2018 Race Recap: #3 Clearwater Half

I wasn’t sure how well this race was going to go. I hadn’t run more than 7 miles at one time since December 7 and the last time I ran longer than 10 miles was the Cambridge Half Marathon in November.  Being laid up in an immobilization boot for the better part of December, I went from December 7 to December 31 without running.

Since then, I’ve run every day in 2018 except two – January 4, the day of a blizzard that shut down just about everything, including the gym, and yesterday when I just couldn’t get my stuff together to run the weekly 5k before I headed to the airport.

So, it’s race day.  The thing that saved the day from ignominy today is the fact that Florida is as flat as a pancake.  The only elevation gain was from the two bridges and the out and back course.  344′ of gain.  It saved the day, and cursed the day, but more on that later. The race started at 7:05 and about 58-degrees.

I wasn’t sure what to make of the race. My night sleep was sketchy, but my nutrition was on point.  Up and out to packet pick up by 5:30 AM, with a cup of coffee and an ill fated trip to the porta potty set the stage.

About 0.5 mile into the race was the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge.  I wasn’t sure I was going to accomplish this in the time I wanted, yet the next song to come up on my playlist was “Barometer Soup” by Jimmy Buffett.  Feeling the Margaritaville Vibe with the view of Clearwater was magnificent.

I wasn’t sure what the race held, but I was happy I was there.

The coffee helped get my metabolism going, but unfortunately caused some other issues for me, which wasn’t immediately a problem but about 4 miles in began causing issues.

Just before the second bridge, there was a breakfast place that had obviously just fired up their offerings with the net result was all I could smell was bacon…for like a mile.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sunglasses and textIts also the day of the AFC Championship Game – Patriots vs. Jaguars.  So, ever the master of race couture, I wore a TB12 jersey…the whole race. Not one hater on the course, some fist bumps, high fives, hoots.  It was fun and served the purpose I set out to achieve wearing it.

I was fully on pace for a personal record right up to Mile 12, right where the last bridge started inclining and I just couldn’t push any further.  For that half mile, I pretty much walk-ran the bridge.  The second half was down hill, including a ramp down into the park.  I’m pretty sure that mile split was 13:00 m/m for the first half, and 7:00 for the second.

Ultimately, I finished with a 1:56:32 time.  Not my worst by a long shot, and about 3.5 minutes shy of my best.  Much like Cambridge was in November, this was an opportunity to PR – an opportunity lost.  BUT, it was a personal victory; I’d not had a long run in months, I haven’t been running well at all.

A sub-2 hour half marathon is, in my book, a good race.  It didn’t feel like a good ending, but over all it felt like a good race.  I wound up with an 8:56 pace, with the last three miles taking their toll on my pace.  Lessons to build on.

Results

Clearwater Half Marathon: 1:56:32
Cambridge Half Marathon: 1:57:38
Upton State Forest Half Marathon (Trail): 2:18:01.9
Worcester Half Marathon: 1:51:56
Black Goose Half Marathon: 2:00:48

 

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2018 Race Recap: #2 CMS 52-Week 5k

cms_logo_smallWhat a weird day.  I woke up to 59-degree weather, perhaps a touch overcast, but otherwise a very pleasant January morning.  Now, it was widely reported that today was going to be strange, going from a high of about 59 to a low of 7 – or there about – so I was paying attention to the weather forecast, but my iPhone was telling me it was going to be about 57 and overcast through about 11 AM or so, so I figured I was good to go.  Put on a short sleeve shirt, a pair of shorts and a light fleece.  ‘Ret to go.

At about 8:20, it was still about 58-59 and overcast, to script, when I went into the Worcester State University building to register.  I came out to a noticeably colder day – I’m guessing it must’ve lost 4 degrees in the time I was inside.

I went for a quick warmup run, during which it started to rain on me.  Back at the University building, I took off the fleece after deciding to run in shirt sleeves – after all it was still very much in the mid-50’s.

At about 8:50 we headed out to the starting line, and I quickly decided shirt sleeves was not going to be my thing today – according to Apple, it was now about 47-degrees and it was pouring.  Back on went the fleece, as I regretted having registered for this.

Here’s the start. Note here, I’m comfortably ahead of the pack – this doesn’t stand very long because I’m a terrible runner who knows nothing of pacing.

Running the course clockwise today probably helped as it’s mostly downhill, but there was a strong headwind during mile 2 – there were times I find myself unable to breath the wind was coming in so hard and fast at me, but by mile 3 the sun was out again  and it was probably in the low 40’s.  Just flat out crazy weather.  I’m sure my perception of the temps is off, but the story does play itself out in my splits with mile 2 being the slowest of the 3.

Note the lack of anyone near me at the finish (there’s a 0.1 mile overlap on the course to complete the 5k, which explains the Similar angle). Not really hard to tell the start of race pic from the race finish pic is it?

Official time: 25:14, not my best, not my worst.  It’s another minor victory for being the fastest 3-miles I’ve put down this year after having been laid up in December. I figured I’d  be chasing 26-minutes today, so I felt good that I didn’t.

