Showing posts with label races. Show all posts
Showing posts with label races. Show all posts

Tales of Running: The Post-Run Run Victory Lap Edition

A screen shot of my timing on my Garmin Connect screen.
For the last few years of running, I have been trying to improve my time on the longer runs.  Particularly, I wanted to hit under two hours for my half-marathon time and four hours (or at one point, just anything better than what I had done) for the marathons.   Last fall, I broke the two-hour mark with my half marathon at the Half-Marathon by the Sea from YuKanRun, coming in at 1:55:08.  It was an exciting day to break the time and realize that the kid who couldn't do one mile in twelve minutes for much of his life, was now averaging 8:45-minute miles for over thirteen miles.  

As accomplished as it felt, the Doubt Demon in my head still continued to tell me it was a fluke.  It was a one-off.  It must have been a mistake.  I'm guessing some of you have had this experience if not this particular anecdote.  So present was this idea that I made it a goal this year to do it again (and maybe somewhere along the line improve upon it, but actually doing it again ranked higher).  

When I showed up for the Fast Half, maintaining was my goal.  Hell, I just wanted to come in under two hours. I didn't even have to match the same time; "Just show me under two hours isn't beyond the realm of possibility" is what I thought to myself.  Well, it wasn't.  I crossed the finish line under two hours and with a new personal record:  1:52:35.  While I can believe I did it, I am still elated by the fact that I did.  For the first time, I came in the top one hundred (94 out of 324 to be specific) and even came in 19th in my age group.  And true, it may not be ranking high on any list, but it's ranking first among mine.  The ranking itself serves more as a sense of how I have improved over the years and less about whether I am winning or losing against others.  

Lance Eaton crossing the finish line.
Elated as I was in the moment, I think felt it most strongly two days after I ran the race.  Typically, the day after, I will make it an easy day.  I may do some physical activities (e.g. walking), but I avoid running and let me body rest.  By the second day, I am usually looking to dawn the Vibrams.  However, that's also the day in which the soreness peaks.  I hobbled around the day feeling the tightness and sore muscles moan with each step and fully cry out when I tried to descend a staircase (this is the of the post-run soreness; I cling tightly to all handrails on staircases in the aftermath of a hard run).  

I got suited up and ready to take my run, which was a battle in itself.  I knew a light run would do me well, but another part of me (those aching muscles), begged to take another day off, to bask in my victory a bit more and be sure not to push myself into injury.  I pushed on and got ready.  I got to where I usually start my runs, activated the GPS watch, and hit play on the music.  I lurched forward and my muscles cried in a mixture of pleasure and pain.  Pleasure at the familiar cadence and movement, pain at the familiar cadence and movement.  These were going to be some slow miles and that was ok.  I wasn't looking for speed, just mileage and to stretch out the legs a bit.

However, around the one third-mile mark (basically a few minutes in), it happened.  I wouldn't find my speed for this run, but I would find my pace and my peace.  At this mark, I felt the gears shift within me and my body recognize what it was doing; it stopped fighting me and starting working with me.  The muscle ache dissolved and I moved smoothly along. 

Lance Eaton with his finisher medal.
Muscle memory is a funny thing.  I can't say that I entirely understand it or know whether it is a real thing.  But I know in that moment, by body recognized what it was doing and let go.  It also triggered the memory of running the race two days previously.  It brought me to the hard and constant push I pursued for nearly two hours.  It reminded me of the determination, the excitement, and the sense of accomplishment I felt two days prior.  None of this is to say that I found my groove and sprinted off.  Rather, the run was a nod to and appreciation of the distance traveled two days earlier. 

The lifting of soreness, no doubt a chemical reaction of some sort, also felt like my body thanking the mind for trusting it, pushing it, and loving it.  My body moved along smoothly after that; each step came easily.  It wouldn't be a long run, just a run long enough to work the body a little bit without further harm.  But like so many other runs, my body had given way from resisting to embracing, from dreading to loving. 

In this way, the run was a victory lap of several sorts.  A run to celebrate the recent personal victory but also a run to celebrate the overall victory of becoming and continuing to consciously choose to be a runner.  A run to say that I can do this and I can keep doing this and will keep doing this.  

