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Why April?

April 6, 2010 2 comments

I’ve learned from my history … I am not repeating my previous horrible Aprils.

  • April 2008: Faced with foot problems, I ran just a little more than 30 miles total with 6.2 coming in one race.
  • April 2009: I was happy to take a “rest month.” I logged a little more than 30 miles. Two weeks later I was at the doctor finally figuring out what was wrong with my feet.

But honestly, I have headed into those two Aprils ready to take a break after doing the Shamrock Half. This year is different — I want to keep pushing and build on the momentum of that race. I’ve never, ever, ever capitalized on my training before. I train for ONE race and I’m done. Well enough of that.

That’s why this month I am committed to running every day in the month no matter what. Yes, my health comes first, but it’s going to take something crazy to pull me off the road.

But there’s been something nagging at me for a while with wanting to do more than streak. I love racing and better yet I love a good challenge. So thanks to various factors, I am going to be running the Blue Ridge Half Marathon on the Parkway in Roanoke on April 24. It promises to be one of the most challenging races I have ever done with a total elevation gain of nearly 1,400 feet and a total elevation gain/loss of nearly 2,800 feet. Check out the course map and elevation change here. Basically it’s all uphill for more than 5 miles before coming back down.

For more information on this race, visit www.blueridgemarathon.com. Details are also on Facebook; you can also get updates on Twitter by following @BRM26pt2. If this sounds familiar to you, I did write about this on my blog back in July, but there’s been so much change in my life since then that I had ruled out doing the full marathon a long time ago and had pretty much ruled out doing the half considering it was so close to Shamrock. But things change …

So, April, take that.

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Looking back while looking forward

March 23, 2010 2 comments

It’s nothing unusual to think about what’s next after a big race, especially one as satisfying as this one. But I already know what’s next — the Richmond Marathon. At least that’s what I signed up for four months ago. After setting a PR in a half marathon, I’m still on Cloud 9 with my speed at a long distance.

While I’m celebrating my success, there’s part of me that knows I can go faster. I know that getting in the 1:30s is very much reality — shaving just three minutes off my time puts me at 1:39. Is it worth it training for a marathon? In 2007 when I had some of my best running going on, I was training for the marathon … after that though, I was filled with a whole lot of disappointment.

For now, I’m not making any decisions. I just know that right now I can capitalize on what three great months of training has already done for me. Waiting until November for the next “big” event just seems weird. Community races in between will be nice and I have some times I’d love to beat … but I love the half marathon.

Anyway, here some more thoughts following this past weekend’s Shamrock Half Marathon

* I am the owner of a Power Balance wristband. Take a look at the website for yourself. In looking up things on the Internet, some say it’s a scam. I say it works. If it’s just a mental thing, so be it.

* I bought a new pair of Brooks Ravenna even though I don’t need them for a while. They were 20 percent off and I saved about $5 from what I paid for online earlier this winter. The nice thing is I’m set for shoes until mid-summer probably. I hope longer — these shoes tend to have a good life on them more than other shoes have worked for me. I’ve stayed injury free since I switched to these, so no reason to change.

Speaking of being injury free, a little more than a year ago I went to the doctor about my lingering foot problems that started at the end of 2007 (after the, um, marathon). After wearing a special insole for a couple of months and then switching to nothing at all, my feet haven’t bothered me much. I’m not putting anything else into my shoes again. I didn’t have any problems for a long time, and then for some reason I put gel insoles in. While it was initially comfortable, they haven’t really “worked.” And by “worked,” I’m not really sure what good they do anyway. It’s a personal thing, I think.

* The Shamrock event expo is great. After some issues with it in my first Shamrock in 2007, they’ve made drastic changes to the layout of the floor plans and picking up the race number and T-shirt. It’s been mostly flawless ever since. The Virginia Beach Convention Center in general is just a good place for a race expo — even as much as I’ve complained about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half event, the expo is always great there.

* The Shamrock Half Marathon is the first event that I’ve done four years in a row. I have also done the Bedford Christmas Classic four times, but one of those events was a 10k. It’s pretty cool to look at my race times since 2004 and scroll to the end and see this:

1:42.52, March 2010 – Shamrock Half Marathon
1:44:23, March 2007 – Shamrock Half Marathon
1:46:53, August 2007 – Lynchburg Half Marathon
1:49:07, March 2008 – Shamrock Half Marathon
1:49:30, March 2009 – Shamrock Half Marathon
1:55:28, August 2006 – Lynchburg Half Marathon
1:59:19, September 2009 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon
2:06:16, August 2008 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

All four of the Shamrocks are in the 1:40s. It’s kind of weird to think that I beat last year’s time by almost 7 minutes. It’s also very satisfying to know that I’ve done eight half marathons since 2006.

