2019 Race Recap #2: CMS 52-Week 5k #6

Wow. Not a whole lot to be happy about today. I mean, I actually got out and raced, which was something I haven’t done in a while — the last time I was this late racing a second race of the year was in 2016 when I was doing my 46 races for 46 years campaign.

Now, I’ve had the great fortune to be selected for a time waived bib for the Boston Marathon, so I’ve been doing my best to train for that without worrying too much about racing, but while the long runs are good I know racing helps me push myself.

Today was NOT good. I got up early and ran 6.5-miles with a group from my club – that 8:50 pace felt like I was pushing so I know I have a lot to recover. It was another 90 minutes or so before the 5k, so I’m sure my body went into recovery mode, but good gracious my race was tortured.

I finished at 25:44 – the slowest I’ve run that course in no less than 18-months and among the slowest times in two years. I could write it off because I’d run earlier, but that’s just excuses. I need to spend more time focusing on the speed work, which I just haven’t done.

It was a spur of the moment thing, so there’s not a lot of detail to give here; I’ve run this course more than any other, I know it well, I just didn’t perform.

Clockwise (last 5):

February 9, 2019: 25:44 Cold, windy 22-degrees
July 28, 2018: 24:57. Humid, 76. Disgusting swamp weather.
June 16, 2018: 25:08. 75, clear. Beautiful.
February 24, 201824:16. Mid-40’s,  clear
January 27, 201824:24. 34 degrees, sunny. Just beautiful.

Advertisements

2019 Race Recap #1: Freezer 5

Same race as the 2018 Race Recap #1. That’s what happens when you run the same race on New Years Day, it’s almost automatically going to be the first race of the year.

I started last years recap stating that “today was difficult” and explaining that the difficulty comes from the general coldness the day presents.
The Freezer Five is a 5-mile race through Sterling, MA, along a course that’s reasonably wide open, past the municipal airport around and back.  The course itself looks like a wildly out of proportion upside down coat hanger that’s had its hook straightened and stretched out.

Where last years race hovered around 5-degrees Fahrenheit, this years’ race was approximately 50-degrees warmer. There had been a front that came through over night, and the changing pressure yielded some decent winds, which in this case were headwinds the first mile, mile and a half or so, which also happens to be downhill. Now, down hill is where I normally excel, because I can just kind of lean in and throw my fat body down the grade so I was really bummed that I was fighting the wind. I looked around and saw a good number of folks trying to contort their body to be a little more aerodynamic, but when you’re shaped like a potato that’s not easy to do.

The plus side, though, is that since it’s an out and back, that headwind at the start became a tailwind at the end, basically pushing me up hill. This was a huge benefit. I had struggled a little bit between miles 2 and 3 – my right Achilles has been a little tight recently and it was at that point the ibuprofen was wearing off, so I lost a few seconds to walking while I collected myself.

By the end of the race, I had a pretty decent head of steam from being pushed up the hill with the wind and an internal battle to see if I could beat 40-minutes. I did not, but I still ran my butt off – the last 1/20 mile I hit a 5:20-min/mile pace…just in time for the finish line photos to look like I was flailing about. Not a pretty sight. BUT I did accomplish a personal best so I’ll take it. Where if the difficulty is really the temperature, on this day the weather was a benefit and made me better than I really was.

Note the differences between 2018 and 2019 (above)

Distance: 5 Miles

2019 Time: 40:34 | 8:06.8 /mi : Overall 67/289 | M48/128 |M 40-49 13/34

2018 Time: 44:24 8:52 pace: Overall 76/157 | 58/91 | M 40-49 19/20

2017 Time: 43:04 8:36.8 pace: Overall 100/254 | 71/132 | M 40-49 22/28

2018

What an amazing year. Over the years I’ve learned 365 days is a long time, plenty of room for things to go badly, unexpected obstacles to get in your way, unplanned deviations to change your course. So many opportunities for a few weeks, or even just one event, to color the entirety of the year. This was not that year.

