Tuesday, December 15, 2015

2015 Dallas Marathon

Dallas Marathon

2015-time: 3:56:24 (chip), pace: 9:01/M, Place 614/2747 overall, 97/288 in my age group, 499/1728 among men
Tentatively, I'd like to visit the 50 states over the course of my life. One thing I learned early, after a visit to New York in 2001, is that people and places aren't all that different. The American landscape is littered with the same corporate presences just about everywhere...the same stores in every mall, the same stuff in every store, the same food in every town, some tall buildings in every city...there is uniqueness out there, in pockets, but most of it hardly worth traveling for.
Even in keeping with my running theme, many races can just blend together. Looking deeper there has to be more to a race weekend to justify the types of travel expenses likely to be incurred.  Catching up with old friends and family is a strong motivator, so when we had a couple of our friends move near Dallas this past spring I kinda knew that I would eventually get down there to socialize, see how things had settled in and run the Dallas Marathon.
At the Expo

It is difficult to express any correlation between my training and my eventual finish time. I signed up for Octobers Peak to Creek Marathon and Decembers Dallas Marathon at around the same time back in the spring and had planned to just establish a cardiovascular base for that distance in the same way that I have routinely held a half marathon base year round for the past few years.

I anticipated that since I can hold a half marathon base with one 8 mile run and one 12 mile run per week, that an 8, a 12 and a 20 would keep me in shape to throw down a marathon whenever I wanted. 

It didn't work out too well. 

I hit a training peak waaay too early. By late September I was feeling good and in relatively good shape, so I spontaneously signed up for the the Belmead Trail Fest Marathon and ran rather well for that event.

In hind sight I probably should have ditched the Peak to Creek and downgraded to the Dallas Half, but I have a thing about commitment and I considered it a scientific obligation to subject myself to the race schedule as it was laid out simply for the sake of gaining the knowledge.

By early October I had lost any interest in running more than 12 miles, but I lumbered through a few longer ones and finished the Peak to Creek with a sub 4 hr finish time. I had no interest at all in a 3rd build up for Dallas and was actually following a walk/run training routine while silently considering if the half would be a better choice given my lack of enthusiasm.

I'm glad I stayed the course. Sticking with the full Dallas Marathon was a great experience for many reasons. The lake scenery at White Rock Lake Trail made the event a good combination of big city buildings, inner city small business streets, urban sprawl and recreational park land, so I'm left with a well rounded impression of what Dallas has to offer.

Most rewarding for me, however, is the numbers game. My Garmin data got corrupted, so I had to delete it, but I vividly recall how most of my pacing went...

Miles 1-5 had me holding a pace in the high 7's
Miles 6-13 had me in the mid 8's
Miles 14-24 had me alternating between a high 8 and a high 9 with the high 9's being miles that included 1/4 mile walk breaks.
Miles 25-26.2 were in the high 9's with no walking

As disappointing as it is to have lost the Garmin data, the Dallas Marathon is as good an event as any for such a thing to happen because they use plenty of timing mats along the course to document how the pacing is going. My times at the timing mats are close to, but not exact with what my Garmin was displaying because I don't run "line of sight" and the timing mats use line of sight measurements per USATF. My timing mat splits were...

5k @ 25:11 (8:07 pace)
10k @ 51:07 (8:21 pace)
15k @ 1:17:45 (8:35 pace)
Half @ 1:51:00 (8:47 pace)
20M@ 2:55:30 ( 9:22 pace)
Finish @ 3:56:24 (9:01 pace)

Course with timing mat locations.
Elevation Profile
 The oddest thing about the numbers crunching for me is that of the 3 marathons I did this fall, Dallas actually turned out to be my fastest...

By 1 second...

Peak to Creek chip timed me at 3:56:25
Dallas chip timed me at 3:56:24 

The spur of the moment Belmead Trail Fest Marathon was a single track technical trail event, so the slower 4:15:29 would be expected whereas Dallas is all asphalt and Peak to Creek is a mix of asphalt (first 6 miles) and gravel road. Peak to Creek is all down hill plus I had better training going into it so I would have expected it to be my fastest even though gravel road does not offer as good a footing as asphalt. 

