Monday, April 30, 2007

Weekday afternoons with Catherine

For the whole school year Catherine and I have been able to play and shop and play some more while Elisabeth has been in school in the afternoons. Only one more month of these sweet times together! These are all from today's beautiful sunny time at the playground.

My love-hate relationship

I have a love-hate relationship with race result predictors, like the one at This is what it said from my 10k time from last Saturday:

"Based on our calculations, you could perform at these times over these distances. If you are in much better shape than expected in our theoretical model, then your times will be less spread out. Conversely, if you are in worse shape then your times may be more dispersed."

5K 0:28:58
5M 0:47:49
10K 1:00:41
10M 1:40:10
Half Marathon 2:14:33
Marathon 4:41:49

The good news is that was my fastest race result ever (well, since the 1980s), at any distance. The other good news is that a sub-5-hour marathon may finally(!) be within reach for me at Marine Corps this autumn.

The bad news is that I haven't made those times at either shorter or longer distances than 10 kilometers. So I have a lot of hard work ahead of me in order to hit those marks.

Um, before I retire from running, that is.

Finally spring!

Tomorrow is May 1st, and the weather here is finally starting to act like a normal spring instead of perpetual winter. Four days in the next week are forecast above 70*F. Hurrah!

Today's task is packing away all the running tights and long-sleeved training shirts until late next autumn.

The only problem is that somehow they have multiplied out of control and will occupy approximately 300% of my available storage space on the top shelf in the closet.

I'd post a photo, but it's really much too frightening.

How does that happen? I didn't acquire THAT many new long-sleeved race shirts, honest!!

And then there's all the different categories of stuff I need just for warm weather: Cotton t-shirts. Technical t-shirts. Technical sleeveless tops. Short-sleeve jerseys. A couple long-sleeve cycling jerseys left out for cold days. Running shorts. Cycling shorts. Regular everyday shorts. It never ends!!! Good thing I don't need special WORK clothes on top of all this!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Riding intervals

My training buddies were all over in Columbia, Maryland today doing some hill training at a "brick-n-pic" workout with a bunch of local triathletes all training for the Columbia Triathlon in 3 weeks. It didn't work out for me to accompany them, unfortunately, although I could really use the hill training they'll be getting today!

Ack, that's coming up fast! While I've gotten some good results from concentrating on my running so far this year, I feel like my cycling and swimming are way, way behind where I was last year. I don't have hills nearby to train on, but I was able to get Buttercup out on the roads for some 26 miles of interval work. Here's what it looked like - every 2 miles I did a quarter-mile pickup in the cadence and pushed the intensity. That got me 10 good little bursts of intensity, with a bonus right at the end!

Uh, that first little dip in the speed at the beginning was where I fell over while clipped in again today while stopping for a stop sign before turning onto the busy highway through town. Good thing there wasn't a car behind me. Sigh. I hope that's my only clipped-in-fall for 2007, in the books. And I hope my legs confuse interval training with hill work.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

So close. . . .

Nope, I still didn't quite crack that one-hour 10K barrier!

But I'm creeping up on it.

Today's 10K was 1:00:41 at the Oxford Day 10K on Maryland's Eastern Shore. 5K split was 30:02. Beautiful weather for running - mid-50s and partly cloudy.

It's a conspiracy! I guess I'll have to run at least one more 10K and 5K each in my lifetime to hit those 60/30 minute benchmarks! THEN I can retire from running for good!

Still, my previous 10K PR was from this race last year (not exactly the same course) in 1:03:17, so it was a pretty darned good running day for me, all in all. I ran the whole race without looking at my Garmin once, just as an experiment, but I don't think it helped me, to tell the truth. I had a higher average heart rate in my last half marathon (174, vs. 170 today). I think I do better when I check my pace and heart rate periodically during the race, rather than just pacing by perceived effort. Although my pace was quite consistent during the race (except for Mile 3 which included a brief walk at a water stop), I think I could have pushed slightly harder with this HR information:

Mile 1: 9:34, HR 160 bpm
Mile 2: 9:34, HR 170 bpm
Mile 3: 10:09, HR 169 bpm
Mile 4: 9:39, HR 172 bpm
Mile 5: 9:46, HR 173 bpm
Mile 6: 9:26, HR 175 bpm
Mile 6.28: 2:39 (9:32 mpm pace), HR 178 bpm

I was 69th/92 runners, I think. Picked up a big honkin' trophy for 1st place Clydesdale Filly, too! I was the only one who entered the division, but hey! You have to enter to win!!