In the span of a few weeks, we went from celebrating my parents in law’s 50th wedding anniversary with two vibrant people to wondering if we would be planning funerals to watching them both bounce back. My mother in law was in the hospital for weeks with an unknown ailment…My father in law went from having a benign tumor to having cancer and a full round of chemotherapy…doubled up so he could go on vacation at the same time. He now is as in better health 2 months later than men 20-25 years his junior. An emotional roller coaster ride if ever there was one. The man is amazing.

My long time neighbor, in failing health for sometime, passed away, leaving her husband of almost 70 years alone for the first time. Watching him handle his sorrow and find himself through it has given me a measure of strength that despite loss – deeply felt loss – the human instinct is to continue on, push forward, be robust and to live, to conquer, to succeed.

We had the good fortune to host close family friends from France at our home for several weeks…and we have the good fortune to have as neighbors good friends who helped support our international efforts. Such an amazing harvest springing from good will. I’m truly fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life.

In November the sale of my employer was announced and in December it was completed. I honestly don’t know what the ramifications will be. In a year where we made more, gave more away, enjoyed more time off than we ever have, this was not how the year was supposed to end. Just another circumstance to be understood. Processed. Handled. Meanwhile, we’ve saved money, paid down loans significantly.

With the challenges though were the highpoints. We had the wonderful opportunity to visit England to see dear people we consider our family by choice, and to visit several Caribbean countries over the course of a week and a half cruise with my family. My son got the experience I never did and for that I’m forever grateful. He’ll have memories for a lifetime, and experiences that will make him a much more interesting person. A young man of 13, he’s already been to more than 10 countries (Canada, Mexico, UK, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica…) For myself, I had the opportunity to travel to Florida for a half-marathon, Pennsylvania and New Jersey for Spartan races, and Washington for a marathon.

We saw our football team lose a Super Bowl and a chance at a second back-to-back Championship season. We saw our baseball team rise to the level of “All Time Great” teams with a 4th World Series in the last 14 years….after going 86-years without one.

My fitness goal was to run 1500 miles, 4.1 miles every day for 365 days. As of now I’m at 1637, for a daily average of 4.5 miles. I promised myself I would push my limits, and I think I have. Of my Top 5 5k times, 4 were done this year with a 5th off by seconds. I ran a flipping marathon – I didn’t see that coming last December. I ran 3 ultras this year. 49 races all together – maybe one more tomorrow to end the year as it has the last two, with the last race being the CMS Weekly 5k. If I do that, that would be twenty two 5ks on the year of 50 races.

Funny thing though, by far my most common daily mileage (the mode for you numbers types) was 0. Zilch. Nothing. 94 times this year – better than 25% of the time actually – I woke up and decided I wasn’t going to get a run in. I think about those days and conclude that had I done just 1 mile in those days, just one, I’d be within shooting distance of 1750 and had I accomplished 4.1 every day, I’d be up over 2000. Which is a logical fallacy – you just don’t run the day after running a 40-mile ultra – but I know I could have done better for myself.

If I take those “0” days out of my daily average – making it an average of the miles I ran on the days I did run vs. yearly daily average – it comes out to something closer to 6.5 miles. My second highest daily running total? 3 miles at 28-times, 3.1 at 20-times. My target of 4.1? I did that 19 times this year: further proof that one descriptive statistic doesn’t give you enough information at all. My college Psych Research Methods professor would be proud that I’ve retained that.

I ran races with my kids from 5ks to Spartans to a Marathon relay. I met some amazing people who were in the process of crushing their goals.

On Sunday, December 30, I’m running the last of 3 10-mile legs with a friend striving to hit 2000 miles on the year – accomplished with a day 364 50k in an all-or-nothing gambit to complete an ultra-marathon AND hit 2000 miles. He’s amazing.