But really...numbers aside...I was just there for the company. Much thanks to our friends, The Caldwells, for helping us through this event. Dinner, catching up, billiards, Jameson, Jurassic World, overnight, oatmeal, rising early, keeping Kneesee out of trouble while I ran, driving us back to the house after the race, shower, nap and pizza...these are the kind of things I can't put a price on and they made the weekend invaluable as a lasting memory.


Friday, November 27, 2015

2015 Drumstick Dash

Drumstick Dash

The Drumstick Dash 5k
2009-time: 23:11 (chip) 23:43 (gun), pace: 7:38/M, Place 316/2368 overall, 24/117 in my age group, 258/1215 among men.
2010-time: 19:21 (chip) 19:23 (gun), pace: 6:15/M, Place 59/3404 overall, 4/171 in my age group, 56/1683 among men
2011-time: 19:47 (chip) 19:49 (gun), pace: 6:22/M, Place 97/3763 overall, 4/187 in my age group, 92/1877among men.  
2012-time: 19:27 (chip) 19:27 (gun), pace: 6:50/M, Place 151/3743 overall, 5/171 in my age group, 132/1928 [Course too short for inclusion in 5k stats, pace above based on Garmin w 2.85 mi]
2013-time: 21:32 (chip) 21:32 (gun), pace: 6:56/M, Place 123/3763 overall, 5/163 in my age group, 111/500+ among men.  

 2015-time: 21:16 (chip) 21:17 (gun), pace: 6:44/M, Place 141/3046 overall, 5/113 in my age group, 120/500+ among men.
 Garmin Data: HERE  

The Event
I hadn't ran 3 consecutive sub 7 miles in months so I was quite literally shocked to meet my minimum 5k standard. 

2015 Star City Half Marathon

Star City Half Marathon

2012- time 1:40:41, Pace 7:41/M, Place 56/573 overall, 2/39 in my age group, 44/253 among men
2014- time: 1:35:59.9 (chip), Pace 7:19/M, Place 33/480 overall, 2/26 in my age group, 30/202 among men

2015- time 1:40:54, Pace 7:42/M, Place 47/533 overall, 6/37 in my age group, 42/245 among men
 Garmin Data: HERE

The Event
Happy to have held a sub 8 pace on every mile except the one with the bulk of the climb up Avenham where I dropped into the low 8's. Some years, like in 2012, a 1h41m can get a podium spot, but its not typical. I missed 3rd place by several minutes. My priority for this race was the Roanoke Triple Crown, so I'm just happy to have finished

Roanoke Triple Crown
The Roanoke Triple Crown Award!

Monday, November 2, 2015

2015 Race 13.1 Charleston

Race 13.1 Charleston

 Race 13.1 Charleston
2015- time 1:42:21 (chip), Pace 7:48/M, Place 27/418 overall, 3/16 in my age group, 19/137 among men

***Results updated after the Awards ceremony**
I was given the 2nd place Age Group award, but actually came in 3rd. It could have been a chip reading malfunction or missing information on his race registration.
In an effort to explore the country a little bit more I have a half hearted goal of doing one athletic event in every state of the union. In order to justify this sort of travel expense I'm focusing on races that offer the best pre and post race environments with which to relax, entertain, educate and enlighten ones self. Race 13.1 Charleston seemed ideal for a South Carolina visit for the historical significance of also being able to stay at the Inn at Middleton Place and visit the Middleton Gardens.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

2015 Peak to Creek Marathon

Peak to Creek Marathon

Peak to Creek Marathon
2015- time 3:56:25.6 (chip) 3:56:27.9 (gun), Pace 9:01/M, Place 181/329 overall, 21/30 in my age group, ??/191 among men

One year I am going to pick up a Boston Qualifier on this course. This year just happened to not be the year. The first 10 miles went fairly well and I had a lot of energy for it. By the time mile 12 rolled in I was feeling minor fatigue and my feet were feeling every large gravel. By mile 18 my lungs were feeling overly taxed and I just wanted to do the least I could get by with and still say it was worth my effort.

26.2 miles is an incredible distance and "just" finishing a marathon is always a huge accomplishment, but for my own personal reasons I consider the 4 hour marathon to be the bench mark for competitiveness. For the last 9 miles I took many walk breaks and kept an eye on my Garmin to make sure I was still set to cross the finish line in under 4 hours. 

