easy cross training but after about 30 minutes on the elliptical everything was feeling pretty good so decided to run a couple of easy miles to loosen up the legs. Ended up running mile ladders starting at 6.5 mph and increasing 0.5 mph every mile. Wound up running 5 miles and finishing at 8.5 mph and then ended up the session with 16 minutes on the stairstepper.

Tuesday was just over an hour and half of cross training with 45 minutes each on the elliptical and cycle and 12 minutes on the stairstepper.

Wednesday was 30 minute warm-up on the elliptical and again one mile ladders on the treadmill. Again starting at 6.5mph, increasing 0.5 mph every mile ending with 6 miles and finishing at 9 mph, cooled down with another easy quarter mile more and then finished with 25 minutes on the stairstepper.

Thursday was again just cross training with an hour each on the elliptical, cycle and 10 minutes on the stairstepper.

Friday, 21 minutes warm-up on the elliptical and then ladders again on the treadmill. Started again at 6.5 mph increasing 0.5 mph every mile, finishing 7 miles at 9.5 mph. Ended the session with 21 minutes on the cycle and 12 minutes on the stairstepper.

Saturday was just cross training with little over 30 minutes each on the elliptical and cycle and finishing with 10 minutes on the stairstepper.

Sunday ran 12 miles at the Dismal Swamp Trail after church today. A nice easy relaxing run in mostly bright sunshine with a cold breeze. Didn't wear my watch with the intention of just running for the joy of running. Did note the time when I left my truck and when I got back for a time of 1:31 for a pace of 7:35/mile.

Have been trying to plan my race schedule for the rest of the spring and had been looking at both ING GA and CMM as my second spring marathon. Even looked at the National Marathon in DC on 29 Mar but decided not to do a second marathon so soon after Shamrock. CMM is also out because of other travel plans so that leaves me with running the Frederick marathon in May. So this is how my schedule is shaping up:

29 May - Yorktown Victory Run, a scenic point-to-point 8 miler starting in Newport News and finishing in Yorktown which is near Williamsburg, so promises to be another nice rolling hills course. The first point-to-point race I have run...they bus us back to the starting area in Newport News at the end.

05 Apr - Ukrops 10K Monument Run in of the biggest 10K races in the country which I wanted to run last year but registration filled up and closed before I could sign up. A great chance for going under 40 minutes on this one since the first half is a steady climb but coming back is all slightly downhill. One big disappointment is that it's on the same day as one of the Striders Grand Prix 5K race is to be run and I had made it one of my goals to run all the Grand Prix events but I hope it will be the only one I'm unable to run.

19 Apr - Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon, the second year for this flat out and back run and one I have to run because it's practically in my backyard.

26 Apr - Chesapeake Bay 10K, a flat out and back 10K that I ran last year and one that I want to do again.

04 May - Frederick Marathon in Maryland...another rolling hills marathon that I ran last year. This year they changed the course and it promises to be even hillier...especially towards the end.

18 May - The brand new, First Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon, put on by the same people who do the annual MCM. Another hilly run and should be a fun one.

24 May - Elizabeth River Run 10K, a flat looping course and again one that I did last year and had so much's one of the Strider's Grand Prix events.

There are a couple of weeks during this schedule that doesn't have a race...What am I ever going to do?!?! Don't worry...I'm sure there will be a race somewhere close to fill in those blank weeks if needed...but rest from racing those weekends might be nice too.

Hope everyone had a great Easter!
Have a great week!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shamrock Marathon 16Mar08

