Monday, September 28, 2009

Puddle Jumping

Yesterday we threw on some wetsuits and ran the Newport Liberty Half Marathon in Jersey City. OK, maybe we didn't wear wetsuits, but there was something to be said for waterproofness, given the absolute soaking we got.
There was a little part of me that hoped the girls (Kira and her friend and running partner Torrie) would wake up Sunday morning and decide they didn't want to run in the rain because, well...I didn't particularly want to run in the rain. Alas, Torrie tapped on the door at 6:40, just as I was finishing a quick walk with Luna, and we were off to JC a few minutes later.
We got a great spot in the parking garage where we could lay out all our gear, searching for the right combination...the girls went thru all the options...tights, knickers, or shorts? Long sleeve, tank top, or short sleeve? Rain jacket or no? I said the hell with it, put on shorts and a tank top and accepted the fact that I would be completely wet to the core by the end of it, but at least I wouldn't be weighed down by too many wet clothes. We pinned numbers, topped off with a bit of water, applied vaseline in strategic places, took some gu and rolled to the start.
Starting lines always fascinate me...everyone at the front always looks so damn fast...strong and lean. They all look like they know what they're doing...plyometrics, a few quick sprints, some stretching...I usually reach over, touch my toes and hope for the best. I wasn't born or raised as a runner, this whole thing is relatively new to me...I feel like I'm making it up as I go along.
Just before the starters horn I asked Kira what she was hoping to finish in, she said 1:53 and asked me what I was thinking. I decided I was just going to watch, just run and see what happens...and we were off.
Trying to describe a 13 mile course could take a while, and though I'm obviously prone to some lengthy prose, I'll spare you all the details...needless to say, it was a very difficult course. The most obvious difficulty was due to the amount of water on the course. Puddles everywhere, some shallow, some with the look of a bottomless pool, eliciting a quick pulse of fear as we ran thru them. The notion of running tangents was dismissed as lines were decided based upon how deep the puddle looked or how hard it would be to run around. Besides the water on the course, we ran in a continual light steady rain and relentless south/southeasterly wind, which felt like running uphill at the southern end of the park and sucked the life out of us each time we had to run towards the Statue of Liberty. And finally, due in part to the fact that's it's impossible to fit a round peg into a square hole, or in this case a half marathon into a 4 mile long stretch of real estate, the course took us on all kinds of turns and loops through Newport and Liberty State Park. Lots of turns and loops makes it hard to keep any kind of rhythm, no matter how fast or slow you run, and yesterday's course was perhaps the most difficult I've run in that regard.
With all that...the rain, the water, the twists and turns...the girls ran in style. I almost missed Kira crossing the line since she came rolling thru nearly 5 minutes before her goal, crossing the line in 1:49:10, good enough to be in the top 100 women out of nearly 700, setting a PR and looking and feeling all the while that she could've (and should've!) run faster. And Torrie, who insists she can't run long distances, finished her first half marathon in 1:52:39. Given the conditions and the course, it's not much of a stretch to say the girls could, and will, go faster. I think Kira has a sub-1:45 half in her. But given her goal here, and the fact that we've got the Zof in 2 weeks, she's right on pace to finish the season strong and go into the winter feeling good...and in the right mindset to set some goals for next year. Not too bad for a new mom, eh?
As for me...well, I defied the advice of the Guru...kind of. I ran how I felt and figured I would back off when it felt like enough. But other than some tightness in my right calf, I felt "good". I could still feel friday's workout (I got a 60 mile ride/6 mile run in) in my quads, but the pain kind of settled into the rhythm of the run...and in the end I crossed the line in 1:22:55, a new PR for me and an indication that I'm stronger than last year and ready for the Zof Long Course...let the taper begin.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

So, we're 2 weeks away from the Zof and I'm trying to figure out how to structure the last few important days of training. Kira is running the Newport Half this weekend and I'm thinking of joining her but I'm not sure how I should approach it. I've got one big ride/run day to do this week, something that will get me close to 4 hours of work (maybe a 60 mile ride with an "easy" 10K). And here's the dilemma. If I do the half on Sunday, I want to do well, like set a PR (1:24:55 in Philly last year). But I'll be putting myself pretty far behind it with a big day of work and certainly won't be coming into the half in top form. And as I'm writing this I'm thinking "Seriously Mike, stop complaining and just get it a big day and then go run as fast as you can". It's funny...this blogging, this thinking aloud about my "issues"...I should be so lucky that my drama this morning is whether or not I should run a half marathon on sunday after getting 70 miles in a few days before. I think it's good for me to start to write these things gets easier to check myself and realize how I can turn some insignificant issue into some drama...and anyone who reads along acts as my therapist for a day. So thanks...looks like I've got some work ahead of me in the next few days

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You're such a fast walker

Luna and I had a little spring in our step this morning on our walk. It's starting to feel like fall...I told Kira it's one of those mornings you feel like you should have a pack on your back and the smell of chalk on your hands. Or in the woods on your mountain bike. just feels good to be outside. Lots of things to look forward to in the fall...maybe a few days of climbing, we already had our first taste of apple cider (thanks Mom), the American Zofingen is only a month away (and Kira is gettin' after it this year, setting her sights on the short course)...taking Abbie on some walks in the woods with the leaves changing. You can take summer, for me, this is the best time of the year