No huge victory, no regrets. Happy to have participated in a well run event and to have met my minimum time goal. It was a great weekend with Denise and Faith and we went horseback riding afterwards.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Cannabinoids and Endurance Sports

Cannabinoids and Endurance Sports

Cannabis law reform is still a big topic in Virginia politics and endurance sports is a big interest of mine. I mostly blog about my own experiences with endurance sports, but from time to time I will branch out and share thoughts on other issues as it relates to endurance sports. I'm not a scientist or an expert, I just read, research and make evidence based conclusions.

Two studies involving cannabinoids have been released recently that make for compelling arguments for the legalization of cannabis and to further the research of cannabis for its medicinal value. From an endurance athletes perspective these studies would seem to be cause to support the current momentum towards cannabis law reform. Good general health, however, is not an exclusive interest of endurance athletes, so the public at large should be outraged by the roadblocks to research that are implemented by current law and the current scheduling of cannabis as a schedule 1 controlled substance.

The first study I want to mention is the study HERE from July '15 that showed increased aptitude for the healing of bone injuries. Runners are extremely susceptible to stress fractures due to the repetitive nature of the activity and it is outrageous that a naturally occurring plant can or could help avoid these sorts of injuries and Americans are being denied because politicians apparently think the buildup of the prison-industrial complex is more important than peoples health. Of course good bone health is a big concern for older people to as our age makes us more brittle and prone to bone injuries and diseases. What could we learn about treating and preventing osteoporosis here if immoral laws weren't standing in the way? 

Secondly is THIS article from October '15 discussing the relationship between the human bodies own natural endocannabinoid system and endurance sports. As the article states...

"In a new study, researchers at Germany's University of Heidelberg medical school reinforced those results, finding that after engaging in running, an activity they do for fun, mice showed elevated levels of both endorphins and endocannabinoids." 

...now with everything we already know about cannabinoids this study seemed a bit redundant to me, but it still adds weight to the arguments for cannabinoid research and use in pain management. Neither I, nor this article, is suggesting that runners high is exactly like a THC high. Runners can run themselves straight into an injury because after the rhythm of a run sets in it becomes easy to ignore pain. Kind of like what the cannabinoid CBD produces. I conclude that endocannabinoids are more like CBD and not so much like THC, but the fact remains that the human endocannabinoid system is a compelling area for research and the law as it currently exists is hurting and not helping the effort to advance our understanding of our biology.

Well thats all the ranting I have on the subject for today. I'm traveling out of state for a marathon in NC called The Peak to Creek Marathon. Notice it is being sponsored by the Burke Council on Alcoholism & Chemical Dependency. I have to wonder if their is some irony here and what their position is on cannabinoid research.

Monday, September 28, 2015

2015 Belmead Trail Fest Marathon

Belmead Trail Fest Marathon

Belmead Trail Fest Marathon
2015- time 4:15:29, Pace 9:32/M, Place 5/21 overall, 1/2 in my age group, 5/11 among men

Garmin Stats: HERE
Event History
None: First time participant
 Marathon History
2010 Richmond Marathon 3:35:31
2011 Richmond Marathon 3:34:12
2013 Creeper Trail Marathon 3:42:46
2013 New River Trail 50k USATF Marathon Split 4:37:22 

My participation in the Belmead Marathon was a somewhat spur of the moment decision. It has been almost 2 years since I've ran a full marathon and my training for most of the summer has been less than stellar. I failed to go the distance at a planned 20 mile training run a few weeks prior to this event, the following week I succeeded in going the 20 mile distance, but I did it in four 5-mile runs with 5-10 minute breaks between sets, it was kinda slow so I was only modestly encouraged by the results.

Nine days before Belmead I finally completed a 20 miler non-stop with an average pace that was historically mediocre for my efforts at this distance. It seemed a good time to just get out and test my conditioning with the 26.2 mile distance in a race supported environment. 

The Event

Kneesee and I drove to Powhatan from Roanoke the morning of the race and I barely made it to the start line with less than 2 minutes to spare before the race started. I didn't get in any warm up stretches or short warm up sprints before I was heading across a grassy field and down a gravel road. I started in the back of the field and with about 200 or so people in front of me I made it into about the top 25 before we hit the single track dirt trail at about 1 mile in.