If my birthday were 2 months earlier, I could have taken a 2nd place age group award, but instead I have to wait to age up into the 50-death age group.

I love small town races! Very fun to see lots of friends out on the course today, including the Dave and Chuck Comedy Team (both of whom had great races too)!! Plus we all enjoyed the traditional Oxford Day post-race pancake breakfast this year again. Yum!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

We love chalk

At least Catherine loved it. All over the decking, the railings, the grill, the screen door, both girls. . . . we went straight inside for baths after this.

Creeping pox

Actually "Fort Hill Creeping Phlox". This is what else I did last weekend, set these guys in the ground. Just wanted to get a photo while they still survived.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Five half marathons for my fiftieth year

The summary:
Total distance: 65.5 miles.
Total time: 12:09:25 (over 7 weeks).
Average pace: 11:07 min/mile.
Previous fastest half marathon: March 2006 B&A, 2:36:23.
Number of new PRs set: 3.
Reduction in half marathon time: 16:55.

It was FUN!!!!

Many thanks to my wonderful training buddies Chuck and David for doing 4 and 5 of these events with me, respectively!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bridge to Bridge Half Marathon Race Report

I never thought I'd run that fast, that far.

Fast being a relative term, of course - but fast for me. Sure, I'd run faster in my twenties, but no further than a 10K, and that was decades ago. In my late forties, it took me over a year and a half of running, a couple of marathons, and many half marathons to break 3 hours in the half, it never seemed within the realm of possibility to break 2:20 in a half marathon.

But I did it yesterday.

Please excuse me for a moment, but WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

This was the fifth in my personal series of five half marathons this spring (within 7 weeks) to celebrate turning fifty years old this coming June. These races completely exceeded all my expectations, particularly this last one.

My half marathon PR prior to this series was 2:36:23 set at the B&A Half Marathon in March 2006, and that was only about a minute less than my previous PR set in 2002. So any reasonable expectation would be that in a great half marathon I might lower my PR by another minute or two. But with the help of a couple of great pacing buddies, I was able to bring my PR down to 2:26:38 at the B&A Half Marathon on March 4, 2007. I thought that PR was going to stick for a long, long time.

This promised to be a great race at any speed, though. It was the inaugural edition of a point-to-point pancake-flat half marathon going from one bridge to another, ending less than a mile from my home, run as part of Bay Day celebrations at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. I knew the course like the back of my hand, since I bike it almost every weekend and I've been running parts of it regularly since 1999. This is my home. I wanted to run well in this race.

I solicited pacing advice from some of my online correspondents. I got several thoughtful responses and a lot of encouragement. Some told me to work on overtaking runners ahead of me. Some told me to take it out slow and accelerate, mile by mile. Some told me to take the first 5 miles easy, the second 5 miles above goal pace, and hang on for the last 5K. Those all made sense to me. Which way to go?

But David Jones said, "Balls to the wall and hold on. . . . It's only a half." With all due respect, I snorted at that. That's not possible. A HALF MARATHON? 13.1 MILES? Surely you jest. I'd be dead by mile 3 or 4.

Bob Mina said: "1. Take it out easy. First mile will be the slowest all day. Get warm, find a rhythm. 2. Second mile, drop the hammer. Just hit it as best you can. 3. Hang on. 4. Keep hanging on. Sure, you might die. You know what? I bet you won't. . . . Commit. 100% commitment. Total, unreserved, pure commitment. No excuses. The conditions, your current base mileage, experience, and the course won't line up any better than this. . . . Believe. Run it hard, and be ready for what you might be able to do."

I was still deeply skeptical, but these are voices that I respect. But where do they get these absurd, crazy ideas? Let's check the numbers. I went back to my race records. I recently did a very hilly 10-miler in 1:48:52. I thought maybe a couple minutes off that on the flat on a perfect day might be possible, and I just had to push it for another 5K further. Maybe, just maybe something under 2:20 was possible, if the stars aligned and everything happened just right.

Race day dawned absolutely perfectly - clear and sunny, no wind, and with only a slight chill in the air. I wore a singlet, a long-sleeved throwaway tshirt, and carried three gels, 2 salt capsules, and a water bottle. I was fully wired with my Garmin Forerunner 305 on my right wrist and had it set to display current pace, average pace, cumulative distance, and heart rate. On my left wrist my watch would display elapsed time.