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Running Update

So I've been rather quite on the running front of late.  The last I posted on running was way back in August when I was talking about my recovery.  I continued running through the fall and completed the Baystate Marathon, though came in around the same time as the year before, which was disappointing but there wasn't much I could do about it.  However, I have been running pretty consistently since then and am looking forward to another season of running.

Monthly Running Mileage.
Monthly Running Mileage.
I'm mostly itching to get outside and start running.  I've been running for months but it has been all on the treadmill.  I've learned to tolerate the treadmill pretty decently, so long as I had Netflix to get me through it.  January and February were less than stellar.  I blame that mostly on moving in late January coupled with the start of the semester and of course, blizzard season. March has me in much finer form and the forthcoming months will be more successful in this regard.

I'm also itching to get another crack at a half-marathon and beat the 2:00 mark.  I'm so close and I feel like I have a solid strategy and comfort level with the half-marathon that I will do it this year.  Meanwhile on the marathon front, I just hope I get in enough long-runs that I can get under the 4:20 mark come this fall when I tackle the Baystate Marathon for the third year.

Anywho, for those interested in the runs that I'm signed up for, here they are!

Moose on the Loose Half Marathon

Nashua, New Hampshire
Sunday, April 12

Maine Coast Marathon

Sunday, May 10

Triple Threat Half-Marathon

Sunday, August 2

Half Marathon by the Sea

Sunday, September 27

Baystate Marathon

Sunday, October 18th

So what races are you signed up for?  What are some of your running goals this year?

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Tales of Running: A Tale of Two Half Marathons

Image: Lance Eaton - Fools Dual Number 24
So as some might recall, I'm into my most ambitious phase of my running for the year at least in terms of races.  In just a month, I've run a Half Marathon (Plus 5K), a marathon, and another Half Marathon with another marathon around the corner.  I've already talked about the first marathon but I never got the chance to talk about the first half-marathon (and 5K) because April was super-busy.  But after today's half-marathon, I thought it was a good opportunity to talk about the challenge of that run and the success of today.

The Fool's Dual as it is called is a half marathon and 5K.  Some people sign up for one or the other.  I did the crazy thing and signed up for both (because clearly, I'm a fool.).  The 5K came first and I treated merely as a warm up.  I didn't pay attention to time and just eased into it, looking get the benefit of a respectable warm up before diving into the half marathon.

Image: Lance Eaton's Time on the Fool's Dual Half Marathon 2014: 2:12:47
When I originally was thinking of writing a post about this run, I was going to name it, "The Fools Dual, or The Hills of Gloucester Have OWWS!!!"  This was a very hilly course and it felt like every time I was coming off a hill, there was another one.  While was I ready for a half-marathon, I don't know that I was ready for a half-marathon.  I went into the race, thinking that I would definitely at least get close to my last best from the fall, about 2:05 or so.  I thought it was in the bag until the I was a few miles into the race and clearly realized it wasn't going to happen.  I struggled through this race and while I ultimately made good time for my first complete half-marathon of the season (2:12:47), I was still a little bummed that the race took such a toll on me.  Again, by contrast to last year's first half marathon (which was in July and had me coming in at 2:41), it was a major success and despite the hills, I managed to complete it strong, particularly the last mile.

By the end of the race, my legs were dead weights for sure but there was some other things I noticed from the run.  The first was that while it was almost perfect weather (50s and sunny), I didn't realize how much the sunny would drain my energy.  However, it was early spring and there were no clouds.  What this mean was that there was no actual shade on the route, it was just sun the whole time.  Towards the end of the race, I could feel the effect on my face and head of being in direct sunlight for two hours.  That's just not something I had thought of as an issue while running in the cooler weather.