With 4 distances in the event, a 10 mile, a marathon, a 50k, and a 50 miler I wasn't even entertaining any ideas about what place I might be in. I wasn't really even racing anyway. It was just a training run in a race supported environment. I held off on any aggressive surging for positions and just focused on feeling good. Their was one point about 2.5 miles in where the course was not clearly marked at an intersection and some of us went off course for about 100 feet or so. I pulled out a copy of the printed turn-by-turn directions and got us back on course rather quickly, so we only lost about 2 minutes on that debacle. Other than that, the entire course was very well marked.

The coarse consisted of two loops merged together in a figure 8. The first loop is a little over 4 miles long and the second loop is little over 6. As a marathoner at this event the course objective is to run the figure eight loop twice, then run the longer loop a third time for a total distance of 26.8 miles. Technically, anything over 26.2 is an ultra, not a marathon, but no point in splitting hairs over a few tenths...particularly at a low key, old school, non-USATF certified race.

So after 3 miles or so we emerge from the rolling single track trails and head up a grassy field towards one of the historical buildings, a school with some impressive architecture built in the late 1800's for African Americans, then we spend another mile or so on a mix of rough road and field and  then headed back to the start to complete the short loop.

The long loop took us through brief sections of field and gravel road, but was mostly rolling single track dirt trail. I wasn't being aggressive with it because I didn't want to have to deal with burning out in the later miles of the race. I took a minute or two at most of the aid stations to drink water, gatorade and eat some calories, but I didn't stand around needlessly.

After finishing the figure 8 the first time, I knew everything the course had to offer. It was a steadily rolling course with almost nothing to offer in the way of flat surfaces or prolonged inclines or prolonged downhills. I had been averaging about a 9 min/mile pace, but I wasn't going to fight to keep it since I wasn't familiar with the distance, so when my pace started dropping into the 10's and 11's for the second 10 mile trip around the figure 8 I wasn't disheartened in the least. There was very little passing going on, so I knew I was holding my own with the top 20% of the field anyways.

Starting the 3rd lap around the longer loop had me a bit nervous because it had been almost 2 years since I had ran longer than 20 miles. I just focused on staying comfortable and quite literally surprised myself to find that I wasn't losing anything in my pace. I had a few typical overexertion twinges in my feet, but nothing that would be worth slowing down for. I finished feeling tired and worn out, but otherwise content that I was uninjured and that I could have pushed harder if I had really wanted it.   
Me finishing!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 Mikro (1/2) Marathon


Mikro (1/2) Marathon
2015- time 1:34:29, Pace 7:13/M, Place 7/97 overall, 1/6 in my age group, 5/43 among men

Friday, September 11, 2015

Full Marathon


A marathon is a long distance. 26.2 miles is a hell of a drive in a car, on a bicycle its going to take a while...by foot it can kill a man.

I'm not sure what the appeal of a marathon is, but I was like "fuck it" so I signed up for 2 this fall. Now its looking like maybe I'm going to need a 3rd. I'm 'bout slow as fuck, so I decided I need an easy one. The Peak to Creak in late October is a downhill event, so I'm anticipating a good time regardless of how I train or finish.

The Dallas Marathon is a catch up event. I'm going to go the distance and make it count, but time is not really an issue unless I fuck up at Peak to Creak and end up approaching Dallas as if I have something to prove.

So I need an easy "Chill the fuck out" event to justify my training and I found the Belmead Trail Fest on Sept 26th. It looks like fun event with out any stress. A good "just get away", log some stats and come home. A spring board for the season ahead.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Base Building 2015

Base Building
Im slow as fuck. Only reason I keep doing this shit is because It feels so good to push my limits.
So I was like 1 mile in to my mornings run and I just thought "You know what? I don't really give a fuck. So I just took it easy and paced at a high 9. Not like I need to worry about calling it back out to the front with just a few weeks notice. 
Its July and my next race is in October so why I gotta be stressin' 'bout speeds at this point?  

Monday, May 4, 2015

2015 Trail Nut 10k

Trail Nut 10k

2015-time 52:49.26, pace: 8:08/M, Place 14/134 overall, 1/10 Age Group, 13/70 among men
Garmin Data: HERE 

2010-time 55:31.22 , pace: 8:56/M, Place 15/81 overall, 3/5 Age Group, 15/41 among men

2012-time 48:28.83, pace: 7:45/M, Place 5/111 overall, 1st Place Master, 4/47 among men
2013-time 2:47:05, pace: 25:42/M, Place 126/126 overall, 10/10 in my age group, 58/58 among men 
2014-time 52:56.32, pace: 8:09/M, Place 10/138 overall, 2/10 Age Group, 9/61 among men

Running just one day a week can make it difficult to predict race day results. At some point the extra rest works out as a benefit, but eventually it becomes a liability to speed. In the 2 weeks leading up to the Trail Nut 10k I have only ran once and that was the 5k race the previous Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida. I had no expectation for today other than to do my best.