I drove over to the start with my training buddy David, checked in, and took the shuttle past both bridges and a half mile further to the elementary school at Tilghman Island. The small crowd of about 60 runners stayed warm inside and enjoyed the use of their facilities until it was time to line up outside. Chug some water, take a salt capsule, and toss the bottle. The start was delayed for a couple of minutes because the drawbridge to the island was UP, but before long the gun sounded and we were off!

Starting down the road I was the dead last runner. I took my time to warm up, letting everyone push on ahead. I knew they were starting too fast and many of them would slow down later. I kept it nice and comfortable and got my body warmed up. My heart rate never comes up to steady-state until the first mile is done, anyway.

At 0.5 miles we crossed the Knapps Narrows drawbridge in a group and the field then began to spread out. We have miles and miles of 8-foot-wide nearly level highway shoulder to run on. Winds were light. Courses just don't get any faster than this. I kept it comfortable but began passing a few people.

Mile 1: 10:07

That pace always feels easy at the start of a race, but "easy" gets slower very rapidly. ACK! Severe cramp about to hit my right calf! Ow, ow, just keep jogging and it will work out, just keep jogging.... Oh well. This is going to be a slow race, I think. I'll just trudge along to the finish and get it done. Finally after 3/4 mile of discomfort, the spasm goes away. Oh well, there goes a perfect day.

Mile 2: 11:02

The cramp only cost me a half minute. I peel off the long-sleeved tshirt and drop it next to a cone. Somehow getting my legs back under me, and seeing the 2 mile marker jolted me awake. OK, let's see what happens if I crank it up to "DIFFICULT" pace and just try to hold it there. I wonder how long it will take before I fall apart and start walking. It's worth a little experiment, I suppose.

Mile 3: 10:37

This is going okay, but there's no way I can hold this. It's only 3 miles and my heart rate is already well into the 170s. I'll just try to keep it up to the water station and then slow down. I take out a gel, suck it down, drop to a racewalk and toss back two cups of water. Back on the run. I pass the wide-hipped girl, the older man shuffling along, and crank it up to get away from the annoying chatty girls running five abreast.

Mile 4: 10:34

No freakin' way can I hold this pace. Maybe I'll just run to that next cone, and if I feel too lousy, I'll just walk then. I know there are about 15 runners behind me, but there is NO ONE left in sight in front of me. I never see another runner in the race until after the finish line. Good thing I have my trusty Garmin along to help me with my pace, or I'd be all alone out here.

Mile 5: 10:19

I can make it to the next cone, but no way can I keep doing this for 8 more miles. That's impossible. But no, Bob said to believe. OK, I'll try it. I begin my mantra in rhythm with my steps: "I believe. I believe." Yeah, right. But whatever works.

Mile 6: 10:22

What the heck - Garmin says my average pace is 10:30 minutes per mile! Can that be right? I cannot possibly keep this up. Just for grins let's get the halfway split at 6.55 miles: 1:09:03. Whoa! If I could keep this up I could break 2:20. But of course that's impossible.

No, it's only impossible if I think it is. "I believe. I believe."

Mile 7: 10:52

Another water stop. Take another gel to keep your blood sugar up. Thank the volunteers. Stay hydrated or that heart rate will skyrocket. It's already in the upper 170s. Oh, yeah, take a salt capsule too or you'll get too dizzy before the end. Every second counts. Time trial. Time trial.

Mile 8: 10:23

Balls to the wall, he said. What a jerk. I can't do this. This is too hard. Five more miles! Ack! Stop with the negative thinking already! "I believe. I believe." Just keep running hard to the water stop. Just that far. Only that far.

Mile 9: 11:05

Yeah, that does it, I'm cooked. It's all over now. No, wait, this is the intersection where I said I was going to pick up the pace for the final stretch. Ugh. That means I have to keep running even harder. Jeez, is that a 10 mile PR? 1:46:23? What did I finish my last 10 mile race in? What were those numbers? I can't remember. It doesn't matter. Focus. Just run.

Mile 10: 10:44

Just hang on until the water stop. Just until the next cone. Toss down the water, silently curse the styrofoam cups, keep on running. Just believe. Try to believe.

Mile 11: 10:45

Wow, this is my old running route. 2000? 2001? How many years ago was that? I can't figure it out. I only know it was about 60 pounds, 3 babies, and about a million miles ago.