* Lastly I wanted to give a big thanks to the Shamrock organizers, the hundreds of volunteers, the sponsors and all the people who lined the course this weekend. This is always a special event no matter what the time was on the course and each year it seems to get better.

Top 5 Moments of the 2000s

December 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Last week I got into a brief argument on Twitter that this is not the end of the decade, so why are news stories saying such things? Well, debate all you want – maybe there was no year “0,” but that was 2,000-plus years ago. I didn’t celebrate the end of the 1980s at the end of 1990 or the end of the ’90s at the end of 2000. So this decade, to me, is ending. If you want to celebrate it next year, then go for it. Just don’t invite me to your party at the end of 2020 to celebrate the end of the ’10s. To me this decade began Jan. 1, 2000, and ends in about two weeks. A decade is a period 10 years – you can’t deny the definition of the word.

Anyway, enough of that rant. It’s time to reflect. When looking back on this past decade of my life, it’s easy to say that my adventure into adulthood has been full of changes. I’ve graduated college, gotten married, changed cities a few times, had a son, bought a couple of houses and started running after a long layoff. To have a “Top 5 Running-related Moments of the 2000s” is kind of weird since I’ve only been running since 2004, but running helps define who I am today. It’s important to me to highlight the top events since this adventure began. It’ll help lead me into the next 10 years.

#5 – My first race
After getting married in 2004, I had to do something to keep me motivated so I signed up for the four-miler in Lynchburg that was part of the Virginia Ten Miler event. I’ll never forget standing at that starting line being so nervous. I had those weird thoughts of finishing last or falling down or something crazy like that. What happened, though, was this amazing feeling of accomplishment at the end of the race. It was almost overwhelming. Most importantly, it kept me going. Forty races later, I’m still running.

#4 – The right gear
Getting properly fitted for shoes, getting a Garmin, discovering non-cotton attire and getting an iPod – all these rolled into one at various points in the past six years – have transformed my running experience.

#3 – 13.1 as a father
I revisited this post earlier this year in my top highlights from the year, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be on this list too. In fact, I debated whether or not it should be No. 2 or No. 3. The feeling of just doing that race so soon after my son was born is still indescribable.

#2 – 26.2 miles
Two-plus years later, I still can’t explain this feeling to you. If you haven’t read my post from that day, click here to check it out. I can’t wait to go on that journey again.

#1 – Jan. 1, 2004
A hike up to Crabtree Falls in Nelson County was the beginning of this journey. While I had a goal to lose weight for my wedding, this picture of me changed everything. It could be the most important picture of my life. I saw it and knew I had to change. Little did I know how much change it would bring, but I’m so glad it did. This photo helps remind me of where I came from and where I never want to be again.

Honorable mentions
For six years of running, it’s hard to pick a top five. I wrestled with certain things to put in here, such as starting this blog. I started as “Running in Lynchburg” in the spring of 2007 to document my Richmond Marathon training. Blogging is right up there with gear — it’s helped keep me motivated in the past few years.

This year alone has been full of memorable moments, but I didn’t want immediate hindsight to play a role in this list. It’s hard … very hard … to keep “Stung in the eye” off this list. To me, though, the decade list was more about my accomplishments rather than the negative things. Moments like the Virginia Ten Miler and my first Shamrock Half Marathon that happened before my blogging days were great, but didn’t quite make it to the top 5.

All in all my running experience since 2004 has been great. I’m looking forward to what this next decade has to offer …

Coming in March: Shamrock IV

December 3, 2009 2 comments

A couple of months or so ago, I said that in 2010 I would run the Shamrock Half Marathon again. But after unexpectedly getting a new job and all that, I didn’t know if I would do it again. Last night, though, I signed up for it. There’s part of me that knows I would have missed doing it if I skipped it and there’s also a part of me that knows that a good Shamrock Half will set me up for successful Richmond Marathon training later in the year.

Plus I feel like I have a lot to prove to myself over the next three and a half months. I have that infamous 10 pounds I want to lose, plus I really want to set a PR in this event. While my No. 1 goal will be to run my race to the best of my ability, I will keep a big focus on getting faster this winter. I’ll worry about focusing on the PR the closer the event gets here.

***

Speaking of 2010, I doubt that I’ll run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half again. While the timing is good with training for the marathon, the money to travel to Virginia Beach twice in one year just isn’t worth it. Now that I’m back in the Lynchburg area, I’ll likely focus on many smaller races that I used to run. I had fun here a few years ago with these races and they’re a lot of cheaper. I’ll spend less money running a few races here vs. traveling on Labor Day weekend. There’s actually a half marathon in Lynchburg in August that I’ll likely do.