I met and was inspired by a marine master sergeant with an insane fitness schedule, became friends with a stage 4 cancer survivor – the man running for 2000 miles above – and supported friends through divorce and the passing of parents. TIme can pass so quickly that it becomes so easy to lose the forest for the trees. 2018 has been an amazing year, one that I wish were more common: more up than down, more good than bad, more positive than negative. The year hasn’t been uniformly positive, but it has been incrementally more positive than negative. The most important thing I’m taking with me from my experience this year is the realization that it is the people in your life that are the most important factor in how successful you will be: how much support do you have, how much support do you give, who can you rely on and who can rely on you?

I hope for you, dear reader, that your 2018 was as positive as mine. If not, then I hope the coming 2019 will be the year you should have.

2018 Race Recap #49: Worcester Jingle 5k

Wow am I late in getting this written. You’d think I’d be more into it than to let it linger for almost two weeks. Fact is this was a top 5 5k for me. When I think about: 1) it was the second race in two months that I’d run; 2) Before the start of this year it would have been a PR; 3) I really hadn’t run very much since the marathon and definitely since coming home from vacation.

Image may contain: 1 person, shoes and outdoor

Now the marathon messed me up in a few ways. First I was in great shape when I went into it and after I just didn’t feel like running. At all. Certainly not competitively. I missed my time goal by about 3 minutes and that upset me as well. Regardless, I didn’t run very far or for very long in the aftermath.

It turns out, though, that my short distance times remain on point. The day before this race, I ran the CMS 52-Week 5K course to a course PR. I wasn’t racing, just running, but I felt good about it – especially since I’d packed on so much weight on vacation and hadn’t figured out a way to lose it.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor

At any rate, I thought this might be the race to PR my official PR. As it turns out, the race director realized the traditional course was something less than 5k and extended it…just…that..much. AS I came around mile 2.7, I was convinced I had maybe .2 mile to go…but alas not so much. I ran hard — sub 7-minute mile on my first mile — but that came back to haunt me as I was huffing wind by 2.5. While I didn’t PR for the race, I had a really respectable showing given a former Olympian showed out up out of nowhere — he wasn’t paid to appear or anything (I have it on good word). he just registered like anyone else. It’s pretty good when the winner posts a 14-minute finish and you still finish within the top say 63 of almost 700.

The weather was perfect. The race was well run and I didn’t die or finish last. Very clearly the Old man 40-49 age bracket is something of considerable note.

RESULTS

2018 Race Recap #48: 5 Miles for the Memory Turkey Trot

It’s been almost a month since my last race. I’m not sure I really like the marathon distance: the half is really attainable, but still a challenge. The marathon just took a lot out of me, physically to be sure, but mentally too. Which is not to say I haven’t been working out, but when I’ve had the opportunity to race, I’ve declined. Then there is the small thing of a late-autumn vacation to celebrate the inlaws 50th (50!!!) wedding anniversary.

10-days on what is essentially a floating buffet and inclusive drink package.  A beautiful caribbean cruise over an extended period of time, but that does two things: makes you a little soft, and acclimates you to caribbean weather.  Which is not New England weather.  Today, Thanksgiving Day, was 12-degrees at race time.  It’s November 22 and it’s 12-degrees.  Seriously?

So the 40-odd miles I put on the odometer on the treadmill did help mitigate weight gain, but did nothing for my hill training.  And Shrewsbury, Massachusetts is not flat.  Needless to say, I was feeling a little less than prepared, but at least I knew it had the potential to be a clusterfluff.  

The first two miles of this course are down hill. The next three are up.  Guess which two were my fastest.  It’s a super course in a super handsome part of the town.  It was almost a pleasure that it was cold out – because it started off downhill, it kind of made for the lack of a warm up.  Now almost exactly at the 2-mile mark, the UP started. The third mile was as steep going up as the second was going down. 85′ in gain vs. 86′ in loss.  That mile wiped me out pretty good.  I did the first two miles with a 7:41 pace. That third was a 9:00.  I ran the rest of the race with a 8:37 – mile 4 had 11′ of gain, essentially flat, and mile 5 had 47′. Both were 8:37.  Normally, that wouldn’t have been a deal breaker, but I really did feel underprepared after a month off from anything much more than treadmills.