Won't I ever learn...apparently not! I had been happy with the training and races since the beginning of this year and was really looking forward to this marathon. All the training and races leading up to this point indicated that there was a potential for a very nice marathon with a nice PR. I was hoping for a finish in the 3:10 to 3:15 range. And if I had run it like I should have, there would have been no problems. The race is run in Virginia Beach first going south on Atlantic Ave and General Booth Blvd for about 6 miles, looping back onto the Boardwalk, then North along Shore Drive to the west entrance of Ft Story, going South again out the east gate, down Atlantic Ave and finishing on the boardwalk near the Neptune statue. The weather forecast for this morning was showers stopping around 7:00 am temps in the 40's with 19-22 mph NW winds. Not ideal but at least it wasn't going to rain. Woke up to some pretty good rain but checking the weather radar, it looked like the last of it was passing through so it should clear up by race time. Left the house in plenty of time to get to the 8:00 race time. Parking seemed to be an issue but I finally found a private lot and walked a couple of blocks to the starting area. There are a lot of hotels in the area and I ducked into the Hilton to use their using port-a-potties! Inside the crowded restroom I find my running buddy Jon from the MCM and Richmond marathons. I found out he was running the marathon and planned to look for him but hadn't expected it to be so easy! After finishing we head back to the starting area and he goes off to stretch and I go into another hotel to use their bathroom and I meet up with Brian...the guy I roomed with for the MCM...I also had planned on looking for him and was pleasantly surprised to meet up with him. It's amazing the people you meet in bathrooms! About the time we finish we have about a minute before the start of the race and hurry out to line up...he planned on a 3:40 finish so he ducked in line right there and I headed up front as close as I could get looking for fellow blogger Steve but never found him before the starting gun sounds. The starting gun sounds and we're off to the races and I follow the fast crowd out heading south with a nice tail wind. I end up with a group of women and around the 1 mile mark...that I never saw...people from the crowd are yelling..."First Females" and I know that I have gone out too fast. I finally get to the second mile marker and it comes in at 12:42...way to fast but it felt sooo good. We start going over the Rudee Inlet Bridge and catch up with Paul with his hand crank and I greet him as I pass. Going down General Booth Blvd, mile three is in 19:20 and mile four in 25:51. I'm still way to fast but it's hard for me to back off and mile five is in 32:24. About this time I hear Steve behind me yelling out to me and just before the turn around he catches me and we head into the wind and greet Paul again and mile six is in 39:36. We make a right turn heading towards Camp Pendleton and mile seven is 46:37. We enter Camp Pendleton exposed even more to the heavy head wind and mile eight is 53:41. I get a boost from a group of soldiers cheering us on from their barracks as we loop through unsheltered Pendleton and mile nine is 1:00:47. I have the pace I want but it's too late because with the fast start and the stiff headwind, I am laboring. We finally start going back over the bridge and loop back to the southern end of the boardwalk and mile ten is 1:08. The wind on the boardwalk seems brutal and I try to put my head down and run through it. I miss mile eleven but mile twelve is 1:22:41...starting to slow down too much. We finally get off the boardwalk and back onto Atlantic and get a nice lift from Steve's wife Ally and her Mum...I think...cheering me on. Here is the picture she took...Thank you Ms Ally!

The wind seems to be blowing just as strong here even with all the buildings and mile thirteen is 1:30:09. We keep going north on Atlantic and mile fourteen is 1:37 and mile fifteen is missed but mile sixteen is 1:54:04. We finally get to Shore Dr which is sheltered by trees and mile seventeen is 2:01:56 and mile eighteen comes in at 2:09:55...losing energy real fast and trying to hang on. We enter the west gate of Ft Story with a nice tailwind and mile nineteen is 2:17:56 and mile 20 is 2:25:56. About this time I feel a twinge in my right hamstrings and I know that feel legs are trying to cramp up but I press on and mile 21 is in 2:33 and mile 22 in 2:41:20. I get my first cramp and I stop along side of the road to massage the leg until I can walk and then gradually back running and mile 23 comes in at 2:50:18. I get another cramp, this time in the left leg and have to stop to massage and stretch until I can again walk and then gradually get back to running and mile 24 is 2:59:02. I get another cramp in my left leg and again stop to massage and stretch but this time it lasts longer before I am able to even walk and then eventually start running again and mile 25 is in 3:10. We finally get to where we make a left to get on the boardwalk for the finish and just as I make the turn my right leg cramps up and I am forced to stop to massage and seems so evil to get a cramp there when the finish is so close. I finally get running again and mile 26 on the boardwalk comes in at 3:21:04 and finish in 3:22:56 gun time and 3:22:51 chip time.

Not the finish that I had imagined for myself but it was still a PR. I saw all my goal times disappear one by one every mile for the last 3 miles...first the 3:10, then the 3:15, then even 3:20...but I was determined not to let the PR go...I was just hoping and begging for my legs not to cramp up the final 1.2 miles. All my training long runs...even the 24 miler in 2:53...I had no leg cramps and was sure that they would not haunt me again...but I learned today...again...I go out too fast...My legs are going to let me know about it. Hopefully my next marathon I will be a lot more conservative at the beginning and slowly get up to pace speed instead of starting off at a crazy pace trying to keep up with the young bucks.

I will remember and learn!