Clockwise (last 5):

January 13, 2018: 25:14   53 degrees, cloudy, 22 mph wind, rainy
November 25, 2017: 24:55 Sunny and 28 degrees.
October 28, 2017: 24:53 Sunny and 56 degrees.
September 16, 2017: 25:56  Cloudy, humid, 60’s.
February 25, 2017:  24:36 cloudy, warm and 52 degrees.

Beliefs Become Destiny

This was my end of a recent conversation about health, conditioning, and whether to run a particular race:

“I mean I’ve barely run for three weeks and I’ve lost so much conditioning I’m afraid all I can do is the half marathon.”

I’m quite aware that may sound hollow to a good deal of people, I get that.  The race we were discussing is a 50k – 31.1-Miles – considerably longer than a half marathon and one for which one really needs to train.  I’m no where near that level of fitness right now.

My friend did not let me off the hook so easily. I was looking for affirmation, “yes, of course. You’re not your best you for reasons outside of your control. It’s okay. Build up to it.” That’s not what I got.  I was looking for excuses; I got a reality check.

“‘barely,’ ‘lost,’ ‘afraid’ are all I see in what you just said…  Come on man, if it’s a half marathon kick the crap out of it, if its a 50K finish, if it’s a 5K set a course record.”

“I mean I’ve barely run for three weeks and I’ve lost so much conditioning I’m afraid all I can do is the half marathon.”

A lot of negativity in one 23-word sentence.

Then, the kicker, because ever since undergrad I’ve been interested in how language affects us, how we use it to convey meta-messages, how it can be used like Jiu Jitsu to disarm verbal attacks:  “Language can be as bad for your health as drinking beer, and having a heart attack while in the garage on Facebook.” Ouch.  I was letting fear control my thoughts; and in turn I was letting that negative thinking control my words. My actions.  I was letting myself off the hook with excuses; setting the bar low so I could attain a marginal victory.  I was failing to control my inner dialogue and failing to let my positive thoughts control my language.

I was thinking that I could do the Half Marathon and get by. He was challenging me to set a personal best.  He made it okay to run the 5k variation, if I was going to set a course record. He made it okay to simply finish the ultra-marathon. Jiu Jitsu. He took the control the fear had over me, and used it against itself.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne WilliamsonA Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

Internal dialogue is a powerful thing.  It controls your definition of success and it determines whether you’ll allow yourself to achieve it.  It is the difference between continuing when you don’t want to and regretting you didn’t continue. It’s the difference between embracing your limits and setting artificial ones.

My motto for 2017 was “goals without fear,” and yet I started 2018 allowing fear to control my thoughts.  Am I in condition for a long race? Probably not, but that’s not what I said. I said I was letting fear control how I was thinking about it, and not, as I believed, making an honest assessment of my current fitness.

The race is 20 days away – longer than I was laid up. If I want it, I can get myself back to my previous condition, whether or not that’s ‘race ready.’ The idea isn’t that I should or shouldn’t run the race, it’s that I should not let fear, loss, and barely control my thoughts.

It’s about the courage to see just where my inner power may be. Its the courage to see that light as power and not fear; to speak from a place of strength, not weakness.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

If you let fear control your thoughts, you allow fear to control your words. If you let fear control your words, it ultimately controls your destiny.  Charting your course is hard enough as it is, why make it more difficult by allowing that inner darkness control your destiny?

 

2018 Race Recap: #1 Freezer Five

Image result for freezer five sterling maToday was pretty difficult.  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.

It’s not terribly challenging in terms of elevation profile: some slight elevation loss, some slight elevation gain. What makes it challenging is really just getting out there in the cold – today was somewhere around 5 degrees Fahrenheit or so.

I was about 20-seconds/mile slower today than I was a year ago.  A year ago the course was actually in much worse shape with snow, but it was definitely warmer.  I really felt the effect of having been laid up the better part of December, the result of having been relegated to a walking boot for most of the month.  The good news there is that while the doctors originally thought I had a partial Achilles tear, it turns out that it was tendinitis. So while the net effect of the boot was positive (my Achilles felt GREAT today), and despite the workouts I was doing while in the boot, I hadn’t changed my eating (read here more calories going in, fewer going out) so I packed on some pounds. Combined with a vast reduction in cardio work over that time, I was huffing and puffing my way through this.  In November, a group of us ran this course and I did it slightly faster than I ran the race last January, so I’m sure I could’ve hit this harder this year had I not been forced to take some time off running.  On the one hand, it would be easy to think of a missed opportunity, but really today is about giving myself grace: I came off the bench with a last minute decision to run and made it happen.

I considered my time today a minor victory given those circumstances and am generally pleased by the effort I put in out there.  It was difficult: between December 11 and today I had run 4 easy-miles yesterday.  I’m a little sore all over right now, but I’m glad I went out there and did it.  Onward and upward.

Distance: 5 Miles
2018 Time: 44:24 8:52 pace
2017 Time: 43:04 8:36.8 pace