Image: Lance Eaton - Wallis Sands Half Marathon's number: 315
With some disappointment from this race because I wasn't closer to my 2:05 time when I ran the marathon last October and some disappointment because the marathon from last week was a bit rougher than I anticipated, I had a week of contemplation as I geared up for the  half-marathon this weekend (or rather let myself recover from the marathon and try to get in some running for this event).  I've been putting in the hours of running (averaging over 30 miles a week since March and about 130 a month for March and April).  My legs at this point, particularly from the knees downward look two massive tree trunks.  I knew I needed something in today's race to pick me up from propel me forward as I approach marathon #2 next week.

The Wallis Sands Half-Marathon was exactly what I needed.  It's a pretty run with a good chunk of it along the coast and small towns in New Hampshire.  More importantly, it was a largely flat course with a few inclines but nothing I faced in the prior two runs.  The weather was perfect at the start and throughout, being sunny and in the 50s with a good breeze (though that sometimes was a pain--particularly at the end).

Lance Eaton at the finish of the Wallis Sands Half Marathon with Finisher Glass.
I arrived about an hour before the race as usual.  I got my number, pinned it on (with not body piercing--win!), and relaxed in my car for a while as others showed up.   There was a good amount of people at this event--over 900 runners and walkers as well.  Rather than one herd release, they were doing timed releases so I was in the third group which was about 10 minutes after the start of the race.  I gave myself time to stretch, hit the bathroom (and wait through the long lines) and was ready at my time.

I instantly took up two strategies that I found extremely useful in getting through the marathon that I had not used as much in the past.  The first is I worked hard to breath in through my nose and out through my nose or my mouth.  Typically, I've been a mouth-breather because breathing through my nose is annoying as it is often runny during the races.  I grinned and bared with and brought a snot rag.  The other method I worked hard to hold onto throughout was to focus on the ground in front of me.  I have found that when I do this, coupled with the breathing, I am able to pick up speed.  I move faster without necessarily feeling like I am moving faster.  The two things just allow me to focus my energy and attention.

So I held as best as I could to these two tactics, though occasionally, they would be derailed.  I needed to look up to figure out where I was going or to work on maneuvering around people.  The breathing would be interrupted by having to blow my nose, drinking liquids or eating food (ok, gel packs are not food but you get the point).  Ultimately, they paid off.  I landed my best half-marathon time yet:  2:03:07.

Lance Eaton's finish time at the  Wallis Sands Half Marathon: 2:03:11
Though I was really hoping for under two hours, I knew by about 1:45 that it probably wasn't going to happen.  My muscles were ok, through it was clear that my quads were solid rocks.  More pressing was that my feet were feeling the effect of the hard run on top of three previous days of running (a 4 mile on Thursday, 9 mile on Friday, and 3 mile on Saturday).  They were already in tough shape going into it.  However, they struggled on and got me to a personal best.

According to the results, I came 347 out of 922, which is to say I came in among the top 40%.  In general, these placings never really matter much to me.  Everyone that showed up to run busted their butts and other body parts to get to that finish line.  However, I am proud that I finished in the first half for probably the first time in any of these half-marathons.  I also supposedly came in 3 among the Clydesdales (our of 14) but am not sure how accurate or relevant that is.

So there's the win that I was looking for.  Next week, I have my next marathon which is essentially five 5.08 loops.  I'm actually very curious to see what effect this will have on my running and my conceptualizing of the the run.  If I can think of it in strict terms of 5 loops, can I somehow do better overall?  I guess I'll find out!

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Tales of Running: Marathon #2: Ok, At Least, I Finished!

Lance Eaton - Earth Rock Run 2014
That's my "Oh God, It's Finally Over" look.
Trademarked, 2014
So I ran 26.2 miles yesterday for the second time in my life.  Interestingly enough, it was much harder this time around mentally and physically.  This is interesting because I feel like I've been training more properly for this race than I may have for the first marathon that I did.  I completed the run and feel I did accomplish something but that my time was nearly 15 minutes slower than my first marathon and I feel in much rougher shape today than I did the day after I did my first is a little disappointing.