All in all, it wasn’t the horror show I expected, but it was cold. I normally like cooler weather–  my body isn’t expending energy cooling itself off — but when it’s so cold, I feel all those places where the blood flow isn’t quite what it should be. I feel good that this felt good.

Now, onto Thanksgiving!

Results:

WHich are unofficial because I apparently don’t show up in the results.  Grrrrr.

41:44

This is Halloween

Halloween 2018. The end of an era. Well, perhaps Halloween 2017 was and I just didn’t know it. Last year was to be the last year my boy would go trick or treating. He didn’t want to go this year. These things happen: children grow up, stop doing childish things.

It’s the first time in better than 2 decades there aren’t any children in our lives to trick or treat. It’s one of those double edged swords of being a parent, I guess. The job description is to be there and raise them to be independent and strong and self sufficient…and if you do your job right, it stings a little. Maybe sometimes more than sting.

Stings for multiple reasons, really. Some of it is knowing they’re not little any more. Growing. No more Santa Claus. No more trick or treating. No more Easter bunny.  I miss my kids as…well, kids. I miss the Christmas eves tracking Santa on NORAD Santa and getting excited seeing him get closer and racing home. The wonderment. All the firsts. They’re ten years apart; their childhoods intersected, but they were at different stages – always. I’ve had a trick or treater for the majority of my adult life.

And that’s probably the bigger part of it. It’s about me. I’m at an inflection point in my own life. It’s one more indication that I’m getting older. These little people I’ve helped raise, and raise well I think, aren’t little any more. They’re their own people. And maybe they’ll always “need” me, but they don’t need me. My hair is thinning. There’s a few more aches and pains than there has been previously. I’m still solidly middle age – there’s time on the clock – but I wonder if I haven’t spent a good amount of the opportunity I once had. I wouldn’t notice so much if it weren’t for these kids, I’m sure of that. I have a hard time reckoning the passage of time anymore: Something happened 5 years ago, last year, I don’t know. It seems like they’re the only things that keep me anchored in time, and yet because of that I notice how much has passed and fail to distinguish when events have come to pass.

I have an adult daughter. A college graduate no less. When did that happen? I’m thinking back to college visits and those were more than 5 years ago. More than 6 actually. Time is so ephemeral, so fleeting. And now, the boy is too old for trick or treating. He’s becoming an adult. My job is coming to a conclusion, yet not quite over. There’s still more to do, still time on the clock. I just don’t seem to know how modulate it’s passing.

So perhaps it’s just the inflection point. The pivot to what the next stage of our lives will look like, setting that stage. In a few years, the boy will be moving on to his next step; the first he will perceive as being moving on in his life. At the same time, we’ll be moving on the our next stage, perhaps one of the last transitions. LIfe does move fast, in a way I never appreciated until just now.

And so, as I wonder just how to end this, the boy comes downstairs to get a glass of water… My man-size child – now taller than me – wearing his Chewbacca union suit pajamas. So, maybe I’ve got a touch more time on the clock than I may have thought.

2018 Race Recap #47: Marine Corps Marathon

I’m actually not entirely sure where to begin with this recap. This was an emotional event by design and a personally important event. This affected me on several levels. Let me start with how I came to this point, what I decided to do with this, the results of the work I’ve put into it, and finally the meaning behind the race itself.

Earlier this year, I learned that the Marine Corps Marathon was accepting lottery entries and just like the way I’ve managed the rest of my life, I entered the lottery because it didn’t require any sort of real commitment: if I were accepted via the lottery, I could choose to register or not, unlike, Say, the Chicago or New York Marathons where in order to enter the lottery you have to cough up your credit card that will be charged if you are accepted to enter via the lottery. I remember I sent my registration fee to my undergraduate college because it was refundable vs. the more prestigious school that had a non-refundable deposit.  When you’re making $3.60/hr, $100 means a lot…I guess.