Mile 12: 10:43

There's the bridge in the distance. It seems too far to run. I wonder if my training buddy David will come out to finish with me. He said he would. Where the heck is he? He would have finished a half hour ago. Ouch this hurts. My breathing is getting ragged. I cough now and then from the remnants of a chest cold from last weekend. Ahh, there's David! He's waiting with a speedy young runner and they each run alongside me and escort me in. I'm grateful. David chats amiably and asks me how my race went. "Can't. Talk." I can only grunt. They understand. My heart rate is skyrocketing above 180.

Mile 13: 10:29

Where's the finish? Damn gravel path at the end, this hurts a lot. Where's the line? My god, does that clock still say 2:19? That can't be right, can it? Can I make it over the line before it flips over to 2:20? Push hard....

Finishing Time, 13.1 miles: 2:19:28

It's several minutes before I can speak or walk again. My average heart rate on the course was 174 bpm. I definitely gave it all I had today. I'm totally spent and completely satisfied with my effort. I walked around slowly until my heart rate got back near normal and then sprawled on the grass, soaking up the sun.

Much to my surprise, I was awarded a plaque for 3rd place woman in the 40-49 group. Amazing! I'm grateful to the organizers for putting on such a wonderful race.

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic. I never really believed I could do it. But my legs produced the evidence.

Yes, now I believe.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I believe!

Thanks for all the great advice and encouragement, everyone!!

I ran a 2:19:2x half marathon this morning, good enough for a plaque for 3rd female 40-49 in a very, very small field.

That's a 7-minute PR for me!!

My half marathon time came down a total of 17 minutes in 2007 (so far) in my series of five half marathons in seven weeks. That's five out of five DONE under 2:30, each and every one!!!

Yes, I did take along the Garmin, and it actually helped my pacing enormously because the entire race after Mile 4 there was no one in sight in front of me.

Bath now, long report with photos some time later.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Cold-water swimming gear check

I took all my new cold-water swim gear to the pool today to test it out before I actually try to use it swimming in an inlet near here.

Here are my results:
  • Warmup, 500 yards: 2:17/100 yard pace: fairly comfortable unrushed pace.
  • Frogger neoprene-lycra webbed gloves, 200 yards: 2:18/100 yard pace: Very warm, but very comfortable to swim with. Felt like my hands were sweaty. Didn't improve my speed any.
  • Neoprene socks, 2 mm, 200 yards: 2:24/100 yard pace: They were slightly large, and felt like swimming with floppy plastic bags on my feet. Uncomfortably warm, like sleeping in bed with wool socks on. Slowed me down slightly, but they didn't seem like they were in any danger of ballooning with water or slipping off my feet.
  • Body Glove neoprene hood, hooked under chin, 200 yards: 2:29/100 yard pace: The chin strap was slightly uncomfortable and constrictive, but not too bad. Didn't seem like it would chafe. Very warm also. I swam much slower than I thought with it on - the sound of the water was different in my ears and that may have affected my perception of pace.
  • Body Glove neoprene hood, unfastened and loose, 200 yards: 2:29/100 yard pace: Just to see what would happen if I got too hot or couldn't breathe well mid-race, I tried swimming with the chin parts loose and flopping. That did feel much cooler, and didn't slow me down any compared to swimming with it fastened. Good to know for emergencies, although I'll need to use two hands to unfasten it.
  • Pull buoy only, 200 yards: 2:10/100 yard pace: I wanted to check if I was slowing down just because I was getting tired. I guess not.
  • Breast stroke, 200 yards: 2:54/100 yard pace: I have to resort to this occasionally during swims for sighting, but use it rarely now. It feels clumsy and slow, and it is slow - 27% slower than my normal freestyle stroke.
I'm ready to test them out in actual cold water now for open water swim practice. It's all comfortable enough to swim in, but I can't yet gauge what is going to keep me warm enough, or conversely, make me too hot. I can't wear the webbed gloves during a race, but it would be legal to wear the socks and the hood if I need to. I'm just hoping that I either get very comfortable swimming in them or that the water suddenly gets warm enough that I don't have to wear them.

I also want to try a practice swim using earplugs. Some people say that cold water in their ears affects their swimming and balance. Although I haven't experienced that yet, I'd certainly like to avoid it.