I ran it in just under 4:50.  With my last 1.2 miles, being done at a 6 mile per hour clip (that is, 10 minute mile speed).  I feel some victory there in being able to still do 10 minute miles at the end of this run.  I also think this course was significantly different from the the first marathon in that it had a lot of hills and some steep ones for sure.  The Bay State Marathon had hills but they were gradual inclines for long distances.  The Earth Rock Run had hills.  It looped as well so I knew well enough what was coming up in the second half of the race.  Besides the hills, the weather was a mixed bag.  It rained throughout the first half and was in the 40s.  While there was no direct sun which prevented energy drain, the cold did its share a wearing on me too.    Besides sore muscles, I didn't get nearly as much physical ailments from this race as I've discussed before.  I made proper use of Vaseline which helped a lot.

Watch Reading - Earth Rock Run 2014:  4 hours, 49 minutes 40 seconds
While overall my running has been going well, I've been averaging lower-30 miles a week and the last two months I've cleared 130 miles in a month.  I've been impressed with how much more running I am doing.  However, there were some indicators that this race wasn't going to be my best.  Two weeks ago, I ran the Fools Dual Half Marathon (5K and Half-Marathon).  I ran the 5K portion nice and light to loosen up.  However, the Half-Marathon I was hoping for something along last year's season ender (within the 2:05-2:07 time range) but came in at just over 2:12.  This was a hard and hilly course that I definitely was struggling with to maintain focus.  The two weeks in-between I was distracted with projects at work as well as going away for 5 days (and getting engaged!) and though I got in some runs, I was still not quite back to where I wanted to be with runs.

My next marathon is in 2.5 weeks.  It's a 5.2 (or close thereto) mile loop that you complete 5 times.  For some reason, I think mentally, this could be an easier race to pace and strategize than some of these others that are either 2 big loops or one long distance, but I guess we'll find out. Before that, I have another half-marathon next weekend that I'm hoping will be able to improve upon what I've done thus far.

Even though it's not where I'd like to be at this point, I feel like it's still further than where I have been before so there's that to appreciate and recognize.  It also sets a nice low bar to start the season with and mark accomplishments.

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The Black Cat 10 Miler--WIN!

The winter has been a pain in the ass for those of us trying to get in our running mileage.  I've been treadmill bound for almost two months and I'm getting antsy about it.  Granted, I've been getting through some good shows such as Shameless Season 3 and even the Thundercats Season 1 remake (they really should make season 2--I was impressed with the reboot), but it's been hard to deal with the whether. 

 I have made considerable progress since last year and can comfortable run in weather in the 30s and tolerate weather in the upper 20s if it is a race.  However, the cold is only one part of the equation.  The other issue is snow, of which we've had a lot and much of it still lingers which makes running on sidewalks quite problematic.  Is it April yet?  

Anyways, this preamble is mostly to say that despite these conditions, my running is going pretty good.  I had my first race this past weekend and I am happy with the results.  Technically, it should have been my second run, but the weather for the first run included a potential heavy snow-storm and I wasn't going to deal with that. 

Thus, my first run of this season was the same as my first run from last season, The Black Cat 10 Miler (I was originally going to do the 20, but more on that below).  The run went quite well.  I maintained just over a 10 minute mile pace for the first 6 miles.  My time at the 6 mile mark was 1:01.  The next three miles I was able to complete by 1:29, which means I did about a 9:20 mile.  However, the finally mile was the victory:  I did it in just over 8 minutes.  I came in at 1:37:16.  That's 2 minutes less from last year, but also, I felt I ran the race better overall.
Black Cat 10 Mile - Medal and Number 2014

It felt like a victory because my Doubt Demon was awfully strong with me that morning as I rolled out of bed and saw that the temperature outside was in the teens.  I had not run in this kind of cold and was anxious about my ability to endure, particular because I wear the Vibrams.  

So what contributed to this success?  I did something in January and early February that with some encouragement, I realized was a really good idea.  I found myself an endurance coach.  I have set an ambitious amount of running goals for this year and while last year, I did well in building up to the marathon, I did it mostly in the dark, figuring out stuff through trial and error.  That's not a bad method per se but I feel I lucked out in not injuring myself.  So I decided to go with Dave Sek, at Breakthrough Performance Coaching.  A significant reason for going with Dave is because I have known him for most of my life but also because I have been following his adventures in the last few years and saw the level of skill and training that he was bringing.  I figured if I was going to improve, he's probably a solid bet to get me there.  In meeting with him and figuring out realistic goals for the next year, we set forward with training schedule (that updates regularly as I move towards different races). 