The Event
I don't often get to hold a lead at any races, so when I do I like to mention it. When the starting gun fired I was holding my own with the top 3 and just waiting for the inevitable avalanche of passing to start. For some reason everybody was being lazy so I surged past the competition and actually held the overall lead for a few steps, maybe as many as 20, but I wasn't counting.

Inevitably, the passing did start and by the time the first mile was in the books I was somewhere just outside the top 5. By the halfway point I was outside the top 10 and I wrapped things up just inside the top 15. It was a solid run and I beat last years time by a few seconds. It was a satisfying morning.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2015 First Coast Parkinsons 5k Run

First Coast Parkinsons 5k Run

Time: 20:51 (chip) 20:52 (gun), Pace 6:43/M, Place 8/428 overall, 1/17 in my age group, 7/180 among men
Garmin Data: HERE 
What are the perfect elements for a weekend get away? Family, a race, a little R and R with some live music, travel and explore new areas? It just doesn't get any better than that does it?

As a runner, I'm still an oddball...I like treadmills. Frequently refereed to as "dreadmills" by some, I always connected to the idea of cybernetic man/machine merger. I plug in whatever pace I want to go and then make my body hold on until my mind can no longer ignore the consequences of the physical punishment. 
The process would be futile if not for the gift of music.  
Treadmill + the right tunes =Exuberance, Treadmill with no tunes = forget it.
For me, no band has been able to produce the steady hard hitting tempos that I need to push myself beyond my limits quite like Ministry.
The complete separation of mind and body. Violent tempo's, defiant lyrics, merciless paces...it goes together in my mind at just the right frequency, energy, and vibration to push me to some of my fastest 4 - 8 mile runs ever. Most prominently in the tunes "So What", "Burning Inside" and "Just One Fix".

  When Ministry announced their N. American tour I wasn't going to miss it. They had some closer dates, but they were middle of the week, so I looked around and discovered the Saturday show in Jacksonville. Still, 1200 miles round trip just for a show? No, this was a two day festival with Ministry and many other bands! Still a rather long drive. A little more digging uncovered a race in the area and I was starting to feel compelled. I just couldn't justify the expense.

I asked my son, Chris, if he would be interested in going and with an enthusiastic "Yes!" all the elements were in place for a fun father/son road trip!

The Race
Riverside Park was a very clean community park just outside of the tourist area where I was staying and it made for a great location to host a race. Plenty of shade, adequate walking paths, a large fountain and a common community area. A real gem for the locals, I'm sure.

Prior to race start, I walked around and talked to a few of the vendors who had set up to distribute information about various health related and Parkinsons Disease specific topics. Notably absent was any information concerning the promising research being done regarding Parkinsons Disease and Cannabis, so I have included a link HERE. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few vendors, one being Dunkin Donuts, handing out free snacks and coffee which was exactly what I needed since I had skipped breakfast.

The race course itself was a very flat, roughly l mile lap of Riverside Park followed by a 1 mile out and 1 mile back route along a neighboring road.  I hadn't ran since the Blue Ridge Half the previous Saturday and I haven't been training at 5k paces in months, so I wasn't expecting anything exceptional. As the race started I quickly fell in to 8th place, somehow I managed an unexpectedly strong low 6 for the first mile, then fell into a sustainable high 6 for the remaining 2 miles. After the initial spacing out, I passed 2 people and 2 other people came from the back and passed me, so I was basically in 8th the whole race.

After finishing I had access to plenty of water and bananas for free or two food vendors were selling more substantial food if I had wanted to go the pay-to-eat route. This was a $20 pre register, $25 for the week of, and $30 for day of registration fees, so the favorable price was reflective in light of the post race food options and perfectly acceptable to keep expenses down.

The awards ceremony was done promptly at the advertised time of 10:15am and that gave me plenty of time to get back to the hotel, shower and get to Metropolitan Park for the music festival. The First Coast Parkinsons 5k Run is a well run event and I would definitely recommend it and do it again if fate should put me back in the area for such an opportunity.