At any rate, I entered the lottery on the last day I could. Within a few days I was notified I was accepted for entry and that I had only a few days to register…which I did on the last day. Now that I’d committed,  I wasn’t quite sure what I should do with it.

Now that I’d committed money to my race, I needed a reason to do this. I actually hadn’t anticipated getting into the lottery, although the lottery is apparently not as lucky as one may expect.

img_7753
Finished!

Given the Marine Corps Marathon IS hosted by the Marines, and is an exposition of not only the organizational prowess of the Marines, but also the expression of gratitude for the fallen, this is something much more than any other race in which I’ve participated.  This is a city built on the expression of history. I’m proud of the fact that I ran this to raise funds for modern Veterans facing the problems of modern life.

I met a woman on the shuttle over to the runner’s festival from Crystal City. We discussed the weather – a generally innocuous topic when speaking with strangers – she felt very cold while I thought it was perfect running weather, perhaps even balmy. It turns out she was from Barbados, which would explain our differing sense of the same experience. It further turns out she was exactly the person I should meet heading to the race: a professional motivational speaker and life coach, she had me ready to run through a brick wall by the time we were off that bus.  I appreciated her friendship for the 15 minutes or so that our lives intersected, because she really did help me see this for what it was: living my best life and giving back.  Thank you for that Joya.

Now, my goal for my first marathon was 4-hours. I’m never going to time qualify for the Boston Marathon, unless I can maintain my pace for the next, say, 30-years, but I am interested in maintaining a respectable pace.  So the 4 hour mark was kind of important to me for reasons. End of day, for the Marine Corps Marathon, I ran 4:03:17. A little disappointing – I got a very nasty cramp between miles 24 and 25 that effectively derailed my 4-hour attempt – but overall reasonably respectable.  According to one site, in the 2011-2012 marathon season the average time for any person, regardless of gender or age, was 4 hours, 24 minutes and 0 seconds; the median finish time for men was 4:17:43.  I’m sure there’s some variation from 2012 to today, but it seems like a reasonable number that shouldn’t vary too too much.

The first couple of miles are up hill, not unlike the hills I run in and around Worcester, so while I was used to it, I wasn’t feeling it early on. I was stiff and just didn’t feel up to it, at one point asking myself if I was going to be able to finish. After that first hill though, the payoff was the downhill for a couple of miles, which had me feeling much better about things, and from there until the finish line it was reasonably flat.  I was on cruise control for more or less the majority of the race.  There were a few places where I was running out of gas – more than I care to admit, frankly – but I was still on pace for that 4-hour mark.  I was actually pacing with the 3:45 runners for a while, but clearly by mile 22 I was running on fumes. and it was clear 3:45 was not going to happen for me.  The finish is uphill toward the Iwo Jima memorial, and curiously enough I had enough in the tank to run up and past several others because of the hills around home – thank you quads!

Marathon Statistics Data
Percent of the U.S. population that has run a marathon 0.5 %
Record time for the fastest marathon ever run 2:01:39 hours
Total number of U.S. marathons held annually 570
Total number of people who finished a marathon annually 581,811
Data from statisticbrain.com

Now, this was an amazing race and I’m glad I took the opportunity to run it. I loved the crowd support, and seeing folks lining the streets. My own family was along the course to root me on, and the energy was palpable. Running 26+ miles is hard, but running with others is certainly motivational.

Before I left Washington, I made it a point to visit Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Of the times I’d been to Washington, I’d somehow never been able to get into the cemetery: it was either closed or my schedule didn’t permit it.  This time though, it was important to me to be sure to visit: for perspective, to remember, and maybe most importantly to be sure I gave back just a little more.  I was moved by the race’s “Blue Mile,” I was there raising money for veterans in need; I needed to show respect for those who have come before me and who have given their lives. I needed to give something to them too. It’s an amazing place, and I was humbled being there. Godspeed, soldiers.

Results

RACE TIME: 04:03:17

OVERALL PLACE: 3744 of 27640

DIVISION RANK: 3696 of 21158