Overall, the training has been going great.  I managed about 70 miles in January but have moved up the mileage in February (a month with 3 less days) to 93 miles.  I anticipate March will also be high in numbers, which is good because my next race is 20 miles, so I'll need to be ready for that beast.  For some reason, I think I will be.  

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More Tales of Running: The Season Line Up

Contrary to the weather here in New England, spring is upon us and that means stepping up my running game.  I've been doing better in the last two weeks with the running than when I did my 2 month check in but if I'm going to achieve my goal for a marathon this year, it's time to get ready and get running a lot more.  Last year, I signed up for a bunch of runs and that did a lot to help me build up to a half marathon, a 25K, and a 30K.  With the extra time afforded to me on this snow day, I took the time to sign up for a series of runs throughout the spring, summer, and fall, culminating in a marathon in October.

Below is a list of the races that I've signed up for.  Further below, I've listed ones that I might still sign up for.  If you plan on signing up for any other them do let me know and maybe we can coordinate transportation and training.

In the course of looking at rides, I came across the 17th Annual Ultra Around the Lake in Wakefield.  I don't think this is likely to be this year, but I've got my eyes on it.  Maybe next year's goal!


Sunday, April 7th
37th Annual Cohasset:  10 Kilometers
1:00PM: Cohasset Common

Saturday, April 20, 2013
5th Annual Dan Ford 5 Mile Road Race
11:00 AM:  Fireside Restaurant and Pub

Sunday, April 21, 2013
Energize The Earth 5K/10K
10:00AM: Beverly, MA

Sunday, May 5, 2013
5 Mile Run for HAWC
12:00 PM: Salem Common

Sunday, June 2, 2013  
Newton 10K
Newton, MA

Sunday, June 9, 2013
Xtreme Urban Run
10:00AM: Salem Willows Park, Salem, MA

Sunday, July 14, 2013
Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon and 5k
7:30AM: Thames Street, Portland, Maine 04101

Saturday, August 3, 2013
Triple Threat
9:00AM:  24 Jerdens Lane, Rockport, Massachusetts 01966

Saturday, September 21, 2013
Wicked Half Marathon
7:00AM:  Bentley School, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem, Massachusetts 01970

Saturday, October 5, 2013
31st Annual Applefest Half Marathon
10:00AM:  Hollis, NH

Sunday October 20, 2013
BayState Marathon
8:00AM:  Lowell, MA 01852

Saturday, October 26, 2013
Devils Chase 6.66 Miler
8:00 AM:  Soccer Field, Salem Willows, Salem,MA

RUNS THAT I MAY SIGN UP FOR (or Registration isn't open yet).

Sunday, April 28, 2013
Groton Road Race 10K
10:45AM:  Groton-Dunstable Regional Middle School, 344 Main Street

Sunday, June 16, 2013
Rockport Fathers Day 10K Road Race
9:00AM Rockport High School, 24 Jerdens Lande, Rockport

Tuesday, July 30, 2013
54th Yankee Homecoming Races 10 Mile
6:10 PM:  Newburyport High School, Newburyport, MA

Monday, September 2, 2013
Around Cape Ann 25K
9:00AM OMaley Middle School, 71 Middle Street, Gloucester, MA

Sunday, September 8, 2013
Seasons Acton Half-Marathon
Acton, MA

Jiminy Peak Hardcore Mudd Run
(8 mile mud obstacle course with 18 to 20 obstacles.)
8:00AM: Jiminy Peak Ski Resort, 37 Corey Road, Hancock, MA

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Returning to Running: Black Cat 10 Miler

So today was the first long run I've done in a while.  With winter setting in, it's just hard for me to gather the time, energy, or courage to head out into the cold to run.  The last distance run was the 9 mile leg of a relay I did with the North Shore Striders in December.  Since then, I've been hitting the treadmill in my stand-up living room, but even then, I have trouble doing more than 5 miles or so before I just grow tired, distracted or get blisters (more on that later).