My pacing plan

OK, here's the plan for my half marathon tomorrow. Flat as flat can be (one bridge at mile 0.5 and otherwise pancake-like).

Weather forecast for tomorrow has changed to 48*F and ZERO wind at the start. That means I can wear just a singlet and shorts and maybe a throwaway long-sleeve tshirt and not totally become a popsicle before the start. Carrying 2 gels, ID on my shoe, and that's it.

I think even splits is the way to go. I'd really like to finish below an 11:00 min/mile pace, with a 2:24 or better finish time for a PR for my fifth half marathon out of my spring series of five.

Right now I'm thinking go off at 10:50-10:55 and try to hang right there steady-eddie the whole race; gels at mile 4 and 9 or thereabouts when I hit a water station. Kick it in gear at mile 9.1-9.5 and gradually increase the pace with whatever I have left. (Which sometimes is much slower than I start out, even giving it everything). (I've found lately that when I kicked it in a little later, like at mile 10.5-11.0, I sometimes felt like I had some energy left at the finish line and might have gone faster).

Any thoughts or recommendations?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The picky eater

I'm one of the un-pickiest eaters on the planet. I like just about everything with the possible exception of mutton, anchovies, and liver. Truth be told, I actually even like most vegetables if they're prepared well and served with something yummy (bearnaise sauce works wonders) in a restaurant. Yes, even broccoli and brussel sprouts. I just don't do a lot of fancy cooking at home.

So I'm just saying that my girls didn't get their picky eating habits from me, that's all.

Today they had a special on strawberries at the grocery store so I bought two big containers. I thought it would be a nice treat for the girls to have sliced strawberries in yogurt for dessert.

Instead Catherine objects. She gets a paper towel and wipes the yogurt off the strawberries, one by one, and lines them up in front of her on the table, all wiped clean, before she will eat the first one.

It must be her father's fault. He's the one who (inexplicably) insists on smooth ice cream and smooth peanut butter.

Kid logic

Kid logic is different than adult logic.

Three-year-old logic says that if they are playing musical instruments on TV, you MUST play along. And if you want to play a trumpet, the best place to get one is from the inside of a roll of paper towels. And all you have to do is remove all the paper towels from the roll and stuff them into the kitchen sink, tucking them in around the dirty dishes, and voila! You have a working trumpet!

I lose more paper towels that way. . . .

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Banditing Boston

I really enjoyed this photo-account by a man who bandited the Boston Marathon, finished DFL, and is "damn proud of it".

Way to go, Jacob!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I may bounce back after all

I was concerned about my fifth half marathon in my series of five for my 50th year, after last Saturday's crappy run.

But today I did a timed 5K in 33:47 while keeping my heart rate under 165 bpm, which is a sustainable pace for me.

If I could keep that up for 13.1 miles it would get me a 2:22 half marathon, which would be a PR by 4 minutes. That's not terribly likely, but it's not impossible, either.

I'm just glad I can run again without my heart rate going through the roof or coughing out nasty things.

On to the inaugural Bridge to Bridge Half Marathon on Saturday!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Female amputee and Ironman

I just happened across the good-news story of Kelly Bruno, as of yesterday the 2nd female amputee to finish an Ironman triathlon (after Sarah Reinertsen). She came across the line of Ironman Arizona at an impressive 13:57:32.

Well done, Kelly!

She's quite an accomplished young lady and I hope to hear more about her at the Ironman Championships in Kona this coming October and also at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

Horror at Virginia Tech

My heart goes out to the students, faculty, staff, and families of Virginia Tech. The news from there is making me feel sick. 8 years after the Columbine shootings.

And our President, before all the facts of the situation are even known, uses it as an opportunity to reaffirm support for the NRA!?? ""The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said."

I'm horrified.

In response to a question, yes, I did turn off comments for this post (first time for me). I just wasn't in the mood for a debate on this topic. This tragedy hit too close to home for me, since I spent 20 years of my life living, studying, teaching, and doing research on college campuses.

Good girl!

My daughter Elisabeth is standing in front of the TV right now with the Boston marathon on, in her
diaper and nothing else, pretending to run.

Then she made the "swimming" sign to me.

She wants to be a triathlete, not merely a runner!!

Go go go Boston runners! Also, don't forget, those of you at work today looking for a distraction, that the Tour of Georgia live webcast begins today, at 12:30 eastern time, I believe.