Race results:
There were 133 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 2273 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 190 of 2273
Age group finish place was 6 of 133
Time: 3:22:51 for an overall pace of 7:45 per mile

Weekly Totals:
Mon: 30 min Elliptical, 70 min Cycle, 10 min Stairstepper
Tue: 6.5 miles run, 20 min Elliptical, 20 min Cycle, 10 min Stairstepper
Wed: 31 min Elliptical, 30 min Cycle, 28 min Stairstepper
Thu: 7.1 miles run, 12 min Elliptical, 25 min Lifecycle
Fri: 30 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 30 min Stairstepper, 14 min Treadmill
Sat: 21 min Elliptical, 21 min Cycle, 15 min Stairstepper, 15 min Treadmill
Sun: 26.2 miles run in 3:22:51

It was good to see everyone out there today!
Have a great week!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Week Before Shamrock

The Shamrock marathon is one week away so this past week was a cut back week...somewhat. Most preparing for a marathon would take two even three weeks of taper where mileage would be cut back in order for the body to be rested for the day of the marathon...but...I never have. The week before last was my highest mileage week...47 miles... in preparation for this marathon with a goal of cutting back this last week to around 36 miles...and I accomplished that...somewhat. I ran Tuesday and Thursday with a plan of running my final longish 16-mile run on Saturday, but with storms forecasted for Saturday, I pushed my run to Sunday and ran an extra day on Friday. It was a good thing I put it off till today because yesterday's weather was pretty bad. We had heavy rain most of the day with winds gusting into the 50's. Around 5:00 pm, we hear this big boom and I know that a large tree has fallen...we heard that sound many times during hurricane Isabel when we lost half of our trees with two of our neighbor's tree on our roof. Looking out the front window, we see that a large pine tree has broken about 15 feet up and crashed through the roof of our neighbor's house across the street, kitty corner to us. No one was home at the time but after the police and fire department arrive, they wouldn't let the homeowners back into the house. Thank goodness no one was hurt. Today they had to get a large crane in to lift the tree off the house.

After the severe thunder storms, rain and temps in the 70's on Saturday, Sunday dawned bright, clear and crisp with temps starting in the low 30's. Daylight savings time also meant waking up an hour early and it promised to be a great day for a run, so I ate and changed into my running clothes and headed down to the Dismal Swamp Trail again for an easy out and back which would be about 16.5 miles. My initial plan was to take it easy for this run but still finish it in two hours or less. This time I didn't bother to stash a water bottle since I didn't think I would really need it and just started off with a bottle of water in hand. I started the watch at the starting barrier and took off down the trail at an easy pace. I felt a little tight in the calves and ankles at first but by the first mile, things were feeling good and it came in at 7:31...a nice easy start and I picked up my pace. There weren't as many people out today as last week...just a few bikers and walkers and the trail was strewn with branches and pinecones from yesterday's storm which I had to carefully maneuver through. Mile two's split was 6:41...a little faster than I had wanted and tried to slow it down a bit. The third mile was in 7:03...just about where I wanted to be and mile four was 7:02 and mile five in 7:00. About this time I pass the first runner who is running with his unleashed dog...the dog wanted to run with me and started straying away from his master but he was a well trained dog and after a few commands to come back, he left me. Mile 6 was in 7:03 and I kept telling myself that this was way too fast to be running a nice easy run and tried to cut back the pace and mile 7 came in at 7:28...a bit too slow and mile 8 comes in at 7:26. At about mile 8.25 the hardtop ends and there is a turn around circle to head back, but I continued straight on which looked like firm ground for another tenth of a mile till it almost got to the new highway and turned around to head back. I got back to the 8 mile marker and I mashed the lap button because I wanted it to read the miles on the way back as a count down and it reads 4:18 for that portion of the run. I'm headed back in a good headwind again...why is it that I usually get headwind on the way back? Only once that I can remember I had a tailwind on the way back but the next mile marker 7 comes in at 7:18, mile marker 6 comes in at 7:19 and mile marker 5 in 7:27. At this point I decide to kick it in because if I kept at my present pace and because of the extra 0.2 mile, I wouldn't get back in the 2 hrs I had planned and mile marker 4 comes in at 6:51 and mile marker 3 in 6:57. I again meet the two gym ladies going out for their long run and mile marker 2 comes in at 6:56 and the 1 mile marker in 7:02 and finally back to the start/finish barrier in 7:05...a total time of 1:58:36 for 16.7 miles, a pace of 7:06/mile and a total of 38 miles for the week. So much for a nice easy 16 miler!

The rest of the week went like this:
Mon: 31 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 21 min Stairstepper
Tue: 7 miles run, 20 min Elliptical, 10 min Stairstepper
Wed: 67 min Elliptical, 46 min Cycle, 16 min Stairstepper
Thu: 9 miles run, 20 min Elliptical, 19 min Stairstepper
Fri: 4.3 miles run, 30 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 30 min Stairstepper
Sat: 32 min Elliptical, 30 min Cycle, 15 min treadmill, 15 min Stairstepper
Sun: 16.7 miles in 1:58:36

I'm really ready for this marathon to be here! Just seven days to go!