Did someone say black cat?
Back in January after I did the Wicked Frosty Four on New Years Day, I signed up for the Black Cat 10 or 20 Miler.  I'm aiming for a marathon this year and doing the 10 miler would be a good baseline for the rest of the year to build up my endurance.  I knew I couldn't be ready for 20 miles in march given my schedule and the weather.  Just not feasible.  But 10 was do able.  By the end of last season, I was doing 10 mile runs as part of my training for the half marathon and 25 & 30Ks.

This week came and I started to get nervous.  I felt drastically unprepared.  I wasn't doing as much running as I felt I should and the distances I was running were abysmal.  I anticipated failure to some degree either in not even showing up, walking much of it, or even calling it in somewhere along the path.  Surprisingly, none of that happen.

I got my things ready last night for the run and in the morning got up with enough time to get some food, stretch, wake up and take care of other necessities.  I got there early (as usual) and got my shirt and number.  Luckily for this run, the registration and starting area was at a school so that I was inside until just a few minutes before the race.  This made a lot of difference.  The biggest challenge that I have with races in the winter is that I wear the Vibram 5 finger shoes and being out for long durations (20 minutes or more) standing around before the race, really do a number on my feet.  They hurt or go numb, making the start of the run a bit hard until the running breaths some life into them.  I have socks that I do wear for this, but it doesn't do enough.  This improved my disposition greatly to the race as a whole.

The race took place in Salem along some of the similar routes of many of Salem's runs.  However, this run took people down Rte 114 into Marlbehead and back.  It was actually a great route for different reasons.  The first is that I was familiar with the area so I knew how to pace myself better and knew when I was closer to the end.  In many races, we get markers, but that I knew the terrain and could see in my head the distance, made my endgame much better.   The route was also nice because most of its uphills were in the first half of the race, so on the return, there were some nice downhill portions.  The weather was also amendable--not warm, but sunny.  It was in the mid-30s as the race started but may have gotten warmer during the race as the sun got higher in the sky.  It certainly felt warmer!

I came in at just under 1 hour and 40 minutes.  This was actually quite exciting for me.  10 minute miles for a 10 mile is good for me and I had set my goal to be 1 hour 50 minutes (essentially 11 minute miles).  For me, it's a strong starting base to go with for the next year.  I felt good during the run and for the most part, kept a steady pace.  I only faltered towards the end.  Just after the 9 mile mark, I decided to walk for two minutes as that just seemed to be what my body was telling me.  It was what I needed and as my time hit 1:32, I put myself into high gear and crossed the finished line before 1:40.  Overall, I came in at 530 out of 679.  Considering that this race was filled with the more serious long distance runners, I was even happy with that result too.

One tired (and sweaty) boy.
So as I mentioned above, I have had trouble with running on the treadmill because I keep getting blisters with the longer runs.  This has happened in part because I started running differently on the treadmill than I generally have in the past.  Very shortly into starting on the treadmill (in my apartment--not at a gym), I realized how loud I sounded.  I felt like the Karloff Frankenstein with the platform boots.  In response to this, I changed from the lumbering full-foot step I was doing to just placing the ball of my foot but not the heel.  Typically, my foot would come down initially on the ball and then along the side and not the entire heel but a portion of it.  Running on the treadmill changed this because it made too loud of a sound, so I would land on the ball but not allow the rest of the back of the foot to come down.  This seemed in general a lighter running step than I had previously been doing, but I have found that I have gotten a few blisters and calists as I build up my tolerance and my body adapts to it.  The reason I mentioned this is that within the race, I found myself naturally sliding into this new running style initially but somewhere around mile 5 needing to abandon it and revert to the older style.  I'm hoping with time, I'll be able to keep my form longer.

Overall, I was quite happy with the run.  I completed it and did so in a time that was quite good for me. I didn't feel overwhelmed and I feel like it has offered me a good start to this year's running which makes me more hopeful about not only doing a marathon this year, but doing it well.

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