Bicycle lift

I want one of these, to help me get up hills. In fact, I'd like one installed on the Columbia triathlon bike course, for which I am woefully unprepared.

If they can install them in Trondheim, Norway, surely they can install one here, right?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dieting is usually harmful

My long-held belief in the damaging effects of dieting has been confirmed by a meta-analysis of thirty weight-loss studies.

"Pooling the results of the various studies clearly showed that while people do lose weight initially, most quickly put all the pounds back on. In fact, most people end up weighing more than they did to begin with."

"Research has shown the repeated rapid weight gain and loss associated with dieting can double the risk of death from heart disease, including heart attacks, and the risk of premature death in general."

But there's good news for my fellow triathletes: "Exercise may well be the key factor leading to sustained weight loss. Studies consistently find that people who report the most exercise also have the most weight loss."

Let's stop thinking in terms of quick fixes. Let's focus on slow, steady, small long-term changes that we can live with every day for the rest of our lives.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chicago Olympics?

My almost-hometown of Chicago (I was born next door in Oak Park and lived until I was 27 in Illinois) may be the host of the 2016 Olympics, it was announced today!

The "group of [competing] bidders [is] expected to include Madrid, Prague, Rome, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo."

Wow. I think that's very cool. I hope they win -- I'd go! My girls would be 13 years old, that would be fun! At least it's in a city that I'd know my way around, unlike the ones I went to in Seoul, Albertville, Barcelona, and even Atlanta!

RWS: Running While Sick

It is very foolish to lie awake at night from convulsive coughing and still envision doing Yassos (half-mile running intervals) the next morning. Yet that is what I did. I thought a little speed work would be a perfect tune-up before my last half marathon in my series of five, which will happen 7 days from now.

I warmed up for a mile through the neighborhood, then cranked up the pace for the first half-mile interval. At approximately 0.38 miles into that interval, according to Garmin, the whole plan came crashing to a halt. You can see the tattered remains of my grandiose plan below: five slow miles slogged out just to get it done, with a stupidly high heart rate.

When you're sick, you're sick. Somehow I always forget that.

At least I got my 4 new azalea bushes planted afterward, all ready to weather the impending 20-year nor'easter which is going to make the 2007 Boston Marathon more fun than a barrel o' monkeys on Monday. 26.2 miles in 19-21 mph headwinds in 37 to 40 degrees!? What could be more fun than that!?

Friday, April 13, 2007

The alphabet in vegetables

Remember my horrible debacle of trying to eat 5 fruits and/or vegetables every day? Well, I hope you don't remember, but the bottom line is that I tried and just couldn't get the job done. I failed miserably.

But there is HOPE! Even for me!

Here's a great blog which may just help me on my way: The Great Big Vegetable Challenge: "Take one seven year old boy named Freddie and his mother as they face the challenge of turning him from a Vegetable-Phobic into a boy who will eat and even enjoy some of life's leafier pleasures. Join us as we work through the A to Z of vegetables!"

I'm in! As long as this doesn't involve anything ridiculous like actually cooking regularly.

Ocean City Half Marathon proofs

I feel cold again just looking at these!!! I did order the top photo - it looks like the bottom one got some snow on the lens - understandably! But I like how it looks like I'm LEADING the race!

I believe this was the first race I've done in which I actually kept wearing the earband and gloves all the way to the finish line. And only took them off then because they were soaking wet.

Good luck racers!

Very best wishes on a great day to my buddy Comm and friends at Ironman Arizona on Sunday!

Also very best wishes to everyone running the Boston Marathon on Monday, especially Bob Mina, Joe Bator, TriBoomer, Forrest Fowler, Regina Fowler, Dave Decker, and Ken Cowen! I sincerely hope the weather is much better than those ominous forecasts for a nor'easter!

We'll be watching you! Listen for our cheers as you cross the timing mats!

Also on Monday: The Tour of Georgia begins!

And they WILL have live streaming video like they did for the Tour of California! Yay! Let's hope it works!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

New azaleas

Here's my new little project, which just arrived today (yes, I buy almost everything except groceries online these days):

They're some azaleas for my garden, which I'll put in the place of the lilac bushes that I killed and the firethorn tree we had cut down a while back. They're a new type called Encore azaleas which are supposed to keep blooming throughout the summer and fall instead of just one big burst in the spring.