***

The Bedford Christmas Classic is this weekend, the fourth time I have done this event. It’ll briefly overtake Shamrock as the event I’ve done the most. Oddly enough, though, I’ve never blogged about this specific race since the other three events (twice as a 5k and once as a 10k) occurred before my blogging days. The forecast right now looks, well, a lot like Christmas. It’s looking like rain will turn to snow that day with temperatures falling during the day, but around here I’ve learned not to pay much attention to the forecast. Either way, I’ll be unprepared for any of those conditions, including really cold, so I’m just planning to go with the flow.

Travis and I ran the course the other night and I finished in just a little more than 25 minutes, which is actually in between my previous two 5k race times, so I’m confident I can set my course record. I felt like I could knock a couple of minutes off that time in a race. But we’ll have to see how I feel and how the weather plays out. Right now I’m still feeling tired from my Thanksgiving trip — there’s been very little down time since then. I’m hoping tonight though to get some extra rest.

The not-so-racy race report

September 6, 2009 5 comments
Our hotel provided a great view for the little ants marching on the beach following the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.

Our hotel provided a great view for the little ants marching on the beach following the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.

Goal #1: Beat last year’s time. Check.

Goal #2: Beat two hours. Check.

Goal #3: Weather permitting, be close to 1:50. Uh, no check.

With very little speed work this summer, I knew heading into today’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon that I probably wouldn’t do any better than 9-minute miles, but it doesn’t hurt to wish, right? Usually for a race report I go mile by mile and recap different thoughts that occurred along the way. Today, though, there really isn’t much need.

It was a good consistent long run. All but one mile was slower than 8:45 and all but one mile was faster than 9:15. Final time: 1:59:18. That’s nearly 7 minutes better than last year’s heat debacle, so I’m very happy with that. A course record is always nice. But a mile into today’s race I knew there would be no extra pushing. At least not a lot of extra pushing. There were moments today in which I tried to go a little faster, but it just wasn’t going to happen. And I wasn’t about to go over the edge to do it. About half way through the race, my goal became simple – beat 2 hours. I knew if I kept the pace I was on I would do it within a minute or two.

The weather today was considerably better than last year, but there were parts of the course that were pretty hot in the direct sunlight. Then there were other parts that actually felt cool. All in all it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great either … it was just a good day to have a nice long run in Virginia Beach.

Today’s race concludes the way my summer has gone — slow and steady. As far as what’s next, that’s another post for another day. Right now I am content with celebrating my seventh half marathon in two and a half years. No matter what my time, there’s nothing better than crossing a finishing line and doing what so many people don’t get a chance to experience.

As ready as I can be

August 30, 2009 1 comment

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer — a pretty bizarre but consistent summer for me when it comes to running. When training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon got under way in June, I got sick; then it seemed like I just couldn’t get things going; and then I strung together a couple of good weeks of running in July to finally make me feel better about things.

But a week from now when I start the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, I don’t have any lofty expectations. Overall, my running miles are less than where I was last year at this time, but when comparing the two previous months before a race, I’m about 10 miles or so ahead of where I was earlier this year for the Shamrock Half. I went into that race with no expectations either and ended up walking away having one of the most satisfying experiences ever. I’ve also had three runs of 10 or more miles this month, much better than my one 10-miler in February. Cross training, even just a little bit, has been an added bonus as well.

My goals for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half have not changed from a couple of weeks ago — if the weather is nice, I’d like to be around 1:50. If it’s humid like last year, I’d like to break 2 hours. With very little speed work this summer and no other races since late March, my eventual goal of breaking my half marathon PR will wait.

* * *

My long run yesterday was quite brutal – 10 miles in some of the most humid conditions this summer. It felt like I jumped in a pool and then tried to run in water-logged clothes. It would have been better running in the rain.

Like I mentioned above, this was my third 10-miler of the month. While I’d like my overall mileage to be higher for the month (around 70 miles), these long runs have left me feeling great. These runs have been the best long runs in quite some time.

Despite missing out on speed and some mileage, one great thing about this summer has been finding my consistency again. It’s been missing for a while.

Normal, but tired

August 27, 2009 3 comments

The other day I asked for a normal week … well, four days into this week and I feel like it’s lasted three weeks. I’m just tired. I’m not a good traveler like I used to be. But that hasn’t stopped me from getting in two good runs (4 miles and 3.8 miles) and a good ride on the exercise bike last night at the gym (10 miles). At the same time, though, it’s felt a bit forced. Honestly I’m just ready for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon to get here and see how it goes. One more long run this weekend and I’ll be ready.

I hope the weather of the first weekend in September doesn’t follow this pattern of being threatened by tropical storms. While I wouldn’t mind rain, I think high winds and heavy rain would not be ideal. I would do it, but I sure wouldn’t like it. Right now, the really long-range forecast is looking good. Anything will be better than last year.

(And yes, I changed my layout again. The other one just didn’t do anything for me.)