Happy running to you all!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Final Long Run Before Shamrock!

I decided to forgo the 5K race on Saturday so I could be well rested and focused for my long run today. I wanted to do between 22-24 miles to get a better feel for how ready I am for the Shamrock marathon just two weeks away. I wanted to see if I could maintain a pace that was in the 7:15-7:20 range.

I again ran at the Dismal Swamp trail...a paved trail that is 8.25 mile long and with an additional 1.5 miles outside the trail, which provides a nice 19.5 mile out and back. My plan was to add another 2.5-4.5 miles in the end to make my total long run 22-24 miles depending on how the first 20 went. The weather was great...sunny skies with temps in the high 40's with a bit of a wind. I stashed my extra bottle of water in my normal hiding place and went back to the beginning of the trail to start my run. I did wear my watch this time since I did want to maintain a certain pace.

Carrying another bottle of water I started my watch as I passed the main barrier to the trail entrance and the long run was on. There were quite a few runners out on the trail this time...probably being a great day for a run and I'm sure a lot were getting in their runs in preparations for their Shamrock run. The first mile came in at 7:00...nice pace to get the kinks out. Mile two was in 6:45...a bit too fast but I was liking the run and was enjoying chasing runners down. Mile three 6:57...back to a better pace...besides...there were fewer runners to chase down. Mile four 6:53 and things are feeling awesome...the sky is blue, the temps are cool and lots of people out and about. Mile five came in at 6:59 and mile six in 6:57 for a total of 41:35...I was surprised that I was maintaining my pace so well. Another 6:59 for mile seven and 7:00 for mile 8. I get to the 8.25 mile turn around point and start to head back to the main entrance to the trail and I noticed a good headwind and my pace started to drop into the low 7's. I retrieved my stashed second water bottle and 13 miles came in at 1:30. Shortly after, I see two ladies from the gym coming the other is doing the half at Shamrock and completed both the Mud in Your Eye series and the Strider Distance Series. We greet each other in passing finding out how far we're going and I tell them I will be back. Getting back to the entrance...16.5 mile mark...the time was 1:55. I headed out to do the 1.5 mile out and back outside the park and reached the far end of the road...18 mile 2:06 and back to the entrance barrier again...19.5 mile 2:17. I headed back out on the Swamp trail and decided to go ahead and go for another easy 4.5 miles for a total of 24 miles, since all systems were go and I was feeling pretty good. I see the gym ladies again coming back near the entrance...I had hoped to catch them further out on the trail to run back with them but one of them was only doing 6 miles. 20 miles was in 2:21 and mile 21 in 2:29. I reach my turn around point and mile 22 comes in at 2:37 and mile 23 in 2:45 where I see one of the gym ladies coming back out to complete her 11 miles. I finally reach mile 24 and the finish in 2:53:11...a pace of 7:14 per mile. Everything felt good and I hydrated with some Gatorade and ate some trail mix and then walked back down the trail intending to run back with the gym lady and see her coming back just passed the quarter mile marker. I attempt to run with her but apparently my legs had tightened up even with the walking and my calves started cramping I told her to keep running and I would catch up with her at the end.

Overall I was very pleased with my long run and the time. It had me thinking that if I could manage 2:53 for 24 miles on a training run...there's a good chance it could get even better during the marathon. It's a great confidence booster in my plan to run Shamrock between 3:10-3:15. But...if all goes well...who knows what time could be put up. But of course marathons have lots of variables and things that could go wrong, so I have to be realistic and take what the course gives me on that day.

Weekly Training:
Mon: 2 miles run and core exercises totaling 40 min
Tue: 10.1 miles run, 20 min Elliptical, 16 min Stairstepper
Wed: 47 min Elliptical, 46 min Cycle, 17 min Stairstepper
Thu: 10.1 miles run, 12 min Elliptical, 30 min Cycle, 20 min Stairstepper
Fri: 1 mile run, 30 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 17 min Staristepper
Sat: 30 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 11 min Stairstepper
Sun: 24 miles run

47 total miles last week...the biggest weekly miles this year...but of course with me only running 3-4 times a's hard to increase my weekly mileage beyond this week's. Now the taper begins...I plan about 35-36 miles this coming week with a 16 mile long run on Sat or Sun. Then the week before the marathon will only be about 20 miles with two days of no running before the marathon on the 16th.

Happy training to you all and hope you all have a great week!