Since I'm a very bad, inattentive negligent, lazy gardener, I'm all about perennials and things that can grow without attention. If you're going to survive in my garden, you're going to have to be pretty self-sufficient.

Any bets that I'll kill these too?

Almost famous

Well, I just got interviewed for an article in Runner's World a few minutes ago (as a result of a comment I left at the Complete Running Network). Shows how low their standards have fallen, doesn't it?

Do you think they wanted to hear about my recent string of illustrious PRs in celebration of my 50th year? NO.
Do you think they wanted to hear about my blazing 5-hour and 6-hour marathon finishes? NO.
Do you think they wanted to hear about me clawing my way tooth and nail through the back of the pack of Athena triathletes? NO.

They wanted to hear about my DNF several years ago at Country Music Marathon when I had a stress fracture (unknown to me) and walked halfway through the course while limping, permanently messing up my ankle. Osteoarthritis is forever.


Hanging in there

Naturally after last weekend's chilly half marathon and several days on vacation cooped up inside due to the cold weather, I've acquired a cold. Bah! I'm ready for some blue skies and sunshine, too!! So I'm just catching up on things at home this week, and I don't have much of interest for you today. I just can't make laundry and grocery shopping sound interesting enough to blog about.

Which of my dear readers is C. B. from Haverford, Pennsylvania? Hello to you!

He/she cribbed my bulleted list of pros and cons about the National Half Marathon in March and submitted it to in a race review. I can't find any Haverford addresses in the race results, however.

The thing of it is, as a long-time user of, I had already submitted nearly the identical list!!!

How strange. I suppose imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ocean City results up!

I believe that we have 3 PRs out of 3 runners!

My chip time was a 5-second PR!!! Yay!! 2:26:33. 11:11 min/mile pace, 186/223 women (83%), 13/16 women 45-49 (81%).

5 seconds faster than the B&A Trail Half Marathon at which they paced me just 5 weeks ago, when it felt like I was dying for the last 3 miles trying to get to that finish line. This race was much more comfortable - I guess this training stuff really works, eh?

So PRs all around for my training buddies Dave (1:45:07) and Chuck (1:54:54), and ME!! I guess we do some of our best running on the thin edge of hypothermia.

Now the challenge is on for me and David in 2 weeks, to see how much either of us can beat our PR on the flattest course around. Let's just hope the wind is from the southwest. And no snow, please. Chuck is going off to do some silly triathlon thing or 'nother....

This is what the race result calculator predicts for me now:
5K 0:31:33
5M 0:52:05
10K 1:06:05
10M 1:49:06
Half Marathon 2:26:33
Marathon 5:06:56

Hmm. I've beaten that 10 mile and 10K time. Haven't done any 5K nor 5 mile races in a while, but I'm pretty sure that I could beat those times now. I'm always slower than the prediction the longer the distance. But the main thing is that it shows I definitely have some work yet to do before I can run a sub-5-hour marathon. I need to get that half marathon time down below 2:23 or thereabouts to have a real hope of a sub-5 marathon finish. Below 2:20 would be better. OK, the challenge is on for this summer's training!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter weekend in Ocean City

It was a great view from our hotel room down onto the boardwalk - but deserted because it's about 30 degrees outside.

The girls enjoyed exploring the hotel amenities, including trying to crack the room safe.

They also enjoyed several restaurant meals, and even behaved, mostly.

When they didn't have too many sips of Dad's beer, that is.

The Easter bunny even came to our hotel room!

Yum, yum! The ears are the tastiest part.

We tried flying our Dora the Explorer kite, but the wind was too gusty and uncertain for much in the way of consistent results.

Yes, it was cold all weekend! Grandpa came along and here we all are on the boardwalk with the girls, taking a chilly stroll.

The biggest surprise of the weekend (outside of an April snowstorm) was a very tame fox that lives next to the Ocean City boardwalk and seems not the least disturbed by pedestrians who stop to take his photo!

Worst. Conditions. Ever.

I'm back from the Ocean City Half Marathon and a couple of days at the beach.

We had a nice seasonal Easter blizzard, beginning promptly with the starting gun at the ocean front at 7:00 AM. Just the thing for a lovely beach weekend!! Gusts from the north at something like 30 mph, too.

I have never felt MORE sorry for race volunteers and full marathon runners! The worst part was the bridge at the 12-mile mark - I thought we had it bad going over the bridge in high winds mostly to our back and pending hypothermia - but the sight of the full marathoners heading back out directly into the wind with another half marathon in front of them -- bent halfway over and shielding their eyes and faces against the driving snow, climbing the steep bridge -- was definitely a sight to inspire pity! I was never so glad to be approaching a finish line!

In any other conditions it would have been a lovely event, but it felt like an epic struggle this year!

I was still pleased with my time - within one minute of my PR:

Watch time: 2:27:04 (Mile 10 1:52:56, last 5K 34:07).

Garmin time, you ask? Who knows! Yep, screwed it up again. Fastest mile 10:47, first 4 miles within 3 seconds of that, slowest mile the seventh or eighth when I walked a while to choke down a gel, 11:45.

Hooray! My 30th half marathon done, and #4 completed in my quest to complete 5 half marathons under 2.5 hours each this spring to celebrate my 50th year! The final one coming up in 2 weeks should be (comparatively) a walk in the park, I hope!

No race photos (other than the official photographer photos), due to my new policy of minimizing gear carried on race day - but I have several from the weekend to share in my next post.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ready for open water swims

I bought all the new gear online for it and it should be arriving within a few days:

Neoprene socks (I'm quite sure they're going to be sexier even than Geekgirl's toesocks)
Neoprene swimming hood
Neoprene webbed gloves

I'm going to be channeling the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Sexy or not, it's still going to take me a major act of will to step into water that will probably be in the upper 40s or lower 50s. Swimming with my face in the water may be out of the question.

I'll let you know how it goes. . . .

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cherry Pit Ten Miler (plus 5K) race report

Someday there will be a race where I will get my Garmin data collected and displayed just right. That day will not be today.

But the good news is that I saved a bunch a money on my car insurance! No, seriously, better than that!

I ran a big 10 mile PR on a very hilly course! Hooray!

1:48:52 watch time (versus my previous PR: 1:53:01 at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on this race date two years ago). Yay! I shattered that 11 min/mile barrier!

The Cherry Pit has been a small, local $5.00 club ten-miler held near Annapolis on the same day as the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in DC, which is a big-time enormous race that sells out every year. But the word has been spreading! This year there were several hundred runners at the Cherry Pit, and the course was one of the most beautiful I've ever run on - the secret is out now! It was a lovely rural backroad race, winding through small suburban farms featuring horses, Angus cattle, and llamas. The weather ended up being just right too - about 50*F and overcast with no wind.

I loved the race and I'll go back again! This time it was also fun because my training buddies David (and his co-worker Janice) and Chuck were out on the course way way ahead of me, and my old friend Jeanne was out there too getting in some long run mileage in preparation for the Flying Pig. I was also glad to finally meet Michael, a runner and blogger from my own town of St. Michaels and the force behind the new Bridge-to-Bridge half marathon!

David and Janice were kind enough to go back out for a 5K jog after the race with me, and even a comfortable 39:15 followup warmdown run to finish off the half marathon distance still gave me my 3rd half marathon in a row under 2:30. Hurrah!!

So the last bar in each chart below actually represents two miles (it somehow stopped taking one-mile splits when I hit the split button at the end of the ten-miler course, which came in at a shade over 10 miles on my Garmin). During the ten-miler my strategy was to keep my heart rate below 165 until the halfway point, and then go for it as hard as I thought I could sustain to the finish line - which seemed to work well!

I also was able to try out one of my new sleeveless jerseys (by Canari) in a running race with minimal extra baggage (just 2 gels in the pockets) and it worked out superbly! I love it! I started out with a technical long-sleeved shirt over the top and gloves, but they were too warm by the 2nd or 3rd mile, even in temperatures in the low 50s. They were missing the final planned water stop, with none after the 5 mile mark, but I just ran hard and skipped my 2nd gel and just worked on getting to the finish line faster. I was sure glad it was no warmer outside!

Three down out of five in my quest to complete five half marathons this spring to celebrate my fiftieth year! In the process I've added the goal of doing them all under 2:30. Fortunately I think the three toughest ones are behind me - the remaining two (Ocean City next Saturday and Bridge-to-Bridge) are quite flat!!

Final numbers:
1:48:43.52 chip time
10:52 min/mile pace
280th/311 overall
25th/28 women 40-49
Hmm, maybe I should have run Cherry Blossom instead - that same time today would have gotten me a solid midpack finish at 2957/5502 women!

3rd/5 half marathons completed this spring, time 2:27:58